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, February 19, 2005

Over My Dead Body


'"Over my dead body are they going to make me go back."

"I knew he was having dreams, nightmares," Lisset said. "He would wake up at night really sweaty."

On Dec. 6, he showed up for work, his uniform pressed, his boots polished. He sang cadence.

That night, he was found hanging in his barracks. Sgt. Curtis Greene, 331st Signal Company, was 25.

...The study found that 72 percent of soldiers reported their unit's morale was low; it found that mental health workers there felt untrained to treat combat stress.

Because of these barriers to getting care, many experts believe the number of soldiers in Iraq suffering from combat-related psychological problems is far greater than one out of six.

"...Lisset said he had nightmares and couldn't sleep. He cried easily, but avoided talking about Iraq.

"He just said it was ugly, and that you don't know what it's like until you're there," she said. "He always said he wouldn't wish it on his worst enemy."

When the evening news reported deaths in Iraq, he would weep and ask her to turn off the TV.

"He really cried, like it was someone he knew," she said. "He'd say that we shouldn't be there. He always wanted to know why we were there."' - "Over My Dead Body", St. Petersburg Times, Feb. 14, 2005. (http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0214-09.htm)

In the words of Stan Goff, "...we are empty and incapable of truly connecting to people any more, and maybe we can go for months or even years before we fill that void where we surrendered our humanity..."

Each time we kill we surrender a piece of our humanity. The myth that tells us we should do it doesn't matter. It's the same now as it was 5000 years ago. Each murder, no matter how noble the lie for which it was committed, eats into our soul and steals a part of your being.

Genesis 4:10: 'And He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.'

"God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being." Catechism, 2258.

"What made you establish man in so great a dignity? Certainly the incalculable love by which you have looked on your creature in yourself! You are taken with love for her; for by love indeed you created her, by love you have given her a being capable of tasting your eternal Good." Catechism, 356.

By love, each Iraqi was created. God loves each of us with an eternal love. What curse shall we bring on ourselves by destroying what God loves? Perhaps the curse which Sgt. Curtis Greene discovered when he looked at the dark streak in his soul. The fundamental lie is that we can murder with impunity. No "war on terror" or "surgical operation" can make it right. Ever. But we must never forget his mercy.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Millstone

"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea." - Mark 9:42

Lord, let my heart not be a millstone around the necks of those who want to come to Christ.

Before reading the following story, cast your memory back to a time when you might have tried to speak with someone of another faith about Jesus and his healing power. Then imagine that person in the following situation, at the same time recalling the documented fact that most of those at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib were simply devout Muslims who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Gitmo Soldier Details Sexual Tactics
- ABC News, Feb 12, 2005 (http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=451856&CMP=OTC-RSSFeeds0312)

"In another case, Saar describes a female military interrogator questioning an uncooperative 21-year-old Saudi detainee who allegedly had taken flying lessons in Arizona before the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Suspected Sept. 11 hijacker Hani Hanjour received pilot instruction for three months in 1996 and in December 1997 at a flight school in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"His female interrogator decided that she needed to turn up the heat," Saar writes, saying she repeatedly asked the detainee who had sent him to Arizona, telling him he could "cooperate" or "have no hope whatsoever of ever leaving this place or talking to a lawyer.'"

The man closed his eyes and began to pray, Saar writes.

The female interrogator wanted to "break him," Saar adds, describing how she removed her uniform top to expose a tight-fitting T-shirt and began taunting the detainee, touching her breasts, rubbing them against the prisoner's back and commenting on his apparent erection.

The detainee looked up and spat in her face, the manuscript recounts.

The interrogator left the room to ask a Muslim linguist how she could break the prisoner's reliance on God. The linguist told her to tell the detainee that she was menstruating, touch him, then make sure to turn off the water in his cell so he couldn't wash.

Strict interpretation of Islamic law forbids physical contact with women other than a man's wife or family, and with any menstruating women, who are considered unclean.

"The concept was to make the detainee feel that after talking to her he was unclean and was unable to go before his God in prayer and gain strength," says the draft, stamped "Secret."

The interrogator used ink from a red pen to fool the detainee, Saar writes.

"She then started to place her hands in her pants as she walked behind the detainee," he says. "As she circled around him he could see that she was taking her hand out of her pants. When it became visible the detainee saw what appeared to be red blood on her hand. She said, 'Who sent you to Arizona?' He then glared at her with a piercing look of hatred.

"She then wiped the red ink on his face. He shouted at the top of his lungs, spat at her and lunged forward" so fiercely that he broke loose from one ankle shackle.

"He began to cry like a baby," the draft says, noting the interrogator left saying, "Have a fun night in your cell without any water to clean yourself."

This was done to a man so that he could not receive strength from God to resist temptation. What is the name for those who do such things?

"I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted." - Luke 18:14

"Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor's tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense." Catechism, 2284.

Be still my heart. Lord, love sometimes fades in me when I think of those willing to torture your children. How must it grieve your heart to see us when we seek to tear others away from your strength and the hope that burns within them? I pray that those who do such things will open their hearts to you and put away their instruments of torture. I also pray that those who lead your flock will have the courage to speak your word clearly so that your confused children may turn away from sin.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Welcome, Fr. McCarthy!

Due to the helpful direction of Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, I have identified two Catholic bishops that have the courage to speak out strongly and publicly about the illegal U.S. war in Iraq. First, we'll report on Bishop John Michael Botean.

Let's first establish the context. According to "Your Catholic Voice" on Feb. 16, 2004, "In the time from the terrorist attacks on the United States to the war in Iraq, the Bush administration adopted a new foreign policy that most Vatican officials found they could not agree with on principle. Cardinal Ratzinger bluntly stated that preventative war was incompatible with the Catechism, with many Vatican officials suggesting that waging such a war with Iraq would then be illegal." (http://www.yourcatholicvoice.org/index.php?id=article&article=713)

There are many other such statements, several originating with the Holy Father himself, some of which we have referenced in this blog. Due to the hints of Fr. McCarthy, I have uncovered much more Church material toward this war in Iraq which I will be commenting on over the next few weeks.

However, to give honor where it is due, here is an excerpt from a statement by Bishop John Michael Botean, the head of the Romanian Catholic eparchy (diocese) of St. George in Canton, Ohio on March 18, 2003: "The bishop declared with 'moral certainty' that the proposed attack on Iraq "does not meet even the minimal standards of the Catholic just-war theory."

"Bishop Botean acknowledged that the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2309) identifies public authorities as the final judges of whether military action is justified. But he argued that "the nation-state is never the final arbiter or authority for the Catholic of what is moral." An unjust law or order should not be obeyed, he observed."

The article goes on: "This is not a bishop functioning as a political lobbyist, nor is it a bishop simply giving good advise to his people, nor is it a bishop functioning as a theological disputant with anyone inside or outside his Church. This is a bishop declaring to those who are actively one with him by Baptism and by faith in Christ and His Church, that as the final authority in matters of faith and morals in their Community, this war is intrinsically evil and therefore morally impermissible for them."

"Please be aware that I am not speaking to you as a theologian or as a private Christian voicing his opinion, nor by any means am I speaking to you as a political partisan. I am speaking to you solely as your bishop with the authority and responsibility I, though a sinner, have been given as a successor to the apostles on your behalf. I am speaking to you from the deepest chambers of my conscience as your bishop, appointed by Jesus Christ in his Body, the Church, to help shepherd you to sanctity and to heaven. Never before have I spoken to you in this manner, explicitly exercising the fullness of authority Jesus Christ has given his Apostles “to bind and to loose,” (cf. John 20:23), but now “the love of Christ compels” me to do so (2 Corinthians 5:14). My love for you makes it a moral imperative that I not allow you, by my silence, to fall into grave evil and its incalculable temporal and eternal consequences."

"Therefore I, by the grace of God and the favor of the Apostolic See Bishop
of the Eparchy of St. George in Canton, must declare to you, my people, for
the sake of your salvation as well as my own, that any direct participation
and support of this war against the people of Iraq is objectively grave
evil, a matter of mortal sin. Beyond a reasonable doubt this war is morally
incompatible with the Person and Way of Jesus Christ. With moral certainty I
say to you it does not meet even the minimal standards of the Catholic just
war theory." - CWNews.com, Mar. 18, 2003 Read the complete article at http://cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=20142

Let us pray for those whose hearts have been so blinded by violence and propaganda that they no longer hear the voice of our Mother.