Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Father Louis Vitale: Love Your Enemies





Update: On Monday, January 25, 2010, U.S. Magistrate G. Mallon Faircloth sentenced Father Vitale and two others to six months in federal prison for carrying a protest against the School of the Americas onto the Fort Benning military base in Georgia.

Transforming US vs. THEM Thinking

Circle of Peace Speaking Tour Spring 2009

St. James Church
Johnson City, NY; May 13, 2009


Statement from the Organizers:

Fr. Vitale will discuss the importance of dialoguing with our enemies instead of warring with them. Just back from Iran he will discuss his experience there and the development around the forging of new relationships with the Iranian people and government. He is a Franciscan priest and former provincial of the California Franciscan Friars. He co-founded the Nevada Desert Experience – a movement to end nuclear testing -- and Pace e Bene. Pastor of a Catholic church in a low-income neighborhood in San Francisco, CA for more than a decade, he recently served five months in prison for opposing torture. He is the recipient of many awards including Pax Christi Teacher of the Year.

Statement from Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service:


How do we relate with individuals and countries that believe differently that we do? How do we deal with our so-called enemies? Is torture morally acceptable? How do we respond to terrorism?

Father Louie Vitale has been grappling with these and other related questions for nearly half a century since he began his journey by enlisting in the air force as a young man, and having a conversion towards nonviolence. While all of our journeys take different paths, our hearts converge upon the commonality of Pace e Bene – Italian for “peace and all good.”

Since his release from jail in spring 2008, Father Louie has given 35 talks at universities, community, and church groups across the United States and in Canada. In 2009 Louie will be touring the United States to talk all of these issues. He served 3 and 6-month sentences for crossing the line twice at the School of Americas in Fort Benning, GA, where the US trains Latin American soldiers in torture techniques. Then Louie served 5 months for crossing the line and praying at Fort Huachuca (the military installation in Arizona where we train our American Intelligence Officers in “Enhanced Interrogation” tactics such as the much publicized water boarding, among other torture methods). Just before the start of the spring 2009 tour, Fr. Louie will be journeying to Iran with the Fellowship of Reconciliation as part of an Iran Civilian Diplomacy Delegation to dialogue with the government and people of Iran, our supposed “enemy.”

Pace e Bene’s vision is dignity, justice, and peace for all. Our mission is to foster a just and peaceful world through nonviolent education, community-building, and action.

Formed by a small group of Franciscans and others in 1989, Pace e Bene is a growing community representing a diversity of spiritual traditions and cultural backgrounds that networks with nonviolence practitioners in many parts of the world.

Through trainings, strategic consultation, or joint action, Pace e Bene collaborates with international, national, and local organizations, religious communities, and movements taking nonviolent action to: foster just and lasting peace; champion human rights; challenge the violence of poverty and multiple forms of oppression; and strengthening spiritually-based initiatives for justice and peace.

Sponsors:
St. James Social Justice Committee; The Justice and Peace Resource Center.

Related Website: Fellowship of Reconciliation