Posted on September 11, 2012 by itccs
by Kevin D. Annett
(Banishment Proclamation is posted below)
That old trouble maker and community organizer, Saul Alinsky, once said that no public action was worth doing if the people doing it didn’t have fun. More to the point, he elaborated that sustained mockery of the powerful, like by occupying their sacred turf, was something they had no defense against.
The horrified reaction of Catholic Bishops everywhere to our occupation of their churches during Sunday services seems to bear out Saul. So it’s delightful to know that we few in the vanguard of a growing army of justice for children have a way to really grab the clerics where it hurts.
This article is an accompanying piece to our just-issued Proclamation of Banishment against the Roman Catholic Church. It’s a sort of “how to” manual with practical hints of ways to sustain our campaign to expose and open up these churches long past the day when the Banishment is pronounced.
The Fly in the Elephant’s Ear
First, a word on our general strategic situation: our forces are like a fly in an elephant’s ear – tiny, but lethal in the right moment and place. That’s because we have the truth, solid evidence, and a potential army of witnesses on our side. Our strongest weapon is to always stand loudly and clearly on that evidence, and to keep shoving it in the face of the church and the public, in ways they don’t expect.
The Catholic Church Inc. is the oldest corporation in history, and therefore the most vulnerable and the least flexible. We are the opposite: we have nothing to lose, are adaptable, and completely unpredictable. That’s how guerrilla movements historically operate, and win against seemingly unbeatable tyrants.
The best example I like about what our little guerrilla groups can do is how a dozen or so of us in Canada forced the Indian residential schools genocide into the political and media mainstream in the spring of 2007 simply by occupying churches in Vancouver and Toronto during their Sunday services. And years before that, in the fall of 1995, by picketing the United Church head office in Vancouver I forced its top officers to prematurely issue a public statement denying that children were killed in their Indian schools – even before I had accused them of causing such deaths!
In short, a big enemy, properly goaded, will cause its own undoing, since it knows it’s guilty and is operated by lawyers and bureaucrats whose bottom line is a purely financial one: that is, calculating everything on the basis of what they stand to lose.
Practical Steps: Be Creative and Have a Ball!
What we’re starting around the world is an enormous reclamation movement: we are telling the Catholic Church to get off our land or conform to the will of the people. We are taking over churches and making them open, public space. And from the reaction so far, including from over three hundred ecstatic volunteers in seven countries, we have struck a chord in the public imagination.
Our own worst enemy now is our own fear and lack of imagination.
First, about fear: it’s what religion relies on, especially Catholicism. Most of us have been conditioned to fear churches and clergy, and assume that those cloistered altars and pews are somehow sacred and untouchable realms. We’re even told by some statutes that to “disrupt” a church service is an offense under the law.
In practice, that’s a statute that cops will never enforce, because they know it’s bullshit. After all, what is “disruption”? Somebody challenging a priest or questioning his interpretation of scripture? Maybe an old granny should be jailed for coughing during a priestly homily?
In our case, our occupation of churches during the service has always been done respectfully and non-violently. It’s always the priests who resort to violence in that situation.
For instance, I was personally grabbed and put into an arm lock by an enraged cleric at Holy Rosary cathedral in Vancouver once when I stood peacefully with fifty others bearing a banner “All the Children Need a Proper Burial”. The priest’s absurdity was obvious to everyone in the pews that day, and in fact, a few minutes later, the whole congregation stood reverentially as we walked past with the banner.
Of course, what we’re planning this week and beyond is more permanent than a one-time occupation. We will be actively dis-establishing the Catholic Church, and taking over their premises. And for that, we need serious and wider community support.
We will be creating that support by breaking the ice and naming what is, and doing something. Most people hang back and are secretly inspired and thrilled by the doers, no matter how risky is the doing. What gets them on board is when they see that the doing is happening more than once. So above all, we need to sustain our effort.
But here are two very simple things that will guarantee community involvement, and even media interest: music, and humor.
Some folks in Vancouver are planning a Public Frock Off in local catholic churches, where known child rapists and other crooks among the clergy will be named and escorted from the premises. They’re asking everybody to show up and witness the Frock Off, and to please bring drums, instruments and banners for the event.
A local singer-friend of mine in Vancouver plans to sing from the pulpit a diddy he composed called “I Saw Jesus Today”, which reminds people how you won’t find Christ in a church but out among the suffering.
In the coming days, an aboriginal women’s group in Canada plans to occupy and open up their local catholic church as a free daycare and safe house for threatened people: wonderfully appropriate, when you think of it, considering the role of the same church in creating generations of tortured native women and men. I love the image of a hundred dark skinned kids running around a fancy catholic sanctuary!
The sky’s the limit in these actions. Some survivors’ groups in Europe plan to open up catholic churches as the site of Street Corner Tribunals, where victims can name the crimes and the criminals. And in Canada and the USA, our people will often rely on simple “infiltration” of Sunday services, sitting among the parishioners and speaking with them, or mounting the pulpit to address the congregation.
Pulpit seizures are a fine and honorable tradition, after all. The early Quakers and Ranters in England did it nicely, inciting church goers to seek God in the world and their neighbors, and not in “idolatrous temples”.
And speaking of temples and their cleansing, Jesus himself – on the one occasion he was ever in a church – used a tactic that we’d recommend as well. Need we say more?
What to Do if …
Okay, so your cheerful hordes have entered a church and camped out, read the Banishment, and been told by the grumpy ushers to leave. You don’t, so they call the cops. Now what?
Well, going into a church isn’t a crime. It’s your public right, especially since those of you who pay taxes are actually funding the place, and that makes it public space. And that’s the first thing you tell the boys in blue when they arrive: sorry officers, but this is a religious gathering in public, and we’re all worshiping what really matters.
The cops and anybody, in fact, can get in trouble under the law if they disturb a religious gathering. We’ve found that at this point, the gendarmes either leave or stand around looking helpless: in which case, go ahead and start educating them about the crimes of the church they’ve shown up to protect.
And that’s a key point: the police are sworn to be public servants and not the private security force for institutionalized child rapists. So tell them that, and tell them you’re deputizing them to be public peace officers who’ll protect your right to gather peacefully inside and outside the church.
We did that in Vancouver churches on three occasions. Each time, the cops left.
But life is unpredictable, and what if the police or some catholic thugs try using force to evict you? Unlikely. The church’s chief concerns are their public image, their property and their revenue. Violence in the church threatens all three of those. So stand pat on your rights, your peaceful occupation, and the truth that the church killed and still harms children, and you will retain the moral and practical high ground.
In the Long Run
Displacing and replacing the church is our long term aim. These Banishments and Occupations are merely our opening salvos. On those occasions where native groups in Canada have ordered the catholic church off their land, the church has complied, since it knows it was squatting there illegally all along.
In the long run, we will be relying on such evictions like the ones ordered by hereditary elder Kiapilano of the Squamish nation, who in March 2008 issued eviction notices to all of the churches that killed his relatives in residential schools: the Church of England, the Catholic, and the United Church.
For now, our Ten Measures statement (May 4 posting, www.itccs.org) is what needs to be broadcasted to catholics everywhere during our occupations: that is, the catholic folks can stay, as long as they agree to these ten steps. This will help force church goers to choose, and will help launch a new sort of Reformation, if history tells us anything.
For now, be bold, imaginative, and film everything that you do, and post it on youtube. Send us the links. We will be spreading news and updates to you all.
Remember: what you do today will save the life and the sanity of a child tomorrow – and may even resurrect the memory and hopes of the little ones murdered by Imperial Christianity.
Carry it on! The world is watching!
PUBLIC PROCLAMATION OF BANISHMENT
issued against the Roman Catholic Church, Inc.
on the sixteenth day of September, 2012
and read to Roman Catholic Church officials and congregations around the world
Whenever any power becomes a destructive and uncontrollable force in our communities and endangers the lives and well being of our children, it is the inherent, lawful and customary right of the People to expel that power from their midst, especially when constituted authority refuses to do so.
The Roman Catholic Church as a whole has become such a destructive force, causing centuries of suffering, plundering, genocide, warfare and death, maintaining a regime of institutionalized terror against children, protecting child rapists and murderers in its ranks, and holding itself unaccountable for its crimes. This criminal regime compels its own clergy to obstruct justice by protecting child rapists among them, from a law promulgated by the Pope himself and by the Vatican.
Since it is we the People who have through our taxes and tax exemption laws allowed such a church to operate among us and even profit off its exploitation and torture of our children, we the People have the legitimate right and duty to annul such tax exemptions and legal privileges now enjoyed by the Roman Catholic Church.
By the same measure, since the Roman Catholic Church is a publicly funded institution, we the People have the right to freely enter any such Church to ensure that children are not being harmed, that evidence of wrongdoing is not being concealed, and that child abusers are not operating under church protection. And ultimately, we the People have the right to prevent the same Church from operating in our community by banishing it outright when it proves resistant to change.
Therefore, firm in this knowledge and our right, as well as our sacred duty to defend all children, we the People make the following Public Proclamation:
The Roman Catholic Church Incorporated, and all of its dioceses, parishes and agencies, are henceforth as of this date and forever declared to be banished and denied the right to operate in our communities.
Individual Roman Catholic congregations are exempt from this Banishment if they agree to abide by the ten terms set forth below.
The Church as a whole or individual congregations will be allowed the right to resume operations in our communities only when it agrees to and implements the following measures:
1. The Pope and College of Cardinals, and all of their Bishops and other authorities, must annul the Canon Law doctrine known as Crimen Solicitationas and all other rules and policies that give aid and protection to anyone who harms children.
2. The same Church authorities must immediately defrock and deny any compensation to any and all of its clergy who have harmed children or who in the future do harm to children, and to anyone who protects such abusers.
3. The Church must issue full reparations to survivors of harm done by church employees or clergy, according to the wishes of those survivors.
4. The Church must unconditionally surrender for a proper burial the remains of all those children and others who died in church facilities.
5. The Church must unconditionally return all land and wealth taken from those incarcerated in their facilities, and all wealth generated by their exploitation as low paid or unpaid laborers.
6. The Church must unconditionally surrender all the evidence and the perpetrators of crimes done by the Church against children, indigenous people and others.
7. The Church must agree to the public licensing of all of its clergy, Bishops and employees as accountable and supervised public servants who take a binding, Public Oath to unconditionally defend the rights and sanctity of all children and expose anyone who harms children, even if this Oath contradicts Church customs and policies.
8. The Church must agree to withdraw from all tax exemptions, financial concordats, legal or diplomatic immunity, and all other privileges granted to it by governments.
9. The Church must annul the status of the Vatican as a state and abolish Rome’s authority over its congregations.
10. The Church must redistribute its wealth and the resources of the Vatican Bank to church victims and the community, as Christ himself commands.
If the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops and Clergy of the Roman Catholic Church publicly agree to these Ten Requirements of Humanity and the Law, the Public Banishment of the Church will be suspended, and it will be allowed to legally and morally operate in our communities.
However, if these authorities refuse to implement these measures, all church buildings, assets and properties of the Roman Catholic Church Incorporated and its dioceses and parishes will continue as of this date to be under Public Ownership and Control, and will be freely occupied and used by the community for its benefit. Any officials or clergy of the Church found on these Public Premises after this date will be considered to be illegally trespassing, and may face immediate Citizens’ Arrest.
We call upon all members of the Roman Catholic Church and all of its clergy to stand now with humanity and justice, and abide by this Proclamation in order to forge a new consensus and faith that unconditionally upholds the sanctity and well being of all children and all people.
As of today, under the authority of this Proclamation, all members of our communities, and especially our homeless and poorest members, are invited and encouraged to permanently occupy and reclaim Roman Catholic churches everywhere, which are now and forever proclaimed to be Open, Public Space.
Issued Sunday, September 16, 2012, at 12 noon Greenwich Mean Time.
Filed and Entered as a Sworn Document by Kevin D. Annett – Eagle Strong Voice in the Docket of the International Human Rights Court of Justice, Brussels