The two categories of analysis applicable to the documentary are a violation of human rights and civil disobedience against the state. By training soldiers on torture, SOA contributed to the violation of human rights, especially of the torture victims (TheRichterVideos). Legally, people are supposed to be treated well while in custody. On the other hand, by exposing the true nature of the activities that take place in the institution and advocating for its closure, Fr Roy engaged in civil disobedience against the state.
The categories present both challenges and possibilities for the church. Concerning the violation of human rights, one of the challenges for the church is the indivisible and interdependent nature of human rights. The right to life, which is of concern where SOA is involved, is only one of the human rights. While biblical teachings support this right, others are contrary to the belief system of the church (Greeley 3). For instance, church teachings are against same-sex marriage. With the rights being interrelated, support of one requires the support of the others. Consequently, the church has been subjected to a dilemma on whether or not to support human rights.
Another challenge is terrorism. One of the reasons torture is applied is to get information from terror suspects to prevent future attacks. The question that arises is whether the church should condemn terrorism and support any action geared towards dealing with the vice or advocate for human rights, including those of terror suspects (Brackley 252). Support of the fight against terrorism implies indirect support for torture. On the other hand, support for human rights indirectly promotes terrorism as terror suspects can be compelled to provide any information that can prevent attacks. As such, the church is in a dilemma regarding which action to take.
Despite the challenges, there are possibilities for the church in helping to fight the violation of human rights, and one of them is advocating for the establishment of state structures that enforce human rights. There are enough laws, both national and international, that highlight the need to respect and uphold human rights. However, there are limited structures to implement the laws, and this has resulted in continued violation of human rights (Brackley 250). With the church being an influential institution, its advocacy is likely to spur governments to establish the necessary structures, thereby lowering cases of human rights violations.
Another possibility for the church is to continue preaching against injustices. The church views the struggle for a just world where there is no oppression as a divine task that signifies the coming of Christ (Gutierrez 27). Preaching against injustices will create awareness among people on the need to speak against violation of human rights. Consequently, governments and international bodies will be compelled to take more action to promote human rights.
The church may face a challenge if civil disobedience goes against biblical teachings, which require Christians to respect authority. On the other hand, as demonstrated by Fr Roy, civil disobedience is sometimes necessary to get the government to act (Greeley 5). The church is thereby left in a dilemma on whether to fight against injustice through civil disobedience or follow bible teachings and give the government the license to continue engaging in unjust activities. Such a dilemma makes it hard for the church to take a firm stance.
Another challenge is the risk of civil disobedience turning into a violent confrontation. The Catholic Church supports civil disobedience, although, at the same time, it advises that engaging in the disobedience has to be in a peaceful manner. The issue that calls for civil disobedience should also be urgent. That is, the church indicates that civil disobedience should be among the last options in the fight for justice (Gutierrez 25). The problem is that in most cases, peaceful demonstrations and other acts of civil disobedience turn violent as a result of the use of force by the state, which contradicts the church’s principles. As such, the church is normally reluctant to engage in civil disobedience which, sometimes, is the only option for change.
One of the possibilities is a situation whereby the church still engages in civil disobedience provided it does it in a well-planned manner. For example, the church can inform the state of the intention to demonstrate against certain issues to avoid a violent confrontation with law enforcement agencies (Gutierrez 26). The challenge against the state should also be reasonable and necessary. Lastly, the church should opt for civil disobedience after exhausting all other avenues of resolving issues with the state.
Also, the church can indirectly take part in civil disobedience by speaking out against the ills of the state. Church leaders can raise awareness about immoral laws or actions by the state in a bid to spur civil disobedience (Brackley 251). However, it should also advise people against violence and inform them of their moral duty to resist unjust laws and actions. Such involvement will ensure the church does not only get involved in civil disobedience but also guides people on how to approach the situation.
My prayer practices and interior listening in this course have helped me find clarity concerning the issue of injustice and violations by enabling me to understand my role as a Christian in fighting for what is fair. Following the actions of Fr Roy, I now know that it is my moral duty to fight against injustices, although in a way that would promote peace as opposed to violence. However, it is challenging for me when faced with injustices. Whenever I witness an injustice, I feel a strong urge to react violently against the perpetrator even though I am aware this can worsen the situation.
Brackley, Dean. The call to discernment in troubled times: New perspectives on the transformative wisdom of Ignatius of Loyola. Crossroad Publishing Company, 2004. Print
Greeley, Andrew. The Catholic Imagination. Univ of California Press, 2000. Print
Gutierrez, Gustavo. The making of modern theology. Minneapolis, Fortress Press. Print
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