Friday, October 19, 2007

"Torture has come home..."


Franciscan Fr. Louis Vitale, pictured here peaking out from under a huge puppet figure bearing the Virgin of Guadalupe's veil of stars, won't be at his usual place at Bay Area peace and justice events for the next five months. Along with Jesuit Father Steve Kelly, Fr. Louis was sentenced Wednesday to prison time for a November 2006 protest at the Army's Fort Huachuca in Arizona. The base is the headquarters of military intelligence in the U.S. and the place where military and civilian interrogators are taught how to extract information from prisoners, according to the two men's lawyer, Bill Quigley.

Fr. Louie explained his civil disobedience to Fr. John Dear of the National Catholic Reporter:

"Our message is that torture has come home to us. We learned from Fort Benning that the U.S. manuals on torture come from Fort Huachuca. The Nazis tortured, Latin American death squads tortured, now we know that we torture people, too. But where does it come from? It comes from Fort Huachuca. That's the headquarters. It's one of the most sinister places on the planet.

"We can make a difference. It can be done. ... St. Francis got caught up in a bloody war, and realized that war is not what God created us for. So he came out of it committed to a new world without war. We have to learn from him. We need to address the world's needs with love and compassion, not with war and destruction."

Supporters of the two protesting priests pass on a message:

Fr. Kelly and Fr. Vitale ask that every woman and man of conscience do all that they can to protest the injustice of torture and to end U.S. policy that sanctions torture. They encourage people to participate in the protests at Ft. Benning, Georgia and Ft. Huachuca, Arizona on November 17 and 18, or consider having a protest in your community. For more information, visit School of the Americas Watch (protest at Ft. Benning) and Southwest Weekend of Witness (protest at Ft. Huachuca).

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