Apr 18 2014

Happy Birthday Blase Bonpane

This is a special birthday broadcast of Blase Bonpane on his life and work. If you want to wish him a happy birthday, please post a comment below. We’ll make sure Blase gets the message.

Renegade, revolutionary, activist, these are all words that describe Blase Bonpane. In his autobiography, “Imagine No Religion,” published in 2011 Bonpane shows himself as a man who defies all stereotypes.

Born into an upper middle class Italian American family, he was passionate about entering the priesthood despite his parents’ vehement protests. Bonpane eventually entered the Maryknoll Seminary where he began his life as a priest.

From his first assignment in 1966 in Guatemala working with the poor and indigenous people, Bonpane realized the hypocrisy of a Church which wanted to ignore the underlying political causes that perpetuated poverty. The Maryknoll Fathers put a gag order on Bonpane for speaking out about the political situation in Guatemala and eventually, he was forced to separate himself from the seminary.

But Bonpane was unfazed and he continued his work for social justice. Continually removed from his teaching posts at various universities for his political organizing, he was often under surveillance by the CIA and FBI.

After his marriage in 1970, to former Maryknoll Sister Theresa Killeen, the Bonpanes’ combined mission encompassed all aspects of their life. Their house became a meeting place for peace activists and their children went with them to marches.

By 1983, they founded the Office of the Americas to focus on peace and justice issues throughout the world. It was the Office of the Americas which helped organize and lead the 1985 International March for Peace through Central America. This march brought together people from 30 different countries to protest military conflicts throughout the region.

Working at the grass roots level, whether it was standing with the people of Central Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict or supporting the Sandanistas in Nicaragua as they faced down the brutality of the Contras, or working with Cesar Chavez in the early 70s, in his autobiography, Blase Bonpane takes us through some of the defining moments of his life.

He questions the mainstream media’s acceptance of capitalism, militarism and patriotism. And, he points out the divisive nature of religious sectarianism within Christianity. Noam Chomsky writes, “I am often asked by young people, deeply disturbed by the state of the world, ‘What can I do to make this sad world a better place?’ An eloquent answer now is, “Read Blase Bonpane’s autobiography. If you can aspire to a fraction of what he has achieved, you will look back on a life well lived.”

Blase Bonpane’s show World Focus airs on KPFK on Sundays at 10 am PST.

This is a special birthday broadcast of Blase Bonpane on his life and work. If you want to wish him a happy birthday, please post a comment below. We’ll make sure Blase gets the message.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Happy Birthday Blase Bonpane”

  1. Kris Lon 18 Apr 2014 at 8:32 am

    What an amazing individual. Very insightful and inspiring. All priests should be allowed to marry.

  2. Mikeon 18 Apr 2014 at 7:18 pm

    “A Life Well Lived.” Your dedication to Justice makes you one of my idols.

    Happy Birthday!

  3. Iña Martinezon 26 Apr 2014 at 10:41 am


  4. Luison 03 Feb 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Blase, I’m grateful for your commentary about the American Sniper film. Religion and morality in the military was magnetized against one purported evil during the war, leaving no room for one to genuinely shape their own spirituality and morals.

  5. Luison 03 Feb 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Happy birthday :)

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