the lowly and the fatherless, render justice to the
afflicted and needy.
e O k l a h o m a C i t y
Volume VI #1 + The world will be saved by Beauty +Lent 2007
B U R N I N G S O R R O W !
US Catholic Bishops Guilty of
U N J U S T W A R !
The bishops fiddle, while the ship of state sails serenely towards its doom.
Art by J.D. Thomason
OKC Catholic Worker Response to the 2006-2007 US Bishops' Statements on Iraq
The human person, the heart of peace. Benedict XVI message for the 2007 World Peace Day
National Catholic Worker Statement to the US Bishops on the War in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Military Commission Act
Response to Stephen Colecchi, by Robert Waldrop
What are you thankful for?, Lance Schmitz
Life, Priorities, and Love: Hospice Care, Marianne Mertens
Little Sweet Pea Blossom. a poem by the great-grandmother of Tresa Evans
Moral Law and the Iraq War. a chronically misleading episcopal witness, by Fr. Emmanuel McCarthy
The Language of the Capitalist, by Marcus Evans
Peter Maurin Memorial Agronomic University Extension Department:
About this Publication. . .
The Oklahoma City Catholic Worker is published irregularly by the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House, Robert Waldrop, editor, in print and internet editions. Subscriptions are free. We are happy to receive letters to the editor and unsolicited manuscripts, but we cannot guarantee when letters or articles would be published. We welcome contributions to help publish this paper and if we had more contributions and I had more time we would probably publish more often. Give all the glory to God, but any mistakes and errors are my responsibility. Robert Waldrop. Contact us at 1524 NW 21, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73106. email@example.com. Help line: 405-557-0436, other calls: 405-613-4688.
The Sins of the Fathers Are Visited Upon the Children Department.
The Imperialist Religion, By Charles B. Spahr (May 5, 1900)
Below are 2 items from the American anti-imperialist movement, dated 1900, protesting our war of conquest against the people of the Phillippines.
The Imperialist Creed
1. I believe in the old war taxes to prevent trade with Europe and the new war taxes to force trade with Asia.
2. I believe in excluding uneducated Europeans who wish to enter our territory, and in including uneducated Asiatics who wish to keep out.
3. I believe in home rule for Ireland but in alien rule for the Spanish islands.
4. I believe that whites and blacks have a right to govern themselves but not browns.
5. I believe in a Monroe doctrine which forbids Europe to interfere with self-government in America, but permits America to interfere with self-government in Asia.
6. I believe that governments get their just powers from the consent of the governed in America, but from contempt for the governed in Asia.
7. I believe that taxation without representation is tyranny when applied to us but philanthropy when applied by us.
8. I believe that forcible annexation is criminal aggression but that payment to non-owners makes it benevolent assimilation.
9. I believe that militarism and foreign broils strengthen despotism abroad but Republicanism at home.
10. I believe that American policies have made a little America, but that European policies will make a greater America.
The Imperialist Prayer
O Thou, who dost exalt the mighty and put down those of low degree, crush, we beseech thee, the struggles of the Filipinos for independence. Force them to recognize that, although they are willing to die for freedom, they are not fit to live in freedom. May they and all men forget the Declaration of Independence, or if they remember it may they also remember that it was not intended to apply to Malays. Strengthen in us the pride of race and the exalting conviction that we are not as other men are. Help us to scorn the Filipinos as children unworthy of the rights which our ancestors had from the days of barbarism. May we subject them to alien military rule knowing that this is the school in which self-government and manhood are developed. May our people forget that the Filipinos had established a government in which life and property were secure before we commanded them to lay down their arms, and enable the voters to rejoice when they read of villages destroyed for the preservation of property and men killed for the preservation of life. Forbid, O Lord, that we should treat the Filipinos as we have treated the countries of Spanish America in the past, protecting them against foreign aggression and permitting them the government of their choice. Aid us in our war of subjugation to the end that we may use the Filipinos to extend our trade - and thy glory -in the Orient. All this we ask in the name of Him who said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
What are you thankful for?
by Lance A. Schmitz
Share Your Wealth, An Easy Essay by Peter Maurin
1. God wants us to be our brother's keeper.
2. To feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to instruct the ignorant, at a personal sacrifice, is what God wants us to do.
3. What we give to the poor for Christ's sake is what we carry with us when we die.
4. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau says: "When man dies he carries in his clutched hands only that which he has given away."
Today as I sit in extreme comfort in my home, I stop to think about my life and the call of the gospel.
Do I live into the reality that the gospel calls us to? When I look at my life, my endeavors, and the projects I am involved with I sadly must confess that I do not. I still struggle with my own selfish desires, I still objectify people, and I still don't love people as well as I could or should. I am still controlled more often than I like by a culture that tells me to consume and exploit. I realize this day that I have stolen from the poor by my actions, my thoughts, by what I have done and by what I have left undone. Please oh Lord forgive me for those things which I have left undone, and make me to do those things which build your kingdom.
Life is funny. I look at where I am, I look at what I'm doing, I look at where I've been and I realize that many many times in many many ways I have not done those things which I've should or could have done. I don't want to be inconvenienced or I'm on a schedule of my own devising.
I've ignored the people of God so many times in the name of schedule or appointment or some sort of event that I "need" to be at. Do we really take the gospel seriously?
I want to take it seriously. The gospel is very dangerous and when undertaken it destroys all selfish desires for wants, for things, for self-promotion or advancement. Perhaps my little rambling is a confession of sorts that I must effort to live into the reality of the Gospel and I must fall on the grace of God and pray that I may sincerely follow the Kingdom of God and look for opportunities to build the Kingdom. What holds me back I wonder? Sin, fear, comfort, inability, lack of community, I'm not really sure. To sincerely undertake the gospel calls for a complete reorientation of life, all to often the way we have explained the gospel has left it bankrupt, ineffectual and many times sterile. The Gospel, the Kingdom of God, is not sterile or safe it is something that bids me to come and die.
To undertake this radical participation in the revolution of the Kingdom of God we need a community of people who are committed to living out this life together. We must begin to hold one another accountable to the disciplines of love, nonviolence, regular reading of the scriptures, prayer, simplicity, hospitality, and commitment to our community. We must learn to live, laugh, cry, love, pray, work, and stand in solidarity with all peoples for when the people of God join together truly miraculous things can take place. Lance is Minister of Social Justice at the First Nazarene Church, Oklahoma City.
Today it is very fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately it is very unfashionable to talk with them. Mother Teresa
Peter Maurin Memorial Agronomic University Extension Department
I am always looking for new places on my property to plant useful or edible plants. My wife, children & I maintain several gardens on our property and I look forward to the time when I can say that my property is a garden.
We have a home in a rather normal northwest Oklahoma City neighborhood. Our property measures approximately 60' X 150'. Because we plant in raised beds that have been sheet mulched and we try never to step directly into the beds, our yields are plentiful and our soil is well conditioned.
We compost all of our vegetable kitchen scraps directly on the soil surface. Then cover the compost with mulch; therefore the nutrients of the compost leach directly into the soil around the plants. An additional benefit of mulching in place is the effect it has on the worm population within the soil. There is no bad smell and the worms grow healthy spending their time nearer to the surface of the soil consuming the scraps and fertilizing the soil.
This method of gardening isn't only an easy way to garden - it is an environmentally responsible way to grow our own food. No need for fertilizers- the compost and worms do all the fertilizing. No need for power tilling- the worms keep the soil aerated and the since we don't step into the beds the soil tends not to get compacted. No big need for pesticides-when the beneficial insects are thriving and the soil is aerated you have less of a negative insect problem. No need to water every day- with a good thick bed of straw or other mulch your soil will retain more of the water.
But, there still is an even easier garden to maintain, the spinach garden. There isn't much work or materials needed to maintain an abundance of spinach for your family in an Oklahoma City garden from October until March.
Start out by looking around your property to find an area that is already a flowerbed or vegetable garden. If you do not have an area available build your own garden bed by using untreated lumber, rocks, bricks, logs or hay bales as a border. Remember to design your garden bed so that you will not be required to step into the garden to harvest or work the soil. Then place a couple of layers of brown cardboard directly onto the ground making sure to overlap the seams. Next, cover the cardboard with a layer of well-rotted compost, leaves, horse manure, or other organic material. Then, cover the organic material with topsoil or rich mix.
You are now ready to sprinkle the soil surface with spinach seeds. Make sure after you are done sprinkling the seeds over your garden that you lightly tap the soil surface with the end of a rake to settle the seed just under the surface of the soil. Finally it is time to lightly water the garden.
In about a week you will notice many small spinach plants growing. Make sure and water regularly. You will be harvesting spinach until about March as long as you only pinch off the leaves and allow the roots to produce more spinach leaves.
No fertilizer, no tilling, no raking, no weeding, just good wholesome food grown by you on your own property for you and your family. Marcus Evans.
My adventures in cloth diapering began at my local Target a few months back when I found myself pushing around a shopping cart packed full of disposable diapers and wipes. As I piled the products in the cart, I began to count each super-shrink-wrapped package to make sure I had covered everyone's ahem...needs.
So my count was as follows: including the three "jumbo" packs of disposable training pants and the four "mega" packs of disposable diapers, I had a little less than 400 throw away diapers to "cover" for a month. Then, I needed to make sure I had something to wipe all the little bottoms, so I added to the cart a rather large "refill" box of disposable wipes; that's 6 packs of 240 count throw-away wipes. My cart was overflowing to the point that I had to angle my head to one side for a clear eyeshot of the aisle and so I could avoid running over other shoppers.
While I am making this confession, I will also reveal that I have 8 children and up until January, I had been using disposables for most of the last 14 years (yes 14). I've thought about "going cloth". Oh, have I ever thought about it! But the task seemed intimidating and I would always convince myself cloth diapers would never work for me. I have even discussed the option with other parents all the while quipping special quotes such as, "How great that some parents will dedicate the time and effort," or "If I didn't have so many responsibilities maybe I would cloth diaper." And, what I have always felt was my best one-liner, "I really support and respect parents who cloth diaper." Of course I would always deliver that one with a very understanding half-smile and the agreeable nod of my head. All the while, closing my eyes to my own consumption of enough disposable diapering products to kill a small rain forest and build my own little landfill mountain.
Anyhow, there I was with my cart full of disposable nappies when it occurred to me the whole disposable diaper thing was getting, well...ridiculous. As I was counting packages and sizes, I was also doing a quick cost estimate. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was spending roughly $100 per month on something that ends up being thrown away. Translation...I was throwing away at least $100 per month and polluting the earth while I was at it. Disposable diapering didn't make sense anymore. I couldn't reconcile it with either my pocketbook or my conscience.
Now it was January, which is notorious in my household as a "tight-budget month" because of December's holiday expenses and I could not bring myself to make a purchase I was going to eventually discard. So I put everything back and walked over to the small area where the cloth diapers were sold. I bought cloth diapers, pins, training pants, and also the diaper pail. I spent about $30 more than I would have spent on the throw-a-ways but of course everything was reusable.
That was the beginning of the end for disposables in our household. Of course, I have tweaked my diapering system as I have attempted to master the "cloth diapering learning curve". One thing I learned really quickly, after an unfortunate experience, is that besides the cloth diaper, babies also need a cover for the diaper. I found them in a variety of materials such as plastic, cotton, micro fleece, and wool. Also available were a variety of sizes, colors, and price ranges. I chose an organic, natural colored wool cover that is breathable yet locks in moisture. I also purchased a few more organic cotton diapers. They were much softer than the first set of diapers I purchased and very reasonably priced. This led me to another important hindsight...a person should thoroughly shop around and ask advice from friends before purchasing their cloth diapers and diaper choose an organic, natural colored wool cover that is breathable yet locks in moisture. I also purchased a few more organic cotton diapers. They were much softer than the first set of diapers I purchased and very reasonably priced. This led me to another important hindsight...a person should thoroughly shop around and ask advice from friends before purchasing their cloth diapers and diaper covers because the quality can vary drastically.
I also learned, to my pleasant surprise, that cloth diapering isn't really that difficult to manage. If a diaper is wet, I place it in the diaper pail. If a diaper is soiled, I rinse the solids into the toilet and place it in the diaper pail. Then when I have a full wash load, I wash them in hot water. Whether using store-bought or my homemade laundry detergent, along with some vinegar in place of fabric softener, the diapers have come out smelling and looking fresh and free of stains. I haven't even felt compelled to bleach. It really is a simple process.
We experienced many other positive benefits when I made the switch to cloth diapering. The first is that children potty train faster when using cloth. My very reluctant potty-training 3 year old, was completely potty trained in less than 5 days after switching to cloth. And now, the 2 year old is frequently asking to "go" and we are having fewer and fewer accidents everyday. The second benefit is the life lesson for my children as they learn that making lifestyle changes for the common good does not have to be painful or even inconvenient. And finally, my family has now lightened, even if just a little, our footprints on this beautiful Earth which is beneficial not only to my family but the entire world. Tresa Evans.
Johnnycakes are a cornmeal pancake. The most basic recipe is simply cornmeal, hot water, and a bit of salt (roughly 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup water, ½ teaspoon salt). Mix the ingredients and let the batter sit for about 15 minutes. You want a runny batter, so depending on the moisture content of the cornmeal you may need to add extra hot water. Generously oil a skillet and get it hot, pour spoonfuls of the batter and fry until done on both sides. This version makes a crispy pancake.
A second recipe we like makes a raised cornmeal pancake. Combine 1 cup cornmeal, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 cup yogurt, ½ cup hot water. Mix the dry ingredients, and then add the yogurt and hot water. Let sit for about 15 minutes, add more water if necessary to get a fairly runny batter, generously oil a skillet and get it hot, pour spoonfuls of the batter and fry until done on both sides. This version makes a tender raised pancake.
A third recipe is 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt. Mix the dry ingredients, add the water and vinegar, stir, and let sit for about 15 minutes. Add more water if necessary. Cook as described above. Robert Waldrop
3 cups self rising flour, 2 cups sugar, 1 can beer
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan. Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. Lance Schmitz
Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2007
1. At the beginning of the new year, I wish to extend prayerful good wishes for peace to Governments, leaders of nations and all men and women of good will. In a special way, I invoke peace upon all those experiencing pain and suffering, those living under the threat of violence and armed aggression, and those who await their human and social emancipation, having had their dignity trampled upon. I invoke peace upon children, who by their innocence enrich humanity with goodness and hope, and by their sufferings compel us all to work for justice and peace. Out of concern for children, especially those whose future is compromised by exploitation and the malice of unscrupulous adults, I wish on this World Day of Peace to encourage everyone to reflect on the theme: The Human Person, the Heart of Peace. I am convinced that respect for the person promotes peace and that, in building peace, the foundations are laid for an authentic integral humanism. In this way a serene future is prepared for coming generations.
The human person and peace: gift and task
2. Sacred Scripture affirms that "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" Gen 1:27). As one created in the image of God, each individual human being has the dignity of a person; he or she is not just something, but someone, capable of self-knowledge, self-possession, free self-giving and entering into communion with others. At the same time, each person is called, by grace, to a covenant with the Creator, called to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his place(1). From this supernatural perspective, one can understand the task entrusted to human beings to
mature in the ability to love and to contribute to the progress of the world, renewing it in justice and in peace. In a striking synthesis, Saint Augustine teaches that "God created us without our aid; but he did not choose to save us without our aid(2)." Consequently all human beings have the duty to cultivate an awareness of this twofold aspect of gift and task.
3. Likewise, peace is both gift and task. If it is true that peace between individuals and peoples - the ability to live together and to build relationships of justice and solidarity - calls for unfailing commitment on our part, it is also true, and indeed more so, that peace is a gift from God. Peace is an aspect of God's activity, made manifest both in the creation of an orderly and harmonious universe and also in the redemption of humanity that needs to be rescued from the disorder of sin. Creation and Redemption thus provide a key that helps us begin to understand the meaning of our life on earth. My venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II, addressing the General
Assembly of the United Nations on 5 October 1995, stated that "we do not live in an irrational or meaningless world... there is a moral logic which is built into human life and which makes possible dialogue between individuals and peoples(3) ." The transcendent "grammar", that is to say the body of rules for individual action and the reciprocal relationships of persons in accordance with justice and solidarity, is inscribed on human consciences, in which the wise plan of God is reflected. As I recently had occasion to reaffirm: "we believe that at the beginning of everything is the Eternal Word, Reason and not Unreason(4)." Peace is thus also a task demanding of everyone a personal response consistent with God's plan. The criterion inspiring this response can only be respect for the "grammar" written on human hearts by the divine Creator.
From this standpoint, the norms of the natural law should not be viewed as externally imposed decrees, as restraints upon human freedom. Rather, they should be welcomed as a call to carry out faithfully the universal divine plan inscribed in the nature of human beings. Guided by these norms, all peoples within their respective cultures can draw near to the greatest mystery, which is the mystery of God. Today too, recognition and respect for natural law represents the foundation for a dialogue between the followers of the different religions and between believers and non-believers. As a great point of convergence, this is also a fundamental presupposition for authentic peace.
The right to life and to religious freedom
4. The duty to respect the dignity of each human being, in whose nature the image of the Creator is reflected, means in consequence that the person can not be disposed of at will. Those with greater political, technical, or economic power may not use that power to violate the rights of others who are less fortunate. Peace is based on respect for the rights of all. Conscious of this, the Church champions the fundamental rights of each person. In particular she promotes and defends respect for the life and the religious freedom of everyone. Respect for the right to life at every stage firmly establishes a principle of decisive importance: life is a gift which is not completely at the disposal of the subject. Similarly, the affirmation of the right to religious freedom places the human being in a relationship with a transcendent principle which withdraws him from human caprice. The right to life and to the free expression of personal faith in God is not subject to the power of man. Peace requires the establishment of a clear boundary between what is at man's disposal and what is not: in this way unacceptable intrusions into the patrimony of specifically human values will be avoided.
5. As far as the right to life is concerned, we must denounce its widespread violation in our society: alongside the victims of armed conflicts, terrorism and the different forms of violence, there are the silent deaths caused by hunger, abortion, experimentation on human embryos and euthanasia. How can we fail to see in all this an attack on peace? Abortion and embryonic experimentation constitute a direct denial of that attitude of acceptance of others which is indispensable for establishing lasting relationships of peace. As far as the free expression of personal faith is concerned, another disturbing symptom of lack of peace in the world is represented by the difficulties that both Christians and the followers of other religions frequently encounter in publicly and freely professing their religious convictions. Speaking of Christians in particular, I must point out with pain that not only are they at times prevented from doing so; in some States they are actually persecuted, and even recently tragic cases of ferocious violence have been recorded. There are regimes that impose a single religion upon everyone, while secular regimes often lead not so much to violent persecution as to systematic cultural denigration of religious beliefs. In both instances, a fundamental human right is not being respected, with serious repercussions for peaceful coexistence. This can only promote a mentality and culture that is not conducive to peace.
The natural equality of all persons
6. At the origin of many tensions that threaten peace are surely the many unjust inequalities still tragically present in our world. Particularly insidious among these are, on the one hand, inequality in access to essential goods like food, water, shelter, health; on the other hand, there are persistent inequalities between men and women in the exercise of basic human rights.
A fundamental element of building peace is the recognition of the essential equality of human persons springing from their common transcendental dignity. Equality on this level is a good belonging to all, inscribed in that natural "grammar" which is deducible from the divine plan of creation; it is a good that cannot be ignored or scorned without causing serious repercussions which put peace at risk. The extremely grave deprivation afflicting many peoples, especially in Africa, lies at the root of violent reactions and thus inflicts a terrible wound on peace.
7. Similarly, inadequate consideration for the condition of women helps to create instability in the fabric of society. I think of the exploitation of women who are treated as objects, and of the many ways that a lack of respect is shown for their dignity; I also think - in a different context - of the mindset persisting in some cultures, where women are still firmly subordinated to the arbitrary decisions of men, with grave consequences for their personal dignity and for the exercise of their fundamental freedoms. There can be no illusion of a secure peace until these forms of discrimination are also overcome, since they injure the personal dignity impressed by the Creator upon every human being(5).
The "ecology of peace"
8. In his Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II wrote: "Not only has God given the earth to man, who must use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given to him, but man too is God's gift to man. He must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed(6)." By responding to this charge, entrusted to them by the Creator, men and women can join in bringing about a world of peace. Alongside the ecology of nature, there exists what can be called a "human" ecology, which in turn demands a "social" ecology. All this means that humanity, if it truly desires peace, must be increasingly conscious of the links between natural ecology, or respect for nature, and human ecology.
Experience shows that disregard for the environment always harms human coexistence, and vice versa. It becomes more and more evident that there is an inseparable link between peace with creation and peace among men. Both of these presuppose peace with God. The poem-prayer of Saint Francis, known as "the Canticle of Brother Sun", is a wonderful and ever timely example of this multifaceted ecology of peace.
9. The close connection between these two ecologies can be understood from the increasingly serious problem of energy supplies. In recent years, new nations have entered enthusiastically into industrial production, thereby increasing their energy needs. This has led to an unprecedented race for available resources. Meanwhile, some parts of the planet remain backward and development is effectively blocked, partly because of the rise in energy prices. What will happen to those peoples? What kind of development or non-development will be imposed on them by the scarcity of energy supplies? What injustices and conflicts will be provoked by the race for energy sources? And what will be the reaction of those who are excluded from this race? These are questions that show how respect for nature is closely linked to the need to establish, between individuals and between nations, relationships that are attentive to the dignity of the person and capable of satisfying his or her authentic needs. The destruction of the environment, its improper or selfish use, and the violent hoarding of the earth's resources cause grievances, conflicts and wars, precisely because they are the consequences of an inhumane concept of development. Indeed, if development were limited to the technical-economic aspect, obscuring the moral-religious dimension, it would not be an integral human development, but a one-sided distortion which would end up by unleashing man's destructive capacities.
Reductive visions of man
10. Thus there is an urgent need, even within the framework of current international difficulties and tensions, for a commitment to a human ecology that can favor the growth of the ""tree of peace"". For this to happen, we must be guided by a vision of the person untainted by ideological and cultural prejudices or by political and economic interests which can instil hatred and violence. It is understandable that visions of man will vary from culture to culture. Yet what cannot be admitted is the cultivation of anthropological conceptions that contain the seeds of hostility and violence. Equally unacceptable are conceptions of God that would encourage intolerance and recourse to violence against others. This is a point which must be clearly reaffirmed: war in God's name is never acceptable! When a certain notion of God is at the origin of criminal acts, it is a sign that that notion has already become an ideology.
11. Today, however, peace is not only threatened by the conflict between reductive visions of man, in other words, between ideologies. It is also threatened by indifference as to what constitutes man's true nature. Many of our contemporaries actually deny the existence of a specific human nature and thus open the door to the most extravagant interpretations of what essentially constitutes a human being. Here too clarity is necessary: a "weak" vision of the person, which would leave room for every conception, even the most bizarre, only apparently favours peace. In reality, it hinders authentic dialogue and opens the way to authoritarian impositions, ultimately leaving the person defenseless and, as a result, easy prey to oppression and violence.
Human rights and international organizations
12. A true and stable peace presupposes respect for human rights. Yet if these rights are grounded on a weak conception of the person, how can they fail to be themselves weakened? Here we can see how profoundly insufficient is a relativistic conception of the person when it comes to justifying and defending his rights. The difficulty in this case is clear: rights are proposed as absolute, yet the foundation on which they are supposed to rest is merely relative. Can we wonder that, faced with the "inconvenient" demands posed by one right or another, someone will come along to question it or determine that it should be set aside? Only if they are grounded in the objective requirements of the nature bestowed on man by the Creator, can the rights attributed to him be affirmed without fear of contradiction. It goes without saying, moreover, that human rights imply corresponding duties. In this regard, Mahatma Gandhi said wisely: "The Ganges of rights flows from the Himalaya of duties." Clarity over these basic presuppositions is needed if human rights, nowadays constantly under attack, are to be adequately defended. Without such clarity, the expression "human rights" will end up being predicated of quite different subjects: in some cases, the human person marked by permanent dignity and rights that are valid always, everywhere and for everyone, in other cases a person with changing dignity and constantly negotiable rights, with regard to content, time and place.
Disregard for the environment always harms human coexistence, and vice versa. It becomes more and more evident that there is an inseparable link between peace with creation and peace among men. Both of these presuppose peace with God.
13. The protection of human rights is constantly referred to by international bodies and, in particular, the United Nations Organization, which set itself the fundamental task of promoting the human rights indi-cated in the 1948 Universal Declaration. That Declaration is regarded as a sort of moral commitment assumed by all mankind. There is a profound truth to this, especially if the rights described in the Decla-ration are held to be based not simply on the decisions of the assembly that approved them, but on man's very nature and his inalienable dignity as a person created by God. Consequently it is important for international agencies not to lose sight of the natural foundation of human rights. This would enable them to avoid the risk, unfortunately ever-present, of sliding towards a merely positivistic interpretation of those rights. Were that to happen, the international bodies would end up lacking the necessary authority to carry out their role as defenders of the fundamental rights of the person and of peoples, the chief justification for their very existence & activity.
International humanitarian law & the internal law of States
14. The recognition that there exist inalienable human rights connected to our common human nature has led to the establishment of a body of international humanitarian law which States are committed to respect, even in the case of war. Unfortunately, to say nothing of past cases, this has not been consistently implemented in certain recent situations of war. Such, for example, was the case in the conflict that occurred a few months ago in southern Lebanon, where the duty "to protect and help innocent victims" and to avoid involving the civilian population was largely ignored. The heart-rending situation in Lebanon and the new shape of conflicts, especially since the terrorist threat unleashed completely new forms of violence, demand that the international community reaffirm international humanitarian law, and apply it to all present-day situations of armed conflict, including those not currently provided for by international law. Moreover, the scourge of terrorism demands a profound reflection on the ethical limits restricting the use of modern methods of guaranteeing internal security. Increasingly, wars are not declared, especially when they are initiated by terrorist groups determined to attain their ends by any means available. In the face of the disturbing events of recent years, States cannot fail to recognize the need to establish clearer rules to counter effectively the dramatic decline that we are witnessing.
War always represents a failure for the international community and a grave loss for humanity. When, despite every effort, war does break out, at least the essential principles of humanity and the basic values of all civil coexistence must be safeguarded; norms of conduct must be established that limit the damage as far as possible and help to alleviate the suffering of civilians and of all the victims of conflicts(7).
15. Another disturbing issue is the desire recently shown by some States to acquire nuclear weapons. This has heightened even more the widespread climate of uncertainty and fear of a possible atomic catastrophe. We are brought back in time to the profound anxieties of the "cold war" period. When it came to an end, there was hope that the atomic peril had been definitively overcome and that mankind could finally breathe a lasting sigh of relief. How timely, in this regard, is the warning of the Second Vatican Council that "every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and humanity, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation(8)." Unfortunately, threatening clouds continue to gather on humanity's horizon. The way to ensure a future of peace for everyone is found not only in international accords for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, but also in the determined commitment to seek their reduction and definitive dismantling. May every attempt be made to arrive through negotiation at the attainment of these objectives! The fate of the whole human family is at stake!
The Church as safeguard of the transcendence of the human person
16. Finally, I wish to make an urgent appeal to the People of God: let every Christian be committed to tireless peace-making and strenuous defence of the dignity of the human person and his inalienable rights.
With gratitude to the Lord for having called him to belong to his Church, which is ""the sign and safeguard of the transcendental dimension of the human person""(9) in the world, the Christian will tirelessly implore from God the fundamental good of peace, which is of such primary importance in the life of each person. Moreover, he will be proud to serve the cause of peace with generous devotion, offering help to his brothers and sisters, especially those who, in addition to suffering poverty and need, are also deprived of this precious good. Jesus has revealed to us that ""God is love"" (1 Jn 4:8) and that the highest vocation of every person is love. In Christ we can find the ultimate reason for becoming staunch champions of human dignity and courageous builders of peace.
17. Let every believer, then, unfailingly contribute to the advancement of a true integral humanism in accordance with the teachings of the Encyclical Letters Populorum Progressio and Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, whose respective fortieth and twentieth anniversaries we prepare to celebrate this year. To the Queen of Peace, the Mother of Jesus Christ ""our peace"" (Eph 2:14), I entrust my urgent prayer for all humanity at the beginning of the year 2007, to which we look with hearts full of hope, notwithstanding the dangers and difficulties that surround us.
May Mary show us, in her Son, the Way of peace, and enlighten our vision, so that we can recognize Christ's face in the face of every human person, the heart of peace! From the Vatican, 8 December 2006, BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
(1) Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 357.
(2) Sermo 169, 11, 13: PL 38, 923.
(3) No. 3.
(4) Homily at Islinger Feld, Regensburg, 12 September 2006.
(5) Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the
collaboration of men and women in the Church and in the world (31 May 2004), 15-16.
(6) No. 38.
(7) In this regard, the Catechism of the Catholic Church indicates strict and precise criteria: cf. 2307-2317.
(8) Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 80.
(9) Ibid., 76.
Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House
This started out as our "Advent Appeal", and we sent it out via email and posted it at www.justpeace.org , but we never got around to sending it to our mailing list. So now it is our Lenten Appeal.
He looked like a Hispanic Dr. Zhivago - some of you may remember the scene from the famous movie by the same name where Zhivago undertakes a winter trek on foot to reunite with his wife. Wrapped in a blanket, he staggered along, icicles hanging from his beard and mustache.
It was a freezing cold morning last winter in Oklahoma City, a blizzard blew fiercely down upon the entire area, and Sean and I were out and about, creeping around south and west of downtown OKC at maybe 5 or 10 MPH, through the snow and ice, handing out caps and gloves. This particular man didn't have a blanket, in fact all he had was a windbreaker, and I wished I had a coat to give him. The radio said the temperature was 20 degrees, but the wind blasting down the "city canyons" of downtown brought that down close to a wind chill of zero. He seemed happy to get the warm hat and jersey gloves. Another man we met that morning, also clad in a light jacket, sang out, "You're right on time," as if we had an appointment, which I suppose was true enough, in the way the Lord works out such things.
Marcus Evans said that someone called him and wanted him to tell them about a Catholic Worker "success story" - a tale of some deserving souls who through no fault of their own fell into grievous poverty, and we Catholic Workers came along and brought them some food and they got strong and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and now they are no longer poor and everybody lived ever after. He said to me, "Should I tell them about someone I know who has sex with her landlord to pay rent for herself and her children?"
There was a homeless family we found, the woman was pregnant, they couldn't get shelter together because they weren't married, so we paid for the license, they got shelter, but they didn't follow all the rules and were asked to leave, and disappeared into our history.
And then there is the guy we know, a veteran, who is pursued by giant radioactive rats and lives on the streets of downtown Oklahoma. I remember a previous cold spell, several years ago, when Marcus and a friend went downtown and tried to get him to go to a motel room they planned to pay for, but he refused.
We have a lot of these kinds of stories. Some of them aren't very "picturesque." People ask me, "How do you know the people you help are deserving?" The answer to that is simple. Jesus said to feed the hungry and clothe the naked so if somebody is hungry we give food. Out gift is not conditional on an examination of why they are in the situation they are in. Maybe they are hungry because they lost their job or because they spent all their money on booze, drugs, or gambling. Whatever their circumstances may be, our gift is love in action to them, and we pray that it will be a touch of God's grace that will open doors of healing and sustenance. When you do this work, and go out and about casting bread upon the waters, you never know what may happen down the line, for good or for ill. The call is not to count successes, but to be faithful and obedient to the will of God.
And so it has come to pass that in these days of the reign of the culture of death, for seven years we have been "opportunists for the poor", going here and there, keeping our eyes and hearts open, delivering food, handing out hats and gloves and socks and toiletries, making little hospitality bags, and a hundred and one other things - a mattress here, a set of dishes there, some pots and pans, maybe a couch or two. A water bill. An electric bill. Veterinary treatment for a dog. Prescriptions for a mother. Some people we see over and over again, they become friends and partners, they pray for us and we pray for them, we love them when we see them and mourn them when they die. They give us "Widow's Mites" in cards with 2 quarters taped inside that say "thanks". (John Paul II called this "building a civilization of life and love." )
Some of these people we will never see again. What will happen to the Hispanic Zhivago we met briefly last week, icicles in his beard and mustache, a light coat on his shoulders that was too small for him? Where did he come from to end up walking on a street in downtown Oklahoma City during a blizzard and ice storm? Where will he go? What will happen to him? I can ask the same questions about the dozens of other men and women we met briefly that morning. I won't get many answers. I do know this - "Do not forget to be kind to strangers, for thereby many have entertained angels unawares."
There is one question, however, that I can answer - why didn't I give him my coat?
I could go and buy another coat. My coat is three years old. Lots of people would tell me that I need to buy new clothes anyway. I was in a heated pickup. I had on three layers of clothes. Four pairs of socks. I tell you why, because it was freezing cold and at the time I didn't even think about it. That's how hard my heart is. Jesus was right there, and I was wearing a warm coat, and he was freezing, and I kept my coat. What would St. John Chrysostom say to me about this? No doubt he would have blistered my ears about the hardness of my heart and given me a year of hard and difficult penances. Now I sit in the comfort of my favorite chair, and I write these words with no homeless Jesus standing immediately in front of me, waiting for me to get my disordered priorities straightened out.
Some of you are probably thinking, "Bob, you are way too hard on yourself. After all, you were out there in a freezing blizzard that morning trying to do something practical." Which is true enough, as far as it goes, but the Catholic Worker way is to never quite be satisfied with what you are able to do for the Jesus who wanders about in such distressing disguises. "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, only say the Word and I shall be healed."
Each year for the seven years I have written these appeals, our work has gotten more intense. In the last 12 months, we made more than 2700 deliveries to nearly 9,000 people, and that involved 150,000 pounds of food. Over the next 12 months, there is more work to be done. The economic situation for the poor will not improve, it will get worse. More people will fall through the cracks of the existing safety net and call us for help. There will be more homeless people on the street, more heads and hands without hats or gloves during the frigid cold of winter.
There is good news, however. The government has officially determined that there are no hungry people in the United States. There are people with "low food security" and "extremely low food security", but these people aren't "hungry". I am sure we all feel better knowing that with a stroke of a bureaucrat's pen, hunger can be eliminated. I guess the Hispanic Zhivago we met lacked adequate "clothing security". Catholic Workers, being practical anarchists, are dubious about the utility of the bureaucratic method, so even though the government confidently assures us of the lack of hunger, I think that we will continue to do what we do.
Besides these corporal works of mercy, we confront and challenge the structures of sin that create poverty and war, violence and injustice. Over six hundred thousand people, from 115 different countries, visited one of our five websites this past year. Members of our community are involved with organizations that support life by opposing the death penalty, the war in Iraq, the scourge of abortion, and the persecution of immigrants. We stand against redevelopment projects that destroy the neighborhoods of the poor, and oppose cuts in public transit services that would impact thousands of low income workers. We continue to advocate a little way of justice and peace, and give people the information and practical skills they need to live frugally and more sustainably as good stewards of God's Creation.
Even though it was just Sean and me in the pickup on that winter morning, there was a host of witnesses riding with us. Many of you who are reading this were there too, and you probably didn't even know it. The gloves and hats we had to give away didn't just miraculously appear on our doorstep. Someone brought them to Epiphany Church and left them at my office. Someone also gave us money which we used at a dollar store to buy more hats and gloves.
My invitation to you is to ride with us this next year as we go out and seek the Jesus who comes to us in such distressing disguises. Your gift of hats and gloves and socks, bags of food, warm blankets, toiletries, and your financial donations go to Jesus. We have a growing need for volunteer help. Your generosity makes our work possible and fruitful. We pray for our benefactors every day, and we hope you are praying for us too.
"Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name. For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God's worship."
Your little brother in the Lord,
Bob Waldrop, for the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker community
Our 2007 Wish List
Moral Law and the Iraq War:
A Chronically Misleading Episcopal Witness
By (Rev.) Emmanuel Charles McCarthy
The Holy Father's judgment is also convincing from a rational point of view. There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 2, 2003
Lost sheep, such were my people; their shepherds led them astray, left them wandering in the mountains forgetful of their fold, whoever came across them devoured them. Jeremiah 50:6,7
NB: End notes are in brackets [ ].
If there is any absolute moral law in Christianity, in Catholicism or in Natural Law Morality, it is "Thou shalt not murder." In moral law, murder is the intentional unjust killing of a human being(s). Two Popes have said that the war by the United States Government on Iraq is unjust. Killing in an unjust war is unjust killing - murder. Yet, every bishop, archbishop and cardinal who is an Ordinary of a diocese in the United States - save one - believes, to the point of strict moral certainty, that the killing in this war is just. With moral certainty they have chosen in the midst of a most grave moral matter, intimately connected with the sanctity of human life and the recognition of the sanctity human life, to follow George Bush's interpretation of the moral will of God rather than John Paul II's. They have also countenanced, without even a whisper of protest, those immortal souls in their spiritual care doing the same. Something is very wrong here.
Although seldom taught or discussed publicly, it is a morally binding presupposition of Catholic just-unjust war theory that, before a person can justifiably kill another human being in war, he or she must be morally certain that each and every one of the Catholic standards for determining a just war has been met.  Not only met, but strictly met (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2309). They must be strictly met before the war begins (jus ad bellum). Furthermore, they must be strictly met in conducting the war (CCC, 2312) moment to moment during the entire course of the war (jus in bello).
Moral Certainty or Murder
Evil does not become good simply because one is doing it with a group of people or because a person with secular authority orders it. A Catholic, whether bishop or layperson, is morally prohibited from leaving his or her conscience or the Church's moral teachings on the doorstep of a battlefield. A declaration of war is not a moral carte blanche authorizing the Catholic to kill other human beings. It is but one of the conditions that must be strictly adhered to if the killing in a war is not to be murder.  If there is unresolved moral doubt whether the just war standards are being strictly followed, the person is morally forbidden to kill or to support killing in this instance, regardless of the secular declaration of war.
The Catholic Church places high regard on the sanctity of human life and its belief that each human being - without exception - is made in the image and likeness of God and is an infinitely loved son or daughter of the Father of all (Eph 4:1û6). Because of the sanctity, the holiness, of human life per se, the Catholic Church's just war theory starts from a strong moral presumption against war which is binding on all.  This presumption can only be overcome by a strict application of the Catholic just war theory. Otherwise the killing in a war is unjust, that is, it is the evil of murder. Strict moral certainty in the application of the norms of the just war theory is the standard to which all Catholics are held when trying to overcome this strong presumption against war that is intrinsic to Catholic moral theology as taught by the Magisterium of the Church.
Moral Systems as the Guides to Moral Certainty
In Catholic moral theology there are accepted moral systems whose purpose is to guide a person to a state of moral certainty when there is practical doubt whether an act is good or evil.  One of the methods that human consciousness can envision to achieve moral certainty, where moral doubt exists concerning which is the moral course of action to choose, is designated laxism. Laxism as a way of engaging in moral discernment for the purpose of achieving moral certainty has been condemned by the Catholic Church (Denzinger, Enchiridion Symbolorum, 2101- 2165, especially 2103). This condemnation means that specious moral arguments, those that are possibly logically precise but which the evidence shows are highly improbable in reality, may not be employed to justify a moral position before God. Self-evidently then, borderline tenable moral arguments are forbidden where moral law must be strictly observed, specifically when related to the morality of killing another human being. To repeat, laxism can never be used in any situation as a moral system to achieve the moral certainty necessary to act in good faith before God (Rm 14:23) and this self-evidently must include those moral situations where strict interpretation of the moral law is obligatory. In their various moral theologies the vast majority of Churches in Christianity would agree with this understanding in principle, although each one's expression of it might differ. 
Laxism and the War on Iraq
For example, let us look at the Iraqi War, where human life is presently being destroyed daily. Given what is known about the war's inception and its conduct, rationally there can be no moral certainty that the just war norms of the Catholic Church have been strictly met or are presently being strictly met, jus ad bellum or jus in bello - unless the moral system of laxism is employed to interpret the evidence and to apply the just war standards. Consider but two facts among many: How is the Catholic just war standard of non-combatant immunity being strictly met when over 100,000 Iraqi civilians are dead and hundreds of thousands more maimed?  How is the Catholic just war standard of a "last resort defensive war" strictly met, when the war was clearly not the "last resort," since the government itself called it a "preventive" war, and since the reasons given by the government for starting this war were and have been shown to be incontestably false and fraudulent. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction which were aimed at the United States and capable of imminent deployment. Iraq had no intention of attacking the United States in the immediate future. Only a formally laxist interpretation of the evidence in the light of the Catholic just war theory with its strong moral presumption against war could arrive at or sustain a morally certain conclusion that this first-strike offensive war on Iraq, which has left hundreds of thousands of non-combatants dead and maimed, is morally just - jus ad bellum or jus in bello.
According to Catholic just war norms, which only have validity for Catholics within the acceptable moral systems of Catholic moral theology, if there is not strict moral certitude that a war is just and is being conducted justly - then the killing in it is unjust. In Catholic moral theology, intentional unjust killing is always intrinsically and gravely evil - it is always murder. It is never morally permissible. A laxist interpretation of the standards of Catholic just war theory employed in order to achieve a pseudo moral certainty that supports the unjust destruction of human life is itself a grave evil, which if participated in at any stage with full knowledge and full consent is mortal sin.
Laxism: Abandoning the Cross of Vocation
Laxism cannot be the moral system applied in interpreting the word 'intentional' where the destruction of human life is the issue. When over 100,000 civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands more have been maimed, spinning such indiscriminate destruction as mere "accidental" or "unintentional" collateral damage is a self-evident, morally-debased and morally-debasing falsehood, orchestrated by the "Father of Lies who was a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44). It makes no moral difference whether an unjust, intentional killing is being done by a private individual or by an agent of government - if the killing is unjust, it is totally forbidden because it is morally murder and murder is gravely intrinsically evil without exception. Only a moral position arrived at through the moral system of laxism could conclude with moral certainty that this present war in Iraq adheres to the norms of the Catholic just war theory, e.g., that killing over 100,000 civilians and maiming hundreds of thousands more is a strict application of the noncombatant immunity standard of Catholic just war theory within the larger context of Catholic moral theology.
But, as noted above, it is forbidden in the Catholic Church to apply laxism in any situation, let alone as a moral system for morally justifying homicide - regardless of the individual Catholic's rank in the Church, e.g., foot soldier or bishop. This being the case, why then are there tens of thousands of Catholics actively engaged in this war? Why then are all the bishops of all the dioceses of the U.S.except one justifying participation in it by those in their spiritual care? Why are the Catholic bishops by silence permitting those who rely on them for moral guidance to go to this war as if they, the bishops, were morally certain, within the structures and strictures of Catholic moral theology, that it is a just war in its inception and in its conduct? If a person knows that the killing which is taking place is murder (unjustified homicide), would he not communicate this in no uncertain terms, especially if he were a spiritual leader on whom people relied for their proper discernment of good and evil? After all, since murder is gravely intrinsically evil, it is morally forbidden to cooperate with it - even by calculated silence - in order to attain some other goal, regardless of how noble the goal appears to be. Intrinsically evil means, such as murder or abortion, cannot be used to achieve even the best of good ends - nor can intentional silence concerning such means be so used. Those who know that murder is taking place are called by God to be the voice of its victims, not the moral support team for its perpetrators.
Something is awfully spiritually amiss in the United States Catholic Episcopacy, as spiritually derelict as when the most powerful Catholic Churchman in the country, Francis Cardinal Spellman stood up during the Vietnam War and proclaimed, "My country right or wrong!" For American naval officer Stephen Decatur, who first used this immoral patriotic expression in 1815, to speak this way is understandable, since it but reflects an individual's philosophy. For a Cardinal of the Catholic Church to publicly endorse that which is contrary to the Prophets of Hebrew Scripture, to the Natural Law Morality of the Catholic Church and to the very Christian just teachings of Jesus is evil. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) permitted Spellman's statement to publicly stand unchallenged, knowing that innumerable Catholics and others within his canonical jurisdiction and beyond would assume it to be in conformity with the will of God as taught by the Catholic Church and would support and participate in the war because of it. At a bare minimum, was this chosen stance by the NCCB not that form of material cooperation with evil so common to the person(s) that William H. Whyte fifty years ago identified as "the organization man?" And, today? At what point, in the process of justifying by silence the unjustified destruction of human life, does silence become dereliction of a Divine duty, even if said silence is mandated by institutional loyalty? At what point do individual bishops or an entire episcopacy cease to be incarnationally Jesus' disciples and become Pilate's deputies, washing their hands of any responsibility for the agonia of bloodletting in Iraq? At what point does the tactic of ignoring murder by myopically focusing one's attention on diocesan finances, liturgical music, corporate legal strategies and the minutiae of ritual become outright evil? Cannot evil manifest itself as silence, a silence that is the consequence of moral laxism? Cannot silence about unspeakable evil - by those whom people look upon as their authoritative moral leaders - make the unspeakable respectable and acceptable? Is what has been done and is presently being done by the U.S. Government to human beings in Iraq not unspeakable evil? In diocese after diocese in the U.S. are not Catholics being left as "sheep without a shepherd"? (Nm 27:17; 1 Kgs 22:17; Ez 34:5; Mt 9:36; Mk 6:34 ). Are they not being left by their shepherds to "wander aimlessly" (Jer 23:2; 50:6,7), oblivious to the cunning wolves of war who seek to devour them spiritually and to use them to devour others physically? Or worst yet, are not their shepherds providing the powerful wolves, whom they fear or admire, with sheep's clothing so that they can more facilely prey upon the flock?
Catholic Moral Law Protects Equally In Utero and Extra Utero Human Life
Again, to emphasize what can never be too strongly emphasized when dealing with the matter of the sanctity of human life as it relates to the destruction of human life: the Catechism of the Catholic Church explicitly states that the just war standards are to be applied strictly in order to achieve moral certainty. This is the requirement in every instance where the sanctity of human life and the possibility for the destruction of human life converge. If this were not the case the Catholic Church's moral stance against abortion would collapse, because it is morally grounded in strictly using the highest level of probability in Catholic moral law in favor of the presence of a human person when the life in utero is subject to possible destruction. But as noted above, this requirement of applying the highest standard in Catholic moral theology in order to obtain moral certainty, where the presence and sanctity of human life and the possibility of its destruction intersect, is not limited to human life in utero. Extra utero human life is every bit as much within the protection and domain of this moral tenet. That is an indisputable teaching of Catholic moral theology - regardless of who does or does not employ it, or who employs it only in a "cafeteria" style, that is when it does not interfere with other personal or institutional interests.
Parenthetically, it should always made abundantly clear that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is explicit in teaching that a government permitting or ordering someone to take a human life does not relieve that person of his or her moral responsibility before God. That person is required to evaluate strictly whether killing a human being in a particular war, or any act of killing a human being, is moral or immoral under the application of Catholic moral theology as it relates to all homicide: "The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the
fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience [emphasis in original] to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. "Rendering therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. 'We must obey God rather than men.'" So states the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2242).
The "defense" that "The king (or the parliament) ordered me to do it," is no moral defense to unjustified homicide, murder. Such a justification results from employing laxist moral thinking where strict interpretation of the moral law is obligatory for overcoming the strong and morally binding presumption against war. Laxism, as a moral system for interpreting just war theory in order to morally validate in one's obedience to the laws of a state or to the directives of governmental authorities, is as far removed from strict as hell is from heaven. For Catholics the state is never the final arbiter of morality.
The conclusion from all this is that the U.S. Catholic Bishops as a public entity, whose moral responsibility it is to correctly inform the consciences of the people in their respective dioceses on moral matters, are presently engaged in employing the forbidden moral system of laxism to justify the mass destruction of human beings in this war on Iraq, as well as, to justify their silence regarding that destruction. Whether any bishop is sinning in doing this (Rm 14:23), no one can judge outside the individual bishop and God, since only he and God know his subjective awareness of the evil which he is engaged in, which he is morally supporting, and which he is leading others to morally support and engage. But what can be said with certainty is that this watered-down, laxist episcopal use of Catholic just war theory is having a trickle-down effect into the parish pulpits and through them a corrosive moral effect on the immortal souls in the parish pews. A piously silent episcopacy has created an equally piously silent clergy which has in its turn nurtured a piously silent laity. And all this, while tens of thousands of their fellow Catholics go off to kill and maim other human beings 6,000 miles away in a war that does not even have a remote probability of meeting with strict moral certainty the required standards of the Catholic just war theory. But in the end the silence that flows from episcopal chair to pulpit to pew is nothing more or less than a disciplined organizational quietist witness to the same erroneous and laxist interpretation of Catholic just war theory that Cardinal Spellman advocated with reckless flamboyance forty years earlier.
A Vacuous Moral Loophole
In case what I have just said be less than fully understood, let it be clarified instantly, and thereby close a potential moral loophole that practically every just warist who has supported a war runs for, when the real reasons for the war and what really went on during it are discovered and publicly revealed. No Catholic bishop, nor anyone else for that matter, can use the self-exonerating excuse of invincible, non-culpable ignorance in a matter of morality related to homicide, unless he genuinely desired to know - and actively sought to know - the factual truth of the matter at the time of his decision: "Are there or are there not 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead and hundreds of thousands more maimed with the numbers increasing daily?" "How did this happen?" "How is it happening, if Catholic just war principles are being strictly adhered to by the U.S. government and properly taught to the Catholic soldiers by their Catholic chaplains?" "Was the use of depleted uranium planned as part of the war's strategy and could this have been known or reasonably assumed before the war began?" "Did or did not Saddam Hussein have weapons of mass destruction?" "Did he or did he not have the technical capability and the intention of using them against the United States in the immediate future?"  In Catholic moral theology, a person may not claim invincible ignorance, and hence non-culpability for his or her choices, if that person is playing the moral ostrich and sticking his or her head into the sand of government lies and propaganda in order to avoid seeing what one knows is there to be seen, but does not want to seeùfor some reason. The intentional flight from awareness of facts and truths, which if known would alter a person's moral position, is itself immoral. When it results in participating in or supporting the destruction of human life it is gravely immoral, and one cannot then employ the alibi, "I didn't know," as an escape from moral culpability.
However, personal ignorance - culpable or non-culpable - does not preclude others from seeing and naming, with eternal life and eternal death seriousness, the moral catastrophe that has befallen the U.S. Catholic Church and many other U.S. Christian Churches. Moral laxism, jus ad bellum and jus in bello, has been the de facto moral system chosen by the U.S. Catholic bishops, and most U.S. Catholics and other Christians, for justifying the killing and maiming of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and for morally permitting tens of thousands of American Catholics and other Christians to go off and do this killing. If the Catholic bishops had adopted the same laxist moral system to attain moral certainty with regards to the possible destruction of a person via abortion, no one would be able to ascertain whether they were for or against abortion. However, whether a person lives in the womb or in Fallujah, laxism, as the chosen moral system for deciding if a life can be justly destroyed, is an anti-witness to belief in the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.
Planned Ambiguity and Consent-bestowing Silence
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and each bishop who is a member of it must immediately cease and desist from engaging in this most grave evil. The Conference and each bishop must unambiguously inform those for whom they are morally responsible that Catholics must not support or participate in this war. The bishops must be as unequivocally straightforward in their condemnation of unjustified killing in Iraq as they are with their condemnation of unjustified killing in the womb. They must insist that Catholics must neither support nor participate in this killing because this killing is murder, according to the required strict application of Catholic just war theory standards within the context of Catholic moral theology and moral systems.
There is no other morally acceptable alternative. When confronted with murder, silence serves the murders and those who profit from murder, never the victims. Silence is a choice and therefore is subject to discernment as to whether it is in conformity with the call of the moral will of God as revealed by Jesus. The Bishops' calculated witness of planned ambiguity and consent-bestowing silence - not to mention the jingoism that they are passively permitting to pass as Catholic moral theology - is cooperation with and complicity in unjustified killing. To justify a grave evil is to promote that grave evil. Silence gives consent, especially where a serious moral matter is concerned and where the silent person is understood to be an official moral leader.
For bishops to remain silent in the face of a grave evil, knowing their silence will be interpreted and used as a sign of moral acceptability, is to bestow upon evil a nonverbal, body language imprimatur. This then allows people to engage in the evil with a clear conscience because the "imprimatur" communicates loudly and clearly that, "We bishops may disagree with the policies, practices and politics relating to this war. But, there is nothing about them that would undermine our moral certainty that the strong moral presumption against war has been overcome by the strict application of Catholic just war theory. Therefore you may take part in this war and support it if you wish."
To confer upon a person a clear conscience in relation to a form of homicide is to remove a major barrier to engaging in that activity. It is also to supply a significant tool by which others can recruit people for the activity. Such an imprimatur in a capitalist society or in a communist society is worth its weigh in gold. To a government planning to go to war or at war, it is worth more than ten battalions or ten battleships or ten television networks. A silent, nonverbal, body language imprimatur, however, can also be cooperation with unjustified intentional homicide. In the case of the present war in Iraq it pointedly appears to be that - despite its enormous value in the secular domain. 
Undermining Catholic Moral Authority and Moral Theology
The present episcopal witness is also publicly undermining the entire structure of the Catholic Church's moral theology and moral authority in the United States and beyond. A moral authority that authorizes by public witness a laxist system of moral discernment regarding mass homicide has, thereby, concretely morally validated every possible choice of human behavior. The semblance of a justification can be found for any act - especially where some desire, pleasure or self-interest of the actor is at stake. If the official moral leaders and teachers of the U.S. Catholic Church can employ a laxist interpretation of Catholic moral principles vis vis the mass homicide of war, rather than interpreting just war standards strictly as required by the Church's own teaching, then why cannot every Catholic in every situation use the same laxist interpretive paradigm? If the episcopal teachers of moral theology validate by their public witness an Orwellian doublespeak inversion of meaning then the word lax would be permitted to masquerade as strict. This would allow laxism to appear to be an acceptable moral system when doubt exists as to whether an activity is mass murder or not. Moral consistency would dictate that the same Orwellian charade of moral discernment be available to all Catholics in all moral matters. Laxism would thereby become an acceptable moral system of interpretation in relationship to all human behavior as serious as, or less serious than, mass murder - albeit under cover of the nomenclature of a newly defined meaning for strict. Lest it be perceived as absurd that such an Orwellian inversion of meaning could take place in the Church, consider the moral logic that has been used to render nugatory in Christian moral theology Jesus' teaching, "Love your enemies." Burning Jews, heretics and witches at the stake, torture, wars, abortions, political oppression, shaming, violent revolutions, slavery, indeed practically every form of inhumanity and cruelty imaginable, has been interpreted by the Christian Churches at one time or another to be morally consistent with following Jesus' command to "Love your enemies." Where the moral will of some god other than the God revealed in and by Jesus becomes the standard by which Christians make their decisions, history shows that it takes almost no effort to logically, theologically and emotionally "see" hate as love, fear as freedom, evil as good, domination as service and lax as strict.
The time has come for the Catholic bishops of the United States to publicly repent, to publicly change their minds and their behavior regarding this matter of human slaughter in Iraq. As their silence has given consent to mass murder, as well as, consent to the use of a condemned moral system (laxism), so now let them reclaim their moral tradition and moral authority by saying, with one voice, in language that the simplest soul can comprehend: This war is unjust and killing in it is murder according to Catholic moral theology. Therefore, our Catholic men and women can no longer participate in it or support it.
Unjustified Killing Is Not Open to Ex Post Facto Justification
Finally, while it is not precisely on the topic of this essay, let there be no belated, contorted, retroactive duck-and-cover efforts at self-justification. It is morally unacceptable to maintain that, "While we started the killing unjustly, we cannot now stop killing since we are there killing. We will only stop killing the other side when the other side, whom we have unjustly attacked, stops killing us and those who have aligned themselves with us." Unjustified killing does not become justified when the party, that the unjust lethal aggressor intends to kill, defends itself from the lethal aggressor. In Catholic just war theory, an international United Nations peacekeeping operation may be morally acceptable in Iraq to restore order to a society which the United States has ravaged. But the unjust, lethal aggressor responsible for initiating the carnage and chaos has no moral right to any longer be present in that society under the phony auspices of being a concerned and benign peacekeeper. It is absurd to make the child abuser the person in charge of the rehabilitation of the abused. Nonetheless, an unjust lethal aggressor does have the moral obligation, as does the child abuser, to finance the restoration of what is destroyed - which of course can never include quenching the soul-searing pain it has caused by the loss of life, limb, love, sanity and family for hundreds of thousands of human beings in Iraq and in the United States.
The Catholic bishops of the United States today are doing great harm to the Church Universal, to the U.S. Catholic Church, to the people of Iraq, and to the American people. By their chosen silence they have become moral accessories to unjustified woe, waste and desolation in human life. Accessories are enablers. The bishops by continuing to project, via their silence, an aura of strict moral certainty with respect to this war on Iraq are a significant moral support apparatus for recruiting for it, for voting for it, for electing representatives who endorse it and for continuing to kill and maim people in it. The U.S. bishops, however, by taking this morally laxist position are acting in lockstep with a seventeen-hundred-year-old modus operandi made visible in all the Churches of ChristianityùCatholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. Theirs is but the contemporary Americanized meme of the old Constantinian pastoral practice of pious and politically street-smart blind guides (Mt 15:14) leading those they have kept blind down the primrose path of holy homicide on behalf of the local power brokers, economic elites and lords of war - instead of leading their flocks along the Way that the Lamb of God teaches by word and deed. 
It is time to stop! A laxist moral system of interpretation is forbidden because it undermines all obedience to morality. The de facto witnessing to its validity is a most grave episcopal failure - especially when applied where a strict interpretation is obligatory. Such a witness is the public camouflaging of evil under the veneer of good and beneath the trappings of Christian religiosity. It is giving a false, misleading, Orwellian doublethink witness concerning the Way of Eternal Life. It is placing "is" where "is not" belongs. A bishop's supreme obligation, as a bishop, before God and to his people is the salvation of souls. Being a CEO administering and protecting the assets of a corporation is a secondary episcopal occupation, if that. When the latter of these tasks controls the interpretation of the former, rather than the former controlling the operations of the latter, then an about-face is the only way back to being faithful to the vocation to which one has been called by Christ-God. This is a vocation to shepherd along the Way of Eternal Salvation those whom God has entrusted to you. It is a commission to protect His lambs, His anawim, from the craft of the wolves of evil and to feed His sheep with the teachings of Jesus and with Jesus.
"Everyone will readily agree that it is of the highest importance to know whether we are not being duped by morality." Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity
1. "In a case where he (a person) lacks certainty about the rightness and goodness of a determined act, still performs that act, he stands condemned by his own conscience." The Splendor of Truth (Veritatis Splendor): Encyclical Letter addressed by the Supreme Pontiff Pope John Paul II to all the bishops of the Catholic Church regarding certain fundamental questions of the Church's moral teachings (Boston: St. Paul Books & Media, Vatican Translation), º60. "Practical doubt is equivalent to a verdict of conscience forbidding the act until the doubt has been cleared up practically. This principle, with its profound insight into truth, is held and taught by all teachers in the Church." Bernard Hering, "Basic Principle Regarding Doubt," in The Law of Christ, Vol I (Paramus, NJ: The Newman Press, 1966), 171.
2. The generally accepted Catholic just war theory standards are as follows: a) Just institution: the war must be declared by the legitimate authority authorized to declare war; b) Just cause: only a defensive war can be morally just, offensive war of any kind is not morally justifiable; c) Just intention: vengeance, hate, the unjust confiscation of the wealth or the property rights of others, their labor force or their markets are morally forbidden intentions; d) Last resort; e) Success is probable; f) Just means: the means chosen must be indispensable for accomplishing the end; g) Civilian or non-combatant immunity from attack; h) Proportionality: the harm done to a people by a war cannot be greater than the harm that would have occurred if the war did not take place. No defensive strategy, jus ad bellum or jus in bello, that exceeds the limits of proportionality is morally permissible. For further elucidation of these standards see the following: Catechism of the Catholic Church (Liguori, MO: Liguori Publications, 1994), 2307 - 2317 . Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response, A Pastoral Letter on War and Peace, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, (National Catholic News Service, 1984), 80 - 110. [ISBN 1-55586-863-0] . Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace, A Reflection of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Tenth Anniversary of The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response (Washington, DC: Office of Social Development & World Peace, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 1993), 9û11. [http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/harvest.htm] . John Howard Yoder, When War is Unjust (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1984). [ISBN 0-80662-077-3] . Ronald G. Musto, The Catholic Peace Tradition (New York: Orbis Books, Maryknoll, 1986). [ISBN 0-88344-263-9]
3. Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response, A Pastoral Letter on War and Peace, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, (National Catholic News Service, 1984), ºº66û78. [ISBN 1-55586863-0]
4. Karl Rahner and Herbert Vorgrimler, Moral Systems in Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed. (New York: The Crossroads Publishing Company, 1985), 318
Moral Systems: By this term Catholic theology means not the various philosophical or theological systems of morality, law, etc., as a whole, but the various theories as to how one is morally bound to act where there is a serious doubt whether a [moral] law exists or whether it applies to the case in hand and this doubt cannot be directly resolved by closer study, etc. This question does not arise in a case where a specific end must be achieved without fail (for instance, for the validity of a sacrament: D 2101) [D, Denzinger, Enchiridion Symbolorum, edited by Adolf Schumnetzer, Frieburg i, Br., 32nd ed., 1963] therefore the best means to that end must be used. In other cases the question is answered as follows: a) absolute tutiorism: one must always decide in favor of the [moral] law, even when its existence is doubtful, so long as any doubt at all remains of one's freedom from the law; this is a rigoristic view which is impossible in practice, misunderstands the moral nature of freedom as such and is rejected by the Church (D 2303) b) probabiliorism: a person may decide in favor of freedom only if the reasons against the existence of the [moral] law are substantially sounder and more probable. To this it can be objected that a [moral] law only binds if its existence is certain and that there is a presumption in favor of freedom, a moral value willed by God. But the Church allows this opinion (D 2175ff.) c) equiprobabilism: freedom may be chosen if the grounds for it are as good as those for believing that the [moral] law exists d) pure probabilism: the presumption is in favor of freedom if there are serious reasons in its favor and the claim of the [moral] law is not certain. Probabilism and equiprobabilism in practice usually lead to the same conclusion since it is no easy task to weigh the reasons pro and con and the matter is always left to some extent to one's prudent estimation. Together they represent the most common view and if they are presupposed, then room is left in these doubtful cases for other considerations. e) laxism: the merest trace of a right to freedom justifies one in deciding against the [moral] law. Since we are normally concerned with a certainty that is only moral, not physical or metaphysical, and therefore some semblance of an argument against the [moral] law can generally be found, laxism would undermine all obedience to [moral] law and general norms of conduct. It is condemned by the Church (D 2101-2165, especially 2103). See also: F. J. Connell, "Systems of Morality," in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Thomson Gale, 2002), 876û880. [ISBN 0-7876-7694-2] Bernard Hering, "The True Basis of Morality," in The Law of Christ, Vol I (Paramus, NJ: The Newman Press, 1966), 175-189.
5. Because of the structure of human consciousness the possibility of doubt is cognitively impossible to completely escape in this world. Therefore, all human beings and by extension all Churches, religions, theologies and philosophies have to work with approximately the same set of moral systems elucidated above. How they work with them and how they name them may or may not be consistent with Catholic moral theology, but work with them they must since practical moral doubt is a universal phenomenon. Yet choices concerning what is good and what is evil have to be made in the face of it. Even if a person's governing law of conscience is not a precisely written panoply of moral rules and regulations but something as simple and as straightforward as "To do God's will" or "To love as Jesus loves," or"ôTo be a good person," there is no escaping the possibility of moral doubt arising in a particular situation. Hence there is no way to avoid utilizing one or the other of the moral systems in order to resolve "What is God's will here?" or "What does it mean to love as Jesus loves in this situation?" or "What does being a good person call for here?". Likewise there is no way to avoid one or the other of the moral systems in applying concretely a highly detailed moral code, if that is oneÆs norm or law of conscience. So while this essay is written through the lens of Catholic just-unjust war moral theology, the moral realities it deals with are not only Catholic, they are also catholic.
6. Lancet (2004). Mortality Before and After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq: Cluster Sample Survey. 364:9448;1857 - 1864. This survey compared mortality data for the fifteen-month period before the Iraq invasion (January 1, 2002, to March 18, 2003) with the eighteen-month period after the invasion (March 19, 2003, to September 20, 2004). Les Roberts, Ph.D., Center for International Emergency Disaster and Refugee Studies, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, was the lead investigator in the field. The Lancet article noted that the U.S. Government's official position on the issue of the Iraqi body count was stated by General Tommy Franks, "We don't do body counts." Investigator Findings: "We estimate that 98000 more deaths than expected happened after the invasion outside of Falluja[h] and far more if the outlier Falluja[h] cluster is included. The major causes of death before the invasion were myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accidents, and other chronic disorders whereas after the invasion violence was the primary cause of death. Violent deaths were widespread, reported in 15 of 33 clusters, and were mainly attributed to coalition forces. Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children. The risk of death from violence in the period after the invasion was 58 times higher than in the period before the war." NOTE: The Lancet, published in Great Britain, is one of the premier peer-review medical journals in the world, normally read only by people who possess the expertise to comprehend the highly detailed medical, scientific and mathematical concepts with which findings are arrived at and presented. However, the results of this particular research project made their way into popular mass media world-wide. The entire study with commentary is available on The Lancet website (www/thelancet.com). It should also be noted that the information contained in this study was gathered before September 21, 2004. An enormous amount of carnage has occurred since that time.
End Notes 7, 8, and 9 may be found at the author's website. www.centerforchristiannonviolence.org .
Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy is a priest of the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church (Byzantine-Melkite). Formerly a lawyer and a university educator, seminary teacher, spiritual director and rector, he is the founder and the original director of The Program for the Study and Practice of Nonviolent Conflict Resolution at the University of Notre Dame. He is also co-founder of Pax Christi-USA. For forty years he has conducted educational programs and directed spiritual retreats throughout the world on the issue of faith and violence with special emphasis on the nonviolence of the Jesus of the Gospels. He was the keynote speaker at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee for the 25th anniversary memorial of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Since 1983 he has been the organizer and a participant in the "Forty Day Fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence, July1-August 9" and since 1990 he has been the organizer and a participant in the "July 16 Twenty-Four Day of Prayer and Eucharistic Adoration" at Trinity-Site in the New Mexico desert, the location of the first atomic bomb detenation on July 16, 1945. He is author of three books: All Things Flee Thee, For Thou Fleest Me!: A Cry to the Churches to Return to the Nonviolent Jesus and His Nonviolent Way; Christian Just War Theory: the Logic of Deceit; and August 9. He has authored innumerable articles on the subject of violence, religion and the nonviolent Jesus and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his life's work on behalf of peace within people, among people and with God. The audio of his basic retreat on Gospel Nonviolence, BEHOLD THE LAMB, can be downloaded from his website, www.centerforchristiannonviolence.org .
Bishops Destroy the Church's Witness to Life
The Catholic Church's doctrine and praxis regarding the "Gospel of Life" is based on the strict and consistent application of moral principles to all aspects of the human condition. In modern terms, the Catholic Church applies the precautionary principle to all life issues. This principle is usually used in debates about environmental issues, and means that in situations where an action or policy is proposed that may cause great harm but the scientific consensus remains in doubt, the burden of proof is on those advocating the action or policy to prove that no harm will result. Incorporating this principle into the life issues debate - we can say that in situations where we maybe aren't sure about life or the proper moral action, we must resolve the question in favor of life and not death. Fr. Emmanuel McCarthy makes this point, at much greater length and with more theological insight, in his essay on Moral Laxism elsewhere in this issue.
And so it comes to pass that the Church makes heavy moral demands on people. The bishops don't hesitate to apply those principles strictly and consistently when it comes to abortion, contraception, and euthanasia. But when it comes to unjust war, strictness and consistency go out the window, and bishops publicly worry about "laying such heavy moral demands on the faithful."
We certainly agree that the Gospel's teachings on life should be strictly construed and consistently applied. Like Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin who went before us, we defend life from the moment of conception to the time of natural death - and also, all points "between". Thus, the inconsistency - the moral laxism - of the bishops regarding the unjust Iraq War is troubling. It is dangerous to the public witness of the Church to life. And it is a very grave scandal. In the debate on Iraq, the Church stands exposed as merely a member of the crowd. Instead of leading the moral debate, the bishops pander to the demands of the American Empire and provide moral comfort for its worst excesses.
It is my belief that the clergy sexual abuse crisis and the bishops' moral laxism regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, share a common foundation - the inability of the U.S. Catholic bishops to see the poor as human persons. The bishops protest that this is an outrageous accusation, and point to their many statements on solidarity and the charitable works of the Church as evidence of their good faith. While it is true that no person can look into their souls, it is certainly possible for us to judge their actions, and by that standard, it is evident that the bishops do not see the poor who are in the way of the American Empire as human persons. They refuse to use their canonical authority to hinder the Empire's war effort. They try to cover that refusal with florid rhetoric about their solidarity with the "brave Iraqi people", but words are a poor comfort for a people who have been slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands by the American Empire over the last two decades. They show little or no obedience to the call of Pope John Paul II to "ecological conversion", and thus they and their dioceses "take more, so that others - that is, the poor - have less."
The bishops are not leading us towards a civilization of life and love. No, like the rest of the American leadership, they urge us ever onwards towards the ash heap of history. Robert Waldrop
Update on Immigration Law Changes
The current session of the Oklahoma Legislature is considering new legislation that would lay further burdens on Oklahoma businesses regarding documenting the citizenship of their employees. It would ban all state aid for immigrants without documents. It is sponsored by Rep. Terrill, who is known t be vehemently anti-Catholic. We encourage all Oklahomans to contact their state senators and ask them to oppose these changes to Oklahoma's laws. Among the many consequences that could be cited, it is likely that these laws which will make the lives of some immigrants more harsh, will encourage more abortions.
Lord, you know how much we need petroleum. Our greed and our lusts overwhelm us and we can only satiate them with oil. Therefore, help us to kill and maim as many Iraqis as is necessary in order for us to impose our will upon the Middle East and thus secure for ourselves and our posterity a plentiful supply of oil for us to waste like there is no tomorrow. Close our ears to the cry for mercy, harden our hearts against any appeal to justice. Fill us with mercilessness so that we do not cringe from our duty to kill the innocent in order to defend our sacred and gluttonous way of life. Lord, you know that we are Americans, we are your special friends and you will never allow anything bad to happen to us, no matter what we may do in this world. Thank you for your assistance in this time of our bloodthirsty need. Amen.
By Leo Tolstoy
Marcus Evans sent me this essay with a note, "Dorothy Day loved reading Tolstoy." For those who haven't quite made it through War and Peace, this essay can be a short introduction to the work of this great Christian pacifist and author, who was also a major influence on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and Gandhi. RMW
It once occurred to a certain king, that if he always knew the right time to begin everything; if he knew who were the right people to listen to, and whom to avoid; and, above all, if he always knew what was the most important thing to do, he would never fail in anything he might undertake.
And this thought having occurred to him, he had it proclaimed throughout his kingdom that he would give a great reward to any one who would teach him what was the right time for every action, and who were the most necessary people, and how he might know what wasthe most important thing to do.
And learned men came to the King, but they all answered his questions differently.
In reply to the first question, some said that to know the right time for every action, one must draw up in advance, a table of days, months and years, and must live strictly according to it. Only thus, said they, could everything be done at its proper time. Others declared that it was impossible to decide beforehand the right time for every action; but that, not letting oneself be absorbed in idle pastimes, one should always attend to all that was going on, and then do what was most needful. Others, again, said that however attentive the King might be to what was going on, it was impossible for one man to decide correctly the right time for every action, but that he should have a Council of wise men, who would help him to fix the proper time for everything.
But then again others said there were some things which could not wait to be laid before a Council, but about which one had at once to decide whether to undertake them or not. But in order to decide that, one must know beforehand what was going to happen. It is only magicians who know that; and, therefore, in order to know the right time for every action, one must consult magicians.
Equally various were the answers to the second question. Some said, the people the King most needed were his councillors; others, the priests; others, the doctors; while some said the warriors were the most necessary.
To the third question, as to what was the most important occupation: some replied that the most important thing in the world was science. Others said it was skill in warfare; and others, again, that it was religious worship.
All the answers being different, the King agreed with none of them, and gave the reward to none. But still wishing to find the right answers to his questions, he decided to consult a hermit, widely renowned for his wisdom.
The hermit lived in a wood which he never quitted, and he received none but common folk. So the King put on simple clothes, and before reaching the hermit's cell dismounted from his horse, and, leaving his body-guard behind, went on alone.
When the King approached, the hermit was digging the ground in front of his hut. Seeing the King, he greeted him and went on digging. The hermit was frail and weak, and each time he stuck his spade into the ground and turned a little earth, he breathed heavily.
The King went up to him and said: "I have come to you, wise hermit, to ask you to answer three questions: How can I learn to do the right thing at the right time? Who are the people I most need, and to whom should I, therefore, pay more attention than to the rest? And, what affairs are the most important, and need my first attention?"
The hermit listened to the King, but answered nothing. He just spat on his hand and recommenced digging. "You are tired," said the King, "let me take the spade and work awhile for you." "Thanks!" said the hermit, and, giving the spade to the King, he sat down on the ground.
When he had dug two beds, the King stopped and repeated his questions. The hermit again gave no answer, but rose, stretched out his hand for the spade, and said: "Now rest awhile-and let me work a bit."
But the King did not give him the spade, and continued to dig. One hour passed, and another. The sun began to sink behind the trees, and the King at last stuck the spade into the ground, and said: "I came to you, wise man, for an answer to my questions. If you can give me none, tell me so, and I will return home."
"Here comes some one running," said the hermit, "let us see who it is." The King turned round, and saw a bearded man come running out of the wood. The man held his hands pressed against his stomach, and blood was flowing from under them. When he reached the King, he fell fainting on the ground moaning feebly. The King and the hermit unfastened the man's clothing. There was a large wound in his stomach. The King washed it as best he could, and bandaged it with his handkerchief and with a towel the hermit had. But the blood would not stop flowing, and the King again and again removed the bandage soaked with warm blood, and washed and rebandaged the wound.
When at last the blood ceased flowing, the man revived and asked for something to drink. The King brought fresh water and gave it to him. Meanwhile the sun had set, and it had become cool. So the King, with the hermit's help, carried the wounded man into the hut and laid him on the bed. Lying on the bed the man closed his eyes and was quiet; but the King was so tired with his walk and with the work he had done, that he crouched down on the threshold, and also fell asleep--so soundly that he slept all through the short summer night. When he awoke in the morning, it was long before he could remember where he was, or who was the strange bearded man lying on the bed and gazing intently at him with shining eyes.
"Forgive me!" said the bearded man in a weak voice, when he saw that the King was awake and was looking at him. "I do not know you, and have nothing to forgive you for," said the King. "You do not know me, but I know you. I am that enemy of yours who swore to revenge himself on you, because you executed his brother and seized his property. I knew you had gone alone to see the hermit, and I resolved to kill you on your way back. But the day passed and you did not return. So I came out from my ambush to find you, and I came upon your bodyguard, and they recognized me, and wounded me. I escaped from them, but should have bled to death had you not dressed my wound. I wished to kill you, and you have saved my life. Now, if I live, and if you wish it, I will serve you as your most faithful slave, and will bid my sons do the same. Forgive me!"
The King was very glad to have made peace with his enemy so easily, and to have gained him for a friend, and he not only forgave him, but said he would send his servants and his own physician to attend him, and promised to restore his property.
Having taken leave of the wounded man, the King went out into the porch and looked around for the hermit. Before going away he wished once more to beg an answer to the questions he had put. The hermit was outside, on his knees, sowing seeds in the beds that had been dug the day before.
The King approached him, and said: "For the last time, I pray you to answer my questions, wise man." "You have already been answered!" said the hermit, still crouching on his thin legs, and looking up at the King, who stood before him.
"How answered? What do you mean?" asked the King. "Do you not see," replied the hermit. "If you had not pitied my weakness yesterday, and had not dug those beds for me, but had gone your way, that man would have attacked you, and you would have repented of not having stayed with me. So the most important time was when you were digging the beds; and I was the most important man; and to do me good was your most important business. Afterwards when that man ran to us, the most important time was when you were attending to him, for if you had not bound up his wounds he would have died without having made peace with you. So he was the most important man, and what you did for him was your most important business. Remember then: there is only one time that is important- Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary man is he with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with any one else: and the most important affair is, to do him good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life!"
By Rachel Harsin Blain (1864-1938)
Little Sweet Pea
Only one came
Little daughter ask
Written circa 1896,
by Tresa Evans' great-grandmother.
Appeal to Catholic Leaders and Organizations to Care for Creation
"If we scan the regions of our planet, we immediately see that humanity has disappointed God's expectations. Man, especially in our time, has without hesitation devastated wooded plains and valleys, polluted waters, disfigured the earth's habitat, made the air unbreathable, disturbed the hydro-geological and atmospheric systems, turned luxuriant areas into deserts and undertaken forms of unrestrained industrialization, degrading that "flowerbed" - an image from Dante Alighieri (Paradiso, XXII, 151) - which is the Earth, our dwelling place. We must therefore encourage and support the "ecological conversion" which in recent decades has made humanity more sensitive to the catastrophe to which it has been heading. Man is no longer the Creator's "steward", but an autonomous despot, who is finally beginning to understand that he must stop at the edge of the abyss." John Paul II, General Audience, 2001
". . . Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation." Catechism, 2415.
"37. Equally worrying is the ecological question which accompanies the problem of consumerism and which is closely connected to it. In their desire to have and to enjoy rather than to be and to grow, people consume the resources of the earth and their own lives in an excessive and disordered way. At the root of the senseless destruction of the natural environment lies an anthropological error, which unfortunately is widespread in our day. Humankind, which discovers its capacity to transform and in a certain sense create the world through its own work, forgets that this is always based on God's prior and original gift of the things that are. People think that they can make arbitrary use of the earth, subjecting it without restraint to their wills, as though the earth did not have its own requisites and a prior God-given purpose, which human beings can indeed develop but must not betray. Instead of carrying out one's role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, a person sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, which is more tyrannized than governed by him. In all this, one notes first the poverty or narrowness of the human outlook, motivated as people are by a desire to possess things rather than to relate them to the truth, & lacking that disinterested, unselfish and aesthetic attitude that is born of wonder in the presence of being and of the beauty which enables one to see in visible things the message of the invisible God who created them. In this regard, humanity today must be conscious of its duties and obligations towards future generations."John Paul II, Centesimus Annus.
These statements illuminate the call to "ecological conversion". It seems to us that this comes as a gift from God, to people whose hearts are open to doing God's will in Christ. It is an orthopraxis (way of right living) that derives from our orthodoxy (way of right teaching). It is a gift which requires the cooperation of our minds, wills, and actions and which calls for obedience from our consciences.
We the people of these United States bear a special obligation in this matter. With less than 6% of the world's population, we use far more than our fair share of the goods of Creation. We consume 25% of the world's oil production. Because we use so much, there is less for others. All too often, the Church itself and its institutions and related organizations do not demonstrate obedience to these commands of the Gospel. In our actions and decisions we ignore the Church's teachings on the Care of Creation. Thus we see the powerful influence of the culture of greed and death at work, in the heart of the Church.
Therefore, in the spirit of Mother Teresa of Calcutta - who begged the rich to take less, so that others could have more - and of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin - founders of the Catholic Worker movement who taught the importance of solidarity with the poor and simplicity of life, during this season of Lent, we the members of the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker Community call upon Catholic priests, deacons, bishops, religious orders, organizations, and lay leaders to heed the call of the Church to "ecological conversion" and to be obedient to these commands of love and wisdom. This is an integral aspect of building a civilization of life and love.
As we seek a way to properly demonstrate our care for Creation, the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love, and the cardinal virtues of justice, temperance, prudence, and fortitude are the beginning of our journey. Faith tells us that what we see with our eyes is not all of reality, there is a supernatural reality that is as "real" as anything we see in the material world. The heart of this reality is the mystery of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who continually calls us into a living relationship with divinity. Our response to that call is found in love, which stimulates a desire for obedience to the will of God in all aspects of our lives. Through hope, we see beyond the difficulties of the present moment and are strengthened for the vocations to which we are called.
Justice, temperance, and prudence teach us that there are proper limits and boundaries to our behavior and actions. The fact that something is available to us, or within our ability to do, does not mean that we should do it without any consideration of the moral aspects of our actions. Fortitude helps us to be strong as we stand together against the culture of greed and death.
Building on this foundation of Christian conversion (orthodoxy) which expresses itself in daily acts of virtue (orthopraxis), we offer these 4 practical suggestions to help Catholics show their obedience to John Paul's call to ecological conversion.
1. Travel less, and travel by air only under extraordinary situations. Air travel is one of the most ecologically devastating actions. It is the least fuel-efficient method of travel and releases considerable greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Air travel is a demonstration of our wealth and power, but Jesus calls us to be in solidarity with the poor who rarely, if ever, travel by air. Beware of telling yourself that you are so important that you "deserve" to travel by air or you "have to" travel by air. Does your personal sense of importance justify your pollution of the atmosphere and your waste of scarce petroleum resources? Certainly, air travel should never be chosen without a strict examination of conscience. Humility is a Christian virtue that all too often we do not think of applying to issues like methods of travel. Most people on this planet will never travel by air, not even once. Just because we can do something, does not mean that we should do it.
2. Hold fewer national and international meetings that require many people to travel long distances. We encourage Catholic organizations and leaders, including the bishops, to hold fewer national & international meetings, which require more travel, and more local and regional meetings which require less travel. When national meetings are held, participants should be encouraged to travel by train or bus, which are the most fuel-efficient methods of travel. The bishops should set a good example for all of us by reducing the number of their meetings.
3. Support a sustainable, organic agricultural system. The Church has clear and unambiguous teachings about the importance of rural life. Yet, throughout the country, rural areas are declining in population and importance. The US agricultural system, driven solely by market values, rejects the application of moral principles to agricultural methods and is therefore destructive of both rural values and the land. Pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, and routine animal cruelty are the cornerstones of the system. The Catechism says that "it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly" (2418), yet Confined Animal Feeding Operations, which are the source of the meat, dairy, and eggs found in supermarkets, cause incredible suffering to the animals confined therein. This is what we pay for. The culture of death tells us that this is a good thing. Like everything else, we want our food quick, cheap, convenient, homogenized, and stripped of any moral or existential meaning. If we want an agricultural system that protects the land and is characterized by natural, organic, and humane production practices, then there must be a market for the products of that kind of agriculture. We therefore encourage Catholic leaders and organizations to look for opportunities to buy natural and organic foods directly from farmers in their areas. When organizations hold meetings, hotels and caterers should be asked for local and organic foods for the meals. Local and organic foods should be supplied to church and school and dormitory kitchens. We encourage planting gardens and orchards on church properties and involving Catholic school children and religious education programs in such works. We support a renewed observance of the traditional Ember and Rogation days of prayer and fasting, accompanied by rites and liturgies that re-connect us with the land and our natural environment. We encourage parishes and institutions to manage their church properties without using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides on lawns, trees, and gardens.
4. Church organizations and institutions should be a model of recycling. Paper, plastics, metals, & organic materials can & should be religiously recycled by the church. Whenever we frivolously discard valuable recyclable materials in the trash, we proclaim the anti-virtues of the Culture of Death. By these actions, we say "God is Dead, Jesus was only a Wise Man, Morality is a Fiction, We do not practice what we preach." And so it comes to pass that we teach our Catholic youth to be wasteful and model gluttony as an appropriate lifestyle. When we don't practice our own faith, we shouldn't be surprised if our young people decide that the Church is a bunch of hypocrites and then reject the many other gifts that the Church has and offers. As the Apostle James wrote, "Faith without works is dead."
The Language of The Capitalist is Different than the Language of the Catholic Worker
In the tradition of Peter Maurin's Easy Essays, by Marcus Evans
Their excess inventory is God's laid-off worker.
Their hungry is God's son Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46)
Their convict is God's son Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46)
Their mega churches have become a Den of Thieves.
Their illegal immigrant is God's sojourner (Ezekiel
Even so, their Savior is our Savior, their God is our God, their family is our family.
Upcoming Catholic Worker Events:
Food Distribution Days:
March 24th, April 28st, May 26th, June 23rd,
Works of Justice and Peace
+Live simply and justly in solidarity with the poor and marginalized and be a good neighbor. Make no war on them, rather, be one with them in spirit, truth, and love.
+Hear the truth when it is spoken to you. Discern the signs of the times and speak truth -- to power, to the people, and to the Church.
+Make injustice visible -- witness, remember, teach, proclaim, tell. Light candles, do not curse the darkness.
+Protect the poor and powerless-- listen, learn, educate, organize, empower participation, and respect life from the moment of conception to the time
of natural death.
+Work for reconciliation with truth, evangelism, catechesis, orthopraxis.
+Celebrate life, goodness, beauty, virtue, responsibility, and joy. Practice peace, non-violence, servant leadership, harmony, community, voluntary cooperation, and the proper stewardship of God's creation.
Pray without ceasing.
+ Ensure fair distribution, subsidiarity, economic opportunity, justice, and food security for everyone everywhere.
The Works of Justice and Peace are a statement of the mission and purpose of the Archbishop Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House
Deliver Groceries to Poor
We need volunteers to help do deliveries of food to the poor. We generally do this on the 3rd or 4th Saturday of each month. You can call our help line at 557-0436 and listen to the message to find out the delivery day for the current month. We start at 9 AM. Groups are great. There is no need to check in with us before volunteering for Delivery Day, just show up. We meet at the Dorothy Day Center at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, 4909 North State Street. State Street runs along the eastern boundary of the St. Charles parish property. We could also use volunteers to do "Fast Response", which is take a delivery to someone who needs food right away. Contact Bob Waldrop, at 613-4688 or firstname.lastname@example.org about becoming a "Fast Response" delivery volunteer.
We deliver several tons of food every month, and we are happy to receive donations of food to give to the poor. The most important foods that we need are listed below, ranked by their order of importance. The ranking is based on balancing the questions, "How difficult is this food for us to get", "How expensive is it", and "How important is it". Donated foods should be delivered to the Dorothy Day Center or they can be left at my office at Epiphany Church. Call Bob Waldrop 613-4688 or Marcus Evans 740-0697 to arrange a delivery time and to make sure someone will be there to let you in.
1. Powdered milk | 2. Peanut butter | 3. Canned fruit | 4. Canned meats | 5. Spaghetti sauce | 6. Canned soup | 7. Cooking oil | 8. Sugar (2 lb bags) |
We use financial donations to buy food to give to the poor, provide other occasional help with medical expenses, rent, utilities, gasoline, in situations we come across, to pay for the hosting fees for our web sites and the cost of our help line, to publish our newspaper and other various tracts and broadsheets. In accordance with Catholic Worker tradition, we do not offer federal tax deductions for donations to the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House. Checks can be made payable to Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House, and mailed to 1524 NW 21, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73106. We can accept donations via PayPal, emailed to email@example.com .
For the past two and a half years I have been a volunteer for a non-profit hospice. This means that I visit terminally ill people who are being cared for in their homes. My purpose is to offer companionship to the patients and give the family or caretaker a chance to get out to do errands or just have a bit of time to themselves. My time as a hospice volunteer is not always easy, but I find it to be very rewarding. Each assignment is an opportunity to experience God's love in a new way. I am inspired and humbled by how these families cope in these difficult situations.
One care-giver I remember well was the husband of an elderly woman who was becoming increasingly disabled by a debilitating disease. When I first visited, I helped him get her dressed to go out and load her in the car so he could take her to a regular hair appointment. He knew her and realized how important this was to her. As her health deteriorated, he later made arrangements for a beautician to come to the house to give her two permanents. This man also cooked and baked for his wife, trying to tempt her lagging appetite with delectable goodies. Over the months I visited the home, I came to recognize his devotion to her for what it was: truly loving and holy.
I visited a lady in her nineties who had outlived most of her relatives and friends. Life for her had come to mean just sitting, often alone, in a bed or, on a good day, in a chair. This lady's house showed signs of age and neglect. I often thought how easy it would be in her circumstances to feel self-pity. On the contrary, she unfailingly seemed grateful for each day and showed no sign of impatience or bitterness. Instead, she told me, "I've enjoyed every day."
Sometimes I don't know how to fill the time of my visit. Engaging often hard of hearing patients in conversation isn't always easy. I am learning that it is all right not to fill each moment with talk. My purpose is to be with the patient, not to keep a constant pattern of conversation.
Sometimes I have experienced times of peace just sitting quietly with someone, hearing the drone of an oxygen machine, and watching a sunbeam through a window. Often these patients are also attended by a dog or cat who continue a lifetime of service and devotion.
So much of present day life is disturbing. We hear of violence in many forms, in many places. Being able to reach out to these hospice patients helps me, I feel, to keep my priorities straight. Marianne Mertens