The following statements were issued today by Bishop Sisk and by the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, concerning the pressure being applied to Trinity Wall Street to give Occupy Wall Street access to Duarte Square.
From Bishop Sisk:
December 16, 2011
As many of you know, Trinity Wall Street is being challenged to provide a small parcel of parish-owned land, Duarte Square, to the Occupy Wall Street movement for encampment or other undefined use.
Trinity has clearly shown its support for the wider goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and has aided protesters directly through pastoral care and extensive use of parish facilities. They have said "yes" to requests for meeting space, bathroom facilities, private conference rooms, housing referrals, and pastoral care, and continue to look for ways to provide direct support to those who identify with the movement in Lower Manhattan. Providing private land without facilities for indeterminate usage, however, poses significant health and safety concerns, and is beyond the scope of Trinity's mission. To this, the parish has reasonably said, "no."
In and of itself, a request for use of a parish space by an outside group would not necessitate a Bishop's involvement. But alarmingly, some clergy and protesters have attempted to "take" or "liberate" the space without Trinity's consent, and have clearly indicated their intent to engage in other attempts to do so in the coming days.
While many tactics of the Occupy movement have proven effective and creative, I feel it necessary now to reiterate our Church-wide commitment to non-violence. The movement should not be used to justify breaking the law, nor is it necessary to break into property for the movement to continue.
Together, let us pray for peaceful articulation, in word and deed, of the issues of justice and fairness that have brought the Occupy movement into the national conversation.
The Rt. Rev Mark S. Sisk, Bishop of New York
From the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate:
Trinity Church, Wall Street, has provided extensive practical and pastoral support to the Occupy Wall Street movement. The Trinity congregation has decided that the property known as Duarte Park is not appropriate for use by the Occupy movement, and that property remains closed. Other facilities of Trinity continue to be open to support the Occupy movement, for which I give great thanks. It is regrettable that Occupy members feel it necessary to provoke potential legal and police action by attempting to trespass on other parish property. Seekers after justice have more often achieved success through non-violent action, rather than acts of force or arms. I would urge all concerned to stand down and seek justice in ways that do not further alienate potential allies.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate