A growing number of veterans, and relative of veterans, have signed a statement supporting the recent removal of a sword embedded in a cross at a WW1 memorial in Toowong cemetery, Brisbane. The sword was then beaten into a garden hoe in what is known as a “ploughshares action”. The support statement describes the act by the pacifist Catholic Worker activists as “an act of repair”. Among others, signatories include a British SAS veteran from the recent invasion of Iraq, an 85 year old D-Day Royal Navy veteran, U.S. Vietnam veterans and Australians whose relatives served in World War 1 and other wars.

The statement reads, “We are aware that since its creation in the 1930’s, by founders Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day, the Catholic Worker movement has always embraced military veterans. Some of the most courageous anti-war activists in the Catholic Worker movement have been military veterans: Phil Berrigan, Peter DeMott and Joshua Casteel for example.

“In the United States, Europe and Australia, Catholic Workers offer support to military veterans who are homeless on the streets or imprisoned as well as to veterans groups organising for peace and justice.

“We are also aware how the state manipulates sentiment around the war dead to recruit young men and women for present and future wars. We are aware of the mainstream Churches’ general failure to follow Jesus in opposing war, instead blessing war and war preparations. We are aware of the many ways in which Christian symbols have been exploited to facilitate further bloodletting.

“We see the action carried out by the Catholic Workers in Brisbane not as anti-soldier or anti-military veteran or indeed as damage to the war memorial itself. We see the act of removing the sword from the cross as an act of repair to the memorial.  We look forward to the continued and complete repair and restoration of the cross without further desecration by weapons of war.”

Ciaron O’Reilly, a Catholic Worker who initiated the solidarity statement in support of his fellow activists stated,

“Anyone with any capacity for honest reflection realises that a sword has no place on a cross, they are mutually exclusive symbols.

“The co-option of the mainstream churches in blessing wars, or maintaining a housebroken silence in the face of them, is sadly an historic fact.

“This act of removing the sword from the cross is significant and prophetic at a time when we are on a nuclear precipice on the Korean peninsula and are fifteen years into a ‘war on terrorism’ in Afghanistan and expanding across the Middle East with no end in sight. We need to be standing in solidarity with people exposing and nonviolently resisting war inside and outside the military.

“We look forward to many more veterans, and relatives of veterans, signing the statement and to the eventual acquittal of Andy Paine, Tim Webb, Jim and Franz Dowling.”

More info: https://swordtoplowshare.net/