Good Friday Pentagon Witness

Dear Friends,

Early on Good Friday morning, from 7-8 AM, ten peacemakers held a nonviolent witness at the Pentagon to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus and to call for an end to the crucifixion of people today. On this unseasonably very cold and windy morning, as a beautiful half moon was setting and a spectacular sunrise was unfolding, we offered yet another prayer of intercession at this center of war making on our planet. We carried in our hearts many from our extended communities who could not be with us physically but joined us in spirit for this witness.

    
As Pentagon police kept a watchful eye on us, a steady stream of Pentagon workers and soldiers walked by us in the designated protest area, located behind bicycle fences on the southeast side of the building. We hung on the fence a banner with a quote from the late renowned peacemaker, Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen: “Nuclear Arms are the Global Crucifixion of Jesus.” (see attached photo with Pentagon in background.) Other banners were hung on the fence, including several with quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. and another banner that read: “Nuclear Weapons are Illegal–The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.” We wore small signs and held crosses with the names of the different victims that we were remembering in our prayer service. Also displayed was a life size cardboard cutout of Daniel Berrigan, along with signs: “Let us Follow the Unarmed Jesus” and “They shall beat their swords into plowshares.” 


At the beginning of the witness, Kathy Boylan left the designated protest area carrying a sign “Refuse to Kill” and walked down the sidewalk toward a main security checkpoint for workers and new Visitor’s entrance. She stopped a good distance away from the checkpoint and stood with her sign in the middle of the sidewalk. She was repeatedly ordered by Pentagon police to leave this area but refused to do so. She remained there for the entire time of the witness and engaged in dialogue with police. Surprisingly, she was not arrested. Going outside the designated protest area to hold a sign, leaflet or engage in any other form of public witness almost always results in an arrest.  In the designated protest area, the prayer service commenced with an opening statement (see below) and we proceeded to read the accounts/prayers of crucified victims. (see below the Script of Crucified Victims and Desecrated Earth). The readers were Kirstin and Merwyn DeMello, Mike Walli, Paul Magno, Jack McHale, Jean Johnson, Ken Cooper, John Kelly and myself. After each account/prayer, we sang “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord.”

  
The prayer service ended with a reading from Leonardo Boff’s book “The Way of the Cross, Way of Justice,” singing a revised version of the “Stabat Mater” (At the Cross Her Station Keeping), which includes six new verses composed by Joe Byrne from Jonah House, and singing “Vine and Fig Tree.”

Let us pray for each other during this Holy Season, and for all those in our world who are experiencing at this very moment the passion and death of Jesus. And let us be transformed by the cross and resurrection of Jesus as we seek to practice resurrection and be living signs of hope for our world.

In Resurrection Hope, 

Art Laffin

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(Opening Statement of Pentagon Prayer Witness)

A Good Friday Plea: Stop Crucifixion Today!
 
Good Morning to All Who Work at the Pentagon.

“We adore you o Christ and we bless you, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world!”

Today is Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the Crucifixion and death of Jesus. Today, vast numbers of God’s global family experience a modern form of crucifixion as they are crucified to a cross of war, militarism, racial hatred, discrimination and economic exploitation. In the crucified people of our world, we see the crucified face of Jesus.

We, members of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Pax Christi and other faith communities, witness at the Pentagon today to follow Jesus in nonviolent revolution as he made his way to Jerusalem. We remember the victims who have been and continue to be crucified and deemed expendable, and call for an immediate end to their crucifixion. We also pray for an end to the desecration of our sacred earth.

We say loudly and clearly with Jesus: Jesus’ last instruction to his disciples at the time of his arrest were “Put away the sword,” (Mt. 26:52).  We say loudly and clearly with Jesus, “Love one another,” “Love your enemies,” “Be merciful as God is merciful,” “Proclaim liberty to captives,” and “Put away the sword.”  “Thou shalt not kill!”

We call out to the consciences of people everywhere, especially those who lead the nations, including our own, to eradicate what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism.” (This Easter Sunday marks the 53rd anniversary of Dr. King’s martyrdom)  End all racial violence and injustice! Welcome the immigrant! Stop all violence, torture and killing! Abolish war! Abolish all weapons–from guns and assault weapons to killer drones, nuclear weapons and all weapons of war. As our banner on display here says: “Nuclear Arms are the global crucifixion of Jesus.” Endorse the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which has been ratified by 54 countries and has now entered legal force, thereby making nuclear weapons illegal. Create a political and economic order that rejects empire, upholds the dignity and human rights of every person, protects the earth and meets the human needs of all, especially in this pandemic time. Work for nonviolent social transformation! Practice Resurrection!

Please join us as we strive to create the Beloved Community!

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Script of Crucified Victims and Desecrated Earth– Good Friday, April 2, 2021

(Prepared by Art Laffin)

Crucified Victim #1–Victim of Racial Violence                                                                                                              

We pray for all those–past and present–who have been and continue to be crucified to a cross of racial hatred, rooted in the sin of white supremacy. We remember and pray for all those American Indians and African Americans who were slaughtered, enslaved, lynched and murdered simply because of their skin color. Today racial hatred and violence is pervasive throughout the land. A disproportionate number of African Americans are imprisoned and executed. African Americans are constantly profiled and are being killed in record numbers by white police officers. During this time, as the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is now underway in Minneapolis, we recall with shock and horror George Floyd crying out multiple times: “I Can’t Breathe,” as Officer Derek Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds before he died. Too many have suffered and died because of White Supremacy and State violence! The knee of White Supremacy has been on the necks of Blacks for far too long! Black Lives Matter!  

Muslims in the U.S. are demonized and targeted. Hate crimes against Asians are increasing. Systemic violence and racism, inherent in oppressive economic and political structures and policies, crush the poor and people of color, denying so many of their dignity and human rights.  

Loving God, you have instructed us that every person is created in your image and that all life is sacred. We repent for the sin of racism. Deepen our commitment to work for justice and equality for all people of color as we strive to make the Beloved Community a reality here and now.   

Crucified Victim #2–Iraq War Victim 

For 30 years the U.S. has waged war and militarily intervened in Iraq. We pray for the estimated 2 million Iraqis who have died since 1991 as a result of the U.S.-UN led sanctions, U.S. bombings, invasion and occupation. We pray for the countless millions who have been injured and displaced. We repent for the massive destruction the U.S. has caused in Iraq, for traumatizing a generation of Iraqis and setting into motion a spiral of violence and political upheaval which, in part, created the conditions for the rise of the Islamic State. We call for all CIA and U.S. military personnel and security contractors currently in Iraq to leave immediately, and that the U.S. beg forgiveness from and make reparations to the Iraqi people.

Crucified Victim #3–Afghanistan War Victim (Part of this was written by Merwyn DeMello)

Since the U.S. began its criminal military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed and wounded. Like Iraq, an entire population has been traumatized by U.S. warmaking. We pray for all those Afghans who have been, and continue to be, crucified to a cross of ruthless U.S. military occupation.

Let us pray for the people of Afghanistan, particularly the peacemakers, the Afghan Peace Volunteers, the Helmand Peace marchers, who dedicate their lives to peacemaking in the face of violence caused by the presence and actions of US forces on their soil. Let us pray that their great sacrifices made in blood and tears are met with success.  Many of the youth of Afghanistan have grown up in war – let us pray that on this Good Friday, the hearts of those walking past us are touched by our vigil and our prayers, that they be moved to oppose the violence that war and violence brings, so that the people of Afghanistan can enjoy the fruits of true peace.

We pray and work for an immediate end to the immoral and illegal U.S. war in Afghanistan, for the withdrawal of all military and CIA personnel, and that the U.S. beg forgiveness from and make reparations to the people of Afghanistan

Crucified Victim #4–Drone Bombing Victim                                                  

We pray in repentance for all victims of U.S. drone strikes and call for an immediate end to the use of these immoral and illegal killer-drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. We call for the U.S. to apologize and make reparations to all victims’ families of drone strikes. We pray in gratitude for all who have resisted and who have been imprisoned for decrying this diabolical robotic warfare. We commit ourselves to abolishing these murderous drones, our American death squads of the skies.

Crucified Victim #5–Victim of Militarism and Nuclearism                                                                                         

We pray for all people–past and present–who have been, and continue to be, crucified to the cross of militarism, nuclearism and warmaking. We remember and pray for all victims of U.S. warmaking. We appeal for an end to U.S. sanctions and threats against Iran; for an end to all U.S. military aid/arms sales to Israel which are used to support the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine; and for an end to U.S. arms sales to African countries, including Morocco, which are used to support the occupation of Western Sahara. We call for the closing of the estimated 800 U.S. military bases worldwide, including in S. Korea, and for an end to U.S. provocative military threats against N. Korea.    

We pray and are committed to working for the abolition of war; for the elimination of nuclear weapons, nuclear technology and all weapons; for an end to the militarization of space and all U.S. arms sales and military intervention worldwide; for the conversion of our war-based economy to one centered on serving the common good. This includes redirecting the $740 billion 2021 U.S. military budget to meet urgent human needs in this perilous pandemic time. We call, too, for the termination of the current 30-year nuclear modernization program now underway at an estimated cost of $1.7 trillion. And we call for the Pentagon to be converted and transformed from a center of warmaking to a center that serves life!   

Crucified Victim #6— Yemen War Victim

                                                                                                                          We call on the U.S. to end its involvement in the criminal Saudi war against Yemen which has claimed thousands of live and has caused mass starvation, including the deaths of an estimated 85,000 children, and a cholera epidemic. We call for an end to all U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in its war against Yemen. 

Crucified Victim #7–Victim of Poverty and Economic Exploitation                                                                            

We remember all people who have been, and continue to be, sacrificed at the altar of greed, oppression and economic exploitation, especially now in this pandemic. Never before have so few rich people been allowed to hoard so much. Income inequality is a grave injustice. We remember all people who have died early deaths in the U.S. and worldwide from dire poverty, malnutrition, homelessness and inadequate health care. We pray and work for an end to structures and policies that dominate, exploit and crucify people to a cross of dehumanizing poverty, debt and neglect. 

Crucified Victim #8–Torture Victim

Jesus was a torture victim who was condemned by religious authorities and executed by the Roman empire. We remember all torture victims, past and present, who have suffered and died from the effects of torture. We remember those prisoners who died at secret U.S. military black sites, as well as the nine men who died at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo. Let us continue to pray and work for the abolition of torture worldwide, and for the immediate closing of Guantanamo and all torture centers.

Crucified Victim #9–Nonviolent Revolutionary Victim

We remember all those who have given their lives and who have sacrificed their freedom as they have struggled, without using violence, for justice in their countries, including Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Honduras and Myanmar, to name but a few. We call on the U.S. to repent for its role in helping to aid abusive regimes that repress internal dissent. May all that has been stolen from these sisters and brothers be restored.

Crucified Victim #10– Imprisoned Victim

We remember and pray for:                                                                                                                                               

  1. All whistle-blowers, truth-tellers and political prisoners who have been, and continue to be, persecuted, including Mordechai Vanunu, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden
  2. Leonard Peltier, Native American political prisoner serving a life sentence
  3. Imprisoned peacemakers Fr. Steve Kelly, Martha Hennessy, Clare Grady, Patrick O’Neill and Carmen Trotta of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7
  4. The estimated 1.8 million prisoners in the U.S., for all who are condemned and awaiting execution, and for all prisoners worldwide…

We pray and work for a dismantling of the mass incarceration complex. In the words of Jesus, let us “proclaim liberty to all captives.”   

Crucified Victim #11–Immigration Victim

Mindful that Jesus was born as a migrant and exiled as a refugee, we remember today those immigrants who have been crucified to a cross of exploitation, racism, oppression and war. We remember all those who have fled their homelands in Syria, Iraq and throughout the Middle East and in Africa due to war. We remember, too, those who have been driven from their homes and the hundreds who have died in the Mediterranean Sea and crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. Loving God, help us to learn to love and welcome the immigrants in this land. Give us the courage to stand for justice for all immigrants instead of imprisoning them in dehumanizing detention facilities. Give us the courage to speak out and expose how our country’s policies of globalization and free trade are driving people to leave their countries and tearing families apart. Help us to take down the walls of division and fear that create physical walls of separation on our border. Teach us the words of love you would have us speak as we call for comprehensive immigration reform in this land.


Crucified Victim #12–Our Desecrated Earth

Creator God, we confess that the way we live today is desecrating the earth, changing the climate, the seas and the balance of life, and dispossessing the poor and future generations. We repent for the way our environment and earth continue to be endangered by industrial pollution, toxic deadly chemicals, wasteful oil consumption, pipelines, nuclear radiation and the effects of preparing for and waging war. With some 800 military bases worldwide and a vast global war machine, the U.S. military is the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels and has greatly contributed to destabilizing the earth’s climate. Creator God, help us to stop destroying your creation. Empower and sustain all those who are nonviolently resisting threats to land, water, air and sky throughout our world. Empower us to safeguard the earth, our common home, and all of creation and choose life for all that is at risk.

Published in: on April 3, 2021 at 11:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Photo from Jan. 22 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Entering Into Legal Force White House Noon-time Peace Vigil by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker–U.S.: Ratify TPNW Now!

Dear Friends,
Here is another photo from the regular Friday Dorothy Day Catholic Worker noon-time White House peace vigil to celebrate the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entering into legal force today and calling on the nine nuclear nations to ratify it.

This vigil was held near the White House in Black Lives Matter Plaza and on H St. (see White House in the background of photo taken by Susumu Ikeda, a Japanese journalist) Lafayette (Peace) Park has been closed for months due to security issues and is completely fenced off.  So, it’s not possible to assemble in Peace Park or Pennsylvania Ave. in front of the White House. 
In solidarity with ICAN and peacemakers around the world today, including four members of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 who are now in prison for their plowshares witness at the Kings Bay Trident Base in St. Mary’s, GA (https://kingsbayplowshares7.org/),  let us continue to do all we can to bring about the abolition of all nuclear weapons in the U.S. and worldwide. 


In hope for a disarmed world,

Art

Published in: on January 22, 2021 at 6:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Photos from Jan. 22 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Entering Into Legal Force Pentagon Vigil by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker–U.S.: Ratify TPNW Now!

Dear Friends, Today, the historic UN Treaty on the Prohibition Nuclear Weapons enter into full legal force, thereby establishing that nuclear are illegal under international law.  Here’s are two photos from this morning’s Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Pentagon Peace Vigil to celebrate the TPNW and to demand that the U.S. and eight other nuclear nations ratify it. The first photo is taken in the police designated protest area on the southeast side of the Pentagon. The other photo is taken near the Pentagon South Parking lot(see Pentagon sign in background of photo).

We pray and act in the hope that the U.S. government and Pentagon, the center of warmaking on the planet, will one day heed God’s command “Thou shalt not kill,” beat all the swords (nuclear weapons, killer drones and all weapons) of our time into plowshares and abolish war. We pray and work for the day when the Pentagon will be transformed into a center that serves life instead of death!


In hope for a disarmed world, Art


PS. See link to the November 2020 NCR article that I wrote about the TPNW: https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/nuclear-weapons-are-illegal-50-nations-ratify-historic-un-treaty

Published in: on January 22, 2021 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sr. Ardeth Platte, OP — Presente!

Sr. Ardeth Platte, OP, 84, who lived at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker (DDCW) since 2018, entered eternal life on September 30, 2020. On October 3, 2020, members and friends of the DDCW held a Memorial Celebration of Life for Ardeth in the community garden. See: https://archive.org/details/memorial-ceremony

Ardeth wrote the following “Paths I Have Walked,” outlining her faith journey. (See: https://www.grdominicans.org/sisters/sister-ardeth-platte/.)

Paths I Have Walked – by Sr. Ardeth Platte, OP

My love and gratitude for these Gospel blessings given by God, family, Dominican Community, friends, Intentional Communities and so many others who have blessed and inspired this journey:

– Born on Good Friday, April 10, 1936 into a loving family of big brother and missionary dad

– Seventy-nine years of life and sixty-six years as a Dominican Sister

– Teacher of junior and senior high school, principal and coordinator of an Educational Center in inner city, Saginaw

– Living and ministering at St. Joseph’s Rainbow parish, learning the struggles from people of color made poorest

– Becoming an elected City Councilwoman and Mayor ProTem of Saginaw in extensive service

– Co-founding Advocacy for Justice and a Home for Peace and Justice in Saginaw for organizing and empowering

– Joining Intentional Communities in the Upper Peninsula and at Jonah House to practice and teach direct, political and judicial action for systemic change and commit to nonviolence, resistance and plowshare actions. “…they shall hammer swords into plowshares…” Isaiah 2:4

– Experiencing years of imprisonment and walking with incarcerated women

– “I am going to spend the rest of my life to get the U.S. on board this treaty,” Ardeth Platte, OP, 81, told Global Sisters Report in an interview at United Nations headquarters shortly after the vote [Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons-TPNW], the culmination of several sets of meetings that began earlier this year. 

Up until the day God called her home, Ardeth tirelessly advocated for the TPNW.  On the day she died, Malaysia became the 47th country to ratify the TPNW. On October 24th, a historic milestone was reached–Honduras ratified the TPNW, thereby reaching the 50-country threshold needed for the treaty to enter into force, making nuclear weapons illegal under International law. The treaty will enter into full legal force on January 22, 2021. https://www.icanw.org/historic_milestone_un_treaty_on_the_prohibition_of_nuclear_weapons_reaches_50_ratifications_needed_for_entry_into_force.   

https://www.bruderhof.com/en/voices-blog/justice/is-there-bacon-in-heaven

Sr. Ardeth Platte, OP — Presente!

Published in: on October 31, 2020 at 12:07 pm  Comments (1)  

Suzanne Belote Shanley and Brayton Shanley to Speak at Dorothy Day Catholic Worker–“Loving Life on the Margins: The Story of the Agape Community” –March 6, 2020 @ 7:30 p.m.

 

 

Loving Life on the Margins: The Story of the Agape Community

Speakers: Suzanne Belote Shanley and Brayton Shanley 

Date: Friday, March 6, 2020 @ 7:30 p.m.

Place: Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 503 Rock Creek Church Rd. NW, Washington, DC, 20010

Suzanne and Brayton are co-founders of The Agape Community, a lay Catholic residential community on 34 acres of land in Central Massachusetts.  Started 37 years ago, Agape has welcomed hundreds for retreats and rural immersions to learn contemplation, nonviolence, and sustainability. The community is involved in interfaith dialogue and practice, including witness and action against war and capital punishment, and has hosted gatherings to listen to those experiencing racial injustices. 

Suzanne and Brayton will share the remarkable story of the Agape Community and their life-giving ministry, which is recounted in their newly published book titled: “Loving Life on the Margin: The Story of the Agape Community.” Copies of their book will be available for sale.  

For more in please see:  http://www.agapecommunity.org

Please Join Us! 

For more info contact the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-882-9649, artlaffin@hotmail.com

Published in: on February 29, 2020 at 8:14 pm  Leave a Comment