Franz Jägerstätter People for Breaking the Silence
P.O. Box 283, Corfu, NY 14036
November 11, 2008, On the Feast Day of St. Martin of Tours
To the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,
As you know, Pope Benedict, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, stated, “There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq.” And in your November 13, 2007 statement, you stated, “Our nation must focus more on the ethics of exit than on the ethics of intervention.” We welcome that statement as helpful, but urge you to use the substantial power and blessings you hold to bring the full Church into unity with you on the “ethics of exit”.
We applaud that you have spoken very clearly regarding the ethics of abortion so that not only members of the Church understand, but most people outside also know. But, we are reminded of the words of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter (beatified just one year ago), “If the Church stays silent in the face of what is happening, what difference would it make if no church were ever opened again?” We hold his life, words and witness before us, as a church alive in action and in word. However, we see that the Church is not united in its acceptance of the nonviolent Jesus and that new education is necessary to enable all Catholics to fully believe:
That God is nonviolent, active Love (Micah 4:2, 3)
That Jesus is the incarnation of the nonviolent God of Love (John 10:30, John 14, 9)
That Jesus’ instruction to his followers regarding love and nonviolence is explicit, unambiguous and straightforward, especially in His call to “love our enemies”. (Luke 6:27–35)
That to be a Follower of Jesus, we must proclaim and live nonviolently as he did. (John 13:34)
That Jesus calls us to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), in the midst of a violent world, who recognize that the works of war (including preparation and justification for war, torture, and destruction of resources) are diametrically opposed to the works of mercy, opportunities for right livelihood and the common good of all people.
That to follow the teachings of Jesus, we must seek:
To love God,
To love our neighbor and to treat all others as we would wish to be treated;
To not judge but rather to pray for others;
To purify our hearts and to be Peacemakers;
To be merciful and to forgive others in their trespasses; and
To store up treasures in heaven, not on earth.
We are moved by this faith and our consciences as we struggle to respond to the gospel of Jesus, which challenges the church to answer His call to build the Kingdom by:
CHANGING OUR HEARTS of hardness, indifference and complicity to hearts of compassion, and solidarity;
REPENTING of the sins of war, terrorism and torture;
MOURNING for all the dead and wounded; and the millions of displaced peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan;
MOVING from silence to be bold teachers of the Gospel of Nonviolence and Peace and Justice;
In light of these understandings we call upon you to speak out forcefully at your Conference of Bishops in Baltimore in November, 2008:
We urge you to condemn war in a loud and clear voice, as immoral
and contradictory to the teachings and life example of Jesus Christ.
We ask you to initiate education programs in every diocese so that young Catholic men and women will be able to form a conscience founded on Holy Scripture and not take up the sword in wanton killing and destruction.
We call you to begin teaching Catholics of all ages that Jesus was Nonviolent, and that He calls all of us “be one with Him as He is one with the Father”; and that this is a call to nonviolence for all of us.
We ask you to help fulfill the message of Isaiah “and they will train for war no more” by removing all ROTC programs from Catholic schools in our country.
We urge you to call upon the entire Church, in the words of the prophet Isaiah “Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high”, to fast and pray for the intercession of the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth, where love and justice prevail without war and violence.
We send you this letter in the spirit of a 1979 prayer from Pope John Paul II. “On my knees I beg your to turn away from the paths of violence…I say to you, with all the love I have for you, with all the trust I have in young people: do not listen to voices which speak the language of hatred, revenge, retaliation. Do not follow any leaders who train you in the way of inflicting death…Give yourself to the service of life, not the work of death. Violence is the enemy of justice. Only peace can lead to the way of true justice.”
In Peace and Solidarity,
The Franz Jägerstätter People for Breaking the Silence
Richard Keough, Pax Christi CNY, Diocese of Syracuse, NY
Mark Scibilia-Carver, Diocese of Rochester, NY
Fr. Bill Picard, Diocese of Scranton, PA
Fr. Bernard Survil, Diocese of Greensburg, PA
Fr. Tim Taugher, St. Catherine Parish, Diocese of Syracuse, NY
Fr. Fred Daley, St. Therese Parish, Diocese of Syracuse, NY
Fr. Kevin Bunger, Diocese of Syracuse, NY (email@example.com)
Sister Rose Margaret Noonam, CSJ, Pastoral Asst., St.James Parish,
Johnson City, NY, Diocese of Syracuse NY
Ruth Giammichele, St.James Parish, Johnson City, NY, Diocese of
Syracuse, NY (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Eileen Keating, St. James Parish Community, Johnson City, NY,
Diocese of Syracuse, NY (EileenH713@aol.com)
Jack Gilroy, Chair, Peace/Justice Committee, St James Parish,
Johnson City, NY, Diocese of Syracuse, NY (email@example.com )
Frank Woolever, Pax Christi CNY, Diocese of Syracuse, NY
Paul Frazier, Catholic Worker, Syracuse, NY
James Mang, St. Joseph Univ. Parish, Buffalo, NY, Diocese of
Jack McHale, Regional Coordinator, Pax Christi Metro
Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, Center for Christian Nonviolence
Victoria B. Ross, QCSW. MSW, MALD, Peaceful Conflict
Resolution Coordinator, WNY Peace Center
C. William Michaels, Baltimore, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
William H. Privett, Regional Coordinator, Pax Christi WNY
William F. Marx, Co-chair, WNY Interfaith Peace Network,
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