Dear Editor: Like most of your readers, I love the holy Catholic faith. Naturally, I am filled with deep sorrow when I come across an article about church property being vandalized, as was reported by The Tablet (Feb. 18, Vandalism Strikes Again at American Martyrs Church). Judging by the title and the accompanying photos showing the damage inflicted on the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it was unequivocal to the reader that The Tablet was justifiably disturbed by such vandalism of church property in our home diocese and condemned such irrational acts.
Also like most all of your readers, I love this great country. Understandably, I am deeply troubled when I read about tax-payer supported federal property being vandalized as recently occurred April 5 at a U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Kings Bay, Ga. (April 11).
Interestingly, based upon this article’s title and the accompanying beach-front photo of the group who allegedly performed this crime, I as the reader was left wondering…. where does the Church stand on the act of vandalism as a legitimate form of active-resistance to protest nuclear weapons and achieve peace?
Additionally, I was somewhat disappointed the author (Dennis Sadowski) did not provide a more substantive historic background of this group who call themselves the Kings Bay Plowshares. Namely, the article failed to point out that these individuals are part of a much larger anti-war/anti-nuke crusade known as the Plowshares Movement which embraces active resistance, yet often employs offensive maneuvers of trespassing and defacing government propriety, raising the debate of whether such controversial tactics can be considered truly non-violent and virtuous.
The Plowshares Movement was founded in 1980 by Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan, his younger brother Philip, at the time a Josephite priest, along with six others. Since its inception, the Movement has accumulated an infamous resume of several felony and misdemeanor convictions.
Coincidentally or otherwise, a week after The Tablet reported the Kings Bay Plowshare story, the paper highlighted one of the movement’s warriors who is described as “the star” of a new anti-nuclear arsenal documentary. The article tells of the “shockingly bold campaign” of Sister Megan Rice, a member of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, who in 2012 broke into a US Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration uranium enrichment plant located in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and along with two others, were convicted of damaging government property in slashing their way through fences and splashing a vial of human blood on a wall of the facility.
Curiously, the article failed to mention that Sister Rice and her two accomplices are members of the Transform Now Plowshares organization, a part of the Plowshares Movement, nor did it make reference to the vandalism of the Kings Bay Plowshares performed just a week earlier.
As a practicing Catholic in the Diocese, I see a big gap that needs to be addressed in all this coverage of the Plowshares Movement. Namely, although this Movement is led by Catholic activists, members of the Plowshares do not speak for the Magisterium. It would be most prudent on the part of The Tablet to provide the moral compass of Church teaching to whether there is some virtue in the “shockingly bold campaign” waged by individuals like Sister Rice, and if the true desire for world peace can ever justify using the means of trespassing and defacing government property.
Editor’s Note: Tablet news stories are meant to deliver the facts to readers and not to take a position on issues. Letters like Mr. Torre’s allow members of the Church to say how they feel about these facts. The Church’s magisterium does not take a stand on the wisdom of tactics such as those used by the Plowshares.