No necessity decision yet in “rosary arrest” pre-trial hearing; trial Sept 23

posted by Mike on June 16th, 2008

Today was the pre-trial hearing for the Worcester “rosary arrest” case. Note that I am a defendant in this case, and that while I will try to present a fair view of the proceedings, it will probably be biased.

The big news so far: the trial will be 9am, September 23, 2008.

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Photos outside the courthouse.
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June 16 pre-trial hearing for federal “rosary arrest”

posted by Mike on June 5th, 2008

On Monday, June 16th at 2:30 p.m., five Roman Catholics, facing federal charges in the United States District Court at The Donohue Federal Building, 595 Main Street, Worcester, will argue for the right to put the Iraq War on trial.

The court requires two forms of ID if you want to enter the building.

The trial date had previously been set for June 17. After the judge rules on the defendants’ motions, a new trial date will be set.

In the first act of civil disobedience in Worcester for many years, they were arrested on March 19th, during Holy Week, after they entered the lobby of the same federal building in which they will be tried, knelt, and prayed the rosary for an immediate end to the Iraq War. At least five U.S. marshals and several Worcester police officers were called to the scene, but none of them interrupted the anti-war activists until they concluded their prayer with singing in Latin a hymn to the Virgin Mary and then reciting it in English.

They were charged with refusing a lawful order of a U.S. marshal and with obstructing the entrance to a U.S. courthouse, even though the activists positioned themselves so that no one was prohibited from entering the building. If convicted on both charges, they fact a maximum of $15,000 in fines.

At the hearing, the judge will hear arguments from the prosecution and the defense on motions they have filed to define the structure of the trial itself. The defendants will argue for the right to raise a necessity defense which excuses the breaking of lesser laws to prevent greater harm. The prosecution will argue for the exclusion of any reference to the Iraq War. The defense will argue for the right to introduce evidence and bring witnesses to substantiate their claim of necessity.

“Rosary arrest” trial will be Sept 23

posted by Mike on June 3rd, 2008

Update: here’s the verdict.

On Tuesday, June 17th at 9 a.m., September 23, 2008 at 9am, at the Donahue Federal Building in Worcester, there will be a trial for 5 Roman Catholics who were arrested March 19 after entering the federal building, kneeling to one side of the entrance, and praying for an immediate end to the Iraq War, and for forgiveness for the sin of the war.

All are encouraged to attend the trial. You need 2 pieces of ID to enter the building; please avoid bringing a cell phone if you can, as the security guards will take them (and store them for you) and if many people are there this could take a long time.

Photos of the Lenten vigil and arrest.

At least five U.S. marshals and several Worcester police officers were called to the scene, but none of them interrupted the anti-war activists, allowing them to pray a litany, an entire rosary, a hymn to the Virgin Mary in Latin, and the same prayer in English, as people entered and exited the federal building and supporters joined the prayers outside.

After finishing their prayers, the five were arrested and were charged with the “petty offenses” of refusing a lawful order of a U.S. marshal and with obstructing the entrance to a U.S. courthouse. If convicted on both charges, they fact a maximum of $15,000 in fines.

They have all plead “not guilty” and will represent themselves.

Fasting at the Federal Building

Praying the rosary in the Worcester federal building, Holy Week 2008

Arrested

They will begin the trial day with 7:15am mass at St. Paul’s cathedral. They hope supporters will join them for mass, vigil outside the courthouse, or come inside to watch part of the trial.

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5 arrested for praying the rosary in Worcester

posted by Mike on March 19th, 2008

This morning at the federal courthouse in Worcester, after attending mass and with about a dozen supporters outside, Mike Benedetti, Ken Hannaford-Ricardi, Sandra McSweeney, Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, and Roger Stanley entered the pre-lobby, knelt, prayed for an end to the war in Iraq, and said a rosary. People came and went from the courthouse, though additional participants weren’t allowed to enter.

Officers allowed them to complete the prayers, then arrested them.

Praying the rosary in the Worcester federal building

They were charged in federal court with the “petty offenses” of not obeying a federal officer and blocking an entrance. They all plead “not guilty” and said they would represent themselves.

The 2 charges each carry a possible $5,000 fine. A 30-day jail sentence is also possible for each charge, but both the US attorneys and the judge said there was no risk of that.

The defendants will be representing themselves in court. Trial is set for June.

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Photo: Worcester Indymedia. Pictured: Tom Lewis and law officers outside the entrance.

The prayers and arrest come as the culmination of a 43-day Lenten prayer, fast, and vigil carried out in conjunction with people in 11 other US cities, including Des Moines, Iowa, Buffalo and Rochester, New York. This campaign was inspired by the example of Franz Jagerstatter, the recently beatified Austrian Catholic who was executed for refusing to participate in an unjust war.

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Mass of Holy Chrism

posted by Mike on March 18th, 2008

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Bishops McManus and Reilly chat outside St. Paul’s Cathedral before the Chrism Mass.

Rocco Palmo:

In the majority of Stateside dioceses, whether in their cathedrals or even larger parish churches, the Chrism Mass — the lone “family reunion” mandated by the rubrics — is happening today.

There was no noon mass at the cathedral today, so my friends and I went to the Chrism Mass before our Lenten prayer vigil for an end to the Iraq War.

The Chrism Mass takes its name from the last of the three oils blessed during the rite, which are then used throughout the diocese for the next year.

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Tom Lewis does a little anti-war “pre-vigiling” at the cathedral before mass. More of us assembled across the street afterwards. I was happy that several priests came over to share words or hugs of support.

I’d never been to one of these before. The bishop blessed the year’s holy oil and priests renewed their “commitment to priestly service.” A very long standing ovation for Auxiliary Bishop George E. Rueger, who celebrated his 50th year as a priest and gave a great homily directed at the many Catholic school kids in attendance.

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Prayer for an End to the Iraq War

posted by Mike on March 18th, 2008

Editor’s note: This will be part of a Holy Week prayer service at the Federal Building in Worcester.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, under the inspiratrion of Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, who gave his life to denounce an unjust war, on the fifth anniversary of the latest US escalation of its 17-year-long war on Iraq, we gather to beg Your forgiveness for the sin of this war and to ask for Your grace to end it now. We make these prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Amen.

For the over 88,000 Iraqi citizens killed since 2003, we pray:
Lord, have mercy.

For the 4,100 US soldiers killed in Iraq since 1991, we pray:
Christ, have mercy.

For the 200,000 Iraqis killed in the first Gulf War, we pray:
Lord, have mercy.

For the 1.5 million Iraqis, including 800,000 children, killed by US-sponsored sanctions between 1991 and 2002, we pray:
Kyrie, eleison.

For the thousands of Iraqis killed by “no-fly zone” bombings between 1991 and 2002, we pray:
Christe, eleison.

For our failure to speak out more forcefully against the sin of this long war on Iraq, we pray:
Kyrie, eleison.

Recalling that Pope John Paul II called war on Iraq “useless slaughter” and “unjust, immoral, and illegal,” we pray the rosary to Mary, Queen of Peace, that the ears of all those in the federal government might finally be opened to attend to the plea of millions of Americans who want the war to end now.

Pray a rosary:

The First Sorrowful Mystery: Christ’s agony in the garden.
Help us to end the agony of the Iraqi people and to return all American soldiers safely home.

The Second Sorrowful Mystery: Jesus is scourged.
Help us to end the torture our nation continues to inflict on prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere.

The Third Sorrowful Mystery: Jesus is crowned with thorns.
Help us to never again drop cluster bombs, depleted uranium, and other weapons onto the heads of the Iraqi people.

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: Jesus carries the Cross.
Help us to take up Christ’s cross of nonviolent love (even at the risk of criticism and jail) to end the Iraq War.

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: Jesus dies on the Cross.
Help us to love our enemies as profoundly as Christ did from his Cross and to reject this and all wars.

Close with the Salve Regina.

Opponents of Iraq War to Risk Arrest at Federal Building in Worcester

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on March 13th, 2008

unjust.jpgOn Wednesday, March 19, 2008, the fifth anniversary of the most recent escalation of the 17-year long American war on Iraq, local residents will enter the US Federal Building on Main Street in Worcester to offer Catholic prayers for an immediate end to the war. Their prayer comes as the culmination of a 43-day Lenten prayer, fast, and vigil carried out in conjunction with people in 11 other US cities, including Des Moines, Iowa, Buffalo and Rochester, New York.
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Hearing loss

posted by Mike on March 10th, 2008

The daily Lenten prayer and fasting for an end to the Iraq War continued today in Worcester, with 4 people participating. (I think a few dozen have been involved at some point.) We found a nice ring outside the cathedral; you can pick it up at the rectory if it’s yours.

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When we went down to the federal building to continue the vigil, a friend and I went inside to talk to whoever was there. (From my limited experience, this seems to be standard operating procedure for continuing vigils. Sometimes this can bear unexpected fruit.)

My friend mentioned the recent report that upwards of 5% of Iraq and Afganistan War vets are collecting disability for hearing loss due to roadside bombs and the like.

One guy said, “And that’s a problem for us?” (Which seemed an odd thing to say.)

Another guy responded, “Yeah–we gotta pay for it!”

My friend pointed out that hearing loss also probably messes up a lot of these vets’ lives.

Other than that, things passed without incident.

The dog that could not read

posted by Mike on February 15th, 2008

Today we had six people praying and fasting for an end to the Iraq War. At the cathedral, we had more positive comments than ever.

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Outside the federal building, an old guy was stopped at a red light with a dog in his lap. The way the dog was leaning out the window, he looked like he was driving. “He can’t read your sign!” the old man pointed out with a smile.

Another man stopped by and said, “We can pray all we want and fast all we want, people are making so much money from it it’s never gonna end.”

They can’t move Jesus

posted by Mike on February 13th, 2008

We had 5 people with us this rainy day, fasting and praying for an end to the Iraq War.

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Outside the Federal Building, a guy asked, “You’re doing this outside the federal court?” Ken said, “Yes.”

“They can’t move Jesus,” the guy said, gesturing to our sign and the building. “They can’t move Jesus!”