Transform Now Plowshares activists sentenced; and, the Worcester connection

posted by Mike on February 19th, 2014

Reuters, yesterday:

A U.S. judge sentenced an 84-year-old nun, Sister Megan Rice, on Tuesday to 35 months in prison for breaking into a Tennessee military facility used to store enriched uranium for nuclear bombs.

Two others accused in the case, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, were sentenced to 62 months in prison. The three were convicted of cutting fences and entering the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in July 2012, embarrassing U.S. officials and prompting security changes.

Tom LewisA fourth “participant” in the breakin was Worcester’s own Tom Lewis, the late artist-activist. As the Washington Post reported in an amazing article about this act of protest last spring:

They spray painted the building’s north wall, which was designed to withstand the impact of aircraft but not the words of the Book of Proverbs. They poured and splashed blood that had once been in the veins of a painter-activist named Tom Lewis, one of the Catonsville Nine who, on Hiroshima Day 1987, hammered on the bomb racks of an anti-submarine plane at the South Weymouth Naval Air Station near Boston. In 2008, Lewis died in his sleep, and his blood was frozen so that he might one day participate in one last Plowshares action.

In bright red rivulets, the last of Tom Lewis streaked down the concrete.

Hiroshima Day 2013, Worcester

posted by Mike on August 6th, 2013


13 people gathered in Worcester’s Lincoln Square today to repent, as Americans, for the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to call for nuclear disarmament.

Vatican Radio:

The President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson, is in Japan for the “Ten Days for Peace” inititative, which is marked in every diocese of the country to mark the 10th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which took place on the 6th and 9th of August, in 1945. He spoke on Tuesday morning at a meeting of inter-religious leaders.

“According to Catholic belief, God made man for life, for freedom and for happiness. And yet our destiny here on earth, much of the time, seems to consist of suffering, which we are tempted to undergo as chastisement or punishment, as a cruel fate. Such senseless suffering can eventually defeat us.

“In 1981, Blessed John Paul II properly named the suffering brought by war, specifically by the Atom Bomb, as the fruit of human sin and the result of evil at work. Pope Francis made a similar clarification: ‘The possession of atomic power can cause the destruction of humanity. When man becomes proud, he creates a monster that can get out of hand.’

“Individuals and societies are always tempted by the passions of greed and hate; but they do not have to succumb. Instead of excluding those who are deprived, let us meet their needs. Instead of avoiding those who suffer, let us accompany them. Instead of cursing what we ourselves suffer, let us offer it up for others. Instead of hiding from today’s problems, let us together bravely address the social situations and structures that cause injustice and conflict.

“For ‘no amount of “peace-building” will be able to last,’ according to Pope Francis, ‘nor will harmony and happiness be attained in a society that ignores, pushes to the margins or excludes a part of itself.'”


Hiroshima Day 2012, Worcester

posted by Mike on August 6th, 2012


20 people gathered at Worcester City Hall today to repent, as Americans, for the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to call for nuclear disarmament.


Hiroshima Day 2010, Worcester, Massachusetts

posted by Mike on August 6th, 2010

17 people gathered at Worcester City Hall today to repent, as Americans, for the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to call for nuclear disarmament.


Dave Griffith posted his great Hiroshima essay Pictures of the Floating World on his site today, in one of those Scribd-type crazy formats.


Radical priest Carl Kabat profiled in NYT

posted by Mike on September 7th, 2009

Carl Kabat at the 2008 Catholic Worker national gatheringNice profile in today’s New York Times of Fr Carl Kabat, OMI, a Catholic priest with longstanding ties to both the Plowshares and Catholic Worker movements:

At 75 he continues his crusade against nuclear weapons at missile silos across the United States, armed with a hammer and a pair of bolt cutters. He usually wears a clown suit, in homage, he says, to St. Paul’s words: “We are fools for Christ’s sake.”


Subsequent protests led to Father Kabat’s spending more time in prison than out, raising questions about the effectiveness of his approach.

Liz McAlister, who married Philip Berrigan, has an answer. “We live in a culture where we want to measure everything to know how successful things are,” Ms. McAlister said. “It’s beautiful to see people who don’t spend time wondering and worrying about that and are willing to do what they think is right regardless of the consequences.”

Photo: Carl Kabat at the 2008 Catholic Worker National Gathering in Worcester.

Hiroshima Day 2009, Worcester, Massachusetts

posted by Mike on August 6th, 2009

11 people gathered at Worcester City Hall today to repent, as Americans, for the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to call for nuclear disarmament.


A recent poll found that 61% of Americans think the bombing was “the right thing” to do. There are two ways to look at this. Was the bombing an effective way to bring WWII to an end? Was the bombing a horrible crime?

I think the answer to the second question is “Yes.” As to the first, Wikipedia is a good place to start. Hiroshima: Was It Necessary? is another introduction.

For another take on disarmament, one expressed by several passersby today, see Randy Newman’s “Political Science.”


How to: commemorate the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

posted by Mike on August 5th, 2008

August 6 is the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. August 9 is the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

One year in South Bend we held a Nagasaki commemoration and our signs were confusing to passersby. A short, clear sign might be NAGASAKI / 1945 / MOURN THE DEAD.

Here’s a leaflet with a Catholic focus you can customize.:

Worcester, 2004

South Bend, 2006

IMG_0941 IMG_0934
Worcester, 2009

If you have constructive suggestions, or this info is helpful, please post a comment.

Pop Culture Peacemaker Shoutout

posted by Adam (Southern California) on June 30th, 2007

On last night’s Jeopardy!, the $1600 answer in the category “Rage Against the Machine” (all about people raging against machines, not about the band) was:

In a 1980 antiwar protest, these priest brothers, Daniel & Philip, attacked missile warheads at a G.E. plant.

Contestant Roy, a building inspector from Rancho Cucamonga, California, correctly, albeit ungrammatically, questioned, “What is Berrigan?”

posted by Adam (Southern California) in General, Weapons of Mass Destruction | on June 30th, 2007 | Permanent Link to “Pop Culture Peacemaker Shoutout” | No Comments »

Remembering Nagasaki in South Bend

posted by Mike on August 10th, 2006

About twenty people gathered at the Federal Building last night in South Bend, Indiana, to repent and pray on the 61st anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan.

Another, more secular, vigil was held in South Bend earlier in the day.

The group, most wearing black, held signs reading “From Nagasaki to Lebanon / Mourn the Dead.”

Pictured: Mike Schorsch. Photo by Mike Benedetti. More photos.

The event was sponsored by the South Bend Catholic Worker and the Catholic Peace Fellowship. It began with the reading of a meditation, reprinted below.

(The South Bend Tribune covered this event. Last year when the Worcester Telegram & Gazette saw fit to cover a similar event in Massachusetts, they saw fit to “balance” the coverage by interviewing a WWII-era man with a poor understanding of the facts. The Tribune, to its credit, did not do this.)

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Clowns, nukes, and other items

posted by Mike on June 23rd, 2006

Plowshares: Boing Boing mentions a Plowshares action by Greg Boertje-Obed, Carl Kabat, and Michael Walli. They hammered on a silo and spread their blood about while dressed as clowns.

If I could Update my comment on Boing Boing, it would read:

. . . hammering on a missile silo is meant to be purely a symbolic act.

The interplay of symbolism and practicality is what makes these sorts of actions tricky to write about.

Tom Lewis points out that this is the third time Carl Kabat has tried to sabotage a missile while dressed as a clown.

Mike: I met Carl Kabat once, for ten seconds.

Scott: You’re doing pretty good—I met him once for ten minutes!

Claire: I think I met Carl Kabat once. He’s always in jail.
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