Catholics Against Militarism
A collection of Catholics who resisted militarism nonviolently in very real and concrete ways.
Similar ideas popular now
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has sold over one million copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race.
Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy is the original director of the Program for the Study and Practice of Nonviolent Conflict Resolution at the University of Notre Dame. He left in 1969, resigning in protest. He is co-founder of Pax Christi USA. He has directed retreats and spoken throughout the world on the Nonviolent Jesus and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies. In 1983 he began The Annual Forty Day Fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence.
Sister Megan Rice (1930-) joined the Society of the Holy Child Jesus when she was 18. She built a school in Nigeria and taught there for most of 30 years. She has been arrested more than three dozen times for acts of civil disobedience in the U.S. In 2012 she and two other activists broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, TN, reportedly “the biggest security breach in the history of the nation's atomic complex.” As of 2015 she is 85 and serving her third prison sentence.
Born into a military family, Christian de Chergé went to Algeria during his seminary years for military service as an officer in the family tradition. He eventually became a Trappist monk in Algeria. When Algeria was plunged into a cycle of violence in 1993, he and his brothers completely renounced all violence. This fidelity would bring seven of them, including Christian, to a violent death which they did not desire but accepted as a consequence of their commitment and fidelity to Christ.
John Carmody is a former Marine Corps Captain and a Vietnam veteran who was awarded a Silver Star and two Purple Hearts. He left the Marine Corps in 1970 to teach and pursue a career in neurobiology and cardiovascular medicine. Today, John is engaged in a different kind of battle, one that has abandoned the rational ethics of war and embraced the Christian ethic of nonviolent love. He now the Director of the Center for Christian Nonviolence.
St. Rita of Cascia (1381-1457). Rita married a violent man with a bad temper who was a part of one of the powerful familial/political factions in Cascia, involved in ongoing cycles of murder governed by the unwritten law of “vendetta.” Rita convinced her husband to turn away from killing. He was murdered. Rita forgave his killers and refused to raise her sons as knights as was expected. Rita set out to do the impossible: make peace between the families of Cascia. She succeeded!
The Milwaukee 14. In 1968-69, to protest the Vietnam War, a group of fourteen people broke into nine draft boards that had offices side by side in a Milwaukee office building, put the main files into burlap bags, then burned the papers with homemade napalm in a small park in front of the office building while reading aloud from the Gospel. They were arrested and most of them went to prison for more than a year.
Gordon Zahn (1918-2007) was one of few Catholic conscientious objectors during World War II. He was a pacifist, author, writer and educator. He was a co-founder of Pax Christi U.S.A. and discovered the story of Franz Jägerstätter, the Austrian peasant who refused to serve in Hitlers army in any capacity, whom he wrote about in his book, In Solitary Witness. He also wrote about military chaplains in World War II, among other things.
Saint Marcellus of Tangier (mid 3rd century - 298 AD): “I serve Jesus Christ the eternal King. I will no longer serve your emperors and I scorn to worship your gods of wood and stone, which are deaf and dumb idols ... It is not right for a Christian man, who serves the Lord Christ, to serve in the armies of the world."
On November 9, 1965, at the age of 22, Roger Allen LaPorte set himself on fire in front of the United Nations building in New York City to protest the Vietnam War. He was a former seminarian and a member of the Catholic Worker Movement. Despite his burns, he remained conscious and able to speak at the hospital. When asked why he set himself on fire, La Porte replied, “I’m a Catholic Worker. I’m against war, all wars. I did this as a religious action.” La Porte died the next day.
Lanza del Vasto (1901-1981) was a philosopher and activist whose encounter with Mahatama Gandhi in 1936 led him to cofound with his wife the Community of the Ark in France. He fasted to protest torture, demonstrated against nuclear power plants, and spoke and wrote on non-violence. Vasto remained totally devoted to Catholicism and tried to remind the Church of the message of peace. In 1963, he fasted for 40 days in an appeal to the pope to issue a statement on the arms race.
Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan: The Irish Peace People. For their leadership in helping both Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland "live and love and build a just and peaceful society" and their commitment to "reject the use of the bomb and the bullet and all the techniques of violence" they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971.
Pope Benedict XV (1854-1922). At the outbreak of World War I, he immediately declared the Holy See’s neutrality in the conflict. He condemned the war for its barbarity and futility, calling it a “useless massacre” and “the suicide of civilized Europe." He called for a peace without victory. He wanted an end put to all compulsory military service, and he devised and offered peace plans to both sides based on reconciliation and forgiveness and not revenge.
Adolfo Perez Esquivel (1931 - ) worked as an organizer in the 1970's traveling around Latin America participating in nonviolent civil disobedience and learning ways of peacemaking. He was a leader in the human rights movement and denounced the the "Dirty War" in Argentina. For this, he was arrested and tortured. He helped lay the groundwork for the Latin American Charter of Nonviolence, which was issued by the bishops gathered at Bogota in the fall of 1977. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980.
"Think of the children starving in refugee camps… these are the fruits of war. And then think of the great dining rooms, of the parties held by those who control the arms industry, who produce weapons. The Apostle James gives us a simple piece of advice: ‘Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.’ But the spirit of war, which draws us away from God, doesn’t just reside in distant parts of the world: the spirit of war comes from our own hearts."
John Colet (1467-1519) was Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. According to Erasmus, on Good Friday 1513, Henry VIII invited Colet to preach a sermon to his army, which was preparing to invade France. In his sermon Colet condemned the war and urged the soldiers to fight only under Christ's banner (by Gospel love). He said most soldiers fight under the devil's banner: even if the cause for war seems just, the soldier is rarely untouched by hate and love of gain.
Cardinal Pierre-Marie Gerlier (1880-1965) initially supported the Vichy government in France during the Nazi occupation but eventually joined the resistance. His protest of the deportation of the Jews was read from every pulpit and broadcast throughout France. He declared a split between the French state the Church and refused to bless volunteers in the Vichy army or celebrate masses for those killed in war.
St. Peter Damian (1001-1072) "Wherefore, dearly beloved, take up the weapons of temperance, humility, patience, obedience, chastity, charity and all the other virtues and fight, not for towns and fields, not for sons or wives, but for your very souls, which are more important than any love or friendship. Above all, so that your new manhood may be strengthened, you must fast and pray."
Bl. Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) studied at the top military academy in France and was sent to Tunisia, where he proved to be an excellent officer. He was impressed by the religious devotion of the Moslems. He went into churches, without any faith, and prayed: “My God, if you exist, let me know you.” He eventually resigned from the Army. He wrote: “As soon as I believed that there was a God, I could not do otherwise than to live only for him…”
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) (1891-1942) was born of Jewish parents in Germany. She was a brilliant student, awarded her doctorate in philosophy at the age of 25 and one of Europe’s leading philosophers. She converted, became a nun, and formally consecrated her life to atonement and to world peace. She died in the death camp at Auschwitz, on August 9, 1942. She wrote: "Human activity cannot help us. Only the suffering of Christ can. To share in that suffering is my desire."
Rene Girard (1923 - ) is a literary critic, historian and philosopher who writes about the relationship between violence and religion. "Hope is possible only if we dare to think about the danger at hand, but this requires opposing both nihilists, for whom everything is only language, and pragmatic realists, who reject the idea that intelligence can attain truth: heads of state, bankers, and soldiers who claim to be saving us when in fact they are plunging us deeper into devastation each day."