Saturday, April 20, 2013

Breaking the Silence: Syracuse NY April 26, 2013

Catholics, people of all faiths, agnostics and atheists, are invited to speak to the silence of the Diocese of Syracuse on the issue of assassination by drones. The Roman Catholic Chancery, the main office of the Syracuse Diocese, is a short distance to the Hancock Air Force drone base.

On Friday, April 26th at 11AM, people will gather in front of the chancery, just a block south of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception 259 Onondaga St. Syracuse, NY 13202.

Open microphones will be available for anyone to break the silence for Bishop Robert Joseph Cunningham, now in his fifth year as Bishop of Syracuse.

Organizers of the event, Friends of Franz (Jagerstatter) have requested Bishop Cunningham and hundreds of Catholic Bishops in the United States to speak out in opposition to war and assassinations. Their silence has been deafening. It’s time for the people to speak out. More information? Call 607 321 8537

Meet 11AM April 26th in front of the Roman Catholic Chancery in Syracuse

In 2007, Catholics who spent much of their lives opposing militarism were shocked to learn that the Roman Catholic Church announced the beatification of Austrian Catholic, Franz Jagerstatter. Jagerstatter had refused to go to war with the Nazis. In 1943, he was arrested, imprisoned, put on trial and beheaded. His parish priest, his Bishop and his village did not support his actions. There was silence. Before he was executed, Jagerstatter wrote: “If the Church stays silent in the face of what is happening, what difference would it make if no church were ever opened again?”

Some America Catholics, so disturbed by the failure of American Catholic leaders refusing to break the silence on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, went to the beatification in Linz, Austria. When they returned, they began to write a series of letters to American Catholic Bishops asking them to speak out against the wars we were waging. After six logical, well crafted letters of respectful Christian requests to speak out were sent over a two year period to over 300 Bishops, the group calling themselves, Friends of Franz (Jagerstatter) waited for some answers. There was one response from a Romanian Catholic Bishop John Michael Botean of Ohio. It was the only letter and a letter of support for our work.

When drone warfare began under the Bush Administration and then escalated under the leadership of President Obama, Friends of Franz researched the issue, wrote United States Catholic Bishops calling upon them to speak out in opposition to drones. A play that focused on drone warfare out of Syracuse, NY and performed at churches and universities, letters were written to editorial page editors.

Some members of Friends of Franz worked through St James Catholic Church in Johnson City, NY to petition their Bishop of Syracuse, Robert J Cunningham, to speak out in opposition to death dealing drones operating just a few miles from his chancery office in downtown Syracuse. Drones fired via satellite from Hancock Air Force Base in Syracuse assassinate supposed ‘enemies’ in places such as Afghanistan and Pakistan and perhaps other areas. The St James Johnson City Peace/Justice folks asked Bishop Cunningham for a meeting. He did not respond over a two year period to our letters but finally a meeting was arranged. Bishop Cunningham said we need to know that drones save us from invading other nations, from having boots on the ground. Additionally, he said that we should know that many of the people working at Hancock Drone base are Catholic.

Bishop Cunningham was asked if he could make a moral decision on the killing use of drones. He said he could not at this time. The meeting was a year ago and no response has come from the chancery.

Juan Cole, distinguished Professor of Middle East Studies at Michigan University, notes that the Bureau of Investigative Journalism states that ‘At least 400 civilians have been killed by US drone strikes in Pakistan.’ In fact, the Pakistani government figures are about the same as the Bureau’s own findings. A United Nations report indicates 2200 hundred people have been killed including at least 400 civilians. The report says: “The US drone campaign in Pakistan involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of its sovereignty.”

On Friday, April 26th, at 11AM, Friends of Franz will gather outside of the Syracuse Diocese Chancery to call on Bishop Cunningham to break his silence on war and the active participation of Catholics in the killings waged out of Hancock Air Base in the Diocese of Syracuse, NY. An open microphone will be available for Catholics to speak their views.

"A time comes when silence is betrayal."
Rev. Martin Luther King, Riverside Church, April, 1967
(Speaking out against the Vietnam War).

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