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.
Monday, April 09, 2007
To Be Just is to be Cleansed of War
"The U.S. Catholic Bishops Peace Pastoral letter of 1984 said non-violence was perfectly legitimate for Catholics. And on May 2, 2003, a few years before becoming pope, Benedict wrote: 'There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a just war.'"
"In Afghanistan, 'Virtually any activity is regarded as 'threatening'. A 16-year-old "schoolboy was shot dead on February 8, 2005 while walking near an American base. A sniper in a watchtower apparently thought the boy’s school bag looked like a dangerous object. The claim was dismissed due to 'lack of evidence' and 'loss resulting from combat operations'. On February 13, 2006, US soldiers shot dead a fisherman on his boat on the Tigris river. He had held up his fish and shouted 'Fish, Fish' to show he meant no harm and was killed as he bent down to turn off the motor. His cousin was paid $3,500 for the boat, which drifted away and was lost, but nothing for the death of his relative, which was judged to arise from 'combat activities'."
"A particularly horrific incident involved the slaughter of a family on March 3, 2004 in Dibig village. US troops opened fire on a house, killing four people including the claimant’s father, mother and brother, and injuring another 40, including the claimant. The mother was shot dead while sleeping and the father after he took the family’s AK-47 and stepped outside. US soldiers also killed the family’s flock of sheep, leaving the claimant without a livelihood. In a carefully worded finding, the US military declared that the soldiers, “may have been shooting at another house”. While their activity was "not wrongful", it appeared “to have been conducted negligently”. Compensation of $11,200 was granted."
When will we see that only compassion can break the chain that wraps our necks and twists the tighter with every gunshot and explosion? When will we find the courage to accept the pain that stopping violence must entail? When we will understand that money is not equivalent to life?
"The study published in October in the British medical journal, the Lancet, found that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 655,000 Iraqis. Of those, 31 percent, or 186,000, were attributed directly to coalition forces—that is, the American military or its allies killed these Iraqis."
"The opposition in Iraq has the right — no matter how painful this is for me to say — they have the right to oppose an occupation," Sheehan said, comparing the U.S. occupation to British control in North America before the American Revolution. "We overthrew that occupation," she said.
Sheehan, who is Catholic and worked eight years as a Catholic youth minister, said her family lost many friends after Casey’s death. "When I started to speak out against George Bush, they started to disown me. They said, ‘But Cindy, he’s pro-life,'" she said. “And I said, "If he’s pro-life, how come my son is dead?'"
The president’s concern for human life doesn’t extend to life after birth, Sheehan said. Sheehan said she wishes Catholics who oppose the war would become more visible, particularly the clergy. When Sheehan starts seeing priests, the pope and other church leaders in clerical garb marching against the war, 'that’s when I’ll know the church is really against bloodshed,' she said to applause."