Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Franciscan and Jesuit Witness Against US-Sanctioned Torture

As followers of Jesus Christ, the Gospels impel us to speak and act on behalf of truth. Some of these are as simple as writing emails, letters to the editor or other outreaches protesting a breach of justice or promoting what is good and true. Sometimes the actions are more prophetic, such as we see among the holy prophets of the Old Testament who boldly spoke on behalf of God's truth and against falsehood and injustice (e.g. Jeremiah and Amos).

Our country has embarked upon a dangerous practice, call it what you will, of sanctioned torture, since 11 September 2001. In the name of security and anti-terror, we have seen its fallout in such hideous images from the Abu Graib prison outside of Baghdad, the complaints arising from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and other issues of "rendition" of prisoners ostensibly captured regarding terror. While we do not deny the reality of terror and those who commit those awful anti-human and anti-life actions, we also stand against the denial of human dignity of prisoners as well. Hence, the need to actively do something!

One such example is the article below -- Fr. Louis Vitale, OFM, is a Franciscan friar and former provincial minister of St. Barbara Province, headquartered in Oakland, CA. His compatriot is a Jesuit priest, Fr. Steve Kelly, SJ. They protested together at the military compound at Fr. Huachuca, AZ, outside of Tucson, last November 2006.

We Franciscans of the Assumption BVM Province support them as they suffer the predictable consequences of imprisonment for their prophetic action on behalf of justice and peace, their action of protest considered a crime against the US government.


On October 17, 2007, the first anniversary of the signing of the Military Commissions Act, Fr. Steve Kelly and Fr. Louie Vitale were sentenced to 5 months in prison for their nonviolent witness against torture at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona in November of 2006. They were taken into custody immediately. (More information at http://tortureontrial.org/)

Please support them - Write a note of support to: (Make sure you include the #)

Stephen Kelly #00816111CCA
P. O. Box 6300
Florence, AZ 85232

Louis Vitale #25803048CCA
P. O. Box 6300
Florence, AZ 85232

They were taken to a privately run detention center in Florence, Arizona the day of their sentencing. It is not known if, when or where they may be transferred. If the priests are moved, your letters addressed to Florence will be returned to you. You may then send letters to them c/o The Nuclear Resister, PO Box 43383, Tucson, AZ 85733 and their mail will be forwarded to them.

If you are mailing something to them at this prison, please know:- All books and magazines must be sent by the publisher or directly from a book store.- Non-copyrighted documents in manila envelopes are fine, but to expedite it, print on the manila envelope "paperwork enclosed."*

Fr. Kelly and Fr. Vitale ask that every woman and man of conscience do all that they can to protest the injustice of torture and to end U.S. policy that sanctions torture.

They encourage people to participate in the protests at Ft. Benning, Georgia and Ft. Huachuca, Arizona on November 17 and 18, or consider having a protest in your community. visit http://www.soaw.org/ (protest at Ft. Benning) and http://southwestwitness.org/ (protest at Ft. Huachuca)- Visit http://torturelaw.org/ and sign the petition to repeal the Military Commissions Act and use the handy form to customize a letter that will be emailed to your Senators.* Their commissary needs are taken care of but contributions for prison support expenses are welcome.

Checks can be made payable to the Nuclear Resister (please put Torture on Trial on the memo line) and mailed to the Nuclear Resister, PO Box 43383, Tucson, AZ 85733. Donations can also be made securely online at the Torture On Trial website at http://tortureontrial.org/donate.html*

Prison visits are being coordinated by Br. David Buer. Visiting hours at the detention center in Florence are limited, and occur very early in the morning. It is very important to contact David if you are interested in visiting either of the men, so he can make sure that no one travels all that way only to be turned away because there is already a visitor there. You can contact David at <buer@intermind.net> or call (314)803-6735.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Statement of the Franciscan Friars, Province of Saint Barbara regarding the sentencing of Father Louis Vitale OFM:

On November 19, 2006, Father Louie was among others protesting military "interrogation training" at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. It is our understanding that Father Louie was arrested at Fort Huachuca when he attempted to speak with enlisted personnel and deliver a letter to the commander denouncing the immoral teaching of torture there, and that he has now been sentenced for a total term of five months.

Father Louie's religious superior, Father Melvin Jurisich OFM, Provincial Minister of the Province of Saint Barbara, commented on the sentencing:

"Father Louie's Franciscan brothers fully support his actions at Fort Huachuca because we know they are consistent with his life-long dedication to work for good and oppose evil. He does so in the spirit of prayer and nonviolence. He is doing what he believes Saint Francis of Assisi would do if he were at Fort Huachuca. We stand by Father Louie during his time of incarceration, and we know that even in jail he will continue to work and pray for peace."

1 comment:

Connie said...

This is absouletly OURRAGEOUS that two HOLY MEN WHOM work for GOD'S ministry in helping others are finding themselves condemened and judged for something they did not do JUST AS JESUS WAS WRONGFULLY JUDGED)to have these two HOLY MEN imprisioned is shameful and disgraceful and the Torture and Violence the other human beings are facing on a daily bases is also OUTRAGEOUS All of us should RESPECT all HUMAN LIFE FROM NATURAL CONCEPTION TO NATURAL DEATH.These people whom are being tortured are human beings thier rights should not be taken awasy from them THEY NEED TO HAVE BACK THIER HUMAN DIGNITY.I PRAY that everyone will sign the petition I certainly did and write to this Franciscan and Jesuit Priest for emotional and moral support I have just written a letter to each of them. I will fervently CONTINUE TO PRAYER FOR THIER SAFETY. I think both of these PRIESTS Franciscan and Jesuit should be commened for thier bravery for remaining and standing and upholding thier righteous grounds and if the PEOPLE cannot leave then they themselves will not leave.THAT IS TRUE FRANCISCAN AND JESUIT SPIRIT AND TREMENDOUS FAITH IN OUR DEAR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. Thnk You GOD BLESS ALL OF THE FRANCISCAN PROVINCE AND THE JESUIT COMMUNITY. Connie