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nuclear disarmament

On this date of November 15, 2007 and the  Feast of St. Albert the Great (Dominican preacher, teacher and scientist) the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids, MI announce that we have joined with the Federation of Dominican Sisters USA in a corporate stance for nuclear disarmament. A vote of members was taken; there was overwhelming support for the Disarmament Statement.

Corporate Stance on Nuclear Disarmament

The Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids call upon the United States government to lead the way for the global abolition of nuclear and all weapons of mass destruction by adopting a plan to lock down, dismantle, reduce, and eliminate nuclear and all weapons of mass destruction.

We call for immediate development, adoption and implementation of a plan that will ensure that there will be no new nuclear weapons, no new materials for nuclear weapons, and no testing of nuclear weapons.

We will work with all people of goodwill until there is no chance that a nuclear weapon or other weapon of mass destruction can come into the hands of anyone wishing to do harm.

The Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids have served in parishes and schools in Michigan for the past 120 years, with missions in New Mexico, since 1925. Dominican Sisters are currently engaged in ministries of education, health care, outreach and catechetical work, pastoral services and advocacy for people who are disempowered in at least fifteen states and three foreign countries.

Impelled by Catholic Social Teaching principles and as women religious, we believe that all creation, including Earth, is sacred and we stand in witness to the triumph of life over death, love over hatred and hope over fear. Each of us now will express support for this effort in the choices we make to study, pray and act on behalf of creation rather than destruction. The Congregation will continue to pursue study and learning ways for non-violent action and advocate for a non-nuclear stance as part of our commitment to Care of Earth.


RATIONALE

We believe that humanity has been living in the shadow of nuclear weapons for too long. Earth has been desecrated by the testing of nuclear arms. Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction continue to pose a threat to all creation. Our country cannot rightly seek to halt the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, while maintaining our own stockpile of weapons and developing new armament capabilities. We stand with scientists and military leaders who believe that eliminating nuclear weapons will make our world safer for all forms of life. The first step is to develop a detailed plan to lock down, reduce and eliminate nuclear and all weapons of mass destruction.

HISTORY OF THE PROPOSAL

The request for the stance was born within a gathering of Dominicans at the 2005 Federation of Dominican Sisters USA meeting in Chicago. Encouraged by the actions of Dominican Sisters Carol Gilbert, Jackie Hudson and Ardeth Platte, the Federation Gathering wanted to act in solidarity with our sisters by committing to the same cause — nuclear disarmament.

THEOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Catholic Social or Papal Teaching does not support the proliferation and use of nuclear weapons.

“The Church’s social teaching proposes the goal of general, balanced and controlled disarmament. The enormous increase in arms represents a grave threat to stability and peace. Policies of nuclear deterrence must be replaced with concrete measures of disarmament based on dialogue and multilateral negotiations.”
Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church, Vatican City, 2004, #508
“The Holy See emphasizes that the peace we seek in the 21st century cannot be attained by relying on nuclear weapons. . . nuclear weapons assault life on the planet, they assault the planet itself and in so doing they assault the process of the continuing development of the planet.”
         Archbishop Celestine Migliore, Vatican Representative to the U.N., May 4, 2005

“. . .What can be said, too, about those governments which count on nuclear arms as a means of ensuring the security of their countries? Along with countless persons of good will, one can state that this point of view is not only baneful but also completely fallacious. In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims. The truth of peace requires that all — whether those governments which openly or secretly possess nuclear arms or those planning to acquire them — agree to change their course by clear and firm decision, and strive for progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament. . .

One can only note with dismay the evidence of a continuing growth in military expenditure and the flourishing arms trade, while the political and juridical process established by the international community for promoting disarmament is bogged down in general indifference. How can there ever be a future of peace when investments are still made in the production of arms and in research aimed at developing new ones?”
                                         Pope Benedict XVI Message for World Peace Day, 2006

HISTORICAL REALITY

  • There are more than 30,000 nuclear weapons in the world with the United States estimated to have 10,925 of those weapons as of 1999.
  • The total cost to the U.S. taxpayer of the U.S. nuclear program is estimated at $5.5 trillion, based on a comprehensive study.                                                                      Atomic Audit, Brookings Institution, 1998
  • The U.S. also has a plan, Complex 2030, to produce, test and certify a new class of nuclear weapons, called Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW), at an estimated cost of $150 billion, completely reversing the goals of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signed now by over 180 countries. Though the U.S. was an early signatory to the NPT, the current administration is no longer adhering to it or to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. For an explanation of Complex 2030 and information on Complex 2030 go to:  http://www.fcnl.org/issues/item.php?item_id=2158&issue_id=2

 


SOURCES FOR FUTURE STUDY

The Education Packet on Nuclear Disarmament

The internet is rich in resources:

1. Go to: www.domlife.org/Justice/Disarmament/Disarmament.htm  At this site, go to bottom of page to “Resources.” All are helpful but especially recommended are The Center for Concern for Disarmament (PDF) and Nuclear Weapons Primer (PDF).

2. At the DomLife site above, the “Related Links” section directly above the “Resources” contains numerous related sites. Among these the Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quaker) – contains a sidebar on Nuclear Disarmament: http://www.fcnl.org/nuclear/


 QUESTIONS you might ask regarding the Corporate Stance on Nuclear Disarmament

Who are the scientists and military leaders who believe that eliminating nuclear weapons will make our country and world safer?

“Nuclear war is a raging, insatiable beast whose instincts and appetites we pretend to understand but cannot control.”

Gen Lee Butler, USAF, Retired, Former Commander 
US Strategic Air Command 1991-1994

 Address to the National Press Club, Washington, D.C., 4 December 1996.

“If the world is to reverse the tide of history and survive the atomic age, we must soon recognize the incompatibility of weapons of mass destruction with the political nature of warfare. Only then will we have the moral authority, wisdom and political ascendancy to change the counter-productive strategies that have abandoned international law and now threaten us all.”

Col. Alan J. Parrington (BS, Colorado State University; MA, University of Alabama) is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Globalization and Security, Graduate School of International Studies, University of Denver. He is a former US Air Attaché, a Pacific Command HQ Foreign Policy Advisor and a F-15/ F-4 command pilot.

“Crucial and compelling demands have been issued in recent months by dozens of authorities who now agree that nuclear abolition is necessary and possible. For example, last February at the National Press Club, 117 world leaders—among them former President Jimmy Carter, former President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev, former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau—called upon nuclear weapons states to “declare unambiguously that their goal is ultimate abolition”; in April 1997 Dr. Hans Bethe, a Nobel Prize winner and the most senior of the living scientists who built the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, wrote to President Clinton calling on him to withdraw the $2.2 billion in funding set for nuclear weapons development; in December 1996, 62 retired generals and admirals from around the world published a declaration in major papers urging that “the following. . . must be undertaken now. . . long term international nuclear policy must be based on the declared principle of continuous, complete and irrevocable elimination of nuclear weapons.”

From the article “Hiroshima’s and Nagasaki’s Lessons Still to be Learned” 
by John M. LaForge 1998

“We endorse setting the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and working energetically on the actions required to achieve that goal. A conference organized by Mr. Shultz and Sidney D. Drell was held at Hoover to reconsider the vision that Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev brought to Reykjavik. In addition to Messrs. Shultz and Drell, the following participants also endorse the view in this statement: Martin Anderson, Steve Andreasen, Michael Armacost, William Crowe, James Goodby, Thomas Graham Jr., Thomas Henriksen, David Holloway, Max Kampelman, Jack Matlock, John McLaughlin, Don Oberdorfer, Rozanne Ridgway, Henry Rowen, Roald Sagdeev and Abraham Sofaer.”

The Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2007 by George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, 
Henry A. Kissinger and Sam Nunn.

What does the term “lock down” mean?
The term means to secure nuclear weapons and the material used to make them. There are more than 100 research reactors or related facilities worldwide with enough enriched uranium to potentially build a bomb and even more facilities that use plutonium. In some of these places security is inadequate. These materials can be stolen. Terrorists are trying to steal nuclear material and could recruit a handful of scientists with enough knowledge to manufacture a simple nuclear device. See: Safer World from http://www.lastbestchance.org/


 ACTION ALTERNATIVES FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF CORPORATE STANCE ON NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

Each Sister may choose one or more of these actions as her concrete commitment to the Congregation’s stance:

  • I will learn and practice skills of nonviolence in personal, communal and societal interactions.
  • I will contact my congresspersons when legislative alerts request action for nuclear disarmament.
  • I will follow one or more web sites dealing with the issue of nuclear disarmament and consider taking the actions recommended thereon from time to time.
  • I will study the related issues, either personally or with a group.
  • I will pray for wise decisions by government officials in dealing with nuclear disarmament.
  • I will contact legislators and support the development and funding for a Department of Peace in the U.S. government.
  • I will join and support local peace groups that abide by the principles of nonviolence, e.g., Pax Christi, Women in Black or local peace coalitions.
  • I will fast regularly (schedule set by the individual) for the purpose of peace and nuclear disarmament.
  • I will give the gift of Hours of Peace to family and friends for Christmas or other occasions through the purchase of peace bonds for them at http://www.buypeacebonds.org   For information about the Nonviolent Peaceforce that these bonds fund, go to: http://www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org/ (These are not U.S. government bonds.)
  • As a preacher, I will include the theme of nonviolence and actions for peace and justice in my preaching as appropriate.
  • I will study, pray and prepare to take actions of nonviolent resistance; and when ready in body and spirit, take part in such actions in a nonviolent manner.
  • I will investigate academic programs in peacemaking including those of the University for Peace and enroll in a course or courses.
  • I will discern the feasibility of becoming a peacekeeper in a troubled area of our world, and prepare to do so with a reputable organization.
  • I will select my own way of acting on behalf of nuclear disarmament.

As a Congregation, Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids commit to the following:

  • We will continue to refuse to hold stock in the top 25 defense contractors, or we may choose to hold the minimum necessary shares in such companies for the purpose of being able to participate actively in shareholder resolutions as put forth by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and/or LCWR Region VII.
  • We will practice the skills of nonviolence when dealing with conflictual situations and regularly ask ourselves after such events, “Did we act in a nonviolent manner? How might we have better practiced the principles of nonviolence?”
  • We will publicize to sisters, associates and employees the dates of, and participate in, the Rolling Fast that is part of the Dominican Federation effort to take a stance on nuclear disarmament.
  • We will continue to encourage the theme of nonviolence and actions for justice and peace in all our preaching as appropriate.
  • We will advocate a non-nuclear stance as part of our commitment to Care of Earth.
  • We will publish the Corporate Stance on our web site and encourage our associates and others to join us in this act of social justice.

Prayer for Nuclear Disarmament

You have given us life, intelligence and the beauty of Creation, O God.
Your good gifts were given so we might be stewards of all that is alive.
In our arrogance, we have unleashed fearful forces that destroy.
We have brought down fierce fire from the sky.
Your children have been burned, your gentle green earth scorched.

Fear rules us now, not Love; we have given in to evils, lesser and greater.
In your mercy, help us turn from destruction, from bombs and barricades.
Lead us to Life again, to affirmation of all goodness and to international disarmament.
With your grace, may we begin to dismantle the bombs, beat our swords into plowshares, and so transform the nuclear nightmare into the peace you have proposed.
Hear our prayer, O God, and guide us in your ways. Amen