California’s First Peoples were decimated with the arrival of the Spanish missionaries. As the story of Franciscan Spanish missionary Junipero Serra comes into the news, we must also lift up the whole peoples that he was complicit in destroying due to his limited understanding of the gospel at the time. As Christians, it is our responsibility not to condemn our ancestors for their unenlightened actions, but to take responsibility for what they did, ask forgiveness, and repair the harm. This includes making clear to the Vatican that the Papal Bulls of 1452 and 1493 (referred to as the Doctrine of Discovery) must be rescinded.
Read Thomas Reese’s interview with Robert Senkewicz, professor of history at Santa Clara University and an expert on early California history. His most recent book is Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary, with Rose Marie Beebe.
In 2007 Joseph Ross and I edited a collection of poems titled Cut Loose the Body: An Anthology of Poems on Torture and Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib Paintings and hosted a reading when Botero’s collection was on display in Washington, D.C.
That same year, CIA officer John Kiriakou became the first CIA official to publicly confirm and detail the agency’s use of waterboarding as well as other torture. In January 2013, he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in Pennsylvania. Kiriakou was recently released to house arrest. He’s now living in the D.C.-area and has made appearances at the Institute for Policy Studies at Dupont Circle.
This week my friend Sarah, who directs Split This Rock, a collective of poetry and protest with an office at IPS, related this story:
I met John Kiriakou at IPS on Friday … I told him about Split This Rock and gave him a copy of Cut Loose the Body. Here’s what he wrote me yesterday: “Thank you very much for Cut Loose the Body, which I read on the way home. It was absolutely wonderful, and I hope there will be many more. My wife also read it and said the poems were wonderful and the two Botero sketches were breathtaking. Thanks again.”
It’s so gratifying to know that work done in good faith makes its way out into the world and finds the people it needs to find. Thank you Sarah — and thank you John for your service to your country. John Kiriakou, who is Greek Orthodox, spent his two-and-a-half years in prison serving in the chapel. And, in a total quirk of fate, the federal prison where Kiriakou spent his time was called FCI Loretto. It used to be a Catholic monastery. The Bureau of Prisons turned it into a “low-security prison” and converted the “monks’ bedrooms” into “prisoners’ rooms.” Continue reading “John Kiriakou and ‘Cut Loose The Body’”