Dear Bishop and my fellow clergy, priests and deacons in the Diocese of Kalamazoo, MI:
I have just received news that a US Army chaplain resigned in protest over the US drone, “policy of unaccountable killing” (See this link). At first I was so excited that perhaps it was a Catholic chaplain. But then read that it was our fellow Christian, Rev. John Antal, a Unitarian Universalist Church minister from New York. I praise God for his courage in saying: “The executive branch continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any time, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials.”… While deployed in Afghanistan, he concluded that “our drone strikes disproportionately kill innocent people.”
“I resign because I refuse to support the US policy of preventive war, permanent military supremacy, and global power projection.”
I am wondering and puzzled why no Catholic chaplain has done likewise. What is wrong with our seminary training? Why doesn’t our diocese have an office of Justice and Peace ? Why does the present American Catholic Hierarchy ignore its own Catholic Social Teaching , even now, with the election of Pope Francis ? Why should I have been refused permission, by a panicky temporary pastor, to continue preaching the Church’s teachings on Justice and Peace ?
I know that you are aware that I helped Kathy Kelly of the Chicago Voices for Creative Nonviolence, with the help of the Peace House in Kalamazoo, plan and carry out a walk from Chicago, around the bottom of Lake Michigan and through our Diocese to the Drone base located near Battle Creek, where we demonstrated against drone warfare, and that these demonstrations do continue.
When I tried to place an article in our diocesan newspaper showing that the Vatican was moving ahead of the US bishops in understanding that the Just War theory was no longer viable, you told me to go somewhere else with this, because it would be disturbing to our Catholics here. I received the same reasoning, while attempting to start a new chapter of Pax Christi at one of our diocesan parishes, when the pastor told me to take down the sign showing that Pope John Paul II had called the Iraqi invasion unjust, immoral, and illegal.
So to some extent, I have turned to other venues. I have been working with Pax Christi of Michigan, the local chapter of the official voice of American Catholic peacebuilding; with the Michigan/ Meta Peace Team, an Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping group operating both here in the US, and countries across the world; the people of Pace e Bene, big on nonviolence training, sponsoring actions of nonviolence across the country, and trying to unite the many American peace groups; with my son Paul, who created and owns SirenGPS, a mass warning and tactical communication platform for city and county Emergency Managers across the county; and with the Peace and Justice Studies Association, which ties together educators and activists across the country.
My present activities, after returning from 3 months this winter teaching English in a rural, outback town in Colombia, South America, where I was able to meet the President of Colombia, and observe his efforts to try to bring peace to the 50 years of civil war in that country, include:
- Currently, I am working with the organizers of the coordinated protest demonstrations being planned for the Republican National Convention (RNC) this summer, offering training services from Meta Peace Team, which did security for the 2012 RNC, and the use of SirenGPS, a tactical communications platform used by the best emergency managers in the US.
And applying for an adjunct position at local colleges to get back into teaching Justice and Peace to young people, maybe even at the high school level again.
Recently, we celebrated the death of Rene Voillaume , founder of the Little Brothers of Jesus, on May 13th . I sometimes feel in a similar place as Charles de Foucauld – trying to do what he thought Jesus was calling him to, but he attracted no followers. He died alone in the desert. But then his vision did not die. Later a 16 year old, young student read about him, and it changed his life. 12 years later, now a priest, he and 4 others followed Foucauld’s model , and it spread.
“Little we are before the task we have to accomplish. All our lives we shall remain unprofitable servants, and we must wish to be so dealt with,” Rene Voillaume.
Well, I still hold out hope that there will be some place for me within the Diocese of Kalamazoo.
Yours in the peace of Christ, Deacon Jim Rauner
“ I see my mission, as God has made it known to me, to help make the Catholic Church into what it should be, a peace church.” – Fr Richard McSorley, S.J.
“We have assumed the name of peacemakers, but we have been unwilling to pay any significant price for peace. We want peace with half a heart and half a life and half a will. The war making continues because the waging of war is total but the waging of peace is partial.”
– Daniel Berrigan, May he rest in Eternal Peace