November 21, 2004
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"Remember the Martyrs, Close the SOA!"

Columbus, GA

Talk by John Dear at the Fort Benning Protest

[Over 16,000 people gathered at the gates at Fort Benning, Georgia, to call for the closing of the so-called "School of the Americas." John Dear spoke along with Martin Sheen, Susan Sarandon, Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, and Sr. Helen Prejean before marching pass the gates and leaving crosses to remember the martyrs of Latin America. For further information, see: www.soaw.org]

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This week, we remember the Jesuit martyrs killed fifteen years ago in El Salvador. I recall what Fr. Ignacio Ellacuria, the president of the Jesuit University in San Salvador, said to me when I met in May, 1985: "If you want to be for the reign of God, if you want to work for justice and peace, if you want to announce the reign of God, then you have to stand up publicly against the anti-reign, and speak out against the evil institutions of war and injustice, and so as we bless the soldiers and police here, we do what Ellacuria said, and we denounce the evil work of this school of assassins as the anti-reign, and demand that it be shut down immediately.

I also remember that while I was in El Salvador, Ellacuria said that everyone at a Jesuit and Catholic school in the United States which has ROTC is living in mortal sin because we are supporting the forces of death that are killing his people. So today, let's pledge to get rid of ROTC on every Jesuit and Catholic campus in the USA and every college campus.

Today, we denounce the lie of war and say that war is not the path to peace; war is not the answer to our problems; war is not the way to a better world or to deepen the spiritual life; war cannot stop terrorism because war is terrorism; war is never justified; war is not the will of God; war is never blessed by God; war is the ultimate mortal sin. War is not the way to follow the nonviolent Jesus. Peaceful means are the only way to a peaceful future and the God of peace!

Today, we storm heaven and beg the God of peace for a miracle, that the SOA will close down, that we will end the U.S. wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine and Colombia, that we will dismantle our nuclear weapons, feed the starving masses and commit ourselves to the wisdom of nonviolence, and love our enemies and beat our swords into plowshares and welcome God's gift of peace, a whole new world without war, poverty, injustice or nuclear weapons, and finally become disciples of the nonviolent, troublemaking Jesus. Thank you. God bless you!

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