My name is Bob More, and I’m the Chairperson of Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore, which is the regional affiliate of Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement—where TASSC founder, Sr. Dianna Ortiz, is now Deputy Director, and TASSC Education and Advocacy Coordinator Scott Wright serves on both our national and regional councils. We are honored to be partners with TASSC in the vital work of abolishing torture and holding accountable those who authorize it. We bring greetings of peace and solidarity to TASSC members and supporters as you conclude your annual Torture Survivors Week with this vigil in Lafayette Park.

I thought of you all a week ago yesterday, as you were gearing up for Survivors Week.  One of our Scripture readings at Mass that day was from the Apostle Paul, writing nearly 2,000 years ago about his “labors, . . . imprisonments, . . . beatings, and numerous brushes with death” on account of his beliefs. “Five times,” he writes, “I received forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned . . . .”

He writes also of his arduous journeys, which reminded me of the difficult and perilous travels that brought many of you here.  “[T]hree times I was shipwrecked, I passed a night and a day on the deep; on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own [people], dangers from [foreigners], dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings, through cold and exposure.”  [2 Cor. 11:23-27]

May the cruelties and hardships you have endured, like those of Paul and countless saints throughout the ages, rise as prayers to God to hasten the day when the evil of torture is eradicated from society. May God continue to bless you and your noble work.