An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Christian Leadership

"The Americans shot every boat on the river because people were trying to escape Fallujah by the river. They shot all the sheep, any animal people owned was shot. Helicopters shot all the animals and anything that moved in all the villages surrounding Fallujah during the fighting.

He said that none of the roads into Fallujah, or around Fallujah were passable because anyone on them was shot. 'I know one family that were all killed.'" - Iraq Dispatches, Dahr Jamail, Dec. 9, 2004.

Precision-Guided Missiles



Anglican bishops speak out:


"The figures for ’collateral damage’ that are emerging are unacceptable in a society that prides itself on civilised values.

It is essential that immediate aid is delivered to the most vulnerable in Fallujah and that long-term assistance is guaranteed for the rebuilding of the homes and infrastructure that have been obliterated.

Secondly, we need to acknowledge that huge numbers of Iraqi Muslims, and in particular those from the Sunni Triangle, increasingly regard the current military action as a war between religions.

The battle for Fallujah began on one of the holiest days on the Muslim calendar, the day when the giving of the Koran is celebrated." - Fallujah Civilian Deaths Not Acceptable, Say Bishops, Scotsman, Nov. 16, 2004.

We are still awaiting word from any of our readers with similar statements from Catholic bishops. The Red Cross estimates that as many as 6000 were killed in the attack on Fallujah. Those with sufficient stomach can see photographic evidence of U.S. efforts to liberate Iraq at http://dahrjamailiraq.com/gallery/view_album.php?set_albumName=album28&page=1.

Where are the Christian voices to cry out with the people of Iraq in saying, "Iraq is burning with wrath, anger and sadness…the people of Fallujah are dear to us. They are our brothers and sisters and we are so saddened by what is happening in that city." - Iraq Dispatches, Dahr Jamail, Dec. 8, 2004.

Dear Lord, give us the gift of sadness and wrath. Leave us not to stew in our distractions while our means are spent to murder families, that "sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2205) in their homes. Open our eyes to see brothers and sisters rather than insurgents and terrorists.

1 comment:

jphnfitz said...

the letter below was sent (22/12/06) to the RC Bishops I have emails for(nearl all). Be interested in your comments if any.
I keep hoping for an active response from them. We know bishop Kirby is supportive and has shown it at the Pitstop Ploughshares trial and in "Would You Believe" programme with Damien Moran etc. Bishop McKeown saw off the group going to Faslane a while back and marched in the Belfast protest, and Bishop Lee says he's very interested in the issue. How best might it be followed up? anyone else interested?

Dear bishop,

This is my third letter in the last few months (since 15/09/06). The first appeal was not acknowledged, possibly ignored? Three responded to the repeat of the first one which asked if it was disinterest or disdain that led to no acknowledgement or reply. I have thanked them for that.

In my long considered view, this is a very important subject hardly addressed directly by the Irish Church (and very inadequately by the media).
As the response over the years to correspondence with yourselves has been miniscule I've decided to attempt to get some publicity for the content. I've sent it to the media but it's unlikely to get any attention there unless they want to have a go at you. So my main hope is that you may consider taking up the issues and pull no punches. But if you think I'm wrong in my analysis please let me know why and take me out of my misery. Thank you.

Editor, the letter below is an open letter (as sent) to the Catholic bishops in Ireland making the point that

it is utter hypocrisy to be Celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace after supporting a "shock and awe" terrorising illegal invasion (the greatest crime of all- Nuremberg Tribunal) and ongoing murderous occupation of Iraq.

Contact info John Fitzgibbon 01 2853387

This scandal is worse than the child abuse one!

Here, we're dealing with assent to what UN Assistant Sec General Halliday called genocide, the Canadian Churches ICA Report called murder, a view echoed by many other reports and in the Catholic church's excellent February 2001 Trocaire/Caritas Europa* report.

Dear Bishop ,

From February 2001 at least, when the Trocaire/Caritas Europa* report on Iraq, "A People Sacrificed", was issued you should have been aware of the criminal nature of what the UN sanctions were doing to the people of Iraq (for example, killing 5,000 under 5 year old kids a month for the previous10 years**), and our complicity as knowing assenting members of the UN.

Denis Halliday (ex UN Assistant Sec. General in Iraq '97/'98) had resigned his UN post in1998 (after 30+ years) in protest, calling the Sanctions 'genocide'. He was reported and broadcast widely on the issue. His successor, von Sponeck ('98/2000, after 30+ years also), and the head of the World Food Programme in Iraq , resigned in protest in Aug 2,000. Three (according to former US Attorney General, Ramsey Clarke) UNSCOM inspectors resigned and protested.

Halliday's address at the AfrI conference in 2,000, and later discussions with him, left me deeply disturbed at our failure to even raise the issue at the UN. I immediately joined CEISI (Campaign to End Iraq Sanctions Ireland) to pursue the matter. CEISI (and other groups) brought Halliday, von Sponeck Bishop Gumbleton, etc. etc., to brief the Minister, the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs, the media, public meetings etc over 4 years. CEISI members also emailed and otherwise attempted to enlist your support. The response was negligible.

The exceptional Caritas Europa report was presented to the Minister etc. by Trocaire's Justin Kilcullen. CEISI distributed about 100 print copies and emailed it, or extracts, to hundreds of contacts. Other than that we didn't come across anyone that heard of it, let alone read it.

It should have been required reading for every Catholic in view of its analysis and perspective. In life and death matters half heartedness cannot be justified. Did any diocese distribute it at all? widely?

We all failed pathetically. Even though it was well known at the UN (latest 1998) that there were no WMD (the excuse for Sanctions) in Iraq, we didn't insist on the Government ending our connivance at the Sanctions that killed 5,000 under 5 year old Iraqis a month for 12+ years. This facilitated the invasion in 2003, for the same putative reason.

My deep disappointment with the role the Church heirarchy arises from what seems to be the same problem as grossly exacerbated the child abuse scandal. That is, your apparent inability to hear? understand? or act on the basis of your own evidence (Caritas report), the several pleas by CEISI, individual citizens and no doubt other organisations in this the worst scandal. With a few notable exceptions, virtually all attempts to communicate with you, the NCPI etc from 2001 were fruitless, seemingly ignored, A sample letter dated December 2002 is given below.

I want to be free to celebrate Christmas like others but cringe at the utter cynicism and hypocracy of doing so while innocent people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and other war torn countries suffer torment beyond our imagination. That is done with our assent, connivance and, or, support (as at Shannon).

Likewise, the scandalously excessive expenditures throughout the year, peaking at this festive time, while half the world subsists on a dollar a day, 30,000 children die daily from lack of basic necessities and Ireland, awash with money, defers by another 5 years its committment made at the UN in 2,000 to reach the 0.7% ODA target (set by the UN 35 years ago) by 2007. We are regularly told how generous the Irish are. Is it I, or those that tell us that regularly, third world agencies, politicians, clergy, don't understand English? "Not those who say Lord, Lord, but those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom". Where do we stand then?

If Christ was personally walking the streets today, would He say to us-
"You hypocrites, you honour me with your lips but your hearts are far from me!" My overwhelming conviction is that he would. A depressing thought indeed. I'd love to stick my head in the sand and hide from this truth but it haunts me.

Where is our adherence to the "never again war" cry of the pope? It is, rather, the crowning, the scourging, the crucificixion all over again for the targets of our allies in the Coalition of the Killing.

And we will go to church at Christmas, all cosy and smug in our delusion that we honour the birth of the Prince of Peace. OH GOD!
How can anyone who knows what's going on in our names be at peace. Is this what's causing the escalation of addictions, depression, young suicides and murders etc here?

The attachment was sent to my local TDs (and others) with a note saying that their failure to act on this criminal issue, knowing the facts for 5 or more years was totally unacceptable, that unless Shannon was closed to military use now, I not only will not vote for them, but will canvas for an alternative candidate(s). I also pointed out that their failure in this issue was inexplicable in the context of their apparent humanity and compassion on other issues.

* the umbrella group for the 48 Trocaire/CAFODs in Europe

Thanking you for your attention Bishop
Le gach dea ghui is beannacht don Nollag John Fitzgibbon

A letter similar to that below was originally sent to all RC bishops on 03/12/02 + an attachment- US Attorney General Ramsey Clark's letter to the United Nations in August '02- USAGClark0802a.rtf; It was followed up on the 11/12/02 as below

Dear Bishop,

Celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace is utter cynicism when we are criminally negligent in our civic duties!

The United Nations declared 2001 to 2010 a “Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non Violence for the Children of the World” but, for 10 years before 2001, & until 19th March 2003, UN Sanctions killed 5,000 Iraqi children under 5 y/o each month. (All UN agencies in Iraq agreed & Minister at F.A. Liz ODonnell agreed in the Sunday Business Post on 21 June 01). Ireland didn't raise a motion on this issue at the UN General Assembly or put it on the agenda when holding the presidency of the Security Council.

I raised this issue with you initially on Dec 3rd 2002 confirming a UNICEF report (accepted by Madeleine Albright as worth the price) that half a million kids were killed between '91 and '98. That email wasn't acknowledged and I'm not aware of any action taken to highlight, for church members, criminal & cruel cynicism of our inaction.

My request was that you at least advise church members of the excellent Caritas Europa (CE) report (and maybe the Pope's statements) and ask them to consider acting in accordance with its conclusions. I said then that
1.after nearly 3 years studying and working on ending the Sanctions, I'm utterly distraught by the failure of the leaders of the Catholic church here to address this major life and death issue and give strong guidance, in line with the CE report and other damning indictments of UN sanctions policy, that seemed imperative.

2. Irish Church leaders and people responded magnificently to the 9-11 atrocity that killed 3,000 but, an annual atrocity in Iraq, 20 times that of 9-11 is ignored by us for 12 years. Oh God!, Oh God!

3. The United States is, it seems, irrevocably committed to war. This "inevitability" is widely accepted and could easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy unless there are enough people of faith and hope around to prevent that.

4. In this season of preparation for the birth of the Prince of Peace it is appropriate to pray. But prayer, without doing everything we can to end our collaboration in Sanctions (then, in war now, via at Shannon), is utter cynicism. It belies any adherence to the tenets of the Prince of Peace or faith in His power.

Will you, Bishops, on the basis of Christ's teaching, suggest to your congregations that everyone contact their politicians, all shades, and insist that-

1. Ireland withdraws all support for further unjustified war on Iraq (see former US AG's letter to the U N attached) (wih original only)

2. they reduce expenditure on military equipment next year by enough to bring Official Development Aid up to the UN recommended (30 years ago) level of 0.7% immediately. This is only a diversion of money used for killing machines to compassionate use and would reduce the 30,000 children dying daily for lack of resources.

3. They press governments owed money by Highly Indebted Poor Countries to cancel that debt (conditional on no arms purchases and no war making etc).

4. each government end support for the criminal & deadly economic sanctions and move rapidly to make good the terrible long-term UN imposed suffering and killing in Iraq.

An early positive decision on this would be very useful when taking it up with other churches here and abroad

This is of course political, but Christ was killed because he wouldn't be silenced about the evils of His day. Will we remain effectively silenced because political and church leaders will not speak the truth on some critical issues?

The letter from former US Attorney General Clark to the United Nations, attached, is recognised internationally as the true situation in relation to Iraq. There is plenty evidence to back it up. I would have found it impossible to believe myself 10 years ago. Not any more, unfortunately.

Presumably you are aware that there is a request to meet you (Bishop's Conference) or your representatives on the Iraq issue for some time.

Thanking you in anticipation.
Le gach dea ghui agus Beannacht,

John Fitzgibbon

----- Original Message -----
From: John Fitzgibbon
To: Martin Long CBC PR ; Fr Aidan O Boyle
Sent: Tuesday, December 05, 2006 2:18 AM
Subject: Bishops:Peace, Justice &Anti War Event 23 Sept 1PM Garden of Remembrance Dublin

Dear Bishop,
We sent you this email and attachment on 16th Sept 06 and didn't even get an acknowledgement. It is beyond my comprehension that you would have no interest in the issues raised. They seem to me to be closely related to the teaching of the church, your pastorals etc. Why your disinterest?, disdain?
I look forward to your reply. Le gach dea ghui is beannacht, John Fitzgibbon