Simon Harak

Simon Harak


* War Resisters League official
* Co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness
* Died on November 3, 2019

Born in Derby, Connecticut in 1948, Simon Harak is a Jesuit priest who holds a doctorate in ethics from the University of Notre Dame and worked for some time as a professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut. Since January 2007 he has been a professor of theology at Marquette University, where he also serves as director of the school’s Center for Peacemaking. Deeply influenced by liberation theology and the Catholic Worker Movement as a young man, Harak claims to be “impressed” by the unwavering “commitment to a better world” typically displayed by socialists.

In 1995 Harak helped establish Voices in the Wilderness, to protest what he viewed as the unwarranted and immoral economic sanctions which the United Nations Security Council (with strong U.S. support) had imposed on Iraq.

In a summer 2001 interview, Harak complained about American greed and wastefulness, stating that “we are about 5 percent of the world’s population consuming about 25 percent of the world’s resources.” “Do we really think people in Central America, for example, are happy to see their kids starving so we can drive SUVs?” he continued. “If not, then we have to ask how things got to be this way. People around the world aren’t donating these resources to us; there must be some coercion involved.”

In a similar vein, Harak condemns “the strategies the United States uses—military force, economic coercion—to enforce that disparate structure of the allocation of goods around the world.” Maintaining that social justice cannot possibly be achieved within the confines of a capitalist economic system, Harak says:

“You can’t love God and money. You can’t base your life on the acquisition of goods and be moral, too. You have to base your life on the fair distribution of goods, not their acquisition. The idea that everyone should have enough—and even a little bit more than enough to provide leisure and peace—that’s very important for humanity, and important in Catholic social teaching. But beyond that level, acquisition becomes evil. And this is a society based on acquisition.”

From 2003 to January 2007, Harak served as the national anti-militarism coordinator of the War Resisters League. In 2003 he helped establish a “Stop the Merchants of Death” speaking tour, which advanced the idea that corporations were the true beneficiaries of America’s war in Iraq. Promotional material for the tour stated that “friends and business associates” of the Bush administration (e.g., “companies like Halliburton, Bechtel, DynCorp and others”) were “trying to cash in on the disaster that a brutal dictator, years of U.S.- and British-led sanctions, and an unprecedented ‘preventive attack’” had created in Iraq.

In 2005 Harak was named “Metro New York Peacemaker of the Year” and “National Peacemaker of the Year” by two New York-based chapters of Pax Christi.

In August 2007, it was reported that the Sally and Terry Rynne Foundation, a funder of the Center for Peacemaking (headed by Harak), had invested large sums of money in defense contractors.

Harak died on Sunday, November 3, 2019.

For additional information on Simon Harak, click here.

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