Catholic theologican arrives in Baghdad - news from ekklesia on theology and politics from a christian perspective

Catholic theologican arrives in Baghdad - news from ekklesia on theology and politics from a christian perspective

By staff writers
2 Apr 2003

Catholic theologian arrives in Baghdad

-2/4/2003

A Catholic theologian has arrived in Baghdad, hoping to take a stand with Iraqi civilians in the midst of the war.

Jim Douglass, who has written four books on the theology of non-violence, has also made four humanitarian trips to Iraq since the Gulf War.

Making a 15-hour journey to Baghdad from Jordan on Thursday, he was stopped once by U.S. troops, once by Iraqi troops," said Douglass' wife, Shelley, talking to the Birmingham News.

He and several other peace activists are now sleeping in the Al Wathab Water Treatment Plant.

Douglass is no stranger to military matters. He joined the army, after leaving a nuclear physics program at the University of California.

He then took up theological studies on war and peace, and found himself in Rome during the Second Vatican Council, where he advised bishops who were shaping the document to recognise conscientious objection as an option for Catholics.

Speaking about the reasons behind her husbandís trip alongside other peace makers Shelley Douglass said, ìthey do not intend to act as human shieldsî.

"Their agenda is to be there with the people who are suffering and report what they see."

Shelley Douglass who grew up in a CIA family posted to Switzerland, Pakistan and Germany continued; ìWe have media embedded with the military, but we don't have many media embedded with the people of Iraq", she said.

Remaining in the USA and continuing to run a Catholic Worker house for the homeless in Birmingham Alabama, she said she hasn't talked with her husband of 32 years since he arrived in Iraq.

"All the telephone lines have been bombed," she said although she received an e-mail from him on Sunday.

In his dispatch from Baghdad, Douglass described why he went.

"While I was slow in choosing to come here and arrived at almost the last possible moment, now I feel like it's the place where God wants me to be for a while longer," he wrote.

"I can't say I'm clear on what I can do in any effective way and may only end up writing words that I'm unable to send to you. Even so, I feel I should simply be with these people who are being attacked and destroyed in terrible ways."

He also described the scene in the midst of bombing.

"As dusk falls, I can hear my government's bombs marching to the drum of a Pentagon computer across the city. I saw some of the terrible consequences of yesterday's bombs. Who is under the bombs tonight? The prayers from the mosque continue, punctuated by explosions."

Douglass wrote that he was received warmly by Iraqis, even though they are angered by the bombing.

"One often sees Iraqis fingering prayer beads. This is a people that prays openly all the time, one reason, perhaps, why so many of them speak warmly and gently to citizens of a country bombing them night and day."

"You just have to put it in God's hands," she said. "I'm worried about all the people there."

Catholic theologian arrives in Baghdad

-2/4/2003

A Catholic theologian has arrived in Baghdad, hoping to take a stand with Iraqi civilians in the midst of the war.

Jim Douglass, who has written four books on the theology of non-violence, has also made four humanitarian trips to Iraq since the Gulf War.

Making a 15-hour journey to Baghdad from Jordan on Thursday, he was stopped once by U.S. troops, once by Iraqi troops," said Douglass' wife, Shelley, talking to the Birmingham News.

He and several other peace activists are now sleeping in the Al Wathab Water Treatment Plant.

Douglass is no stranger to military matters. He joined the army, after leaving a nuclear physics program at the University of California.

He then took up theological studies on war and peace, and found himself in Rome during the Second Vatican Council, where he advised bishops who were shaping the document to recognise conscientious objection as an option for Catholics.

Speaking about the reasons behind her husbandís trip alongside other peace makers Shelley Douglass said, ìthey do not intend to act as human shieldsî.

"Their agenda is to be there with the people who are suffering and report what they see."

Shelley Douglass who grew up in a CIA family posted to Switzerland, Pakistan and Germany continued; ìWe have media embedded with the military, but we don't have many media embedded with the people of Iraq", she said.

Remaining in the USA and continuing to run a Catholic Worker house for the homeless in Birmingham Alabama, she said she hasn't talked with her husband of 32 years since he arrived in Iraq.

"All the telephone lines have been bombed," she said although she received an e-mail from him on Sunday.

In his dispatch from Baghdad, Douglass described why he went.

"While I was slow in choosing to come here and arrived at almost the last possible moment, now I feel like it's the place where God wants me to be for a while longer," he wrote.

"I can't say I'm clear on what I can do in any effective way and may only end up writing words that I'm unable to send to you. Even so, I feel I should simply be with these people who are being attacked and destroyed in terrible ways."

He also described the scene in the midst of bombing.

"As dusk falls, I can hear my government's bombs marching to the drum of a Pentagon computer across the city. I saw some of the terrible consequences of yesterday's bombs. Who is under the bombs tonight? The prayers from the mosque continue, punctuated by explosions."

Douglass wrote that he was received warmly by Iraqis, even though they are angered by the bombing.

"One often sees Iraqis fingering prayer beads. This is a people that prays openly all the time, one reason, perhaps, why so many of them speak warmly and gently to citizens of a country bombing them night and day."

"You just have to put it in God's hands," she said. "I'm worried about all the people there."

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