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London Ash Wednesday 2011

The Catholic Worker Farm | 10.03.2011 10:10 | Terror War

- Catholic Workers Mark M.O.D. with Ash as Trident Poised to Reduce the World to Nuclear Ash!

Report by Ciaron O'Reilly
Photos by Mirjam Johansson


Scott Albrecht
Scott Albrecht

Martin and Henrietta
Martin and Henrietta



Ash Wednesday in the Catholic Calendar marks the beginning of the season of Lent in preparation for the Holy Week passion and Easter's triumph of life over death.

At noon on Wednesday March 9th., Catholic Workers attended mass at Westminster Cathedral, where foreheads were traditionally marked with ash while words were uttered that remind one of one's own mortality "Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return!"
Following mass, we chatted with some "Women for Ordination" folks from Warrington vigilling in protest outside the Mass and made our way past institutions that have no sense of humility, their subversion by the prince of darkness or their mortality,
We passed McDonalds, Royal Bank of Scotland, New Scotland Yard, the QE2 Conference Centre, British Parliament before arriving at Downing St. to support a small "Campaign Against the Arms Trade" (CAAT) delegation delivering a petition to British Prime Minister Cameron regarding British arms exports to the Libyan dictator Gadaffi. These British arms are presently being turned by Gadaffi on his own people.
After farewelling the CAAT delegation we crossed Whitehall and walked to the rear of the Ministry of Defence (M.O.D.) buildings to Embankment Gardens on the Thames. By this point there were eleven Catholic Workers present with countries of origin as diverse as Australia, England, Korea, Malaysia, South Korea, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United States. Ages ranged from early 20's to mid-60's with a gender balance favouring women.
We were eventually joined by over a hundred others for a liturgy organised by Pax Christi, Christian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CCND) and the Catholic Worker, welcoming of participation by people of other faiths and no faith traditions, the broader range of nationalities was enhanced with a demographic favouring older folks. The Buddhist nun and monk of Nipponzon Myohoji were present reminding us of the legacy of Hioshima and Nagasaki. Also present were Plowshares activists who had disarmed nuclear weapons systems and people who had worked and lived in war zones from Africa to Palestine to East Timor to the north of Ireland to the Philippines.

 The weather held and the liturgy unfolded to address the Lenten theme of repentance in relation to the British state's nuclear warfighting preparations. This Ash Wednesday liturgy and accompanying acts of nonviolent resistance has been undertaken on an annual basis since 1982 when it was initiated by Catholic Peace Action. Arrest and imprisonment have been consequent of many previous Ash Wednesday actions at the M.O.D. over the years.
"Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn, turn to the Lord your God again, for God is all tenderness and compassion." Joel 2:13 " Repentance means a change of mind and heart. Joel call it heart-break... The call to repentance is a call to the Nation to change political, social and economic structures which oppress and exploit the weak." Fr. Gerry Hughes S.J.
The liturgy remembered the victims of war, the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Congo, Israel, Palestine and indigenous peoples whose land has been stolen and exploited for uranium mining and testing of nuclear weapons. Peace prisoners were also remembered Bradley Manning, Fr. Louis Vitalie OFM Helen Woodson, Rafl Dhafir, Michael Omondi, Nancy Smith, Chris Spicer, Frank Donelly, Carl Steward Norman Lowry Jr and these unknown to us.

At the conclusion of the liturgy the group processed from the gardens following a cross chanting in Latin, "Ubi caritas, et armour. Ubi caritas, Deus ibi est." (Where charity and love are, God is there.) By the time we had processed up the footpath Fr. Martin Newell C.P. of Giuseppe Conlon CW House and Henrietta Cullinan of the CW Urban Table Soup Kitchen had leapt over the M.O.D. railings across the road from the main party marking the M.O.D. with ash and writing in charcoal......
"War is Sin"
"Let Our Hearts be Broken Not Our Garments"
"No Nukes"
"No More War"
"Trident is Sin"

Police who appeared reluctant to jump the railings found their key, opened the gate and detained them. Scott Albrecht, former U.S. Air Force airman who had worked with U.S. nuclear weapons at Lakenheath USAFB in England, from the Catholic Worker Farmhouse crossed the road from the main party dropped to his knees and wrote on the M.O.D. building........
"No Trident"
"God is Love"

The party of over a hundred stopped on two occasions to continue the liturgy before crossing the road. Henrietta, Fr. Martin and Scott remained on their knees as the police questioned them taking details. As the main party arrived at the man entrance to the building, Sr. Susan Clarkson of St. Francis Catholic Worker House Oxford and Maria Albrecht of the Catholic Worker Farmhouse dropped to their knees and wrote on the M.O.D. building......
"Disarm Now"
"No More Ministry of Death"
The five were eventually released by the police and informed of the possibility that they maybe summoned to court at a later date.

On Monday March 28th. the "Disarm Plowshares" Susan Crane, Fr. Bill Bicshel, Susan Crane, Lynn Geenwald will be sentenced in the U.S. for their 2009 "All Souls Day" plowshares action on the U.S.Trident nuclear warfighting system at Naval Base Kitsap, Bangor, Washington state - the largest nuclear weapon storage area in the US. In London we will hold a solidarity vigil at the U.S. Embassy on that day of sentencing.

More background and information on "Disarm Plowshares"

More information on solidarity vigil in London Ph/Text 079 392 90576.

The Catholic Worker Farm
- e-mail:
- Homepage:


Hide the following 4 comments

Report Ash Wednesday at the White House, Washington D.C.

10.03.2011 18:54

Dear Friends,

Between 40-50 people attended an Ash Wednesday Prayer Service of
Repentance outside the White House today during the noon hour to mark
the beginning of Lent.

Before the service concluded, ashes were blessed and distributed as
well as spread in the form of a cross on Pennsylvania Ave. in front of
the White House. Also a PBS religion and ethics reporter and film team
took footage of the service and did interviews with Fr. Joe Nangle and
Liz McAlister for its weekly Sunday program.

Below is a copy of the leaflet
Let us keep each other in prayer and heart during this holy season as
we strive to help create the

Dorothy Day CW, Wash DC


Ash Wednesday Witness for Peace and Justice (Leaflet)

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent is a time for
personal and societal repentance, a time for radical conversion,
renewal and transformation. Living under the brutal occupation of the
Roman empire, Jesus declared: "The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent
and believe in the Gospel." (Mk.1:15) Living in the U.S. empire,
which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described as "the greatest purveyor
of violence in the world," we need to heed Jesus' proclamation now
more than ever.

We live in a war-making empire, where war is being waged
indiscriminately in order to control and acquire resources. The U.S.
continues to wage an unrelenting war in Afghanistan, maintains an
illegal military occupation presence in Iraq following twenty years of
bombings and sanctions, and has increased it's military intervention
in Pakistan and Yemen. The U.S. also continues to provide military and
economic support to Israel for its illegal occupation of Palestine.
Corporate, military and political powers are also waging a war against
the poor. War, economic exploitation and global warming claim
countless lives daily. The victims cry out for justice. The earth
groans in travail.

The purpose of this witness is to call for repentance and conversion
of ourselves, our society and our churches to the Gospel way of
justice, nonviolence and a reverence for all life and creation. As we
stand here in front of the White House, we call for an immediate end
to the sinful wars being carried out in our name. We call for
reparations for Iraq and Afghanistan; for total disarmament; the
abolition of all nuclear and conventional weapons; an end to U.S. to
U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of the West Bank; an end to
torture and the closing of Guantanamo and Bagram U.S. military prisons
and other military torture training centers like the SOA/WHINSEC; and
an end to AFRICOM and the U.S. militarization of Africa. We call, too,
for the eradication of poverty; for universal health care for all;
for a just economic order; for climate justice, and for justice for
all immigrants. We call for the proposed FY 2012 military budget of
nearly $1 trillion to be converted to meet urgent human needs. And we
call on Mr. Obama to scrap a proposed five-year request of nearly $65
billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to
modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons enterprise.

As historic political changes are occurring in North Africa, in the
Middle East and elsewhere, let us take to heart and act on the
following words of Dr. King: "These are revolutionary times. All over
the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and
oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of
justice and equality are being born...We in the West must support
these revolutions...Our only hope today lies in our ability to
recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile
world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.
With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo
and unjust mores, and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall
be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, the crooked
shall be made straight, and the rough places plain."

Please vigil with the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and other
peacemakers at the White House during the Friday's of Lent from
12:00-1:00 p.m. This vigil is sponsored by Dorothy Day Catholic
Worker, Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore, Maryknoll Office for Global
Concerns, Jonah House, Christian Peace Witness, TASSC, and Witness
Against Torture.

For more info contact the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-882-9649.


Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Washington D.C
- Homepage:

Light a candle, say a prayer, get ashes put on your head....

10.03.2011 19:10

you folks are crazy but funny but please I ask, is this the proper place to post your religious garbage?



10.03.2011 22:27

I go to my local anarchist meeting monthly and my local church weekly. Good people at both places.
At the anarchist meeting I go to (on avearge) there are 14 people. One non-white, 2 women. The church I go to is packed and (aprox) 80% non white (the 20% white are mostly older Irish) and majority women and children.

Assuming you are a white Engliash anarchist (correct me if I wrong) you come from an imperial cuture with a long history of persecuting Catholics. Unitil recently your government was torturing and killing unarmed Irish Catholics with monotoneous regularity. Anti-Catholic prejudice (hatred of micks/taigs/paddies/ left footers etc) is part of your mainstream cultural formation. There are 1.2 million Catholic and like it or not it remains the church of the poor. Why don't you just offer solidarity to the anarchist tendencies in Catholicism, evangelical christianity, Buddism, Judaism, Islam, you want to be a self isolating superior p.c. subculture or do you want to make your contribution to resistance, solidarity and revolution?

I've spent 30 years on "the left" and in the @ scene. Over this time, I have found church folks a lot more tolerant, broadminded and engaged with the poor and marginalised than "the left" Even in your own political terms of reference, take a few steps back and look of what is left of civil society, churches at the grassroots are important, voluntary hubs of civil society within which varied theological and political positions battle it out (anarchist, marxist, social democrat, conservative, facist).

I probably don't believe in the God you don't beleve in....but why waste time on this?
How people come to terms wit the existential quaetions of what am I doing here?
and I won't be here for long is there private domain. They don't need a p.c. "anarchist" inquisition into that area of their lives. if they find meaning in the pixies at the end of the garden that's their business. Whether somone is a thiest or a non-thiest does not have baring on whether they are going to be an anarchist or not.

Besides the actions of the Catholic Workers and Trident Ploughshares where else is resistance to British nuclear weapons coming from these days. An issue that may have lost its sex appeal to the p.c. hipsters a long time ago but remains a relevant significant issue for this society in both their future threat, present employment to threaten and rob the poor outside of Britain and robbery of the poor within Britain of public resources during this time of cuts. Watch the hospitals, schools and social services beubg sacrificed to sustain Trident.

This society puts its faith and invests its scurity in nuclear weapons and British imperialim and not in peace and justice. Jesus taught and lived something different, how could any anarchist have a serious problem with this resistance action of radical christians and their solidariity work with the homeless and victims of British miitary exports?

christian anarchist

Catholic Workers Gatecrash Military Recruiment on Ash Wednesday in Brisbane, OZ

11.03.2011 06:19

PEACE RECRUITMENT - Brisbane, Australia
Ash Wednesday Feb 9 2011

Last week on reading my boy’s school newsletter I saw an ad for an information night for students to join the Australian Defence Force Academy on finishing grade 12.

I sent a fairly strong email to the Principal voicing my usual objections to Catholic schools becoming military recruitment centres, but got no reply – so far.

At the bottom of the ad was a number to ring if you wanted to attend. On ringing the number I spoke to someone from a national call centre for military recruitment. I asked her about the evening, pointing out that the ad had the date and time, but no address. She said my son could ring and book a seat, and only then would he be told the address. (My son had something else on that evening and I am not sure if I could have talked him into coming or not.) But she did mention in passing it was at the Defence Recruitment Centre. Not too hard to find, of course.

I thought it rather strange though that they would not readily give the address, and I could only guess this was due to a) years of peace actions at the Brisbane Defence Recruitment centre, b) a previous successful attempt to speak the truth to recruits by our Melbourne fiends, or c) a combination of both.

Anyhow, inspired by the Melbourne 2009 action, we hijacked their leaflet with a few improvements (no offence folks), dressed up in suits (this is theatre of course, so friends and relatives annoyed by my usual dress code - don’t expect any permanent changes!), and headed for the city. There were only three of us, Sean O’Reilly, Warwick Miller and myself. But we thought this was enough given that we were unable to “book a seat inside”.

WE managed to give a leaflet to just about everyone who went in (only about 30 or 40 children with parents) Presumably all thought we were part of the recruitment of course, especially as we usually directed them to the 11th floor meeting. The front of the leaflet has a picture of a soldier with a young child, and the words “Want to make a Difference?. Inside is information about the “side effects” of a military career, the morality of war, and on the back, alternatives to the military.
Two young military folks came to talk. The first was a woman, who took our leaflet. As she started reading it I said “ We are just trying to help you out here”, After a little read she replied, “It doesn’t look like it”,

I said, “We are just including some information you probably miss. For instance, I bet you don’t talk tonight about Post Traumatic Stress, and the large number of soldiers who come back violent and/or suicidal. Did you know 4 serving soldiers from Brisbane alone committed suicide last year?”
“I know of a couple.”, she replied, “But I bet there are no more in the military than other occupations.” I was a bit taken back by this response, thinking that most folks knew about the problems of returned service suicides etc. “I can’t quote the statistics” I said, “but I have read a lot and am sure that is not he case”.

She departed at this point, but a young sailor came down and had quite along chat. We covered a lot of ground in a short time. He was more accepting of the obvious problems of post traumatic stress. But when I suggested they should mention this in recruitment, his reply was that you are not going to tell the negatives when you want someone to join. I replied that perhaps the military has a duty to tell them, much like when you buy a product in a Chemist and they are obliged to list all possible side effects. “His response was “Well it is all “out there”, if they want to find out. We don’t hide anything”

We moved on to a number of issues such as the morality of the Iraq and Afghan wars, freedom of conscience limited by joining the military, torture in Guantanamo and Abu Grahib, and more.

We did not make it to the talk to ask questions, but I am sure the leaflet itself was quite powerful. We also did not stay to meet people as they left, but hopefully we had a similar impact on some as the Melbourne experience.

It is a little unfortunate such nights a re not advertised more openly, but hopefully we can find about more and keep recruiting.

Jim Dowling

Jim Dowling
- Homepage: http://Peter Maurin Catholic Worker Farm, Dayboro, Queensland, Australia

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