This week, our US Congress passed its biggest military budget ever. A serious collective sin of empire, against which this nation was founded. On the other hand, last night in Saint-Patrick’s Cathedral, Cardinal Timothy Dolan waves his butt towards the humble Catholic workers of the benches at the end of the mass dedicated to Dorothy Day, co-founder of their movement since 1933 to feed, dress , listen, and bear witness with the poor and oppressed.
Cardinal Dolan explained that when Pope Francis visited the cathedral in 2015, the seed for that night’s harvest was planted. A few days earlier, Pope Francis had become the first pope to address the US Congress. In this address he called Dorothy Day’s name not once, but 4 times. Most of our reps went on their phones to see who this woman was.
Two years later, Pope Francis would open the Conference for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which would continue with the powerful, inspired work of a majority of nations around the world to become a treaty. Despite protests from nuclear-weapon nations and our media ignoring and minimizing it, on January 22, 2021, the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty received enough ratifications to become international law.
In 1945, hearing about Hiroshima, Dorothy Day would be one of the very few Americans to protest against this new omnicidal device and immediately published, asking us to reflect on the innocent we have disappeared, the innocent life taken instead. . She would stand against these weapons in particular, and against militarism and war in general, for the following decades until the day she left this world.
On January 21, 2019, New York City held its plenary public hearings at City Hall to have its council’s legislation support and adhere to this ban treaty and call for a divestment from the industry. Dorothy’s granddaughter, Martha Hennessy, was in prison with 6 other Catholic workers for non-violent civil disobedience, for entering our nuclear submarine base in Kings Bay, Georgia, where sufficient firepower was housed to destroy the earth many times. “Love each other” was and remains their message of “dangerous” activism. Joanne Kennedy, a Catholic worker at Dorothy’s home, Maryhouse, would present Martha’s testimony to City Council on her behalf, along with that of 70 other dedicated citizens. Recently free, Martha was able to share the reading of this profound, deeply moving and hopeful event last night from the pulpit of the cathedral.
Maybe part of Dorothy’s lifelong message could shine through? With the butt held high, a victory in the midst of terrible darkness!
On the same day these boxes of evidence were shipped to Rome from the cathedral, the New York City Council overwhelmingly voted to pass the legislation. New York City, the home of Wall Street, now faces a frenzied nuclear arms race with no discernible reason other than to bolster our military spending and to point fingers at stereotypes of the other being. , “The enemy.” Risking everything in the process. The New York Council has stood up fifteen times since 1963, when it supported President John F. Kennedy’s nuclear test ban treaty, which was to be for him only the first step towards the elimination of all nuclear weapons, during his lifetime. Unknown in our history, JFK worked behind the scenes for this with the full support of “the enemy”, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Neither trusted their own military to do the sane thing. (Footnote: James Douglass’ 2008 book, JFK and the Unspeakable)
If you believe in the power of prayer and the intercession of a saint on our behalf, as some of us do even despite Dorothy saying “Don’t call me a saint”), then let’s pray. with her by our side for this miracle: conversion of our Congress complex from the military-industrial university. She prayed for this from Hiroshima, but also during a demonstration in front of the city hall in 1955, refusing to accompany our civil defense exercises against the atomic bomb.
If you do not “believe” Dorothy Day would fully understand and appreciate all that you are doing towards this conversion for our true safety and security, towards the clear and present needs of humanity, if not life itself. The trillions of dollars for this industry alone can move quickly to the very real challenges of today – climate, good jobs, education, health care, housing, social and racial justice, infrastructure, needed reforms, the list. keep on going.
Dorothy, we pray for the miracle of our representatives awakening to the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty and embodying true leadership in a good, beautiful and deeply suffering world.