Notes on peace and justice

Archivist for Dorothy Day papers guilty of trespassing at drone base

Phil Runkel, left, walks with others Aug. 25 toward Volk Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin to voice concern with U.S. drone policy. (Courtesy Voices for Creative Nonviolence)

Phil Runkel, left, walks with others Aug. 25 toward Volk Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin to voice concern with U.S. drone policy. (Courtesy Voices for Creative Nonviolence)

Phil Runkel, archivist for the papers of Dorothy Day at Marquette University’s Raynor Memorial Libraries, is among the most recent people found guilty of a crime for protesting the United States’ use of military drones.

The conviction on a trespassing charge came Feb.19 during a brief trial in Juneau County Circuit Court. Runkel was arrested Aug. 25 at an entrance of Volk Field Air National Guard Base in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, where he joined a group of Catholic Workers and other activists concerned that the use of drones for extrajudicial killings constitutes a war crime.

Runkel attempted to tell the court during his trial that he entered the air base grounds under the belief that citizens have the legal privilege under international law to act in a nonviolent manner to halt the commission of a war crime. However, District Attorney Mike Solovey objected, saying there was nothing about intent in the law, according to courtroom observers.

Judge Paul Curran upheld the objection, quickly found Runkel guilty and issued a $232 fine.

Runkel was the most recent of the 14 people arrested for trespassing at Volk in August to be found guilty in a trial. The last trial is set for Feb. 25.

Similar nonviolent actions by Catholic Workers and others have been occurring at air bases around the country in an effort to call attention to drone warfare.


Lenten fast for climate justice

Catholics around the world again are fasting during Lent for climate justice in response to Pope Francis’ call to care for creation during the month of February.

Coordinated by the Global Catholic Climate Movement, the fast finds people in 57 countries taking a day to fast from food or perhaps even from expending nonrenewable energy and to pray in a special way for the environment.

The climate movement’s website has posted Pope Francis’ video message in which he calls on all people to “take good care of creation — a gift freely given — cultivating and protecting it for future generations.”

“The relationship between poverty and the fragility of the planet requires another way of managing the economy and measuring progress, conceiving a new way of living. Because we need a change that unites us all. Free from the slavery of consumerism,” the pope says in the brief video.

The rolling fast reaches a different country each day during Lent. It comes to the U.S. today. (But organizers say anyone can fast on any day or several days.) On Good Friday, all are called to fast for the health of the planet.


Italian Pax Christi bishops decry war

The five bishops who are members of Pax Christi Italy have called for action to end war and the violence that has wracked cities around the world, particularly the Middle East.

Citing “Gaudium et Spes,” the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, the final document of the Second Vatican Council, which denounced war and the arms race, the bishops condemned armed violence in a statement released Feb. 18 in Florence

They also called on people of faith to prayer, fasting and acting on behalf of peace.

“(Wars) are only meant to use our arms and to enhance our powers and our supremacy. Therefore we strongly urge the end of all bombings. Instead, we strongly urge the use of politics and diplomacy, perhaps more strenuous but always respectful of human lives. All human beings need assistance not bombs, as Pope Francis has repeatedly said,” the bishops wrote.

The statement also quoted from the joint declaration from the pope and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill following their historic meeting Feb. 12 in Cuba in which the two religious leaders urged the international community to work quickly to end the violence against Christian communities in particular and to begin negotiations to return peace to the affected communities.

Issuing the statement were Bishop Giovanni Ricchiuti of Altamura-Gravina-Acquaviva delle Fonti, president of Pax Christi Italy; and four past presidents including retired Bishop Tomasso Valentinetti of Pescara-Penne, retired Bishop Giovanni Giudici of Pavia; retired Bishop Luigi Bettazzi of Ivrea; and retired Bishop Diego Bona of Saluzzo.

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