A screening of A Hidden Life, the life of conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter, takes place in the Vatican with renowned writer and director Terrence Malick present on Wednesday afternoon.
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?
Thank you to a reader, Tim, for sending this article of interest about the history of Catholicism in Japan and the trauma of the bomb:
I recently received my newest edition of “Columbia” magazine by the Knights of Columbus. An article was about a Knight who received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Unfortunately, besides a little about the prayer life of the man who received the medal, the Knights did not delve deeper on the morality and justness of the war in Afghanistan, especially after Osama bin Laden was killed (of course, in Pakistan and not Afghanistan), which is when the events occurred for this sailor to receive the award. Instead, we just got platitudes about defending freedom and doing your duty. Are my brother Knights of the Prince of Peace or Knights of the Military–Industrial Complex? Christ told us it would be hard to follow Him; it is too easy to go along to get along in general society, which celebrates militarism and war.
Paul Elie, writing for The New Yorker, provides an excellent overview of the Plowshares movement, and places the actions of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 within the context of not only this movement but the wider evolution of the Church’s thinking and teaching on nuclear weapons. Check it out!
Plowshares Sentencing Pending, Write the Judge
November 20, 2019
Dear ___,Now is the time to write letters to Judge Lisa Godbey Wood regarding her sentencing of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. We are collecting letters, especially from those who know the defendants, testifying to their character and the good work that they are doing in their communities which will not be done if they are serving long terms in prison. These letters are not the forum to criticize the law, the legal process or government policies. Rather it is the place to point out positive things about the defendants that should mitigate a harsh sentence.
Letters should be sent to defense attorney Bill Quigley at the address below. He will compile them and distribute to various defendants’ attorneys for delivery to Judge Wood. The attorneys suggest it would be helpful to get these done by Thanksgiving or the week after in order to get processed and delivered. Sentencing may be in January or possibly February.
The best letters are simple, polite, and tell good things about the person you are writing in support of.
The suggested format is as follows:DateSender’s NameSender’s AddressJudge Lisa Godbey Woodc/o Bill QuigleyLoyola University New Orleans Law ClinicCampus Box 9027214 St. Charles AvenueNew Orleans, LA 70118Regarding Sentencing of: Mark Colville [or] Clare Grady [or] Martha Hennessy [or] Fr. Steve Kelly SJ [or] Elizabeth McAlister [or] Patrick O’Neill [or] Carmen Trotta (or all seven of the Kings Bay Plowshares)Dear Judge Wood, Suggested outline for the letter: – Explain who you are. – Explain who you are writing about, how you know them, and what good they do for their community. – Explain why the Judge should not send them to jail. – Thank the Judge for reading your letter.Valediction,Signature
For more ideas and details for your letters, you are welcome to see the defendants’ biographies here.
Thank you for your attentiveness to the trial, your support for the defendants and their families, and your focus on the issue of the abolition of nuclear weapons.
As Fr. Steve Kelly says, “The nuclear weapons won’t go away by themselves.” We do this work together.
In solidarity,The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 Support Team
Thanks to your support, we have mobilized thousands of people around the world to speak out for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Please help with expenses, housing, and supporting defendants’ families following the verdict and the upcoming sentencing.
- Send checks to: Plowshares, PO Box 3087, Washington, DC 20010
- Donate online: GoFundMe
EMAIL: Media: firstname.lastname@example.org
is peace, says Dan Miller.
This is a great essay about the current state of affairs in the Church.
The sad fact is that many young Catholic men and women are more willing and eager to be soldiers for Uncle Sam than to be saints of shalom for Jesus. Even sadder is the likely reason for this: the powers and principalities of a certain type of Americanism have done a better job of passionately and persuasively preaching their gospel than the presiders and preachers in Catholic Churches, schools, and homes have done in preaching the gospel of Jesus.
We were delighted to receive this email from Fr. Bernard Survil, Member of “The Friends of Franzand Ben,” administrators of the website: bensalmon.org/. We are glad Fr. Bernard will be helping to break the silence about militarism and war in the American Catholic Church.
First to thank you for producing the collection basket protest for the Collection for the Archdiocese of Military Services scheduled to take place in my diocese the coming weekend, Nov 16-17th.
I have reproduced around 1,500 copies which will be distributed to people attending Mass at our Cathedral Parish and several parishes nearby.
Then to suggest CAM include on the Resources pages under the heading “Conscientious Objection” an invitationto sign the Petition to Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicagoregarding initiating the process for the beatification of BEN SALMON. That is done by:
- going to the website http://www.bensalmon.org
- then scrolling down to the yellow background area and clicking “Sainthood”
- then filling out the info asked for, as well as offering a comment (over 250 comments are already viewable onthe same site)
- then click “Submit.”
People sometimes tell the webmaster they did this buttheir endorsement doesn’t show up. As a backup, one can leave a message at 724-523-0291 giving the name of the caller, phone number, and the message: “Today(date) I endorsed the Petition to Cardinal Cupich regarding BEN SALMON.”
Fr. Bernard Survil, Member of “The Friends of Franzand Ben,” administrators of the website: bensalmon.org/
and listed among the “Starter-Endorsers: Rev Charles E. McCarthy, Newton, MA”