Category Archives: Liberation Theology

Police and thieves in the streets… (Police good. Thieves bad.)

May Day and the role of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Portland, Oregon.

Portland police are warning May Day demonstrators that violations of the law will not be tolerated, and now we know why. This from an Occupy Portland Tweet:

And this,

Their faces may be hidden, but they have their own propaganda machine, or as the young rads would have us call it today, an “Information Warfare Spoke” from which the following video originates.

–notice how it begins by commemorating the history of the first May Day in America (1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago) when a dynamite bomb was thrown at police. Yep, dynamite bomb. And according to these useful idiots that same world returns to America on May 1st, 2012…

The cohorts responsible for the above propaganda call themselves The Portland Liberation Organizing Council (PLOC). They believe in [quote], “collective control of community resources, including land, housing and space to organize.”

For the uninitiated or uneducated, this is called Communism. A failing philosophy and political system that was and remains ultimately responsible before God and man for the deaths of millions of real living innocent persons.

According to their website,

PLOC is coordinated through a spokes council comprised of working clusters (see diagram). Each cluster is comprised of groups or members within groups from the radical community that are focused on a specific area of work.

So, Portland police aside, guess if they have their own way about it the specific focus of work on May 1st this year will be that “nobody, and nothing works” and anarchy alone prevails in the streets of Portland until Capitalism is done away with.

Okay, we get it.

Radicalism and anarchy is widely associated with the Occupy Movement and May Day is its big rally and cry-in, not to be confused with love-in, peace-out, or even justice.  But for Catholics that’s not what May 1st, or for that matter, the entire month of May represents–and no Catholic or parish should ever support this rubbish. That’s why faithful Catholics in Western Oregon should start asking the Archpdx chancery why the spokes council meets every Thursday at a Catholic Church? Again, from the source:

This is a day when those heavily involved in working groups within Occupy Portland have an opportunity to exchange announcements, connect, and decide proposals affecting the inner workings of Occupy Portland. Anyone not associated with a group is welcome to attend and participate by sitting in the open caucus. Currently held in the Cafeteria at St. Francis.

Here’s a question I would like answered: Why does the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, permit St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church to house, promote, and support Occupy Portland, when it’s obvious that in pursuing its goals OP plans, promotes, and enables lawlessness and violence, in effect endangering society?

I can’t believe the Sacred Heart is pleased with His body contributing to the scandal of police and thieves slugging it out in the streets on May 1st, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. I do believe, however, that the following suggestion would be more merciful and in accord with the mind of Christ: May 1 is celebrated in Communist countries as the Day of the International Solidarity of Workers. Today would be a good day to pray for atheistic Communism’s influence to cease and a proper application of the principles explained by Leo XIII in Rerum novarum and John Paul II in Centesimus annus to be the guide used by nations–including our own.

To voice your charitable objections…

838 E. Burnside St.Portland, OR 97214-1895

Most Reverend John G. Vlazny (AB secretary)

Mary Jo Tully – Chancellor
503-234-5334 Fax 503-234-2545

The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (western Oregon)


HT/Catholic Culture

Portland Occupier — “I’ve got a solution, man, let’s go get guns”

Not sure why St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, in the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, is supporting this movement known as Occupy Portland, but it shouldn’t.

Portland, Oregon, Sunday, 4.22.12

After being warned by Central Precinct sergeants about attempting to re-occupy Chapman Park, OWS protesters not only harass and spit at cops, but one guy even goes so far as to suggest that they go get guns. Later in the evening a 15-year-old is arrested and the scene then spirals out-of-control, especially for one citizen filming the horde and their crimes of vandalism to public property.

Video 1

In Video 1 below, an unnamed Central Precinct officer remains patient and professional despite obnoxious verbiage spewing forth from the mouths of Occupy Portland cohorts.

Video 2

In Video 2, Portland officers walk away amid insults. Towards the end of this clip you can hear an occupier state, “I’ve got a solution, man, let’s go get guns”.

Video 3

In Video 3, A citizen filming crimes almost takes a punch by the “peace and Justice” horde, known as Occupy Portland.

This blog thanks Portland Police officers for their professionalism, patience and self-control. You can too, following the story below:

On Saturday, April 21, 2012 at about 11:00 p.m. Portland Police officers assigned to Central Precinct became aware of a group attempting to re-occupy Chapman Square. PPB supervisors went to Chapman Square and observed approximately 30 people congregating in the middle of the park.
At 11:30 p.m. Central Precinct sergeants walked through the park and contacted the group telling them the park closed to the public at midnight. The group responded with argumentative and aggressive behavior, shouting, “who’s park? Our park,” and “lets go back to our home!”

Chief Michael Reese and Mayor Sam Adams were informed of the clear intention by this group to “reoccupy” Chapman Square. Per their direction, Central Precinct Command, Sergeants, and Officers entered the park and told the group the park was closed, that had to leave, and if they did not leave they would be booked in jail. PPB personnel communicated their understanding that “reoccupying the park” was a political statement that could result in arrests, which could be performed peacefully and respectfully.

After this message was communicated, demonstrators became hostile, argumentative, and defiant and refused to leave the park. They were told they would be given a short time to voluntarily leave and anyone that remained in the park after its closure would be arrested. After further discussion between the group and Central Precinct officers, all members of the group left the park voluntarily. While the group left the park, they remained gathered just outside the park on the southwest corner of Fourth Avenue and SW Madison. On that corner, demonstrators became mildly aggressive and repeatedly threatened that the real confrontation would happen on May Day (May 1st). May Day is traditionally an opportunity for labor groups and activists to peacefully protest throughout Portland. This year, many sources have indicated that some groups are interested in causing more extreme civil unrest through more direct, disruptive action. PPB officers understood the threats of this group to signify their intention to cause direct civil disobedience on May 1st.

Based on the initial compliance with park rules, officers were able to withdraw from the park and attend to more pressing public safety matters. Some officers remained in the area to monitor the demonstrators who chose to not reenter the park. However a short time later, an officer reported seeing one of the demonstrators re-enter Chapman Square then go on to climb on the elk statue in the middle of Southwest Main. During Occupy Portland’s occupation of Chapman and Lownsdale Squares, the Elk Statue was considerably damaged. Donations through the Regional Arts Council had refurbished the elk at great expense. The demonstrator also tore down some of the green temporary fencing in the park. Officers responded by taking the demonstrator into custody.

Once in custody, officers learned that the demonstrator is a 15-year- old. The 15-year-old was referred to Juvenile Court on Trespass in the Second Degree, Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree, Interfering with a Police Officer and charged with a city code related to being on the statue (20.12.070). This was the 15-year-old’s second Occupy related arrest and he was released to his mother.

In advance of May Day, the Portland Police Bureau and Mayor Sam Adams want to remind the community that demonstrations of free speech are an important part of our community. However, violations of the law will not be tolerated. We encourage the community to work with PPB representatives to ensure a peaceful and safe event.


Public Information Officer:
Lt. Robert King
Desk: 503-823-0010
Pager: 503-790-1779
Alternate PIO:
Sgt. Pete Simpson
Desk: 503-823-0830
Pager: 503-790-1779

OCCUPY: An Imaginary Society

I don’t hate or even envy the rich; what I do hate are materialist philosophies telling me I MUST in order to be socially just. Seems to me that in too many cases a certain disinterestedness (in the spiritual life of man) is shared by both, making each the poorer in those things that truly matter: the treasures of heaven. And it is the things of heaven that supernaturally draws one toward a healthy contempt for riches, and so a more just and merciful world. I’m thinking St. Francis of Assisi would agree.

Below is a great article on the inherit weaknesses of the Occupy movement. Enjoy.

The Occupy Movement’s Vacuous Critique of Inequality
by Carson Holloway
April 16, 2012


The Occupy Movement should be an occasion for the American left to rethink its own moral crusades, which turn out to be morally corrosive and hence incompatible with any serious commitment to social justice.
The so-called “occupy movement”—which began with Occupy Wall Street and then spread to other cities—is back. After a period of relative calm during the winter months, the movement reappeared in mid-March to celebrate the passage of six months since its initial protests in New York City. While the encampments themselves may come and go depending on the weather and resolve of city officials, the movement enjoys a persistent influence on our public discourse. The movement’s complaint about the inequality between the upper 1% and the lower 99% of American society has become a powerful rhetorical tool of the American left.

But the complaint, whatever its rhetorical power, is intellectually groundless. As a mere lament about inequality it is unrelated to any sober appreciation of human realities. As a complaint about injustice, or about the abuse of social power and influence, it is undermined by the left’s own moral crusades of the last two generations. An inquiry into the vacuity of the Occupy Movement’s critique of American society reveals two serious failings of the contemporary left: its utopianism, on the one hand, and its tendency to devour the very moral principles necessary for an effective defense of social justice, on the other.

To some extent, the movement’s invocation of the 99% against the 1% is meant to convey, without further argument, a sense of injustice: it is wrong that the 1% should have more wealth and political influence than the vast majority of the society, or at least it is wrong that the inequalities should be so large. In other words, the complaint assumes that inequality is injustice, or at least that extreme inequalities amount to injustice. While this certainly sounds reasonable, a moment’s reflection reveals that the fact of inequality itself, even extreme inequality, is not a sufficient basis on which to criticize a society—at any rate if we are applying realistic and non-utopian standards.

Machiavelli famously dismissed earlier classical and Christian political thought, with its belief that politics should aim to make men good and noble, as idle talk of “imaginary republics and principates.” That is not, he suggested, how political societies really are. Liberals are inclined to agree with that critique, but then they fall into a similar mistake by pressing too hard their complaint about inequality. To insist on a large scale society that is free from political and economic inequalities, or even free from extreme inequalities, is to demand an imaginary society. Experience teaches us that all human societies are characterized by inequalities: some people enjoy more benefits, status, and power than other people. The larger and more complex the society, the more extreme the inequalities become. Even modern societies that make equality their explicit aim fail to achieve it and in fact maintain extreme inequalities. Most people in the Soviet Union were not members of the Communist Party, and most Party members were not high-ranking enough to have significant influence compared to those at the peak of the pyramid.

Inequality, therefore, is simply a fact of human social life. To be sure, it may reasonably become a matter of complaint if it turns out to be an impediment to people’s enjoying other goods that they are due. Despite what the Occupy Movement wants us to believe, however, it is far from clear that this is the case in contemporary America. Certainly the elevation of the 1% is compatible with the life of the 99%. Starvation in America is not a widespread problem. Inequality is even compatible with the positive material flourishing of the 99%, who enjoy access to all manner of consumer goods and services, as well as higher things like education, far in excess of what was available in earlier societies, even societies characterized by less extreme inequalities of wealth. This generally rosy view may indeed conceal very real abuses and evils that should be remedied through political or economic reforms. But to speak in this way is already to surrender the moralistic utopianism of the left’s simple complaint that the 1% has more wealth and influence than the 99%.

Ultimately the Occupy critique goes beyond a simple complaint about the fact of inequality. The argument is pressed further, not merely that inequality is presumptively unjust, but that the 1% use their superior influence to rig the game of American life in their favor, at the expense of the 99%. We have a problem not just of inequality but also of exploitation. Given man’s fallen condition, some measure of such exploitation is probably inseparable from social life; and we might therefore respond to this complaint with reflections similar to those above. Why, we might ask, should we get so excited about such exploitation if it is compatible, as it evidently is, with an unprecedentedly high standard of living for all members of society? To raise this response is not necessarily to endorse or acquiesce in such injustices. It is merely to observe that they are part of the normal course of events, inevitable in any society, and therefore that their existence in ours does not constitute a justification for a radical reconstitution of society, as some of the Occupy protestors seem to desire, but rather for specific, limited reforms aimed at specific ills.

But why should we even care about such injustices, if they do exist? Put another way, why shouldn’t the 1% exploit the 99% if they think they can get away with it? In raising this question we move beyond the utopianism of the Occupy Movement and expose the moral bankruptcy into which the American left has spent itself over the last half-century.

The exploitation of the poor by the rich, and the moral condemnation of such abuse, is a common theme of the Bible. To that extent, our civilization has—or had—access to a widely respected moral tradition through which we could question such exploitation. For the last sixty years, however, the American left has dedicated considerable energy to undermining the social and cultural authority of biblical religion. They have tried, and succeeded to a considerable extent, to convince Americans that any appeals to religious morality are illegitimate in a pluralist democracy. The left’s full-court press against religion was really intended to advance specific aims: for example, the advancement of sexual liberation, which is impeded by conceptions of sexual morality held by traditional religions. But now they find that their effort to marginalize religious morality leaves them without an important source of support in their quest to evaluate inequality and exploitation.

Moreover, the American left has, by its own political example, repeatedly undermined the public sense that it is wrong for a small minority to use superior social power to impose its views or interests on the majority. It has done this most obviously by its persistent use of the judicial power to achieve aims that could not win popular political support. This is the mode by which the left has imposed extreme secularism in government, a liberal abortion regime, and is the mode by which it is trying to redefine marriage. In each of these cases the judicial victory was awarded to a position representing a minority of the population and was based upon constitutional principles that were transparently invented simply to achieve a desired outcome. If the left is willing not merely to tolerate but in fact to celebrate such maneuvers, on what principled basis can they complain that a wealthy minority manipulates law and policy to its own advantage? Complaints about the power of the 1% ring hollow in the mouths of those who have shown themselves willing to govern contrary to popular consent.

Finally, the left’s insistent promotion of a right to abortion further undercuts the capacity for indignation about the exploitation with which the Occupy Movement is now concerned. Abortion necessarily involves the exploitation of weak human beings by strong ones. This conclusion is unavoidable unless we adopt the claim that the being whose life is ended by abortion is not human. This claim, however, is hardly credible on its own terms and was proposed precisely in order to obscure the exploitation in question. Furthermore, this exploitation, done in the name of individual autonomy, necessarily involves a denial of moral bonds that are essential to social solidarity. According to the reigning pro-abortion ideology, individual autonomy is more important than a mother’s natural obligation to protect her particular child’s life, and also more important than the physician’s obligation to preserve and not destroy life in general. Contrary to what the left would like to believe, a society that, in the name of individual autonomy, authorizes mothers to pay doctors to destroy unborn children has already in principle authorized the wealthy to exploit the rest of us, if they can get away with it.

The Occupy Movement is a tool by which the American left wishes to compel America to rethink the question of social justice. It should instead be an occasion for the American left itself to rethink its own moral crusades, which turn out to be morally corrosive and hence incompatible with any serious commitment to social justice. Physician, first heal thyself.

Carson Holloway is a political scientist and the author of The Way of Life: John Paul II and the Challenge of Liberal Modernity (Baylor University Press).

Receive Public Discourse by email, become a fan of Public Discourse on Facebook, follow Public Discourse on Twitter, and sign up for the Public Discourse RSS feed.

Support the work of Public Discourse by making a secure donation to The Witherspoon Institute.

Archdiocese of Portland Oregon: Why we should not support the Catholic Campaign for Human Development collection on November 20, 2011

The facts speak for themselves…


Fr. Berrigan watches the golden calf go by…

Fr. Dan Berrigan watches the golden calf go by

As reported here, George Soros, a Wall Street billionaire criminally charged with insider trading, and, a front group for the Wall Street-financed Obama administration, are now joining forces to voice their “support” for an anti-Wall Street movement Occupy Wall Street.

Lo and behold, “Catholic” political group Catholics United (Financed by George Soros during the 2008 presidential election) promoted their own participation in Occupy Wall Street this week on Facebook… Wonder if Fr. Berrigan knows that these Soros-funded outfits want to turn the OWS protest into an Obama campaign re-election tool?

Here’s a video clip of the political religious deception.


The Pillars of Unbelief: Six modern thinkers who’ve harmed the Christian mind — Part III: Karl Marx (1818-1883)

SOURCE: (3) The Pillars of Unbelief – Karl Marx

By Peter Kreeft

Among the many opponents of the Christian faith, Marxism is certainly not the most important, imposing or impressive philosophy in history.

But it has, until recently, clearly been the most influential. A comparison of 1917, 1947 and 1987 world maps will show how inexorably this system of thought flowed so as to inundate one-third of the world in just two generations — a feat rivaled only twice in history, by early Christianity and early Islam.

Ten years ago, every political and military conflict in the world, from Central America to the Middle East, turned on the axis of communism vs. anti-communism.

Even fascism became popular in Europe, and is still a force to be reckoned with in Latin America, largely because of its opposition to “the specter of communism,” as Marx calls it in the first sentence of his “Communist Manifesto.”

The “Manifesto” was one of the key moments in history. Published in 1848, “the year of revolutions’ throughout Europe, it is, like the Bible, essentially a philosophy of history, past and future. All past history is reduced to class struggle between oppressor and oppressed, master and slave, whether king vs. people, priest vs. parishioner, guild- master vs. apprentice, or even husband vs. wife and parent vs. child.

This is a view of history even more cynical than Machiavelli’s. Love is totally denied or ignored; competition and exploitation are the universal rule.

Now, however, this can change, according to Marx, because now, for the first time in history, we have not many classes but only two — the bourgeoisie (the “haves,” owners of the means of production) and the proletariat (the “have-nots,” non-owners of the means of production).

The latter must sell themselves and their labor to the owners until the communist revolution, which will “eliminate” (euphemism for “murder”) the bourgeoisie and thus abolish classes and class conflict forever, establishing a millennium of peace and equality. After being utterly cynical about the past, Marx becomes utterly naive about the future.

What made Marx what he was? What are the sources of this creed?

Marx deliberately turned 180 degrees around from the (1) supernaturalism and (2) distinctiveness of his Jewish heritage to embrace (1) atheism and (2) communism. Yet Marxism retains all the major structural and emotional factors of biblical religion in a secularized form. Marx, like Moses, is the prophet who leads the new Chosen People, the proletariat, out of the slavery of capitalism into the Promised Land of communism across the Red Sea of bloody worldwide revolution and through the wilderness of temporary, dedicated suffering for the party, the new priesthood.

The revolution is the new “Day of Yahweh,” the Day of Judgment; party spokesmen are the new prophets; and political purges within the party to maintain ideological purity are the new divine judgments on the waywardness of the Chosen and their leaders. The messianic tone of communism makes it structurally and emotionally more like a religion than any other political system except fascism.

Just as Marx took over the forms and the spirit of his religious heritage, but not the content, he did the same with his Hegelian philosophical heritage, transforming Hegel’s philosophy of “dialectical idealism” into “dialectical materialism!” “Marx stood Hegel on his head,” the saying goes. Marx inherited seven radical ideas from Hegel:

Monism: the idea that everything is one and that common sense’s distinction between matter and spirit is illusory. For Hegel, matter was only a form of spirit; for Marx, spirit was only a form of matter.

Pantheism: the notion that the distinction between Creator and creature, the distinctively Jewish idea, is false. For Hegel, the world is made into an aspect of God (Hegel was a pantheist); for Marx, God is reduced to the world (Marx was an atheist).

Historicism: the idea that everything changes, even truth; that there is nothing above history to judge it; and that therefore what is true in one era becomes false in another, or vice versa. In other words, Time is God.

Dialectic: the idea that history moves only by conflicts between opposing forces, a “thesis” vs. an “antithesis” evolving a “higher synthesis.” This applies to classes, nations, institutions and ideas. The dialectic waltz plays on in history’s ballroom until the kingdom of God finally comes — which Hegel virtually identified with the Prussian state. Marx internationalized it to the worldwide communist state.

Necessitarianism, or fatalism: the idea that the dialectic and its outcome are inevitable and necessary, not free. Marxism is a sort of Calvinistic predestination without a divine Predestinator.

Statism: the idea that since there is no eternal, trans-historical truth or law, the state is supreme and uncriticizable. Marx again internationalized Hegel’s nationalism here. Militarism: the idea that since there is no universal natural or eternal law above states to judge and resolve differences between them, war is inevitable and necessary as long as there are states.

Like many other anti-religious thinkers since the French Revolution, Marx adopted the secularism, atheism and humanism of l8th century “Enlightenment,” along with its rationalism and its faith in science as potentially omniscient and technology as potentially omnipotent. Here again the forms, feel and function of biblical religion are transferred to another god and another faith. For rationalism is a faith, not a proof. The faith that human reason can know everything that is real cannot be proved by human reason; and the belief that everything that is real can be proved by the scientific method cannot itself be proved by the scientific method.

A third influence, on Marx, in addition to Hegelianism and Enlightenment rationalism, was economic reductionism: the reduction of all issues to economic issues. If Marx were reading this analysis now, he would say that the real cause of these ideas of mine was not my mind’s power to know the truth, but the capitalistic economic structures of the society that “produced” me. Marx believed that within man thought was totally determined by matter; that man was totally determined by society; and that society was totally determined by economics. This stands on its head the traditional view that mind rules body, man rules his societies, and society rules its economics.

Finally, Marx adopted the idea of the collective ownership of property and the means of producing it from previous “utopian socialist” thinkers. Marx says, “The theory of communism may be summed up in the single phrase: abolition of private property.” In fact, the only societies in history that have ever successfully practiced communism are monasteries, kibbutzes, tribes and families (which Marx also wanted to abolish). All communist governments (such as that of the U.S.S.R.) have transferred ownership to the state, not to the people. Marx’s faith that the state would “wither away” of its own accord once it had eliminated capitalism and put communism in its place has proved to be astonishingly naive. Once power is seized, only wisdom and sanctity relinquish it.

The deepest appeal of communism, especially in Third World countries, has been not the will to communalism but “the will to power,” as Nietzsche called it. Nietzsche saw more deeply into the heart of communism than Marx did.

How does Marx deal with the obvious objections to communism: that it abolishes privacy and private property, individuality, freedom, motivation to work, education, marriage, family, culture, nations, religion and philosophy? He does not deny that communism abolishes these things, but says that capitalism has already done so. For example, he argues that “the bourgeois sees in his wife a mere instrument of production.” On the most sensitive and important issues, family and religion, he offers rhetoric rather than logic; for example: “The bourgeois clap-trap about the family and education, about the hallowed correlation between parent and child, becomes all the more disgusting….” And here is his “answer” to religious and philosophical objections: “The charges against communism made from a religious, a philosophical and, generally, from an ideological standpoint are not deserving of serious examination.”

The simplest refutation of Marxism is that its materialism simply contradicts itself. If ideas are nothing but products of material and economic forces, like cars or shoes, then communist ideas are only that too. If all our ideas are determined not by insight into truth but by the necessary movements of matter if we just can’t help the way our tongues happen to wag — then the thoughts of Marx are no more true than the thoughts of Moses. To attack the grounds of thought is to attack one’s own attack.

But Marx sees this, and admits it. He reinterprets words as weapons, not as truths. The functions of the words of the “Manifesto” (and, ultimately, even of the much longer, more pseudo-scientific “Capital”) is not to prove what is true but to encourage the revolution. “Philosophers have only interpreted the world; the thing to do is to change it.” Marx is basically a pragmatist.

But even on this pragmatic level there is a self-contradiction. The “Manifesto” ends with this famous appeal: “The communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries, unite!” But this appeal is self defeating, for Marx denies free will. Everything is fated; the revolution is “inevitable” whether I choose to join it or not. You cannot appeal to free choice and at the same time deny it.

There are strong practical objections to communism as well as these two philosophical objections. For one thing, its predictions simply have not worked. The revolution did not happen when and where Marxism predicted. Capitalism did not disappear, nor did the state, the family or religion. And communism has not produced contentment and equality anywhere it has gained power.

All Marx has been able to do is to play Moses and lead fools backward into the slavery of Egypt (worldliness). The real Liberator is waiting in the wings for the jester who now “struts and frets his hour upon the stage” to lead his fellow “fools to dusty death” the one topic Marxist philosophers refuse to face.


Kreeft, Peter. “The Pillars of Unbelief — Marx” The National Catholic Register, (January – February 1988).

To subscribe to The National Catholic Register call 1-800-421-3230.


Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College. He is an alumnus of Calvin College (AB 1959) and Fordham University (MA 1961, Ph.D., 1965). He taught at Villanova University from 1962-1965, and has been at Boston College since 1965.


Oh, those libertine catholic hordes! Sometimes the universe just magickly opens up for them…

On Friday last, CTA announced on there Facebook page that they are seeking slogans for Call To Action T-shirts, and If they choose yours, you’ll get one free! Here’s one they’ve probably yet to notice, from a store front door in Germany protesting Benedict XVI visit there on September 22…



I’m sure you have your own suggestions, and who knows? You just might get a T for free…


Oakland diocese sets record straight on parish protest

Below is the text of the diocesan statement concerning a demonstration outside the Berkeley Roman Catholic parish, St. Joseph the Worker that was orchestrated to greet Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Diocese of Oakland when he came to officiate at a June 2011 Confirmation Mass.

A scheduled visitation by Bishop Cordileone to St. Joseph the Worker parish in Berkeley took place the weekend of June 18-19. Parish visitations provide the bishop and parish opportunities to worship and visit together. The bishop also meets with parish and school leadership and reviews important parochial matters. Some parishioners and others used this occasion to conduct demonstrations about concerns they have with the pastor, Fr. John Direen.

On Saturday June 18, the bishop and pastor met with the parish pastoral and finance councils, the catechists, and members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Legion of Mary. Fr. Direen also scheduled a special evening meeting with the bishop for representatives of those who have concerns about the parish.

Throughout the weekend concerns stated were with: (1) Fr. Direen’s decision to ask pastor emeritus Fr. George Crespin to move from the parish; (2) decisions made over time related to parish administration; (3) the direction and future of the parish; (4) controversy around meeting with protestors on Sunday.

Subsequent media coverage of the weekend and other commentary require the Diocese to state certain facts clearly, related to the above matters:

1. Fr. Direen became pastor in July 2009 and Fr. Crespin, pastor emeritus, continued living in the rectory. From the beginning, Fr. Direen experienced lack of cooperation from Fr. Crespin which caused many pastoral difficulties. Some of these difficulties include: failure to observe the necessary steps to insure the valid and licit celebration of the sacraments (especially marriage); refusal to discontinue certain irregularities in the celebration of the sacraments so as to conform to the liturgical standards set by the Church, such as not allowing penitents the option of confessing anonymously in the sacrament of Reconciliation and communicating the Eucharist to extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion in the manner of concelebrating priests; and refusal to follow parish procedures in the scheduling of sacraments and other special ceremonies (baptisms, weddings, quiceañera celebrations, etc.) and in the preparation of people for these sacraments.

After increasingly poor pastoral coordination, Fr. Direen spoke with Fr. Crespin in early June and told him that the living arrangement was not working out, and it would be best if he left the rectory by the end of summer, keeping the sacramental and ceremonial commitments he had made up to that point. At the Masses he celebrated shortly thereafter, Fr. Crespin criticized the pastoral leadership of Fr. Direen, telling the parishioners they deserved a better pastor than the one they currently have and suggesting that they may want to start looking for another parish. As a result, Fr. Direen sent Fr. Crespin a letter asking him to leave the rectory by June 30.

2. There was no parish pastoral council at St. Joseph the Worker parish until the pastor who immediately succeeded Fr. Crespin appointed one himself. The next pastor kept this council in place, and this is the council Fr. Direen inherited when he became pastor. Over time, some members left the council and were replaced by invitation of the council. This year other members were terming out and, by mutual agreement, the council termed out together in March.

Fr. Direen then appointed an interim parish council with a charge to decide the method and timing of determining new members of council for the future. The interim group met for the first time on May 9, and Bishop Cordileone met with them during his visitation.

There was no finance council when Fr. Direen arrived. He decided to wait for the scheduled parish financial audit before establishing this council. He recently appointed three members who met for the first time on May 16, and there are plans to expand the membership of this council. Bishop Cordileone met with this group during his visitation as well.

3. There are many challenges for the parish at this time, including a large debt incurred prior to Fr. Direen’s arrival, largely due to retrofitting expenses. However, Fr. Direen is strongly committed to improving the financial position of the parish. There have been recent staff reductions caused by the need to cut expenses. The parish now relies on dedicated volunteers for most administrative and ministry functions. Also, the income of the parish from the Sunday collections has not changed significantly over the past several years.

There has been no discussion or suggestion at any time, at any level, about closing the parish. Parish finances are detailed on the parish web site. It is also not true, as has been asserted, that Fr. Direen is responsible for the closing of two parishes in previous assignments. Prior to his assignment to St. Andrew-St. Joseph parish, the Diocese had already begun a process to consider merging that parish with the Cathedral parish; Fr. Direen was sent to St. Andrew-St. Joseph with the understanding that this was a likely possibility.

Also contrary to recent commentary, no ministries or committees at St. Joseph the Worker have been disbanded, dismissed or displaced. A conference room in the public area of the rectory was converted into a gift shop, in the hope of raising revenue for the parish. To accommodate, Fr. Direen moved out of the pastor’s suite into a smaller resident’s room, and the suite was converted into a conference room for larger groups to meet. Because this is in the private area of the rectory, such groups are always accompanied by a resident of the rectory. There remains a smaller meeting room in the public area of the rectory. Fr. Direen is committed to building and strengthening all parish ministries.

4. The chronology of events surrounding the protest which took place on Sunday June 19 is as follows:

Certain community activists in Berkeley called for a protest in front of the church on Sunday, June 19. An estimated 150 people turned out to protest, including parishioners and non-parishioners, Catholics and non-Catholics. The protestors were peaceful and unobtrusive at first.

Bishop Cordileone presided at the Spanish language Mass at 11:00am. Afterwards, while greeting attendees after Mass and before preparing for the Ge’ez Rite liturgy with the Eritrean community, the bishop was confronted inside the church by a group of protestors.

This group insisted he stop what he was doing and come outside to speak to the crowd. Sensing a growing frenzy among the protestors, the bishop told them this was not the time or the place to do so. He told them he had met the night before with their representatives, and would be willing to do so again with others under the proper conditions.

Protestors continued to crowd into the church, effectively obstructing the entrance and speaking very loudly. The bishop asked them to leave the church so the Eritrean liturgy could begin, but they refused to do so.

When the bishop went up to the sanctuary to await the start of the liturgy, a significant number of the protestors, including some non-Catholics, entered the church carrying their placards with the stated intention of attending the liturgy themselves.

Fearing a disruption but not wanting to presume bad faith, the bishop suggested that the police be called and be informed that there may be a disruption of a worship service in the church. The pastor then called the police, who decided to send two officers to the site. Upon arrival the officers asked the pastor if he wanted them to arrest anyone; he told them no, and instead asked them to simply inform the people that he had the right to ask them to leave the church if he so chose because they were disrupting the start of the liturgy.

At the same time, the Eritrean community, seeing what was going on, did not want to enter the church. Instead, they assembled in the chapel off of the vestibule and their celebrant, Fr. Ghebriel, decided to celebrate the liturgy there.

In order to join the Eritreans, and to avoid possible obstruction by the protestors, the bishop had to leave the church from the sacristy and proceed to the back of the church from outside.

Given the tension of the situation and the uncertainty of maintaining peaceful order during or after the liturgy, the pastor consulted with the two police officers present, and it was decided that the safest action was to clear the church completely. The people inside then exited the church except for one, who insisted on attending the liturgy (as no arrests were made, the individual did remain and joined the congregation without disruption). After the people left the church, the Eritreans outside joined the others in the chapel for the liturgy already in progress.

The liturgy with the Eritrean community then continued peacefully, although the space in the chapel was not large enough to accommodate everyone in attendance.

(To read CalCatholic’s original story about the incident, Click Here.)


Catholic Media Coalition – Press Release: Kudos to the Bishop of Oakland and to the Pastor of St. Joseph the Worker for their stanch defense of the Faith

Contact: Mary Ann Kreitzer

Catholic Media Coalition

1216 Mill Road

Woodstock, Virginia 22664

(ph) 540-459-9493


June 25, 2011 Members of the Catholic Media Coalition reacted with sorrow and anger over news of a demonstration outside the Berkeley Roman Catholic parish, St. Joseph the Worker that was orchestrated to greet Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Diocese of Oakland when he came to officiate at a June 2011 Confirmation Mass.

According to recent reports, this shameful action was, at least in some measure, organized to protest the pastor of St. Joseph the Worker, Reverend John Direen’s closing of a rectory conference room to the Berkeley Organizing Committee for Action (BOCA). BOCA is an affiliate of the Alinskyian organizing network PICO and, together with its sister organizations, is engaged in progressive, political activity.

For years, members of the Catholic Media Coalition have been researching and writing about Alinskyian organizing among religious institutions. The Alinskyian organizing networks have their roots in the dissenting Call to Action movement and foster liberation theology in their member congregations. The protesters in front of the parish have been trained in the tactics of protest and to claim as “rights” what have only been privileges.

We are grateful to the Bishop of Oakland and to the Pastor of St. Joseph the Worker for their stanch defense of the Faith.

Please be assured of our prayers and gratitude.


Mary Ann Kreitzer, president

Catholic Media Coalition, and

Les Femmes

Woodstock, Virginia

Valerie Lubitz, president

Los Pequeños de Cristo

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Stephanie Block, editor

The Pequeños Pepper, and

Catholic Media Coalition

Los Lunas, New Mexico

Allyson Smith, writer

San Diego, California

Carolyn Wendell, Director

VOCAL (Voice of Catholics Advocating Life)

Portland, Oregon

Nancy Kokstis, SFO

The Shepherds Warrior

Prentice, Wisconsin

Georgene M Sorenson,

Romans in the Desert

Tucson, Arizona

Janet Baker, director

Faithful Catholics of MD/DC

Washington, DC

Camille Giglio, director

California Right to Life Advocates

Kathy Parker, president

Brothers and Sisters at the Cross

Birmingham, Alabama

Alice Grayson, director

Veil of Innocence

West Falmouth, Massachusetts

Donna Steichen, author

Ojai, California

Jim Fritz, president

Defenders of the Faith

Berkeley Springs, WV

Kenneth Fisher,


James Mary Evans, webmaster

Portland, Oregon

Sheila Parkhill, attorney

The Holy Family Society of Tucson

Tucson, Arizona