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The following excerpt is from and essay titled: Henri Nouwen Peacemaker  which can be found on Fr. John Dear’s website at: http://www.johndear.org/

My friend Father Bill O’Donnell tells a surprising story about Henri Nouwen. It was the early-1980s. The Reagan administration was waging a brutal war on the impoverished people of Nicaragua that left tens of thousands dead. In the center of it all stood the right-wing Catholic Cardinal, Obando y Bravo, who bragged about keeping a gun in his desk drawer, ready to be used on any intruder. The Cardinal condemned liberation theology, the base Christian community movement, as well as all those who promoted justice and peace. He embodied the just war theory, the oppressive male hierarchy, and the warmaking church.

Those days, the Managua airport was filled with international activists and church workers trying to offer their solidarity. Father Bill was waiting for his flight back to the U.S. when he noticed the notorious Cardinal standing in the middle of the airport. Beside him stood a tall, thin man, pointing at the Cardinal, yelling at him, and waving his arms in frantic argument, trying to convince the Cardinal to stop siding with the U.S. government and start supporting the Nicaraguan poor. Finally, the stunned Cardinal walked off in a huff. My friend, Fr. Bill, went over to compliment the tall, thin man.

“I’m amazed that you spoke like that to the Cardinal,” Bill said, “Who are you?”

“My name is Henri Nouwen,” the man said, putting out his hand.

Bill was shocked. He had read many of Henri’s pastoral books and never expected such a prophetic performance by one of the leading writers on the spiritual life, much less to meet the great man there in Nicaragua at the height of the contra war. Bill concluded that he had vastly misunderstood Henri Nouwen, just as others have done, and that Henri Nouwen was a true prophet of peace and justice.

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