Meet Robert Waldrop (left), one of the leading lights of the Catholic Worker movement in the United States. Bob runs the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House in Oklahoma, US. His powerful words – more than the way he looks – remind me of a biblical Old Testament prophet speaking truth to power!
The Catholic Worker movement was founded by the late Dorothy Day, who campaigned in defence of the poor, forsaken, hungry and homeless, and Peter Maurin. On her 75th birthday, Day was described by a Jesuit magazine as the individual who best exemplified “the aspiration and action of the American Catholic community during the past forty years.”
In the best traditions of the Catholic Worker movement, Bob has also been vocal in the anti-war movement within the Catholic Church, in line with Pope John Paul II’s opposition to the war in Iraq. He feels that US Catholic Bishops have not done enough to conscientise Catholics about the evils of war, invasion and occupation.
This is an open letter from Bob to His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago
Dear Cardinal George
I have read the news reports and the Archdiocesan statement concerning the disruption of an Easter mass that you celebrated at your Cathedral. Your official statement says, in part. . . “This is a profoundly disturbing action. . . It is a sacrilege that should be condemned by all people of faith and good will.”
Although I actively oppose the unjust war the United States is waging on the people of Iraq, I agree that the demonstrators action was disturbing and sacrilegious.
However, theirs was not the first sacrilegious act of that day. The sacrilege commenced when you ascended to the Altar of God and began to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with your hands dripping with the blood of the innocent in Iraq whom you and most of the other United States Catholic Bishops have so callously abandoned to their grisly and violent fates. Like the rest of the US Bishops save one, you issued no canonical declaration forbidding Catholics of the Archdiocese of Chicago from participation in the unjust war on the people of Iraq. A review of your website finds no pastoral letter instructing the souls entrusted to your care about the Church’s teachings on unjust war and condemning the war on the people of Iraq as unjust. Like nearly all of your confreres in the US hierarchy, you have preached a gospel of moral relativism and moral laxism that makes a mockery of the Church’s teachings on life. You claim you want “peace”, but you have done nothing to actually support peace other than to offer pious platitudes and hypocritical rhetoric from your position of safety in your palatial Chicago residence.
Your holidays and festivals I detest, they weigh me down, I tire of the load. When you spread out your hands, I close my eyes to you; though you pray the more, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds before my eyes; cease doing evil, learn to do good. Make justice your aim, redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow. Isaiah 1
I am obviously just an obscure Catholic Worker. You and all the other bishops have consistently ignored everything I have had to say to you since I started writing bishops on the Feast of the Holy Innocents in 2001. Which is fine with me, I am not interested in collecting letters of denial from bishops and cardinals making excuses for their moral cowardice. The charism of the Catholic Worker movement is faithfulness to the Gospel of Justice and Peace – even when all of the United States bishops save a small handful choose Nationalism over Catholicism. So once more I write again these words of inconvenient faithfulness, to remind you that God is watching every moment of your reign as Archbishop and Cardinal and you will one day be accountable for these actions.
God was watching when you refused to properly catechize your people about unjust war.
God was watching when you refused to forbid Chicago Catholics from participating in an unjust war.
God was watching when you dined with the Tyrant-Emperor George Bush, and you did not condemn him as a murderer and prosecutor of an unjust war.
A reading from the book of the Prophet Micah. . .
And I said, Listen you leaders of Jacob, house of Israel! Is it not your duty to know what is right, you who hate what is good, and love evil? You who tear their skin from them and their flesh from their bones? They eat the flesh of my people and flay their skin from them, and break their bones. They chop them in pieces like flesh in a kettle, and like meat in a caldron. When they cry to the Lord, he shall not answer them, rather shall God hide from them at that time, because of the evil they have done.
Thus says the LORD regarding the prophets who lead my people astray; Who, when their teeth have something to bite, announce peace, But when one fails to put something in their mouth, proclaim war against him.
Therefore you shall have night, not vision, darkness, not divination; The sun shall go down upon the prophets, and the day shall be dark for them.
Then shall the seers be put to shame, and the diviners confounded; They shall cover their lips, all of them, because there is no answer from God. . . .
Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem reduced to rubble, And the mount of the temple to a forest ridge.
So as it turns out, when you condemn these young people, you condemn yourself.
Which is worse? A prince of the church who by any objective judgment is a moral coward who has preached a false gospel of moral laxism and relativism regarding an unjust war? Or a few young people, who hear the cries of the victims, and in despair act out in such a public manner? Is it not true that your own abject failure as a Cardinal Archbishop provoked these young people to such a rash action? Are you not, then, a “secondary disrupter” of your own Mass, and thus have a significant share in the responsibility for their deeds? Have not your actions — or rather, inactions — violated the inalienable rights of the people of Iraq to life? Who, then, is really at fault in this matter? These young protestors? Or a cowardly Cardinal Archbishop, who shuts his eyes, ears, and heart to the cries of the people of Iraq for justice and peace and is a scandal before the entire world?
I write these words to you, in remembrance of the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and soldiers who have died in this unjust war on the people of Iraq. One day you will meet them and they will tell you of their terror, pain, and fear and they will ask you, “Why, in the name of God, did you not do something serious to stop this from happening?”
I pray that God has mercy on your soul and brings you to an understanding of the grave evil and moral disorders that you and the other United States Catholic Bishops foster and encourage by your moral cowardice in the face of this unjust war on the people of Iraq
Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House
1524 NW 21st
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73106
A Prayer to Our Lady of Sorrows for Those Who Will Die Today in War
Our Lady of Sorrows,
we pray for all those who will die
today because of war and economic chaos,
especially the children.
Prepare them for the agony, despair,
and terror of the violence that is upon them.
Comfort them and
hold them close to the bosom of
thy most Immaculate Heart
as they drink deeply of the bitter cup
which is forced upon them.
Wipe their tears, calm their fears,
welcome them to peace and safety.
Eternal rest grant to them,
and may perpetual light shine upon them.
Our Most Holy Lady of Sorrows,
Overturn the thrones of tyranny, scatter the unjust,
give us your grace and strength to
stand against the demonic powers
which prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.