Report of Aug. 9, 2018 Prayer Service of Repentance to Commemorate U.S. Nuclear Bombing of Nagasaki Outside White House

Dear Friends,

On Aug. 9, from Noon-1:00 PM, about 30 people from the faith-based DC-MD-VA peace community held a prayer service of repentance on Pennsylvania Ave. outside the White House to commemorate the U.S. Nuclear bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The prayer service began with a word of welcome and reflection that I offered (see below— revised from the Aug. 6 Pentagon Prayer Service).

Judy Coode and Jean Stokan then read the powerful Hiroshima Peace Declaration that was delieved by Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui at a special Commemoration in Hiroshima on August 6, 2018 (see:

Scott Wright then gave a compelling introduction to the “Apology Petition.” (see below)

This was followed by Shizuko, a Japanese peace activist, singing the inspiring song of the A-Bomb survivors in Japanese and offering a brief reflection.

Bob Cooke and Mike Walli then led a Litany of Repentance.

This was followed by Jean inviting prayers from the gathered community. Moving prayers were offered and after each prayer a rose was placed on a photo of numerous A-Bomb victims that were displayed on the street before us, which became a makeshift shrine to the victims.

Aug. 9 is also the anniversary of the martyrdom of Sr. Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) and Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, both of whom were killed by the Nazi’s. Stein was martyred on Aug. 9, 1942, and Jagerstatter on Aug. 9, 1943. Mary Liepold read a quote from Sr. Stein,  and Sr. Patty Chappell and Rachel Schmidt read quotes from Franz Jagerstatter.

This was followed by Kathy Boylan reading Dan Berrigan’s prophetic poem, “Shadow on the Rock.”

We concluded our witness singing together “I Come and Stand.”

Catholic News Service covered this witness and a link to the story can be found at:

With hope for a disarmed world,


August 9, 2018 Prayer Service of Repentance to Commemorate U.S. Nuclear Bombing of Nagasaki Outside White House



During our Prayer Service of Repentance in front of the White House on August 6, 2016, this 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 in the Hiroshima Peace Museum. This petition was prepared by Scott Wright and Art Laffin. Groups sponsoring the petition include: Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Pax Christi Metro-DC, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, the Sisters of Mercy—Institute Justice Team, Little Friends for Peace and Jonah House. 


Hiroshima and Nagasaki: An Apology

Envision the World Without Nuclear WeaponsAugust 6 and 9, 2016— 71st Anniversary of the U.S. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki  (Read by Gathered Community)

The 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. Nuclear weapons are sinful and idolatrous. Their research, production, possession, deployment and use are a crime against God and humanity. We decry the fact that the U.S. government plans to commit a trillion dollars to modernize its existing nuclear arsenal over the next thirty years.

On this August 6 and 9, we gather with people of faith and conscience across the globe to mark the anniversary with a daily presence of prayer and action. 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. Pope Paul VI, in his 1976 World Day of Peace Message, described the bombings as “a butchery of untold magnitude.”

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. We repent for the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons at the expense of unmet human needs. Further, we offer repentance for threatening to use nuclear weapons and keeping many of them on a first-strike hair-trigger alert. 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.

Now is the time to pursue non-violent alternatives to war and proclaim a Jubilee Year of Mercy, as both the Scriptures and Pope Francis suggest: to restore justice for the poor; to lay the foundations for peace; and to seek a nuclear-free future for our children. In that spirit, we renew our commitment to the biblical vision of peace, a world without weapons or war, expressed so well by the prophet Isaiah: On that day, “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).


Opening Reflection by Art Laffin–August 9, 2018 White House Prayer Service of Repentance

Good afternoon. My name is Art Laffin and, on behalf of the DDCW and all other peacemakers present here, we extend greetings of peace to everyone at the White House today.

Seventy-three years ago, on August 6, 1945, the U.S. ushered in the Nuclear Age by committing the unspeakable act of using nuclear weapons against the people of Hiroshima. Three days later, on August 9, the U.S. used a second nuclear weapon against the people of Nagasaki. Over 200,000 Japanese died in these bombings and many thousands more have suffered and died since from the effects of nuclear radiation. The U.S. has never repented for the use of these weapons of indiscriminate mass murder.

We, members of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Pax Christi Metro-DC, and Pax Christi USA, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, the Sisters of Mercy—Institute Justice Team, Jonah House, the Assisi Community, Pax Christi International, and the Franciscan Action Network, and other friends come to the White House today to say Yes to the God of Life who commands us to love and not to kill, and No to the forces of evil, death and destruction. As people of faith, we stand here in front of the White House with contrite hearts as we call on our nation to join with us in repenting for the colossal sin and crime of building and using nuclear weapons, to apologize to the Japanese and A-Bomb survivors (known as Hibakusha) for our country’s use of the bomb against them, and to demand an end to ongoing immoral and illegal nuclear war preparations.

We also join with people of faith and conscience committed to nuclear disarmament worldwide, including in Japan and here in the U.S., many of whom are holding peace and resistance actions during this time of commemoration, including peacemakers at Büchel Air Force Base in Germany, Los Alamos and Livermore Nuclear Labs, the Bangor nuclear submarine base,  STRATCOM, the Brandywine Peace Community who are acting at Lockheed Martin, and the Manhattan Project for a Nuclear Free Future. We remember, too, the ICAN-sponsored global fast for nuclear disarmament. And we lift up in a special way the witness of the Kings Bay Plowshares, seven Catholic peace activists who carried out a plowshares action at the Kings Bay Trident facility in St. Mary’s, Georgia on April 4, 2018. Three of the seven are still being held in pre-trial detention and the four remain under house arrest as they await their trial.

Nuclear weapons were conceived of, built and used under a shroud of secrecy and deception. Since the Manhattan Project to create the Bomb began in 1940, the U.S. has spent some $10 trillion building and refining its nuclear arsenal. Instead of leading the world toward nuclear abolition, the U.S. continues to build even deadlier weapons. And it is also using nuclear technology in its efforts to militarize and dominate space.

The violence unleashed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki set in motion a trajectory of unrelenting violence by the U.S. in its wars of aggression that it has waged over the last seven decades, claiming untold lives. In its quest to be the world’s preeminent military superpower, and control vast amounts of the earth’s resources, the U.S. power structure is committed to using whatever military means is necessary, including nuclear weapons, to enforce and protect its interests.

Today, the U.S. government possesses about 6,500 nuclear weapons, many of which are on hair-trigger alert, and proposes to spend an estimated $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize it’s existing nuclear arsenal–a blatant violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This deadly venture not only endangers all of creation but is a direct theft from the poor of our nation and world. Let’s be very clear: As Fr. Richard McSorley, S.J. stated in 1976, “It’s a sin to build a nuclear weapon!”

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has turned its “Doomsday Clock” to two minutes before midnight to signify the perilous situation facing the world due to the dangers of nuclear war and the climate crisis. This peril has been exacerbated by an unstable U.S. president who has threatened to attack North Korea and Iran. 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 nuclear arsenal.

If the U.S. is to ever truly lead the way to real disarmament, it must first repent for the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and endorse and ratify the historic UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. Only then can the U.S legitimately ask other nuclear nations to disarm. To date 59 countries have signed the treaty and 14 have ratified it.

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…The total elimination of nuclear weapons is “both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative” of our time.

If it is wrong to possess nuclear weapons then it is wrong to use them under any circumstance. This means that any one in the military chain of command must refuse orders to ever use these or other similar murderous weapons. Nuclear weapons are anti-God, anti-life and have no right to exist. The Hibakusha plead to the world: “Humankind can’t coexist with nuclear weapons.” Thomas Merton declares that we must “refuse our consent to this colossal crime.” And Martin Luther King Jr., exhorts us: “The choice today is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or non-existence.”

Now is the time for urgent nonviolent action to abolish nuclear weapons, killer drones and all weapons, and to end the scourge of war. If the human family and the earth are to survive, we need to heed the admonitions of the Hibakusha, Pope Francis, Gandhi, King, Merton, Dorothy Day, the Berrigan’s, Archbishop Hunthausen and many other prophets of peace. We need to strive with every fiber of our being to embrace the way of nonviolence, renounce the sin of racism, pursue the path of just peace and create the Beloved Community.

Published in: on August 10, 2018 at 5:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

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