Monthly Archives: March 2014

Paradox of Peacemaking

“Prayer is the basis of all peacemaking precisely because in prayer we come to the realization that we do not belong to the world in which conflicts and wars take place, but to Jesus who offers us his peace. The paradox of peacemaking is indeed that we can only speak of peace in the world when our sense of who we are is not anchored in the world. We can only say ‘we are for peace’ when those we are fighting have no power over us.” — Henri Nouwen

On Company Business (1982)

“This country has had a secret foreign policy since the end of the second World War. One of the essential instruments has been the Central Intelligence Agency…You have the U.S. govt making great moral pronouncements and statements while it’s using this instrument to penetrate, infiltrate and destroy anything which gets in the way of what they define as the interests of the U.S. If you look at the historical record you find that the operations they conduct…They haven’t bothered asking us if we feel threatened by this that or the other thing…and often they are economic interests that they are defending. As a matter of fact I would say almost always. Entities in this country don’t care whether an American worker has a job or not, and are doing everything they can to destroy the capability of anybody in these other countries controlling their own destiny.” — Alan Francovich, filmmaker


Above is the documentary. Below is an interview with the filmmaker.

Alan Francovich is producer and director of the most definitive film on the CIA–the acclaimed three-hour documentary (Inside the CIA: On Company Business, 1980) –which took five years to make and required massive, world-wide research. The movie has won prizes at international film festivals and has been shown in over 30 countries. Francovich tells how the US government and the CIA have harassed him and have applied pressure to restrict the movie’s distribution. Francovich also relates some new information about the CIA and analyzes contemporary world events in light of this evidence.

The Houses are Full of Smoke

This is volume 1 of a three-part documentary series released in 1987.

Series Synopsis (from VHS box):

A chilling documentary on U.S. policy in Central America, this three volume series, which took six years to make, was researched and filmed by Allan Francovich, best known for his award winning film about the CIA, On Company Business.

An astonishing range of characters tell their stories, from soon-to-be-assassinated Archbishop Oscar Romero to Salvadoran right wing leader Robert D’Aubuisson; from three then-Presidents of the three republics to Guatemala’s impoverished indigenous peoples; from ousted American Ambassador Robert White, CIA operatives, and National Security officials to the founder of El Salvador’s secret police, who speaks directly of the rape and murder of four American missionary women there, from the top death squad officials to remorseful triggermen whose gruesome accounts of kidnapping, torture and killing lend compelling moral urgency to the case against right-wing dogma.

“The issue is really whether the U.S. government instigated, trained and has direct knowledge regarding a whole series of murders – including American citizens plus hundreds of thousands of local people – and has covered it up. What people know about the world is controlled. These issues are crucial to democracy: without information you can’t expect the population to make decisions knowingly.” – Allan Francovich

“An eye-opening documentary about the Central American wars … the film’s most frightening sequences are bloodless interviews with right-wing vigilantes – self-possessed men of power who suavely deny their responsibility for crimes attributed to them by human rights organizations … a formidable work of investigative cinema.” – San Francisco Examiner

“Not to be destined a favorite in the White House screening room.” – The Washington Post

Youtube links:
Vol. 1 – Guatemala
Vol. 2 – El Salvador
Vol. 3 – Nicaragua

Free Saint Patrick!


The above video is from the 2012 Saint Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston. It shows the famous float of Saint Patrick, followed by the Immaculate Heart of Mary School Band followed by a tank.

This year, as usual, the parade was surrounded by controversy. The issue: should gays march in the parade as an organized unit and openly acknowledge their sexual orientation with banners, signs, t-shirts, etc.? It was a little more heated than usual, because we have a new mayor in Boston and he tried to broker a deal between Mass Equality (a gay rights group) and the South Boston Allied War Veterans, the group which organizes the parade.

It is a complicated story, but basically, for a short time, there was an apparent agreement to allow gay veterans to march. The principal from the Catholic school featured in the above video declined to let his school participate with their band and float if the gays marched. The parade organizers said they had been misled by Mass Equality and cancelled the deal. The gays did not march. As usual, almost all politicians, including the mayor, boycotted the parade, and this year, the Boston Beer Company (maker of Sam Adams), declined to participate in the parade and took the side of the mayor.

The War Veterans insist that the parade must reflect family values and their Faith:

“We are tough proud South Bostonians, with deep scars from controversy that dates back decades. Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint of our Irish. We love our parade. This parade is a chance for all to join together and celebrate the love of friends, family, and the faith of our community.”

In 1995 the vets won a Supreme Court decision that they have the right to exclude groups from their parade. They may have won a battle but they are losing the war. In Massachusetts gay marriage has been legal for years and the Boston Archdiocese had to end its charitable adoption services as a result. The US military, with the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,”  has now been fully conformed to the American elite’s vision of gay rights. How can the Southie vets argue that gays should be excluded when a Brigadier General in the U.S. army is a married lesbian and an Okinawan Air Base hosts a drag show fundraiser for a group that advocates the military LGBT cause?

But more importantly, gay rights aside, the American military as an institution is increasingly incompatible with Catholic values. You know the story: unjust wars of aggression (as in Iraq), torture, remote controlled assassination drones, perpetual undeclared war on terror around the globe, an epidemic of suicide. Most recently there is the push for “women in combat.”  What could be more anti-Catholic than women in combat?

Those proud South Boston men may have won in the Supreme Court, but they will lose in the court of public opinion if they continue to hold a semi-secular parade that celebrates militarism. The best strategy would be to make the parade more exclusive of secular values and more inclusive of Catholic groups and the values of the Catholic Church, which is after all the most diverse and inclusive institution on the planet. Make it officially a Catholic parade to celebrate a Catholic saint and the heritage of Irish American Catholics. Lose the militarism, the tanks, and the guns. Have more Catholic Schools, marchers from prolife groups, and recruit faithful Catholic politicians (if you can find any) and public figures. Seek sponsorship from Catholic businessmen. Maybe there can be participation by Courage, the Catholic apostolate that ministers to folks with same sex attraction. Include workers from Catholic hospitals and charities.

It’s not my job to plan the parade but you get the idea. Peace, family values and solidarity with the poor as opposed to celebration of war and incessant bickering and vitriol over culture war issues that detract from the mission of the Church. The debate will end once it is a real Catholic parade. Promotion of gay marriage is no more acceptable in a Catholic parade than promotion of artificial birth control or Playboy magazine. Even Mayor Walsh will understand that.

The parade must change in order to survive. Massachusetts is the most Catholic state in the country. We can do better.

Note: I mention the company that makes Sam Adams beer, because, in 2002, they were involved in a notorious and depraved incident of what can only be termed “live radio pornography.” Ironically and tragically, there was a connection to St. Patrick back then too. I am not sure how this company ever became involved with the parade. Let’s pray those responsible for the 2002 scandal have repented, but if Boston Beer won’t support the new parade, here’s their replacement:

Massachusetts Trappist Monk beer story. 

Torture then, torture now

“On a Theme from Julian’s Chapter XX”

by Denise Levertov


Six hours outstretched in the sun, yes,
hot wood, the nails, blood trickling
into the eyes, yes —
but the thieves on their neighbor crosses
survived till after the soldiers
had come to fracture their legs, or longer.
Why single out the agony? What’s
a mere six hours?
Torture then, torture now,
the same, the pain’s the same,
immemorial branding iron,
electric prod.
Hasn’t a child
dazed in the hospital ward they reserve
for the most abused, known worse?
The air we’re breathing,
these very clouds, ephemeral billows
languid upon the sky’s
moody ocean, we share
with women and men who’ve held out
days and weeks on the rack —
and in the ancient dust of the world
what particles
of the long tormented,
what ashes.

But Julian’s lucid spirit leapt
to the difference:
perceived why no awe could measure
that brief day’s endless length,
why among all the tortured
One only is “King of Grief.”
The oneing, she saw, the oneing
with the Godhead opened him utterly
to the pain of all minds, all bodies
— sands of the sea, of the desert —
from first beginning
to last day. The great wonder is
that the human cells of His flesh and bone
didn’t explode
when utmost imagination rose
in that flood of knowledge. Unique
in agony, Infinite strength, Incarnate,
empowered Him to endure
inside of history,
through those hours when he took to Himself
the sum total of anguish and drank
even the lees of that cup:

within the mesh of the web, Himself
woven within it, yet seeing it,
seeing it whole. Every sorrow and desolation
He saw, and sorrowed in kinship.


Taken from Breathing the Water by Denise Levertov (New York: New Directions Press, 1987)

“When I Survey” by Isaac Watts

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

[His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.]

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Sister Klaryta Antoszewska, R.I.P.


Sr. Klaryta tries coaxing one of the Sheriff’s deputies across the line at the Nevada Test Site, April 2007. (WNV/Mario P. Intino, Jr.)

“Sr. Klaryta — born Ida Antoszewska — experienced the terror of war and institutionalized hatred as a girl in Poland during the Second World War. From what Klaryta indicated to those of us who knew her, her parents were part of the resistance to the Nazis who, among other things, smuggled food into the Jewish ghetto during the Holocaust. In the end, her mother was killed and her father was deported to Siberia. At 12 years old, as the oldest of three children, she became the head of the household…

After the war she became a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity in Orlik, Poland, taking the name Klaryta…

Sr. Klaryta studied theology, languages and philology. One of her teachers, Karol Józef Wojtyła, would later become Pope John Paul II. In the 1960s, she was sent to Rome, where she worked at the Vatican in the Office of Peace and Justice. In 1976 she accompanied Sister Rosemary Lynch, of the same religious community, to Las Vegas, where they established the Sisters of Saint Francis Social and Refugee Program. It was here that Sister Rosemary would wander out to the desert adjoining the 1,350 square mile nuclear test site to pray for an end to the nuclear blasts that, on average, took place every 18 days there. Eventually Sr. Klaryta joined her there as a new anti-nuclear movement took shape…”

Read the full story, “A Nonviolent Lion for Justice,” written by Ken Butigan at Waging Nonviolence.


Rape, Domestic Violence, Divorce

Sexual Assault Against Women in the Armed Forces

In this article, Joachim Hogopian gives an excellent overview of the problem of sexual assault in the military and the developments (and disappointments) related to the pursuit of justice that have unfolded in the past couple of years, but my only problem with it is that he offers a pretty traditional “feminist” critique, framing it as a problem of sexism, chauvinism, and an “old boys network” that gives sexual predators in the military only a slap on the wrist for committing the most violent and egregious crimes against women. While that certainly is true, and the justice system in the military can hardly be called that when it comes to sexual crimes, my feeling is that the rates of sexual assault in the military are less a gender issue and more like a spiritual issue. If you train people in aggression, violence, subjugation, exploitation, hate, and the use of force on a mass scale, and you send them out to utilize those “skills” year after year, how can you be surprised when they begin to act that way on a smaller scale and on an interpersonal level? These statistics are indicative of something far more sinister than sexism.

Matthew 7, 15-16: “By their fruits you will know them.”