Ash Wednesday Review

Dear Friends,
About 30 people from various peace and faith communities in D.C. held an Ash Wednesday Prayer Service of Repentance and Conversion outside the White House. We were also joined by eight new friends from Loyola University in Chicago who spent a week at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker for their Alternative Break Immersion. The liturgy was sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. When we returned to the White House two days later for our weekly Friday peace vigil, ashes that we used to mark the street during the Ash Wednesday liturgy were still very visible.
Below is the leaflet that was read and passed out to tourists and portions of the liturgy that was offered. Please see photos taken by our friend Ted Majdosz.

With great gratitude, Art  


Ash Wednesday Appeal for Repentance and Call for Peace and Justice

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent is a time for personal and societal repentance. This is a time for radical conversion, renewal and transformation. Living under the brutal occupation of the Roman empire, Jesus declared: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk.1:15) Living in the U.S. empire, which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” we need to heed Jesus’ call for repentance now more than ever.
We live in an empire that has its roots in the genocide and enslavement of native peoples and Africans. Today corporate, financial, political and military powers are waging a global war to acquire and control resources. The U.S. extends its unrelenting violence in Afghanistan, and has escalated its military intervention in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan through the use of killer Drones. “Kill Lists” have been secretly drawn up to assassinate anyone the U.S. government deems a threat, including its own citizens. Violence, economic exploitation and global warming claim countless lives daily. The victims cry out for justice. The earth groans in travail.
The purpose of this witness is to call for repentance and conversion of ourselves, our society and our churches to the Gospel way of justice, nonviolence and a reverence for all life and creation. As we stand here in front of the White House, we pray and call for:
– an end to all violence and that the sacredness of all life be upheld wherever it is threatened;
– an end to all racism, demonization and scapegoating;
– the abolition of war and an end to all U.S. military intervention;
– an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops and advisers from Afghanistan;
–a public renunciation of the secret “Kill Lists” and an end to all U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere;
– U.S. reparations for Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan;
– cancellation of an estimated $1 trillion that the U.S. will spend over the next 30 years to maintain and modernize its nuclear arsenal;
– the abolition of all guns, total disarmament of nuclear and conventional weapons, and the demilitarization of space;
– an immediate end to the construction of the new U.S. backed naval base being built on Jeju Island in S. Korea that will serve a U.S. military outpost to contain China;
– an end to the U.S.-supported Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the immediate lifting of the blockade on Gaza;
– an end to torture, accountability for those who ordered and carried out torture, and the closing of the Guantanamo military prison, along with other military torture training centers like the SOA/WHINSEC;
– a dismantling of the mass incarceration prison complex and an end to all detention camps in the U.S.;
– an end to AFRICOM and the U.S. militarization of Africa;
– repeal of the National Defense Authorization Act which has codified into law indefinite detention for suspected foreign and domestic terrorists and their supporters;
– the conversion of our war-based economy to one centered on serving the common good;
an end to corporate domination;
– the cancellation of all debts for poor countries;
– the eradication of poverty, a fair redistribution of wealth and a just economic order;
– universal health care for all;
– that every effort be made to stop global warming and reverse climate change;
– justice for all native peoples, African Americans, Hispanics and all immigrants;
– that the wall on the U.S. and Mexico border come down.
Let us seek during this holy season to be the change that we want to see in the world and recommit ourselves to help create the beloved community.
For more info contact the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-882-9649.
From the Ash Wednesday Liturgy of Repentance Outside the White House

Archbishop Oscar Romero on the meaning of Lent
“This Lent, which we observe amid blood and sorrow, ought to presage a transfiguration of our people, a resurrection of our nation. The church invites us to a modern form of penance, of fasting and prayer – perennial Christian practices, but adapted to the circumstances of each people.

“Lenten fasting is not the same thing in those lands where people eat well as is a Lent among our third-world peoples, undernourished as they are, living in a perpetual Lent, always fasting. For those who eat well, Lent is a call to austerity, a call to give away in order to share with those in need. But in poor lands, in homes where there is hunger, Lent should be observed in order to give to the sacrifice that is everyday life the meaning of the cross.

“But it should not be out of a mistaken sense of resignation. God does not want that. Rather, feeling in one’s flesh the consequences of sin and injustice, one is stimulated to work for social justice and a genuine love for the poor. Our Lent should awaken a sense of social justice.” 

Litany of Repentance and Conversion 
As we begin this Lenten Season we ask God’s forgiveness for our complicity in the violence now unleashed in our world and we repent of the violence in our own hearts.
Response: Deliver us O God
From the arrogance of power…Response: Deliver us O God
From the tryanny of greed

From the politics of hypocrisy

From the addiction of control

From the idolatry of national security

From the cancer of hatred

From the hystreia of nationalism

From the sin of racism

From the sin of sexism
From the sin of torture
From the sin of war
From the waste and preparation of war 
In humility we ask o God, hear our prayer.
(Adapted from CPT Litany of Resistance, by Jim Looney)

Response: Forgive us O God
For our hardness of the heart….Forgive us O God
For wasting our gifts

For wanting too much

For wounding the earth

For ignoring the poor

For trusting in weapons

For refusing to listen

For exporting arms

For desiring dominance

For lacking humility

For failing to risk

For failing to trust

For failing to act

For failing to hope

For failing to love

For failing to negotiate

For our arrogance

For our impatience

For our pride

For our silence

Response: Change our hearts O God
That we learn compassion….Change our hearts O God
That we embrace nonviolence

That we act in justice

That we live in hope

That we do your will

That we love our enemies

That we strive to be peacemakers
That we live simply
That we practice sharing

That we protect the earth

That we cherish all life

(Adapted from Pax Christi USA)
 Closing prayer From Bill Wylie Kellermann, Seasons of Faith and Conscience
“To keep Lent is to follow Jesus in the prayer of wilderness and garden…
To keep Lent is to confront the principalities and powers first of all in prayer. With Jesus we face the dark side of ourselves this is so susceptible to capture and control by the powers. If it happens that we keep vigil publicly at the gates of economic, military, political or religious authority, we do so confessionally, acknowledging the solidarity of sin…
To keep Lent is to discover and remember who in heaven’s name we are, as person and community. We pray against all confusers and confusions for our true identity and vocation. We know that means standing before the cross and making some choices…

The grace of this season is that Jesus suffers the choice with us. He’s been over the turf and is our brother exactly on that score, with us in the struggle of our hearts. Let the further grace be that we make our choice as disciples, in the mind and heart of Christ.”

Published in: on March 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm  Comments (2)  

Summaries of the Pre-Sentencing Statements Made by the Transform Now Plowshares

Summary Notes of Michael Walli’s Pre-Sentencing Statement

  • Stated that he was offended by the fact that the Nazi regime had a legal right to exist and that either by silence or overt support Catholics consented to it.
  • Quoted St. Thomas Aquinas: “Laws that do not serve the common good are unjust.”
  • Quoted St. Augustine: “An unjust law is no law at all.”
  • Stated that he acted in accordance with Jesus. Jesus’ declaration, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” was a call to action.
  • Stated that his actions at Y-12 did not constitute a violation of law, but rather his obedience to God’s law. “I am a citizen of heaven. We engaged in our lawful, missionary work at Y-12. I committed no crime. I have no remorse.”
  • Stated that he was acting in support of the rule of law. “I am the face of tomorrow. The face of total demilitarization and vindication of the prophets.”
  • In response to a comment made during the hearing by U.S. District Attorney Jeff Theodore, he stated that we both have something in common in admiring Rosa Parks as he commended him for sitting on the same seat of the bus that Rosa Parks was arrested in during a visit he made to Michigan where the bus was on display.

    *  Read the TNP action indictment.

Summary Notes of Greg Boertje-Obed’s Pre-Sentencing Statement

  • Read an excerpt of Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech re: why he opposed the Vietnam war.
  • Read an excerpt from Dan Berrigan’s poem: “Hymn To A New Humanity.”
  • Stated that people around the world see that the U.S. is breaking the law. Three new Bomb plants are being built, including at Oak Ridge, which will maintain nuclear weapons for over 80 years. If the U.S. were to abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it “would promote respect for the law.”

Summary Notes of Sr. Megan Rice’s Pre-Sentencing Statement

  • One of the great problems is that people don’t know the 70 year history of nuclear weapons and the secrecy that surrounds nuclear policy. Encouraged the Judge and everyone in court to read the book Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats by Kristen Iversen.
  • Spoke of how every single day and all of life is a miracle and how the Bomb is a threat to that miracle.
  • Referred to the book A Beautiful Mind and how many of the best minds today agree that there is an alternative to nuclear weapons.
  • Spoke of a “cloud of deception” surrounding the economic extortion going on at Y-12 and that this was never mentioned at the first sentencing hearing regarding the restitution the TNP were ordered to pay.
  • Acknowledged the support the TNP have received from all over the world and showed the court a signed card from the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers that was recently sent to her by Kathy Kelly.
  • Appealed to the judge not to show leniency toward her and that it would be an honor to spend the rest of her life in prison.
  • Spoke of the injustice she has witnessed first-hand in the for-profit detention complex and the dehumanizing jail conditions.
  • Spoke of the connections between the rich controlling the wealth and resources at the expense of the poor and how the military budget constitutes a theft from the poor.
  • Cited an Appellate Court’s overturning the conviction of the Plowshares Eight and Appellate Judge Spaeth’s opinion regarding the catastrophic danger posed by nuclear weapons.
  • Referred to German Judge Ulf Panzer who was arrested for opposing the deployment of Pershing II nuclear missiles at the U.S. air base in Mutlangen in 1987 and lawyers and jurists worldwide who declared nuclear weapons to be illegal.
  • Judge granted her request to sing the song “Sacred the Land.” All present in the main courtroom and the overflow courtroom joined in singing the song.
Published in: on February 23, 2014 at 1:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Report of Sentencing of Transform Now Plowshares to Prison Terms Ranging From Nearly Three Years to Over 5 Years

Dear Friends,
In this May 6, 2013, file photo, of the Transform Now Plowshares, from left, Michael Walli, Sister Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed arrive for their trial in Knoxville, Tenn. Michael Patrick, Knoxville News Sentinel/AP

In this May 6, 2013, file photo, of the Transform Now Plowshares, from left, Michael Walli, Sister Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed arrive for their trial in Knoxville, Tenn. Michael Patrick, Knoxville News Sentinel/AP

I have just returned from the sentencing hearing of our three Transform Now Plowshares (TNP) friends in Knoxville, Tennessee who were given prison terms ranging from 35 months to 62 months, three years supervised release and nearly $53,000 in restitution. From the Festival of Hope the night before the sentencing (see below reflection) to the witness Mike Walli, Greg Boertje-Obed and Sr. Megan Rice offered in court at their sentencing, this was a deeply inspiring hope-filled time despite the heavy sentences that were given. The spirit of community, the loving welcome and special hospitality offered by friends of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA), and the speaking of truth by our three friends in the empire’s court was, for me, an infusion of hope!

This was Part II of the sentencing of the TNP that began on January 28 but was suspended due to a snow storm and continued to February 18. The bulk of the hearing, which began at 1:30 p.m. and lasted to nearly 6:00 p.m., included legal arguments by attorneys for the TNP and the government about how to apply the federal sentencing guidelines. Greg and the defense lawyers urged a significant downward departure from the guidelines referring to previous plowshares cases of Sicken and Platte where judges had done so. But Mr. Theodore said that because these cases were in another district they did not apply. The heart of the hearing though occurred late in the afternoon when our three friends, looking pale and thin, dressed in black striped jail uniforms and wearing leg shackles and handcuffs (it should be noted that the court ordered one hand to be uncuffed during the hearing), but full of the Holy Spirit, addressed the court. They did not hold back and gave eloquent stirring statements (see Summary of Pre-Sentencing Statements below). It was truly a sacred time and an extraordinary moment of grace for all present. The truth, so powerfully spoken by Mike, Greg and Megan in court, not only amplified the moral and legal justification for their action but also exposed, once again, the crime and sin of nuclear weapons and how the U.S. is blatantly violating God’s law, international law and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The legal exchanges that occurred between the judge and prosecutor about how long a prison sentence was warranted to deter the TNP who, they said, had no remorse for their action and utter disregard for the law, was absurd and illustrated how the law is used to sanction weapons of mass murder. It was a another reminder of how the law, as Phil Berrigan used to say, is the real obstacle to justice.
Judge Thapar received some 16,000 letters from TNP supporters encouraging leniency for our three friends. He acknowledged receiving these letters and affirmed the good works and the intentions of the three. Ultimately though, he could not grasp or accept the truth our three friends offered: that in an empire that legalizes nuclear weapons and thereby imperils all life earth, nonviolent resistance is not only necessary but a duty under God’s law and international law to help bring about disarmament and nuclear abolition. Instead Judge Thapar asserted: “If all that energy and passion was devoted to changing the laws, perhaps real change would’ve occurred by today.”  He said repeatedly that as a judge, he has  to judge the actions and not viewpoints of the defendants and that he was not in a position to judge what God’s will is. He also quoted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stevens several times saying that “no person is above the law.” While declaring that he could not give the three a sentence of time served (eight months), he also said that he could not go along with U.S. District Attorney Jeff Theodore strong recommendation that the three, who Theodore described as “incorrigible” and “habitual offenders,” should be sentenced under the strict federal guidelines. Theodore also remarked that he was a Catholic himself and that while he respected the three, they are not above the law. Seeking to reconcile the sentencing guidelines with the character and personal history of the three, Judge Thapar said the guidelines do not distinguish saboteurs who truly mean harm from peace protesters who intend change. In the end, Judge Thapar, showing that he understood that the TNP were indeed peace activists, rightfully chose a sentence that was below the federal sentencing guidelines. But let’s be clear: Michael, Greg and Sr. Megan should never have been arrested, tried, convicted and given a prison sentence in the first place. And, clearly they should have been granted a sentence of time served. For their action at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex at Oak Ridge was in accordance with God’s law and international law. They acted to prevent a crime, not to commit a crime. Thus, the real crime of nuclear war preparations at the Y-12 facility, the so-called “Fort Knox of Highly Enriched Uranium” continues and the truth-tellers are locked up!

Let us all continue to keep our eyes on the prize as we strive to create the Beloved Community and a nonviolent disarmed world. And let us be filled with the same joy and hope of our three imprisoned friends. As Mike, Greg and Sr. Megan were taken out of the courtroom in chains our gathered community sang: “Rejoice in the Lord Always.”

With gratitude, Art

Published in: on February 21, 2014 at 9:52 pm  Leave a Comment  


JANUARY 28, 2014
I am honored to be character witness for Michael Walli. For most of the last 20 years, Michael and I have been community members and friends at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington DC, one of the hundreds of Catholic worker communities throughout the world. Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin founded the movement 80 years ago seeking to build up the kingdom of God and the teachings of Jesus, the nonviolent son of God and transform our violence ravaged creation into a home for all dwelling in peace and justice.
Our work may be described as having two thrusts: 1) the works of mercy and 2) the work to oppose and abolish all violence. At the house in DC, we daily join others for prayer, we offer hospitality to five mothers and their children in need of a home, we beg for food, share it with our neighbors and prepare a feast to serve to some of the many homeless people in DC. We uphold the consistent life ethic declaring the sacredness of all life – opposing war, abortion, and the death penalty.  Each Monday, we vigil at the Pentagon in repentance for the crime of war, encouraging brothers and sisters in the military to put down their guns and refuse to kill, and encouraging others to refuse to pay taxes for war.  On Fridays we vigil at the White House with the same message and once a month we go to the CIA to protest drones.  This is truly the life and work of Michael Walli.
Michael Walli, the beloved member of Dorothy Day house and servant of God is a man of deep faith in the God of love, and each morning he and I join the Assisi Community nearby for reflection on the word of God.
The following is a testament from that community about Michael…
To whom it may concern:

We are honored to attest to the character of defendant Michael Walli, who will be sentenced soon for his participation in a nonviolent witness against nuclear weapons at Oak Ridge, Tennessee on July 28, 2012.

Early each morning, for many years, Michael Walli has joined our small community in Washington DC for 30 minutes of prayer to begin the day. In that time together on a regular basis we have come to know him very well.
His way of life and witness in our neighborhood, our city, and beyond is an unwavering example of active nonviolence. He is a gentle, kind, and generous person regularly helping other people in a myriad of thoughtful ways.   He is well known in our neighborhood and very much appreciated for picking up litter and for the beautiful garden he attends so faithfully. He is always willing to help others and is particularly good to people who have special needs.
Michael is a man of deep faith and a role model for many people. His way of life is completely consistent with his belief in the Gospel. He is a living example of the peace and nonviolence that he so ardently hopes will flourish in the world and a person of impeccable character.

Marie Dennis
Assisi Community
Washington, DC

Michael is also the 2013 recipient of the Peacemaker of the Year award from the Roman Catholic Peace Group Pax Christi Metro DC – Baltimore who write about Michael “with profound admiration and gratitude for his decades of peacemaking and service to others and the Gospel.”
One of the women who live at DDH is from Ethiopia and is learning English. Recently she asked the meaning of the word generosity and my immediate answer was Michael Walli. With a smile of understanding and in her broken English she described Michael’s tireless service to our large family and even mentioning how so many and our neighborhood ask and receive Michael’s assistance daily.
For example, during the recent snowstorm I looked outside to see a neighbor shoveling our stairs and sidewalk. When I went outside to thank him, Lewis reported that he couldn’t help thinking of all the times Michael had shoveled for him and knowing that Michael is in jail wanted to repay the favor. Michael truly fits the description Catholic Worker. He is serious about both his faith and work.  Everything Michael does is consistent with the teaching of Jesus and the church.
Michael reminds us that Jesus commanded us to love everyone, to put down our swords, our weapons, warning us that those who live by the sword will die by the sword and to say yes to life and no to death dealing.
Michael knows that Dorothy Day condemned the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in September 1945, and about nuclear weapons she said “If we wouldn’t put people and gas chambers why would we fling them on people?” She called nuclear weapons gas chambers without walls.
Michael knows that Dr. Martin Luther King condemned nuclear weapons in 1959 and later warned us that our choice today is between nonviolence and nonexistence, or, said another way; our choice is between nonviolent co-existence or violent co-annihilation.
Michael knows that in 1965 the Roman Catholic Bishops during the second Vatican Council condemned nuclear weapons saying “any act of war aimed indiscriminately at entire cities and their population is a crime against God and merits unequivocal condemnation”.
Michael knows that Pope Paul VI called the US bombing of Hiroshima “a butchery of untold magnitude”.
Elie Wiesel, the only member of his family to survive the Nazi concentration camps and gas chambers wrote the book Night partly to honor the dead but also to warn the living that it could happen again. Moshe the Beadle, a character in the book, reminds me of Michael Walli. Like Michael, Moshe loved and served God and the community, especially the poor. As the story goes, one day Moshe, a foreign Jew is expelled from Hungary into Poland and becomes a witness to the slaughter of the other Jewish deportees by the Gestapo. Miraculously surviving, Moshe returned to the town in Hungary and went from one Jewish house to another telling people what he had seen, begging people to listen to his warning so they could prepare themselves while there was still time. But the people didn’t listen and even declared that Moshe had gone mad.
Because they didn’t listen, the Jews were rounded up, shipped to concentration camps, and most were turned to ashes in the ovens of the Nazis.  Today, all of us in this court room hope that we would have listened to Moshe’s warning and if we were not ourselves targets of the Nazis extermination plan, we hope that we would have cut the fences surrounding the concentration camps and freed the terrified prisoners. I am certain that our Moshe, Michael Walli and his friends, would be the ones to cut through the fences to free us if we were the prisoners at Auschwitz. Gas chambers and ovens have become nuclear weapons, and those gas chambers without walls are being readied for use at Y12. The whole world has been turned into a concentration camp. Humanity is trapped by these omnicidal weapons and incineration is our fate unless we transform. Michael Walli is trying to save our lives. Your life, Judge Thapar. Your life, Mr. Theodore. And all our lives.
Please listen to him. Let’s not make the mistake of not listening to him.
Published in: on February 15, 2014 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Conscience and War: What We Learn from Soldiers Who Seek To Leave the Military

Speaker: Maria Santelli 

Maria Santelli has been director of the Center on Conscience & War (CCW) since 2011. Before coming to DC, Maria lived and worked at Trinity House Catholic Worker in Albuquerque, New Mexico and founded the New Mexico branch of the GI Rights Hotline. For 73 years, CCW has worked to extend and defend the rights of conscientious objectors to war and violence. In draft time, CCW supported those who resisted conscription to war. Today, CCW’s work is with active duty members of a voluntary military who seek discharge as objectors to war. This work puts CCW in the unique and privileged position of sharing rare and valuable insights and information with members of our communities working to build a more just and peaceful world. In the course of CCW’s work, staff are often asked, “Why have empathy for an individual who joined the armed forces voluntarily and now decides he or she cannot fight, cannot kill? Didn’t they know what they were signing up for? Didn’t they know that the purpose of the US military is to fight wars? The answers are complex and vary for each individual. What they share in common, though, is a personal transformation, brought about by a crisis of conscience. And contained within each military conscientious objector’s personal journey are powerful guideposts that can help steer our collective passage from militarism to nonviolence.

Date: Friday, February 7, 2014 @ 7:30 p.m.
Place: Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, 503 Rock Creek Church Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20010
For more information contact Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-882-9649, 202-360-6416

Published in: on January 25, 2014 at 2:59 am  Leave a Comment  

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