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The RoundTable


US- USSR: Peace and Friendship

Winter 1988


Major Articles

  • Messages of Reconciliation – Karen Tanquist
  • The View from the Other Side – Pat Coy
  • A Message from the Russian Orthodox Church
  • The Love that Casts Our Fear
  • Journey Toward Peace – Jean Berg

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Regular Features

  • Cover – Photo by Pat Coy
  • Why This Issue – Pat Coy
  • Centerfold – Faces from the Soviet Union
  • From Little House - Mary Ann McGivern, SL
  • From Karen House – Jim Plato
  • RoundTable Talk – Teka Childress
  • From Our Mailbag

Why This Issue:

This is an exciting time to publish an issue on U.S.-Soviet reconciliation. When I was in the U.S.S.R. this summer, more than one Soviet described these days as "the most exciting period in Soviet history since the revolution.” That's some pretty heady stuff. But with “glasnost” and "perestroika" moving forward under Mikhail Gorbachev, it is an exciting time indeed. As we prepare this issue of THE ROUND TABLE on the heels of the summit, it is also an exciting time in the United States and Europe. For the first time in the dark history of the nuclear world, an entire class of U.S. and Soviet nuclear weapons will be destroyed. Thanks to the faithful witness of the Greenham Common women, the Plowshares activists, the larger peace movement, and the spiraling economic and social costs of a dead-end arms race, Reagan and Gorbachev saw fit to take one small step for peace.


The mainline media's political portrayal of Gorbachev as a "tenacious" and "shrewd" politician aside, his visit here generated more U.S.-Soviet goodwill than we've seen in a long while. But the anti-Sovietism that has marked the U.S. socio-political scene for so long will not be uprooted quickly or easily. Its taproot of fear runs too deep in our social psyche. And, as we know from our own experiment in community here at the Catholic Worker, this business of reconciliation,

of building up the beloved community of John's Gospel, is a demanding task. We've learned it is possible only with the gift of God's grace. We are reminded of Gorbachev's own words at the summit's airport arrival ceremony, "The visit has begun, so let us hope. May God help us."


Karin Tanquist opens with an introspective essay, probing the stereotypes she had unconsciously brought with her to the Soviet Union. The invitation to conversion she experienced is one we can all share. We've included segments of the many interviews I conducted in the Soviet Union, the text of a talk by a Russian Orthodox priest, and a photo essay by Mev Puleo and myself as well. We hope in this way to make the invisible visible, for as Longfellow said, "If we could read the secret history of our 'enemies,' we should find in each person's life, sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility."


Jean Berg reflects on her visits to the Soviet Union and on the ways her faith informs her cultural exchange work, and is challenged in the process. We've also gone back to our roots, reprinting some of our co-founder Dorothy Day's writings on these topics.


Our house articles speak of community news and of the international Catholic Worker gathering which some of us recently attended at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site. Teka Childress closes in the "Round Table Talk" with a moving reflection on personalism and the state.


Many have pointed to the Sermon on the Mount as the manifesto of the Catholic Worker movement. It is there that Jesus most clearly states his teaching on relations with enemies and adversaries: "You have heard it said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate you enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. ..The reconciler from Nazareth counsels us to live our lives now according to the future we hope to see, to build the Reign of God little by little, day by day, on our own turf, within our own hearts. May this issue help in its own small way.


-Patrick Coy



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