News Release

Pope Francis in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Condemn Possession of Nuclear Weapons

Pope Francis will travel to Hiroshima and Nagasaki this weekend. On Sunday, he will give a public address at the ground-zero site of the nuclear attack on Nagasaki. The Vatican was one of the first signers of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was passed by the U.N. in 2017, but is adamantly opposed by the U.S. government, virtually all of its NATO allies and several other nuclear weapons states, including Russia.

The New Yorker writes in “The Pope and Catholic Radicals Come Together Against Nuclear Weapons“: “Echoing past Popes, he will doubtless denounce nuclear weapons as a threat to humanity, and their ongoing development as a grave misallocation of wealth and resources. Then he’s expected to go further. Twice in 2017, in diplomatic contexts, Francis made remarks that moved the Church away from its support of nuclear deterrence and toward advocating for the abolition of nuclear weapons and condemning their ‘very possession.’ …

“A few weeks after the Pope delivers his address, seven Catholics affiliated with Plowshares, a nuclear-abolition movement formed in the nineteen-eighties, will be sentenced.”

The Plowshares activists — who take their name from the biblical edict to turn swords into plowshares — had entered a major U.S. military instillation which holds Trident nuclear submarines and their scores of missiles in 2018. They “symbolically disarmed” the first strike weapons and were convicted of three felonies in federal court late last month. They have the support of Desmond Tutu and other Nobel Peace Prize laureatesDaniel Ellsberg, who exposed the Pentagon Papers and recently wrote The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.

Several of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 — who could face decades in prison — will be in New York this weekend, meeting with officials in the Japanese consulate to the UN on Friday and holding vigils in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Saturday (3 to 6 p.m.) and Sunday (8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.) in solidarity to the Pope’s visit to Japan.

MARTHA HENNESSY, marthahennessy at gmail.com
Hennessy lives in Vermont and works regularly at the Catholic Worker in New York City. She is also the granddaughter of Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement. See a recent interview with her that gives an overview of the legal and moral justifications for their action, including ongoing U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

CARMEN TROTTA, trottacarmen at yahoo.com
A member of the Catholic Worker in New York City, Trotta was interviewed on the Intercepted podcast earlier this year with Jeremy Scahill. He said today: “It’s remarkable what the Pope is doing. But you don’t hear a word about abolishing nuclear weapons from the archdioceses. So many large structures ad beholden to the state.”

CLARE GRADY, claretgrady at gmail.com
Grady, of the Ithaca Catholic Worker, coordinated the local soup kitchen dinners there for 17 years and is an anti-war activist. See videos of her and other activists.

She said today: “We’re so grateful that the Pope is making this trip. It’s our church, rather like it’s our country, and if we don’t seek to address problems and heal it, we are complicit. …

“The mere possession — not just the launching — of these weapons is a sin because of how they are used: Like a cocked gun pointed at the head of the world that our government uses.”

See coverage of the trial by Sam Husseini in the new piece at Counterpunch “Can the Religious Left Take Down Nuclear Weapons?” Also see Brian Terrell’s recent piece “A Doubtful Proposition” and other coverage on the group’s extensive website.