100 Days Campaign to close at the White House


The 100 Days Campaign ends its public effort to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with rallies and a procession through Washington April 30. (Photo from 100 Days Campaign)

The 100 Days Campaign ends its public effort to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with rallies and a procession through Washington April 30. (Photo from 100 Days Campaign)

After 100 days, the 100 Days Campaign to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, ends April 30.

Dozens of people seeking the guarantee of humans rights for the 239 detainees being held without charges at Guantanamo will wrap up 100 days of vigils and educational programs with a 10 a.m. rally near Capitol Hill followed by a procession to the White House.

While organizers are not saying exactly what will happen, some of the marchers are planning an “act of resistance” during the noon hour.

Campaign organizer Matthew Daloisio of Witness Against Torture told CNS he and others won’t give up their quest until the men being held there are released or have their day in court. The group started their public witness on the day of President Barack Obama’s inauguration and gathered for two hours each weekday outside the White House. Numerous speaking events and other programs also were held across the nation’s capital.

“At the end of 100 days we had very much hoped we would be much further along, that life for the people in Guantanamo would have been materially changed,” Daloisio said.

Daloisio is not calling the campaign a failure. He said the group’s steadfastness for more than three months has been a worthwhile accomplishment.

Participants were pleased that an executive order banning torture as a part of U.S. foreign policy was signed Jan. 22 by the president as promised during his election campaign. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has long supported an end to the use of torture, and even developed a study guide on the issue. Obama also has called for closing the prison within a year.

A former resident at the New York Catholic Worker house, Daloisio points to another success, one that won’t necessarily make headlines: the positive relationships the vigilers developed with the Secret Service agents who kept an eye on their actions day in and day out.

One day late in the campaign, Daloisio recalled, a tourist approached the White House vigilers questioning why they were still pressing their point. After all, the tourist said, Obama already had closed the prison. That’s when a Secret Service agent stepped in and calmly explained that the Guantanamo Bay prison remained open and would be for up to a year. The vigilers, he explained, were expressing their concern for the detainees.

Pope prays with Italian earthquake survivors


A couple embrace near the ruins of their house in Onna April 6. (CNS/Reuters)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the L’Aquila region, struck by an earthquake April 6, was delayed by an hour because heavy rains made it impossible for him to get there by helicopter.

Vatican journalists, including Rome bureau correspondent Carol Glatz, set off by bus at 6:30 this morning to be in place when the pope arrived. The early morning wake-up call earned them a place in a muddy pen under the rain near the tent camp set up outside Onna. The little town of about 300 residents was almost completely destroyed by the earthquake and 40 of its citizens died.

While waiting for Carol to file her story, I thought I would translate and post the text of the prayer the pope recited in Onna:

We entrust our loved ones to you, Lord,
Knowing that you never take the lives of your faithful, but transform them,
And that at the moment the dwelling places of this our earthly exile are destroyed,
You prepare an eternal and immortal one for us in paradise.
Holy Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
Hear the cry of pain and of hope
That rises from this community harshly tied by the earthquake.
It is the silent cry of the blood of mothers, fathers, young people
And also innocent little ones that rises up from this land.
They have been snatched from the affection of their loved ones,
Welcome them all into your peace, Lord, who is God-with-us,
Who is the Love able to give life without end.
We need you and your strength
Because we feel small and fragile in the face of death;
Help us, we pray, because only your support
Can help us get up and, with trust, take each other’s hands,
And start out again on the journey of life.
We ask you this through Jesus Christ, our savior,
In whom shines the hope of the blessed resurrection. Amen.

(UPDATE: Here’s Carol’s story.)