Bix invites Pope Francis to Jeju Island

Bix and Gilberto are nearing the end of their stay on Jeju Island.  Here is a photo showing them in solidarity with the people of Jeju, in opposition to the construction of the naval base there.

Bix & Gliberto on Jeju (1)

More News (from Bix) From Jeju Island

October 3, 2013

Re: News from JeJu

From: Bix

We began the day once again with the 100 deep bows. After that Gilberto and I sat in blocking action at the gate with three nuns, our deep bow leader, and Iffka, a young, compassionate woman from Berkeley.

As we did the deep bows facing into the yard, huge trucks ready to exit would stop before us and the drivers would rev the motors so the trucks quivered and clanked–much like a bull before its charge. However, the trucks would be forced to turn to another exit. DSC06693-1-640x470

During the two hour blocking action I felt a deep grandfatherly affection for the three young women who are the main organizers. The time at the gates is a time of deep contemplation and prayer as the cement trucks come to enter. By then many police are assembled. The head policeman reads the warning to move. We remain seated there. They carry us, sedan chair style, to the side. Once the squad of trucks is in, the police leave and we return to the middle of the gate. This is repeated 3 or 4 times in the morning.

I felt a deep connection with all there: the nuns, organizers, villagers. This feeling of connection spread to the young policepersons who are held in bondage to this system. I felt a great connection and compassion for the nuns who were carried to the side and circled by the policewomen. I also felt a poignancy and compassion for the policewomen who probably didn’t like what they were doing and probably felt some of the same things the nuns were feeling.

Word has come that a typhoon may hit Jeju tomorrow. What is most striking about this is the fact that the farmers of Jeju also pray for the typhoon to come. The typhoon will rip up their fruit, vegetable, and tangerine crops as well as destroy their green houses where most of the crops are grown. Jeju is a basic agricultural island. Yet farmers will pray for this howling and uprooting force to hit the island because the last time a typhoon hit, it carried away and destroyed a good part of the naval base construction.

gillchun talk sonomaSo deep is the opposition and resentment at the building of the naval base that farmers will suffer the loss of their livelihood with the hope the typhoon will carry away this monster from its peaceful shores.

However, I feel that this spirit of resistance that has been nurtured and grown in this faith filled community has more power than the typhoon or American militarism.

Blessings to All
Bix

Note: Jeju is 16 hours ahead of Northwest time

Bix and Gilberto are to arrive back at the Seattle/Tacoma Airport
Monday Oct 7th at 2:55 PM

Bix and Gilberto on Jeju Island!

Dear Friends,

In March 2012, at our yearly gathering of the Pacific Life Community, Dennis Apel of the Guadalupe Catholic Worker first introduced to PLC that US naval ships/subs were soon to be stationed on Jeju Island.

True to form of all actions and involvements the US is into and doesn’t want the American people to know about, don’t look for too much information about JeJu in the US press. These next two web sites can provide a lot of information most folks have no clue about.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/america-threatens-eastern-china-jeju-island-key-strategic-naval-base-for-americas-asia-pivot/5335532

You can see the photo’s Dennis took of his trip to Jeju on  http://vpan.org/resources/Jeju-Island-of-Peace

Bix has been very focused on wanting to respond to the call of the religious and lay community on Jeju. Daily vigils and resistance actions have been in place for quite some time with the hope that one day the construction will end and this very dangerous American Funded Naval base 300 miles from mainland China will cease to be.

On September 23rd Bix, and Gilberto Perez flew from Seattle to Seoul Korea. They spent one day in Seoul and then directly onto Jeju. They have joined in with the resistance community on Jeju and the following reports give a lively report of his and Gilberto’s activities.

They are due back here in Seattle on the 8th of October. In the meantime the following are some thoughts from Bix and Gilberto.

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 Van-den-berg vigil        September 26, 2013    From Bix

You would see and feel the holiness of this island; after returning from the regular daily practice of 100 bows (stand-kneel-deep bow) in front of a main gate of the construction site–with a view of the great sea beyond the site. The woman who started this deep bowing practice two years ago was there and today she was assisted by Gilberto and I, two Korean Notre Dame Sisters, a young woman from the US and two Korean women from Jeju.  One of the ND Sisters said to me, “Your country has done this to us”!

Very much wish Steve Kelly and Louie Vitale would have been able to make this trip. Their life experience, and ability to absorb and appreciate another culture would be solidarity plus. We have been greatly welcomed by all Jesuits and well provided for and well scheduled.Fr. Kim,S.J. lives on Jeju Island in a small house rented by the Jesuit Order. He lives in community with two other Jesuits; one, Brother Pamk, is in jail for resistance to the naval base; the other, Fr. Lee is presently on trial for resistance activities.  Fr. Kim has been jailed on different occasions for resistance. Jeju resistance and village -building is his assigned apostolate.

We began this day with Eucharist being celebrated at the gate leading into the construction site. We were four priests, five nuns, and four village women.  The village men sat in chairs in front other main gate.JCR_893

The police showed up in droves (high employment). When the time came for the construction trucks to enter the building site, the police surrounded us, asked us to leave, then carried all of us in our chairs to the sideline. Best chair- sedan ride ever. This happened four times. No arrests. Eucharist was being prayed and sung all the while. We all received communion.

 September 27, 2013

We are living in Gangjeong Village here on Jeju Island and the village life is wonderful. Daily Eucharist and rosary is ended with high spirited Korean dance and song. We then have lunch in the community meal long-home. Fr. Kim had arranged for Gilberto and me to attend the ongoing investigative trials of Brother Park, S.J. (who lives in community with Fr. Kim) and Doctor Song who were being held in jail for their resistance work against the naval base.

Signs of community solidarity are clear to see; however, there is division also with some of the islanders. After the court visit Fr. Kim drove us to the hospital to visit a village woman resister who was struck many times by a villager who disagreed with the resistance. Though most of the people of Jeju Island and South Korea don’t want the base, there are those that support it.

This division was made manifest when the coordinator of the community meal hut was brought into the emergency room with multiple facial injuries while we were at the hospital. He had made a remark to a villager opposed to the resistance and the villager struck him in the face many times. Many members of the resistance community showed up and were very vocal in their opposition to the police, who were investigating the victim rather than the perpetrator. Sometime after midnight we left the hospital with Fr. Kim who drove us to our guest house.

1336582897-save-jeju-as-island-of-world-peace--london_1203575 After the 100 bows, Eucharist and rosary, dancing and singing, and lunch in the community meal hut, we traveled to Jeju City to visit Brother Park, S.J. in jail. His spirit is strong and he is very alive and committed to his justice work.

I’m experiencing this time as a real retreat. The oneness of the Eucharist unifying all people in a live background stirs me. The signs of resistance and the dancing and singing give life and vibrancy to the Eucharist. What I’m experiencing is a church alive with a bishop calling for resistance.

 September 29, 2013

Great conversations today with two Korean Jesuit Priest, each named Kim. This is the most alive and vibrant faith community I’ve ever experienced. Daily Eucharist is the foundation of the ongoing acts of resistance which also occur each day. Everyday priests, nuns and villagers sit in chairs blocking the main gate while the sung Eucharist up the road is being broadcast. After the Mass and rosary there is very vibrant Korean dance that knocks your socks off and fills you with joy. After this there is lively song. This is followed by Korean lunch—kim chi style- that is held

in the community meal house that has free and open meals every day. The atmosphere is light and alive with communication. At 7AM the day starts with a village lady who leads us in 100 deep down on your knees bows in front of the gate. Different blocking actions take place in the afternoon. Each order of nuns sends two nuns every week to vigil and resist. They stay in a guest house that is rented by the diocese. Four Jesuits are assigned to full time resistance work. The bishop is fabulous and calls villagers to resistance as well as assigning priests to work for peace.

At 4pm the bishop of Jeju will lead the Eucharist gathering in front of the main gate where Gilberto and I with other priests and nuns will block the gate. It is not yet clear to us but we are talking about an action on St.Francis day to call Pope Francis to join the opposition and resistance to the naval base at Jeju Island. However, today the regular resistance community expects hundreds to show up. Gilberto and I will be blocking all day.

More later—love Bix

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From: Gilbeto Perez        September 29, 2013   

Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo,

We bow hundred times in front of naval construction site with nuns and Fr. Bix. Very tough nuns, just like Sr. Junsan. Oliver Stone was here about a month ago and also prayed and bowed at local sacred location where US and Korea police massacred over 30,000 left wing peoples, mostly farmers and whole families, burned villages just like Vietnam..began 1946 ended in 1948. US called Jeju a “Red” island during this period. After freedom from Japanese, Koreans did not want another colonizer, therefore the arguments and massacre.jeju4

We all continue to pray. Yesterday and today over 75 Catholic nuns, 45 Jesuits and even the Bishop performed Sunday Mass. With over 300 local peoples and big dinner party at the village center. Reminds me of Cuba and Mexico where everyone in town is invited. Many of the nuns, priests and Bishop came from Seoul.Yes, Koreans are very passionate about peace and prayers, many studied in Berkeley, Boston and even the Philippines too. Two young Americans are here but not able to block gate, as they want to return to Korea. We sit in front of gate while Mass is said and police carry us off to let trucks and cars on/off the base and then we just return again. Police are thus far been pretty gentle. They remove us and lots of filming while this is performed, about five time each day.

Fr. Bix becomes like a young teenager when he is resisting the empire and very funny and happy with all…A baby Buddha.

Being near ocean means fresh fish and wonderful vegetables, cheese…No cows! Yes, US has taken the most beautiful location for the naval nuclear site, with approval of government (Eminent Domain) and destroyed the coral reed too.

So much to say about the Koreans, very respectful to elders and all participate in actions with joy and dancing after mass…I like the dancing in front of the gate the best.

Gassho, love to all and much peace, – Br. Gilberto

“Washington youth pair anti-nuclear action with Scottish protests”

Dear Friends,

A group of youth from St. Leo Church in Tacoma led a vigil at the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base on April 14th in witness against nuclear weapons.  You can watch a video of the day below (with thanks to videographer Rodney Herold), and read an article about their vigil in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) written by Julie Gunter: Washington youth pair anti-nuclear action with Scottish protests.  

The NCR article quotes (among others) Bill Bichsel who laments the state of the world that current and previous generations have created for the young people and future generations, and says “My generation, and the generation following, have left so much violence, so many systems of exploitation, to our young people,” he said. “I believe we have the obligation to let them know we’ve made mistakes, and help give them the strength to resist what we didn’t have the strength to resist.”

With gratitude to these young people, and their strength and courage, AND for models like Bix and others who show the way (to PEACE)..

Peace,

Leonard

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Disarm Now Plowshares Alert! Time to plant Seeds of Peace!!!

Many of you have undoubtedly seen the one-in-a-million Bix Tacoma Action Figure, created by local (Tacoma) artiste R.R. Anderson.  It’s a wonderful tribute to our selfless Friend Bix.  Well, Monsieur Anderson has done it again.  But this time there’s even more!

That’s right Kids!!!  Now, you can get your very own Father Bix Anti-Nuke Sunflower Seeds.  Yup – Sunflower seeds are a symbol of a nuclear weapons free world.  Part of this story is that sunflowers (really do) absorb certain radioactive elements from the soil and water, and have been used to clean up radioactive contamination in places like Chernobyl.

And besides; sunflowers just seem to make people happy.  Plant a bunch of these subversive seeds and you can have your very own field of sunshine.  (AND make a statement for a world free of the scourge of nuclear weapons).

This subversive, comic moment brought to you by local artist par excellence, R.R. Anderson!!!

This subversive, comic moment brought to you by local artist par excellence, R.R. Anderson!!!

Bix and his companions in the 2009 Disarm Now Plowshares action cut through fences and made their way over the course of many hours across the massive Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in the dark of night on their way to the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific.  That is where the Navy stores the thermonuclear warheads for the missiles that are carried on its nuclear ballistic missile submarines.  Their purpose?  To symbolically disarm the weapons stored their – turning them “from swords into plowshares.”

Along the way the five brave souls sprinkled sunflower seeds.  And so a bit of sunshine might have one day sprouted in the evil darkness of a place dedicated to the preparations for the murder of upwards of millions of people and quite possibly the end of civilization as we know it on this small planet.

So get your very own Father Bix Anti-Nuke Sunflower Seeds today (just in time to plant) from the Central Tacoma Radical Media Exchange!  Spread a little subversive sunshine.  You’ll be glad you did.

Let’s all spread the message – Swords to Plowshares!  Ditch the Nukes!

Bix reflects on the April 14th youth vigil at Bangor

In conversations with Ciaron O’Reilly, Pat Gaffney and Bruce Kent in London; Gerry Hughes, S.J. in Oxford; Brian Larken, Jane Talents, Rev. Allan McDonald, and Cardinal Keith O’Brian in Scotland, it was strongly agreed that our different countries must support each other and be in solidarity with those carrying out actions and events to abolish nuclear weapons and the Trident delivery system.

On April 14th young people from the Tacoma area came together to carry out a planned resistance event at the gates of the Trident Sub Base at Bangor, Washington at the same time that a large blockade action at the gates of the Trident Sub Base in Faslane, Scotland was taking place.

Prior to the event at Bangor there was a planned video/Skype hook-up at Jeans House of Prayer at the Tacoma Catholic Worker; supporters of the blockade in Faslane connected with the youth of our community who were on their way to the resistance event at Bangor, and a sense of solidarity evolved. At 11:45 AM (PST) the youth of Tacoma (expressing reasons why they oppose nuclear weapons) were in touch with a room full of Scottish resisters who cheered and waved signs. Some of the youth present were Will Bently, Elias Rodkey, Rosie James, Claire Bently, Amanda Brown, and Kaitlin Martin. They identified themselves and expressed why they were there. Sam Colella led us in singing “Yellow Submarine” but with a modified version – changing yellow to Trident.

We concluded our Skype connection and solidarity wishes with singing together “We Shall Overcome”. After this we car pooled to Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, where we gathered in preparation for our walk to the Bangor gate. We were welcomed by Connie Mears then Will Bently called us into a circle and thanked all for coming. Brenda Gallo and Eli Rodkey expressed why they had come. There were words of support for what the youth were doing from Mary Gallagher, Ruth Gallo, and Niko Colella. After this all assembled recited the pledge of non-violence. The group was fortunate to have Mira Leslie and Mary Glystein as peace-keepers who gave instructions on how the group would safely proceed to the main gate of the Bangor Base; following this Peter Roderick led the procession with drumming.

On arriving near the entrance to the Bangor Base, we assembled in the usual place of demonstration which is bordered by a white line restricting entrance onto the state highway and a blue line restricting entrance onto federal property. No sooner had we assembled than a group of 5 marines with a guard dog assembled on the other side of the blue line. Will Bently welcomed everyone then he, Gabe and Quinn spoke of why they were there. We were led in song by Kaitlin Martin and George Rodkey.

Then all of the assembled greeted the marine guards with waves and words which said we were brothers and sisters and not enemies; mindful that we wanted the best for them while we work for a nuclear weapon free world. This was followed by a communal blessing of the guards led by Gerri Jones. Our gathering was ended by a reading from Martin Luther King by Amanda Brown. This reading stated that non-violent action first affects the participant and does not immediately have an effect on violence inherent in nuclear weapons.

We were a vulnerable, rag-tag, insignificant group gathered in a “cloud of unknowing” of the deep, devastating forces of violence that protects nuclear weapons. Though most had a general idea of why we were there, for many the reason of our gathering was a bit fuzzy and, for some, confusing.

We were like long-legged, spindly spiders trying to avoid a puddle. We were the stuff out of which an amused and joyful God writes on our fleshy hearts about the Kingdom (Kindom) coming.

 

 

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.”

Bix Reflects on COMMUNITY

Friends,

Here is video from the November 10, 2011 prayer sendoff for Bix before he re-entered prison for his ongoing resistance to war-making and nuclear weapons. In this clip, Bix reflects on the rich blessings and strengths of COMMUNITY.

Peace,

Leonard

Bix and Joe are on the road again

Greetings Plowshares Friends! This just in from Joe Power-Drutis, our roving reporter, who is travelling with Bix around Europe.  What a whirlwind tour!!!  

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Greetings from the mother country,

Bix and I find ourselves in the land of the great lady Elizabeth and
Harry Potter; where I might add the muggle cap my daughter Tamara gave
me hardly creates a stir. We are aided by travel companions Helen
Young and her photographer Flavia Fontes. Helen is producing a
documentary of the November 2, 2009 Disarm Now Plowshares action
involving Steve Kelly, SJ, Sr. Anne Montgomery, Lynne Greenwald, Susan
Crane and Bix. Helen hopes to complete it with footage of Bix
traveling through Norway, Sweden, England, and Scotland. By following
the following link     http://www.huffingtonpost.com/helen-young/2012-greater-tacoma-peace-prize_b_2287247.html
an article Helen wrote for the Huffington Post, you will have the
initial reason why Bix and I are here.

Bix and the organizers of this year’s Pacific Life Community Retreat
thought it fitting for us to confer with Catholic Worker communities
and other significant people working to dismantle nuclear weapons and
Trident Submarines in England and Scotland. Our intent is to film,
document and bring back this information to the people coming to this
year’s Pacific Life Community retreat, the Sons and Daughters of
Norway and other interested groups in the Northwest.

My initial plan was to write frequent short updates on our travels in
the region and to send them back via Plowshares News to anyone
interested; however, our packed schedule nixed that. We departed
Tacoma on December 6th and it has been a roller coaster ride all the
way; with action and schedules trumping writing time.

Today is Sunday, Dec 16th and we are allotted a day of rest here in
Oxford. Tomorrow we will continue our journey north into meet up with
Angie Zelter in Wales and beyond to Scotland; there we will connect
with Brian Larkin & Jane Talent, long time peace activists at the
Faslane Peace Camp, a permanent peace camp sited alongside the Faslane
Trident Sub Naval base. We will then travel to Edinburgh to visit
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, one of Scotland’s foremost critics of nuclear
weapons and especially the Trident Submarine.  On Dec 23rd we fly out
of Glasgow, and return to the Northwest.

We are now at what is commonly referred to as Oxford University, a
consortium of 38 colleges and 6 religious orders – Jesuit,
Benedictine, Dominican, 2 Anglican and a Baptist; all  mixed within a
fascinating labyrinth of old world passageways. It is the home of
Gerry Hughes, SJ, who resides at Campion Hall. Bix and Gerry’s special
friendship goes back to the years 1956-59 when they studied at the
Jesuit Theologate in Frankfurt. Both Gerry and Brendan Callaghan, S.J.
Master of Campion Hall, have opened their home and are caring for us
for the duration of our 2 days stay in Oxford. Our time together with
Gerry is worth the trip alone; his insights and knowledge of ‘what is
real’ is reflected in his every word and footstep. Truth be known, it
is Bix that is the driving force behind our daily schedule, no
surprise by all who traveled with him to Japan. Thanks to Gerry, Bix’s
minions will be allotted a few hours of rest so he and Gerry can have
time together.

Leaving Norway on Dec 13th, we landed in London and after jumping
through all of the hoops necessary to get out of the airport, we
snagged a rental car and made straight for our friends and hosts at
the London Catholic Worker who lovingly took in us four weary
travelers. They were a site for sore eyes after bumbling our way
through the heart of London on “the right-their left” side of the
road; of course the Brits feel the colonies were just being
oppositional by having “the yanks” drive on the opposite side of them.
Not wanting to be “dodgy”, that’s for you Dave, I took up no argument
with that issue. Our hosts, Martin Newell C.P. , Ciaron O’Reily, Dave
Nash, Conner Wurth and Roland Dale showed us every kindness possible
as we shared stories of resistance and how our two communities are
alike and different. We were also fortunate to share time with Bruce
Kent, former director of the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament UK
(CND), Ms.Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi International
and Dr. Rebecca Johnson, one of the UK’s foremost experts on nuclear
weapons and a peace activist.

Going backwards, our plane from Tacoma took us over the Artic Circle
and into Iceland, where at the Reykjavik airport, we met up with Helen
and Flavia, who departed from New York – then the 4 of us were onto
Oslo and the beginning of an exciting adventure. We arrived on the 7th
and were “supposed” to use the 8th to recover from jet lag; but, Heir
Fuehrer Bichsel plotted our course right off to Sweden where we would
drive the beautiful countryside of Norway and Sweden in the morning,
spend the afternoon and early evening with Per Herngren then return
late to Oslo. Per founded the Gothenburg Catholic Worker, Vine and Fig
Tree and has been involved in Plowshare Actions in the US, Scotland
and Sweden over a 25 year period. On April 22, 1984, Per was involved
in the Pershing Plowshares action along with our beloved Sister Anne
Montgomery and 6 other activists in
Florida.

Fortunately Heir Fuehrer saw fit to allow his minions to rest some and
for the better part of the 9th we did just that, and so did
he.

Dec 10th – Following the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony Bix and
Helen met with Dr. Bjorne Hilt who is with the International
Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. Dr. Hilt stressed that
in the event of a nuclear war, and given the sheer size of our present
day nuclear weapons, the medical community would find it impossible to
address the needs of survivors.

On Tuesday the 11th we met with Kjell Magne Bondevik, former Prime
Minister of Norway and presently the administrator for the Oslo Center
for Peace and Human Rights. He explained that his work was primarily
to address governments working together to correct human rights
abuses. We also met with Steinar Bryn of the Nansen Center for Peace
and Dialogue, who is currently working to resolve conflict with
peoples in the Balkan States.

In the evening time we met members of 3 anti nuclear organizations who
were having their end of year meeting. We shared thoughts and ideas on
the elimination of nuclear weapons as well as human needs.

On Wednesday the 12th we had lunch with Hanne Aaberg, Secretary
General of Norwegians Worldwide, and co-workers Maria Vang Ormhaug,
Turid Johannessen, Ingrid Margrete Hillestad, Lisbeth Bo Haaverstad,
and their intern Linda; they work to keep Norwegians Worldwide
connected with their home country. Over lunch we very much enjoyed
sharing hopes and dreams for a more peace filled world. A special
thanks to Maria and Turid without whose assistance we may still be
driving around in circles in the downtown core of Oslo. (Small hint,
if you ever go to Oslo – no GPS system works in the downtown core due
to massive street changes and no satellite map updates)

In the afternoon we met with Geir Lundestad, Director of the Norwegian
Nobel Institute who responded to questions about the controversy
surrounding the European Union receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. We met
around the table that is used for the selection of the Nobel Peace
Prize recipient (s).

The day ended with a tour of the Nobel Peace Center which features an
elaborate Gandhi display.

On the morning of Dec 13th Bix spoke with the Academic Coordinator for
Peace and Conflict Studies, Torstein Dale-Akerlund and a group of
students at Bjorknes College. Several students from Pacific Lutheran
University in Tacoma were in attendance.

After another exciting road trip to the airport we managed to make it
to our 3:15 flight to London. I will try to update more regularly as
we head north – but one never knows.

Bix: In the Audience at the Nobel Peace Prize

Friends, Here is the latest on Bix’s European journey that began with a stop in Oslo to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies.  Documentary filmmaker and producer Helen Young, who is accompanying the Jesuit on his mission, wrote a column in the Huffington Post, which I have posted in its entirety here.  The source URL is http://www.huffingtonpost.com/helen-young/2012-greater-tacoma-peace-prize_b_2287247.html.  Peace on Earth (or else!!!), Leonard

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In the Audience at the Nobel Peace Prize

by Helen Young, 12/12/2012

They were all in one majestic room: Norway’s King and Queen as well as the Crown Prince and Crown Princess; the leaders of 20 European nations including Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Francois Hollande; the European Union’s Nobel Laureates and their entourages; plus hundreds of other dignitaries. They filled Oslo’s massive and beautifully ornate City Hall. And there, too, among the VIPs sat an 84-year-old Jesuit priest who had traveled half a world away from Tacoma, Washington to be there. He seemed to be as well dressed as the rest of the crowd, though he admitted his black suit jacket and trousers had been purchased at Good Will. But to know Father William Jerome Bichsel is to understand that he does not place much importance on appearances. He’s focused laser like on action, and what the next best action needs to be to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

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Father Bichsel, whom everyone calls Father Bix or just plain Bix, was invited to the Nobel Peace Ceremony after he was awarded the 2012 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize by the Scandinavian community in Tacoma a few months ago. The award is bestowed annually on an individual whose life exemplifies a dedication to peace. The elderly priest had just been released from federal prison because he and four other activists broke into the U.S. Navy’s Trident nuclear submarine base near Seattle, which houses one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons in the country. Acting as citizen weapons inspectors, the intruders, whom prosecutors called, “The Bangor 5,” were intent on exposing America’s “weapons of mass destruction.” Father Bix has spent a lifetime “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable,” says Tom Heavey, a U.S. military veteran who headed up the committee that voted to give the elderly priest its Greater Tacoma Peace Prize. Heavey admits he wrestled with the decision to give the priest the award, because Heavey is “uncomfortable” with some of the priest’s protests actions. In the end, however, Heavey decided Father Bix deserved the honor and that it was the right thing to do.

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One wonders if there was similarly such soul-searching among the members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee whose choice of the European Union as this year’s Laureate has sparked so much controversy.  The EU is mired in a three-year-old debt crisis causing rampant unemployment, with some countries in the group teetering on bankruptcy. Several previous Nobel Laureates have sharply criticized the decision including, Desmond Tutu who called the EU an organization based on military force and not deserving of the award. Despite that one cannot overlook the progress in peace the group has fostered over the last 60 years, culminating in a unity among nations who were at one time often at war with each other, such as Germany and France.

At the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, Father Bix listened intently to the speeches and said he came away feeling an opportunity had been missed. He commended the remarks of European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who described the European Union as supportive of disarmament and against nuclear proliferation.  However, Father Bix said he wished that the support had come in the form of some concrete action from the EU instead of just words.

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