The Pope and Catholic Radicals Come Together Against Nuclear Weapons

Daily Comment

“When something difficult is attempted,” Daniel Berrigan said, “it is like trying to break a rock with an egg.” Berrigan, a Jesuit priest and social radical, who died in 2016, at the age of ninety-four, spent the last third of his life doing something difficult: trying, through protest, civil disobedience, and a steady stream of books and articles, to persuade the nuclear powers to abolish their arsenals. For his efforts, he was frequently called an out-of-touch extremist who changed nothing. But now, when the jousting of Donald Trump and other would-be political strongmen on the world stage are making the nuclear threat appear particularly urgent, there are signs that the Catholic Church has come around to the position that Catholic activists such as Berrigan have resolutely maintained for the past four decades.

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Seven activists arrested at Volk Field mourning children killed by drones

photo by Bob Block

by Joy First 

Camp Douglas, WI – Seven peace activists walked onto the base at Volk Field on November 12, wearing black veils, carrying limp dolls and posters of children killed by drones, and reading a statement.  They were arrested by Juneau County officers, handcuffed and taken to the station in Mauston, where they were cited for trespassing and released.

The action was organized by the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars.  This group of dedicated activists have been vigiling monthly at the gates of Volk Field since 2011. This is the sixth action leading to arrests at the base.

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A History of the Plowshares Movement – a talk by Art Laffin, October 22, 2019

Art Laffin speaking on the history of the Plowshares movement in Brunswick, Georgia

Plowshares activist and Catholic Worker Art Laffin is the editor (with the late Sr. Anne Montgomery) of two editions of Swords into Plowshares – Nonviolent Direct Action for Disarmament (Harper & Row, 1987 and Fortkamp, 1996). He delivered the following historical review to about 100 supporters of the Kings Bay Plowshares gathered in Brunswick, Georgia for their trial, October 21-24. His talk was also recorded on video

Plowshares History Talk 

by Art Laffin
Delivered October 22, 2019 at St. Athanasius Episcopal Church, Brunswick, GA.
This version includes some slight revisions.

I am honored to be invited to speak tonight and to share this presentation with Rosalie Riegel.

I would like to begin by thanking God for the miracle of this day, for the miracle of life and for the Kings Bay Plowshares7, for Martha, Liz, Clare, Steve, Patrick, Mark, Carmen and their families and communities, and for their amazing legal and support teams. Let’s give them all a standing ovation!!!

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Kings Bay Plowshares Found Guilty on All Charges – A summary of the trial

The Kings Bay Plowshares receive a blessing at the Festival of Hope on the eve of their trial


Late in the afternoon of October 24, the seven members of the Kings Bay Plowshares – Martha Hennessy, Clare Grady, Elizabeth McAlister, Patrick O’Neill, Carmen Trotta, Mark Colville and Fr. Steve Kelly – were convicted by a jury in federal court in Brunswick, Georgia. The 12 person jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding the nuclear disarmament activists guilty of conspiracy, destruction of property on a Naval Station, depredation of government property and trespass. Defendants and supporters all left the courthouse singing “Rejoice in the Lord always”…. except for Fr. Steve Kelly, SJ, who was returned to the Glynn County Detention Center, where he has spent the last 18 months. Sentencing will be scheduled after pre-sentencing reports are completed.

Ralph Hutchison prepared the following summary of the four-day trial from his contemporaneous notes (followed by links to articles about the trial, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

The Trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares
by Ralph Hutchison

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Ten arrests at Creech drone base demonstration

photo by Chris Knudson

On the morning of October 2, ten demonstrators blockaded the South Gate entrance to the Creech Air Force Base Drone Center with a large banner that read, “Stop Droning Afghanistan – 18 years: Enough!” The anti-military drone activists from across the U.S., including military veterans, were arrested by Las Vegas police and transported to a Las Vegas jail for processing. Toby Blomé, Michael Kerr, Susan Witka, Maggie Huntington, Don Kimball, George Killingsworth, Don Cunning, Denny Riley, Eleanor Levine and Norie Clarke vowed to “halt the killing business as usual” by the Trump administration.

“ENOUGH!” said the activists, who used street theatre and imagery to link the shared barbarism of U.S. drone killings and the historical oppression and reckless killing of black and native people in our country.

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From two Dominican sisters: a master class in why the bomb is bad

from Global Sisters Report, a project of National Catholic Reporter

Longtime activists teach peace

Update: Additional states joined as signatories and/or ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Sept. 25 and 26, bringing the totals to 79 signatories and 32 ratifications. Check here for the latest numbers. Sept. 26 is the United Nations’ International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

It’s Sunday, Oct. 6, 2002, and Dominican Sisters Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert and Jackie Hudson are walking a field in Weld County, Colorado. Scattered throughout are underground silos that harbor the LGM-30G Minuteman III, an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead that can obliterate most buildings and human beings inside a 4-mile-wide circle. More than 400 Minuteman III missiles lie buried in the farmlands of the Midwest, 49 within this field.

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Six activists arrested at Hancock Field during protest of U.S. drone attack in Afghanistan

photo by John Amidon

from Upstate Drone Action

30 Pine Nut farmers in Afghanistan killed by a U.S. Drone Strike – Was Hancock Drone Base Responsible?
Syracuse, NY – At approximately 10:30 a.m. on September 24, 2019, six members of Upstate Drone Action (UDA) were arrested while expressing deep anguish and grief over the recent U.S. drone attack in Afghanistan responsible for killing at least 30 pine nut workers, and for the numerous other civilians slaughtered by the U.S. government. Holding a banner reading “Drones Fly, Children Die – Our Hearts Are Breaking”, the six activists requested that the Sheriff’s department enforce the law and stop the killings by the drone assassination program conducted at Hancock Field and other Air Force bases across the U.S. They were arrested while standing in the road at the main gate entrance of Hancock Field in Syracuse, New York.

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Nuclear and war resister Frances Crowe dies, age 100 – Presente!

100 Years of love, persistence, resistance…Frances Crowe, Presente! (March 15, 1919 – August 27, 2019) With gratitude for her life, which has been an example and an inspiration to so many of us near and far, for her activism for a peaceful and nuclear-free future, and so much more. Rest in power – all of us who you have protested with, supported, mentored and encouraged will carry on!

Democracy Now Remembers Frances Crowe – click here.
Frances Crowe, Peace Activist and War Resister, Dies at 100

The bombing of Hiroshima led her to devote her life to antiwar protests. She was arrested often, but when asked how often, she said, “Not enough.”


In 1945, when she was at home in New Orleans ironing a place mat, Frances Crowe was alarmed to hear on the radio that in its efforts to end World War II, the United States had dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The bomb instantly vaporized tens of thousands of people and ultimately killed as many as 135,000.

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Six arrested on Hiroshima anniversary attempting to deliver U.N. nuclear ban treaty to Lockheed Martin, #1 nuclear weapons contractor

from the Brandywine Peace Community
On August 6, Hiroshima Day, nuclear disarmament activists in Pennsylvania remembered the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, which obliterated the city and consumed more than 145,00 human beings in the unimaginable fire and radioactive fallout that was new in the brutal history of warfare. Radioactive fallout would kill thousands in the days following the first atomic bombing, invading generation after generation from 1945 till the present.
The Brandywine Peace Community held its annual remembrance of the bombing of Hiroshima, a remembrance that began in 1977 – 42 years ago – and has always included resistance to nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war that began in Hiroshima. 

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Federal judge rules against Kings Bay Plowshares’ motion to dismiss charges under RFRA, October 21 trial date set

UPDATE: Trial date set for October 21.
BRUNSWICK, GA  –  On August 26, a federal judge denied all the pre-trial motions of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. The activists had urged U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood to dismiss their charges for numerous legal reasons as well as the fact that the hundreds of first strike nuclear weapons on the submarines based at Kings Bay Naval Base are illegal and immoral.
The judge found the Plowshares did establish a prima facie case under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because they were sincerely religiously motivated to challenge the nuclear weapons at the Naval Base. Wood also found that the government’s actions substantially burdened their right to exercise their religious beliefs. However, the judge went on to rule that the government had a compelling interest in keeping unauthorized people out of the base and the prosecution of the Plowshares activists was the least restrictive means of protecting the safety of the base.

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