Dear Friends,

From Holy Thursday afternoon to Good Friday afternoon, about 20 people gathered in D.C. for a Faith and Resistance retreat and public witness that was organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and held at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Church. Those who participated in the retreat/witness were members of Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Jonah House, the Atlantic Life Community and students from Loras College from Iowa. 

Holy Thursday was a day of bible reflection, action planning and Liturgy. Good Friday was a time of public witness and heartfelt community sharing about how to conduct and communicate the intent of our nonviolent resistance actions.

The retreat began with a very rich communal Gospel sharing about crucifixion narrative from the the Gospel of John and it’s meaning for today. This was followed by a planning session for the Good Friday Pentagon and White House actions.  After dinner, there was a moving Maundy Thursday  Celebration and Prayer Service. Loras Students led a foot-washing ritual followed by Sr. Carol Gilbert  Sr. Ardeth Platte leading the Last Supper Commemoration.

On Good Friday, a nonviolent public witness was held at the Pentagon. At 7:00 a.m. the community processed from S. Fern St. to the police designated protest zone with signs and small crosses with the names of different victims in our society and world written on them. 

Once we arrived at the Pentagon there was a sizable Pentagon police presence waiting for us. Six from our community did a two-part risk arrest action. Carrying a copy of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Sr.’s Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert distributed the Treaty to workers a short distance away. Simultaneously, Steve Baggarly, Kathy Boylan, Joe Byrne and Joan Wages staged a die-in on the sidewalk outside of the fenced off designated protest area. This resulted in the police temporarily closing down the sidewalk. After being given warnings by Pentagon police, they were all arrested. As they were placed in handcuffs we sang the Vine and Fig song. They were taken to the Pentagon Police Center, processed and released within two hours. They were charged with “violation of a lawful order” and given a notice to appear in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA on July 18, 2019.

Simultaneously, as hundreds of Pentagon employees, military and soldiers from different countries streamed into the Pentagon, the rest of the community gathered in the designated protest area. A huge banner that said: “U.S. Empire Crucifies Humanity” was displayed on the grassy slope overlooking the sidewalk going into the Pentagon metro entrance. Our leaflet was read. One retreatant was dressed in a black robe representing victims of U.S.militarism as he stood against a small tree with arms outstretched. A reflection was offered and we sang “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord.”  The final reading was a reflection by Leonardo Boff, “Jesus Being Nailed to the Cross Today.”

At noon-time, as hundreds of tourists looked on, we conducted a “contemporary crucifixion” on Pennsylvania Ave., directly in front of the White House. For this witness we were joined by an additional peacemakers from the greater DMV area. We began by reading our leaflet (see below). Then twelve crucified victims, wearing black robes and a sign signifying each victim, took turns for several minutes in silence, standing on a crate, with arms outstretched on a cross (see below the short meditation for each crucified victims). After each victim came off the cross we sang: “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord.” A Buddhist bell was used to signal when each person would go onto the cross. After the 12th victim came off the cross, a reading about how Jesus is being crucified today, by Leonardo Boff, was offered. Joe Byrne then lead our concluding song, Stabat Mater. We ended our witness and retreat by singing Sacred the Land and offering a sign of peace to each other.

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

Those Arrested:

Joe Byrne

Kathy Boylan

Sr. Carol Gilbert

Sr. Ardeth Platte

Joan Wages

Steve Baggarly

Script of Crucified Victims and Desecrated Earth–2019

(Prepared by Art Laffin) 

Introduction

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, racism, militarism, economic exploitation and social injustice. In the crucified people of our world we see the crucified face of Jesus. Today, 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.

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. 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. Black lives matter!

Muslims are being demonized and targeted, denied entry to the U.S. and deported. Systemic violence and racism, inherent in oppressive  economic and political structures, crush the poor and people of color, denying so many of their dignity and basic 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 28 years the U.S. has waged war and militarily intervened in Iraq for 28 years. We pray for the over 2 million Iraqis who have died since 1991 as result of U.S.-UN led sanctions, U.S. bombings, invasion and occupation. We pray for the countless millions injured and the over 4 million displaced. We repent for destroying an entire society, 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 to leave Iraq immediately, and that the U.S. beg forgiveness from and make reparations to the Iraqi people. 

Crucified Victim #3–Afghanistan war victim 
Since the U.S. began its criminal military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed and wounded. died. 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. 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 a halt to Pentagon and White House “kill lists” and that an apology and reparations be made 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 warmaking, especially right now in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and throughout the Middle East. We pray and work 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 forms of militarism and military intervention worldwide, and for the conversion of our war-based economy to one centered on meeting human needs and serving the common good.

Crucified Victim #6— Yemen War Victim
For the tens of thousands of Yemenis who have died as a result of the US-backed Saudi War in Yemen, and for the millions now experiencing famine and facing cholera;

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. 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 (dressed as a GITMO prisoner)
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 the over 100 prisoners who, since 2001, 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 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, Jordan, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. We remember all of the people of these nations and repent for U.S. funding of any weapons used to prop up their abusive dictators. May all that has been stolen from these sisters and brothers be restored.

Crucified Victim #10– Imprisoned Victim
We remember and pray for:

  • 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;
  • Leonard Peltier, Native American political prisoner serving a life sentence
  • Rafil Dhafir, who is serving a 22 year sentence resulting from providing humanitarian and financial aid to Iraqis in violation of U.S. sanctions
  • Imprisoned peacemakers Liz McAlister, Fr. Steve Kelly, Mark Colville and the other four Kings Bay Plowshares who are out on bond
  • Martha Hennessy, Clare Grady, Patrick O’Neill and Carmen Trotta
  • The over 2.2 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 North 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 continues 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 nearly 1,000 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 19, 2019 at 5:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

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