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Feast of St. Martin of Tours and Veterans Day, 11/11/13

Child Soldiers and Military Training at Marquette

Recently, I read an article called “Obama Quietly Okays Military Aid to Countries That Use Child Soldiers.” In the name of National Security the president exempted Yemen, Chad, and South Sudan from the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 that prohibits the U.S. government from providing military assistance to countries that directly use, or support the use of, child soldiers.

Drawing of Child Soldier

By a friend exiled from a county in Africa, I heard tales of horror how children are conditioned to kill without thought or conscience. Child soldiers become so abhorrent of the killing they did, that they often cannot talk about their experiences; but instead, they draw pictures.

Today, Nov. 11th Veteran’s Day, I listen to two veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars talk about their own experiences in war and about the book they edited “Fire and Forget”. The book is a collection of short stories by veterans of these wars who also have a tough time talking about their war and killing experiences; but, via alternative & fictional depictions, like the drawings of child soldiers, are able to describe the effects of being conditioned to kill; or, as the Army calls it, “reflexive killing” killing without conscience.

The military admits and soldiers confirm that they are being trained at military schools, like the one at Marquette University, in this type of killing which violates the teachings of our Catholic Church and the values of the Gospel. You can find more documentation of Marquette University teaching killing at Teach War No More or Marquette Be Faithful to the Gospel and No Longer Host Departments of the Military (ROTC).

Two Victims of War

Despite our protests by “breaking the silence,” this type of training of young men and women, like that of the child soldiers, to kill without conscience, continues at Marquette University: the only university in this five county area surrounding Milwaukee to host this type of training on campus. Colleges and Universities are by law, in order to receive federal funding, required to make available to their students ROTC military training; but, are not required to host it on campus. Their ROTC students are sent to Marquette for classes and military training and conditioning in how to kill without thought or conscience; and with no oversight permitted by those controlling the operations of the university.

I asked the question of why the Catholic Archbishop, two presidents of Marquette University and other administrators at Marquette are allowing this to happen. They have not responded. Is it for money? The other day I heard that the Department of Defense is closing thirteen smaller ROTC programs so they can spend millions more on big city universities like Marquette University. How much does Marquette take in from the Department of Defense for hosting three departments of the military: the Schools of Army, Navy/Marines and Air Force? If not for ‘riches’, is it for ‘honor’ or ‘pride’, the other evils of Lucifer’s arsenal according to St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus and former soldier, that this is so?

St. Martin of Tours

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Martin of Tours, a soldier in the Roman Empire. Legend has it that Martin, as a soldier in the military, was approached by a scantily clad beggar near the gates of Amiens, France. He impulsively cut his military cloak in half to share with the man. That night, Martin dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak he had given away. Soon after this work of mercy he was baptized in the Christian faith and refused to fight in the Roman military. Before Julian Caesar he said: “Hitherto I have served you as a soldier; let me now serve Christ…. I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight.” He went on to become a renowned Bishop and Theologian in the Church. His was a journey from the works of mercy … to the works of resistance as a conscientious objector in the military.

Today we also celebrate Armistice Day, aka Veterans Day. Veterans Day has roots reaching from the end of World War I, “the war to end all wars”. Now, many wars later and with the teaching of reflexive killing since the War World II era, what better way to honor our veterans than to stop teaching killing without conscience at Catholic Marquette University?

A scant few years ago, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee closed the fourteenth of seventeen former Catholic Churches in North Central Milwaukee, the poorest and most segregated area of Milwaukee. The money from the closing and sale was transferred to one of the three Catholic churches left in North Central Milwaukee. On advice of the Archdiocese, this money was put into an endowment fund for ‘future church use’ rather than for use in outreach work in the neighborhood where poverty and lack of basics like beds, stoves and refrigerators, is rapidly increasing.

What is it about the Archdiocese of Milwaukee that permits the teaching of killing in its major Catholic university and condones the taking of money from the poorest of neighborhoods and putting it away in an endowment fund? This is not a rhetorical question … it is one that must be answered … and one that must be answered for.

St. Martin of Tours, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Dorothy Day and the veterans who have died in our endless wars, pray for us sinners and our sinful Church; help us to understand that peace and justice start at home … right here in Milwaukee.

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