Liberal Portland Parishioners Launch Petition Demanding Change

News: US News
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by William Mahoney, Ph.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  August 16, 2019   

Mass disrupters take their protest to social media

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PORTLAND, Ore. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The "progressive" Catholics who recently interrupted Mass to protest their pastor have launched a petition and taken their protest to social media. 

The protestors claim in the petition that the clergy is oppressing parishioners at the parish of St. Francis of Assisi by disallowing their social justice activities based in "progressive Catholic teachings." 

They also say that they are against "dogma of faith" and invite anybody to join them ― Catholic or non-Catholic ― in their rebellion:

ST. FRANCIS PEOPLE

One voice can move mountains. Many voices can change the world.

St. Francis People is movement started by current and former parishioners of the historical St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Portland, Oregon which is currently being oppressed by its own clergy.

Instead of allowing our values to be run over, we have instead taken up various federated causes based in progressive Catholic teachings that are steeped in the social justice we have been taught through the years at St. Francis.

We stand proudly with our houseless brothers and sisters, migrants, refugees, and the voiceless.

We are called to represent equality, justice, inclusiveness, and care for the planet both in the church and outside of it.

We stand firmly against clericalism, sexism, fundamentalism, and dogma of faith.

The issues we take on are urgent not only for Catholics, but for everyone during these extraordinary times of crisis. We need your voice whether you are a Catholic or not.

The petition does not explain exactly what these parishioners mean by "dogma of faith." 

In Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma ― a standard reference book in Catholic theology ― Ludwig Ott provides a working definition for "dogma": "All those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the Word of God written or handed down and which are proposed for our belief by the Church either in a solemn definition or in its ordinary and universal authoritative teaching."

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The protestors also launched a Facebook page called "St. Francis People." 

The page has various images of these parishioners sitting in the church with their eyes closed surrounded by black and white images of the street.

"When faith leaders fail both the laity and the most vulnerable by answering with authoritarianism in church hierarchy," reads one post.

Another post shows used boots without shoelaces atop a public mailbox.

The American Conservative published an article by Rod Dreher on Monday with some background information on this parish. 

"The Oregonian's report on it is hysterically biased, making the priest look like a monster; the reporter never once appears to have considered that Catholicism is a religion that has clear norms, and this parish's previous leadership had seriously violated them, for a long time," wrote Dreher. 

One individual who lives close to St. Francis and was quoted in the articles said: "The parish was viscerally not a good fit for me. The picture drawn by the secular paper is somewhat accurate: a tiny parish filled entirely with aging flower children nearing the end of their life's journey. The 'liturgy' was almost unrecognizable and the heresy flowed like water." 

This individual also highlighted the irregular nature of this parish that the local media did not include:

Something not mentioned in the piece: for a long while, the parish was essentially run by a lay woman who would essentially contract out for priests as desired. It was a frankly bizarre arrangement even within the confines of the Portland Archdiocese. It's fascinating that the parish was allowed to sail on for so long in that fashion. I think the piece doesn't do justice to how totally outside the norm literally every aspect of the parish was, from governance to liturgy.

The St. Francis People Facebook page had 15 likes and 16 followers as of press time. 

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