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  • Bob Waldrop
    ... Subject: FAST FOOD: Thirty-Eighth Helping Date: Wed, 7 Aug 2013 00:40:29 -0400 From: Emmanuel Charles McCarthy To:
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 6, 2013
      -------- Original Message --------
      Subject: FAST FOOD: Thirty-Eighth Helping
      Date: Wed, 7 Aug 2013 00:40:29 -0400
      From: Emmanuel Charles McCarthy <emmanuel222@...>
      To: undisclosed-recipients:;


      *for the*


      FAST FOOD: Thirty-Eighth Helping

      *A True Story from Church History*

      Don Lorenzo Milani (1923-1967) was an Italian Catholic priest who
      unambiguously and undauntedly proclaimed the Nonviolent Jesus of the
      Gospels and His Nonviolent Way./�It is all too easy to demonstrate,�/he
      wrote/, �that Jesus was opposed to violence and that He did not accept
      even legitimate self defense, per se.�/


      Lorenzo was brought up in fascist Italy. He was ordained a priest in
      1947. His first priestly assignment was to the parish of San Donato in
      Calenzano, a run down urban neighborhood in an industrial zone. He
      caught on immediately with the younger parishioners, but not all the
      adults. He noticed that many young people left school in their mid-teens
      to work in the factories in order to eke out a borderline subsistence

      To respond to this Milani proceeded put together an after-hours
      institute for them to learn. To learn not only, or even primarily, how
      to pass the National School Exam, but how to think and judge and make
      decisions that always had the good of the community in mind. He
      regularly invited artists, labor union leaders, politicians, farmers,
      professors, artisan, scientists, technicians etc. to speak to and to be
      questioned by the students. These dirt-poor dropouts were�as many said
      later in their adult years�surprised that they had such an appetite for
      learning and such an ability to learn.

      Don Lorenzo, however, was not wise in the ways of the curia. Being
      liberal, being well liked by the young, being exceptionally competent in
      his undertakings, being the bearer of an aspect of Catholic orthodoxy,
      Gospel nonviolence, that was not understood, apparently cause the
      arrival of many dark spirits among his ordained colleagues, who made
      sure that negative words concerning him were born back to higher-ups in
      the archdiocese. By the grace of God he had two highly respected priests
      in their seventies who protected him.

      Within a few weeks after the second of these two priests died, Don
      Lorenzo was given a new assignment. He was assigned to Barbiana, a
      church in the woods on a hillside above Mugello. The area had no water,
      no postal service, no road, and no electricity. The Archdiocese of
      Florence had no more remote and no more impoverished church than
      Barbiana. Don Lorenzo was acutely aware of what was going on, but no
      longer had any protectors or supporters among the clergy.

      He looked about him in Barbiana and saw the obvious.Brutalizing poverty
      and its inevitable consequence. The educational opportunities available
      to the children in the area were atrocious, as Milani understood they
      were intended to be, so that poorly educated poor youngsters would
      simply have as their only option disappearing into the factories of the
      large cities and giving their labor for bare-bones wages. He had been,
      even before ordination, a severe critic of educational opportunities
      being tied to economic class. So, he did what he did in his first
      parish, he opened a school in his house.After a few years his �scholars�
      would journey into one of the large cities and take the national
      examination. Years passed without a single pupil failing in a single
      exam or in a single subject.

      Lorenzo and his school became famous. His creative, radical approach to
      teaching and learning were recognized and honored far beyond Italy. A
      book that he wrote with his students, Letter to a Teacher, has been
      translated into forty languages and is considered a pedagogical classic.

      Then in February 1965 something happened. At that time Italy had no laws
      permitting conscientious objection to war. Conscription was universal
      for teenage males. However, in the previous year or so a few Catholic
      young men, as a matter of Christian conscience, chose to accept
      prosecution and imprisonment rather than accept going into the Italian
      military. This generated some public discussion of the issue of
      conscientious objection to war. On February 11, 1965, a group of retired
      military chaplains publicly expressed their indignation at conscientious
      objection and in particular at conscientious objectors in a statement
      which was carried in the press. Its concluding paragraph read in part:


      /�As for what some call �conscientious objection�, the chaplains
      consider it to be an insult to the Fatherland and to the Fallen, as
      something alien to the Christian commandment of love, and as an
      expression of cowardice.�/

      Within less than a month Don Lorenzo and his pupils composed a reply to
      the military chaplains of Tuscany who signed the public statement. Don
      Lorenzo signed the statement and sent it to newspapers and magazines. It
      read in part:

      /�Tell us military chaplains what you in fact have taught the soldiers.
      Obedience at all cost? What if orders were for the bombardment of
      civilians, a reprisal mission against a defenseless village, the summary
      execution of a partisan, the use of atomic, bacteriological or chemical
      weapons, torture, the execution of hostages, the drum-head trial of mere
      suspects, a war of obvious offensive aggression, an order from an
      officer in revolt against the sovereign people, or the repression of
      public demonstrations? Let us page through history together.�/[Milani
      then goes on for pages detailing the atrocities in the name of obedience
      committed by the Italian military in all of Italy�s wars during the
      prior hundred years, e.g. Mussolini�s ordering the mass gassing of

      He then continues,


      /�These actions and many others of the sort are the bread and butter of
      war. When they took place in front of your eyes either you lied or you
      kept silent. Or do you wish us to believe that you have been insisting
      on the truth time after time, eye-to-eye with your �superiors� in
      defiance of prison or death? If you still have your lives and your
      promotions, it is a sign that you have raised no objection at all./


      /Certainly we owe our Fallen troops our respect. They were hapless
      farmers and workers who were turned into aggressors by military
      obedience. The same military obedience you chaplains glorify./


      /Let us respect suffering and death and pray for those unfortunate
      people who have, through no fault of their own, been poisoned by the
      propaganda of hatred. But let us not dangerously confuse the young
      people, who look to us priests, to learn about good and evil, about
      truth and error, about the death of an aggressor and the death of a
      victim. /


      Don Lorenzo�s response appeared in its entirety in /La Rinascita/, the
      magazine of the Communist Party in Italy. When Pope Paul VI sent word to
      Milani that he thought it indiscreet to have his response to the
      military chaplains published in a Communist journal, Milani responded
      that he did it only because the Catholic press refused to carry it.

      A few months later a criminal complaint was filed against Don Lorenzo by
      a veterans� organization demanding prosecution of him for his response
      to the military chaplains. The Magistrate accepted the complaint and
      instituted criminal proceedings against him for incitement to criminal
      activity, advocating criminal activity, subversion of the constitutional
      system and endangering public order.

      On February 15, 1966 the Fourth Criminal Division of the Tribunal of
      Rome acquitted Don Lornezo Milani of all charges.

      However, under Italian law the acquittal is subject to appeal by the
      prosecutor. The prosecutor doggedly appealed until, over a year and a
      half later, the Court of Appeals in Rome handed down its decision on
      October 28, 1967, in the case of the Republic of Italy versus Don
      Lorenzo Milani: /�Guilty.�/The verdict came four months after Don
      Lorenzo had died of leukemia on June 26, 1967.


      Note: Much of the material for this FAST FOOD Helping comes from a book,
      A Just War No Longer Exists, by Biblical theologian James T. Burtchell,
      C.S.C, whose scholarly work decades ago first introduced the heroic
      Christian life of Don Lorenzo Milani to the English speaking world.


      <http://www.centerforchristiannonviolence.org> or
      www.emmanuelcharlesmccarthy.org <http://www.emmanuelcharlesmccarthy.org>

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