On Monday, November 16th, the Baltimore Nonviolence Center will gather at Loyola University Maryland, a private Jesuit liberal arts school in Baltimore, to commemorate the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador killed on this day in 1989 by soldiers trained by the United States military. The witness will take place from 4 to 5 PM on the corner of North Charles Street and Coldspring Avenue. All are welcome.
The Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J.,
Loyola University Maryland
4501 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21210
November 16, 2020
Dear Rev. Linnane,
Today, we are remembering the murder of six Jesuit priests, Joaquín López y López, Ignacio Martín-Baró, Ignacio Ellacuría, Amando López, Juan Ramón Moreno and Segundo Montes, and their cook Julia Elba Ramos and her 16-year-old daughter Celina Maricet Ramos. We cannot forget this ugly atrocity, and thus we will commemorate that event. As part of the commemoration, we are pleading with you to close down the Reserve Officers Training Corps [ROTC] program at Loyola University Maryland. As you know, our government was complicit in this awful tragedy as it supported the death squad government in El Salvador. As you know, more than 55% of the discretionary budget goes towards war-making, including maintaining a nuclear weapons arsenal. As you know, U.S. soldiers were sent to Iraq on the pretext of the government having weapons of mass destruction. This was false, and the invasion and continued occupation of Iraq may be the greatest foreign policy debacle in U.S. history.
The above has to be examined in context of the situation in Baltimore. Some 25% of the population lives in poverty. Finding drug treatment or affordable housing or safe streets is very difficult for so many of our residents. And the legacy of racism remains rampant in this city. We thank you for bringing Rev. William Barber to the campus in January, as we were moved tremendously by his talk about poor people and their suffering in this land of plenty.
In 2017, you indicated that you were “proud of the many Loyola ROTC graduates who serve our nation in the United States Army.” Nevertheless, we are still hoping to meet with you so that we can make an argument to close down the ROTC program at this Jesuit university. This program is a theft from the poor. Tax dollars are always available for warmongering, but rarely for improving Baltimore’s aging infrastructure. You could make a profound statement by closing down ROTC and indicating you are doing so as a protest against out-of-control military spending which is a detriment to solving a myriad number of social issues. You could then indicate that you are initiating a Peace Studies program in its place.
As you are aware the Jesuits were founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola, a former soldier. To become a companion of Jesus Christ, he surrendered his weapons of war and the glory of being a soldier of the court to become One with the poor and vulnerable. An ROTC program dishonors a Jesuit university. And more recently, you should reflect on the words of another Jesuit, Pope Francis.
In his new encyclical Fratelli Tutti, he wrote that it is "very difficult" to invoke the Just War theory today because of the immense brutality of today’s combat. And the Vatican was the first State to ratify the United Nations Treaty to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons. On January 22, 2021, nuclear weapons will be illegal under international law. The U.S. military obviously possesses a nuclear arsenal. So come January will the ROTC program at Loyola inform the cadets that nuclear weapons are now illegal?
We feel that it is hypocritical for a Christian institution to host military training on campus, teaching war and promoting violence as a means to increasing the profits for the military industrial complex and protecting the resources of the wealthy. Loyola, by hosting ROTC, is giving implicit permission to young Christian men and women that it is all right to learn to kill and maim others in order to get an education. Several years ago, Pope Francis said ”The words of the Gospel do not authorize in any way the use of force in spreading the faith. It is precisely the contrary. The true force of the Christian is the force of truth and love, which means rejecting all violence. Faith and violence are incompatible! But faith and strength go together. The Christian is not violent, but s/he is strong. And with what strength? That of meekness, the force of meekness, the force of love.“
Christ by word and deed taught us to LOVE OUR ENEMIES, and do GOOD to those who persecute us and do all manner of evil against us. The military teaches impressionable students to maim or kill the enemy deemed so by the U.S. government. And it must be noted that the Trump administration is well-recognized for its bellicose and dangerous rhetoric. Members of the ROTC program at Loyola may be sent into harm’s way to fight an illegal war. And a soldier will have to make a difficult decision: Should s/he obey an illegal order?
“When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men. The Church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool.” ---Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
By hosting the Department of Defense [sic] on campus, Loyola is condoning the current military budget and ongoing conflicts as a result of unbridled military power. Military spending is not a Christian way of helping people. As Christians, we believe that war is never the answer. As Christians, we have a responsibility to provide succor to the poor, not to create more poor people at home and abroad.
Christ, who was persecuted and oppressed, remained nonviolent in word and deed all of his life; and He invited us to do the same. We ask the university to teach Christian values, and begin teaching its students that Christians MAY USE ONLY NONVIOLENT means to effect change in others. As followers of Christ, we must love our “enemies,” and not fall victim to an oppressive government whose essence it is to find enemies. As you know, war is a racket, and corporate behemoths profit from wars. So these corporations make significant “donations” to members of Congress in order to ensure that the military-industrial complex thrives.
We look forward to having a dialogue with you. We found this on the university web site: “Loyola will become the leader in defining, promoting, and advancing Ignatian citizenship. The University will begin by cultivating a campus-wide ethos of Ignatian citizenship, promoting thoughtful and active civic and global engagement among all members of our community. Loyola will establish the Ignatian Citizenship Commons; seek, embrace, and promote diversity, equity, and inclusiveness; and foster responsible and active citizenship on campus, and on local, regional, national, and global scales.”
rhythmsofthedance1 at Gmail dot com