Blase Bonpane: An Autobiography of Human Rights

By Cara Diaconoff

The “renegade” Maryknoll priest and peace activist Blase Bonpane is a sort of Zelig of the major human-rights struggles of the last fifty-some years. His autobiography presents a fascinating, fly-on-the-wall view of the intersection of history with the daily life of humanitarian witness. Here are stories of organizing cursillos in the 1960s (Spanish for “short course”—communal retreats within the Catholic church) as part of the resistance to the repressive Guatemalan government, of leading teach-ins and demonstrations on California campuses against the Vietnam War, of braving arrests and violence as a leader and member of the International March for Peace in Central America in the mid-1980s, and of flying to Iraq with a peace delegation on the eve of the bombing in winter 1991.

In plain-spoken fashion—memories alternating with reflections on liberation theology, university pedagogy, and the wickedness of leaders both elected and self-elected—Dr. Bonpane, now eighty-two years old, tells the story of a life committed to principles of service, love, and justice. Since 1983, he has been dedicated to his work with the Office of the Americas, the nonprofit education and publishing organization he founded with his wife Theresa, and since 2000 he has been publishing book-length works of political theory and personal history. Imagine No Religion is the first of his books to gather together his whole life-story; it is his fourth title published by Red Hen Press. Continue reading