Tenant Activists protest sale of rent controlled buildings to developers by Catholic Church

Video-speakers call out the greed and hypocrisy of the Church throwing tenants out in the street for 30 pieces of silver

On the 16th of September, DC area community activists showed up outside the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, demanding that the Catholic Church cancel plans to sell off rent-controlled buildings near Rhode Island avenue to developers who intend to evict the tenants.

Tenants of 636 Girard St. N.E., 628 Girard St. N.E., 1265 Raum St. N.E, and 1364 Bryant St. N.E are all facing eviction from buildings owned by the Catholic Church near the Catholic University Basilica. These are rent-controlled buildings being sold to the highest bidder. In at least one case, a building given as a gift to the church is being sold for profit, as developers exploit loopholes to evict tenants and escape rent control.

On September 24, 2015, Pope Frances declared flatly "We can find no social or moral justification, no justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing." Thus, we have the Basilica at Catholic University effectively defying the Pope on the question of housing.

It is expected that Mammon-worshipping developers would gladly evict a building full of families and longtime residents into the street. The church is supposed to be held to a higher standard, unless of course the recent wave of sexual abuse scandals and a history of other kinds of scandals and controversies indicates this is for public consumption only. As long ago as the Middle Ages, the Church was often a major landholder and this led in turn to the buying and selling of valuble positions of power within the Church, known as Simony and a cause of major controversies in days gone by. Pope Gregory VII (1073–85) aggressively attacked Simony, but the practice persisted at reduced levels after his reign, supposedly disappearing after the 1600's when a lot of Church property was transferred to secular owners. The events on Rhode Island Ave suggest that this is not all the way over, however. Even if no church offices ever were bought and sold at the Basilica, somebody there is acting exactly in the way one would expect of one who had purchased his office: selling property donated to the Church for hard cash,throwing tenants out in the streets in defiance of 2,000 years of religious tradition.


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