Why Do I Gather in Interfaith Prayer and Risk Arrest on the 10th Anniversary of the US Led War?

October 7, 2011
Fr. Chris Ponnet
Pastor, St. Camillus Center for Spiritual Care

I stand in this place to say NO to business as usual on this tenth anniversary of war!

I stand in memory of the thousands of humans who have been killed! Presente!

I stand in memory of the prophet among us Sr. Anita Caspery! Presente!

I stand in honor of the thousands wounded and the millions displaced from their lands and those without jobs in our land! Presente!

I stand in honor our Catholic feast of St. Francis of Assisi and Our Lady of the Rosary! Presente!

I stand in honor of all human life from womb to tomb! Presente!

I stand to honor this holy day of Yom Kippur and seek forgiveness for our USA role in these ten years of persistent war! No more war!

I stand to say NO to business as usual on this anniversary of the war on terror! No more war!!!

The 10th Anniversary of the US led war on Afghanistan and the War on Terror demands of me as a Christian believer and a Catholic priest to not remain silent.

I regularly pray at our Eucharistic table: “Open our eyes to the needs of all: inspire us with words and deeds to comfort those who labor and are burdened; keep our service of others faithful to the example and command of Christ. Let your Church be a living witness to truth and freedom, to justice and peace, that all people may be lifted up by the hope of a world made new.”(EUCHARIST PRAYER: JESUS THE COMPASSION OF GOD)

I was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest in 1983. I have been pastor and chaplain at St. Camillus Center for Spiritual Care since 1995 serving LAC+USC Medical Center and the entire USC Healthcare Campus.

In 1983 the US Bishop’s statement THE CHALLENGE OF PEACE has help guide my biblical and human experiences. They said (#333) “In the words of our Holy Father, we need a “moral about-face”. The whole world must summon the moral courage and technical means to say “no” to nuclear conflict; “no” to weapons of mass destruction; “No” to an arms race which robs the poor and the vulnerable;, and “No” to the moral danger of a nuclear age which places before humankind indefensible choices of constant terror or surrender. Peacemaking is not an optional commitment. It is a requirement of our faith. We are called to be peacemakers, not by some movement of the moment, but by our Lord Jesus.” For 10 years, and for many of us many years before this, ICUJP interfaith Communities Untied for justice and Peace have met a proclaimed a common message the “religious communities must stop blessing war and violence.” I join them and others today in protest of the ongoing or persistent war in Afghanistan and the war on Terror beyond.

I risk arrest today as a bold statement of faith as a leader in our Catholic faith community and as a member of the interfaith community of humanity. I surrender some of my freedom as an act of solidarity with those who thousands who have died in the wars, the thousands who return to their homes wounded in mind and body and the millions whose lives and homes have been displaced by the bombs or the devastation on the world economy.

I risk arrest today as one who challenges my fellow consistent life ethics believers who see abortion and euthanasia as wrong but also wars, death penalty, immigration and health care policies that are racist or at best not including the diversity of people who live in this land. I act today praying my brothers and sisters who will peach or speak this Respect life Month of October will have the courage to not only mention abortion as a life issue but all the issues of life that kill or lesson the dignity of each person.

I sit in a street to stop business as usual at this Federal building in the great tradition of speaking up for peace and justice and to say NO to war. I say YES to life for all.

Fr. Chris Ponnet
Pastor, St. Camillus Center for Spiritual Care
Chair, Pax Christi Los Angeles Chapter
Board member, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace
Board member, Death Penalty Focus




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