Peace Priest

Dec. 4-10, 2003

By Deacon Tom Picciano/ SUN contributing writer
Father McCarthy visits Southern Tier bringing a Gospel message of nonviolence

Johnson City — ”What’s the Good News?” That’s a question repeated by Father “Emmanuel” Charles McCarthy. Father McCarthy, a founder of Pax Christi, was the speaker at “The Gospel Call the Christian Nonviolence” on November 7-8 at St. James Church. About 85 people attended the two-day presentation.

An Eastern Rite priest and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Father McCarthy is director for the Center for Christian Nonviolence. McCarthy currently serves as rector of a seminary in Massachusetts. He’s also been a lawyer, university educator and is responsible for the Center for Peace Studies at Notre Dame. So what is the Good News in the Gospel? McCarthy noted that just 18 percent of the world is Christian, he wondered if the other 82 percent of the world could surmise that Christians were proclaiming the Good News.

“Right at this second this planet is a furnace of agony. Whether it be Binghamton, Berlin, Tokyo, it is a furnace of agony in all the little nooks and crannies in between. Agony at every level, people tormented spiritually, morally, physically, psychologically, emotionally. People being torn apart. You know, it was a furnace of agony yesterday, and the day before. Where’s the Good News?” he asked. Father McCarthy pointed to a bloody 20th century. “More people were killed in war then than in all the centuries combined up to that time,” he said.

As the 21st century dawned, Father McCarthy said that while the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center claimed more than 2,700 lives, that’s not the whole picture. He said that’s forgetting that 160,000 people die all over the world every day. He also repeated the question, “Where’s the peace?” “There’s only one possibility for peace. That possibility is that God is exactly who Jesus says he is,” Father McCarthy said. “God is unconditionally, infinitely loving, parent of each and every human being, that infinitely values and infinitely loves each and everyone.” “We are called to love what God loves,” he said. “We’re called to love that person as God loves that person, multiplied six-and-a-half billion times.” Father McCarthy questioned how Christians, past and present, could use violent means to find peace. “Who can see a Christian with a machine gun ready to blow somebody apart and say here comes Jesus? A father ready to whack his kids, here comes Jesus,” he said. “A machine gun is no more lethal than a broomstick without the will to kill,” he told the audience. Father McCarthy displayed a grisly poster during a portion of his talk. It showed a girl in her father’s arms. Her legs were bloodied and her face ashen. That photo was taken earlier this year in Iraq. He compared it to Michelange-lo’s Pieta. “When a child’s body is in a grave, what can politics do for her? Zero. This is what Jesus comes for,” Father McCarthy said.

McCarthy told the conference participants that they’re called to nonviolence by the Gospel. “Try to get people to use their minds to understand and their hearts to hear, because there’s a world out there that needs to know that God infinitely loves them or else they can never have peace,” he said. “And the only way they can know it, not to be just told it in words, but to be manifest in action. Even at the cost of life or less money, comfort.”

Father McCarthy said peace leads to salvation. “Nonviolent love of friends and enemies as revealed by Jesus is the one way to eternal life,” he said. Father McCarthy said that people have the possibility of doing something significant in the world. “The choice is, do we accept our commission by Jesus, or say Jesus didn’t mean what he said, or ignore it?” he asked.

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