Former Des Moines Priest to Now Protest Catholic Church

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Frank Cordaro is now protesting his former employer.

Cordaro was a long-time Catholic priest, but he left the priesthood as his social activism grew. Now, that activism means he will take part in a vigil to push the Des Moines Diocese to more actively denounce the United States government's use of unmanned drones to take down human targets overseas.

"Jesus would never kill anybody from a computer stall in Iowa," Cordaro said on Monday outside of St. Ambrose Cathedral in downtown Des Moines.

The Iowa Air National Guard operates a unit that remotely flies unmanned drones. Critics contend drones have killed hundreds of innocent civilians during U.S. strikes in the Middle East.

Cordaro is planning a vigil at St. Ambrose on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. to focus more attention on drones and to pressure Bishop Richard Pates to more demonstrably denounce the use of unmanned drones.

Cordaro said, "We are coming to the Bishop as Catholics to say, 'Bishop Pates, authentic Catholics need to know moral teachings about drone warfare, so that they can morally judge this command center in their midst.'"

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops previously criticized the use of drones in 2014. 

Bishop Pates' office released a statement re-iterating his previous concerns about the use of unmanned drones:

"It’s easy to make the case that drones push us farther from peace. Targeted killings sow anger and unrest among the countless people whose lives are upended. With a quick missile strike from a drone here and there, we imagine our country made safer. But the reality is that this policy perpetuates violence, terrorizing communities overseas and radicalizing people who otherwise wouldn’t be hostile toward the United States.”

Read Pates' full presentation at Princeton Theological Seminary from 2015 on his issues with drones. 

Read Cordaro's letter on his opposition to drones in the Des Moines Catholic Worker's July newsletter.