Сatholic Church and mass protests in the U.S. and Ukraine: common features

The Catholic Church is invisibly present behind the scenes of many geopolitical processes. Photo: UOJ

Representatives of the Catholic Church also take part in mass protests in the USA. Why is this happening and is the entire RCC interested in that?

Mass protests against racism in the U.S. at the moment are no longer a purely social phenomenon but are gaining a distinct religious connotation. The place where George Floyd died has become a real object of religious pilgrimage for many thousands of Americans: mass worship and baptisms are currently taking place there. In addition, the personality of the deceased (who had a criminal record) is being actively sacralized, and representatives of various Churches see him as a victim that made America speak with renewed vigor about its racial problems.

In this article we will consider the support of protests in the U.S. and the participation of representatives of the Roman Catholic Church in them, as well as recall the activities of this organization in two Ukrainian Maidans. 

Protests in the USA and the RCC

As we remember, mass protests in the United States started on May 25, 2020. Already on June 1, the Catholic “America Magazine” noted in an editorial: “Catholics cannot be content to stand on the sidelines of this struggle. In the face of racism, Catholics must hunger for justice as we hunger for the Eucharist.” According to the Editorial Board of the magazine, “this national outcry should lead Catholics, white Catholics especially, to conversion, repentance and reconciliation” (one of the ways of such “repentance” was washing the feet of African Americans, which we wrote about in a previous article).

On June 2, Catholic Archbishop Gregory Wilton of Washington, D.C., condemned President Donald Trump for visiting the National Temple of St. John Paul II. In a statement by the bishop of the RCC, the mere presence of the president in the church is called "incomprehensible and reprehensible". In other words, the Archbishop of Washington believes that the presence of a person in the temple should be determined by his political rather than religious beliefs.

On June 3, the pontiff of the Roman Church, Pope Francis, also expressed his position on what is happening in America. During a live broadcast from the Vatican Apostolic Palace, he stated that he joined “the Church in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and in the entire United States, in praying for the repose of the soul of George Floyd and of all those others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism".

On the same day, the former chairman of the Commission on Ecumenism and Dialogue of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and now a high-ranking clerical official, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, said that “a cultural revolution is needed, especially when racism is evident in the highest tiers of society”. In his opinion, the word “race” should be banned, and brotherhood and solidarity could become “the vaccine to combat racism”. That is, for the Catholic hierarch, a means to combat racism is not the transforming grace of the Holy Spirit but “liberty, equality and fraternity”.

Perhaps, it was in the framework of this “vaccine” against racism that the Catholic Bishop David Zubik announced that there will be a new parish in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, and it’s one that will specifically serve the black Catholic community.

Photo: Washington Auxiliary Bishop Roy E. Campbell taking part in a "prayer protest" outside the White House in Washington on June 8, 2020.

On June 8, more than 40 Catholic priests and deacons, several bishops and hundreds of laymen of the RCC took part in the so-called "prayer protest action" near the White House.

However, already on June 15, Catholic bishops in Maryland called on believers to take more serious measures to end racism. In their deep conviction, "prayer and dialogue alone are not enough" because "we must act to bring about true change”.

Protests and the Vatican’s official position

Such statements of the RCC hierarchs could at least be justified somehow if the “Black Lives Matter” movement has a non-violent and peaceful character. However, as we know, protests against racism very quickly turned into pogroms, looting, and the destruction of cultural monuments in the United States. In addition, during the riots, there were numerous attacks on police officers and ordinary white citizens. Some of these cases ended in death.

In New York, two officers were shot, and one was stabbed. Four other officers were shot and killed in St. Louis. Two officers were shot by a rioter in Richmond, Virginia. Two policemen were also shot dead in Oakland, California. Others were hit by baseball bats, rocks and were shot (one killed) in a drive-by ambush. These facts could hardly fall out of the sight of Catholic hierarchs in the United States, so their call for active participation in protests looks very unusual.

Similarly weird is the position of the Vatican's official website, “Vatican News”, which says that “Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a movement dedicated to non-violent civil disobedience through protests against police violence directed at Black persons as well as all forms of racism”. As far as "non-violent" it is, we have written above.

From what is happening in the U.S., we can conclude that the support of BLM by the senior leadership of the Catholic Church is the official position of the Vatican. Moreover, anyone who disagrees with it is being released from church positions or subjected to obstruction.

RCC representatives during an anti-racism rally

For example, the Archbishop of Boston resigned the Catholic priest, Fr. Dan Moloney, a chaplain of one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for a phrase that the latter wrote on his blog: "It’s a sad fact that most of our thinking about race takes place in a left-wing, Marxist, atheistic context, in which a desire for power and an awareness of otherness crowd out Christian reflections on meekness and solidarity... To conquer racism requires a conversion to holiness, and a willingness to spread grace and charity to hardened hearts.”

However, maybe it would have been all right, but Fr. Moloney infringed on the "holy", saying that George Floyd "did not live a virtuous life’. In response to those words, MIT Dean Susie Nelson said that "by devaluing and humiliating George Floyd's personality, Father Molony does not recognize the dignity of every person”. So, talking about other people's s sins violates their dignity? Isn't it the Church's task to call people to repentance?

As we see, instead of calling to repentance, the Catholic Church in the USA calls believers to other things – mass protests. And it does not only urge but also actively participates in them and, perhaps, even funds riots.

Does the RCC fund protests in the U.S.?

To answer this question, it is enough to analyze the activities of the so-called "Catholic Campaign for Human Development" (CCHD), whose mission is to combat poverty and promote a social justice program. The CCHD is a subcommittee of the so-called "U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops" (USCCB). It should be noted that the USCCB is a collegial body of the national church-administrative administration of the RCC in the U.S. and its decisions are approved personally by the Pope.

So, the subcommittee of the "U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops," referred to as the CCHD, states that it is committed ‘to address poverty in America by confronting the root causes of economic injustice—and promoting policies that help to break the cycle of poverty”. It is noteworthy that the CCHD is funded by Catholic parishes and dioceses in the United States, as well as through individual donations. And the amounts received by the organization are quite significant. For example, in 2017 alone, the CCHD received $18.1 million from various sources.

What kind of "social justice transformation organizations" does the CCHD aid?

A full list of the grantees can be found on the USCCB's list of groups that have been approved for a grant by the USCCB Subcommittee of CCHD. Among them, there are several organizations that have been most active in the U.S. protests.

In particular, the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ) has received $150,000 from the CCHD over the past three years, including last year's $50,000 grant.

It was this organization that tweeted a video on May 30, in which protesters shouted "Death to Racist Pigs!" to the police during a rally.

It should be noted that the NOWCRJ’s logo is a clenched fist, which is a hallmark of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and many modern revolutionaries.

Compare with Black Lives Matter (BLM)

On May 30, the NOWCRJ publishes a tweet voicing solidarity with Minneapolis uprisings, which says: "Revolution is our only option at this point.”

NOWCRJ’s tweet of May 30, 2020

The same can be said about another organization from the RCC list in the USA called “The Workers' Center of Central New York”. Only the Syracuse Diocese of the RCC in the USA allocated to this organization a $70,000 grant for 2018-2019 to fight "for workers' rights". You wouldn't be surprised to learn that the workers in Central New York also use an upward fist as a logo?

The logo of the Workers’ Center of CNY

On 29 May, representatives of this public group wrote on their Facebook page: “… these riots and lootings are taking back what the masses of working black and brown communities are owned  (We can’t but remember Lenin’s “rob the loot” – Ed.)…. Riots and protests are necessary tools and we fully support… We must continue to support the local organizing efforts of groups like Black Lives Matter Syracuse New York.”

A post of Workers' Center of Central New York on Facebook

Moreover, in 2019, the People's Lobby Education Institute received a $50,000 grant from the Chicago Diocese of the RCC in the USA through the same CCHD.

On May 30, representatives of this group tweeted: "No justice, no peace, no racist police".

 

A tweet of Workers’ Center of CNY

On June 4, another entry appeared on the "The People's Lobby Education Institute" Facebook page, saying that the money the government spent on the police department could have been spent on black people. And to make that claim more convincing, the Catholic Church-funded organization portrayed policemen as pigs.

A Facebook posting of "The People's Lobby Education Institute"

Besides these organizations, there are a dozen other organizations on the CCHD's grantees-list that not only support the riots in the United States, but actually push or even initiate them. These facts allow us to draw a conclusion – the CCHD in the USA is directly or indirectly involved in the organization of mass disorders in the country.

RCC, UGCC and Ukrainian Maidans

We, Ukrainians, knew about Catholic political participation long before George Floyd died. However, in Ukraine, the Catholic Church acts indirectly, through its subdivision – UGCC.

A well-known blogger and researcher of the Ukrainian Union Alexander Voznesenskyy claims that the UGCC was behind the organization of both the first (2004) and second Maidans (2013-2014) in Ukraine.

Besides, the leading role of the Uniates during the Ukrainian revolutions is also highlighted by the UGCC top management. In particular, an active participant of the second Maidan 2013-14, the UGCC Bishop Boris Gudziak (now he lives in the U.S. and naturally supports anti-racism protests) said that half of the protesters on Euromaidan are Greek Catholics. Voznesensky recalls that the combat organizations of Maidan – "Right Sector" and "Trident" – have been working very closely and fruitfully with the UGCC.

However, apart from the "power" support for Maidan, the Uniates did not overlook its sacral or religious component. In particular, they organized the so-called ecumenical Chapel of the "Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God and the New Martyrs of the Ukrainian People (Heavenly Hundred)" in the centre of Kyiv.

UGCC chapel in Institutska St. in Kyiv

Interestingly, as in the George Floyd case, the Ukrainians killed on Maidan, regardless of personal religious beliefs, were declared almost "saints".

In one of his sermons, the head of UGCC Sviatoslav Shevchuk compares the death of the "Heavenly Hundred" with the Paschal sacrifice of Christ: "Someone will remember the Maidan victims, others will talk about the shooting of Maidan ... And we, Christians, understand something much deeper here. We are talking about the Paschal sacrifice of the Heavenly Hundred." For Shevchuk, the blood of the "Heavenly Hundred" is a "treasure", "the moment of liberation and transition from slavery to freedom" and "the beginning of life".

Similar theses were expressed by the former Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University Boris Gudziak: "...Heavenly hundred, our soldiers in the East are written in gold letters in the book of life of our people ... Their portraits, as national icons, look at me and you, at all of us ...".

He is currently the Archbishop and Metropolitan of Philadelphia (UGCC) and may speak of "icons" of George Floyd in the United States now. At least he, along with other "Ukrainian Catholics in the U.S." (UGCC representatives in America), has already expressed his support for protests against racial discrimination and called for prayers for "Mr. George Floyd”.

***

As we see, the participation of the Roman Catholic Church in political processes both in the U.S. and in other countries is a clear fact. Only the answer to the question "Why?" can cause confusion.

To answer it, it is enough to remember that the Vatican, in its essence, is a church-political conglomerate. The Pope is not only the head of the Roman Catholic Church but also the political leader of the Vatican State, and the entire Catholic Episcopate performs, except for the Church, secular and ministerial functions. Thus, by participating in various political processes, the Vatican is merely realizing its centuries-long aspiration for political hegemony in the world.

The famous Pope Gregory VII, the author of a document known as “Dictatus papae” (“Dictates of the Pope”), wrote: "Only the Pope can wear imperial regalia. All princes must kiss the foot only of the Pope ... The Pope has the right to depose emperors". Apparently, this "right to deport emperors" haunts the modern Roman Catholic Church. And it's not that the Vatican is putting a special emphasis on this activity now. No, the desire to control secular power in various states (and, if necessary, to promote its change) among Catholics is natural. It has been an integral part of their mentality for many centuries.

But the question arises: Where is Christ, faith and salvation in all this?

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