Monday, October 24, 2011

#OccupyWallStreet Pope Says Jesus Would Be Protesting Too With The Carpenters Union

I was raised in an Irish Catholic family. My father MacAllister O'Brien was an union organizer and Machinist Union Vice President who played a major role in the organizing of Machinists at the Boeing Company in the late forties. My grandfather "Telephone" Jack O'Brien was also an union organizer who participated in the creation of the Communication Workers Of America. I later became an union organizer an business agent myself.

Nowadays I'd say I'm agnostic rather than Catholic because I disagree with most of the church's policies and beliefs. Church policy has often worked at cross purpose, for example, opposing abortion, birth control, gay rights and even supporting war making while at the same time calling for fairness and equity in the area of wealth distribution and social justice. From a historic standpoint the church has been generally supportive of workers, the poor and middle class on strictly economic issues.

The motivation for many Catholics to become early leaders of the American labor movement stems in part from an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1891. The encyclical known as Rerum Novarum was interpreted by many Catholics as a divinely guided infallible ruling of the church. With Rerum Novarum Leo XIII in effect became the first pope to speak out against the abuses of capitalism in the midst of the industrial revolution though the encyclical stopped short of supporting outright Socialism. Leo XIII encyclical indicated that workers should join together to address the abuses of their capitalist masters rather than controlling the means of production themselves. The encyclical became a clarion call for Catholic workers to take collective action against the capitalist system that was exploiting them. Pope Leo's encyclical has been reinforced and reinterpreted by a long line of Popes and continues to be an underlying nexus of church dogma related to social justice even today as the video points out.

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