Ash Wednesday Prayer Service of Repentance Outside the White House

When: Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2018 — from Noon-1:00 p.m. 

Where: White House (north side on Pennsylvania Ave.) 
“The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk.1:15)

“A Church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed – what Gospel is that”? – Archbishop Oscar Romero

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a time for personal and societal repentance, radical conversion, renewal and transformation. Living under the brutal occupation of the Roman empire, Jesus declared: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk.1:15) Living in the U.S. empire, which is responsible for so much needless death and suffering in our world, we need to heed Jesus’ proclamation now more than ever!

On Ash Wednesdaypeople from the faith-based peace and justice community in the D.C. area will hold a prayer service in front of the White House to call for repentance and conversion of ourselves, our society and our churches to the Gospel way of justice, nonviolence and a reverence for all life and creation. This year, Ash Wednesday also falls on the same day that the Catholic Church and other churches commemorate St. Valentine, the 3rd century Roman martyr.
Today, we are especially mindful of our urgent duty to proclaim the Gospel mandates of love, mercy and justice and to nonviolently resist the hate-filled, fear-driven and destructive policies of the Trump administration and Congress. We commit ourselves to ending of all forms of oppression, racial hatred, sexism and violence. We demand an end to racial profiling and police violence against African Americans and other people of color. We denounce the demonizing and targeting of Muslims. We deplore the detention and the prospect of mass deportation of immigrants as well as the proposed expansion of the Border Wall. We decry the continuing repression of native peoples and the desecration of native lands and call for the cancellation of the Dakota Access and Keystone pipeline’s. 
During this Holy Season, we call upon all people of faith and goodwill to join with us in seeking to eradicate what Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism.” While tax cuts are given to the rich, millions of Americans are living in dire poverty and without adequate health care. We call for an end to corporate domination, systemic racism and income inequality; justice for the poor and homeless; and comprehensive immigration reform and affordable health care for all. We call for an end to torture, indefinite detention, the mass incarceration complex and the death penalty; debt forgiveness for poor countries; and for massive aid to help rebuild Puerto Rico. We commit ourselves to upholding the human rights of all people.
We call for the U.S. to repent and make reparations for the suffering and death it has inflicted on other countries. We further call on the U.S. to pursue the path of nonviolent conflict resolution and to make peace with the Islamic state, N. Korea, Iran and Russia. We call, too, for the abolition of war and the conversion of our war-based economy to one centered on serving the common good and protecting the earth, our common home. We also call for an end to U.S. military intervention worldwide, including in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We call for an end to the U.S.-backed Saudi war in Yemen, as well as an end to U.S. military support for the illegitimate government in Honduras and Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. And we call for the closing of the over 800 U.S. military bases across the globe, including in Guantanamo and Okinawa, Japan.
As the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist has now moved the “doomsday clock” to two minutes to midnight, due to the ever-growing perils nuclear war and climate change pose to civilization, we call on the Trump Administration and Congress to renounce the new Nuclear Posture Review, cancel the $1 trillion nuclear modernization program, ratify the historic UN Treaty to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and safeguard the environment. We call, too, for an end to the U.S. militarization of space, and for the elimination of all weapons–from guns to killer drones to nuclear weapons.

Let us begin Lent together by joining in this important Ash Wednesday witness as we strive with sisters and brother worldwide to make God’s reign of love, justice and peace a reality.


Ashes will be blessed and distributed. Please join us.

Art Laffin, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker

Scott Wright, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Jean Stokan, Sisters of Mercy Justice Team
Marie Dennis, Assisi Community
Fr. Joe Nangle, OFM, Assisi Community
Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore
For more info contact Art Laffinartlaffin@hotmail.com202-360-6416.
Published in: on February 6, 2018 at 1:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

D.C. Police Should Not Train With Israeli Occupation Forces

Speaker:  Benjamin Douglas

Date: Friday, February 2, 2018 @ 7:30 p.m.

Place: Dorothy Day Catholic Worker

Police forces across the United States, including here in D.C., travel to Israel to receive training from Israeli occupying authorities. How do people who believe in freedom and dignity for Palestine and for people of color in the United States respond to this exchange of worst policing practices? What can we do to say occupation is no model for safety in our communities? The campaign against these police trainings is part of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement: a 2005 call by Palestinian civil society to people of conscience everywhere to disinvest from the state of Israel until it (1) ends its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, (2) respects the right of return of Palestinian refugees, and (3) allows equal rights for its Palestinian citizens.
Benjamin Douglas is on the steering committee of Jewish Voice for Peace-DC Metro. He became interested in Palestine-Israel from arguing with relatives who claimed that Palestine was uninhabited prior to Zionist settlement in the late nineteenth century. He lives and works in Washington, DC.
Please join us!
For more info contact the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-882-9649


Published in: on January 18, 2018 at 8:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Please Support Witness Against Torture Events–No Clarification of Thought Talk at Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in January–Please Post

Dear Friends,

There will not be a Clarification of Thought Talk at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in January.   

We encourage people to support the Witness Against Torture (WAT) “Fast for Justice” from January 7-14. January 11th marks the 16th year that the first detainees were taken to Guantanamo. For 16 years most of the 41 detainees have been held there, experiencing brutal confinement with no resolution of their case in sight. The purpose of the Fast for Justice is to call for the closing of Guantanamo, to end torture and indefinite detention and to hold accountable those responsible for torture. 

On January 10th there will be a special Book event (see below). And on January 11th there will be a public witness outside the White House beginning at 11:30 a.m. See or email for more details.

We wish you every good blessing in this New Year.

In peace and hope,

Dorothy Day Catholic Worker

There is a Man Under that Hood: Closing Guantanamo and Ending Torture in the Age of Trump

January 10, 2018, 6-8 p.m. 

The Impact Hub

419 7th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 

Please join Witness Against Torture, the Peace Poets and friends for a book launch and performance on the eve of the January 11 demonstrations calling for the immediate closing of Guantanamo. The book — “There is a Man Under that Hood” — sets the words of Luke Nephew’s (Peace Poets) remarkable poem of that title to images of anti-torture demonstrations: photographs taken or curated by Justin Norman (WAT). The afterword is written by Omar Farah, Senior Staff Attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights. The Peace Poets will perform pieces from current human rights struggles. UK author Andy Worthington will address the state of Guantanamo in the era of Trump. And legal advocates will report on the fate of their clients still imprisoned. Together, we will celebrate our resistance to torture and work to close Guantanamo.  


Published in: on January 2, 2018 at 4:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Report of 2017 Holy Innocents Faith and Resistance Retreat/Witness in Washington, D.C.– 7 Arrested at the Pentagon on December 28

Dear Friends,

From December 27-28, over 40 members from the Atlantic and Southern Life communities, and other peacemaking friends, gathered for a retreat at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Church in Washington, D.C., and a nonviolent witness at the Pentagon to commemorate the Massacre of the Holy Innocents – past and present.

The retreat began at 2 PM on December 27 with introductions and orientation. Bernadette Naro then led the community in a Lectio Divina scripture reflection on Matthew’s account of the massacre of the innocents (Mt. 2:13-18)  

This was followed by an inspiring presentation by Sisters Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert about the worldwide campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, with a specific focus on the work of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the 2017 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and their personal involvement with the group, which includes many young people. ICAN wants all who have been involved in disarmament work to know that they, too, share in the Nobel Peace Prize. They spoke, too, about the special UN Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons that they attended in the spring and early summer and the historic treaty it produced on July 7, whereby 122 countries signed the treaty calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. The U.S. and its allies, along with the other nuclear nations, boycotted the conference. Carol also gave an overview of Pope Francis’ statements on nuclear disarmament, including his November 10th condemnation of the “possession” of nuclear weapons, the first such declaration by a pope. In their concluding remarks they emphasized the critical need for citizen action and nonviolent resistance at every level to demand that the U.S. government ratify the UN Treaty. They related certain actions already being undertaken across the U.S. in support of the UN Treaty, including city council resolutions and efforts to get banks to refuse financial transactions with companies involved in nuclear weapons-related work. They ended their sharing declaring that in this urgent time all of us are called to continue doing the many actions we have done in the past to abolish nuclear weapons. 

The remainder of the afternoon was spent in preparation for the nonviolent witness at the Pentagon. This session commenced with a reading of a moving unpublished poem by the late Sr. Anne Montgomery about the massacre of the holy innocents, past and present. 

Following dinner, Steve Baggarly led a moving liturgy which included a communal reading of Dr. Martin Luther King’s compelling 1967 Christmas Sermon, followed by a very rich community reflection.

Braving bitter cold temperatures in the single digits, the community gathered early the next morning shortly before sunrise at Army-Navy Drive and processed to the Pentagon’s southeast entrance with signs about abolishing war, disarmament and the plight of children. Surprisingly, there was not the usual squadron of Pentagon police waiting for us to arrive. Carrying copies of the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” with the intention of delivering it to a Pentagon official and requesting that the U.S. ratify it,  seven members of the community made their way to the police check point closest to the building where they encountered several heavily armed Pentagon police. They were told by the officers that they had to leave this high security area. After three warnings were given they were placed under arrest. As the seven were being escorted to police vehicles, the rest of the community, who had already lined the perimeter of the side walk leading into the Pentagon, in view of the seven, sang “Down By the Riverside.” (The attached photo features six of the seven people who were arrested and two of the signs they carried. The photo was taken at the start of the procession to the Pentagon).

After a period of several minutes police ordered everyone to go into the designated protest area or face possible arrest. As Pentagon workers streamed by, the witness continued from behind a bicycle fence. Using a sound system, an introduction to our presence was offered. The Gospel passage about the slaughter of the holy innocents was proclaimed. Excerpts from our action statement (see below) was read, with the following refrain after each one: “War Hurts Children—End All War.” Songs were sung, including the “Coventry Carol” and “Cry of Ramah.” There was then a time of silence during which those present were invited to share about why they were present at the Pentagon. The witness concluded with everyone singing “Vine and Fig Tree” as the community processed back to Army-Navy Drive.  

Upon returning to the church, there was a pot-luck breakfast, clean-up, and an evaluation of the Pentagon witness and retreat. We were all ever so grateful for our time together. We were grateful, too, for the young people who attended the retreat, whose contagious spirit of joy carries us into the New Year, come what may!

The seven who were arrested were taken to the Pentagon Police center, which once served as a day care center, and charged with “Disobeying A Lawful Order.” All were released and were given a February 1 court date
at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA.
However, the group will request a new court date as several people will not be able to make the assigned court appearance.

Those Arrested:

Steve Baggarly

Ardeth Platte

Carol Gilbert

Ralph Schvartz

Bill Frankel-Streit

Lenore Yarger

Sheila Stumph

To learn more about the UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons see the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) web site:

For the text of Pope Francis speech condemning the possession of nuclear weapons see…/francesco/…/2017/november/…/papa-francesco_20171110_convegno-disarmointegrale.html

For the complete text of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1967 Christmas Sermon see:

With gratitude and hope,

Art LaffinPentagon Action Statement

The Massacre of the Innocents Starts at the Pentagon! Let us Stop It Here and Now!

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 Atlantic and Southern Life Communities and other peace groups, come to the Pentagon, the center of warmaking on our planet. We come to remember the innocents who have died–past and present–due to greed, oppression, racism and war. Today, in this time of perpetual war and climate chaos, the lives of countless innocents, like those in Bethlehem, are endangered. 

The United States military magnifies destruction across the globe, especially in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria and throughout the Middle East. During this past year an estimated 10,000 civilians were killed by U.S. military forces in the Iraqi city of Mosul. And in Yemen, the U.S. is selling arms and providing direct military support to Saudi Arabia in its brutal war against the Houthi rebels. As a result of this deadly war, over 7 million Yemenis face starvation, 1.8 million children are malnourished and the number of suspected cholera cases has reached 1 million. We are ever so mindful that children are always the first victims of war. From overt wars to covert “dirty wars,” which now involve the use of lethal killer drones, countless lives are destroyed, displaced and disappeared.

The violence of the U.S. power structure is unrelenting. Within our own boundaries it continues to crush the poor, target people of color, demonize Muslims, demean and mistreat immigrants, and oversee a mass incarceration complex. Fear, violence and greed are the hallmarks of the new Trump Administration. And always, the existence of nuclear weapons puts all life in utter peril. This threat is further exacerbated by reckless and provocative actions towards N. Korea by an unpredictable president, the deployment of U.S. missile defense systems designed to threaten and contain Russia and China, and the U.S. militarization of space.

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. The Dakota Access pipeline is but one more example of the earth’s desecration, and which is continuing to be courageously resisted by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other water protectors.

“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, racism, massacres and disregard for the truth and human life stops here today at the Pentagon. Now is the time for personal and societal transformation. We resolve to:

  • renounce all killing
  • rid the world of nuclear weapons
  • hammer all other swords into plowshares
  • abolish war and torture
  • celebrate God’s creation with joy
As we move in to a new year, we implore the United States to sign, ratify, and implement the UN Treaty for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. We invite you to join us as we strive to create the beloved community and a nonviolent world.
Published in: on December 29, 2017 at 3:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Invitation to Holy Innocents Faith and Resistance Retreat/Witness in Washington, DC

Dear Friends,

We are writing to invite you to a time of reflection at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Church and public witness at the Pentagon on December 27-28th to commemorate the Massacre of the Holy Innocents (see below). 

If you are able to join us please let us know. And please share the below information with other friends.


With gratitude,

Art Laffin and Steve Baggerly

Holy Innocents Faith and Resistance Retreat/Witness

When: Wednesday, December 27, 2017 at 1:30 PM — Thursday, December 28 at Noon

Where: St. Stephen and the Incarnation Church, 1525 Newton St. NW, Washington, DC 20010 

WhatPlease join members of the  Atlantic and Southern Life communities and other peacemaking friends in a time of prayer, reflection and nonviolent witness to commemorate the Massacre of the Holy Innocents – past and present. We ask that people arrive by 1:30 PM so that we can begin our gathering at 2:00 PM.   

Please bring sleeping bags and bedding.  Also please bring food for a pot-luck breakfast on December 28. 

On Wednesday, we will reflect on the scriptural passage of the slaughter on the holy innocents and its meaning for us today, prepare for nonviolent witness the next day and have liturgy together. In our public witness at the Pentagon we will convey our hope for a disarmed world–a world free of war, nuclear weapons, killer drones, all weapons, racism, social inequality and climate chaos.  

As we daily face what Dr. KIng called the triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism, and as we confront what Robert Jay Lifton calls the “apocalyptic twins” of nuclear war and global warming, let us pray for each other as we seek to make the Word flesh in building, ever wider and stronger, the Beloved Community. Let us recommit ourselves to ending the slaughter of innocents everywhere.

Please join us. 


For more info contact:   

phone: Art Laffin–202-360-6416; Steve Baggarly–757-423-5420

Published in: on December 1, 2017 at 3:15 pm  Leave a Comment