Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

Church needs a dose of humility

May 10, 2016


Not everyone who says ‘Abba Father’ gets into the kingdom but he or she who does the will of God.
Matt. 7:21

One of Europe’s top prizes for humanitarian work is the Charlemagne Prize awarded for “ efforts to promote the European values of peace, tolerance, compassion and solidarity.” The winner this year Pope Francis.The award ceremony on May 5 was preceded by a Pontifical mass at St.Peter’s.


Bear in mind this is not a religious prize. However European Commission president Junker stated that  Pope Francis personifies the idea that “solidarity and compassion are not just fine-sounding words but values that require us to take a stand and act.” He warned that peace cannot be taken for granted and called on all Europeans to face up to their difficulties in order to overcome them, and to shape history rather than be swept along by it. The way to do this is through coalitions “cultural, educational, philosophical and religious,which calls for more unity and more solidarity as the continent confronts its many crises.”

Andrea Ricciardi of the San Egidio lay Catholic community of Rome pointed to the radical differences between Francis and his 2 predecessors whose bete noire was always “secularism and its discontents.”


Both JP ll and Ratzinger consistently lectured secularists about Europe’s failure to embrace its Christian roots.They were insistent on a “God clause”for a European constitutional document. Francis has cut the legs out from both former popes. Instead of seeing Catholicism and Christianity as unique and sole purveyors of The Truth, the heroic defenders of “an embattled subculture, whose task is to preserve self-enclosed pockets of faith within a hostile secular milieu”, Francis more or less heads off in another direction—dialogue and encounter.



The Church especially here needs to hear this. Get out of our bunkers, have some humility, recognize that gospel values are already present in the thousands of the unchurched who are attempting to fashion a better world.



In the pope’s acceptance speech he never mentions “secular “ or “secularism” the favourite whipping boys of the last two pontiffs.



Ricciardi, a sophisticated European Catholic wrote “According to the pope, Europe … today is in decline due to a fear of encountering other people and other religions, hiding behind borders and crystallized identities,”

This is a stunning volte face.

In effect the Church simply needs to become the church, a mustard seed, a humble ginger group which, confident of its gospel values joins with other groups. The attitude here in Canada and the USA has too often been, “if we are not leading the parade we are not in it.”The best example lately has been the embarrassing church response to Francis ecological encyclical Laudato Si. Since the church did not have control of the agenda—the environmental movement already owned it—it refused to play, even though the pope was radically embracing the cry of the earth.
For decades we have been appalled at putative Catholic leaders absent from the social struggle, isolated in their arrogance, thinking they had nothing to learn from “the secularists.”
That day is long gone—much like the young people who left the church to be with the same “secularists” who were taking history seriously. Watching institutional leaders absent themselves from popular movements, the former Catholics moved the gospel outside the walls of the church and the chancery office and put it where it should be, on the streets
Two weeks before he died on August 32, 2012 the eminent Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini spoke this truth:
“The church is tired,. we are 200 years out of date Catholics lack confidence in the church. we need a radical transformation. Our culture has grown old, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our religious rites and the vestments we wear are pompous.”

Pope Francis is  right. the only way forward is coalitions, dialogue and encounter.A modicum of humility would help us realize that we need join with others in the common cause of healing the world.

Remembering Dan

May 9, 2016

StreetMourners on the way to the funeral

Advice to Christians:

Stay focused on the Gospel and let the rest take care of itself.

The formula has been deceptively simple; open the Bible together as a discipline of holy literacy, be attentive to the spirit of the words, see where they lead.’


A certain medical doctor who treated him for a small cyst in a New York hospital. It turned out that this doctor wanted to thank Dan because his was one of the draft cards burned in Catonsville, Maryland. ‘That action spared my life,’ he said, ‘and I used it to get a medical degree. Now I’m here to take care of you, Fr. Dan.’

The thing about Dan and Phil, unlike many pompous clerics, they never took themselves too seriously…their cause, yes, themselves, no.

Steve Kelly sj was the homilist at Dan’s funeral. He held nothing back. His opening remarks were classic. He welcomed the FBI undercivers present and advised them that they coukd now close the book on Dan!

IN  1968 at the  Philadelphia Quakers’ largest gathering, the Yearly Meeting, they invited Dan to be the keynote speaker. Lyle Tatum a recognized Quaker lerader  was chosen to introduce him. In his introduction he said that, several centuries ago, Quakers Ann Austin and Mary Fisher had walked from Northwest England to Rome to try, as Lyle said, “to convert the Pope to Christianity.” At that, Dan laughed as heartily as the rest of us. When he stepped to the microphone to speak, his first words were, “I hope you’ll keep trying.”


Banner near the altar at funeral mass.







Dan Berrigan RIP

May 6, 2016

Leave it to Liz McAlister to cap off the funeral  of her brother-in-law Dan Berrigan in New York’s St.Francis Xavier church Dan Berrigan sj  whom she knew so well.


In a congregation like this there was the heartfelt acknowledgment that Liz was the equal partner of her more famous husband Philip who died Dec.6.2002.
She gave an incredible eulogy surrounded by Berrigan children, those of Phil and Liz and Jerry and Carole Berrigan.
She began with what has become a classic of resistance literature, Dan’s rationale for the burning of the draft card records at the height of the Vietnam War. Nine Catholics including Daniel and his brother Phillip entered a draft board in Catonsville, Md. and removed draft files of those who were about to be sent to Viet Nam.  They took these files outside and burned them with home-made napalm, a weapon commonly used on the Vietnamese.


Our apologies  good friends for the fracture of good order  the burning of paper instead of children  the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel house.
We could not  so help us God  do otherwise
For we are sick at heart   our hearts
give us no rest for thinking of the Land of Burning Children and for thinking of that other Child of whom
the poet Luke speaks 

Luke’s gospel introduces us another child (Jesus) “born to make trouble and to die for it.”


Berrigan like many deeply understood the sickness which still engulfs America, a bloated nation become empire, whose military budget genuflects to the god of war and not human flourishing. The United States still maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad costing between 85 to $100 billion yearly.


The murderous havoc visited upon Vietnam (over 1 million civilians killed ,many more maimed and an ecology in tatters resulted in untold misery at home with more suicides of returning vets than soldiers killed in combat.

Berrigan and the other 8 Catholics were among the first of our tribe to break with an empire run amok.He named government policy as

a massive institutionalized disorder
We say:  Killing is disorder
life and gentleness and community and unselfishness
is the only order we recognize

Dan’s question still rings out:

How many indeed must die
before our voices are heard
how many must be tortured dislocated
starved maddened?
How long must the world’s resources
be raped in the service of legalized murder? When at what point will you say no to this war?
We have chosen to say
with the gift of our liberty
if necessary our lives:
the violence stops here
the death stops here
the suppression of the truth stops here
this war stops here

Daniel the prophet like his favourite biblical prophet turned his judgment on a church become silent in face of such human suffering

They embrace their society with all their heart
and abandon the cross
The times are inexpressibly evil
Christians pay conscious  indeed religious tribute
to Caesar and Mars

As always unto our own age, despite the rule of institutional silence, fear and the substitution of charity for justice

And yet  and yet  the times are inexhaustibly good

Because there is always a strong minority

solaced by the courage and hope of many
The truth rules  Christ is not forsaken
In a time of death some men
the resisters   those who work hardily for social change
those who preach and embrace the truth
such men overcome death
their lives are bathed in the light of the resurrection
the truth has set them free
In the jaws of death
they proclaim their love of the brethren
We think of such men
in the world  in our nation  in the churches
and the stone in our breast is dissolved
we take heart once more. 

This poem should be studied in every Catholic school where crucifixes continue to hang.

Berrigan gave Scahill his cue

May 4, 2016

“I may not be here if it wasn’t for Dan Berrigan,” said journalist Jeremy Scahill , the outstanding journalist who peeled back the layers on the US mercenaries in Blackwater and has used his skills to uncover the lies and deceit at the heart of the American empire .His other books are The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield

Scahill’s story is instructive. his parents grew up on the south side of Chicago both were nurses. His father, an only son of irish immigrants was on his way to be a priest studying theology when the Vietnam war became front and centre in the USA. It was at this time that three moral giants arose within Catholicism, prophets who made the gospel tangible and the prophetic dynamite it was meant to be. They were Dorothy Day, the legendary founder of the Catholic Worker who made the radical link between war and poverty; Thomas Merton the activist Trappist monk who preached a radical pacifism in his voluminous correspondence with Catholic movers and shakers meeting during Vatican ll, one of whom was Canada’s cardinal George Flahiff. The third turned out to be Fr.Dan Berrigan,sj . The latter got his cue to come on stage from both Day and Merton.

Scahill’s ffather heard Dan Berrigan give a talk, a voice of New Testament sanity mid the war making clamor of the time. The Scahills moved to New York and became part of the Catholic Worker family. Young Jeremy born in 1974 grew up, grounded in resistance to war making and, like thousands was transfixed by two priests, Dan and Phil Berrigan hauled off to jail after burning draft card records in a Baltimore suburb on May 17,1968.


The gospel joy of the resister.

In the mid 90s Scahill ended up at Jonah House with Phil Berrigan and his extraordinary wife, war resister, Liz McAlister. Talk about “an alternative education.”

Again, here’s the message, crafted so well by Norman Alcock yesterday. We all need cues, invitations to come into history and play our part. Rabbi Heschel says “By whatever we do, by every act we carry out, we either advance or obstruct the drama of redemption.We either reduce or enhance the power of evil.”

Nobody arrives without an invitation. Parents of course are the prime motivators but there are always others. Sometimes the calls are subtle, often below our threshold of understanding. The most powerful are those best expressed by the great philosopher Martin Buber, “All real living is meeting.” Significant people show up in our lives– a teacher, a friend, a significant other. Sometimes the invitation is more direct like, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of people.” Most times however the cues are less direct.Too often the most powerful invitations are from the capitalist culture of excess—to have rather than to be, to own, accumulate, have power, perennial seductions we need to resist. Merton’s advice resonates here: ”You’re not going to survive America unless you are faithful to your discipline and tradition.

All of us can say about somebody, “I would not be here if it were not for…” For Jeremy Scahill it was Dan Berrigan

Gratitude for those who showed up in our lives, who showed us the way.

Dan Berrigan:”Nothing is ever lost”

May 3, 2016

Chris Wallace, is the Fox News Sunday host and son of the legendary 60 Minutes journalist .In 1981 Wallace interviewed Dan Berrigan. the following clip says it all aboutAmerican celebrity culture and its almost total inability to fathom the life of the spirit, in this case the depth of a man such as Dan Berrigan. The interview was at the time of the Ploughshares action when Dan and Phil and six others broke into a nuclear plant a General Electric factory in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. They invoked the prophet Isaiah’s words as they hammered on an inert Mark 12 A nuclear warhead.

He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 2: 4


CHRIS WALLACE: Back in the Vietnam days, the Berrigan brothers were big. You attracted tens of thousands of people. Now you’re not as big. You do not attract the same attention.


CHRIS WALLACE: Is that hard for you?

FATHER DANIEL BERRIGAN: No, I don’t think we ever felt our conscience was tied to the other end of a TV cord. I think we’ve tried for a number of years to do what was right, because it was right.

This was a cardinal Berrigan insight, one which points to the belief that nothing is ever lost. In Dan’s words,”If the good is done in the right spirit, the good will go somewhere. I don’t think the Bible grants us to know where goodness goes, what direction, what force. I have never been seriously interested in the outcome.I was interested in trying to do it humanly and carefully and nonviolently and let it go.”

Wallace and too many others were sadly tethered to an observable, immediate outcome.Life is not like that.

Mother Teresa put it well: we are called not to be successful but faithful.

A great atheist friend of mine the late Norman Alcock had a similar response when he quit playing nuclear games at Chalk River the Canadian nuclear facility. Norm gave it all up. His conscience led him in `1961`to open a small peace institute in Dundas Ontario. Like Berrigan, Norm was called a fool and a dreamer.


Why would he give up such a prestigious job as one of Canada’s pre-eminent physicists to work for peace?

Like Berrigan Norman understood that the atomic bomb made war obsolete. “We were just not smart enough to realize it.” Like Berrigan he spent his life challenging nuclear proliferation.

Norms’ line was  similar to Dan’s.

Alcock simply said “I do it because it might give somebody else permission to come on the stage.”

We all need cues to enter history seriously. The Disney culture will give you an abundance of death-dealing cues, tickets to irrelevance, a perennial spectator in the fashioning of a better future for humanity. One needs a deeper grounding to say no to the idols. Dan Berrigan listened to a profound cue-giver the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton who told him, ”You’re not going to survive America unless you are faithful to your discipline and tradition.” Dan was steeped deeply in the best of the Catholic tradition. Norm drank from the wells of a grounded humanism. They resisted the American Kool-aid.

The lives of Dan Berrigan and Norm Alcock went way beyond “the end of a TV cord.” Many of us came onto the stage because of people like them.

Dan Berrigan Catholic prophet

May 2, 2016



Dan Berrigan, Jesuit priest, and Catholic prophet died Saturday just short of his 95th birthday.

For many of us, Dan put necessary flesh on the Jesus story, moved it into conemporary history as a force to be reckoned with. Not everyone followed of course. The culture had its way of bending us, in Augustine’s words making us “curvatus in se”, bent in ourselves.’ But after the Council (1962-65) the Bererigans,Dan and Phil, appalled at the Vietnam War, showed us the way of saying No especially to warmaking as a way of life, peacemaking as the way of Jesus.

Dan had a pixie-like way about him, great sense of humour. In 1981, this prize-winning poet wroie 10 Commandments for the Long haul

1) Call on Jesus when all else fails. Call on Him when all else succeeds (except that never happens).

2) Don’t be afraid to be afraid or appalled to be appalled. How do you think the trees feel these days, or the whales, or, for that matter, most humans?

3) Keep your soul to yourself. Soul is a possession worth paying for, they’re growing rarer. Learn from monks, they have secrets worth knowing.

4) About practically everything in the world, there’s nothing you can do. This is Socratic wisdom. However, about of few things you can do something. Do it, with a good heart.

5) On a long drive, there’s bound to be a dull stretch or two. Don’t go anywhere with someone who expects you to be interesting all the time. And don’t be hard on your fellow travelers. Try to smile after a coffee stop.

6) Practically no one has the stomach to love you, if you don’t love yourself. They just endure. So do you.

7) About healing: The gospels tell us that this was Jesus’ specialty and he was heard to say: “Take up your couch and walk!”

8) When traveling on an airplane, watch the movie, but don’t use the earphones. Then you’ll be able to see what’s going on, but not understand what’s happening, and so you’ll feel right at home, little different then you do on the ground.

9) Know that sometimes the only writing material you have is your own blood.

10) Start with the impossible. Proceed calmly towards the improbable. No worry, there are at least five exits.

Mentally ill boys in the priesthood

April 27, 2016

“Be careful of who you admit to the seminary,” because there could be people with mental deficiencies among the candidates to the priesthood. Pope Francis said this in an audience with participants of a Conference sponsored by the Congregation for the Clergy marking the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the Vatican II decrees “Presbyterorum ordinis” (Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests) …


The Pope told clergy that they must think twice when a young man “is too confident, rigid and fundamentalist”. Hence, his invitation to them to beware when admitting candidates to the seminary: “There are mentally ill boys who seek strong structures that can protect them”, such as “the police, the army and the clergy”….

Oh my, could these new rigid and authoritarian orders which cropped up in JP ll and Ratzinger’s time ever used this monitum. The Vatican ll priests looked on in horror at these underdeveloped and frightened neophytes who strutted their arrogance and their hilarious (but tragic) notion that they were bringing the Church back under a pope who acted more like a commissar than a wise pastor.

The prolific Catholic sociologist Andrew Greeley, writing in the January/February 2004 issue of Atlantic Monthly, called then “the  young fogeys”, the trend of conservative priests  presenting themselves for ordination. Fr. Greeley observed, “These are newly ordained men who seem in many ways intent on restoring the pre-Vatican II Church,  and who, reversing the classic generational roles, define themselves  in direct opposition to the liberal priests who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s.”

Analyzing this disturbing development, Greeley described the lamentable failure of nerve which characterized the immediate post-Vatican II period, the sad attempt to “quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
Greeley wrote:
The backlash after Vatican II was swift. Church leaders, realizing that reform had slipped out of their control, grew increasingly convinced of the need for the Restoration — a movement in which the upper clergy would close ranks and reassert their authority. Newly-appointed bishops would restore the rules; theologians who disagreed would be silenced and the old order would be established. Today’s young priests are rallying to the call.
All this under the Polish pope and his rigid enforcer Josef Ratzinger. It was what Karl Rahner called the beginning of the Ice age in Catholicism.
Now, under a Vatican ll pope, the ice is melting but poor Francis is surrounded by the wolves of the curia who yearn for the status quo ante when clericalism ruled the Catholic roost.
The young

fogeys are still around. Most went down fast when they found their arrogant brand of Catholicism was a non-starter. A few adjusted but the real scandal has been the JP ll bishops have not publicly demanded the obvious, a priesthood available to all believers. There is no vocation crisis. There is a courage crisis in the episcopacy demanding that all 7 sacraments be available to every baptized person.


Ecumenical Good Friday Walk

March 26, 2016


And so today as we walk, we journey together with Jesus,

enacting a hope that can be for all people,

that had, and still has, the power to confront the myriad forces of death,

and overcome them, in all their forms

moving beyond the brokenness of our world

toward abundant life for all.

This year’s walk through the streets of Toronto was one of the best yet.The theme was Water and the whole day was capped off as usual at Holy Trinity Anglican Church with a marvellous sermon by Jennifer Henry of KAIROS CANADA.


Who lives the pain of Good Friday in our time? Communities of Pimicikamak /Cross Lake, Syria, South Sudan, Kashechewan

Where do we hear the cries? Taste the thirst for justice? Refugees fleeing, women sexually assaulted, black lives ignored, Indigenous girls missing…

Where do we see the wounds? Melting permafrost, fracked earth, tailings ponds, tanker spills…

Where is the pain of Good Friday felt? Where can we touch the wounds? Everywhere…Everywhere…

Our beautiful world—the land and air and waters—is Christ’s aching body, Jesus’ wounded flesh. Violated, crucified every day. We close our eyes, our ears. We wash our hands of it. We walk by on the other side. Or, in a brutal realization, we find ourselves complicit in the wounding.

Water is the blood that flows through this wounded body, this aching earth. The rivers that connect us, parts of the body, are the veins that carry the life blood to creatures, to peoples. Water is life, interconnected, flowing, nurturing all created beings. Water is sacred bond. Dispersed light in water droplets is the rainbow, the Creator’s inter-species, inter-generational covenant with us. But water is also our vulnerability, our inequities, our risk, our danger. When it is polluted, cut off from eco-systems, diverted, compromised, commodified, it is so quickly depletion, desertification, degradation, death. Bleeding dry…

There are women, you know, who can see what we are doing to the Body. Women who are binding up the bleeding wounds. Women who are tending to this aching world–with fierce love. Women who are caretakers of the water running through the earth’s veins: Great Lakes water walker, Indigenous Elder, Josephine Mandamin; Cochabamba Bolivian water activist Marcela Olivera, and Berta–Berta Cáceres who lost her life in her commitment to protect precious waters, waters in Honduras vulnerable from corporate damming. There are women tending to the waters, protecting the waters, caring for the wounds in the Body.

They know. She knew. Water is connectedness, relationship—to beaver and sage, to owl and otter, to trout and neighbour. It links us back to the original goodness of Creation. And watersheds, embedded in watersheds, connect us across the whole globe. Water teaches us permeability. Our watersheds literally flow through our bodies, so that what we do to that water, we do to ourselves.

On this day of separation and loss, of alienation and pain, let us confess our disconnection from this holy Body of Christ, our dislocation from whole Earth community, our disowning of our place in the Creator’s web of life. We paved and polluted paradise rather than immersing ourselves in our watersheds. We warred with God’s creatures rather than living as relatives. We violated our neighbours, original custodians of the earth and waters, rather than living in respect of First Peoples whose teachings are instructive to us all.

But do you know? We are a forgiven people. God’s spirit is free among us

Can you feel it? We who are part of the problem can be part of the solution. (see Rita Wong in Undercurrents. Gibsons, BC: Nightwood Editions, 2015).

Can you see it? Redemption is rehydration. Healing waters are regeneration.

(see Ched Myers

Can you hear it? The rushing waters that flow down as justice, the everflowing fountain of living waters.
The Easter promise is not for complacency, but for collaboration.

At his baptism, Christ submerged himself in the waters, immersed himself in his watershed, as he claimed his radical ministry of transformation. We are invited to go also: go to the waters to take the equality temperature of our world; go to the waters in our lament for the violence and destruction of our earth; go to the waters for repentance, including for our sins against the world’s First Peoples; go to waters to spill our tears for those whose lives were lost protecting them; go to the waters for blessing in our work of justice and in our commitment to transformation; go to the waters for connection, for wholeness, for oneness with creation, with one another and with our wounded healer, the crucified, and yet resurrected, Body of our God.

Impressive Jewish students

February 23, 2016


How impressive…the following from Jewish students at McGill University.This should be forwarded to all the timorous university presidents who cave to the reactionary pressure of right wing Canadian Jews. Israel has now poured $26 billion into fighting BDS—but they have lost the Jewish youth as have synagogues who blindly support the occupation.
What is so impressive is the journey away from the conflation of Zionism and Judaism. Many young Canadian Jews have made this necessary trek in their wish for an authentic prophetic Judaism,surely one of the greatest gifts to the human race.
Making space for Jewish resistance
Why we’re voting “yes” on the BDS motion

Coming to the realization that being Jewish does not require supporting Israel is cause for both internal and social conflict. At McGill in particular, it can be quite a marginalizing experience. Campus rhetoric consistently pairs anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, preventing Jewish students from speaking out comfortably against Israel’s state policies for fear of being labelled a “self-hating Jew.” On a campus where the heart of Jewish life is dominated by Hillel, an organization whose vision is one where “every student is inspired to make a commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel,” and by Chabad, which wants its members to “apply the timeless Jewish principle of Ahavat [the love of] Israel” – not to mention Israel on Campus – it is crucial for Jews to act to break down the hegemony of this discourse at our university.

The representation of Jewish interests on campus is incredibly important, particularly at a university that once used quotas to limit Jewish enrolment. But when the groups who provide resources, funding, and spaces used to support Kosher options on campus or organize celebrations of religious holidays are also those promoting unconditional support for the State of Israel, these groups are acting to silence and alienate Jewish voices who dare to dissent. Similarly, at last year’s Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) General Assemblies (GAs), voices claiming to be speaking for all Jews on campus trumped and erased our own, co-opting our identities in defence of the Jewish state.

The discourse on campus has conflated Jews of all backgrounds with a nationalistic, militaristic, and racist government agenda, and as Jewish students who believe in justice, we feel a particular responsibility to speak out in support of the Palestinian people. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has given us a way to mobilize from a distinctly Jewish perspective in a way that does not contradict our values. In doing so, we are also actively resisting the use of our Jewish identities as a justification for stripping millions of people of their basic rights.
Who are we to speak on the subject? We are Jews – French, Canadian, American, and Israeli; Ashkenazi and Sephardi; Orthodox, Reformist, and secular. We’ve been raised attending Jewish day schools and after-school programs, embracing our identities while coming to terms with the central role that one particular ideology played in our upbringing: Zionism, the support for the existence of a distinctly Jewish state. We aren’t strangers to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; in fact, many of us are directly affected by it. We have lived and travelled in Israel; we have families in Israel and friends in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It is exactly this proximity that makes the conflict all the more important to engage with. Over the past few years, we’ve been working to unpack the conflation of Judaism and Zionism, trying to figure out where in our upbringing Judaism ended and Zionism began. Recently, we started gathering as a group, grappling with our personal identities, learning and unlearning, questioning our roles within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and as Jewish anti-Zionists on this campus.

We define anti-Zionism as the opposition to the State of Israel as it exists today. We do not aim to speak for all Jews at McGill, nor for all Jewish anti-Zionists; the terms “Zionism” and “anti-Zionism” are both loaded and can be defined in many different ways, and our group members ascribe to various definitions within this range. Irrespective of these identifiers, however, we feel that we must begin to take up space in a campus discourse that has been polarized for too long. It is precisely because of our deep connection to Israel created by the consistent conflation of Judaism and Zionism that we can no longer merely question what we’ve been taught – we must take action.
Fighting for justice is integral to Jewish identity, considering the centuries of persecution and exile that constitute our people’s history. We root our actions in traditions that stem from lineages of Jewish feminist thought – such as that of Judith Plaskow, a religious studies professor at Manhattan College, who writes in Standing Again At Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective that “the economic, social, and moral costs of military occupation make it incompatible with equity within one’s own boundaries. The rightful claim of Palestinians to a land of their own renders occupation profoundly unjust.” By reclaiming Jewish traditions of resistance, we hope to encourage others to make room for a critical Jewish perspective.

Recognizing these aspects of our identities, we also believe that fighting against ongoing instances of anti-Semitism is important; anti-Semitism is real, both here and abroad. However, resisting anti-Semitism does not contradict resisting the Israeli state. While instances of anti-Semitism within BDS efforts have occurred and must be acknowledged as such, they are not representative of the majority of BDS organizing. The Israeli occupation is justified through the claim that it is necessary to Jewish safety and representative of worldwide Jewry, particularly given the legacy of the Holocaust. These claims obscure and essentialize Judaism, while dispossessing Palestinians of their lands and rights. We reject this idea, and instead stand with those oppressed by the State of Israel.

The BDS movement is not one of our own design; rather, it is answering a direct call on the ground made in 2005 by over 171 Palestinian civil society organizations. BDS puts pressure on companies that profit from the creation of settlements illegal under international law and that design military equipment used in ongoing assaults on the West Bank and Gaza. BDS campaigns are targeted tactics, rather than permanent solutions. On their own, boycotts and divestment will not dismantle Israel’s multi-billion-dollar economy, but these tactics can be used as part of a strategy to pressure a nation to cease engaging in human rights violations, with the end of South African apartheid often being lauded as an example of their successful use. The idea is to urge Israel to lift its discriminatory policies, as well as to encourage the global community to follow suit in opposing state-led violence against an occupied people.

Jewish and Israeli support for BDS can be traced through civic and human rights organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Adalah, and Independent Jewish Voices. Student unions at various academic institutions, including Northwestern University and Stanford, have adopted resolutions to lobby the administrations for divestment. McGill University holds investments in four companies that profit from the occupation either through financing of military systems or the expansion of illegal settlements: these are L-3 Communications, Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank, Bank Leumi, and RE/MAX. Campaigning for McGill to divest its holdings from these sources – less that 0.3 per cent of its total investments – would bring international attention to McGill’s condemnation of human rights violations. Moreover, at the end of the day, it’s our tuition money being invested in these companies, and it is therefore our obligation to speak out.

We believe that it is crucial for Jews and non-Jews alike to be actively engaging with and supporting BDS. It promotes dialogue surrounding complicity in the occupation and allows for a diverse range of voices to participate. Passing a motion at the GA is not an end to involvement, but a strong first step. As such, we ask both Jews and non-Jews alike to come to the SSMU GA on February 22 at 3 p.m. to mandate SSMU to lobby McGill for divestment, in solidarity with the peoples of Palestine.

We are fighting back against the common conflation of Judaism and Zionism because we believe in more than Zionism, we believe in more than the occupation, and we need to break the silence that allows for oppression to be perpetrated. Reaching these conclusions has been a lengthy process for many of us, and many of us did not start out at McGill knowing histories of Israeli violence, but had questions and sought out this community to begin to answer them. If you are a Jew at McGill and you have questions, we invite you to contact us and join us for Shabbat dinner. In the meantime, we hope to see you at the GA.

A previous version of this article incorrectly listed Yesh Din as an Israeli organization that supports BDS. In fact, Yesh Din has no official stance with regard to BDS. The Daily regrets the error.

Nit In Aundzer Nomen (Yiddish for “not in our name”) is a group of Jewish students from McGill that gathers over Shabbat dinners to engage in collective reflection and re-learning. The group takes the form of an informal discussion space or reading circle. The group can be reached at

John Paul ll and Anna Theresa

February 22, 2016

De Rosa

Peter De Rosa was one of  Great Britain’s best Catholic theologians who broke with the institution after Humanae Vitae. He left the priesthood in 1970 and became a Staff Producer for the BBC in London. He then became a full-time writer in 1978., He wrote Bless Me, Father which became a TV sensation shown in thirty-five countries. Other publications include Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy; Rebels: The Irish Uprising of 1916 and Pope Patrick a hilarious send up of papal politics. He currently lives in Bournemouth. His short book is available on Amazon



When John Paul II was beatified and canonized there was no mention of a mystery woman who had dominated his life. He called her ‘My dear Teresa Anna’.
Now his letters to Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka over a span of 30 years have just been revealed. There are hundreds of them. They constitute an essential missing fragment of his autobiography.
He had appeared before millions of Catholics in country after country and gave no hint of what he was really like or what went on deep in his mind and heart.
Those were secret places that only one p

erson had access to: his Polish compatriot Anna-Teresa. To her he was utterly devoted.
The cache of letters took the Vatican by surprise. Officials laughed at the idea of a special relationship between the Pope and a married woman as ‘smoke without mirrors’. Was this wishful thinking or one big lie?
They surely saw that this is the most devastating exposé of a public figure in our time. It is likely to influence the Church’s approach to priestly celibacy for generations to come.
The letters reveal the identity of this woman who came out from under the Vatican radar. She was married with three children and a husband very much alive. For decades, she had been more intimate with John Paul than any woman has been with any pope in centuries.
She was no Mother Teresa, either, but as beautiful as he was handsome.
For many years, from his days as Cardinal of Krakow in Poland, they vacationed together. Coloured photographs have now come to light of them together in one beauty spot after another. On occasion, he was bare to the waist in a pair of shorts, looking happy and relaxed. This scarcely suggests that he was giving the lady spiritual direction.
In his letters, he speaks of her as his ‘vocation’, the one who gave meaning to his life, first as Cardinal and then as Pope.
He gave her his most precious possession, a scapular whose full significance I bring out in this book. John Paul had worn it for over 40 years. He wanted his Teresa Anna to wear it close to her skin for the rest of her life so he could feel her presence even when they were continents apart.
She even had a hitherto unknown behind-the-scenes role in getting John Paul elected as Pope. That, too, is an intriguing story.
When he became Supreme Pontiff, she alone had free access to his private papal apartment where they often took meals together. In summers, she would spend quality time with him in his glorious retreat in Castel Gandolfo among the Alban Hills.
After he was shot four times in St Peter’s Square by a would-be assassin, she flew in from America to be by his bedside, one of the very few visitors permitted to see him.
In his final years, John Paul wrote to her many times, telling her that the happiest days of his life were spent in her home in Vermont where they walked the hills and woods together.
The day before he died, his Teresa Anna was with him to bid him goodbye.
From then on, the Vatican treated her as a nobody. That was a major blunder. The letters prove that this Nobody was the uncrowned Queen of Pope John Paul’s heart.


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