N. M. priests stand up to war on Iraq

In a front page article in the Oct. 5 Albuquerque Journal, Paul Logan describes how all the Catholic leaders of New Mexico have taken a stand against a war with Iraq. “The bishops of the state are gravely concerned about the threats of war with Iraq,” said Archbishop Michael Sheehan. The elected officials of this state have been inundated by requests to take a stand against the war with Iraq.

In addition, bishops of Gallup, Las Cruces and parish priests and New Mexico Air National Guard chaplains have come out against the war. “We don’t believe that the case has been proven at all that we should go to war with Iraq,” stated Sheehan. He is supported by the Catholic Bishops Conference, which recently wrote President Bush, asking him “to step back from the brink of war.”

The Reverend Larry Bernard, pastor of Laguna Pueblo, said he follows the path “of the peaceful rebel, St. Francis of Assisi,” whose religious order still has a peacemaking tradition. He is joined by the Sisters Council of the Gallup Diocese, which issued a statement opposing U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Bernard is in charge of the Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity for New Mexico and the Navajo Indian Reservation, and said that the members of his own Laguna Indian Pueblo church were against the war. He considers himself “totally American and a person who loves his country ... and in taking his stand, believes in the dignity of all people, not just Americans,” the article said.

The Sisters Council of the Gallup Diocese, in their anti-war statement, said in part, “To maintain the core values of the United States, we believe that our country should work actively and diligently with our allies to resolve the greater threats to peace in the region, especially the current conflicts between India and Pakistan and between Israel and the Palestinians.”

The cleric of the Kirtland Air Force Base, Reverend Tom Mayefske of the Holy Ghost Church, has been preaching for several weeks, “that leaders of this country, including President Bush, would search all possible means to avoid war, we pray to the Lord.” And parishioners answer, “Lord, hear our prayer.”

A chaplain of the New Mexico Air National Guard, Reverend Gary Ortiz, stated, “Right now, I’m praying publicly for our country to find the wisdom for an authentic peace based on authentic justice.”

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org