October 31, 2003

"Priest Calls for Withdrawal from Iraq"
By Paul Logan


Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico

The United States war on Iraq is being fought for oil and not for democracy and “is a total disaster,” a Catholic priest said Thursday.

“We have to continue to call for an end to the war and the occupation of Iraq, and for the immediate return of our own troops,” Rev. John Dear told an audience at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

“We have to cut all military spending in the Middle East and pursue nonviolent solutions through the United Nations.”

Dear, 44, is a Jesuit pastor who oversees five northern New Mexico churches and four missions. A peace activist and author and editor of 20 books on peace and justice, he spoke on “The Road to Peace: Practicing Nonviolence in a World of War.”

The road to peace starts within each person’s heart, Dear said.

People must begin to imagine the peace and nonviolence of God, refuse to support war, and become people of peace and nonviolence, he said.

Americans must get involved in some public action against war. “We don’t have to do everything, but we all have to do something,” he said.

Everyone must break the silence, complicity and acceptance of the U.S. culture of war, he said. “They must denounce the false spirituality of violence and seek peace and nonviolence.”

Dear quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. who said on the night before he was assassinated, “The choice is no longer violence or nonviolence. It’s nonviolence or nonexistence.”

According to the United Nations, some 50,000 people die every day of starvation and nearly two billion people suffer in poverty and misery, he said.

The war on Iraq is not about September 11th or stopping weapons of mass destruction, Dear said. “We bombed every single major building in Baghdad except the Ministry of Oil. We let riots and looting happen everywhere, except the Ministry of Oil. We have an imperial economy based entirely on oil and weapons and to maintain this empire we have to wage war, and wars require the blood of children.”

Dear claimed that the Archdiocese of Santa Fe barred him from participating in a peace protest at Los Alamos National Laboratory last August. It was the 58th anniversary of the day when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

The sponsors of Thursday’s lecture were the Lutheran Student movement, the UNM Aquinas Newman Center Campus Ministry, Pax Christi, and the New Mexico Conference of Churches.



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