VANCOUVER, November 2, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On Sunday morning a break-away faction of the Occupy Vancouver movement tried to occupy the city’s Holy Rosary Cathedral during morning Mass.
Several dozen protesters, calling themselves ‘Occupy the Vatican’, were halted when Archbishop Michael Miller requested a police presence, and were stopped again later in the day by police and members of the Knights of Columbus.
The incident highlights a trend by some in the anti-corporate protest movement to use it as a launching pad for attacks on Christianity and the Catholic Church in particular.
Most infamously, on October 15th, members of the Occupy Rome protest entered a Roman Catholic Church and destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary.
The effort to occupy the church in Vancouver comes after a call on October 13th by former Evangelical leader Frank Schaeffer for the Occupy movement to begin targeting Evangelical and Roman Catholic churches.
In a blog post, Schaeffer argued that “fundamentalist religion” has made the “rape” of the 99 percent possible by pushing moral issues such as abortion and same-sex “marriage,” thus encouraging the less fortunate to “vote against their own class” by backing the Republicans over the Democrats.
“The source of the empowering of the top 1 percent super wealthy and the economic rape of rest of us is the religion of Evangelical fundamentalism,” he wrote.
Frank’s father Francis Schaeffer was credited as a major theological inspiration for the conservative Christian political movement, including the U.S. pro-life movement. While still widely regarded as an Evangelical leader, Frank has joined the Greek Orthodox Church and renounced his former pro-life views.
“Fundamentalist religion of all kinds is the enemy of democracy and thus of America. It is the enemy of working people everywhere too when it’s bogus moral crusades empower the rich to thumb their noses at our government,” he wrote.
“The fundamentalist have replaced economic and political justice with a bogus (and hate-driven) ‘morality’ litmus tests of spurious red herring ‘issues’ from abortion to school prayer and gay rights,” he continued.
The ‘Occupy the Vatican’ group in Vancouver was not supported by Occupy Vancouver, but was reportedly comprised largely of First Nations people upset over the sex abuse crisis and a supposed land dispute.
The group has built a Facebook page to promote more activism against the Catholic Church and to build support for the cause in Europe. The charges the group levels against the Church are wide-ranging, including anger over its moral positions against homosexual acts and abortion.
Bill Donohue, president of The Catholic League, condemned the “Occupy the Vatican” demonstrators as “urban anarchists” akin to the Nazi movement of the 1930s.
“Busting into a house of worship is what the Nazis did in the 1930s to Jews: they disrupted services in synagogues throughout Germany,” Donohue pointed out.
“Today’s urban anarchists, e.g., the ‘Occupy’ thugs, are essentially nihilistic, though there are some who want to censor the voice of Catholicism. While we have not seen attempts by these crazies in the U.S. attacking Catholic churches, we will monitor these developments more closely,” Donohue told LifeSiteNews.
Catholic Civil Rights League executive director Joanne McGarry said that the Vancouver “Occupy the Vatican” incident was a predictable demonstration of things going awry in the protest movement, although she doesn’t think attacks on the Church are at the “core of the Occupy movement.”
“I think it’s inevitable in any protest movement,” McGarry told LifeSiteNews. “You’ll often see a pattern where things start fairly responsibly and then factions either break off or more radical groups join in.”
“It’s just a situation that all owners of private property need to be aware of, that faithful members of the Church need to be aware of,” McGarry said. “It’s plainly unacceptable to attempt to occupy a church, particularly during Mass.”