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.

Photo Tribute to Anne Montgomery

Editor’s Note: The audio clips of Anne speaking were taken from various YouTube videos of events related to the 1980 Plowshares Eight.  We are thankful to whomever converted so many 8 millimeter films to digital format and organized them into over 100 YouTube videos.  Here is one of those from which we extracted audio of Anne:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJbpQTYQzZ4&feature=share&list=PLC9DDEA86AA1A4451

What is our Cornerstone???

(Jail reflection from Transform Now Plowshares activist Greg Boertje-Obed, originally published in issue #167 of the Nuclear Resister newsletter)

~from Blount County

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
By the Lord has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. 
– Psalm 118.22-23 Continue reading

To Anne and the Road Less Travelled

Dear Friends,

Our dear friend and peacemaker Anne Montgomery was no stranger to the road less travelled, a road requiring great skills of spiritual navigation.  On the other hand, that road less travelled is one that was blazed by some well-worn sandals roughly 2000 years ago.  Anne locked on a true compass bearing that guided her well on her long, full life’s journey. Continue reading

Fr. Kabat says to “De-Fence” is better than “Defense”

Dear Friends,

Our dear colleague in holy mischief, Fr. Carl Kabat, continues following God’s Foolish One down the path of nonviolence while continuing to throw wrenches into the gears of the empire’s machinery of death.  Here is a update on Fr. Carl’s early morning antics this Interdependence Day.  Following the update you can read Fr. Carl’s witness statement on today’s action at the new (and I’m sure greatly improved) Kansas City nuclear weapons plant (that produces approximately 85% of the non-nuclear components for our nations nuclear weapons). Continue reading

A Malicious Nun? Are you kidding me?????

The following article about Sr. Anne Montgomery and the Disarm Now Plowshares was written by Documentary filmmaker and Emmy award winning writer and producer Helen Young, and published in The Huffington Post today.

A Malicious Nun?

There are many words that come to mind to describe Sister Anne Montgomery, and her work but “malicious” is certainly  not one of them. Sister Anne, an 85-year-old Roman Catholic nun from the Society of the Sacred Heart who once taught students in Spanish Harlem and high school dropouts in Albany, also spent years working for Christian Peacemakers, an  ecumenical anti-war group. She has put her life on the line in some of the world’s most war-torn regions, including the  Balkans in the 1990’s, the Middle East, and more recently in  Iraq. Her life has been devoted to working for peace and on  nuclear disarmament. Continue reading

‘Violence ends where love begins’: A conversation with Sr. Anne Montgomery

by John Dear SJ on May. 01, 2012 in the National Catholic Reporter

Sr. Anne Montgomery is a legend in some peace movement circles. A member of the Religious of the Sacred Heart, she has spent more than three years in prison for many civil disobedience actions against war, including seven Plowshares disarmament actions*; many years teaching in Harlem; and many years living with the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron, Palestine-Israel. Continue reading

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

Anne Montgomery’s physical health is deteriorating, though her spirit is strong

(Longtime peace activist says her health is on the decline, by Patrick O’Neill, published in the National Catholic Reporter Online, March 2, 2012)

In an email to friends, longtime peace activist Sacred Heart Sr. Anne Montgomery said her physical health is deteriorating and that she would no longer be able to tolerate the chemotherapy treatments she has been receiving.

The chemo “seemed to be helping,” Montgomery wrote in her email Friday, “but last weekend I had breathing problems and tests showed a lung full of fluid and that continuing any chemo, etc. would not help.”

Montgomery, who has spent years in jail and prison for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience, mostly against nuclear weapons, joined Jesuit Fr. Philip Berrigan, his brother, Daniel Berrigan, and five others for the first Plowshares action Sept. 9, 1980, when the eight activists (the Plowshares 8) entered a General Electric weapons plant in King of Prussia, Pa., and used carpenter’s hammers to disarm two nose cones on a Mark 12A nuclear warhead.

In 2011, Montgomery received a two-month federal prison sentence for her role with members of Disarm Now Plowshares, who entered a weapons facility in Washington state Nov. 2, 2009.

Anne and Steve Kelly, December 10, 2010, on the way to court during the Disarm Now Plowshares trial (photo by Leonard Eiger)

“I am trying to reach many friends, so please excuse this communication by e-mail and apologize to anyone you know whom I have missed,” Montgomery wrote. “I have been blessed by so much support, personal and medical, that I know I must share that in some way with all those across our world who lack so much and are near desperation, especially for their children. I also know that the Spirit prays at the heart of the universe and that creation is an ongoing journey of death and resurrection, however mysterious that process is. Because it is energized by Love, we can enter into it rather than count on our own weak efforts and vulnerabilities and worry about failures. When I made my final vows, our group was named, ‘Joy in the Faith,’ I am coming to believe that must somehow be possible since it is promised in the Beatitudes and that those who have nothing show us the way.”

A longtime volunteer with Christian Peacemaker Teams, Montgomery received the 2011 Peace Award of the War Resisters League.

Christian Peacemakers has sent delegations to many war-torn areas, including Haiti, Iraq and the West Bank. Montgomery has spent much of the last seven years with other Christian Peacemakers in Hebron, a war-torn city in the West Bank, said David McReynolds, who presented the League’s award to Montgomery.

At the award ceremony, Montgomery’s longtime friend Elizabeth McAlister praised her spunk, her discipline and her commitment. McAlister is a fellow peace activist who was jailed with Montgomery in West Virginia in the 1980s after the two participated in demonstrations against the U.S. military.

Reflecting on those days in prison, McAlister said:

“One night, Anne knocked on my door to share the news she’d just heard on her radio: that the United States had bombed Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi’s home and killed one of his children. We shared the shock and grief of that moment and, in our own fashion, we prayed. Prison is a hard place to hear such news; one feels so helpless. Praying with Anne made it bearable. Being with Anne made it bearable. And if I had had eyes to see, her present commitment to Hebron might have been visible at that moment.”

In the conclusion to her email, Montgomery wrote: “I am constantly filled with gratitude to you all who have done the nitty-gritty work of peace and nonviolent action and invited me to join you. I hope to be able to do so in a new way. As Phil Berrigan said in his last letter, that work must come from our own vulnerability. Much love, Anne”.

(Original article source: http://ncronline.org/news/people/longtime-peace-activist-says-her-health-decline)

Activists express concern for imprisoned priest

[Thanks to National Catholic Reporter Staff Writer Joshua McElwee for this article published in NCR Online on January 23, 2012]

Activists and friends of an 83-year-old Catholic priest imprisoned for an act of civil resistance are expressing some relief after prison officials responded to concerns he was facing unfair treatment in prison. The priest has not eaten since Jan. 10 to protest his placement in solitary confinement.

Jesuit Fr. Bill Bichsel was serving a three-month prison term in the Federal Detention Center near Seattle, Wash., for a July 2010 action at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where a new nuclear weapons manufacturing facility is being planned.

Bichsel was moved Jan. 10 to a prison transition facility in Tacoma, Wash. He was sent back to the federal detention center in Seattle the next day because authorities said he had received an unauthorized visit at the transition facility.

Fellow activists say Bichsel has begun a fast since his return to prison, where he is being held in solitary confinement. The activists also were concerned that Bichsel, who suffers from blood circulation problems, was not receiving an adequate number of blankets to keep warm.

In a posting at the blog of the “Disarm Now Plowshares” group [2] Jan. 19, activist Blake Kremer said Bichsel had told him “it is very cold for me all of the time.”

“I cannot sleep at all,” Kremer reported Bichsel as saying during a phone call. “24 hours a day without sleep, fighting off the chill. I have asked for a jacket or a pillow or a mattress; they do not comply.”

Activist Joe Power-Drutis reported this afternoon on the same blog that Bichsel has now received extra blankets and is “much warmer,” following a support vigil for the priest outside the prison Sunday, which saw more than 40 people attend.

Power-Drutis also said there “remains a couple of other health related issues” that the activists “hope to resolve those soon through direct negotiation.”

Supporters say Bichsel was visited by Buddhist monks with the Nipponzan Myohoji order when he was moved to the Tacoma facility Jan. 10. They say the authorities at the facility reprimanded Bichsel for the visit and had him rearrested the next morning.

According to Kremer, Bichsel started his fast partly “to unite us as one and strengthen resolve against nuclear weapons” and would be appreciative of any who would join him in the effort.

A spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons said that while he couldn’t comment on the case of a specific inmate, he did say that the “typical issue” for all inmates in the federal system is a blanket and sheet, and that there is a “full health services staff on duty at all of our facilities.”

“If we receive information either from the inmate or the inmate’s doctor on the street that there was some sort of pre-existing condition that was being treated, obviously we would pick up the ball from there,” said Chris Burke, a public information officer at the bureau’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“Now, sometimes, our doctors’ treatment may differ from what [the prisoner] was receiving on the street for a lot of different reasons. But those conditions will still be treated regardless.”

Before his imprisonment for the Y-12 action, Bichsel had served a three-month sentence in the spring of 2011 for a November 2009 act of civil resistance at the U.S. Navy nuclear weapons base in Bangor, Wash.

Supporters were concerned for Bichsel during that imprisonment, as he was transferred between at least six different facilities across the country.

Writing on the “Disarm Now Plowshares” blog, Power-Drutis said that a May visit to Bichsel in the Knox County, Tenn., Sheriff’s Detention Facility found the priest “a broken and very hurting soul.”

Twelve others participated with Bichsel in the 2010 action at the Y-12 complex, for which they faced sentencing in September.

Four others participated with the priest in the 2009 action, which saw the activists cut through the outer fences of the Washington state naval base before walking toward the center of the base holding a sign that read “Disarm Now Plowshares Trident: Illegal Immoral” and scattering sunflower seeds and hammering on a roadway and fences.

Among the other four who participated in that action was Jesuit Fr. Steve Kelly, who has been imprisoned since April at the Seattle facility, where he is serving a 15 month sentence. According to supporters, Kelly has been in solitary for most of his imprisonment.

Two of the other three people found guilty for the 2009 action have since been released. Susan Crane, a member of the Jonah House community in Baltimore, is still being held on a 15 month sentence at the Federal Correction Institution in Dublin, Calif.

[Joshua J. McElwee is an NCR staff writer. His email address is jmcelwee@ncronline.org.]

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