Among Catholic peacemakers Holy Week has become a time of witnessing for peace and prayerful resistance while recalling Christ’s crucifixion. Catholics were among 23 people arrested in at least three vigils across the country on Holy Thursday and Good Friday.
The largest group of arrests came during the annual Nevada Desert Experience at Creech Air Force Base 40 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Fourteen people were charged with trespass after walking through an open gate seeking to talk with Air Force soldiers piloting unmanned drones over Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, one of those arrested, told Catholic News Service the group wanted to ask why attacks on innocent people were being carried out.
“It’s a new form of warfare in which a soldier doesn’t leave the base but yet can wreak terrible havoc on people,” she said.
Other arrested include Jesuit Fathers John Dear and Steve Kelly; Franciscan Fathers Louis Vitale and Jerry Zawada; Holy Child of Jesus Sister Megan Rice; and Catholic Workers Mariah Klusmire of Albuquerque, N.M., Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa, and Renee Espeland of Des Moines, Iowa. Arraignments are set for June 9.
On Good Friday eight people were arrested at the Pentagon for praying around a cross outside of a designated protest zone. They were among 50 people wearing black robes and white masks to symbolize the war dead. They had been part of a Holy Week Faith and Resistance retreat in Washington put together by the Jonah House community in Baltimore and Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington.
Charged with disobeying a lawful order of a government agent and given a June 19 court date were Molly Brechtel, Susan Crane, Nancy Gowan, Brian Hynes, Bill Frankel-Streit, Art Laffin, Sister Margaret McKenna and David Ryle.
Longtime Catholic peace activist Paul Magno of Washington was arrested during a noon hour witness Good Friday at the White House in which he was chained to a fence in a “contemporary crucifixion” as a group of people sang “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” His action was part of Witness Against Torture’s 100 Day Campaign to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.