Mary Dennis’ Y-12 sentencing statement – centered on the sacred

Sentencing Statement Sept. 21, 2011
 Mary Dennis Lentsch (Elizabeth Ann)

I bow to the sacred in each person in this room and to my sisters and brothers around the world.

I bow to the sacred in all plants and animals.

I bow to the sacred in all the gifts of creation found on planet Earth and in our Universe.

In order to protect all the sacred gifts of creation, I feel called to do whatever is necessary to abolish nuclear weapons. My years of nonviolent resistance and acts of conscience have their roots in my Christian baptismal promise to renounce and resist evil, and in the public witness of my religious vows as a Catholic sister.

My heartfelt conviction for resisting nuclear weapons is reinforced by a passage from the Bible. In the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 30 verse 19 we read: “…I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life that you and future generations may live.”

It is a known fact that nuclear weapons are instruments of death and massive destruction. The explosion of a nuclear bomb gives off immense quantities of heat and energy, as well as powerful and prolonged radiation that cannot be contained in time and space. This violence of nuclear weapons has the potential to destroy all that is sacred—all living beings, as well as our ecosystems, and our planet.

At the peaceful gathering at Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on July 5, 2010, I carried a sign that read: “Continuing nuclear weapons production at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is in direct violation of the treaty obligations of the United States (The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Article VI), and therefore is a violation of Article 6 of the Constitution of the United States of America and fails to conform to our obligations under international law according to the ruling of the International Court of Justice, July 8, 1996.”

To my surprise a copy of this sign was not included in the Discovery Document from the government while the copies of two signs carried by other codefendants were included.

With my sign and nonviolent act of conscience, it was my hope to bring a lawless situation into the court of justice. It was my hope and expectation that the judge and jury would weigh in the balance of justice the gravity of the United States violating international law and the Constitution of the United States, with my puny action of calling attention to these violations regarding the continued nuclear bomb production at Y-12.

In the United States justice system, where it is expected that truth and integrity will be honored, should it not make a difference who breaks the law and what law is broken?

I am inspired and energized in my efforts to abolish nuclear weapons by the witness of Jesus, Nano Nagle, and so many other prophets who challenged unjust systems and oppressive government policies. Jesus resisted the unjust laws and oppression of his day. Nano Nagle, the foundress of the Presentation Sisters, resisted the government policies in Ireland by illegally giving religious instruction in her hedge schools.

Salvator Fink, a Franciscan priest, describes Nano Nagle in the following manner and I quote: “a woman whose love was stronger than viciousness, injustice, greed and violence that swamped her city and nation. She was a woman of indomitable courage, native shrewdness and indefatigable zeal for her faith. Challenging the brutal power of her people’s oppressors, she spent her life on the razor’s edge of danger.” As a member of the Presentation Sisters, I am inspired by the witness of deep faith and lived experience from this great woman.

Today I face a sentence of prison for my nonviolent action resisting nuclear weapons. Like Jesus, Nano Nagle, and many prophetic witnesses before me, I accept the consequential suffering of my decision to follow my conscience.

It is my prayerful hope that the nonviolent energy of each person in this room, and all people around the world, could one day soon, insure the sacred gift of life and existence for all in a nuclear-free future. We must abolish nuclear weapons!

Thank you.

2 Responses

  1. It’s too bad we can’t bottle this clarity of mind and spirit and give some to the politicians in Washington DC!

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