Catholic Worker 75th Anniversary Statement
[Full text version]
We are Catholic Workers from communities throughout the U.S. and Europe who have come to Worcester, Massachusetts to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Catholic Worker. At this critical point in history, as we face unending war, including U.S. plans to attack Iran, ecological destruction and economic collapse, we call on our church and nation to join us in repenting our affronts to God.
The U.S. has become the wealthiest nation on earth at the price of the collective loss of our souls through our acceptance of the sins of war, torture, racism, discrimination, killing, nuclearism and environmental destruction – – all in the name of profit. We live a lifestyle that demands war and distracts from our true calling of loving and caring for one another.
We urge our church to heed the nonviolent example of Dorothy Day and the critique of modern war by Vatican II. Taking God’s command ‘Thou shalt not kill’ and the Sermon on the Mount as our Christian manifesto, we commit ourselves to upholding the sacredness of all life wherever it is threatened. We recommit ourselves to the Catholic Worker vision of creating a new society in the shell of the old.
Saint Paul tells us that when one member of our community is suffering, the health of the whole body is affected. In our various communities we have daily contact with the victims of our society, including homeless veterans and our undocumented sisters and brothers. Many of us have been arrested and jailed for nonviolent acts of resistance to state-sanctioned injustice and killing. We strive to do the works of mercy and to follow Jesus’ command to be nonviolent witnesses for peace and justice.
We once again implore the leadership of the Catholic Church in the United States, now and without evasion, to break its silence and to wield the authority provided by the nonviolent gospel of Jesus Christ, by calling the entire nation to repent for the war crimes we have committed in the so-called War on Terror.
We yearn to be part of a church that prays and works for peace, loves our neighbors and enemies alike, and embraces the redemptive power of forgiveness. We cry out for a church that speaks without fear of consequences, including loss of revenue. We implore our church leadership to follow the example of Jesus and unequivocally renounce the sins of our empire’s warmaking, the possession and use of weapons of mass destruction, oppression, scapegoating and aspirations of global domination.
When our body issued its last national plea in 2006, the response was profoundly disappointing and no less than tragic. Rather than a clear pronouncement condemning the illegal and immoral nature of our current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the evil wrought by torture and other crimes against humanity, the U.S. Catholic Bishops merely stated that “our nation’s military forces should remain in Iraq only as long as their presence contributes to a responsible transition.”
The insufficiency of this response has been demonstrated, not only by the continuation of these wars in the face of a clear public desire to end the war in Iraq, but also by the reality of US covert actions aimed at destabilizing Iran and the apparently imminent military attack on that nation.
Out of our shared and abiding love, we remind the Bishops that we continue to wait for their clear call to our nation to end these threats and provocations that carry no other outcome than an ever-widening sea of agony and death. In this prayer we invoke the spirit and witness of Blessed Franz Jagerstatter who exemplified Christ’s instruction to peacemakers that, as children of God, we may be required to give up our lives rather than participate in evil.
In the name of God, who calls us to love and not to kill, we appeal to the church and all people of good will to:
- Call for prayer, fasting, vigils and nonviolent civil resistance to immediately end the U.S. military occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Advise all soldiers to refuse to participate in these wars.
- Denounce and actively resist U.S. plans to attack Iran.
- Embrace the nonviolent witness of Blessed Franz Jagerstatter and actively support and encourage all conscientious objectors.
- Urge Congress and the military to offer appropriate care and support to returning soldiers.
- Call for an immediate end to the use of torture.
- Call for the closing of Guantanamo and other secret U.S. military prisons.
- Call for the redirection of our resources from war making and exploitation to meeting human needs and preserving life on Earth.
- Call for an equitable redistribution of resources and simplification of our materialistic lifestyle.
- Call for disarmament and the abolition of all weapons of mass destruction.
We call on our church to be a prophetic voice, a sanctuary, and a source of encouragement to those who want to work in community toward peace, justice and reconciliation.
Affirmed in assembly
Catholic Worker 75th Anniversary Gathering
Our Lady of Mount Carmel / Saint Anne Parish Center,
Worcester, Massachusetts USA
On the Feast of St. Benedict
July 11, 2008