phere, then leave us with ghost towns; you will require us to provide services for the work crews, then tell us you do not need us any longer. “Worst of all, when it is finished, you will have made us a primary target for enemy bombs, with the MX Missile System to the west, north and south of us, and the Pantex atomic warhead assembly plant to the east of us. What choice will you leave us but to pick up our belongings and follow a new Trail of Tears? For how can we in conscience leave innocent people, especially the children, at the verS , center of a target area? “I do not ask you to move the MX Missile System elsewhere. I ask you to forget it entirely. We do not want it, anywhere. No system which guarantees the destruction of innocent men, women, and children is morally acceptable. You know better than I that the present atomic armament race is madness. That we can assure the destruction of the enemy even as we are being destroyed ourselves make it no less mad. We must find some other way to deter the enemy, to defend our country, to protect innocent lives. “The enormously high cost of the proposed MX Missile Systern makes dramatically prophetic the words of the late Dwight D. Eisenhower, military general and president: ‘Every rocket fired, every warship that is launched, in the final sense is a theft from those who are hungry.’ “We must take a new course. ‘Peace,’ said the late Albert Einstein, ‘cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.’ “In our Roman Catholic tradition, the late Pope John XXIII said that ‘it is hardly possible to imagine that in the atomic era war could be used as an instrument of justice.’ And our present Holy Father, John Paul II, pleads: ‘Do not kill! Do not prepare destruction and extermination for men!’ “I beg you, do not turn our ranchlands and our farmlands into wastelands and bases for your terrible engines of destruction. Do not turn our ploughshares back into swords!” “I AM SHOCKED and surprised he’d get involved,” the mayor of Amarillo, Rick Klein, told the Amarillo Globe-News. The mayor regretted that the Bishop felt “the necessity to not take care of church matters but to take care of politics instead.” “Klein said he considers Pantex a tremendous asset to the area because it brings revenue to the area and is a larger employer of the people here,” the paper reported. what was going on at Pantex until recently. After his statement a woman worker at Pantex called him saying she thought she was doing the right thing and a postcard suggested he should go to Russia to stay, but most people favored his statement, he said. He was not requiring Catholic Pantex workers to quit, but “to consider the implications of what they are doing,” he said. By early September, Matthiesen told the Observer, his mail continued to run about three-to-one in support of his position. “At first people just reacted it went from ‘You bum’ to `You saint,’ ” he said. “I am now getting some very thoughtful kinds of responses. Those who do not support my position nevertheless recognize the horror that nuclear war could be. But they say it’s idealistic, we have to be realistic, we have to keep up with the Russians, the communists.” Or his correspondents simply agree with him, he said. Judging only from the Amarillo paper, the other citizens and clergy in Amarillo reacted with boilerplate pro-military patriotism. The city manager, John Stiff: “Our country should be extremely strong in defense.” A city commissioner, Beau Boulter: “I’m real proud of Pantex they do a job vital to our country.” Dr. James Caroll of the First Presbyterian Church: “If the enlightened military thinking feels that the neutron bomb can be an effective deterrent then we need to give heed to this kind of thinking.” Rev. Arnold Holley, director of pastoral care at High Plains Baptist Hospital: “I think that his statement is idealistic. . . . To give up our strength as a nation is giving up to aggression.” Lyndon Latham, president of the Amarillo Ministerial Assn.: “It would be suicidal for a nation to not be prepared.” Pantex workers, including some Catholics, quoted by the Amarillo paper, said about the same thing. “If we don’t make a neutron bomb, the Russians will,” said Henry Ornelas. Don Bailey said the U.S. has to build the neutron bomb to keep up with the Russians, Bailey added that the Bishop’s statement wouldn’t have any bearing at Pantex, some employees out there “don’t even know what they’re doing.” The Amarillo paper also reported, “Dan Stewart, a Pantex worker, described the Bishop’s statements as ‘idealistic.’ He said if they didn’t do the job someone else would.” THIS HAPPENS to be the same argument if he hadn’t done it, someone else would have which Adolph Eichmann used to justify his supervision of the transporting of millions of captive civilian Jews and others to the Nazi gas chambers. No analogy? Visualize the world 30 minutes after nuclear war begins. Half a billion, a billion, two billion dead. Visualize it. Now, try to imagine 30 hours. later. Try: I won’t help you: try. Then, 30 years later. No analogy? Challenging the 2,400 workers at the plant where all U.S. nuclear weapons, without exception, are assembled, challenging them to consider what they are doing, this heretofore littleknown Bishop of the High Plains has taken the plain high ground in the still piteously faint debate upon which the future of life on the earth depends. This is the work of prophecy, this is the moral use of powers, for now that Bishop Matthiesen, alone among Catholic Bishops or any other Bishops, as far as I know has raised this question, it must be faced. Although when she telephoned clergymen in Amarillo asking for comment on Matthiesen’s statement, San Antonio columnist Jan Jarboe heard mostly silence, Rabbi Martin S. Scharf said he agreed with the Bishop for “practical, moral, and ethical reasons. . . . I can think of a lot of ways to spend money rather than spend trillions on arms, especially when we already have the capability to destroy the planet.” What is the morality of helping to make nuclear bombs one of which can kill a million human beings? But then, what is the morality of being the young military people who are stationed in the underground silos trained and primed to send the nuclear missiles whistling through the air to kill millions of their fellow human beings unbeknownst forever to them? And, well, then, what is the morality of the balance of terror, and our government’s refusal for the whole duration of the 36 years since Hiroshima to pledge never to make first use of nuclear weapons, and the return to nerve gas the whole deathly cycle and sickness of fantastic preparation for warmaking in the name of keeping the peace? And, so, finally, what is the morality of nations and leaders forever failing to take the mortal risks for peace unilateral de-escalation, a department of peace instead of a department of war, the beginning of conversion from militarism to production for human welfare? Bishop Matthiesen has honored his fellow West Texans, our state, and our country, and he has enriched the tradition of his church. Now where are the rest of the church leaders? Ministers, rabbis, priests, bishops, archbishops, oh ye of ethics and the soul: Why do we not hear you? THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5
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