Steve Kelly: Still a Prisoner for Peace

While serving a two-year term at the Federal prison in Allenwood, PA, in 1998 Steve Kelly, SJ was interviewed by America, The National Catholic Weekly.  The article was titled “A Prisoner for Peace: An Interview with Steve Kelly.”  Steve was doing time for his participation in the Prince of Peace Plowshares that took place the previous year.

Before dawn on Feb. 12, 1997, Ash Wednesday, Steve, Philip Berrigan, Steve Baggerly, Susan Crane, Mark Colville and Tom Lewis-Borbely boarded the USS The Sullivans, an Aegis destroyer, at the Bath Iron Works in Maine.  They poured their own blood and used hammers to beat on the hatches covering the tubes from which nuclear-armed missiles can be fired and unfurled a banner which read Prince of Peace Plowshares “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks…” Isaiah 2:4.

The government, rather than taking an introspective look at its unhealthy (and illegal) relationship with nuclear weapons, threw the book at Steve and friends.  That was one of many times that Steve would serve time for putting his unwavering faith into action.  Today, nearly 14 years since the interview in America, Steve once again resides in what has become a monastic setting over the years – a prison cell (and a “solitary” one at that).

The interview in America gives a glimpse into the heart and mind of our dear friend Steve Kelly.  Joe and Theresa Power-Drutis resurrected the original article, complete with a photo of Steve in his earlier years as a Jesuit.  Click here to read the article (PDF format). 

Steve is still very much a “Prisoner for Peace.”  The last question in the magazine interview sums up why he continues his nuclear abolition work against such huge odds.  Carry on Steve!!!  And – May we all carry on with you!!!

You will be 50 on your next birthday. What are your hopes about the future?

My hope is that the church will really become a peace church. I realize that what I’ve done is not what most people would call being an effective witness. I don’t expect the culture as a whole to change overnight. The people I would like to reach are people of faith and belief. As for what I’ll be doing in the future, as long as nuclear weapons are being made for use on human beings, I’ll try to resist their creation.

Of Gods and Men

Pax Christi Tacoma will sponsor the film “OfGods and Men” this upcoming Saturday, March 31st, at St. Leo Church– 710 S 13th St, following the 5 PM mass. The movie is scheduled to begin around 6 PM.

Inspired by a true storybetween 1993 until 1996, eight French Trappist monks care for and live in harmony with their Muslim brothers and sisters in an impoverished Algerian community.

When a crew of foreignworkers is massacred by an Islamic fundamentalist group, fear sweeps though the region and the monks face the decision of their lives. The military government offers them protection, but they refuse. Should they leave? Despite the growing menace in their midst, they slowly realize that they have no choice but tostay… come what may!

There will be a discussion about the film and what it means in our life today following the movie for anyone who wishes to join; I know you great souls will not want to miss the gripping dialogue that only Pax Christi leadership can convey.  However, for us lesser souls Theresa will be making her extra rich chocolate cookies, temping us to weaken in these last hours of Lent.

Of Gods and Men is a very powerful film that leads naturally to reflections of faithfulness and fits well into the theme of Palm Sunday and Holy Week. Hope you can join us.

Peace in the kingdom of danger and risk,

Joe

Palm Sunday Vigil at SeaTac Federal Detention Center

Looking for a way to show love and support for Fr. Steve Kelly and Susan Crane?

We will return to the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac for a vigil on Palm Sunday.  Steve and Susan remain incarcerated for the Disarm Now Plowshares Action of November 2009. They have been imprisoned for a year and Palm Sunday is a very good time to remind Susan and Steve that the community still holds them in our hearts.

Date of Vigil:  April 1, 2012 Time:  2 – 3 PM Place:  2425 S 200th St, SeaTac, WA  98498

Please invite a friend and bring palm branches if you have them or some other sign of support for Susan and Steve.

Vigil members have been asked not to use detention center parking. It is unclear whether or not cars parked at the detention center will be a problem.

If you are coming from Tacoma, a carpool group will meet at 1418 South G Street (in front of Guadalupe House) in Tacoma at 1:10 and leave for the prison at 1:20 PM.

January 2012 SeaTac vigil when Bix was in solitary.

If you are driving up separately, I advise parking on or near 200th and Highway 99 and then walking to the detention center.

About Susan:  Susan is not at SeaTac; she is scheduled to be released from the Federal Detention Center in Dublin California on April 25th. We invite you to join our virtual vigil (see below) in support of Susan as she spends her last month in detention.

About Steve: Steve refuses to cooperate with the punishment he received for following his conscience and international law. After being incarcerated last March, he temporarily cooperated in order to remain with Bix and care for him. However, when Bix was removed from SeaTac – in May – Steve returned to non-cooperative status and was placed in solitary confinement where he remains to this day. Steve is scheduled to be released in early June.

About the Virtual Vigil: Whether or not you can join us at SeaTac, please take time on April 1 to be “vigilant” about nuclear disarmament in Susan’s and Steve’s name. Some possibilities:

Tell the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty http://www.capwiz.com/peaceactionwest/issues/alert/?alertid=53876796&type=CO

Urge your legislators to commit to nuclear disarmament http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6357/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=9229

Write a letter to the editor … any editor!

If you have any other questions please call me at 253-779-8362

Peace,

Joe (Power-Drutis)

Editor’s Note: In addition to the two advocacy actions listed above, you can find additional advocacy actions at The Nuclear Abolitionist.  Scroll down the right-hand column to the section titled “Advocate for a Nuclear Weapons Free World.”

No Prison Time for last of Y-12 Resisters

This just in from The Nuclear Resister BlogNo prison time for the last of 13 nuclear disarmament activists in court for a July 5, 2010 action at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex, Oak Ridge, TN – On March 21, David Corcoran was sentenced to 150 hours of community service, a $1000 fine and 2 years of probation.  Three dozen supporters applauded when he walked out of the Chicago courtroom.

Here is David’s statement before Judge St. Eve:

Judge St.  Eve, I thank you for taking time to be with us today and I thank Sandy McNichols who took time to do my Presentence Investigation Report.

I thank you Raj for being here to do your job as Prosecuting Attorney  and of course I thank Sarah, my Defense Attorney, for guiding me through this maze of pleading guilty.

I also wish to thank all of those who sent support letters and who took time to be in court today, some coming from as far away as Tennessee and Kentucky

Judge, I want to reiterate that when I committed an infraction of civilian law twice before, I was protesting with thousands of others the U.S. sponsored School of the Americas which trains Latin American soldiers to torture, rape, assassinate, murder and massacre their own innocent civilians, men, women, and children.

David at Y-12

But in this incident I was protesting against the evil of nuclear weapons that contaminate the whole earth and corrupt the people who use them or threaten to use them.  Running through the very field where the 13 of us gathered to pray, is a creek that is so contaminated with nuclear byproducts that it is posted with signs warning people not to eat the fish that might be caught there.

If you so choose to send me to prison for this offense, I ask that you consider my health problems and the advice of my thoracic surgeon.  If you impose a fine, it will simply take money away from the poor that we donate to.  In the words of President Dwight D. Eisenhower:  In the end every penny spent on the military, the wars, the weapons, constitute a theft from the poor.

The support letters submitted to you, testify not so much to my integrity, as to the cloud of witnesses that stood with us in that field.  They are also opposed to nuclear weapons that continue to contaminate our moral resolve.  Your sentence effects all of them as well.

I do wish to clarify the statement I made to you in the letter I sent you and is included in the presentence investigation report where I said I stand here before you sinful and sorrowful.  I am sinful and I am sorrowful for the existence of nuclear weapons but not sorrowful for protesting against them.  The evil is not that I broke an unjust law but the evil is that of nuclear weapons which threaten the continuance of all life here on earth.

I stand for peace, Judge.  That’s what my life is all about.

Thank You!

“At The Root of All War Is Fear”

Dear Friends,

In the midst of the continuing machinations of the seemingly endless cycle of killing (that we call WAR) I find myself turning inward to find that quiet, contemplative space, particularly as I navigate the season of Lent.  As I do so I know that there are countless people (who call themselves Christian) who are so swept up as cogs in the endless war machine that they don’t even pause to consider the blood on our hands and its implications (as Christians).

Early this morning I pulled my copy of Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation off the shelf, dusted it off, and flipped to the dog-eared page of a favorite chapter.

Merton had (in his time) found that still, quiet place in which he could see
himself and the world with a remarkable clarity, and he articulated the human
condition with profound (and raw) sincerity. Here is the reflection from the
chapter titled, The Root of War Is Fear:

At the root of all war is fear: not so much the fear men have of one another as the fear they have of everything. It is not merely that they do not trust one another; they do not even trust themselves. If they are not sure when someone else may turn around and kill them, they are still less sure when they may turn around and kill themselves. They cannot trust anything, because they have ceased to believe in God.

It is not only our hatred of others that is dangerous but also and above all our hatred of ourselves: particularly that hatred of ourselves which is too deep and too powerful to be consciously faced. For it is this which makes us see our own evil in others and unable to see it in ourselves.

Merton understood those things that we are unable to face; fear, guilt, and every
other possible human shortcoming. He further understood that it is very much a
part of the human condition to ease those burdens on ourselves by passing them
on to others. He saw this being raised to a form of high art during the height of
the Cold War in the 1960’s when, as a society, the United States turned
Communism into the greatest enemy anyone could possibly imagine, and built up
the most fantastic machinery of war with which to fight it (and annihilate
ourselves in the process).

It is ironic that so many of those who claim Christianity as their own are the very
ones who helped build up the very weapons (during the Cold War) that could
cause the ultimate genocide, the very destruction of life on Earth. And, during
much of the past eight years the United States has, by the creation of a vast state
of fear and distrust, prosecuted an endless war on terror that has led to endless
human suffering, economic distress and (ironically) an increased risk of
terrorism both towards the U.S. and its allies.

And then there is Thomas Merton, the gentle monk who left behind a depth of
contemplative wisdom that, if we are honest enough to look within, could help us
(particularly those who claim Christianity in one form or another) out of the mess
we have created and down the road to peace. As Merton reminds us,

What is the use of postmarking our mail with exhortations to “pray for peace” and then spending billions of dollars on atomic submarines, thermonuclear weapons, and ballistic missiles? This, I would think, would certainly be what the New Testament calls “mocking God” — and mocking Him far more effectively than the atheists do.

Later in this chapter, Merton elaborates on praying for peace:

When I pray for peace, I pray not only that the enemies of my country may cease to want war, but above all that my own country will cease to do the things that make war inevitable. In other words, when I pray for peace I am not just praying that the Russians will give up without a struggle and let us have our own way. I am praying that both we and the Russians may somehow be restored to sanity and learn how to work out our problems, as best we can, together, instead of preparing for global suicide.

Merton wrote these words during the Cold War, but they seem to apply just as
well to the post Cold War world as the United States keeps doing “the things that
make war inevitable.” What will it take for us to change course and turn away
from war, seeking real peace? Perhaps Merton’s final thoughts in this chapter
provide some clarity:

So instead of loving what you think is peace, love other men and love God above all. And instead of hating the people you think are warmakers, hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed — but hate these things in yourself, not in the other.

May each of us find that still place in contemplation where we can see both within
and without, and may peace begin within each of us.

Leonard

Susan Crane to leave prison on April 25th

We have learned that Susan Crane will be leaving prison before the end of her 15 month sentence, to ostensibly serve the remainder of her sentence outside the prison walls.   She is currently scheduled to walk out of the Federal Correctional Institution, Dublin on April 25th.

Margo Shafer, who has been supporting Susan while in prison, just sent this message about celebrating Susan’s release.  If you live near the San Francisco Bay Area, take note:

To the friends of Susan Crane,

Please save the evening of Thursday, April 26th to greet Susan and welcome her back after her year-long imprisoment at FCI Dublin! The gathering will be at 6:30 PM at the Unitarian Fellowship at Cedar & Bonita in Berkeley. Susan’s expected release date is Wednesday, April 25th.

We’re planning a potluck dinner so bring some food to share – a hearty and yummy potluck dish, especially salads, main dishes and desserts to welcome Susan home!

And if you play a musical instrument and would like to share some music, bring that along, too. Susan would love to make part of the evening a musical celebration.

Please forward this email to everyone you know who might also like to go. For more information, email Marti at marti@Berkwood.org or call her at 510-845-6748.

Meet the Bangor 5

The following article was written by Helen Young, Documentary filmmaker and Emmy award winning writer and producer.  It was originally published in the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/helen-young/bangor-5_b_1346108.html?ref=impact&ir=Impact).  I know, I know; we all know them as Disarm Now Plowshares.  But dontcha think “Bangor 5” does have a catchy ring to it???  Helen is working hard to finish the documentary on Disarm Now Plowshares and get it distributed. Continue reading

Disarm Now Plowshares Appeal: “an exciting morning…”

Dear Friends,

The Disarm Now Plowshares defendants appealed their case on the basis that they were denied their right to present their defense in their December 2010 trial in Federal court.  Today, March 8th, attorneys representing the Disarm Now Plowshares defendants appeared in US Federal Appellate Court in Tacoma, Washington to present their arguments.  Attorney Blake Kremer shared a brief reflection of his experience – what he called “an excting morning” – in court today, and I’ve included it here.  Thanks to Blake and all the attorneys who assisted (and in some cases continue to assist) the Disarm Now Plowshares defendants.  And thanks to all attorneys who give of their time assisting the many peacemakers who risk arrest for the sake of peace and justice.

Peace,

Leonard

**************

Given 20 minutes to make my argument to the court, I prepared a 10-minute speech. I knew that I would be given some opportunity to make my pre-planned points, but was confident that the judicial panel would likely frequently interrupt me with questions.

I was less than 20 seconds in to my pre-planned speech when the questions erupted, and I was never able to return to my notes again. The judges wanted to know why I felt that the defendants were not given an opportunity to present their defense. They were also interested in hearing more about the questions that the jury sent out during trial deliberations, and what I felt the legal significance was. I pointed out an interesting case where this very appeals court had used jury questions as part of a basis to find that a judge had erroneously confused the jury and deprived a defendant of a fair trial.

The US Attorney went next. The judges had less questions for him. I finished with a short rebuttal, then asked the judges to take in to account that some of my clients will soon be completing prison sentences and others have serious health concerns, and that in both cases, these people would like to hear back from the court as soon as possible. The panel acknowledged this concern.

I have never had such an aggressive round of questions from judges in my entire career. They were sincerely interested, and were pushing me hard to answer questions that they had clearly been considering for some time. Afterwards, I walked past one of the judges outside the court house. She looked up at me, smiled, and said “Good job, counselor!” I have been a lawyer too long to read this or anything else as a sign of encouragement. But it was an exciting morning.

Disarm Now Plowshares with some members of their legal team, December 2010

President Obama; Set the resisters free!

March 5, 2012
by Bradford Lyttle

Dear President Obama

I am glad that you recognize the importance of America’s “great reformers,” including Dorothy Day, to our culture. Also, I am glad that you recognize the need for “zero nuclear weapons.” Are you aware that several members of Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker movement are now in Federal prisons, or on house arrest, and other forms of probation, for protesting nuclear weapons? Fr. Steve Kelly, a Jesuit priest, probably is suffering the most. He is in solitary confinement, on a 15 month sentence, at Seatac Penitentiary in Seattle. Fr. William Bischel is on home confinement, wearing an electronic ankle bracelet. He is more than 80 years old. Sr. Anne Montgomery, who is suffering from terminal cancer, and also is more than 80, is on probation. Please pardon these people. They are just trying to express the values and carry out the policies that you recommend.

Sincerely,

Bradford Lyttle

Jackie at the first Festival of Hope

Friends,

I was just going through photos and found this one of Jackie Hudson at the first Fellowship of Hope (November 22, 2009) following the Disarm Now Plowshares action.

Image

I am pretty sure she was saying something about each of us “taking a step outside our comfort zone.”  Good memories!!!

You can see the rest of the photos from that first Festival of Hope by clicking here.

Peace,

Leonard

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