Study War No More

Santa Clara University Students Come to Vigil hoping to Dialogue


On Friday, October 14, 2016, Catholic Workers, Jesuits, and others from the Pacific Life Community went to the Santa Clara University Mission before Mass to hold banners and hand out flyers about the ROTC program at the University. They were joined by Ken Butigan, who had given a talk the night before at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Ken had been a participant in the Vatican Conference on Nonviolence.  Ken talked about the challenge of moving from violence to nonviolence, and the hope for the church to understand and practice active nonviolence (the Gospel mandate)  as a method of addressing the violence and injustice of our time. The contradiction of a Jesuit university teaching ROTC students to kill, despite Gospel mandates to the contrary,  was brought up, and everyone was invited to the vigil the next day.

banners2At the vigil, we were greeted with smiles from many students, who have talked with us on other occasions. Many took our leaflets, although campus security and the Santa Clara police showed up, as usual, to tell us to leave.


Ken Butigan and Fred Mercy, SJ hand out leaflets calling for SCU to close their ROTC program.

Our plan was to vigil and then go to Mass. As we were preparing to go into the Mission, a class of students, and their professor, Dr. Riley, came up hoping to talk with us. Fumi Tosu went immediately over to talk to the students. He was joined by two other war resisters Fr. Louis Vitale, OFM and Fred Mercy, S.J.. in addressing the students. Some of us held a banner that read “Close ROTC, Study Nonviolence”.

The students had many thoughtful questions, but the conversation was cut short by the campus security who insisted that the police force us to leave or make arrests.  Dr. Riley, a professor of Religious Studies at the university,  asked if the conversation could continue in his classroom.  John Loretto,  Assistant Director of Campus Safety Services, said that the conversation could not continue in the classroom and that we had to leave or get arrested.

At that point, we walked into the church for Mass. Then unexpectedly the police came into the church, and without warning, put Fumi in a compliance hold, arrested him, and took him out of the church. img_7285Fumi was taken to a Santa Clara police substation, where he was given a Trespass Violation Admonishment, charged with trespass, cited, and released.  He has a court date Tuesday, Dec 13, 2016 at 9 am, in the Superior Court in San Jose. (Go to Casa de Clara facebook page    for more information about the court and the San Jose Catholic Workers)


(this picture and the picture in the church taken by a student at Santa Clara University)

For us at the Redwood City Catholic worker, we see the economic results of our nation’s warmaking everyday. For example,  Janine sleeps on the sidewalk, (picture below) her pillow the cement curb. She needs housing and perhaps mental health care. But instead of helping her, and many others in need, we as a nation spend 54% of our discretionary tax dollars on war making and war preparation. That’s about 6 billion dollars. That 6 billion is money that should, in the name of justice, be spent on meeting the human and environmental needs.


A Call to End ROTC at Santa Clara University

On Sunday, September 18, 2016, some of the Pacific Life Community went to Santa Clara University to attend Mass, and to suggest that the University close their ROTC program.

It was the welcoming Mass for students and parents, and many people were there. The Mass was moved from the Mission to the Athletic building. We walked through the university grounds with our signs and banners. The school security told us that we could not be there, however we said that the sign on the Mission said that all were welcome, and we continued. When we got to the building, we held banners and handed out leaflets. The university security called the local police. The police came. Perhaps because there were so many parents and families around, the police did nothing. Many people stopped to talk with us, and some20160918_095211 were supportive.

When Mass was about to start, we folded up our banners to go inside. The police stepped up and told us that we would be arrested if we went to Mass. Some of us were already headed in and did not hear the intimidating words, and went to the service. Others were escorted out to the university property line.


A Call to End ROTC at Santa Clara University

Catholic universities exist to serve the Gospel. Santa Clara University engages this core mission through various programs including Campus Ministry and the Ignatian Center. Yet we believe SCU fundamentally betrays the Gospel by continuing to sponsor military training through its ROTC program. Jesus’ message is clear: Love your enemies; do good to those who persecute you. In contrast, ROTC teaches students to kill our enemies. We call on the Board of Trustees, the Society of Jesus, and all members of the SCU community to follow the example of the nonviolent Jesus and remove ROTC from Santa Clara University. The San Jose Catholic Worker, the Redwood City Catholic Worker and Pacific Life Community vigiled in front of the Mission Santa Clara de Asis on September 24, 2015, as part of the Campaign Nonviolence week of actions.

We understand that for many ROTC cadets, ROTC is their only means of paying for college. But can a Catholic, Jesuit school not find alternative scholarship opportunities that do not betray the core message of Jesus? Jesus chose to suffer crucifixion rather than retaliate with force against his enemies, and calls us to do the same. We must find another way.

Nonviolence vs. Just War Theory

SCU ROTC Action 24 September 2015 - 49 of 111

Peggy Coleman, Mary Jane Parrine and Ed Ehmke hand out leaflets–a chance for dialogue.

The Catholic tradition has two strands of thought regarding the use of force: active nonviolence, which was the Church’s only position for the first 300 years, and the Just War theory, developed starting in the 4th century. We stand with the early Church in promoting total active nonviolence. Yet even from a just war perspective, ROTC is problematic. To take just one example, the US bishops declared that the Iraq war was unjust. Yet Catholic universities throughout the country continued to train officers to fight in this war.

Catholic Worker hands out flyers about nonviolence at the vigil.

Lisa Washio hands out flyers about nonviolence at the vigil.

As Pope Francis recently reminded us: Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.” The cycle of violence won’t stop until the killing stops. And in the midst of our country’s never ending warmaking, love, empathy, tenderness and kindness that makes us human is dismissed as naive, impractical, weak and unpatriotic.

In front of the Mission there are crosses for the El Salvador Jesuit martyrs. Fr. Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J., one of the martyred Jesuits, had previously spoken about ROTC: “Tell the Jesuits [in the United States] that they are committing mortal sin because they are supporting the forces of death which are killing our people.”  ROTC today prepares students to join the forces of death that are killing our brothers and sisters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and other countries where people are declared to be our enemies.

Join us at regular nonviolent vigils at Santa Clara University. The next vigil is at 9 am, December 4, 2016.

The vigil at Santa Clara University was part of the Campaign Nonviolence week of actions, to make the ideas and work of nonviolence visible and mainstream.

Mary Jane Parrine hands out flyers. This vigil was part of the Campaign Nonviolence week of action.

SCU ROTC Action 24 September 2015 - 64 of 111

Bob and Janet Aldridge hand out leaflets to students.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s