At yesterday's Natonal Prayer Vigil for the Jobless and Jobs, our friend Patrick Carolan, Executive Director of the Franciscan Action Network, addressed the crowd. You can read my earlier article about the Franciscan Action Network here.
Here is the text of his remarks:
Statement by Patrick Carolan Executive Director Franciscan Action Network
Faith Advocates for Jobs National Prayer Vigil
For the Jobless and Jobs Prayer Service
12-08-2011 Upper Senate Park US Capitol
Brothers and Sisters Good Morning
Peace and All Good:
I would like to start with a reading from the Gospel of Matthew 25 34-40
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
I am Patrick Carolan the Executive Director of the Franciscan Action Network. Yesterday I stood at K Street with many of you and I got arrested. I was asked why I get arrested. As a Catholic and part of the Franciscan family I am just following in the footsteps of Jesus and St Francis of Assisi. Every time Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath, which he did on a regular basis, he was committing an act of civil disobedience. St Francis got naked in the public square at Assisi to protest the treatment of the poor, sick and marginalized. St Francis told us to preach the Gospel but use words only when necessary so yesterday when I got arrested, I was simply practicing my faith tradition and preaching the Gospel. I was there to raise awareness on the corruptive influence that money has on our public policy. We should not kid ourselves in thinking that legislation and public policy is written by our elected officials with the interest of the common good. It is written by lobbyist on K Street whose only interest is corporations and the wealthy.
The debate on immigration reform gives us a clear example. Most of you are familiar with Arizona Senate bill 1070 which started the states movement towards a restrictive punitive immigration policy and away from our faith traditions of welcoming the stranger. That bill was not written in Arizona by legislators to affect public policy based on moral values and the common good. It was written on K Street by lobbyist representing the private prison industry working to create public policy that would financially benefit the private prison industry. They then spent millions of dollars on a public relations campaign to create the myth and impression that millions upon millions of undocumented people and terrorists were flowing across the border to collect welfare take our jobs and destroy our nation. As a result we do not have public policy based on moral values and common good but based on providing hundreds of millions of dollar of profits for the private prisons.
We claim to be a moral nation founded on Judeo/Christian principles. All of our elected leaders claim to believe in God and have a faith tradition, the majority of legislators claim to be Christian. Well In 1 Timothy Chapter 6 it says "the love of money is the root of all evils”. In Matthew 6: 24 it says “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money”. Many of our legislators across the street, on both sides of the aisle, who claim to be good Christians, have chosen to serve money over God. Pope Benedict XVI tells us, that agents on all levels – social, political, economic, professional – are urgently needed who have the courage to serve and to promote the common good.
In the letter by Paul to the Philippians it says: “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vain glory; rather humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interest but also for those of the others.” So I ask, and I ask all Americans to ask, what moral values and Christian principles are most of these legislators promoting when they promote policy that is not in the interest of the common good but in the interest of the wealthy and more profits for corporations. I choose to honor and worship God not by just attending church on Sunday but also as St Francis and Jesus did, by standing with the poor the unemployed the marginalized and disenfranchised to promote public policy that promote the common good, and if necessary to get arrested.
May you forever know the light, peace, love and joy of being fully embraced by, and being one with God, Amen.