Report of Holy Innocents Commemoration Witness at Pentagon, Dec. 28, 2022

“When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled,  since they were no more.” (Matt. 2:16-18)

Dear Friends,

Early this morning from 7-8 AM, fourteen peacemakers from the DMV area and beyond held a nonviolent witness at the Pentagon, the center of warmaking on the planet, to commemorate the feast of the Massacre of the Holy Innocents–-past and present. We carried with us the spirit of many friends from the Atlantic and Southern Life communities, the Catholic Worker, and elsewhere who ordinarily would attend this witness, but were not able to be physically present. The witness was organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.  

As a beautiful sunrise unfolded, we gathered for our witness in the “designated protest area” on the southeast side of the Pentagon displaying signs and banners as civilian workers and soldiers passed by and a small group of Pentagon Police kept watch over us. I offered a brief Intro for the witness which was followed by Rev. Chuck Booker reading a Gospel account of the massacre of the innocents,  (Mt. 2:13-18). We then sang the “Coventry Carol” and Paul Magno and Michele Dunne read a poem by Sr. Anne Montgomery (Presente!): “Feast of the Holy Innocents-1991-In Memoriam: Mass Graves.” The “Cry of Ramah” was then sung by all. This was followed by a Litany (see below) that was read by Merwyn DeMello, John Kelly, Mary Grace, Mike Walli, and Erik and Libby Johnson. In memory of Phil Berrigan (Presente!) who died 20 years ago on Dec. 6, 2002,  Kathy Boylan and Frank Panopoulos read an excerpt from Phil. Carol Gilbert and Mike Brown then read a declaration: “Redeem the Times.” (see below) We concluded the witness by singing A Child Will Lead Us, Do Not Be Overcome By Evil and Vine Fig Tree and offering the Lord’s Prayer.

During this Holy Season we are reminded once again of the promise of Emmanuel, God is with us! And we are invited by Jesus to make the Word flesh and to nonviolently resist the Herod’s of this world and all forces of death. We are ever mindful of the hope-filled message of the angel Gabriel to Mary of Nazareth, that “nothing will be impossible for God!” As we approach the end of 2022 and move into a New Year, let us keep our eyes on the prize and do all we can to make God’s reign of justice, love and peace a reality as we strive to create the beloved community and a nonviolent world.

In peace and hope,

Art

________________________________________________________________________

Intro

Good Morning. We greet everyone going into the Pentagon and the police in a spirit of peace and nonviolence. Today, Christian churches commemorate the massacre of the Holy Innocents, recalling how Herod, fearful of being removed from power, sought to destroy the child Jesus by ordering the slaughter of boys under two years old in and around Bethlehem. We, members of the DDCW, Pax Christi, Assisi Community, the Atlantic Life and Southern Community and other peace groups, come to the Pentagon, the center of warmaking on our planet, to remember the innocents who have died–past and present–due to greed, oppression, racism and war. Today, in this time of perpetual war, nuclear peril and climate chaos, the lives of countless  innocents, like those in Bethlehem, are endangered. These include the Palestinian innocents and children who continue to suffer and die today due to the ruthless U.S.-backed Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as well as all children living under systems of violence, oppression and white supremacy. Our faith compels us to nonviolently resist this onslaught. We are ever so mindful that children are always the first victims of war. We call into our presence this morning all the Holy cloud of Witnesses, including those who have witnessed here at the Pentagon proclaiming Jesus’ Gospel of Nonviolence in resistance to a warmaking empire. 

 _______________________________________________________________________________________

Litany

Refrain: War Hurts and Kills Children, Help Us Abolish War! 

During the last three decades, the United States has engaged in immoral and illegal military intervention and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, U.S. intervention resulted in over several million Iraqi deaths and countless injuries from bombings, sanctions, torture and occupation; over four million refugees; immeasurable trauma for an entire society; political and social instability; and an endless cycle of violence. 

Refrain: War Hurts and Kills Children, Help Us Abolish War! 

Since the U.S. began its criminal military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, tens of thousands of Afghan civilians were killed and wounded and there has been political and social instability. Like Iraq, an entire population has been traumatized by U.S. warmaking. 

Refrain: War Hurts and Kills Children, Help Us Abolish War! 

In Yemen, the U.S. continues to provide direct military support and weapons to Saudi Arabia in its brutal war against the Houthi rebels. The war in Yemen has killed over 150,000 people. According to UNICEF, more than 11,000 boys and girls have been killed and injured during the war and 2.2 million are malnourished. A Lockheed Martin made bomb was used in the Saudi bombing of a school bus in Yemen on Aug. 9, 2018 killing over 40 children. 

Refrain: War Hurts and Kills Children, Help Us Abolish War! 

We also remember the thousands of innocent civilians who have died as a result of U.S. drone attacks and air strikes over the last twenty years. Last year, the New York Times published a two-part series exposing a vast cover-up by the Pentagon of hiding the numbers of civilians killed by these U.S. bombings. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), U.S. strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen from 2002 to 2020 killed between 10,000 and 17,000 people. On August 29, 2021, 7 children were among the 10 family members of the Ahmadi family that were killed in Kabul Afghanistan by a Lockheed Hellfire missile fired from an General Atomics Reaper Drone. 

Refrain: War Hurts and Kills Children, Help Us Abolish War! 

The 2023 NDAA military spending bill of $858 billion, which was recently passed by the House and Senate, was signed by the President. The U.S. proceeds with an estimated $1.7 trillion nuclear modernization program over the next several decades, which will include 12 new Columbia-Class nuclear submarines to replace existing Ohio-Class Trident subs at an estimated cost of over $109 billion. The Pentagon recently unveiled the new B-21 Raider which will be a dual-capable strike stealth bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear weapons. Each B-21 will cost $729 million. Estimated costs for 100 B21’s over the next 30 years will exceed $200 billion. Pope Francis has declared that the mere possession of nuclear weapons is immoral. These exorbitant expenditures for weapons and war is an abomination–an affront to God and a crime against the poor!

Refrain: War Hurts and Kills Children, Help Us Abolish War! 

According to UNICEF, over 700 million people live in poverty worldwide and 356 million children live in extreme poverty. According to the Poor People’s Campaign, there are 140 million poor and low-income people in the U.S.  According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, over 11 million children in the U.S. live below the federal poverty line and nearly 1 in 5 children of color are poor. According to the Census Bureau, 27 million people are uninsured in the U.S. Over half a million people are experiencing homelessness in the U.S. In 2022, 77 people in D.C. died without the dignity of a home. Dr. King declared: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Refrain: War Hurts and Kills Children, Help Us Abolish War! 

On January 20 of this year, the Doomsday Clock was set to 100 seconds before midnight due to the existential dangers of nuclear war and climate change — threats compounded by cyber-enabled information warfare, upgrades to existing nuclear systems, and worsening world tensions. This determination occurred just prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now this conflict has further exacerbated the nuclear peril between the two foremost nuclear powers. While the U.S. has always maintained a “first-use” nuclear weapons policy, Russia has stated it would consider using nuclear weapons if it feels endangered by increased U.S. and NATO intervention in the Ukraine war. With respect to waging war, Dr. King, who condemned nuclear weapons in 1959, declared: “War is not the answer…

I consider war an evil…The choice before us is either nonviolence or nonexistence.” It is imperative that the U.S. and the eight other nuclear-armed states ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons  

Refrain: War Hurts and Kills Children, Help Us Abolish War! 

According to the Federation of American Scientists, nine countries possess roughly 12,700 warheads. Approximately 90 percent of all nuclear warheads are owned by the U.S. and Russia (Russia has 5,977; the U.S. has 5,428). U.S. nuclear weapons are also stored at six military bases in the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Turkey. Furthermore, U.S. and NATO missile defense systems ring Russia and China, increasing already heightened tensions. The U.S. and Russia, whose nuclear forces are on high alert, as well as China, are developing hypersonic weapons that could become nuclear capable.                            Refrain: War Hurts and Kills Children, Help Us Abolish War! 

Every day, the world’s addiction to oil, natural gas and nuclear power is the cause of environmental contamination that is threatening global devastation. With nearly 800 military bases worldwide establishing its vast war machine, the Pentagon is the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels, making it a major contributor to destabilizing the climate. Climate chaos acutely impacts the poor countries of the world. According to the WHO, climate change threatens the essential ingredients of good health – clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply and safe shelter – and has the potential to undermine decades of progress in global health. Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress alone.

Refrain: War Hurts and Kills Children, Help Us Abolish War! 

 ______________________________________________________________________________________

Redeem the Times Declaration 

(We are indebted to Dan Berrigan and Ardeth Platte–Presente!–for their contributions to this declaration).  

      “Redeem the times,” proclaims the late peacemaking prophet, Jesuit Priest, Daniel Berrigan, along with countless others. “The times are inexpressibly evil.  And yet, the times are inexhaustibly good, solaced by the courage and hope of many. The truth rules, Christ is not forsaken.”

       The violence, massacres and disregard for the truth and human life and creation stops here today at the Pentagon. Now is the time for national repentance and personal and societal transformation. In solidarity with sisters and brothers around the world, we resolve to:

–renounce and resist State-sanctioned killing, systemic violence, racial injustice and sexism;

–end environmental destruction, poverty and economic inequality;

–respect the human rights of all people, especially immigrants and refugees  

–train and form diplomats, truth commissions, developers of international economies, trade specialists, nonviolent reconciliation teams, institutes for justice and peace;

–commit in policy that our country makes reparations to all victims of its military interventions worldwide, abolish torture, war, and weapons forever, hammer all swords into plowshares; and convert the war economy so our planet and people may live;

–build homes for all, assure healthy food for all, develop health care and education for all, plan an economy for full meaningful employment, develop renewable energy implementation, mass transit lines, practice restorative justice;

–implore the U.S. and all nuclear nations to sign and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which, to date, has been ratified by 68 nations; 

–celebrate God’s creation with joy.

During this Holy Season we are reminded once again of the promise of Emmanuel, God is with us. And we are invited by Jesus to make the Word flesh and to nonviolently resist the Herod’s of this world and all forces of death. We are ever mindful of the hope-filled message of the angel Gabriel to Mary of Nazareth, that “nothing will be impossible for God!” As we approach the end of 2022 and move into a New Year, let us keep our eyes on the prize and do all we can to make God’s reign of justice, love and peace a reality as we strive to create the beloved community and a nonviolent world.

Published in: on December 28, 2022 at 2:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Report of Sept. 20, 2022 AFA Arms Bazaar Witness

Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”                                                                                                                                                                 –Pope Francis, September 24, 2015 Speech to the U.S. Congress

Dear Friends,

On this eve of the International Day of Peace, and in solidarity with all who are participating in the coming days in Campaign Nonviolence (see: https://paceebene.org/action-days) and the Catholic Days of Action (see: https://nonviolencejustpeace.net/days-of-action/), Mike Walli, Bob Cooke, Jack McHale, Scott Wright and I vigiled today from Noon-1:15 PM outside the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, MD which is once again hosting the annual Air Force Association (AFA) “Air-Space-Cyber Conference and Technology Exposition,” what we call an “Arms Bazaar.” This Arms Bazaar is an affront to God and endangers the entire human family and all of creation! See: https://www.afa.org/2022-air-space-cyber-agenda

During our witness we were present to both weapons contractors and military attending the Arms Bazaar who were on their lunch break. As we held banners and signs, our witness included a reading of the Beatitudes from Luke’s Gospel and an excerpt from Dr. King’s Beyond Vietnam Speech (April 4, 1967), offering a “Prayer of Exorcism and Conversion” and a Reflection and Response (see below), and a recitation of the CPT Litany of Resistance and Pax Christi Litany of Repentance and Conversion. We also sang several songs beginning with “Down by the Riverside” and ending with “Vine and Fig Tree.”   

In these perilous times, let us live in the hope that Jesus offers: “All things are possible for the one who has faith.” (Mk. 9:23) We beckon the holy cloud of witnesses and all peace and justice makers who have gone home to God and who are now advocating for us. Hope abounds in the actions of countless people worldwide who are seeking to make God’s reign of justice, love and peace a reality. Let us redouble our efforts to do all we can to nonviolently resist the forces and systems of violence, racism, oppression and death and witness to the God of Life and Love as we strive to create the Beloved Community.

In peace and hope,

Art

REFLECTION AND RESPONSE

From September 19-21, the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is once again playing host to the Air Force Association (AFA) “Air-Space-Cyber Conference and Technology Exposition,” what we call an “Arms Bazaar.” The AFA, according to its web site, is “the voice for aerospace power and the Air Force family.” This year’s theme is: “AMERICA’S AIR & SPACE FORCES – YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW (75 YEARS IN THE DEFENSE OF OUR NATION).”

Response: God Commands Us Not to Kill and To Beat Swords into Plowshares! Stop the AFA Arms Bazaar! Disarm Now!

Over 150 exhibitors taking part in this year’s Arms Bazaar have played a prominent role in U.S. warmaking. Weapons contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and BAE, are profiting from war and literally are making a killing! But that’s not all. The Pentagon and numerous arms dealers are committed to U.S. nuclear/military/cyber superiority and militarizing and controlling space. 

Response: God Commands Us Not to Kill and To Beat Swords into Plowshares! Stop the AFA Arms Bazaar! Disarm Now!

During its three-day Arms Bazaar, the AFA will hold forums addressing how the U.S. can refine its warmaking apparatus and cyber capability so it can dominate earth and space. Here are titles for some of the forums:  “Long-Range Strike: Fielding Tomorrow’s Bomber,” “Air and Space Warriors Now and Tomorrow,” “The Reality of Space as a Warfighting Domain,” and “Electromagnetic Warfare.” Additionally, two gala banquets are being held. We decry the AFA Arms Bazaar for what it is: a scandalous affront to God, a theft from the poor, and a threat to people and the environment worldwide! 

Response: God Commands Us Not to Kill and To Beat Swords into Plowshares! Stop the AFA Arms Bazaar! Disarm Now!

The victims cry out for justice, and the earth, under daily assault, groans in travail! Who will speak for the poor and the victims, as arms dealers reap huge profits from their lethal weapons and death technology? Who will protect our sacred earth and environment and work to avert global catastrophe?                                                                                  Response: God Commands Us Not to Kill and To Beat Swords into Plowshares! Stop the AFA Arms Bazaar! Disarm Now!

In light of the proposed $813 billion 2023 U.S. military budget, who will help to convert the U.S. war economy to meet critical human needs? We need, more than ever, to nonviolently resist and work to eradicate what Dr. King called the interrelated triple evils of racism, poverty/economic exploitation, and militarism/war.                                                                  Response: God Commands Us Not to Kill and To Beat Swords into Plowshares! Stop the AFA Arms Bazaar! Disarm Now!

Together, on this eve of the International Day of Peace, and in solidarity with Campaign Nonviolence, Catholic Days of Action and sisters and brothers in the U.S. and worldwide who are acting for peace, justice and nonviolent social transformation, we of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Pax Christi and other peace groups call on all people of faith and goodwill to demand that the U.S. government:                                                                          –renounce all systems of domination and oppression, rooted in white supremacy, which are reinforced by the murderous weapons displayed at the AFA Arms Bazaar;                             –end military aid and weapons sales to all nations of the world, including to Israel used to support its illegal occupation of West Bank and Gaza, to Saudi Arabia used to support its 7-year illegal war in Yemen, and to Morocco used to support the illegal occupation of Western Sahara;                                                                                                                                      –-make reparations to Iraq, Afghanistan and all other nations where the U.S. militarily intervened and occupied which has resulted in the death, suffering and displacement of  millions of people, immeasurable trauma for entire societies and political and social instability;                                                                                                                                  –close its over 800 military bases worldwide, end NATO and AFRICOM, and stop all forms of military intervention throughout the world;                                                                            –stop the deployment of U.S. and NATO missile defense systems ringing Russia and China which is increasing already heightened tensions;                                                                    –heed Pope Francis’ plea that the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral and abolish all nuclear weapons now;                                                                                                          –ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) as 66 nations already have which now makes nuclear weapons illegal under international law;                                –redirect exorbitant military expenditures, including the estimated $1.7 trillion over the next several decades to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, to meet urgent human needs and safeguard the environment;                                                                                                      –create an economic and political order committed to placing people before profit, serving the common good, dismantling racism, promoting equality and restorative justice, abolishing war and all weapons, and upholding the dignity and human rights of every person.                                                                                                                      Response: God Commands Us Not to Kill and To Beat Swords into Plowshares! Stop the AFA Arms Bazaar! Disarm Now!

Let us continue to do all we can to establish the Beloved Community, end the climate crisis and create a world free of nuclear and conventional weapons, killer drones, war and oppression where the needs of ALL the poor are met. In the name of God, who commands us to love and not to kill and to beat all the swords of our time into plowshares, in the name of Jesus, who calls us to be peacemakers and people of total nonviolence, it’s time to end the AFA Arms Bazaar!  

Published in: on September 20, 2022 at 6:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Resist the Air Force Association “Arms Bazaar”

When: Tuesday, September 20, 2022, from 12 Noon – 1:30 p.m. 

What: A Nonviolent Vigil and Prayer Service for Peace and Justice during the annual AFA Air-Space-Cyber Conference and Technology Exposition, what we call an “Arms Bazaar.” This witness is being held on the eve of the International Day of Peace (https://www.un.org/en/observances/international-day-peaceand in solidarity with Campaign Nonviolence (https://paceebene.org/action-days)  and Catholic Day of Actions (https://nonviolencejustpeace.net/days-of-action/). 

For more info about the AFA Arms Bazaar see: https://www.afa.org/2022-air-space-cyber-agenda

Where: Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, MD 20745We will meet for the vigil at the corner of Waterfront St. and St. George Blvd., directly across from the Gaylord National Resort.

Sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker

For more info contact: Art Laffin – 202-360-6416,  artlaffin@hotmail.com

Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop thearmstrade.”                                                                                                                                 –Pope Francis, September 24, 2015 Speech to the U.S. Congress

Dear Friends, 

From September 19-21, the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is once again playing host to the Air Force Association (AFA) “Air-Space-Cyber Conference and Technology Exposition,” what we call an “Arms Bazaar.” The AFA is “the voice for aerospace power and the Air Force family.” The theme for this year’s Arms Bazaar is: “AMERICA’S AIR & SPACE FORCES – YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW (75 YEARS IN THE DEFENSE OF OUR NATION).”

Last year, according to the AFA web site, “more than 12,500 registrants were treated to three days of informative speaker sessions and more than 150 exhibitor booths at the AFA’s 2021 Air, Space & Cyber Conference.” 

(https://www.afa.org/asc22-exhibitors-and-partners

Exhibitors taking part in this year’s Arms Bazaar play a prominent role in U.S. warmaking and global military intervention. Weapons contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and BAE, are profiting from war and literally are making a killing! But that’s not all. The Pentagon in concert with numerous arms dealers are committed to U.S. nuclear/military/cyber superiority and militarizing and controlling space.

During its three-day Arms Bazaar, the AFA will hold forums addressing how the U.S. can refine its war making apparatus and cyber capability so it can dominate earth and space (https://www.afa.org/2022-air-space-cyber-agenda).

Here are titles for some of the forums:  “Long-Range Strike: Fielding Tomorrow’s Bomber,” “Air and Space Warriors Now and Tomorrow,” “The Reality of Space as a Warfighting Domain,” and “Electromagnetic Warfare.” Additionally, there will be two gala banquets. 

We decry the AFA Arms Bazaar for what it is: a scandalous affront to God, a theft from the poor, and a threat to people and the environment throughout the world!

On January 20 of this year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists “Doomsday Clock” was set to 100 seconds before midnight due to the existential dangers of nuclear war and climate change — threats compounded by cyber-enabled information warfare, upgrades to existing nuclear systems, and worsening world tensions. This determination occurred just prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now this conflict has further exacerbated the nuclear peril between the two foremost nuclear powers.

The victims cry out for justice, and the earth, under daily assault, groans in travail! Who will speak for the poor and the victims, as arms dealers reap huge profits from their lethal weapons and death technology? Who will protect our sacred earth and environment and work to avert global catastrophe? In light of the proposed $813 billion 2023 U.S. military budget, who will help to convert the U.S. war economy to meet urgent human needs? We need, more than ever, to nonviolently resist and work to eradicate what Dr. King called the interrelated triple evils of racism, poverty/economic exploitation, and militarism/war. 

Together, in solidarity with sisters and brothers in the U.S. and worldwide, we appeal to all people of faith and goodwill to call on the U.S. to:

–renounce all systems of domination and oppression, rooted in white supremacy, which are reinforced by the murderous weapons displayed at the AFA Arms Bazaar;

–end military aid and weapons sales to all nations of the world, including to Israel used to support its illegal occupation of West Bank and Gaza, to Saudi Arabia used to support its 7-year illegal war in Yemen, and to Morocco used to support the illegal occupation of Western Sahara;

–close its over 800 military bases worldwide, end NATO and AFRICOM, and stop all forms of military intervention throughout the world;

–stop the deployment of U.S. and NATO missile defense systems ringing Russia and China which is increasing already heightened tensions; 

–heed Pope Francis’ plea that the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral and abolish all nuclear weapons now;  

–ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which now makes nuclear weapons illegal under international law; 

–redirect exorbitant military expenditures, including the estimated $1.7 trillion over the next several decades to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, to meet urgent human needs and safeguard the environment;

–create and economic and political order committed to placing people before profit, serving the common good, dismantling racism, promoting equality and restorative justice, and upholding the human rights and dignity of every person. 

Let us continue to do all we can to establish the Beloved Community, end the climate crisis and create a world free of nuclear and conventional weapons, killer drones and war. In the name of God, who commands us to love and not to kill and to beat all the swords of our time into plowshares, in the name of Jesus, who calls us to be peacemakers and people of total nonviolence, it’s time to end the AFA Arms Bazaar and establish a disarmed world!  

Please join with members of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Pax Christi and other peacemakers as we seek to say YES to Life and a resounding NO to the merchants of death and war profiteers. 

Please share this with your contacts and network.

With gratitude, 

Art Laffin

Directions to Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center

Directions from Downtown D.C., Parking and Meeting Place
Take 395 South (off of New York Ave. or Constitution Ave. at 9th St. NW) Merge onto 295 South via exit on left (crossing into Maryland) – 7.4 miles. Take the exit toward National Harbor. Take ramp to National Harbor Blvd. Bear left on National Harbor Blvd. and go two blocks to St. George Blvd. Make a right on St. George Blvd. Go to one block before Waterfront St. and look for street meter parking. Also St. George Parking Garage is on right in case you can’t find street parking (just past the cross street called Mariner Passage). The garage is one block before Waterfront St., where the Gaylord National Resort is located. We will meet for the vigil at the corner of Waterfront St. and St. George Blvd. directly across from the Gaylord National Resort. If you are coming from Maryland or Virginia use Map Quest for the most precise route to the Gaylord. 
For public transportation

 go to https://www.wmata.com/ and click on TRIP PLANNER.

Published in: on September 6, 2022 at 2:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Report of August 9, 2022 Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Prayer Witness Outside the White House

Dear Friends,

On August 9th from Noon-1:00PM, with the temperature heat index at over 100 degrees, about 25 friends from the faith-based peace justice community in the DMV, in solidarity with people worldwide and the Nuclear Ban Treaty Collaborative Days of Action Working Group, who are acting at this time for nuclear abolition, held a prayer service outside the White House on Pennsylvania Ave. to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to call upon the U.S. to repent for the nuclear sin, ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear weapons (TPNW) and abolish its nuclear arsenal (see attached photo by Art Laffin). This witness was sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.

After my opening statement and welcome, Scott Wright and Jean Stokan lead us in offering an Apology Petition to the people of Japan for the sinful and criminal U.S. use of nuclear weapons against them. (See the petition in the below prayer service). This was followed by people prayerfully laying roses on top of photos of A-Bomb victims that we displayed on the street. 

Mary Helen Washington then began reading an excerpt from Setsuko Thurlow’s acceptance speech for ICAN’s Nobel Peace Prize award in 2016. Setsuko was 13 years old when the atom bomb was dropped by the U.S. on her home city of Hiroshima. However, after Mary Helen read the first several lines, we and all tourists were abruptly ordered to leave the street by the Secret Service. We reset our vigil just inside Lafayette Park, next to the Peace Park vigil that has maintained a continuous peace presence in the Park since 1981, and tried to continue our prayer service. Within several minutes we and all tourists were ordered again by Secret Service to move out of Lafayette Park and onto H St. where we continued our prayer service with many tourists looking on.  (We later learned these measures were taken in response to an incident directed at the Secret Service).

At our new H St. vigil site, despite loud road repair work being done that later stopped due to our request, Mary Helen was able to finish Setsuko’s harrowing and inspiring reading.  Kathy Boylan then read a reflection by Dorothy Day condemning these nuclear atrocities immediately after they occurred. I offered a song in Japanese dedicated to the Hibakusha titled Genbaku O Yurusumagi (Never Again the Atom Bomb) by Ishiji Asada. Paul Magno, Dan Moriarty and Sunny Neelam then read a Reflection/Prayer about the real truth about why nuclear weapons were used, past and present nuclear policy, and the present nuclear threat (see below). This was followed by Susan Gunn and Kirstin De Mello leading a litany of repentance. Jack McHale then read Dan Berrigan’s poem “Shadow on the Rock.” To mark today being the anniversary of the martyrdom of Franz Jagerstatter and St. Edith Stein, Mike Walli and Susan Gunn read several quotes from them. 

We concluded the witness by singing Happy Birthday to Kathy Boylan who is celebrating 79th birthday on Friday, Aug. 12, and the Vine and Fig tree song.  

I want to express great gratitude to all the groups represented in this witness today. They include: Pax Christi Metro-DC, Pax Christi USA, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Justice Team,  Franciscan Action Network, Assisi Community and the Caldwell Community. We stand in solidarity with people across the world and in the U.S. I also want to thank all those who could not attend this witness and who expressed their prayerful solidarity. And special thanks to each of you who receive this, for all you are doing to help create the Beloved Community and make God’s reign of justice, love and peace a reality.

In hope for a disarmed world,

Art

Prayer Service for Aug. 9, 2022 White House Witness

OPENING 

APOLOGY PETITION 

During our Prayer Service of Repentance in front of the White House on August 6, 2016, an Apology Petition was read and presented to Mr. Mimaki, a Hiroshima A-bomb survivor. Over 700 people signed the petition. In September 2016, Mr. Mimaki delivered the petition to the Mayor of Hiroshima and is now at the Hiroshima Peace Museum. Two years ago, to mark the 75th anniversary of the US atomic bombings of Japan, an updated Petition was signed by over 240 people and sent to the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to the main Hibakusha organization. This petition was also endorsed by many religious and peace groups.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: An Apology–Envision the World Without Nuclear WeaponsAugust 6 and 9, 202075th Anniversary of the U.S. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki  

        The 75th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a time of remembering the horror, repenting the sin and reclaiming a future without nuclear weapons. It is a time to recommit ourselves to the work of disarming and dismantling the machinery of mass destruction and abolishing war.

        We unite in prayerful witness with people of faith and conscience across the globe to mark this historic anniversary. As citizens of the United States, we invite people to publicly ask God for forgiveness for the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which caused the immediate death of more than 200,000 people, and hundreds of thousands more who died in the aftermath as a result of radiation poisoning. We apologize to the people of Japan – and to the survivors of the bombing, the hibakusha – for our country’s bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and we ask forgiveness for these atrocities.

        Pope Paul VI, in his 1976 World Day of Peace Message, described the bombings as “a butchery of untold magnitude.” Pope Francis, who in 2017 condemned the possession of nuclear weapons as immoral, reminded us once more, during his 2019 visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, of “the unspeakable horror suffered in the flesh by the victims of the bombing and their families,” and reaffirmed his conviction that “a world without nuclear weapons is [both] possible and necessary.”

        Nuclear weapons are sinful and idolatrous. The mining, testing and deployment of these weapons have desecrated native lands and the Marshall and South Pacific Islands and have caused incalculable ecological devastation and early deaths of countless people exposed to nuclear radiation. Their research, production and deployment are a theft from the poor, and a crime against God’s creation, humanity and future generations. We repent for these sins and for the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons at the expense of unmet human needs. Further, we offer repentance for our nation’s possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons to enforce a world order based on systemic racism and the destruction of the cultural and biological diversity of our planet.

         We decry the fact that the U.S. government is committed to a 30-year upgrade of its nuclear arsenal at an estimated cost of $1.7 trillion. We denounce the Pentagon Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations stating that a limited nuclear war could be waged and won. We implore the U.S. to end its nuclear modernization program, renounce its first-use nuclear policy, and to sign and ratify the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. We call on all Christians and people of good faith everywhere to refuse to participate in the production, maintenance, threatened use and use of these murderous weapons.

        We firmly resolve, with God’s grace and mercy, to reject the false idols of nuclear weapons, and to embrace the life-affirming work of abolishing these weapons of terror.

         As the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist has reset the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, let us heed the plea of the Hibakusha to the world: “Humanity and nuclear weapons cannot co-exist.” Now is the time to pursue non-violent alternatives to war and to lay the foundations for just peace; now is the time to restore justice for the poor and integrity to creation, and to seek a nuclear-free future for our children.

         On that day, the prophet reminds us, “God will rule over all nations and settle disputes for all peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not raise sword against nation; nor will they train for war anymore” (Is 2:4) In that spirit, we solemnly renew our commitment to that biblical vision and promise of peace and justice, when the world will finally be free from the scourge of war and the terror of nuclear weapons.

Read Excerpt of Hiroshima Survivor Setsuko Thurlow 

Read Excerpt from Dorothy Day 

Song Dedicated to A-Bomb Survivors 

Reflection–Refrain–We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now!

LITANY OF REPENTANCE 

For the U.S. development, use, and threatened use of nuclear weapons, Forgive us O God 

For the over 200,000 people who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a direct result of the U.S. nuclear bombings, Forgive us O God 

For the countless Japanese A-Bomb survivors who have suffered and died from the effects of nuclear radiation, Forgive us O God 

For all American Indians who have contracted cancer and died as a result from uranium mining on their sacred lands, Forgive us  God

For the unknown numbers of people who have suffered and died from nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands and South Pacific, Forgive us O God 

For workers in nuclear facilities who were exposed to radiation and who have suffered and died, 

Forgive us O God

For those living downwind from nuclear facilities who have contracted cancer and died, Forgive us O God 

For those prisoners and people with mental disabilities who were subjects of nuclear radiation experiments, Forgive us O God    

For the U.S. use of highly toxic radioactive depleted uranium weapons in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and elsewhere which have claimed untold lives and have caused dramatic increases of cancer, leukemia and birth defects in each of the countries where these weapons have been used, Forgive us O God 

For the millions who needlessly suffered and died–past and present–because of the money and resources spent on weapons and war instead of on programs to help eradicate poverty and preventable diseases, Forgive us O God 

For desecrating the earth and the environmental damage caused by the mining, testing and use of nuclear technology, Forgive us O God 

For the U.S. militarizing space and the dangerous use of nuclear technology in space,

Forgive us O God 

For the U.S. military being the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels, and the single entity most responsible for destabilizing the Earth’s climate, Forgive us O God 

For placing our trust in weapons and mammon rather than in God, Forgive us O God

“SHADOW ON THE ROCK” by Daniel Berrigan, SJ

At Hiroshima there’s a museum 

and outside that museum there’s a rock, 

and on that rock there’s a shadow. 

That shadow is all that remains 

of the human being who stood there on August 6, 1945 

when the nuclear age began. 

In the most real sense of the word, 

that is the choice before us. 

We shall either end war and the nuclear arms race now in this generation,

or we will become Shadows On the Rock.

Read Quote from St. Edith Stein and Blessed Franz Jagerstatter 

Closing Song: Vine and Fig Tree

DSC_3842.JPG

Ryohei Takagi

August 9, 2022 White House Reflection/Prayer on Nuclear Threat

Refrain: We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now
The powers that be want us to believe that nuclear weapons were used to save American lives and end WWII. This is a fallacy! Both General Eisenhower, and Admiral Leahy, head of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff, opposed using the atomic bomb. They declared that Japan was already defeated and on the verge of surrender and, as Eisenhower stated, “that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary” and “no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.”We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now
According to Gar Alperovitz, in his compelling book, Atomic Diplomacy, nuclear weapons were used against the Japanese primarily for two reasons: “first, the U.S. wanted to hasten its victory over Japan without the aid of the Russians, who were about to enter the war; second, and most importantly, President Truman intended to threaten the Russians and warn them not to challenge U.S. plans for organizing the postwar world.”We Repent and Resist the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now
The U.S. has never repented for using nuclear weapons. The violence unleashed at Hiroshima set in motion a trajectory of unrelenting violence by the U.S. in the wars of aggression that it has waged over the last seven decades in many countries, claiming untold lives. Moreover, the U.S. has continued to build even deadlier weapons which endanger all of creation. Beginning with the Manhattan Project in 1940, the U.S. has spent nearly $10 trillion on its nuclear weapons program.We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now
On January 20 of this year, the Doomsday Clock was set to 100 seconds before midnight due to the existential dangers of nuclear war and climate change — threats compounded by cyber-enabled information warfare, upgrades to existing nuclear systems, and worsening world tensions. This determination occurred just prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now this conflict has further exacerbated the nuclear peril between the two foremost nuclear powers. While the U.S. has always maintained a “first-use” nuclear weapons policy, Russia has publicly stated it would consider using nuclear weapons if it feels endangered by increased U.S. and NATO intervention in the Ukraine war.          We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons NowAccording to the Federation of American Scientists, nine countries possess roughly 12,700 warheads. Approximately 90 percent of all nuclear warheads are owned by the U.S. and Russia (Russia has 5,977; the U.S. has 5,428). U.S. nuclear weapons are also stored at six military bases in the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Turkey. Furthermore, U.S. and NATO missile defense systems ring Russia and China, increasing already heightened tensions. The U.S. and Russia, whose nuclear forces are on high alert, are developing hypersonic weapons that could become nuclear capable.                                    We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons NowDuring the Trump administration, the U.S. dramatically increased the nuclear danger by threatening to use nuclear weapons against adversaries on several occasions. Moreover, the U.S. withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal and the INF Treaty with Russia and carried out a subcritical nuclear test, a flagrant violation of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In its 2019 Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations, policy makers declared that a limited nuclear war could be waged and won. This doctrine was the latest manifestation of a long-held existing Pentagon policy positing that the U.S. must be prepared at all times to use whatever military force is necessary, including nuclear weapons, to protect its vital interests in the world. Also, in February 2020, the “lower-yield” W76-2 nuclear warhead on Trident missiles was deployed, a smaller warhead the military believes is more usable. Additionally, a new U.S. space force was created to oversee military control and domination of space.                           We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons NowOn March 28, 2022 the Biden administration transmitted to Congress a classified Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) which basically reaffirms preexisting U.S. nuclear doctrine, including refusal to adopt a “no first-use” nuclear policy. President Biden is committed to the modernization of nuclear forces, as evidenced by a proposed 2023 nuclear weapons budget request of $50.9 billion. The U.S. nuclear arsenal upgrade, now underway, is estimated to cost $1.7 trillion over the next several decades violates the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. This deadly venture not only endangers the world but represents a direct theft from the poor everywhere. As a leading nuclear superpower, the U.S. practices a double standard by calling on other nations to disarm while, at the same time, it refuses to disarm and instead is rapidly expanding its own arsenal.                                                                                                  We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons NowOn July 7, 2017, at the conclusion of a special “UN Conference To Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons,” 122 countries voted in favor of a historic treaty to legally prohibit nuclear weapons. On January 22, 2021, the TPNW went into force, thereby making nuclear weapons illegal under international law. To date 66 countries have ratified the TPNW. However, all the nuclear armed states have refused to sign it. We call on the U.S., the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons, to ratify this treaty and lead the way to total worldwide nuclear disarmament. We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now
Pope Francis declared: “If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession is to be firmly condemned… Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security…The total elimination of nuclear weapons is “both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative” of our time.  We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now
Nuclear weapons are immoral and illegal. They can never be used under any circumstance. This means that anyone in the military chain of command must refuse orders to ever use these or other similar murderous weapons. We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now

Published in: on August 10, 2022 at 5:45 pm  Comments (2)  

August 9, 2022 Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Vigil Outside White House

What: Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Prayer Vigil 

When: Tuesday, August 9 (Anniversary of the U.S. Nuclear Bombing of Nagasaki): Noon-1 PM

Where: Outside the White House on Pennsylvania Ave. 

Sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker

Nagasaki, September, 1945.

Nagasaki, September 1945

“Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil”.

(Epitaph at bottom of the Hiroshima Peace Park Memorial Cenotaph and Peace Flame to remember all the victims of the atomic bombings)

Dear Friends, 

To commemorate the 77th anniversary of the sinful and criminal U.S. nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker invites you to attend a prayer vigil on August 9th outside the White House. August 9th marks the actual anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Nagasaki.  

We will remember and pray for the victims of these unspeakable nuclear atrocities and all those who have witnessed the destructive power of nuclear weapons use, testing and mining–hibakusha, pacific islanders, Native Americans, downwinders,  and all other victims of nuclearism–and call for nuclear abolition. 

Pope Francis has declared that the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral and 66 countries have now ratified the new UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which entered into force on January 22, 2021, thereby making nuclear weapons illegal under International law. The nine nuclear-armed nations — the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea — have not signed the treaty, nor has any nation from the NATO alliance. The Biden Administration is committed to the modernization of U.S. nuclear forces, as evidenced by its proposed 2023 nuclear weapons budget request of $50.9 billion, a 17 percent increase over this year’s $43.2 billion. The U.S. nuclear arsenal upgrade now underway is estimated to cost $1.7 trillion over the next several decades, while poverty increases, the climate crisis worsens and basic human needs go unmet. In January of this year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists turned the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds before midnight. This determination occurred just prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This conflict has further exacerbated the nuclear peril between the two foremost nuclear powers as both Russia and U.S. nuclear arsenals are now on high alert. 

As we call on the nation to repent for the nuclear sin, abolish all nuclear weapons, ratify the TPNW and redirect exorbitant military and nuclear expenditures to meet urgent human needs, we do so in solidarity with actions taking place around the U.S. and worldwide. In the U.S. see: 

The Hibakusha plead to the world: “Humanity and nuclear weapons cannot co-exist.” 

Martin Luther King, Jr. exhorts us: “The choice today is…either nonviolence or nonexistence.”

Please join us and share with friends. Please let me know if you can attend. 

In hope for a disarmed world,

Art Laffin

Published in: on July 12, 2022 at 4:07 pm  Leave a Comment