The land of the free…

Seriously America…hang your head in shame.

October 17, 2007 — Pace e Bene co-founder Fr. Louie Vitale, O.F.M. and Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J. were sentenced today by Magistrate Hector Estrada to five months in federal prison for nonviolent action they took at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona, a facility where Army training in torture techniques is carried out.

They began their sentences immediately.

Major General Antonio M. Tacuba, who served in Iraq and wrote a report critical of torture carried out at Abu Ghirab prison, phoned the Franciscan and Jesuit priests the night before to convey his support and to express his belief that “history will honor your actions.” Their lawyer, Bill Quigley, shared General Tacuba’s words of support with the court.

The judge, who confessed that the case had put him in “an uncomfortable position,” meted out to both men three months in prison for trespass and two months for disobeying an office. They will be incarcerated at a federal prison in Florence, Arizona.

Before the sentencing, Vitale and Kelly read a statement to the 50 people who had gathered to support them. As part of their declaration, they said: “We will keep trying to stop the teaching and practice of torture whether we are sent to jail or out. We have done our part. Now it is up to every woman and man of conscience to do their part to stop the injustice of torture.”

We pray for Louie and Steve — and invite people everywhere to follow their conscience in resisting violence and in building a culture of nonviolent options.

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