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Jesuit Universities, Be Faithful to the Gospel and Teach War No More

On Nov. 16, 2017, the Feast of the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador, at nine Jesuit Catholic Universities, Catholic Workers and peace activists, students, alumni and staff took nonviolent action at the Universities to say: Jesuit Universities, Be Faithful to the Gospel and Teach War No More. 17 Catholic Jesuit Universities in the USA host the Department of Defense Military Training Departments(ROTC) on Campus.

St. Ignatius surrenders
his sword before
the altar of Black Madonna
at Montserrat

From St. Ignatius of Loyola to Martin Luther King to Dorothy Day to Father Ignacio Ellucaria S.J.and Pope Francis the message has been clear: Teaching War and Killing has no place at a Christian University.

“Tell the Jesuits of Georgetown that they are committing mortal sin because they are supporting the forces of death which are killing our people.”
Salvadora Martyr Ignacio Ellacuria, SJ

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#Holy Cross

Holy Cross, Worcester, MA

Will Raymond, Mike Boover, and Claire Schaeffer-Duffy joined Holy Cross alumni Teresa Wheeler, Frank Kartheiser, Shawn Donovan, and Scott Schaeffer-Duffy at a vigil Nov. 16 for the removal of military training from Holy Cross College. They gathered Saint Joseph’s chapel in front of the memorial to the Jesuit martyrs in El Salvador. 75 leaflets were given to students. They closed on the steps of the chapel by praying the Lord’s prayer. Their vigil was one of many at numerous Jesuit colleges and universities around the United States.

“Faith and violence are incompatible.”
Jorge Mario Bergoglio SJ Pope Francis

Fordham University Bronx, New York

At Fordham, there were two events on Nov. 16th. One was a seminar sponsored by the Theology Department featuring four speakers conversing about militarism, Catholic Social teaching and Jesuit Education

Martha Hennessy, a member of the Catholic Worker Movement and granddaughter of Dorothy Day. She read from Dorothy Day’s 1957 essay “On Pilgrimage.” Hennessy, quoting her grandmother, urged people to take action against injustice. “We can do work which does not contribute to war, we can refuse to pay taxes to war,” she read.

Ray McGovern — Fordham graduate, antiwar activist and former CIA analyst. McGovern talked about how the theological education he received at Fordham was incomplete. He said he had always been taught to do good and avoid evil. He realized that was not enough. “You do good, but if you’re a follower of Jesus…you confront evil.”
Carmen Trotta — a member of the Catholic war movement and antiwar activist. “The Catholic universities all seem to be actually part of the military-industrial complex,” he said. He said that is because of the existence of ROTC on campus and the benefits Fordham receives for being a host for that program.
Meg Stapleton Smith — second-year doctoral student in Theological and Social Ethics at Fordham University and former Director of Campus Ministry and teacher of Theology at Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School in Lawrence, MA. She talked about a direct connection between racism and militarism and said that “Jesuit universities are all too often complicit in perpetuating [that].”
For full article on event see Fordham student newspaper article Theology Department sponsors War No More

Another action in New York was a “one man revolution” nonviolent action by Daniel Marshall, a Jesuit alumnus and Catholic Worker. He established a vigil Nov. 16th at the Fordham University Lincoln Center campus for the removal of military training from Fordham University. During the noon hour, on the anniversary of the deaths of the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador, 150 leaflets were given to students and faculty, some of whom stopped to chat. The leaflet was comparing the Works of Mercy to Works of War.

“It is a schizophrenia that runs deep in the soul to try to teach how to love God and to kill in the same place.” Daniel Berrigan SJ

Georgetown University, Washington D.C.

“I am opposed to the destruction of life. I’m opposed to educators using the facilities to promote that.” (Founder of Peace Studies at Georgetown University Richard McSorley SJ)

Loyola University, Baltimore, MD

Around noon on November 16, several Baltimore activists gathered at Charles Street and Cold Spring Lane where Loyola University is located. A demonstration ensued with signs stating ROTC Equals an Atrocity, Peace Be With You, Teach Peace not War, Stop the War Machine: Export Peace, No ROTC on campus and END War. A passer-by decided to join us. After some thirty minutes of honks from the drivers who supported our messages, we marched on campus. Joe Byrne from the Jonah House carried a large wooden cross in the procession.

Joe created a service to commemorate the death of the six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter on this day in 1989. So we went to the chapel on campus to conduct the service.

It seemed like it was the time to get to the president’s office with the letter. I left the service and went into the building holding the president’s office. A gentleman was kind enough to promise to get the letter on the president’s desk.
Once I returned to my computer, I found an email from the president of Loyola University Maryland. While I was not surprised by his response, at least the president did admit he supports wholeheartedly the U.S. Empire. It is painful to think that students are unwitting participants in a strategy of endless war.

“And I am centrally concerned with the Gospel view that the massive suffering of this war and American imperialism around the world will only be confronted by people who are willing to go with suffering as the first move to justice.” Phil Berrigan in letter to Jim Forest

University of Scranton, Scranton, PA.

Watch Video of Scranton nonviolent action and hear how ROTC on campus relates to the School of America’s (SOA), US training program for assassins of Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador.
Video of invasion of Jesuit campus at Scranton


On November 16th, the 28th anniversary of the assassination of the San Salvador assassinations of six Jesuits, their housekeeper and 15 year old daughter by graduates of the United States Army School of the Americas, several members of Friends of Franz & Ben ( peacefully invaded the campus of the University of Scranton, one of 17 Jesuits universities in the United States training students to kill.

Among the ‘invaders’ was Fr. Bernard Survil, a Catholic priest, who spent 25 years working with the poor of Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Fr Tim Taugher, Pastor of St Francis of Assisi Parish in Binghamton, NY, arrested at the US Army School of the Americas in a nonviolent protest of United States training of Latino assassins, and Jack Gilroy of Endwell, NY who had been imprisoned (as has Fr Survil) for an nonviolent action at the US Army School of Americas in Fr Benning, Ga.

We were able to distribute flyers, Fr Bernie in the main dining hall where some young students showed anger that anyone would question our honorable military. Fr Tim and Jack in the downstairs cafe setting and then outside.

After about 15 minutes in the DeNaples dining area, we were told by a well-mannered security man that we could not display our sign ROTC OUT OF SCRANTON or banners and would need to go off campus to Linden St that borders the campus. We went outside where Fr Tim was already passing out our flyers to students. We held tightly to our wind blown banner and signs as we engaged students in discussion. Most students took the flyers with a good-natured ‘Thank You”. One young woman strongly defended the right to have ROTC on campus. We explained to her the work of ROTC officers who train Latin American soldiers at Ft Benning Ga. We told her that ROTC training is part of the horror that has resulted in killing thousands of their Latino countrymen, women and children.

Joined by nationally known journalist, Tony Magliano, and Scranton resident, Agnes Gallone, we went to the edge of the campus and found a large flow of students on Linden St. Using a portable microphone, we made street corner comments and invited several young ROTC soldiers to dialogue. They refused.

We proceeded to the Jesuit residence where outside is a monument to the slain San Salvador Jesuits…a bronze plaque with the names of the assassinated, a crucified Christ on the cross and eight arborvitae trees, one for each of the slain on November 16, 1989.

We had a brief exchange with a Jesuit priest and left a letter for the Jesuit Rector.

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

On the Feast of the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador, 18 persons held a prayer vigil in front of the Marquette University Library. They were there not only to honor the Jesuit Martyrs but again to ask the Marquette community, especially the Jesuits, to be faithful to the Gospel and No Longer Host Departments of Military Sciences for the Department of Defense (DoD) on campus. After the prayer vigil, as students walked by, Don Timmerman of the Casa Maria Catholic Worker community read a letter addressed to the Jesuit Superior of the Jesuit Residence on campus. All were invited to sign it and after we marched across campus to the Jesuit Residence.

In the courtyard to the Jesuit residence, there was erected a duplicate of a memorial at José Simeón Cañas Central American University in El Salvador where the Jesuit and companions were killed. This seemed good but a little hypocritical since Marquette does not follow the Gospel Values the Jesuit martyrs stood for. Father Ellacuria S.J., one of the Jesuit martyrs in a commencement speech in 1982 at Santa Clara Ellacuria University had spoked of the suffering a Catholic University must endure in a time of great injustice. “In a world where injustice reigns, a university that fights for justice must necessarily be persecuted.” We realized that Marquette University would need to give up money, honor and glory that it receives from the Federal Government if he ended the three DoD departments on campus.

When we entered the Jesuit residence we were told right away that we needed to leave. We had asked for the Jesuit Superior and without checking with him were told that he was in a meeting. We said we would wait but a number of Marquette Police entered the building and said that we were trespassing and had to leave the building immediately. We said we were nonviolent and just wanted to wait for Jesuit Superior. They said they were under orders from the MU police chief to move us out right away or arrest us. We left the letter and residence and gathered briefly outside.

On the way back to the car one of our members pointed out that all the participants in vigil and march were older persons like ourselves. Just then a student came up to us and ask if we were part of the group protesting ROTC on campus. When we said yes, she praised our efforts. She was a senior at the school familiar with Catholic Worker and Dorothy Day, who seriously resisted ROTC on a Catholic Campus. Hope is still alive and as Daniel Berrigan said:” One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible.”

“The Catholic Worker stands in a particular way for the poor and the lowly, for people who need some other kind of schooling than that afforded by universities and colleges of our capitalist system. I have had to refuse seven colleges and universities for the reason they had ROTC and one way or another closely allied to Federal Government” Dorothy Day to President of Catholic University

Creighton University Omaha, Nebraska

Don’t Whitewash the Gospels

Catholic Workers, Vets for Peace and member of Neb. For Peace were among the eight people who showed up on the sidewalk outside the Creighton Universities ROTC building at noon, Thursday, Nov 16 with a banner, posters and leaflets.

They were part of a nationwide campaign called “Teach Peace Not War!”, it hopes to get the 17 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities that host Military Training / ROTC’s to kick them off their campuses. Creighton was one of ten Jesuit colleges and universities visited by peace activist Nov 16th in what organizers hope to be an annual event.

From the front of the ROTC building, the peace activist marched around the campus on its public sidewalk to the front of the Jesuit Community building and the entrance circle of the campus. There we met Fr. Andy Alexander SJ: Director of collaborative ministry office and Eileen Burke-Sullivan: Vice Provost, mission and ministry; both representing the Jesuit community and Creighton University. Both graciously listened to Mark Kenney’s reading of a leaflet and of a letter addressed to the Jesuit Community of Creighton from the group

At the end of Mark reading of the letter to the Jesuits, Mark handed Fr Alexander a bucket of white paint the words Don’t whitewash the Gospels and said ” Please accept this bucket of whitewash as a gentle reminder not to use it to conform to the world around you. May you never have the need to open it again. May you advocate, with the Zeal and authority of Jesus, to remove worldly military training centers from your Catholic campuses.”


“[Revolution]is challenging the dominant powerful forces within and outside of the social and national arena.”

Loyola Marymount, Los Angelus, California

On Thursday, November 16, the 28th anniversary of the murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter, at the University of El Salvador by U.S. trained Salvadoran troops, at nine Jesuit Universities across the U.S. there were protests against the ROTC programs at each university.

The LACW had a presence at Loyola Marymount University - Los Angeles. We began outside a campus chapel by praying the Rosary for an end of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Program at LMU. We then proceeded to the main entrance for a vigil and few short talks explaining our purpose and inviting others to join us. There we were greeted by a small group of counter-demonstrators in favor of the military and ROTC Program. We then went inside to the area outside the AF-ROTC offices. Then proceeded to the President’s office, where we were denied a meeting with LMU President Snyder, but his spokesperson agreed to accept a symbolic cardboard sword (representing St. Ignatius sword that he laid down and rejected his military career that he may follow the nonviolent Christ) and a flyer calling Mr. Snyder to end the ROTC program since it is an absolute contradiction to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith.

There were no arrests or confrontations with the counter-demonstrators, although we did engage in conversations.

“…while I believe passionately spoken words can send a powerful message, I’ve learned that actions truly do speak louder than words.” Jessica Reznicek, of the Des Moines Catholic Worker


Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California

Outside the Mission Church at the University of Santa Clara are planted 8 crosses memorializing the UCA martyrs: the 6 Jesuits, their housekeeper and her 16 old daughter. It was these crosses that first prompted our local Pacific Life and Catholic Worker communities to confront the presence of ROTC at Santa Clara by regularly vigiling with banners and signs in front of the Mission Church where the crosses stood. We would also hand out leaflets in an attempt to engage in dialogue the students passing by between classes. These vigils always drew the attention of the campus police who, within minutes of our arrival, would come and ask us to leave. Our lack of initiative in promptly following their directive inevitably led to the arrival of the municipal police who would come and threaten arrest for trespassing.

November 16th represented a special opportunity to both memorialize the UCA martyrs and further draw attention to how contrary military training is to Gospel Truth and to do it in concert with others around the country who were also called to protest the existence on ROTC on Jesuit campuses. We convened a couple of blocks off campus and processed to an area in front of the church at a distance we had been asked to keep by the university president, Fr. Michael Engh, whose concern it was that the facade of the church become a backdrop for our memorial service and signage calling for an end to ROTC on campus. We decided to comply with his request rather than jeopardize a channel of communication that had recently opened with students on campus and had enabled our group on one occasion to speak directly to 15 of the ROTC cadets. The campus police were awaiting our arrival and there was no confrontation with them as they stood by and observed.

Our service consisted of song and prayer and was punctuated by brief readings about each of those murdered that day in 1989. After each reading a votive candle was walked to the front of the church and placed at the foot cross of the person being remembered. Each of them in turn were called to mind: Ignacio Ellacuría, Ignacio Martín-Baró, Segundo Montes, Juan Ramón Moreno, Joaquín López y López, Amando López, Elba and Celina Ramos.

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