Arrests at nuclear sites mark 73rd anniversary of atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

photo by Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

from the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

Activists honor Catholic archbishop, who was a prophetic voice for peace, on anniversary of atomic bombing

by Leonard Eiger

Silverdale, Washington: Activists blockaded the West Coast nuclear submarine base that would likely carry out a nuclear strike against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) should President Donald Trump give the order.

Activists with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action held a vigil at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor Main Gate beginning on the evening of August 5th and continuing into the morning of August 6th, the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Approximately sixty activists were present at the morning vigil, and twelve participated in a nonviolent direct action in which participants blockaded the base at the peak of the morning shift change by carrying a banner onto the roadway of the main entrance gate.

The banner read, “Trident is the Auschwitz of Puget Sound – Raymond Hunthausen.”

The activists stopped traffic entering the base for ten minutes before being removed from the roadway by Washington State Patrol Officers, cited for being in the roadway illegally, and released on the scene.

The twelve activists cited are Phil Davis, Bremerton, WA; Susan Delaney, Bothell, WA; Lisa Johnson, Silverdale, WA; Mack Johnson, Silverdale, WA; Ann Kittredge, Quilcene, WA; James Knight, Altadena, CA; Brenda McMillan, Port Townsend, WA; Elizabeth Murray, Poulsbo, WA; George Rodkey, Tacoma, WA; Ryan Scott Rosenboom, Bothell, WA; Michael Siptroth, Belfair, WA; and Jade Takushi.

Raymond Hunthausen, retired archbishop of Seattle, died on July 22nd at age 96. Frank Fromherz, author of the the soon to be released book, “A Disarming Spirit: The Life of Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen,” said of Hunthausen:

“It was in the early 1980s that Archbishop Hunthausen denounced the Trident nuclear submarine fleet harbored in his archdiocese, famously calling it ‘the Auschwitz of Puget Sound.’ His opposition inspired Catholics worldwide, but gained him powerful opponents in the U.S. government during the era of President Reagan’s military buildup. Catholic peace activist Jim Douglass, a native of British Columbia, introduced Archbishop Hunthausen to the practice of contemplative nonviolent direct action.”

“Douglass once described his longtime friend as ‘a holy prophet of nonviolence in the nuclear age.’ In what would become a truly historic address on June 12, 1981 at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Hunthausen spoke these prophetic words: ‘Our security as people of faith lies not in demonic weapons, which threaten all life on earth. Our security is in a loving, caring God. We must dismantle our weapons of terror and place our reliance on God.’”

Eight of the US Navy’s fourteen Trident ballistic missile submarines are based at the Bangor Trident base, which is just 20 miles west of Seattle. It is home to the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the US. The W76 and W88 warheads at Bangor are equal respectively to 100 kilotons and 455 kilotons of TNT in destructive force (the bomb dropped on Hirosima was between 13 and 18 kilotons). The Trident bases at Bangor and Kings Bay, Georgia, when combined, represent just over half of all warheads deployed by the United States.

While the US has been calling for the complete denuclearization of North Korea, it continues to modernize and upgrade its nuclear weapons and delivery systems, among them the Trident system. It has declared, along with some other nuclear weapon states, that it will never sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), also known as the Ban Treaty.

Monday morning’s action was the culmination of a weekend commemorating the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and calling for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. Activities included keynote presentations by former CIA officer and peace activist Ray McGovern, and Backbone Campaign executive director Bill Moyer. Activists at Ground Zero Center also welcomed participants of the Interfaith Peace Walk and held a waterborne protest, “Boats by Bangor,” on Hood Canal by the Bangor base waterfront where Trident submarines are prepared for their patrols.

The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action was founded in 1977. The center is on 3.8 acres adjoining the Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington. We offer the opportunity to explore the roots of violence and injustice in our world and to experience the transforming power of love through nonviolent direct action. We resist all nuclear weapons, especially the Trident ballistic missile system.


Two from US Detained Inside Büchel Air Base during “Nuclear Weapons Inspection”

BÜCHEL, Germany — Two US citizens calling themselves “Weapons Inspectors” were detained Monday, August 6 after they gained access to the Büchel Air Force Base, a reported deployment site for 20 US nuclear weapons nearby. Monday was the 73rd anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.

 The two, Susan Crane, 74, from the Redwood City, California Catholic Worker, and John LaForge, 62, from the group Nukewatch in Wisconsin, clipped through exterior fencing and NATO wire around 5:30 p.m. to gain access to the inner security area of the base.

“Nuclear weapons are immoral and illegal because they indiscriminately kill everything in their wake,” said Crane. “Their effects, the fires and radiation, can’t be controlled in any way, so any use of them violates the rules of war,” she said.

LaForge added, “Any deployment of US nuclear weapons in Germany also violates the Nonproliferation Treaty which prohibits any transfer of nuclear weapons between parties to the treaty.” “The NPT also requires signatories like the US and Germany to pursue negotiations for nuclear disarmament, like the recently adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons of July 7, 2017,” he said.

“We hoped to confirm that the US has removed its nuclear bombs in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but our investigation was halted by the military,” Crane said. Once inside, the two located several “protected airplane shelters” surrounded by another barrier of NATO wire, and they spent one hour on top of one shelter to take radiation measurements.

After climbing down to inspect a second bunker, the two were observed and detained by a large number of military personnel. “The extra razor wire around the bunker, the near access to the jet runway, and the massive heavily armed military reaction to us, indicates the US nuclear weapons are here,” Crane said. Nuclear weapons experts including Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists, have reported that the highly secure shelters in this area of the base contain underground “vaults” capable of holding the US B61 gravity bombs.

Crane and LaForge noted the national security threat of wild fires in Germany brought on by record-breaking heat and drought. “The German government continues wasteful training missions for nuclear war here, and intends to spend billions on a new Eurofighter, while the country had no planes available 12 days ago for fire suppression efforts in the eastern part of Germany” (as Annalena Baerbock, the head of the Greens in the state of Brandenburg, said in a television interview August 5).

The US activists wore signs reading “Weapons Inspector,” and searched part of the base with a radiation monitor for signs of nuclear weapons deployment. The two were eventually observed, detained, and kept face down in the grass for an hour. After being searched, identified, and turned over to local police, they were released without conditions around 20:45 p.m.

The Hiroshima Day inspection came toward the end of a 20-week-long series of protests which began March 26, organized by “Büchel is Everywhere: Nuclear Weapons-Free Now!”, a nation-wide coalition of 50 peace and justice groups and organizations working for nuclear disarmament. The campaign’s three goals are removal of all nuclear weapons from Germany, cancellation of plans to replace the B61s with new weapons, and Germany’s ratification of the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. 


photo by David Abercromby

Three Arrests During Blockade of Road Into Faslane Nuclear Sub Base

from the Faslane Peace Camp

In Scotland, at 6:55 a.m. on August 7, three anti-nuclear campaigners blockaded the access road leading to the South entrance to Faslane Naval Base on the Clyde, aiming to blockade the entrance until 9 a.m. when the gate was scheduled to close. They did so to mark the 73rd anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings on August 6 and 9. This action followed on from a special vigil at the North entrance the day before, during which we projected audio recordings of A-bomb survivor testimonies into the base. We were fortunate enough to host a survivor of Hiroshima at the peace camp the previous week, reminding us all of why we must continue to fight to ensure such acts can never happen again.

photo by David Abercromby

Shortly into the blockade, the MOD police decided to close off the road, redirecting traffic along the A814 towards the North Gate of the base. This created a tailback of traffic along the A814, and delays for anyone caught in the traffic. Much like the tailbacks created by the Scottish Water roadworks in Rhu (which frequently reach the peace camp, 3 miles away), the traffic on the double-laned road was controlled and kept safe by both MOD Police and Police Scotland. The MOD cutting team removed the campaigners from the road – all were removed and arrested by 11 a.m. They were each charged with “breach of the peace” – our favourite ironic charge.

Update: Two of those arrested campaigners were later released, pending court later in the month. The third has refused bail and remains in police custody. 


Activist Arrested at Vandenberg Air Force Base
by Dennis Apel, Guadalupe Catholic Worker
On Monday August 6, 2018, a little over 30 people gathered at the main entrance to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima by the United States.  Vandenberg is the location of our country’s testing of I.C.B.M.s, one of the delivery systems for nuclear warheads.  
The peaceful vigil included readings from John Hersey’s “Hiroshima”, a nuclear abolitionist statement by Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, and the Prayer of St. Francis.  Seven vigilers held pictures of the seven Kings Bay protesters as an invitation for them to be present with us.  
Tensie Hernandez of the Guadalupe Catholic Worker chose to represent the group with an act of civil resistance.  She walked onto the Base and refused to leave, talking with security police regarding the bombing of Hiroshima and the importance of  being intentional about our life decisions and who we choose to support.  She was arrested, handcuffed, cited for trespassing, driven off-base and released.  She will be notified of her court date.
March, Rally and Die-in at Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab, 41 Arrests
On August 6, the anniversary of the United States dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, activists in the San Francisco Bay area gathered for a March for Nuclear Abolition and Global Survival at the Lawerence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory. They  gathered at Livermore Lab to demand a stop to the creation of new and “more usable” nuclear weapons proposed by President Trump in his Nuclear Posture Review and fiscal 2019 budget, both released this year.
Following a rally with speakers including Jackie Cabasso, Marylia Kelly, Daniel Ellsberg and Joanna Macy, many of those in attendance had a die-in in the street. Afterwards, 41 people crossed onto lab property and were arrested.
Over 86% of this year’s lab budget is exclusively for nuclear weapons development.
Article in the People’s World here.

Photo by Cassandra Dixon

Catholic Priest Crosses the Line at Strategic Nuclear Command Center

from the Des Moines Catholic Worker

On Monday morning, August 6, Catholic Worker Fr. Jim Murphy was arrested after crossing the line at the Kenney Gate entrance to STRATCOM at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska. Fifteen nuclear abolition activists and Catholic Workers were gathered on that day in remembrance of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan on August 6 and 9, 1945. 

Fr. Murphy is the pastor at Saints Anthony and Philip Church in Highland, Wisconsin and Saint Thomas Church in Montfort, Wisconsin. Supporters note that it’s possible he will receive a prison sentence because he has been arrested there before. 

Statement of Faith and Intent for Line Crossing at
STRATCOM at Offutt Air Force Base

August 6, 2018

by Fr. Jim Murphy

Three months before I was ordained in May 1981, Pope John Paul II visited Japan and the site of the first use of a nuclear bomb against civilians.  In his talk, he repeatedly said: “To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future.”  Thirty-seven years later, our and thus the church’s commitment to the future may seem unclear.

Since the 1980’s I’ve made many trips to Offutt AFB near Omaha.  Thanks to the leadership of the Des Moines Catholic Worker, many of us remembered the presence of nuclear weapons and reflected, prayed, studied, witnessed, and sometimes crossed the line.  The evil of nuclear weapons was not tens of thousands of miles away, as if nuclear destruction is unknown or no threat to our future.

In recent months, with the development of long-range missiles by North Korea, people in the US seemed to have just a passing thought that nuclear weapons may be a threat to us.  There seemed to be no connection that US subs, planes and missiles are a constant threat to most other people on the face of the earth at any moment.

Last summer the UN gathered the nations of the world to support a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. As the nuclear powers refused to participate, there was little coverage to the 122 to 1 vote of nations to join the treaty to ban nuclear weapons.  In November 2017, Pope Francis addressed an international symposium on a world free of nuclear weapons.  He said: “If we take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of an error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned.”

NOW IS THE TIME for me to make the walk up the inclined drive at Offutt AFB and say that my spiritual leader has condemned the work of nuclear war planning.  After decades of statements from the church about the evil of the use of nuclear weapons and the loopholes of working toward disarmament, I can now be a local moral agent to communicate the condemnation of the existence of all nuclear weapons.

I invite you to join me at the entrance to Offutt AFB, Kinney Gate at 10:00 am on August 6, 2018.  Come and pray and reflect and announce that nuclear weapons are evil and need to be condemned. Bring or send me a letter to Col. Michael Manion or STRATCOM commander Gen John Hyten and I will attempt to deliver these letters.


Two arrests at Des Moines Drone Command Center on Nagasaki atomic bombing anniversary
Members of the Des Moines Catholic Worker and other activists started a three-day vigil outside St. Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines – starting on the August 6 anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and going through the August 9 anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki. With their banners, flyers and sidewalk speak-outs, they implored Bishop Richard Pates to speak out against the Iowa National Guard Drone Command Center in the city. 
Pates has previously said that America’s drone warfare policy “was not just, was not moral,” but Frank Cordaro spoke in front of the Cathedral, appealing for the Bishop to bring that message home to his parishes and give “a moral teaching about this war policy that’s going on right now in our city… Please, Bishop, for God’s sake, speak out.”
Upon conclusion of their Cathedral vigil on August 9, a small group went to the Drone Command Center, where Frank Cordaro and Jakob Whitson attempted to enter in protest. They were arrested for trespass and released with a citation and initial court date.

Activist Arrested at Pentagon on Hiroshima Anniversary

from Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Washington, D.C.

by Art Laffin

“The bomb exploded within 100 feet of the aiming point. The fireball was 18,000 feet across. The temperature at the center of the fireball was 100,000,000 degrees. The people who were near the center became nothing. The whole city was blown to bits and the ruins all caught fire instantly everywhere, burning briskly. 70,000 people were killed right away or died within a few hours. Those who did not die at once suffered great pain. Few of them were soldiers.”  

–From “Original Child Bomb,” by Thomas Merton, describing the firepower, death and destruction that was unleashed on Hiroshima 

On August 6, from 7 – 8 a.m., about 20 people from the faith-based peace community in D.C., Virginia and Maryland, held a prayer witness of repentance at the Pentagon to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. (See Prayer Service Program of Repentance below) This witness was organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and cosponsored by Pax Christi Metro-DC, and Pax Christi USA, Pax Christi International, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Assisi Community,  Jonah House, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, the Sisters of Mercy—Institute Justice Team and the Franciscan Action Network.

We gathered for the Prayer Service in the Pentagon police-designated-protest-zone, which is located in an enclosed space behind a bicycle fence on the southeast corner of the Pentagon near the south parking lot. As hundreds of civilian and military workers streamed into the Pentagon, they saw several prominent messages that were displayed on a sign and banner: “U.S. Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima, August, 6, 1945—Repent,” and: “Remembering the Pain, Repenting the Sin, Reclaiming the Future—Aug. 6-9 Hiroshima & Nagasaki.” The banner also depicted a drawing of an A-Bomb child victim. Vigilers also held photos of victims of Hiroshima and other signs. 

The prayer service began with a statement which I offered (see below). Judy Coode then led the reading of  the “Apology Petition” that was shared and presented two years ago to Mr. Mimaki, a Hiroshima Hibakusha, during our August 6, 2016 White House commemoration witness. Over 700 people signed the petition. (see petition below)  

After the second paragaph of the Apology petition was read by Kathy Boylan, she proceeded to walk out onto the sidewalk toward the entrance to the Pentagon, holding a banner that said: “Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A Butchery of Untold Magnitude”—Pope Paul VI). Kathy was met by Pentagon police and shortly thereafter was handcuffed and taken by Pentagon police to be processed and released. She was charged with “interfering with agency functions,” and “failure to obey a lawful order,” and given a September 20, 2018 court date. 

At the conclusion of the prayer service, we had a closing circle which included a short reflection from Shizuko, a Japanese peace activist who shared about the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath, as well as a powerful encounter an A-bomb child had with a U.S. Airman who was involved in the bombing.

To commemorate the U.S. nuclear bombing of Nagasaki and to call for the abolition of all nuclear weapons, please join us on Thursday, August 9th from Noon – 1:00 p.m. There will be a Prayer Service of Repentance outside the White House. Meet on north side of White House on Pennsylvania Ave.–across from Lafayette Park.    

Prayer Service of Repentance for Aug. 6, 2018 Pentagon Witness

OPENING (Art Laffin)


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 it is now at 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 Judy, Kathy Boylan, Tony Magliano and Sr. Quincy)

      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).      

A-Bomb Survivors Song (Art)

Feast of the Transfiguration Gospel Reading from Mark: 9:2-10 (Marie Dennis)

Let us pray that we can truly listen to Jesus and be transfigured by God’s love. Let us renounce what Dr. King called the triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism as we seek to follow the way of nonviolence and create the Beloved Community.  

LITANY OF REPENTANCE  (Mike Walli and Jack McHale)

For the U.S. development, use, and continued 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 the unknown numbers of people who have suffered and died from nuclear testing in the South Pacific, Forgive us O God 

For workers in nuclear facilities who have been 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 other illnesses and who have 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 squandered 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. militarization of 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 the false security of weapons and mammon rather than in God, Forgive us O God

Community Prayers

“SHADOW ON THE ROCK” by Daniel Berrigan, SJ (Dan Jackson)

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. 

SONG: I COME AND STAND  (Sing Together)

I come and stand at every door, But no one hears my silent prayer, I knock and yet remain unseen, For I am dead, for I am dead.

I’m only seven although I died, In Hiroshima long ago. I’m seven now as I was then, When children die they do not grow.

My hair was scorched by a swirling flame, My eyes grew dim, my eyes grew blind, Death came and turned my bones to dust,

And that was scattered by the wind.

I need no fruit, I need no rice, I need no sweets nor even bread, I ask for nothing for myself, For I am dead, for I am dead.

All that I ask is that for peace, You work today, you work today, So that the children of this world, May live and grow and laugh and play.

Opening Reflection by Art Laffin–August 6, 2018 Pentagon Prayer Service of Repentance

Good morning. On behalf of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and all other peacemakers present here, we extend greetings of peace to everyone at the Pentagon 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 and the Franciscan Action Network come to the Pentagon 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 Pentagon 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 nuclear war preparations.  

We also join with people of faith and conscience committed to nuclear disarmament worldwide and here in the U.S., many of whom are holding peace and resistance actions during this time of commemoration, including peacemakers at Los Alamos and Livermore Nuclear Labs, the Bangor nuclear submarine base, 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 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. 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. This deadly venture not only endangers all of creation but is a direct theft from the poor of our nation and world. 

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.

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 immoral, illegal, 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, pursue the path of just peace and create the Beloved Community.