Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In Memoriam: Fr. William Callahan and Elise Boulding

The peace and justice movement has just lost two great leaders -- one Catholic, the other Quaker:

1. Fr. William Callahan

Bill Callahan, founder of the Quixote Center, has passed away at 78. His former Quixote Center colleague, Maureen Fiedler, has written a thorough obituary for National Catholic Reporter. Here are some excerpts:

...In the 1970s, he became a nationally known speaker on social justice and the spirituality of justice. In 1982, he published Noisy Contemplation: Deep Prayer for Busy People, which is a classic in contemporary spirituality. Deep prayer does not require the silence of a monastery, he said. Ordinary people can pray in the midst of noise and activism. “We are blessed with a merry God; indeed, we are the entertainment,” he said in the book – with a flash of the humor for which he was famous.

His activism began after he entered the New England Province of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1948. He pushed his community to take a strong stand for civil rights. In 1971, he helped found the Center of Concern in Washington, DC, a progressive Catholic think-tank dealing with global justice issues. In 1975, he launched Priests for Equality, calling for the equality of women and men in all walks of life, including ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood. In 1976, together with Dolly Pomerleau and Jesuit Father Bill Michelman, he founded the Quixote Center, where – as he put it – “people could dream impossible dreams of justice and make them come true.”

...In 1978, he began several years of ministry with Good Shepherd Catholics for Shared Responsibility, a lay group that had been disenfranchised by Bishop Thomas Welsh, in the then newly created Diocese of Arlington, VA. Welsh’s policies had drifted away from the teachings and spirit of the Second Vatican Council, and these laypeople had been accustomed to active participation in their parish.

In 1980, Bill was silenced by the Jesuits on the issue of women’s ordination, but resumed his public stance a year later. In the late 1980s, he founded Catholics Speak Out, a project of the Quixote Center that encouraged lay Catholics to take adult responsibility for the direction of their church.

In the late 1970s, he embraced the struggles of the poor in Central America, especially Nicaragua and El Salvador, becoming an outspoken opponent of the Reagan war policies in the 1980s. Together with Dolly Pomerleau, he directed the Quest for Peace, a multi-million dollar program of humanitarian aid and development funding for the people of Nicaragua who were victims of the “contra war” waged by the Reagan Administration.

...In 1989, the New England Province of the Jesuits, at the direction of the Vatican, threatened Callahan with dismissal unless he severed his ties with the Quixote Center, Priests for Equality, and Catholics Speak Out, and returned to Boston. He refused to abandon his work with Nicaragua, or for reform of the church. Consequently, he was dismissed from the Society of Jesus in the early 1990’s, a move he strenuously resisted. It is not clear to this day what specific issue(s) motivated his final dismissal from the New England Jesuits.

...In the last 20 years, although not a Jesuit, he remained a priest and ministered in several intentional Eucharistic communities in the Washington, DC area.


2. Elise Boulding:

Elise Boulding, a sociologist, pacifist feminist and scholar who wrote extensively about conflict resolution in both personal and global relations and who helped establish the academic field known as peace studies, died June 24 in Needham, Mass. She was 89.

...A Norwegian-born Quaker, she was nominated for the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize by the American Friends Service Committee, the service arm of the Quaker faith, which was a co-recipient of the Nobel in 1947.

...she helped found the scholarly organization the International Peace Research Association. She also pursued a doctorate at the University of Michigan and ran unsuccessfully for Congress as an opponent of the Vietnam War.

While she was working on her dissertation, the family moved to Boulder, Colo., and in 1968 Ms. Boulding became the leader of the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom, the antiwar group whose first president was Jane Addams. At the University of Colorado at Boulder, she founded the program in peace studies, and later, after she moved to Dartmouth, she helped build the program there as well.

...“A richer and more diversified peace culture than any of us can now easily imagine, an international global peace culture, is there to be built out of the languages and lifeways and knowledge and experience worlds of the ‘10,000 societies’ now spread across the 185 states of today’s world,” she wrote in Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History (2000), a book considered to be the culmination of her life’s work...

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