Category Archives: Military Culture (of Death)

Fr. George Zabelka

Don’t miss the latest CAM podcast: Episode 50!

I know, I know — it’s almost three hours long! But it is the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and this episode provides a great “behind the scenes” oral history that you won’t hear elsewhere; not to mention it acts as a great testimony to the way God works in human lives and human history, carrying out his plans in ways we can’t even see or could ever possibly plan.

God had a plan for George’s life. Find out more about:

  • What he did as a Catholic chaplain in 1945 at Tinian Island
  • Why he “blessed the bombs” of the 509th composite group, the group that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan
  • How belligerent Fr. Zabelka was when he first showed up at Fr. McCarthy’s retreats in the mid-70s. (“Are you telling me Jesus wouldn’t enjoy a good boxing match?!”)
  • His eventual conversion.
  • How his story came to be known around the world, despite Catholic media having no interest in it whatsoever.
  • How his story helped to spark the movement on the part of the U.S. bishops that eventually led to the writing and publishing of their 1983 pastoral “The Challenge of Peace” (which was a really big deal back in its day)
  • Why Zabelka is “considered a saint” in some circles of Japanese Christianity

To me, the story of George is unimaginably important. The story of why there are hardly any Catholics who know about George is equally important. It’s a great story, one about conversation, repentance, peace. Why were so few media outlets in the United States, both American and Catholic, so disinterested in telling it?

Don’t forget to watch the documentary about George as well, “The Reluctant Prophet”:

Fr George Zabelka, The Reluctant Prophet from GNV Team on Vimeo.

Human Experimentation

“I can hire half the working class to kill the other half.” Jay Gould

“Half the scientists in the world, Christian or otherwise, can be hired to kill the other half.” ECM

“All our talks about peace and the weapons of the spirit are meaningless unless we try in every way to not work in any position, any job, that contributes to war, not to take any job whose pay comes from fear or war. We wish the workers would lay down their tools and refuse to make the instruments of death. One can withdraw from the factory, refuse to make munitions, airplanes, atom bombs As you come to know the seriousness of our situation—the war, the racism, the poverty in the world—you come to realize it is not going to be changed just by words or demonstrations. It’s a question of risking your life somewhere other than on the battlefields of war. It’s a question of living your life in drastically different ways.” Dorothy Day

“Am I my brother’s keeper? Oh no! I am my brother’s killer! It is a wonder that anyone employed in the making of these munitions, from the president of the company to the scientists down to the man who sweeps up at night, can look at their faces in the mirror or go to church on Sundays.  Do we want to preach the Gospel of Christ or our own gospel? Which shall it be?” —Catherine de Heck Doherty, The Gospel Without Compromise, 1976

“We’re not made by God to mass kill one another, and that’s backed up by the Gospels. Lying and war are always associated. Pay attention to war-makers when they try to defend their current actions; if they’re moving their lips they’re lying.” – Phil Berrigan

“Why would anyone believe that those who would lie to them about war would not lie to them about anything else that it served their interests to lie about?” -Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

You are invited

EPSON scanner image

Written by Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy.

Friends,

July 16 is the 75th anniversary of the detonation of the first nuclear weapon in human history and 2020 is also the 30th year for the Day of Prayer for Forgiveness and Protection on July 15-16.  You are invited to participate remotely via Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72313107071?pwd=T1E5MnhLYTdmWjZMSHdmT01QR3M1UT ) in this 24-hour event re-configured as a virtual vigil as an alternative to participating in person in New Mexico. 

Below are the Zoom link and code information and a .pdf of the program of events for the 24 hours. is attached. Also attached is the Statement of Purpose for this Vigil at Trinity Site

When you enter the Zoom your video and sound will be muted and remain so.  There will be no need to unmute either from your location for the duration.  Joining the zoom, leaving it, and rejoining it uses the same link and code found above and below.  We note that this is the first time this is being attempted and we anticipate there may be some technical glitches so we beg your patience.  Happily, there is no reason an interrupted or frozen connection can stop you from praying wherever you are!  Like at the desert site itself, it is not a marathon.  Come and go from the Zoom meeting as you prefer.  Zoom can be downloaded for laptops (PC and Mac) iPad, tablets, and smartphones.  Joining a meeting as a participant is free.  Click the link and follow the prompt to enter the password and you will be automatically admitted to the Zoom meeting.  Make sure the sound on your device is turned up. 

Topic: 24 Hour Prayer Vigil and Reflection at Trinity Site | Password GNV2020

Starting Time: Jul 15, 2020 05:30 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Topic: 24 Hour Prayer Vigil and Reflection | Password GNV2020Time: Jul 15, 2020 05:30 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/72313107071?pwd=T1E5MnhLYTdmWjZMSHdmT01QR3M1UT09
Meeting ID: 723 1310 7071Password: GNV2020

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72313107071?pwd=T1E5MnhLYTdmWjZMSHdmT01QR3M1UT09

Meeting ID: 723 1310 7071

Password: GNV2020

-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

www.emmanuelcharlesmccarthy.org or www.centerforchristiannonviolence.org

The IRISHMAN

I caught him, with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world, and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread. — Father Brown in the The Queer Feet by G. K. Chesterton.

When I watched The IRISHMAN the first time I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it would be another fictional Mafia saga like The Godfather. But when I realized it was a factual account of real people and events I was hooked. I have always been an amateur history buff and I was fascinated by how the movie revealed new angles to approach many historical events that had occurred in my lifetime. Jimmy Hoffa’s rise and fall as president of the Teamsters, collaboration of the CIA and the Mob in the Bay of Pigs invasion, Bobby Kennedy vs. the Mob, Mob involvement in the JFK assassination, Hoffa’s release from prison and pardon by Nixon. The IRISHMAN saga weaves it all together in a fascinating and provocative manner alongside the recollections of Frank Sheeran, the main character in the story.

So I watched the movie twice and then I read the book it was based on, I Heard You Paint Houses, by Charles Brandt. I was most interested in how the war experience of Frank Sheeran might have affected him and also in the fact that Frank and many of the largely Italian mob figures in the story were baptized Catholics.

The WWII combat participation of Frank Sheeran was intense, violent and traumatic. It is dealt with superficially in the movie but in the book there is much more detail and the author makes it clear that Frank learned to kill in the Army and he learned to take orders without question. These “skills” served him well during his many years spent as a mob thug and hitman. Today we might say that his apparent lack of a conscience was a result of PTSD, but I won’t go there. He does seems throughout most of the book like something less than a man. There’s something missing.

Of great interest for Catholics, Charles Brandt presents evidence in the book that Frank may have repented of his many sins near the end of his life. In prison one day, Frank sees his former “commander-in-chief,” Russell Bufalino, the infamous and powerful mob boss, being pushed in a wheelchair to the prison chapel. Frank laughs and Russell tells him:

“Don’t laugh, my friend. When you get to be my age you’ll realize there’s something more than this.”

Frank acknowledges to the author that “Those words stayed with me all these years.”

Frank’s daughters were obviously concerned for his soul and that (according to Frank) “if I died I couldn’t be buried in a Catholic cemetery.” They arranged to get him to see a priest. I wanted to believe that this very dark and terrifying life story somehow could end as a story of redemption. I had a question so I emailed Charles Brandt to clarify one particular fact and he very graciously responded and gave me permission to post the email exchange. Here it is:

“Hello Mr. Brandt,

….I am most interested in how the war experience of Frank might have affected him and also in the Catholic angle which is very evident in the book but less so in the movie. You present evidence in the book that Frank may have repented of his many sins near the end of his life. ….

But I have a question. You wrote that Frank committed suicide because he stopped eating until he died. Do you think that it was actually a deliberate, conscious act on his part or were there mitigating circumstances such as mental confusion, physical suffering, ignorance of Church teaching, etc.”

__________________________

“Hi Doug,

Thank you for your interest and questions.

I don’t know but I doubt that Frank knew the Church’s position on suicide. We never discussed it. He did repent but he had a humorous way of expressing it. IF I DID ALL THE THINGS THEY ALLEGE THAT I DID AND I HAD TO DO THEM OVER I WOULDN’T DO THEM. THERE IS NO DOUBT IN MY MIND THAT THE WAR PREPARED HIM for crime. It was the hardest thing to get him to speak about. He sought Absolution from three priests and got it. The last thing he and I did on tape was a Hail Mary and Lord’s Prayer. At his suggestion. But he struggled with the words.

A few years ago the Pope publicly asked Mafia figures to repent. I wished I could have told him at the time of Frank’s having already done so.

Regards,

Charlie”

“Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let thy perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.”

Women and the Draft

Episode 41: Women and the Draft

Don’t miss this episode of the CAM podcast with lots of good information on what is going on with women and military conscription.

You can go here to send a quick letter to your representative.

Finally, a new song by our friend, co-author of The Martyrdom of Thomas Merton, Dave Martin!

Mama, Don’t Let Your Daughters Grow Up to Be Soldiers