Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Protest the ...

Catholics have always protested. The blood of the martyrs reminds us we do not quite belong to the rest of mankind, that we are subversive. Indeed more extreme Liberation theologians might suggest the prime purpose of a Christian is to subvert the State. A more classical position might be to follow the example of Fathers like St Ambrose who chastened Emperors or St Thomas Becket or St John Fisher who opposed kings, and suffered the consequences. The Catholic Church in China suffers because the State sees it as subversive and not just on its "one child" policy.

Secular society is also having its protests, the gathering number in the City or on Wall Street are expressing an anger, generally inarticulate and unfocussed, placards say they are against greed, poverty, injustice, hunger, global warming and for peace, honesty, integrity, transparency, fair dealing. In society generally there is a disillusionment with organisations: trade unions; political parties etc are losing membership in the same way as any Church. Personalised cafeteria politics are mirrored in personalised cafeteria religion. Perhaps an economic change will bring about a reversal of this.

The Church militant today is the Church protesting, somehow I suspect a major part of the New Evangelisation will be about "protest", challenging the values that actually sit uncomfortably within our culture and psyche, those things which are contrary to the Natural Law. The hard cases are difficult to argue against but fundamental ideas of human dignity, the right to life, to human dignity and to what the Pope continually now refers to as "human ecology" are going to become more easily assimulated and will become increasingly so.

"Protesting against" is where contemporary politics is at: most people tend to vote against political parties rather than for them, politicians lose elections not win them.

As Christians we define ourselves by those things we affirm: I believe in God etc. We have become reticent about those things we reject: Do you reject Satan... and all his works etc, Thou shalt not ..., but these also defined Christianity. They also tend to challenge our society. The loss of definition by negation, have caused a loss of Catholic identity and for so many a loss of a lived morality. Hence Catholics are as likely as one else to abort, contracept, divorce or engage in pre-marital sex as anyone else. What we are for is nebulous, what we are against is tangible.

The French bishops called people on to the streets to protest an anti-Catholic play but for the most part Catholic protest is tied up with Life issues. Most protests by Catholics are ad intra: the disobedience of clergy in Austria and Ireland, the disobedience of bishops in Australia seem as ill defined as those of Wall Street or the City. In Ireland it seems most of the protesting clergy are simply finding a way of showing discomfort a poor leadership.

In England Catholics seem to be involved in protesting on specific issues: the demonstrations and legal tussles with the Archbishop of Westminster over the Cardinal Vaughan School or prayerfully protesting outside St Mary's Warwick Street over those Masses seem to identify an anger or at least dissatisfaction with our clerical leadership.

The French bishops got students and Action Francaise onto the streets: how do we harness protest? Can we teach the faith by denunciation and protest?


Left-footer said...

Perhaps we need less complaisant Bishops to lead us.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Father. You have given me pause for thought and prayer with your insightful commentary.

nickbris said...

I would like to protest against St Paul's Cathedral charging people £14 50 to go in.

Just another money-grabbing bunch of So and So's like the other lot just around the corner who the protesters can't get to.

I feel as if I'm living under occupation and think it is about time we all rose up and let the thieves and liars know what we think of them.

Henri said...

About the French protest in Paris backed by the Bishops against the blasphemous play (in wich the actors throw real faeces to an efigy of Christ), the police has arrested this evening at about 7PM more than 200 Christian demonstrators, including many priests, without giving them any reason for this arrest(this is unlawful). At this time, they have been released very far in the suburbs, and without any transport mean, will spend most of the night walking toward home...
Could you please tell the English speaking public about this? Thanks.

Physiocrat said...

I am surprised that we Catholics have not taken the initiative in affirming the scriptural ban on usury, reaffirmed in the very first Papal Encyclical, Vix Pervenit, issued in 1745.

The present economic crisis is, after all, principally a product of - usury.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Give me a link

Henri said...

All this tread in Le Forum Catholique is dealing with the subject: http://www.leforumcatholique.org/message.php?num=612472

Photos from the protest and arrest here:

The author of the blasphemous play, Romeo Castelluci said about the demontrators: "I pardon them. They do not know what they are doing"... You got the allusion? This guy is a walking blasphem.

video here: http://www.gloria.tv/?media=208691


Anonymous said...

What Henri reports as having happened in Paris to the Christian protestors is apalling. Freedom of speech and conscience denied while blasphemy and hatefilled diatribes against Catholics or Christians is permitted, nay applauded. Lynda

Anonymous said...

"I would like to protest against St Paul's Cathedral charging people £14 50 to go in."

How much??

You could buy a cup of tea and a groundsheet to pitch your tent on for less than that...

pelerin said...

Thanks to Henri's links I have just been reading some of the comments on the newspaper sites. A common theme seems to be that 'religion ought to be private and we should respect the freedom of others. Nobody is forced to go and see such productions.'

Secular newspapers have variously described the demonstrators as 'integristes cathos' ('traddies'); movements of the extreme right; and one described them as Christian fundamentalists. Looking at the film showing when they succeeded in invading the stage they all appear to be young people and it is good that they have brought attention to this disgusting play.

momangelica said...

When Jerry Springer The Opera came to Bristol, The information was sent to me from a protesting Evangelical group who asked everyone to come and make a presence outside the Hippodrome. I rang wrote and e-mailed every contact in Bath and Bristol Christian denominations to ask for their support and for them to ask their parishioners to turn out that week etc. This took hours over several days. Some of the replies made me cry especially from the Catholic church quarters.
One Priest, two legionaries a good friend and my brother came with me the two evenings we were able to participate.
The Salvation Army were the only ones who had responded because of my alert and the evangelical group, both left after the audience entered .
We brought the statue of Our Lady and flowers from our Legion of Mary table and a statue of the Sacred Heart
We sang and prayed while the hidious performance was played out over the streets!!! When asked were we protesting and what over, we said no, we were making reparation for Blasphamy. that seemed to put us in a stronger position. People seem a bit tired and jaded by the protest thing. I had made a sign which read from both directions. Forgive them Father they know not what they do.
One man came out at half time pacing up and down in front of us on a m.phone. (we were taking some flak from smoking audience by then) The man said he would much rather be with us singing than watching the Blasphemous rubbish, and believe me, he said, it is blasphemous but he was a policeman sent by his superiors to see the show before it gets to Cardiff.
They obviously discarded his report as it did get played in Cardiff. Reparation. That word has power to disarm I learnt that week.
Sadly, no real church presence.

Michael Clifton said...

Nickbris...ST Paul's costs over a huge amount of moneyto keep. They are quite justified in putting an admittance charge on entry. Do you want to see it fall down ?
Physiocrat. The so called ban on usury in Scripture is only a cousel of practice for individuals. Vix Pevenit merely repeated earlier legislation which dated only from the middle ages by people who did not understand economics. I did a thesis on this topic and would be willing to summarize if you send me an e mail to michaelclifton@btinternet.com

Lazarus said...

Dramatic protest is a way of grabbing attention. That has its place. But we need to be sure that we can follow up with a deeper response once that attention is grabbed.

nickbris said...

Thankyou Michael,I also have seen the pictures of St Paul.s during the BLITZ.Hundreds of lives were sacrificed in saving it from devastation and the state still uses up vast amounts for it's maintenance.WE OWN IT and one of our greatest Naval Hero's is interred there.

You can bet your life that those entry fees are filched by greedy individuals,they just can't help it.

Physiocrat said...

Michael Clifton - the present financial crisis is but the latest phase in a history that has been going on for the past two centuries. The conventional banking model, which involves the taking of interest, is a primary cause of financial instability and the widening gap between rich and poor.

If banking confines itself to its right and proper functions, there is no necessity for interest.

Given the world-wide failure in contemporary economic management, it difficult to see how it can be argued that economics was not understood in the middle ages, since it is evidently not understood now. If medicine was in the same condition as economics, we would all still be dying in uncontrollable epidemics.

Under sound economic management, everyone would have the opportunity to provide themselves with stable livelihoods for the support of themselves and their families. That is a basic measure of success, yet not only does it obtain hardly anywhere in the world today, the dominant economic theory provides no guide as to how to bring about this state of affairs. That is the extent of the failure.

B flat said...

In September, MercatorNet, a Catholic website publishing articles on moral questions, carried an article by Professor Roger Scruton on the question of large profits from financial dealings. The article can be read here:
Please note that unless something more solid than the latest document from the Justice and Peace Commission of the Vatican, can be produced by the Catholic Church, the moral high ground on THE question which will be exercising most people in Europe and the USA, our depressed economy, will go entirely to the Muslims. Are they really the only ones who have more than platitudes and generalisations to offer to tell the world how it should conduct its affairs?
If Fr Clifton's thesis applies Christian moral teaching to economics, then it would be worthwhile his publishing the summary, at least on his blog in the first instance. I would be glad to read and learn from it.
Certainly, CS Lewis stated that he thought the abandonment of the prohibition on usury by the Church lay at the root of 20th century economic problems, so Physiocrat is not alone in his opinion.

Physiocrat said...

It seems to me that nearly all of us have forgotten what exactly are the proper functions of a bank?

I would suggest that these are

(1) Cash handling and transfer
(2) To provide a deposit facility and
(3) to arrange credit.

It is not necessary to charge interest, nor should it be expected as a reward to depositors. All of these are services which can be provided at cost. Credit is slightly problematical since risk is involved, but that is essentially a matter of prudence, combined with insurance cover.

This is essentially the situation that would arise from taking seriously the prohibition on usury stated in Leviticus 25 and reaffirmed by the Catholic Church.

The present troubles have arisen due to the misuse of credit, for the purchase of consumer goods and, above all, for land, the problem being compounded when the land title itself is used as collateral. In effect, the bank is the landowner for the period of the loan and the "interest" is economic rent of land.

This is unfortunately the contemporary banking model. It has repeatedly been tried and found wanting. It needs to stop.

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