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  Peace on Earth (or else!!!), Leonard


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.


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.


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.

If we don’t end nuclear weapons, they will end us

Editor’s Note: This is an editorial published in the National Catholic Reporter Online, July 20, 2011.

“Viewed from a legal, political, security and most of all — moral — perspective, there is no justification today for the continued maintenance of nuclear weapons.”

With these words while speaking in Kansas City, Mo., on July 1, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the Vatican’s ambassador to the United Nations, reaffirmed Catholic teaching on nuclear weapons and deterrence — teachings seemingly not widely known among Catholics and totally rejected by the nuclear-armed nations, including our own government. Continue reading

Faith and Disarmament

On June 12, 1981, Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen gave a prophetic speech to the Pacific Northwest Synod of the Lutheran Church of America.  Taking up our cross with Christ in the nuclear age, he proclaimed, means unilateral disarmament. Furthermore, he suggested that “our paralyzed political process” needs a catalyst and that catalyst is tax resistance.
Hunthausen’s statement was received enthusiastically by religious leaders and followers of nonviolence across the country.  His words remain urgent and relevant to us today, as we continue to struggle with the question of how to build peace in this nuclear empire.

Faith and Disarmament

I am grateful for having been invited to speak to you on disarmament because it forces me to a kind of personal  disarmament. This is a subject I have thought about and prayed over for many years. I can recall vividly hearing the news of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. I was deeply shocked. I could not then put into words the shock I felt from the news that a city of hundreds of thousands of people had been devastated by a single bomb. Hiroshima challenged my faith as a Christian in a way I am only now beginning to understand. That awful event and its successor at Nagasaki sank into my soul, as they have in fact sunk into the souls of all of us, whether we recognize it or not. Continue reading

Passion for the Possible: A Sunday Meditation…


This morning I read an excellent, well-balanced article in the Kansas City Star (Yes Virginia, fair and balanced journalism is not dead yet) about nuclear weapons (U.S. trims its nuclear arsenal while upgrading production, Saturday, February 26, 2011) using the new Kansas City bomb plant as the central character in this endless story of nuclear madness.

And by the way; the article confirmed that “the biggest concentration of the operational nukes is at the Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific at Bangor, Wash., which sends out Ohio-class submarines operating in the Pacific and Indian oceans.Continue reading

Steven Leeper’s Talk – Wednesday Dec 8

Steven Leeper is Chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. He spoke on December 8th to a packed hall of people gathered in support of Disarm Now Plowshares.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Bangor: What are all those fences for???

Dear Friends,

The Disarm Now Plowshares five symbolically (through their act of cutting chain-link fences) and sequentially opened the Bangor nuclear submarine base and nuclear weapons storage depot to the world so that we may all see what lies within.

Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific are at the heart of our nations reliance on nuclear weapons.  The April 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) made it clear that between development and deployment of a new generation of ballistic missile submarines, and warhead “life extension” work for the W76 warhead deployed on the Trident D5 missile, Trident will continue to be the nation’s star nuclear player.

One may well wonder what ever happened to President Obama’s commitment to  a world free of nuclear weapons, and his promise to “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy” (Prague speech, April 5,2009).  While his rhetoric has mostly been upbeat, the 2010 NPR is not.  Although it is a marked improvement over the 2001 NPR released by the Bush administration, it continues decades-old policies on deployment, modernization, disarmament, and use doctrine.

So the government continues to maintain (and improve) the vast numbers of nuclear warheads stored in Bangor’s bunkers and prepare the submarines that patrol the seas, ready to launch their deadly arsenal on command, without any signs of cutting back.  It is not only madness, but under our nations (and international) laws it is illegal.

The public is essentially kept in the dark about nuclear weapons, and in one study only 59 of U.S. respondents knew that our own nation possesses nuclear weapons (whoah!).  Ignorance is not bliss; we ignore the existence of nuclear weapons at our own peril.  Avoiding the issue will not make the weapons go away; quite the contrary – it allows our government to more easily pursue its aggressive nuclear agenda.

Today I present you with direct evidence of the nefarious activities hidden from view behind the chain link and barbed wire fences surrounding Bangor.  Thanks to someone with aerial access and a phenomenal camera system we can see what the Disarm Now Plowshares five saw (albeit from a different perspective) and more.  See what is beyond the fence in the You Tube video [11/16/10 note: shortly after the Bangor aerial footage (from YouTube) was posted here, it mysteriously disappeared, and so you will have to imagine it here in this empty space.]:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Once we view what is behind the fences at Bangor we can no longer pretend that it does not exist; we must make a choice – ignore it or take a stand against the nuclear monster that threatens to consume the world.  It is up to us to pressure our reluctant government to take real steps towards a nuclear weapons-free world.



Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu Supports Plowshares Action at US Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor

Archbishop Desmond TutuArchbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu sends a letter of support to the Disarm Now Plowshares.  You can read the letter here:

Nuclear Disarmament in US

The next court date for the plowshares is the arraignment at 1:30 on October 8, 2010 at the Tacoma Federal Courthouse in Tacoma, Washington.

Vigiling at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor

Vigil at naval base gateResponding to Comments from
People in Cars, Newspaper Articles and the Curious

Susan Crane

A couple of times a week  we’ve been standing in front of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, holding signs, as people come and go at shift-change time.  We’ve been joined by local activists as well as Malcolm, a member of Veterans for Peace.

Some coming off the base wave to us or return peace signs while others yell at us to “go home,” and some give a thumbs down or half a peace sign, which I figure is better than none.  Some from the base have stopped to talk with us.  “We need our firearms.”  “Where would we be without war?” “We don’t want to be taken over by Nazis, or communists, or El Qaida.”    “These nuclear weapons keep us safe”  Some have simply asked us why we are there.

And then there have been the responses to articles in the newpapers–most recently there have been 90 responses, most quite hostile, to an article that my son, Chet Collins, wrote for the Ukiah Daily Journal.

Continue reading

Disarm Now Plowshares Statement


“I will purify you from the taint of all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.  I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put my Spirit within you and make you conform to my statutes.” Ez. 36:25-27

We walk into the heart of darkness, the Naval Submarine Base Kitsap-Bangor, housing and deploying over 2,000  nuclear warheads for Trident submarines.  By their very existence they are endangering the environment, threatening  the indiscriminate destruction of life on earth, and depriving the hungry, homeless, and jobless of billions of dollars that could supply human needs throughout the world. Continue reading

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