Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Bishop Pates please Teach, Test & Grade the DM Drone Command Center" Vigil Report

By Frank Cordaro

      Big thank you to Kathy Kelly who spoke Sat. night for our Aug 5-9 24/7 vigil at St Ambrose Cathedral in DM. Kathy gave use personal accounts of people she's met who were victims of US bombings and drone killings in Iraqi, Syria, Palestine/ Gaza & Afghanistan.  Since we knew we would likely be outdoors, we billed Kathy's talk from the steps of St Ambrose. As it was, she actually talked from the public side walk in front of the Cathedral to a crowd of 25. It was personal,  it was gripping and moving, using the stories of real people and their tragedies to connect the dots and work of the DM Armed Drone Command to the end results of their armed drone mission.

     Big thank you to our Iowa City Vets for Peace friends;  Ed Flaherty and John Jadryev for picking up Kathy in Minneapolis and taking her to Ia City on route to her next speaking gig in IL.

Permission was never granted by Bp Pates to have the vigil at St Ambrose. An understanding was made that we Catholic Workers and friends would stay on the public side walk and not disturb any of the St Ambrose events, and the Bishop would not ask the police to remove us.

So thanks to Fr Mike Amadeo, Vicar General of the Diocese for negotiating our 'side walk' deal  and to Fr John Bertogli, Rector of St Ambrose who promised to make sure Bishop Pates got a copy of our leaflet (see above) and listen to Kathy Kelly's speech Sat. night, admittedly from a safe distance. Trust  Fr John will share with Bishop Pates some of Kathy's testimony and the sincerity of our vigil and request.

The rest of the vigil was not eventful, low key and hardly noticed. Never more than four or five people at any given time. Mostly two to three covering the night shifts.

We found the neighborhood surrounding St Ambrose is completely tore up in construction. It's actually hard to get to St Ambrose by car. There is so much construction going on, the Church is blocked off in two directions. Plus the diocesan offices are being renovated across the street from the Cathedral and its all boarded up, a hard hat area. The Church is in accessible and its a mess. An aped metaphor for what we were trying to do with our vigil, trying to reach our Bishop who on this issue is in accessible and address our US lead Armed Drone War making effort that is a dismal mess morally and legally.

 It’s enough to know the Bishop got our message. The vigil had its own meaning and purpose for those who took part and for those we reached.

Frank Cordaro is cofounder of Des Moines Catholic Worker.

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