Sister Dorothy Stang, a native of Dayton, Ohio, a US missionary and member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, was involved in the defense of peasants and small farmers in Brazil. She was killed by agents of land owners in a remote settlement in the state of Para, Brazil, on February 12, 2005. Despite threats on her life, she resolved to stay with the people.
“I don’t want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers who live without any protection in the forest. They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a better life on land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the environment.”
Her witness stands in stark contrast to the Allied fire-bombing of Dresden on February 12, 1945 in which many civilians died. As Eileen Egan once wrote, regarding war,
“Instead of feeding the hungry, we destroy the fields that produce the food; instead of clothing the naked, we bomb factories that produce clothing; instead of giving drink to the thirsty, we bomb reservoirs. In war, the enemy is dehumanized and is no longer seen as a child of God. As Christians, we must penetrate the disguise and see Jesus in the enemy. Then, we would not kill and destroy.”
Sister Dorothy gives us an example of how we ought to live on this earth – humbly, with respect for the poor and for all of God’s creation, while Dresden, Hamburg, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fallujah show us the depravity of war.
It is said that when Sister Dorothy was approached by her killers she carried a Bible, which she held up to them as her weapon, the weapon of loving resistance to evil, returning good for evil. May her example move us to work for the poor, for the earth, and for the end of war.