Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Unrepentant Jesuit

A Trident Submarine
Fr. William "Bill" Bischel, S.J. was behind the perimeter fence line for over four hours before the and his group cut through the final fence, triggering a response from military personnel. "We cut through the second fence, which had a lot of sensors on it," says Bischel.  
"We got through. We were carrying banners with us that said 'Disarm now.' We carried some of our own blood to spill on the ground." Bischel and the others were arrested and charged, and late last year they were found guilty on all counts of conspiracy, trespassing and destruction of government property.
Their motivation for breaking into the base had no malicious intent, Bischel says. It was to warn of the dangers of nuclear weapons, and make people aware of the nuclear warheads near Bremerton. "It's probably the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the United States that are there to arm eight Trident submarines, and there's 24 missiles on each submarine, each missile carries weapons that are anywhere from six to 30 times the power of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima," he says. "It's in our back yard. I couldn't ignore that. It's a big pile of death that is there." 
The group's objective was not allowed to be entered in the federal court testimony, nor was Bischel's justification for the property crimes. "If you were going down the road and a house was burning and there's a child or a person trapped in the upper story, you don't ask if you can break down the door to get in. We certainly liken our action to that," Bischel says. 
Prosecutors say the protesters went too far when they broke into a secure area, endangering themselves and military guards. Bischel and the others will be sentenced at the end of this month - March 28th - and they each face up to 10 years in prison. Bischel has no regrets and no remorse for what he did. He would do it again. "You could say I'm unrepentant," says Bischel.

Link (here)


TonyD said...

This is only vaguely related, but I once spent an evening with Edward Teller (he has been burned in effigy worldwide as the “Father of the atomic bomb”, though even his role is largely secret). He told me some things that I’d never read in any of the official histories.

He was very angry about the bomb being dropped on Japan. Apparently, ideas were circulated at the time about dropping it off the Japanese coast, and then on land if they kept fighting. Also, he invented the bomb because fellow physicists who had escaped from Germany had heard about a “big bomb” project, and he knew that it would be easy to build such a bomb (contrary to government disinformation.) His friends and some family members had been killed by Hitler. He told me “I didn’t gather the best physicists in the world to build a bomb. Mechanics build bombs.” The physicists were there to figure out if they would destroy the planet when the bomb detonated. They were unable to determine if it would destroy the world, and a vote showed that they were divided about 50/50 on whether it would, but Truman chose to detonate the bomb anyway.

You won’t find confirmation of this story in the official histories. But you will find many physicists who were there who speak of the “important vote” and “nights without sleep before the vote” and vague references to the world hanging in the balance based on their vote (a vote on whether their calculations indicated the world would be destroyed).

As for the these Jesuits, I’d rather see them sacrifice themselves to change our society so that it represents the values of the public – even if the public wants nuclear weapons – and regardless of whether that government is Democratic or Communist or Marxist. Any of those governments can be oppressive or support free will. Of course, Jesuits are not limited to being a role model for “love your neighbor”. If anything, that is just a start at reflecting God’s values.

Joseph Fromm said...

Interesting Tony D

Stewart said...

I guess this means the activity was a sin and no firm purpose of amendment.

TonyD said...

Over the years, I’ve read more Catholic definitions of sin than I can count. But I prefer to describe sin as representing a degree of "alignment with God's values". The concept of alignment also implies that there are two sets of values: God’s and those being judged. So this wording recognizes that there is a context to judgment.

I wouldn’t describe the Jesuits as sinning, and I wouldn’t describe Teller as sinning. These Jesuits mistakenly placed “life” above the values of their neighbors. They were doing the right thing, but for the wrong reason. In the case of Teller, he said that he felt he had to save the world from a German atomic bomb. He correctly reflected the values of his neighbors at that time, but he used poor judgment and did the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Both reflect their imperfection. More lessons are required for them, so some might describe them as sinners.

There is a value that justifies such protests and invalidates Teller’s logic. It is the same value that causes the sins of the father to be the sins of his children. And it is the same value that makes it impossible to define our own measures. It is the value of sustainability – which is a specific form of responsibility.