Father Roy Bourgeois is a 64-year-old former Naval officer, Vietnam veteran, Purple Heart recipient and founder of the SOA Watch. Born in the Bayou country of Louisiana, he, like many during the heady years of the Pax Americana Cold War, voluntarily accepted the mission of defending the United States. After Vietnam and a series of personal transformations, Bourgeois entered the Maryknoll Missionary Order and was ordained a Maryknoll priest in 1972.
Father Roy Bourgeois, on a recent visit to St. Thomas Aquinas Church, spoke about the war in Iraq.
The catalyst responsible for his current vocation was the November 1989 massacre in El Salvador of six Jesuit priests and two civilians by the El Salvadorian military. A U.S. Congressional Task Force reported that those responsible for the massacre were trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) at Ft. Benning, Ga. One year later, with a group of 10 other people of conscience, the School of Americas Watch was founded. For the last 12 years, the annual demonstration against the SOA has grown to over 10,000 people who come from all over the U.S. to demonstrate against the U.S. funded terrorism the SOA training center propagates. Each year, the U.S. Army spends an estimated $18.4 million to train hundreds of soldiers from Latin American countries in combat skills, psychological warfare and operations, torture, military intelligence and other tactics, including commando and guerrilla warfare and population control. On a March 15 visit to Indy"s St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Bourgeois" attention was focused on Iraq. His reflections on a recent trip to Iraq are an eloquent testimonial to the need for a nonviolent and peaceful solution to the crisis: "This war is all about empire. An empire has to keep expanding. However, there comes a point where an empire starts to self-destruct. We in the United States have been caught up so much in our selfishness and greed that we"ve become blinded. This is arrogance, an arrogance of power. There is an addiction that sets in, and when we become addicted to our power and way of life, we start presenting ourselves as the "good." Anyone who doesn"t agree with us, anyone who is angry with us, anyone who would speak out against us, becomes "evil." "Our power and arrogance has so blinded us that it had made the American people, who live in this empire, so ignorant that our greatest enemy today is not Iraq, but ignorance. When we attack Iraq, we don"t realize the rage, violence and destruction that we are going to unleash. For a Christian nation to attack and occupy a Muslim nation like we are planning to do in Iraq will fundamentally change life in this country in ways we cannot forecast. It will incite and create more terrorism with consequences no one can precisely measure."