The cry of the people is being heard on the streets of American and indeed around the world. The message is clear economic justice not only for the middle class but also for the poor. The visible anger among the Occupy Wall street demonstrators is being directed at greed. That greed has negatively affected many in this country.
It might be time for the US Catholic Bishops to re issue “Economic Justice for All: Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy” issued in 1986. The Pastoral letter which focused on the flaws of a capitalist system, problems in the United States economy, and the crime of massive inequality. Criticized by the Christian Right, officials in the Reagan administration, and conservative Catholics the bishops spoke with boldness and courage a skill that seems to be absent form the present US Council of Catholic Bishops.
The American response to Rerum Novarum was Social Reconstruction: A General Review of the Problems and Survey of Remedies, approved by the Catholic bishops on February 12, 1919. In this document, the bishops supported a whole range of political and economic issues. These included a minimum wage law, workman’s compensation, the right of labor to organize unions, social security, housing assistance, child labor laws, job placements, and vocational training.
A critique of the U.S. economic system, the 1986 pastoral letter “Economic Justice for All: Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy” stated that all economic decisions must ultimately be judged by how they affect people—whether they hinder or promote human dignity.
This statement on economic justice is part of a long tradition of Catholic social teaching. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Church emphasized the need for all in society to work for the common good.
While anger is justified in our opinion, any promotion of violence to correct the wrongs is not. As followers of Jesus Christ we believe in non violence. Perhaps it is time to use the power of nonviolence on the streets. Frustration and anger may get people to the streets, but the courage and conviction of non violence will bring about change.
We also oppose violence directed at innocent citizens in the name of order. We call the police departments to remember their job is to serve and protect the citizenry.
By the same token the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators must also recognize that the police are experiencing the same level of frustration and anger because of cut backs in various police jurisdictions across the country and layoffs. Instead of showing hostility to the police the demonstrators should be working to find common cause with potential allies.
We believe it is time for fairness, and direct non violent action.
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Rainbow Sash Movement