Good Friday – Walking the Way of the Cross to Lockheed Martin

Dear Friends,

A group of the faithful carried the cross together, honoring the sacrifice and suffering of Jesus, on Good Friday.

They gathered – Catholic Workers, nuns, priests and lay people – and walked to the Lockheed Martin facility in Sunnyvale, California where day in and day out people go to work building the Trident II D-5 missiles that are deployed on our nation’s ballistic missile submarines.

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Each of those Trident missiles (and each submarine carries 24) is fitted with four (and as many as eight) thermonuclear warheads, each of which is many times more destructive than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.  These submarines patrol 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on alert, prepared to launch their horrific weapons, threatening humanity with omnicide.

Such a thing is quite simply an abomination before God.

Scores of workers stream in and out of the Lockheed Martin facility every workday and, if the employee roster mirrors the societal demographic, a large percentage of those workers call themselves Christians. How then, can one who calls oneself “Christian” do the work of building something that is so un-Godly?  How can one build weapons that are, by their very nature, designed to incinerate tens of thousands or possibly millions – and that is with just a single warhead.

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Are we truly listening to The Story on Good Friday (or on any other day for that matter) when, instead of turning away from violence, from hatred, from fear, and turning toward LOVE, we continue to build the machinery of empire today.  How different is today’s empire from that which was threatened by Jesus roughly two thousand years ago?

On this Good Friday those who walked to Lockheed Martin stood vigil with signs and banners carrying messages of love and peace and calling on all good people to stop making war.  Some of those present went into the roadway carrying that cross and blocking the entrance to Lockheed Martin in an act of nonviolent resistance to nuclear weapons and war-making.  They were arrested by the Sunnyvale Police.  This was their sacrifice in the name of Jesus, who sacrificed for us in the name of a loving God who wants us to live together in Peace.

Those arrested for their witness were Steve Kelly, Susan Crane, Larry Purcell, Mary Jane Parrine, Louis Vitale, and Ed Ehmke.  Steve was held on a warrant, and Larry didn’t sign the citation.  Those released have a court date May 13th.  Steve and Larry will be in court Wednesday, April 3rd in the afternoon.

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Click here to view photos of the Good Friday vigil and action at Lockheed Martin. 

My wish today is that each of us was able to look Jesus in the eyes as he hung high up on that cross when he was crucified, and that we may connect in such a way that we find it in our hearts to carry that cross as we are able – whether a few inches or a few miles – so that others may live… so that we may all learn to live together as brothers and sisters one day as is God’s intention.

With great thanks this day to all who sacrifice so that others may live.

Peace,

Leonard

Notes from the journey #2

Editor’s Note: This is an introduction (by Joe Power-Drutis) to what we hope will be a series of reflections by our dear Bix following on Bix’s and Joe’s trip to Oslo and many other European destinations in December 2012. 

Technically speaking he lives at one of the Tacoma Catholic Worker
houses, Jean’s House of Prayer. In actuality, he lives in a 10’ x 12’
room, on the first floor of this rather incredible home. When entering
his space one is struck by an immaculately made up, single bed in the
center of the room (no doubt early Jesuit training). After that, the
décor takes a steep dive. Boxes, books, papers, photographs, and
random articles of clothing are strewn haphazardly in interesting
patterns on the bed, desk, and book shelves. Only those who come to
know the room’s occupant are likely to recognize this as “command
central” where so many of us bring our dreams and share our struggles.

A few days ago, I was about to leave this room after receiving
marching orders. Looking up from his desk, Bix squinted through well
worn glasses and said, “You know, I believe we can get rid of these
nuclear weapons.” If he had made that statement 45 years ago I would
have jumped up saying, “All right, I’m all over that, let’s get to
it!” He was bigger than life and exuded utter confidence in all he
undertook. Who didn’t get behind a person of such assurance? At nearly
85 his physical abilities, and mine, lead me to consider somewhat less
lofty goals. I wanted to say, “There is medication that can help with
such ideations;” or, “How about right after lunch.” However; I decided
sarcasm would not be well received; anyway, the look in his eyes
showed he absolutely believed in the validity of his statement.

This morning in that twilight world, somewhere between dreams and
wakefulness, the thought came to me, “if you had faith the size of a
mustard seed.” Perhaps we have to become very small before we can
transform the impossible into the possible. Look for yourselves, Matt
13:31 & 17:20, Mark 4:31 and Luke 13:19; is there something there?
When speaking of abolishing nuclear weapons, Bix did not use the term
“hope;” he said he “believes” that getting rid of nuclear weapons is
possible!

A number of people have asked when I would complete the story of our
recent trip to Sweden, Norway, and the UK. I generally replied, “Very
soon,” instead of the more honest answer, “I have no idea how to bring
completion to this story!” Finally, I told Bix that this doesn’t seem
to be a story of exactly who we met or what was said. Although these
things important, something more holistic is at play here and I am not
the one with the knowledge or spirit to express it. Bix said he would
take this on and I let go.

His writing about our journey to Europe and conversations with peace
activists there is almost finished. Over the next few weeks I will
post these writings in bite-sized pieces as he wishes. In the
meantime, here are some words from Bix’s heart:

“We return from our trip bolstered by the motivating truth that most
people of the world do not want to kill each other. The vast majority
of people of the world want their children to be able to live life to
its fullest potential. No matter what the obstacles to human
interaction, the human connection of all people runs as a conduit of
energy in a subterranean layer of our earth.”

“It was heartening to see that the ecumenical voice of the Church of
Scotland, Baptists, Catholics, and Quakers has been a strong moving
force in opposing the Trident Nuclear Submarine system. Today, 75% of
the people of Scotland oppose this system of mass destruction. I was
inspired to bring this spirit of resistance back to our Pacific
Northwest. We have to realize that we are all part of a global
community. The dream we share in common – the need for a world without
nuclear weapons – can continue to grow and flow back and forth across
the water that separates us.”

A call to repentance on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq

“A call to repentance on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq”,  by Wash DC Catholic Worker Art Laffin, originally published in the National Catholic Reporter – Mar. 19, 2013 http://ncronline.org/news/peace-justice/call-repentance-10th-anniversary-us-invasion-Iraq

Ten years ago on March 19, President George W. Bush ordered the
invasion of Iraq. Following in the footsteps of his father, President
George H.W. Bush, who 12 years before had authorized the Desert Storm
invasion and bombing of Iraq for 42 days, the younger Bush, with the
consent of Congress, initiated “Shock and Awe,” a massive bombing
campaign that led to an occupation that lasted most of a decade.

Hours before the commencement of the Shock and Awe campaign, I joined
a group of 25 peacemaking friends who climbed over the fenced-off area
on Pennsylvania Avenue in front the White House to make a final appeal
to the president to halt this action. Shortly after we offered our
prayers of intercession, we were arrested by Park Police. After hours
of processing, we were released from the Anacostia Park police station
later that evening. As we met our supporters, we learned the invasion
had begun. Heartbroken, I could only pray: God forgive us.News
accounts the next day showed the Baghdad night sky lit up like a
fireworks display. We will never know how many people were killed that
evening.

The protesters were not alone in their demands. Similar pleading
against going to war had also come from the U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops and the Vatican in the months leading up to the
invasion. Pope John Paul II made a number of specific appeals calling
for no war. In January 2003, the pope told his Diplomatic Corps: “War
is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity.” And on
March 7, 2003, Bishop John Michael Botean, bishop of the Romanian
Catholic Diocese of St. George in Canton, Ohio, issued a pastoral
letter condemning Catholic involvement in the war: “With moral
certainty I say to you it [the Iraq War] does not meet even the
minimal standards of the Catholic just war theory I hereby
authoritatively state that such direct participation is intrinsically
and gravely evil and therefore absolutely forbidden.”

Many believed then, and the world knows now, that the purported
government justification for bombing and occupying Iraq were based on
lies and deceit. Yet 10 years later, no senior government or military
leader who ordered, directed and carried out this blatantly immoral
and illegal invasion and occupation has been held accountable. No
apology has been made, no public act of repentance or contrition has
ever been offered by any U.S. official for the unspeakable war crimes
committed. The use of white phosphorus anti-personnel weapons in a
massacre in Fallujah in 2004 and the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu
Ghraib are just two cases in point.

What was the human cost of invasion and occupation for the Iraqis? A
survey from The Lancet [1] found that more than 600,000 Iraqis have
died, while the Opinion Research Business Survey concluded that the
number was more than 1 million. An estimated 4 million Iraqis have
been displaced. And an entire society has been traumatized, devastated
and left in a state of upheaval. The reality is that the war will
never be over for the Iraqi people.

Following the invasion of Iraq, Pope John Paul II declared in his 1991
encyclical Centesimus Annus [2]:

I myself, on the occasion of the recent tragic war in the Persian
Gulf, repeated the cry: “Never again war!” No, never again war, which
destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws
into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves
behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more
difficult to find a just solution of the very problems which provoked
the war. [Section 52]

The invasion and occupation has also taken a terrible toll on U.S.
troops. More than 4,400 soldiers died, and countless more were
injured. A vast number of veterans now suffer from post-traumatic
stress disorder, and the suicide rate has been exceedingly high, not
only for soldiers who were in Iraq but also for those who were
deployed in Afghanistan. Pentagon figures show that there were a
record 349 suicides among active duty troops last year.

Regarding the economic cost of the Iraq war, the National Priorities
Project has found [3] that the U.S. has spent more than $807 billion
waging it. And a Brown University report [4] just released ahead of
the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq says the Iraq war
has cost the U.S. more than $2 trillion, including $500 billion in
benefits owed to veterans. It is inevitable that when the government
squanders so much money from the public treasury, it will end up in
massive debt. No wonder there is a “fiscal cliff” and sequester
crisis.

In the last 10 years, peace organizations worked tirelessly to end the
U.S. occupation of Iraq. We at the Catholic Worker along with many
other communities across the U.S. and in Europe kept vigil and engaged
in many nonviolent resistance actions to demand an end to this war. We
also implored the bishops, who were conspicuously silent after the
occupation, to speak out against it and the Bush administration’s
pre-emptive war policy. On one occasion, I had the opportunity to
speak with military chaplains, including then-Archbishop Edwin O’Brien
(now a cardinal), head of the Archdiocese for the Military of the
U.S., and asked them to call on all Catholic soldiers to leave Iraq
and not participate in this sinful occupation. This appeal was not
well received. It should be noted that Archbishop O’Brien actually
advised soldiers [5] they could participate in this war.

Not all soldiers followed the orders of the commander in chief or the
counsel of Archbishop O’Brien. Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia ended up
serving up to a year in prison for refusing a second deployment to
Iraq for reasons of conscience. Other soldiers deserted or otherwise
resisted and were imprisoned. Iraq Veterans Against the War [6] was
formed to oppose the war and to assist fellow soldiers who had been
physically wounded and mentally scarred for life. And Pfc. Bradley
Manning, Army intelligence analyst and whistleblower, has been
imprisoned for more than 1,000 days for his courageous act of
conscience to let the public know about U.S. atrocities in Iraq and
Afghanistan. He is now being prosecuted for releasing to Wikileaks the
Collateral Murder video that shows the killing of unarmed civilians
and two Reuters journalists by a U.S. Apache helicopter crew in Iraq.
He is also accused of disclosing the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War
Logs, and a series of embarrassing U.S. diplomatic cables. On Feb. 28,
Manning pleaded guilty to 10 of the 22 charges against him, which
could carry a sentence of up to 20 years. One charge he did not enter
a plea for is the charge of “aiding the enemy,” which could carry a
life sentence.

Even though the occupation has officially ended, the CIA, private U.S.
military contractors and U.S. military special advisers remain in Iraq
while drone surveillance planes continue to patrol Iraqi skies.

What would Jesus, who commands us to love and not to kill, have us do?
Lent is the holy season for repentance and conversion. This would be a
good time, especially for the churches, to take the lead in calling
the nation to truly repent for our war-making in Iraq, to ask
forgiveness from the Iraqi people, to call on the U.S. government to
make substantial reparations to Iraq, and to demand that all CIA,
military advisers and military/security contractors leave Iraq
immediately.

Two years ago, on the 20th anniversary of the first U.S. war in Iraq,
I wrote the following prayer:

Loving God, we beg your forgiveness for twenty years of U.S. warmaking
in Iraq-for destroying Iraq’s infrastructure by massive bombings, for
using highly toxic weapons, including depleted uranium, that
contaminated Iraq’s land and water, and which have caused cancer,
severe birth defects and other illnesses for numerous Iraqis.

Forgive us for imposing economic sanctions that killed over one
million Iraqi’s, mostly children.

Forgive us for invading, occupying and destabilizing Iraq, causing
nearly one million deaths and displacement and long-term trauma for
countless Iraqis.

Forgive us for placing oil interests above human welfare.

Heal us of our moral blindness and fill our hearts with love.

Help us to renounce all killing, torture and violence, to stop
demonizing our adversaries, to value all life as sacred, and to see
the Iraqi people and all Muslims and Arabs as our brothers and
sisters.

Help us to truly repent for the sin of war and to make reparations to
the Iraqi people.

Empower us to engage in nonviolent action calling for an immediate
withdrawal of all U.S. military forces and private contractors from
Iraq, and for an end to U.S. warmaking and military intervention
everywhere.

O God, make us channels of your peace and reconciliation.

Amen.

[Art Laffin artlaffin@hotmail.com is a member of the Dorothy Day
Catholic Worker in Washington, D.C. He visited Iraq in 1998 with a
Voices in the Wilderness delegation.]

Guadalupe Gala, Saturday, April 6th!!!

Bix says, “Y’all come on down” for

The GUADALUPE GALA

a fundraiser for the

Tacoma Catholic Worker, Guadalupe House of Hospitality

2013 Guadalupe Full page bulletin cropped

Please contact us if you have items to donate to the auction. Nora 253.359.4091, or Peter 253.226.9605

Not able to make it? Make donation through PayPal at www.tacomacatholicworker.weebly.com (New Website)

The Tacoma Catholic Worker centers on Guadalupe House of Hospitality and the surrounding houses and gardens. Out of these spaces, and with our friends and neighbors, we strive to build a community of hope.

We are a small, local organization serving the homeless and marginalized of Tacoma. We open our home to guests in need of transitional housing and walk with them as they work to save money, get their lives back together and find a permanent place to live. We also offer showers, phone and mail service to people living on the street, and hold a weekly prayer ser-vice and meal that are open to all. We depend on the support of the community to make all this possible.We are entirely supported by individuals, local businesses and churches. We provide no salaries, committing ourselves to voluntary simplicity, non-violent social activism, and living with the poor.

You can download the PDF event flyer by clicking here.

PLC 2013 Big Finish At Bangor (News Release)

Silverdale, Washington, March 4, 2013 — Twenty peace activists from around the United States were arrested as a result of their nonviolent protest against nuclear weapons at a U.S. Naval base.

Members of the Pacific Life Community gathered at the Main Gate to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor early Monday morning in resistance to the continued deployment of the Trident nuclear weapons system and the associated threat of use of nuclear weapons by the U.S. government.

The Bangor Trident base is home port to eight of the nation’s 14 Ohio class nuclear ballistic missile submarines and also home to the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific, where the Navy stores thermonuclear warheads for deployment on its submarines.  Bangor represents the largest operational concentration of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal.

While maintaining a peaceful vigil along the roadway, six of the resisters entered the roadway with a banner, which they stretched across the entrance lanes in symbolic closure of the base. The banner quoted Martin Luther King Jr.: “When scientific power outruns spiritual power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men.”  The protesters also knelt in prayer.

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

Washington State Patrol officers ordered the protesters to leave the roadway. All six protesters complied with the officers and were escorted to the median where they were briefly detained and issued citations for “Walking on roadway where prohibited.”

Meanwhile, another fourteen protesters walked onto the roadway carrying banners and signs calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.  All crossed the blue line onto the base and knelt in prayer.  Naval security personnel arrested the protesters and drove them to a facility on the base for processing.  They were cited under Section 1382 of Title 18 prohibiting trespassing on military bases, and released a short time later.

The resisters carried a letter addressed to the Bangor base commander.  It stated that the “Trident II D-5 missiles with their W76 or W88 [thermonuclear] warheads are illegal under international law and hence are also illegal per the Constitution of the United States.” Naval security personnel declined to accept the letters. 

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

Those cited for Federal trespassing were Louis Vitale, OFM, Oakland, CA;  Rodney Herold, Seattle, WA; Ted Bracknan. Puyallup, WA; Tensie Hernandez, Santa Maria, CA; Betsy (Frances Elizabeth) Lamb, Bend, OR; Ann E. Havill, Bend, OR; Denny Moore, Bainbridge Island, WA; Bill Bichsel, SJ, Tacoma, WA; James G. Haber, San Francisco, CA; Ed Ehmke, Menlo Park, CA; Mary Jane Parrine, Menlo Park, CA; Jerry Zawada, OFM, Milwaukee, WI; Felice Cohen-Joppa, Tucson, AZ and Susan Crane, Redwood City, CA.

Cited by State Patrol were Tom Karlin, Tacoma, WA; Clancy Dunigan, Langley, WA; George Rodkey, Tacoma, WA; Marcus Page-Collonge, Albuquerque, NM; Leonard Eiger, North Bend, WA and Cliff Kirchmer, Tacoma, WA.

The vigil and nonviolent direct action brought to a close this year’s Pacific Life Community (PLC) Faith and Resistance Retreat held near Tacoma, Washington.  The PLC is dedicated to abolishing nuclear weapons and war-making through nonviolent direct action. The annual event is held each year on the weekend around the anniversary of Castle Bravo, the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the U.S. 

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

Fallout from Castle Bravo contaminated a large portion of the Marshall Islands, and poisoned island residents as well as the crew of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru, a Japanese fishing vessel.  It also generated international concern about atmospheric testing.  The U.S. still occupies part of the Marshall Islands in its continued testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

This year’s Faith and Resistance Retreat was hosted by the Tacoma Catholic Worker community.  The event brought together people from around the Western U.S. Catholic Workers came from San Jose, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Half Moon Bay, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Guadalupe, CA; Sheep Ranch, CA and Redwood City, CA. 

Fr. Bill Bichsel, of the Tacoma Catholic Worker community and 2012 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize laureate, commented on the significance of the Pacific Life Community’s work.  “We refuse to accept nuclear weapons as our security.  We owe it to our children and grandchildren to create a nonviolent world.  We are the future and the kingdom that we have been waiting for.”

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

Also represented at the retreat were Nevada Desert Experience, The Nuclear Resister and Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. Ground Zero, a community in resistance to nuclear weapons, particularly Trident, hosted this morning’s vigil and action at Bangor.

The U.S. Navy is building a Second Explosives Handling Wharf at the Bangor Trident base, and is engaged in research and development to build twelve new ballistic missile submarines designed to replace the existing Trident submarines.  Estimated cost to build the twelve submarines is almost $100 billion. Rear Admiral Joseph Tofalo, commander, submarine Group 10, Kings Bay, Georgia has stated that “A single Trident submarine is the sixth nuclear nation in the world all by itself.” 

Full text of letter to base commander follows.

###

March 4, 2013

Dear Captain Pete Dawson, Commander, Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor:

We are members of the Pacific Life Community, a network of people from the western United States working for the abolition of nuclear weapons. We come today, near the anniversary of the March 1, 1954 Bravo hydrogen bomb test in the Bikini Atoll, in memory of the people of Rongelap who died from radiation poisoning as a result of fallout from that test. We stand with their survivors who do not trust the assurances of the United States government that it is safe for them to return there, even now. Any pressure on the former residents of Rongelap to return must stop now.

Trident II D-5 missiles with their W76 or W88 warheads are illegal under international law and hence are also illegal per the Constitution of the United States. It is a violation of the Nuremberg Principles to threaten destruction of a city, and it is a violation of the Geneva Conventions to threaten use of weapons of indiscriminate power. The July, 1996 International Court of Justice ruling was clear; nuclear weapons are not consistent with international humanitarian law.

It is obvious that nuclear weapons are stored at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. Please inform us if we’re wrong. We have a responsibility as citizens to be informed enough to weigh in on military and foreign policy issues. Local governments and residents have a need to plan for public safety given the surety that one of the largest collections of nuclear weapons in the world is only 20 miles from Seattle and Tacoma and its 1 million residents.

We want to stop the continued pollution and radioactive contamination from the ongoing nuclear weapons stockpile. The problem of uranium leaks at Hanford cannot be divorced from the problem of nuclear weapons on Trident submarines that threaten nuclear war on every nation and person in the world. Nuclear weapons are killing people now.

We need and deserve a response. We’re waiting.

Sincerely,

cc: Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama, United States Armed Forces

cc: Rear Admiral Dietrich H. Kuhlmann III, Commander, Submarine Group 9

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