We Grieve All Violence:
April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City - September 11, 2001, New York City
War in Iraq. Pray for Peace. These are the words on the signs which we, a retired couple, hold each week at the corner of 4th and Robinson in downtown Oklahoma City. We join a vigil each Monday at noontime sponsored by the group Women in Black. From the months before the war in Iraq started until last October, we held our signs on Wednesday at the corner of 23rd and Classen.
We do this to demonstrate our love of country and our concern for the course it is taking and to express our love of all God's people.
We watched before the war when millions throughout the world protested. We saw, too how little courage our media gave to these protests. We heard the Holy Father, John Paul II, state his opposition to the war.
As we stood each week with our signs, we realized that we were not hearing messages of peace from our church. Gradually we felt a strong desire to take our signs to Catholic churches in the Oklahoma City area/ This we have done since last spring. At times we are joined by a friend who holds similar sentiments. We stand always in view of each church, but on public property. We always have a permit if required.
The reception has varied from parish to parish. Some churchgoers have given markedly positive responses to our message. A few people have resorted to cussing and outrage. Some people are apparently offended that we would dare to present them with any kind of message.
Pastors, too, have varied in their responses. Some have been welcoming and gracious. Some have not. One pastor asked, "Why here? This is a church!" What better place, we thought. He asked if we didn't think the church has done enough to promote a Gospel of peace. Of course, we had to say no.
The bloodiest century in history has recently ended. The present century seems to be trying to top its record. The United States is following policies that will ensure we do just that. Our government speaks of bringing about a transformation of societies through the use of military might. We find this obscene. No transformation can be brought about through force.
Should we not expect more from our church than total acceptance of the culture of death's American agenda?
We will continue to hold our signs with Women in Black. We will continue also to visit churches. Meanwhile, our nation continues its aggressive path - a steady drumbeat of death. Meanwhile, too, we fear, our church remains largely silent. Art and Maryann Mertens.
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