Archive for the ‘Church & Culture’ Category

Pope Francis and ‘the signs of the times”

December 19, 2014

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Pope Francis urged the Catholic Church’s top theologians on December 13 to listen to what ordinary Catholics have to say and pay attention to the “signs of the times,” rather than just making pronouncements in an academic vacuum.

 

The pontiff told International Theological Commission that they must “humbly listen” to what God tells the church by understanding Scripture but also by taking into account how ordinary Catholics live out their faith.

 

“Together with all Christians, theologians must open their eyes and ears to the signs of the times,” Francis said. He should have been speaking to the worldwide College of bishops as well. The theologians are the least of his problems.

 

This must be shocking news to the JPll/Ratzinger bishops who acted as if the Holy Spirit was their private preserve.Most of these are still autistic when it comes to the signs of the times especially to the sign that that we are collectively destroying the earth.The biggest moral issue of our time of course is climate justice, a “sign of the time” which is so stark and self-evident that it is beyond discussion.Creation is being mangled in the name of profit and the instityutional church ciollectively is doing litthle about it.

 

But apparently it is to these men.The best example was Cardinal Dolan’s absence from the 400,000 person march on behalf of the climate in New York city.Like many of his bishop friends raised to the purple for their slavish obeisance to Rome and not to the “sensus fidelium”, Dolan was missing in action.

 

As are most of these bishops.It would be interesting given the severity and seriousness of the issue to see how many have any pastoral plans on the go.

 

Poor Francis, a general with few episcopal troops in his army.

Bob Carty and Youth Ministry

October 10, 2014

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The death of Bob Carty on September 21 led to several thoughts.

 

First, a life well lived, a committed passionate life on behalf of what the Bible calls the anawim, the little ones.

 

Skilled in many ways, personality and wit , written word and the audioword as well as with guitar, Bobby use his abundant talents on behalf of the kingdom of God. He lived for peace and justice.

 

His solidarity work on behalf of Chilean exiles and his reports from Latin America on public radio were respected by all.

 

A gifted documentarian on the radio waves with the CBC , Bob won all the awards there were to win always holding up the forgotten in a privileged place.

 

But when I think of Bob it struck a chord of sadness. All the lost years of Youth Ministry in the Toronto diocese after the clueless hierarchy ditched the Youth Corps where Bob got his start in the late 60s. As the old folk song said, Wasn’t That a Time.

 

Tommy McKillop hired people like Bob to take the energy of Vatican ll into the world and transform it. What a formidable group, lay and priest, on fire for justice inserted into the body politic as agents of change. Youth ministering to youth. What an original idea—and what great results. Those years were the halcyon days of gospel vitality in the Toronto diocese.

 

Naturally they were under-appreciated by hierarchs and dead heads but loved by the youth they came in contact with,What was there not to love?

 

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The John Paul ll brigade literally threw away a miracle. Youth Corps of which Carty was a dynamic member was allowed to wither on the vine, to be replaced by what? Nada, niente, zip. McKillop was never understood by his fellow priests and like the prophets of old was treated very shabbily. Carty went on to do great things with his life.

 

Gracias for a sterling life, sadness for the lost opportunities to evangelize youth.

Yom Kippur and the Palestinians

October 3, 2014

 

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Yom Kippur the holiest day in Judaism’s calendar is today.

The Day of Atonement [Yom Kippur] is the climax of the ten-day period of repentance that begins with Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment. These ten days of reflection and inspiration bring us the eternal message that it is possible for human beings to improve their characters. They speak to us about our ethical conscience and moral responsibility, about self-examination and spiritual regeneration.”

 

Such a wonderful serious holy day ending the high holy days which began with Rosh Hashanah.

 

I have no way of knowing what will take place in the synagogues of my city. I wish all of them a good day.

In South Africa a group of Jews are dedicating their fast to reflect on being Jewish in the context of the occupation of Palestine. This seems to be a creative and very contemporary attempt to make the feast contextual and meaningful. All religions of course have similar times of serious reflection on our lives.

Isaiah’s admonition and warnings are germane to the point and this reading I have often used in the Christian period of Lent.

Why have we fasted,’ they say,
 ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
 and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.

Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
 and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
 only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
 and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
 and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
 and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
 and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
58:3-9

Then these South African Jews cut to the chase

At the forefront of wrongs we need to right is the ongoing mainstream Jewish support for the Israeli colonization of Palestine, and its continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. This is being done in our name, and we have not done enough to stop it. It is for this reason that we believe that Gaza is the most urgent issue for us to reflect on this Yom Kippur. We will be going out and physically fasting and raising money for those in Gaza who have suffered unconscionable horrors.

 

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Dedicating our Yom Kippur fast to the people of Gaza follows this line of thinking. Unlike the dominant Zionist organizations, some of whom preach ethnic and religious nationalism and the bombing of Gaza directly from the bimah (the Jewish equivalent of a pulpit), our beliefs are based on tolerance, inclusivity and social justice. We think that this is what Judaism, and Yom Kippur in particular, is all about.

This is prophetic Judaism at its best.

As one Jewish woman stated recently “Yom Kippur in Palestine and the Palestinian people are again atoning for Israel’s sin of occupation.”

Torah not the uniting factor?

September 30, 2014

 

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That wonderful reporter from the NY Times Laurie Goodstein was at her best when she sussed out reactions which are simmering in the rabbinate over the stunning disproportionate response in the latest Gaza slaughter(515 Palestinian kids killed.

 

The usual childish responses were in evidence: I quit the synagogue because you criticized israel.(she didn’t but prayed for those dead kids and Israeli soldiers).3 left the synagogue. One said she was spreading Hamas propaganda. What planet are these so called religious on?
Goodstein reported that that many rabbis say it is impossible to have a civil conversation about Israel in their synagogues. Just too hot to touch. And the High Holy days are here!

 

The big problem is that young Jews raised in the USA have an inherent appreciation of human rights and can’t stomach Netanyahu and his coterie of warriors. They have exited the synagogue.

 
On the other hand the Alte kockers, the old folks mit the geld (no translation necessary) are more attached to israel as are the volunteers.
An interesting comment, candid to be sure was from Montreal rabbi Ron Aigen
It used to be that Israel was always the uniting factor in the Jewish world,said the reb who has served Congregation Dorshei Emet in Montreal for 39 years. “But it’s become contentious and sadly, I think it is driving people away from the organized Jewish community. Even trying to be centrist and balanced and present two sides of the issue, it is fraught with danger.”
The worst part of Goodstein’s article was this comment:
Israel is still, without a doubt, the spiritual center and the fondest cause of global Jewry.
The kindest thing you can say about this if its true: this is idolatry, making a state not the God of justice your god.

Peoples climate march but where’s Cardinal Dolan?

September 19, 2014

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“It would be wonderful if there were a strong Catholic presence at the march, to indicate our prayerful support of God’s creation,”Cardinal Dolan of New York said about the huge climate justice walk expected to bring over 100,000 to Gotham City.
Dolan is typical of those John Paul ll prelates ,way behind the curve of where the Holy Spirit is, where too many Catholics are.

 
Some of the religious orders like the Franciscans, Jesuits and female religious have moved on and represent the cutting edge of the church.

 
The major moral issue of our time and the best Dolan can says is “It would be wonderful if there were a Catholic presence”. So much for episcopal leadership when it is most needed.

 

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No pastoral planning, no public leadership on the issue, no personal witness or leadership from a church leader who should be at the front of this march.

 
Like so many other bishops who are absent from such issues, they simply provide links on their websites. Links however are no substitute for personal witness. Dolan is smart enough to know that he better say something or he will become almost totally irrelevant.

 
His absence is a dereliction of duty. It is an old story among Catholics who see the institution arrive a little bit late and a little bit out of breath.

 
Pope Francis is doing his best to goose these recalcitrant bishops but it’s a huge uphill battle.

 

 

Meanwhile with the collapse of institutional leadership there is a greater awareness that ordinary people have a sensus fidei that “the Holy Spirit anoints them and equips them for that high calling, conferring on them a very personal and intimate knowledge of the faith of the Church…As a result, the faithful have an instinct for the truth of the Gospel. (Sensus Fidei, 2014) .There is great encouragement for Catholics to go deep, to listen in their depths to what the Spirit is saying and it s obvious that the cry of the earth is addressed to all of us not just Cardinal Dolan.

Labour Day 2014

September 1, 2014

 

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There was a rare sighting of a Catholic priest in the Labour Day parade this year. Yes he was there collar and all, Fr.O’Reilly, Basilian walking in solidarity with the various faces of labour. Good on ya, Father, a rara avis indeed. In all the years I’ve been walking, never saw a Catholic bishop once, so divorced have these putative leaders been from the social struggle. The John Paul ll boys were a timorous lot except for ranting about what they knew least—issues dealing with sex and women’s rights.

I once wrote an article tongue in cheek where I said you will know when the Parousia (end times) are about to arrive is when you are in a jazz club and you look across the room and you see a Catholic bishop. Paul André Durocher now the head of the Canadian Catholic Bishops told me he liked that jibe.”Early to bed, early to rise, never see the regular guys” was the less than subtle intent. Now I’ve updated that witticism and changed it to’, Look the Labour Day Parade is about to started…who’s that guy with the funny hat and walking stick, leading the parade, no it can’t be, but it is Bishop —– insert name here.Ah,’tis a consummation devoutly to be wished!

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As the great Andrews Sister’s 1949 cut said, “I Can Dream Can’t I”?

All in a lovely affair and a big difference this year with many young children walking with their parents on this warm and muggy day. ”Forging solidarity for a better city” read the logo on my Catholic Teachers’ tee shirt. Was this a reference to Rob Ford or basic Catholic theology? Anyway I was proud to wear it and happy to see my former union out there with the OECTA flag.

But wait, I spy a couple of teachers handing out a pamphlet Teachers’ Pension and Apartheid:Time to Divest Again. It turns out that the teachers’ pension plan has a combined investment of $582 million in the Occupied Territories. In the 90s the pension plan even though it does not consider investment on ethical or moral principles did pull the pug on apartheid South Africa. These teachers want fellow teachers to bring resolutions to their districts to support such a divestment campaign.

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Sign on Queen Street on Labour Day 2014

Someof those organizations supporting BDS.are CUPE, Independent Jewish Voices, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Anglican Church of England and canada (general synods,the Israeli Committee against House demolitions and several others.) For info : http://www.caiaweb.org//tfp

I posed a similar challenge to the Catholic Teachers Union in my book Never Neutral: A Teaching Life

Human rights as a Catholic value, solidarity as a Catholic value, and compassion as a Catholic value, no longer need defensive posturing and apologetic timidity.

What it does need is some courage.

Unions should be prodding Catholic boards to step up the witness and curriculum work around the overweening moral issue of today, climate change. This should be obvious. The second issue is the long-standing oppression of the Palestinian people. As a long-time friend of the Jewish people, as the pioneer in this country of Holocaust education, and as one honoured by the same community for my work, my credentials as an honest broker here should allow me to speak with the utmost honesty and genuine concern.

The state of Israel has become an international pariah for its illegal occupation of Palestinian land, its historic ethnic cleansing of an indigenous people and its ongoing and unrelenting oppression of another Semitic people. Israel, sadly, has lived up to the shocking boast of Defense Minister Moshe Dayan shortly after its conquests of 1967. His brutal candour stands as a monument to insensitivity and cruelty. To his colleagues he stated at that time: “We must tell the Palestinians in the territories we have no solution. You shall continue to live like dogs and whoever wishes may leave, and we will see where this process leads.” Well, we now have the answer.

In all global surveys, Israel ranks near the bottom of countries having a negative influence in the world. This is a monumental tragedy and a deep source of embarrassment to Jews of conscience and internationalists in general. Not only has its behaviour stimulated nascent antisemitsim, but it has deformed Judaism. Calling Israel back to sanity and to justice is imperative today as the solution of this neuralgic issue is the key to dampening Muslim tensions with the Western world. In this way we shall exhibit our double solidarity: To the state of Israel, its right to exist as a valued member of the international community as well as to the beleaguered, long-suffering Palestinian people.

Catholic unions must get on the right side of history here and, out of love for the Jewish state, help bring it back to sanity and justice. South Africa’s recent transformation may serve as a hopeful example to an honoured seat in the international family of nations.

Reflexive supporters of Israel today are sadly presiding over acountry which has lost its way. Teaching bodies who do not speak to this heartbreaking situation are complicit in its continuance. It would be sad indeed, a dereliction of duty and a betrayal of our call to be in solidarity with the oppressed, if a Catholic union of teachers remained passive and silent on these two issues.

Crisis in Zion

August 28, 2014

 

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As soon as I began watching the video, I wished I had never turned it on. For most of my life, my reactions to accounts of Palestinian suffering has been rationalization, a search for reasons why the accounts are exaggerated or the suffering self-inflicted. In that respect, i suspect, I’m like many American Jews.
Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism

Antony Lerman, was the  former director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. In a truly groundbreaking article (Aug.20, 2014) in the New York Times  he laid out the growing crisis in diaspora Jewry. Mr Lerman opined that both the left and liberal Zionism accepted the  established historical record, still not accepted by Israeli leaders but beyond argument that ” Jews forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians  from their homes to make way for the establishment of a Jewish state ” Well, this was at least a breakthrough but liberal Zionists also accepted  that it was an acceptable price to pay for the founding of the state.

Liberal Jews promoted the the idea of the right to self-determination  a blanket taboo for the maximalists in Israel today who seemingly want an Israel which is free of Arabs. The Jewish state has done everything in its power to make life intolerable for the indigenous population. Its cruelty, hidden from American Jews who have no idea of what transpires in the West Bank or Gaza reflexively out of tribal loyalty salute the Israeli flag. In an internet age, the daily accumulation facts of oppression and the massive denial of human rights are becoming intolerable to democrats everywhere.

Lerman makes a startling statement ” Israel is not Judaism. Jewish history did not culminate in the creation of the state of Israel.” Many religious Jews have been lamenting the injury done to Judaism by the brutality of “the Jewish state.” It mocks the history of Judaism as a religion founded on the exodus of a colonized people, of a God who liberates and does not oppress “the widow, orphan, the poor and the stranger “– i.e the Palestinians in this instance. These are to be raised up in all their dignity. as fellow humans who have the spermatikos, the spark of the divine inside them. Sadly like the Jews of eastern Europe Arabs have become untermenschen, subhuman, not like us, the Other.
Tribal Judaism seems in the ascendance in the diaspora. As Beinart says in his book,”Israel advocacy generally fails. For one thing it is difficult to teach Jewish students to defend the Jewish state when they have not been taught to care about Judaism itself.” The universal values of Judaism which were incarnated in so many progressive causes, which saw Jews on the side of the oppressed seems to have ebbed, much to the consternation of religious Jews like Avraham Burg: “Too many of my Jewish American brothers and sisters have become the beating heart of neoconservatism, part of the white, right wing,nationalist. and powerful establishment, part of an administration and culture that withdraw from the global responsibility that defined America’s spirit in World War ll…The Jews have abandoned the inner cities for affluent suburbs…together they stand against Arabs and Muslims everywhere.”

Judaism is no different from any world religion. It is susceptible to corruption particularly among the plethora of idols rampant in advanced capitalism: power, affluence instrumental reasoning etc. Catholics saw a similar movement in the USA when an immigrant community moved to the suburbs. Charity replaced justice as the cardinal virtue. “Living easy is indeed dangerous as Nietzsche reminded us.

When Israel becomes a religion

July 31, 2014

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We do ourselves irreparable harm when we make Israel our surrogate synagogue.
Alexander Schindler , former leader of American Reform Jewry

The task of the historian is to allow the voices of the suffering to be heard, particularly by their children, who while venerating their oppressed ancestors, tend to ignore their cries by persecuting others…empowerment is possible but those who are empowered must bear in mind that solidarity with those suffering in the present is the only link with suffering in the past.
Marc Ellis, Jewish theologian

The Presbyterian Church in the USA at its general assembly in Detroit voted to divest from three companies doing business in the illegal occupied territories.

Before the vote the Nobelist South African prophet Desmond Tutu sent an open letter to the assembly

The sustainability of Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people has always been dependent on its ability to deliver justice to the Palestinians. I know firsthand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark indeed.

The Moderator of the Church Heath Rada stated that the vote that “in no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish brothers and sisters.”

Predictably American Jewish organizations went ballistic as they did four years earlier when their full court press scared the church into pulling the BDS motion. Four years later however as one of the commissioners said, “we know more of what is really going on in the west Bank.”

One understands that all churches tread very softly when Israel is concerned so they worked hard on the issue and narrowly passed the motion.

And again the message from the Anti Defamation League: “This is a painful message to American Jews.”

No doubt but it would be a painful message I would have to to deliver to my alcoholic brother (if I had one). ”Look, bro, this has to stop. Your behaviour is destructive.” Is this love or hate?
Yet the canards keep coming. According to New York-based American Jewish Committee the measure was “driven by hatred of Israel.”

This has been a longtime, tired tactic. Label any critic of Israel an antisemite. The purpose of course is to silence principled criticism. The shocker was that 1,700 putative leaders of Reform Judaism signed an open letter which opposed the resolution. This is the sad state that Reform Judaism has come to—apologizing and justifying the expansionist and colonialist policies of Israel, its patent injustice over decades to another people on the land which wad stolen from them. Dispossession and humiliation, the daily portion for Palestinians. These rabbis all know the admonition from Torah “Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof—Justice, Justice you shall pursue. Deut 16:20.

Are they that deaf and blind? Are they actually justifying the flaunting of international law and the ethnocentric oppression of one people over another. Has Jewish nationalism trumped the universal cry for justice?

For decades Zionists have been exploiting Christian guilt over Jewish persecution over the centuries. Less and less is this effective. The issue simply is the massive abuse of human rights
Are these religious leaders actually conflating Zionism with Judaism? Zionism was a colonialist ideology. Judaism is a great world religion with high ethical ideals, a rich history of justice rapidly being suborned by blind adherence to the terrible policies of a secular state.

The problem of course is not simply that of Judaism. The neoconservative movement of the last 40 years has had a deleterious effect on Catholicism and Christianity. In due time i will deal with this but our focus here is shock at the loss of prophecy in the Jewish community.

In 1982, the New Jewish Agenda (NJA) was a counterpoint to religious neoconservatism among jews.

The NJA stated at that time” Our history and tradition inspire us. Jewish teachings can address the social, economic and political issues of our time. Many of us find our inspiration in our people’s historical resistance to oppression and from the Jewish presence at the forefront of movements for social change. Many of us base our convictions on the religious concept of tikkun olam(the just ordering of human society and the world) and the prophetic tradition of social justice….Survival is only a precondition of Jewish life, not its purpose .Our agenda must be determined by our ethics not our enemies.

Oz ve Shalom was founded in 1975 was formed to counteract the blasphemous misinterpretation of religious texts by the settlers.It was a valiant attempt to bring Jewish citizens back from ethnocentricity and chauvinism. In 1982 Oz ve Shalom in an editorial summed up the choice for Jews in Israel

A Jewish state governed by Biblical values or a garrison state characterized by chauvinism, institutionalized injustice and xenophobia.
A democratic society flourishing within small borders in which Arab minority enjoys full human dignity and civil rights
versus

All of Eretz Israel at the price of repressing the political freedom over 1 million Palestinian Arabs.
And here we are today in a state of lamentable incomprehension as 1,700 rabbis seemingly are turning their backs on their prophetic tradition.

The oldest sin in scripture is idolatry and as I have stated before idolatry is not exclusive to vast segments of the Jewish community here and In israel where the state seemingly has massive support for this sickening massacre. Capitalism, security and uber patriotism can become idols anywhere .The only response to this that of Jesus and the prophets—atheism to these false gods

 

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Often we know that the prophetic is carried outside organized religion. In the case of the Presbyterian assembly what tipped the scales was the presence of mainly young secular Jews who bore shirts with the slogan ‘Another Jew Supporting Divestment.’ Many of them were with Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).

Religious or not they have internalized the fact that Palestinian people have been deeply wronged in the creation of Israel and are suffering terribly under an unjust occupation.

George Bush to the Hague

June 12, 2014

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The American occupation, however, has made this internal and external violence worse. The Americans destroyed the remnants of our culture, banished those among us who were struggling to create a space to think, to help us use our imaginations, to transform our society peacefully. Even under the dictatorship we had some semblance of a civic life. It was not perfect, but people were learning.
from The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq, by Hassan Blasim,
Bulletin!
Richard Clarke, the USA’s top counterterrorism official under former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, accused Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney of committing war crimes in their 2003 invasion of Iraq . Clarke, resigned in 2003 after the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq.

 

George Bush whose “favourite philosopher is Jesus Christ.”
The most effective Catholic in the United States, Michael Moore, a layman who wore the prophetic mantle while so many bishops wore the stars and stripes, almost wept when the Iraq city of Mosul fell. He wrote on Facebook
So today, Mosul fell. Mosul is the second largest city in Iraq. The Iraqi government we “installed,” has now “lost” Fallujah, Ramadi, Mosul and other large swaths of the country we invaded at the cost of thousands of American lives, tens of thousands of Iraqi lives and a couple trillion dollars. (What could your school district do with a trillion dollars?).
One more maddening day in this 11-year illegal, immoral, greedy and stupid war. Today in Mosul, that Iraqi Army YOU pay for, freaked out, threw down their guns, and literally RAN away. I have friends and acquaintances who lost sons in all three of those cities. I can only imagine what they’re feeling tonight. FOR WHAT? FOR WHAT! I am so sorry we couldn’t do anything to stop this when it started. A few million of us tried. Last week, Richard Clarke, Bush’s former head of counter-terrorism, said he now believes that his fellow members of the Bush administration committed “war crimes.”
I continue to await the perp walk.”

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Moore suffered so much abuse in the Bush era for his powerful antiwar message,He should have been made a papal knight for his extraordinary courage

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Imagine being flailed by those sunshine patriot Republican Catholics for daring to put the Sermon on the Mount into practice.

 

The church below the church

May 26, 2014

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Miguel Cifuentes, presente!

It was a female Mexican theologian who told the story about walking in the shadow of the cathedral in her town when her granddaughter asked her if that church was their church. “No,” she said, “We belong to the church below the church.”
That was the congregation which met to say goodbye to Miguel who had escaped the death squads in Guatemala and landed in Toronto where he met and married Trish a Catholic teacher who had a similar liberationist  worldview. Over the years Miguel continued his work in the union movement with those on the margins of Canadian life. The union UNITE  represented many lowly paid hotel workers and every year they were a big part of the Labour Day parade.
At  one time Labour was close to the heart of the institutional church. We cobbled  a strong social teaching based on the dignity of the working person. Leo Xlll driven by the Marxian critique of exploitative capital  finally jumped into the fray in 1891 with his encyclical Rerum Novarum
“Wealthy owners of the means of production and employers must never forget that both divine and human law forbid them to squeeze the poor and wretched for the sake of gain or to profit from the helplessness of others.” (#17
The  US bishops in 1940 wrote: “A wage so low that it must be supplemented by the wage of wife and mother or by the children of the family before it can provide adequate food, clothing, and shelter together with essential spiritual and cultural needs cannot be regarded as a living wage. Furthermore, a living wage means sufficient income to meet not merely the present necessities of life but those of unemployment, sickness, death, and old age as well.
John XXlll in his encyclical Mater et Magistra (1961) continued:
We therefore consider it our duty to reaffirm that the remuneration of work is not something that can be left to the laws of the marketplace; nor should it be a decision left to the will of the more powerful.
John Paul ll’s powerful encyclical Laborem Exercens (1981) ratified these sentiments.
The right to unionize and collectively bargain was vigorously promoted by the Church and this created stable communities and secure families based on living wages. Sadly the last 30 years have seen market fundamentalism and movable capital shred organic communities and facilitated a race to the bottom.  “Labour priests” began to disappear. Ordinands in these  new religious orders knew nothing about this tradition.
Miguel gave his life in resistance to the ongoing degradation of labour. In the “most religious country of all” the USA minimum wage laws are scandalous. 
What is the point of all this?
All too often unions and working people in the last decades have not seen the institutional church dramatically raise its voice on behalf of labour.  “Pro life” never seems to extend beyond the fetal stage. The actual lives of of working people  were left to the church below the church. These  were the people who march in solidarity in  the Labour Day parade and these were the people at Miguel’s funeral.

 

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