Maybe not in Mexico, where we were a few weeks ago. During the Prayers of the Faithful, there was nothing for the Federales or Military keeping Mexican Catholics safe and free. Returning stateside to Orlando, the Mass prayed for those people, despite being in the Happiest (so probably safest) Place on Earth. I guess the lesson of Subsidiarity is lost in one of its greatest examples, where Walt Disney was smart enough to demand his own government for his new property in the Orlando-area. Nationwide and International wars are anti-ethical to our lost Social Teaching of Subsidiarity, by the way. Walt didn’t want to fight Orlando and Orange County, which ended up benefiting both him and the people there. Peace is more productive morally and financially than war.
The following was written by Emmanuel Charles McCarthy.
REQUIESCANT IN PACE
Jean Donovan, Sr. Ita Ford, Sr.Dorothy Kazel and Sr.Maura Clarke were raped and murdered in El Salvador thirty-nine years ago this day, December 2, AD1980. Let those who remember, pray today for the repose of their souls.
May we also today be attentive to the Eternal Holy Spirit of Christ within us, and try to sincerely pray for those responsible for their rape and murder? Daniel Canales Ramirez, Carlos Joaquin Contreras Palacios, Francisco Orlando Contreras Recinos and Jose Roberto Moreno Canjura are the four El Salvadoran National Guardsmen convicted legally of the crimes in 1984. In 1993, a United Nations Truth Commission report concluded that Col. Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, the director of the National Guard in 1980, and Gen. Jose Guillermo Garcia, the Minister of Defense at the time, had organized an official cover-up. (Both men have been granted residence in the United States and now live in Florida.) Sergeant Colindres Aleman was also convicted of the murders. He was the head of that contingent of four National Guardsmen. After the women were taken captive and brought to a remote area, he went back to a telephone to get instruction on what to do with them. When he returned the order, ”una orden superior” he gave to the four—according to their own testimony was, “Liquidate them!”
In testimony to Congress in 1981 General Alexander M. Haig Jr., then Secretary of State, argued that the churchwomen might have been shot while trying to run a military roadblock. Even an official State Department post mortem on El Salvador policy that was published in July 1993 reiterated the prevailing wisdom that it was ”more likely that the chaotic and permissive atmosphere at the time, not high-level military involvement, was behind the crime.” In 1983, Judge Harold B. Tyler Jr., after conducting an investigation for the State Department, concluded that ”Colindres Aleman acted at his own initiative” and that ”the evidence of lack of higher involvement is persuasive.” But that finding was based largely on a piece of secret ”special evidence” that was made available to him by the United States Embassy I El Salvador and that remains classified to this day.
But, the operation was led by a sergeant, Colindres Aleman, acting out of “a persuasive combination of political, financial and sexual interests,” a political officer at the American embassy, Carl Gettinger, wrote in a top secret cable to Washington a few months after the killings. His conclusions were based on a conversation between the sergeant, Colindres Aleman, and a Salvadoran lieutenant who had recorded it secretly for the embassy. “Extraordinary secrecy surrounded the tape,” Gettinger reported; it was kept in a safe in the embassy, “from where it was roused infrequently.”
Robert White, who was the American Ambassador to El Salvador at the time of the killings, said, ”when the act was done, I knew immediately it was the military.” Secretary of State Alexander Haig, asked White to send a cable stating that the military was making progress in the investigation of the murders. White, a career diplomat who had served under every president since Eisenhower balked, and sent his own cable: “I will have no part of any cover-up.” ”It is totally outrageous for the U.S. Government to have singled out four guys who were following orders and to insist they get punished, at the same time it is practically conniving to get the people who were the intellectual authors of this terrible incident off scot free,” White said. Later White added. ”That they have been let off not only with their reputations intact, but with the right of residence in the United States.” Soon thereafter, he was forced out of the foreign service.
The Reagan administration blamed the victims. “These nuns were not just nuns,” said Jeanne Kirkpatrick, one of Reagan’s top foreign policy advisors and his first ambassador to the United Nations, “They were political activists.”
There is more, much more that could be added, e.g., the women were murdered Mafia style, a shot in the back of the head. But no more details are really needed to spiritually and morally assess this Satanic event. It was the fingers of the four National Guardsmen that pull the triggers of the guns that murdered Jean Donovan, Sr.Ita Ford, Sr.Dorothy Kazel and Sr.Maura Clarke. But what moved those four men to squeeze those triggers is a chain of men and women, who only God can totally name, but who we know stretch back at least to the Dulles brothers, through the School of Americas to the very nano-second before Satanized human energy was intentionally transferred to the firing mechanisms of those guns.
So indeed, let us pray on the 39th Remembrance of this heinous act for Jean, Ita, Dorothy and Maura and pray for them and, perhaps, to them for their intercession on our behalf. But, we are Christians, and as difficult as it may be humanly, let us ask the Resurrected Jesus for the grace to pray as He prayed on the Cross for His murderers, who He was well aware were not just a few Roman soldiers who spirits had been partially Satanized. Love of enemies, even lethal enemies, as Jesus loved His enemies, including lethal enemies, is a sine qua non for any Christian, Christian Church or Christian Peace Group. The humanizing of human beings, as well as, their eternal Redemption and Salvation is found only within it. Outside of love of enemies as Jesus loved His enemies, there is nothing but the continued weeping and gnashing of teeth. The Cross of Salvation is not about enduring animal pain to placate a God who needs that to reconcile with humanity by Jesus enduring pain. The Cross, which Christians are to pick up daily, is about loving human beings, even sinful ones, the Way that God loves those who are at enmity with Him.
The murders of Ita, Jean, Dorothy and Maura are morally not a spiritual scintilla different from the murders of Saint Edith Stein and Blessed Franz Jagerstatter. They are all the direct and immediate fruits of the murderous and deceitful spirit of Satan that has embedded itself in the brains and twisted itself in knots around the hearts of human beings who are politicians, military personnel and their mogul masters. Only a full commitment by the leaders of the institutional Church and each of its members to the Cross of Christlike love of enemies, which is the power and the wisdom of God, can untie those knots and heal the brain rot—which extends without interruption from Cain to Golgotha to Auschwitz to El Salvador to Fallujah to today’s killing by sea, air and land. of human beings by human beings, of Christian by Christians.
But pray we must for the soldiers who killed Jesus to the soldiers who killed Sr. Maura Clarke, Sr. Ita Ford, Sr. Dorothy Kazal and Jean Donovan. And, pray we must for Pilate, the Dulles Brothers and all those other corporate and government movers and shakers, wheelers and dealers, who kill by a wink and a nod from air-conditioned offices untouched and unmoved by the agony they pour down on those consider unworthy of life because they stand in the way of controlling some form of wealth.
As Christians we must call wickedness by its accurate name, but pray we must: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. It is the only Way because it is the Way of God.
In my parish and many others, during the Prayers of the Faithful I often hear: “For the military, first responders, and police, and all who keep us safe, we pray to the Lord.” I personally believe the first and second parts are in many ways mutually exclusive, that (leaving out paramedics and fire fighters) US foreign policy and militarized policing do not “keep us safe”, but in many ways make us less safe. If we are praying for specific occupations, why not for engineers, factory workers, pilots, garbage collectors, teachers, data entry clerks, government bureaucrats, corporate middle managers, billionaire tech executives, mail carriers, sewer workers, waiters, cooks, movie stars, cowboys? Or is the US Catholic Church part of the problem with promoting violence?
Suicides by military or former military. The military is “concerned” about another uptick in suicides.
“If we just focus on the last tragic act in a veteran’s life as opposed to looking at the continuum of events that can lead to that — homelessness, addiction, mental health issues — then it’s just another federal report. It becomes a doorstop,” he said.Washington Times, Thursday, August 29, 2019
The ongoing tragedy of military suicides is never blamed on the psychological, emotional, and spiritual wounds of war, moral injury, or anything of the sort. It’s “homelessness, addiction, mental health issues.”
And the ongoing problem of military suicides is never mentioned in rants about our “culture of death” by priests, bishops or conservative Catholic pundits.
The following is an excerpt from James W. Douglass’s book “The Nonviolent Coming of God“:
“We have seen [the power of nonviolence] happen during the ‘Second Russian Revolution,’ August 19-20, 1991, in response to the attempted Soviet coup. The coup was overcome by hundreds of thousands of unarmed citizens. Some, as in resisters were martyred by the tanks. Hundreds, then thousands of other citizens encircled the Russian Parliament Building in Moscow as a civilian defense force shielding Boris Yeltsin and other elected leaders from an imminent military assault. All afternoon and evening on the second day of the coup, loudspeakers blared warnings to the people that tanks were rolling toward the building and planes filled with paratroopers were preparing for an airborne assault. Yet the people kept coming. In fact a further three-pronged assault was currently being mounted against them. It was to include K.G.B. agents who had infiltrated the crowd within the building, helicopters bearing shock troops, and elite units prepared to rush into the building from twenty-four subterranean entry points whose existence was unknown to Yeltsin supporters. A Tiananmen Square in Moscow was averted only by the moral force of the resistance and the noncooperation of soldiers who refused to murder their Russian brothers and sisters.
One exemplar of the moral force which prevailed over the coup was Father Aleksandr Boris, an Orthodox priest and member of the Moscow City Council. Father Boris prayed with the civilian defenders, baptized them for their nonviolent mission, then confronted their opponents in an equally prayerful way. He went from tank to tank, distributing 2,000 Bibles to the soldiers who were expected to assault the Parliament. Only one soldier refused a Bible. Father Borisov then gave another 2,000 Bibles to the people on the barricades. Finally he took part in a key meeting with Patriarch Alexis of the Russian Orthodox Church who then made a proclamation that any soldiers who fired on civilians would be excommunicated.
It was this moral force, embodied in the lives of thousands of willing martyrs (‘witnesses’) to the truth, which rendered the Soviet coup impotent.”
“…the widespread connection is rarely acknowledged: A mounting number of mass shooters have ties to the military, including Nikolas Cruz, who was a member of his school’s military prep organization, JROTC (Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps).”
by Mike Pakaluk
“But it might do us good to amplify the crèche scene, to include the whole Christmas reality – not (foolishly) buff naked men with washboard abs – but, in the background and among the shadows, a tall, wraith-like, and sinister figure, brandishing a sword. More than the greed of a Scrooge threatens the spirit of Christmas. He stands for the jealous State, and he threatens anyone who would dare honor this newborn child as ‘my liege and sovereign Lord.’”
Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas!
That we are a divided people is not breaking news.
Our divisions are reflected back to us every day. We are consistently presented with the forced-choice of our social, political and religious identities. One belongs to a particular social class and not others. One is either a “conservative” or a “liberal”. One is a “Christian” or a “Jew” or a “Muslim” or a “Hindu” or a “Buddhist” or some other religious label. These are just a few of the ways we identify ourselves. Somehow it became very important to label ourselves and each other. Perhaps this helps us stay with the illusion of “knowing” who we are.
There is another form of division that transcends the “usual suspects” of the various labels already described. This is the division between the opposing agendas of materialism and spirituality. One of the central features of these differing agendas is the question of whether or not violence is deemed acceptable as a means of solving problems. This question also correlates with the contrasting views of separation and connection. Materialism emphasizes the separateness between each of us while realistic spirituality focuses on the connections we share with each other and our world.
The materialistic perspective attributes the highest priority to creating, selling and acquiring Things. This view asserts that the centrality of Things is what life is really all about. In this framework, people are a means to an end. This is sometimes known as “productivity”. If one is “productive” in the proper way then one is recognized as a valuable person. One is considered an “asset”.
The spiritual perspective embraces a very different orientation. It holds to the belief that it is not things that have significant value but rather it is Love and Life itself that is truly valuable. People are to be loved and things are to be used. This perspective is grounded in the belief that all life is inter-connected and inter-related rather than separate and in a state of competition.
This division becomes most apparent in terms of those who are willing to use violence to get what they want and those who refuse to resort to violence to achieve their goals. When a person, when life itself, is seen as a means to an end it becomes acceptable, even laudable, to control, exploit or destroy if that’s what it takes to reach a goal. Domination and destruction are contradictory to the goals of healthy spirituality.
When life is considered sacred it can no longer be objectified as simply a means to an end but instead is known and related to as part of the infinite manifestation of Love.
We can belong to the World of Things or the World of Love. We cannot avoid this choice.
Why focus on the contrast between violence and nonviolence? This framing points to the question of how human problems are to be solved. It is the desire to solve our problems that unites us while it is the methods for achieving those solutions that causes us to diverge into the contrasting problem-solving forms of violence (materialistic power) and nonviolence (spiritual power).
The exercising of Materialistic Power essentially says: “Comply or die.” This “death” may be quite literal or it may be metaphorical in terms of deprivation of needed resources or basic freedoms. It is the straightforward imposing of physical force or intimidation on a person or group to induce their obedience.
The exercising of Spiritual Power, on the other hand, presents a perplexing set of refusals and active responses. When operating from a sense Spiritual Power a person refuses to “fight fire with fire” with the oppressor, refuses to run away from threatened harm, refuses to disengage from the oppressor and refuses to comply with the oppression process. Essentially a person acting from this orientation says: “I won’t fight with you on your level. I won’t run away from you. I won’t end my relationship with you and I won’t obey your unethical manipulations.” The active response is at least as perplexing. While under siege from the oppression of Materialistic Power the active response from one grounded in Spiritual Power is an unwavering “I love you.”
Violence exists as a broad spectrum of attitudes and actions. Its trademark is in its seeking to dominate and diminish the Other who is always regarded as quite separate from the perpetrator of the violence. It seeks victory by destroying or controlling the Other who is defined as a threat of some sort. Its manifestation may take the form of a physical attack with weapons designed to amplify the intended destructive power of the attacker. It may also take the form of a more subtle, non-physical attack (e.g. character assassination) that can nevertheless produce devastating results.
Violence as a process can also be understood as a projection of a person’s pain and/or fear. If one has not dealt constructively with these experiences the temptation to disown them becomes very powerful: “I will hurt you so that you will have to deal with my pain and I won’t. It will become your pain. I will scare you so that you will have to deal with my fear and I won’t. It will become your fear.”
There are those who believe in the use of violence as the method of choice to solve a broad range of human problems. If the end result is sufficiently valued then the means are considered justified. Counted among these believers are women and men, young people and old people, the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy, liberals and conservatives and the full spectrum of religious labels. Those who accept this kind of problem-solving are represented across a wide range of ethnic, social and economic backgrounds. There are law-makers and law-breakers, from the local level to the international stage, who subscribe to the idea that the end justifies the means and that this is how problems get solved.
There are also people from all of the groups just named who completely reject the notion that violence is an acceptable method for solving human problems. They maintain that the means to the desired end cannot be contrary in nature of that end: War cannot create Peace, Oppression cannot create Freedom, Hatred cannot create Love. This group holds that the Means and the End are inseparable.
Nonviolence can be best understood as the active expression and demonstration of love and not as the mere absence of destructive attitudes and actions. When we speak of love it is easy to go off on some wild goose chase as to what this really means. The love conveyed in active nonviolence is a kind of sacrificial love. This is the kind of love that consciously chooses to accept and endure real suffering for the sake of another, specifically for the sake of healing the perpetrator. This kind of love does not define the perpetrator as the “enemy” who must be destroyed or defeated. Instead, Sacrificial Love seeks to help the perpetrator become aware of the truth of his or her real inter-relatedness to the person or people he or she is hurting. In traditional language, it is the deep truth that we are all brothers and sisters to each other.
No less an intellect than Albert Einstein stated: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
If we give credence to Einstein’s claim about the nature of problem-solving it becomes logically impossible to believe that the problem of violence, whether this is a problem between nations, between individuals or within ourselves, can be solved through violent methods. The time has come to free ourselves from the mental prison that holds us in the insane belief that declares: “We have to kill people who kill people to show them that killing people is wrong.”
It becomes necessary to change our way of thinking and understanding in order to solve our problems. It is necessary to shift our awareness and our perspective in order to successfully solve our problems. We cannot solve our problems with the same low-level thinking that got us into trouble in the first place. If our house is burning down we cannot save it with a flame-thrower!
The problem of violence within ourselves is a crucial one. As previously stated, if one does not successfully heal his or her inner violence and the injuries from it then one will be very likely to project this destructiveness onto someone else. It is necessary to establish this internal healing as the foundation to solving human problems on an interpersonal level as well as between various social groups.
No less a wisdom teacher than Jesus of Nazareth explained metaphorically that one must first take the wooden beam out of one’s own eye before attempting to remove the splinter out of another’s eye. (Luke 7:5)
If we are to take him at his word, this means that we need to start healing our own impairment and suffering in order to stop perpetuating violence against ourselves which is often invisible to the rest of the world but the individual (who, in this case, is both perpetrator and victim) is acutely aware of his or her own internal self-torture process (e.g. “I’m such an idiot!”, “I’ll never be good enough!”, “No one would want to be with me if they knew what I was really like.”, etc.). We need to attend to our own healing and make peace within ourselves before we start telling, coercing and demanding that the other person (or group or nation) act a certain way to put their house in order.
What divides us is a faulty perception of how separate we are from each other. This misperception supports the belief in the “win-lose” form of problem-solving in our lives. When all we see is our disconnectedness is becomes easy to assume that competition in the only way to achieve needed solutions.
We move from division to unity when we start to see that the truth of our existence is one of connection and belonging. What were once seen as major differences between one another can now be recognized as largely superficial. We begin to love more and more inclusively as we realize that any injuries we do to others we do to our selves and that the compassion we extend to others is also the compassion that we receive.