Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1937, Father Bob Bossie is a Catholic priest and a longtime nuclear-arms abolitionist, anti-war protester, and critic of American policy. After serving as a member of the U.S. Air Force from 1955-59, and as a contract worker in the military industry for a number of years thereafter, Bossie underwent what he calls “a life-changing experience of God” which taught him that “everyone and everything was holy and worthy of reverence.” Since then, he has been “committed completely to nonviolence, both as a tactic and as a philosophy.”
Bossie was ordained into the priesthood in 1975, and four years later he became a member of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, a Roman Catholic apostolic community whose members perform parish and “social-justice” work in the United States and abroad. He cites his 1979 trip to Latin America, “where the struggles of those who were poor became a challenge to my faith,” as having catalyzed his subsequent work. And he blames American greed for the economic hardships that exist in many nations, stating that “one need only pick up a newspaper and read that the U.S. consumes well over 30% of the world’s resources and that the disparity between rich and poor, even in the U.S., is growing by leaps and bounds.” These global inequities, Bossie reasons, are ultimately culpable for much of the violence taking place worldwide.
Bossie says that in his “spiritual journey” over the years, “I have allied myself with those of like mind and spirit, Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists and communists, for it is by their fruits that you will know them.” In 1980 he joined the 8th Day Center for Justice and went on to stay with that organization until September 2011, at which time he was suspended from his position for supporting the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church. He has also served as a spokesman and member with Plowshares and Voices in the Wilderness. Moreover, Bossie is a supporter of World Can’t Wait (WCW), an initiative founded in June 2005 by Revolutionary Communist Party leader Charles Clark Kissinger, and has spoken at a number of WCW events.
Bossie has been arrested and jailed numerous times as a result of his anti-war activism. His first arrest came in the early 1980s, when he and approximately 50 other peace demonstrators from Chicago traveled to Washington, DC and poured blood on the pillars of the Pentagon. Every eight days during 1983-89, Bossie and a group of fellow activists staged protests outside the headquarters of the Chicago-based weapons manufacturer Thiokol.
In early 1991 Bossie was a member of an international “Gulf Peace Team” that, in an effort to avert a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, set up a “peace camp” situated between the respective locations where Iraqi and allied troops were gathering.
In 2000 Bossie was a signatory to a petition denouncing America’s “immoral and illegitimate … sanctions war against the people of Iraq,” and its “murder of innocent people … who happened to be in the way of the economic or political interests of the U.S.” The petition also stated that it was “U.S. interventions,” and “not the Saddam Husseins of the world,” that posed “the biggest threat to the people of the world.” Bossie’s fellow signers included Philip Berrigan, Carl Dix, Howard Zinn, and numerous members of such organizations as the Communist Party USA, Pastors for Peace, Veterans for Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Voices in the Wilderness, and Witness for Peace.
In 2002 Bossie was signatory to a Not In Our Name (NION) document condemning not only the Bush administration’s “stark new measures of repression,” but also its “unjust, immoral, illegitimate, [and] openly imperial policy towards the world.” That same year, Bossie signed a petition exhorting members of the American military to “Refuse to Fight” – on grounds that the U.S. “can have no moral justification for war” because its “self-acknowledged posture is that of world domination, mastery, [and] control.”
In 2003, one of Bossie’s former Voices in the Wilderness co-members, Charles Brown, revealed that Bossie had always been highly “antagonistic” towards the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program and had described the program as “the biggest problem” Voices faced, because it afforded the U.S. an opportunity to claim that the humanitarian problems caused by the American invasion of Iraq were being addressed. As Brown said: “[We] abhorred the program because it improved the lot of ordinary Iraqis, and therefore, diminished U.S. culpability. To be perfectly frank, we were less concerned with the suffering of the Iraqi people than we were in maintaining our moral challenge to … ‘violent’ U.S. foreign policy … For example, had we been truly interested in alleviating the suffering in Iraq, we might have considered pushing for an expanded Oil-for-Food program. Nothing could have interested us less.”
In addition to casting the U.S. as an aggressive, warlike nation, Bossie has also denounced its purportedly endemic “racism, sexism, [and] classism.” He has characterized American efforts to develop an anti-missile defense system as both unrealistic and imprudent. And he accused former President George W. Bush of lying about his reasons for attacking the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Bossie objected when federal agents in September 2010 searched the homes of anti-war activists in Chicago and Minneapolis to investigate their possible ties to terrorist organizations in the Middle East and South America. The following month, he signed a “Statement by Organizations and People of Faith Against the FBI Raids,” which: (a) condemned the “violation of the constitutional rights of the people and organizations raided,” and (b) said that America’s “military aid and military intervention” in Israel and Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Colombia had “exacerbated violence” in those places “rather than resolved it.”
Though he retired from full-time active ministry in 2012, Bossie continues to be outspoken on a variety of issues. For example, he has served as a representative of the Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo. And he has been vocal in denouncing the “mass incarceration” of African Americans and “the police killing of so many persons of color” across the United States.
For additional information on Bob Bossie, click here.
Further Reading: “Fr. Bob Bossie” (DehonianUSA.org); “Crossing the Line: Nonviolent Resisters Speak Out for Peace (Rosalie G. Riegle, 2013); “8th Day Center for Justice Pressured over Women’s Ordination” (National Catholic Reporter, 9-28-2011); “Peace Group Prompts Concern on Home Front” (Milwaukee Journal, 2-2-1991); “End the U.S./UN Sanctions & Stop the U.S. War Against the People of Iraq! (Anti-war petition of 2000-01); “We Won’t Deny Our Consciences” (NION document of 2001); “Brothers and Sisters in the Military: ‘Refuse to Fight! Refuse to Kill!’” (NION petition of 2002); “Confessions of an Anti-Sanctions Activist” (Charles M. Brown, Summer 2003); “FBI Raids Anti-War Activists’ Homes” (Chicago Tribune, 9-24-2010); “Statement by Organizations and People of Faith Against the FBI Raids” (StopFBI.net, 10-4-2010).