Archive for the ‘War and Violence’ Category

Jesuit Leads Life in Pursuit of Peace

Jesuit Father Jack Morris Jesuit Father Jack Morris is 84 years old and can no longer walk. But thirty years ago he led a group that walked across the U.S. as part of the Bethlehem Peace Pilgrimage to raise awareness about the nuclear arms race. Later that year the group flew to Ireland to continue the pilgrimage, ending in Bethlehem.

Now Fr. Morris, who is celebrating his 50th year as a priest, is working on his memoirs in the infirmary at the Jesuit House at Gonzaga University. He sees a country as dedicated to war as ever.

“I think we’re making progress toward doing ourselves in,” Fr. Morris told The Spokesman-Review.

Fr. Morris’ driving question is: “How do we put peace into the center of church thinking?”

“If the church spent as much time on peace issues as it does on birth control and abortion, we could have peace,” he said.

In the 1970s, Fr. Morris became drawn to the peace protesters who had gathered around the Trident nuclear submarine base in Bangor, Wash. He developed the idea of a pilgrimage and found about a dozen others who were willing to give it a try.

The group set off on April 9, 1982, with walkers ranging in age from 20 to 67. They walked about 20 miles a day, slept where they could, ate simple food and gave presentations on peace. They walked to Washington, D.C., and then flew to Ireland to conclude the walk.

They arrived in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, 1983, and everyone who started the pilgrimage finished.

“I was glad we were there and we were done,” Fr. Morris said. “I was tired of walking.”

Read more about Fr. Morris at The Spokesman-Review.

Jesuit Military Chaplain Heads to the Middle East

Jesuit Father Mark McGregorOregon Province Jesuit Father Mark McGregor departed for the Middle East in late July as an Air Force chaplain. While Fr. McGregor cannot disclose his posting, spiritually, he knows just where he is.

“It’s easy to think the military is a bunch of macho guys who want to grab a gun and go off and kill people,” Fr. McGregor said before leaving for his assignment. “But there are so many thoughtful people. They genuinely want to defend the country and help people. They recognize a bigger responsibility. My question always is, who is standing to help them?”

Fr. McGregor will spend six months in his first overseas assignment. He’ll likely serve at a Mideast air base, offering counsel, comfort and education to all, plus sacraments to Catholics.

A longtime teacher, Fr. McGregor heard of the need for Catholic chaplains and was intrigued. Through discernment, his desire to become a chaplain emerged. Until leaving for the Middle East, he was posted for a year at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

“It can sometimes be an intense ministry. Something can happen rather quickly. Here, you work right in the moment with the person in front of you,” he said.

“War should never be a popular thing,” Fr. McGregor said. “There is always a spiritual cost to war. A lot of people have a weight on them surrounding family. But when you’re a chaplain, they believe in your role to help them.”

Read more about Fr. McGregor at the Oregon Catholic Sentinel.

Jesuit Says Gun Control Is a Religious Issue

Jesuit Father James MartinOn Friday, July 20, after the shooting rampage in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater that left 12 dead, Jesuit Father James Martin, culture editor at America magazine, posted the following on Facebook:

“Gun control is a pro-life issue. Pray for the families of the victims in Colorado, and for an end to the taking of life by violence.”

That post sparked a debate on Fr. Martin’s Facebook page that USA Today’s Faith & Reason blog reported on later that day, in a post titled “Would Jesus pack heat? Is gun control a God issue?”

On July 22, Fr. Martin expanded on his views in a post on America magazine’s blog. Fr. Martin stated that he is a religious person, not a political person, and that he believes gun control is a religious issue:

“It is as much of a ‘life issue’ or a ‘pro-life issue,’ as some religious people say, as is abortion, euthanasia or the death penalty (all of which I am against), and programs that provide the poor with the same access to basic human needs as the wealthy (which I am for). There is a ‘consistent ethic of life’ that views all these issues as linked, because they are.”

Fr. Martin wrote that he prays for the victims, but suggested that “our revulsion over these crimes, and our sympathy for victims, may be more than an invitation to prayer. Such deep emotions may be one way that God encourages us to act.”

Fr. Martin said religious people should meditate on “the connection between the more traditional ‘life issues’ and the overdue need for stricter gun control.”

An American Jesuit’s Life in Sri Lanka

“I feel at home only here,” says Jesuit Father Harry Miller in describing Batticaloa, the east coast city of Sri Lanka where he has lived for the last 64 years.

Raised in New Orleans to devout Catholic parents, Father Miller decided at the age of 16 to follow in the footsteps of his older brother and join the Jesuits.  In all, six of his seven siblings would become Jesuit priests or nuns.

When he was missioned to Sri Lanka in 1948 at the age of 23, Father Miller traveled by train to New York and then boarded a ship for the long voyage to South Asia, finally arriving at the Jesuit mission in Batticaloa.

Before Father Miler’s arrival, Jesuit missionaries had come in waves to Sri Lanka. Although French missionaries had traditionally been sent to the country, in the 1930s, the Vatican called upon Americans from French Louisiana to help out with the Jesuit schools in eastern Sri Lanka.

“We didn’t volunteer for a few weeks, a month or a year. It was for life,” Father Miller said about his 60 years of service to the people of Batticaloa as educator, priest, protector and witness.

Through the years, Father Miller taught physics, English and history, and coached the soccer team at St. Michael’s College, a boys’ school founded in 1873.  He worked actively to build bridges between communities and documented the unrest in Sri Lanka that claimed thousands of lives.  Many people simply disappeared during the Sri Lankan Civil War and a 1980s insurrection; one of those still missing is Father Miller’s friend and colleague, Jesuit Father Eugene John Hebert.  Father Hebert, who was known for his human rights work, disappeared in August of 1990.

In 2009, unsure whether he would stay in the United States, Father Miller returned to his native New Orleans. Once there, he realized that his true home was in Batticaloa, and he quickly returned.

In this video piece, Father Miller talks with great love about his home in Batticaloa.

Jesuit Provincial of Eastern Africa Discusses the Situation in Uganda Today in This Month’s NJN Podcast

Last month, a video detailing atrocities committed by Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which he heads, caused an Internet sensation. The video, which has been viewed by some 100 million people, made Joseph Kony a household name.

The warlord and his ruthless guerrilla group are responsible for a 26-year campaign of terror in Uganda that has been marked by child abductions and widespread killings. Last year, President Obama dispatched 100 U.S. troops — mostly Army Special Forces — to Central Africa to advise regional forces in their hunt for Kony.

The group running the Kony 2012 campaign is holding a nationwide event today – Friday, April 20 —  titled “Cover the Night,” where supporters are encouraged to spread the word of Kony 2012 around their local communities.

The Society of Jesus, the largest religious order of Roman Catholic priests and brothers in the world, has worked in Uganda for more than 40 years.  The Society’s Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has conducted peace-building workshops, run schools and economic development projects and ministered to refugees in Uganda. In 2005, the Jesuits of the Eastern Africa Province began planning for a secondary school in northern Uganda, the Ocer Campion Jesuit College in Gulu. The co-educational high school admitted its first students in early 2010 and is already having a tremendously positive impact in a region devastated by over 20 years of civil war. The school will grow to a capacity of 1,200 students and includes agricultural and vocational training as well as rigorous academic formation in the Jesuit tradition, religious formation and peace education.

In this podcast, Jesuit Father Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, the Jesuit provincial of Eastern Africa, speaks with National Jesuit News about the Jesuit’s work in Uganda, the progress that’s been made, the work that still needs to be done and how young people can get involved.