News Releases

Is the UN Working for Peace?


President Obama and other heads of state address the United Nations General Assembly today as it begins its 70th session. Video feed:

DAVID SWANSON, david at,  @davidcnswanson
Swanson is author of  When the World Outlawed WarWar Is A Lie and Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency. He just wrote the piece “The UN: Pretending to Oppose War for 70 Years.”

MEL DUNCAN, mduncan at, @Peaceforce
Founding director and director of advocacy and outreach at Nonviolent Peaceforce, Duncan said today: “At a time when civilians are under increasing threat from war and violent conflict, today’s ‘Summit on Peacekeeping,’ co-hosted by President Obama, ignores an entire effective approach to protecting civilians while focusing on armed peacekeeping.

“Despite the fact that the High Level Independent Panel on United Nations Peace Operations asserted in their report issued in June that unarmed strategies must be at the forefront of UN efforts to protect civilians, member states participating in today’s summit have to bring commitments to armed peacekeeping. Over 95 percent of armed peacekeepers are under a protection of civilian mandate. In many cases militaries are not the most appropriate approach for protection of civilians.” See the report “Uniting Our Strengths for Peace: Politics, Partnership and People” PDF by the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office, chaired by José Ramos-Horta, former president of East Timor.

Duncan added: “The UN needs to scale up and deploy all effective methods to protect civilians. By only focusing on military peacekeeping the summit does not consider effective unarmed methods like unarmed civilian protection (UCP). Over a dozen nongovernmental organizations are directly protecting civilians and deterring violence through nonviolent methods in some of the most violent places on the planet including South Sudan, Palestine and Colombia.”

* China * Pope on Nukes

HENRY ROSEMONT Jr, hrosemont at
Rosemont is distinguished professor emeritus at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and visiting scholar of religious studies at Brown University. He recently wrote the piece “Re-thinking U.S.-China Relations.”

His books include A Chinese Mirror: Moral Reflections on Political Economy. His latest book is the recently released Against Individualism: A Confucian Rethinking of the Foundations of Morality, Politics, Family and Religion.

See: “Pope denounces deterrence and calls for prohibition of nuclear weapons.”

ALICE SLATER, aslater at
Slater is with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the Abolition 2000 coordinating committee. She said today: “The stirring condemnation of nuclear weapons by Pope Francis today at the United Nations and his call for their prohibition and complete elimination in compliance with promises made in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), signed by the U.S. in 1970, should give new momentum to the current campaign to start negotiations on a ban treaty. This initiative, endorsed by 117 non-nuclear weapons states to sign the Humanitarian Pledge, to ‘fill the legal gap’ for nuclear disarmament and ban the bomb just as the world has banned chemical and biological weapons would create a new legal norm (which was not established in the NPT). It provided that the five nuclear weapons states (U.S., Russia, UK, France, China) would make ‘good faith’ efforts for nuclear disarmament, but didn’t prohibit their possession, in return for a promise from all the other nations not to acquire nuclear weapons. Every nation in the world signed the treaty except India, Pakistan, and Israel who went on to get nuclear weapons. North Korea took advantage of the NPT’s Faustian bargain to give ‘peaceful’ nuclear power to nations who promised not to make bombs and walked out of the treaty using the keys it got to its own bomb factory to make weapons.

“At the NPT five year review conference this spring, the U.S., Canada, and the UK refused to agree to a final document because they couldn’t deliver Israel’s agreement on a promise made in 1995 to hold a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone conference for the middle east. South Africa condemned the nuclear apartheid enshrined in the double standard of the NPT, which allowed the five signers to not only keep their nukes but to continue to modernize them with Obama pledging one trillion dollars over the next thirty years for two new bomb factories, delivery systems and new nuclear weapons. Indeed, on the eve of the Pope’s UN talk, it was reported that the U.S. is planning to upgrade its nuclear weapons stationed at a German NATO base, causing Russia to rattle a few nuclear sabers of its own. The obvious bad faith of the nuclear weapons states is paving the way for even more non-nuclear weapons states to create the legal taboo for nuclear weapons just as the world has done for chemical and biological weapons. Inspired by the Pope’s talk, this may be a time to finally give peace a chance.”

Background: “McNamara: U.S. a Violator of Proliferation Treaty.”

The Pope and Dorothy Day

Pope Francis today mentioned Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, several times in his speech before a joint session of Congress.

Boylan is with the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker house in Washington, D.C. She said today: “What the pope said really didn’t communicate Dorothy Day’s radicalness and her prophetic witness against war making. She refused to pay federal income tax. She was the first to condemn the bombing of Hiroshima. She helped with the burning of draft cards. Now they want to rewrite the story, to make her less radical. She’d say: ‘our problems stem from our acceptance of this stinking, rotten system’ and ‘those unused buildings owned by the church are crimes calling out for vengeance.’

“The pope also remarked today when addressing the actions of Serra [who he canonized Wednesday] that we shouldn’t judge by the criteria of the past — as if no one in the past objected to killing and unjustly imprisoning people.”

Boylan wrote “An Open Letter to Pope Francis: Condemn the United States for Genocidal Warmaking,” which states: “Pope Francis, you have condemned ISIS for genocide against Christians, but given the fact that the U.S. military is for the most part Christian with one-third of the force Catholic, it is Christians who have participated in the genocidal killing in predominantly Muslim countries during the last 24 years.”

See this video of Dorothy Day.

Local media may wish to contact the local Catholic Worker House in your city or state, see this directory.

Pope’s Call to Stop Arms Trade activism alert launched this afternoon supporting the Pope’s “call to end arms trade” has nearly 5,000 signers.

WILLIAM HARTUNG, williamhartung55 at
Hartung is senior adviser to the Security Assistance Monitor. His pieces include “The Obama Arms Bazaar: Record Sales, Troubling Results” and “It’s Not Diplomacy, It’s an Arms Fair.”

Hartung said today: “The Pope’s comments on the arms trade are a refreshing change from the antiseptic language that too often surrounds discussions of this issue. The Pope’s recognition that arms sales can result in the spilling of ‘innocent blood’ is a far cry from the misleading language so often used to justify multi-billion dollar arms deals — that they promote ‘stability’ and are only for ‘defensive purposes.’ As the country that reaps the most money from the international arms trade, the United States bears a responsibility to play a leadership role in curbing weapons trading around the world. A good start would be to cut off U.S. supplies to Saudi Arabia until they stop engaging in indiscriminate bombing in Yemen, which has caused a humanitarian catastrophe of the highest order.”

Pope Francis said today: “Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.” [video]

Pope’s Blind Spots: * Militarism * Child Sex Abuse

COLMAN McCARTHY, cmccarthy at
A former Washington Post columnist, McCarthy is founder and director of the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington, D.C., and the author of the book I’d Rather Teach Peace. He recently wrote the piece “Francis Needs to go Beyond his Play-it-Safe Verbiage” for the National Catholic Reporter. 

McCarthy said today about Pope Francis’ speech before Congress: “I thought it over emphasized meaningless pieties.” While the speech referred to stopping the arms trade, McCarthy noted “it didn’t refer to the militarism of U.S. government itself. It didn’t talk about lowering the military budget. He quoted from [Martin Luther] King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, but not King’s calling the U.S. government ‘the greatest purveyor of violence‘ — as King did. He mentioned Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton, but they too spoke out against U.S. militarism. He should have quoted Dorothy Day and her commitment to pacifism.” See McCarthy’s piece on Dorothy Day in the Washington Post from 1980 just after her death. See also McCarthy’s piece “Rediscovering Thomas Merton.”

BARBARA BLAINE, bblaine at, @BarbaraBlaine
Blaine is with Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which just released the statement “Chicago Abuse Victims Blast New Papal Remarks,” which says that the pope “speaks of some alleged ‘great sacrifice‘ made by bishops because of the abuse and cover up crisis. What sacrifice? What bishop takes fewer vacations, drives a smaller car, does his own laundry or has been passed over for promotion because he’s shielding predators and endangering kids? None.” Blaine said today: “If you’re a woman, you can’t be a priest, if you’re married, you can’t be a priest, but if you’ve raped children, you can still be a priest.” The group has put out 20 steps the pope could take on the child sex abuse scandal.” Blaine appeared in The Real News segment yesterday “The Pope is Dishonest About Zero Tolerance for Child Sex Abuse.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He was the lawyer for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina before the World Court charging Yugoslavia with genocide for raping 40,000 Bosnian women. He said today: “Pope Francis’ remarks yesterday that the Church had shown ‘courage‘ regarding their child sexual abuse scandal is itself scandalous. The Catholic Church hierarchy are accessories to crimes against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court.” Boyle wrote the piece “The Pope, Cardinals And Bishops Should Be Prosecuted For The Sexual Abuse Of Children.”

* Pope vs. Exxon? * Hunger Strike Against Pipelines and Fracking

fastingSARAH ANDERSON, via Elaine de Leon Ahn, elaine at
Anderson just wrote the piece “Papal Smackdown: Pope Francis v. Fossil Fuel Execs” for AlterNet. She directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Tuhus is with the group Beyond Extreme Energy, which has organized a group of activists who have been fasting in Washington, D.C. for as long as 16 days. The fasters range in age from 72 to 23.

On Friday, Sept. 25, fasters, together with their supporters and leaders from several faiths, “will break bread in front of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in D.C. to end a dramatic 18-day fast undertaken to demand that FERC stop issuing permits for the pipelines, storage facilities and LNG export terminals that use fracked natural gas, and instead heed Pope Francis’s call to care for the Earth.

“On Friday copies of the Pope’s encyclical will be presented to the five FERC commissioners; and there will be music, brief statements, and a procession, featuring BXE’s colorful and moving 50-foot anti-fracking banner, ‘The United States of Fracking,’ around the FERC headquarters block.”

Eatherington said today: “I will be fasting to help FERC understand the devastation caused by permitting projects like the Jordan Cove LNG Export Terminal and pipeline in my home state of Oregon. In September FERC will be releasing their final environmental study which will likely claim there is no harm from exporting fracked natural gas from Oregon to Asia.

“FERC will allow Veresen, a foreign corporation, to take land from over 300 Oregonians, including my land, with eminent domain to build a 230-mile pipeline across our state’s pristine forests and farmland, ending at Coos Bay on the Pacific coast. There, in an area overdue for a subduction-zone earthquake and tsunami, FERC will allow the LNG export terminal to be built on a sand dune.”

Why is “Radical Pope” Canonizing an Enslaver of Native Americans?

NBC reports: “More than 20,000 people are expected to converge on a Washington basilica Wednesday to witness the canonization of Junipero Serra, who brought Christianity to California some 300 years ago.”

CORRINA GOULD, shellmoundwalk at
Gould is co-founder Indian People Organizing for Change (and is a member of the Chochenyo Ohlone people, indigenous to what is now northern California). She said today: “The canonization of Serra is not complicated or complex. It’s fairly simple, My ancestors were enslaved at this concentration camp created by Serra for his own ego, for the Spanish crown and for the Catholic Empire. Serra didn’t save us. We already had our own religion! In fact, we were the ones that were civilized and it was Serra that introduced us to HELL.”

BILL BERKOWITZ, wkbbronx at
Berkowitz wrote the piece “Franciscan Friar Who Brought Destruction and Death to California’s Native Peoples Canonized by Pope,” which states: “During his July visit to Bolivia, Pope Francis ‘apologized for the “grave sins” of colonialism against the native people of the Americas,’ USA Today’s Bill Theobald recently reported. ‘I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offense of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America,’ the pope said. Why then is Pope Francis canonizing Junípero Serra, the embodiment of crimes committed against native peoples in California?

“Why is Pope Francis conferring sainthood on a man whose actions led to the destruction of native peoples in California? Sainthood for Serra, a man who founded missions where native peoples were imprisoned and tortured, and where thousands died?”

“Prison for the Corporate Criminal Elite”

AP reports: “Former Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell was sentenced to 28 years in prison by a U.S. District Court judge Monday. Randy Napier, whose 80-year-old mother died from salmonella poisoning after eating the company’s peanut butter, said the punishment should ‘send a message to the other manufacturers’ of American foods.” AP also reports: “Volkswagen has now admitted that it intentionally installed software programmed to switch engines to a cleaner mode during official emissions testing. The software then switches off again, enabling cars to drive more powerfully on the road while emitting as much as 40 times the legal pollution limit.”

RUSSELL MOKHIBER, russellmokhiber at, @CorpCrimeReport
Mokhiber is the editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, a legal weekly print newsletter based in Washington, D.C.
He said today: “Earlier this year, Russian political figure Yevgeny Primakov passed away. In an obituary in July, the Economist magazine reported that Primakov’s chances for the presidency vanished after he promised that he would ’empty the jails to make room for Russia’s business elite.’

“It’s not just Russia where criminal prosecution is about brute political power. It’s in the United States too. GM knowingly markets automobiles with a defective engine switch, more than 150 people die as a result, and no GM executive is criminally prosecuted. There is no corporate guilty plea. Instead, GM gets a deferred prosecution agreement — a form of diversion meant for first time drug dealers. And it’s not just GM. Toyota got one for similar wrongdoing. HSBC got one in a huge money laundering case. There are literally hundreds of cases of large powerful corporate criminals who should be criminally prosecuted, but are getting these special deals. Rarely are the executives criminally prosecuted. Yes, the peanut company executive got 28 years in prison for ordering the shipment of peanut paste contaminated by salmonella that killed nine people. But that was Peanut Corporation of America, not GM or HSBC or VW or JPMorgan Chase. It’s past time to make room in our prisons for the corporate criminal elite.”

Pope Arriving, Civil Disobedience Ramps up

546498_338209236240865_129253704_nPeace activists are planning a series of actions in Washington, D.C. and around the country coinciding with the visit of Pope Francis.

[Today, the Syracuse Post-Standard reports “Five demonstrators were arrested Monday morning at the main gate of Hancock Field while demonstrating against a weaponized drone program operating out of the base. The group, which regularly rallies against the unmanned aerial vehicles and wars in the Middle East, held signs reading ‘Drones Kill Children’ before members were arrested. … The protesters said in a statement that they staged the demonstration in honor of the International Day of Peace, a UN-designated day of non-violence and ceasefire.” Activists from Catholic Worker communities participated in the protests. Contact: Ellen Grady: demottgrady6 at There were similar protests today organized by the Nevada Desert Experience, with three arrests outside Creech Air Force Base. info at; Brian Terrell [shortly in D.C.], brian at]

Members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance “have been speaking out against the illegal actions of the United States government since 2003. They have organized numerous actions across the country involving nonviolent civil resistance as they call attention to the crimes of our government.

“Members of NCNR have written letters calling on both Congress and the White House to make drastic policy changes to bring about real change in ending war, poverty, the climate crisis, and systemic violence. NCNR has not received a response to either letter, so citizen activists will go to [House Ways and Means Committee chair Paul] Ryan’s office and the White House to seek a meeting to discuss these urgent matters. This action is part of the week of actions called for by Campaign Nonviolence with over 325 actions around the country between September 20-27.

“Just prior to the historic visit of Pope Francis, when he will visit the White House and address Congress, we call on our government to heed his words and stop the warmongering, protect Mother Earth and end income inequality. If our elected officials fail to heed the pope’s warnings, our planet will continue to suffer irreversible and deadly consequences.”

Contacts: Joy First, joyfirst5 at, Malachy Kilbride, malachykilbride at, Max Obuszewski, mobuszewski at

Speakers at the Tuesday rally at Edward R. Murrow Park near the White House will include Fr. John Dear and Kathy Kelly from Voices for Creative Nonviolence who was just in Afghanistan. She states she will risk arrest Tuesday because “the Obama administration bears responsibility to educate the U.S. public about the greatest terrors we face — the terrors of what we are doing to our own environment. Not one dime of U.S. resources should ever again go to war profiteers, war planners, and Pentagon exploits. Instead, those resources should be used to alleviate the impact of climate change and to meet human needs within the U.S. and beyond.” For more details, see the group’s Facebook page.

Is the Pope Just Verbiage?

Pope Francis arrives in the U.S. on Sept. 22 and is scheduled to meet with President Obama and speak to Congress. In New York, he will speak at the United Nations and then visit Philadelphia. See

COLMAN McCARTHY, cmccarthy at
A former Washington Post columnist, McCarthy is founder and director of the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington, D.C., and the author of the book I’d Rather Teach Peace. He said today: “It’s unfortunate that when Pope Francis denounces war, he does not also tell Catholics that they should not go into the military, or in any way cooperate with Caesar’s militarism. It’s time that the church began to divest of its vast property holdings, embraced poverty, and use the money to feed the hungry and homeless.”

He recently wrote the piece “Francis Needs to go Beyond his Play-it-Safe Verbiage” for the National Catholic Reporter, which states: “Unless Pope Francis, in his Sept. 23 speech to a joint session of Congress, condemns U.S. militarism with the same fervor of Martin Luther King Jr., who once decried the U.S. government as the world’s most violent;

“Unless Francis calls on members of the Senate and House to begin defunding the billions of dollars authorized for newer nuclear weapons, and speaks with the fire of Micah who said, “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more”;”Unless he states it is time to close the 700 U.S. military bases around the globe …

“Unless he wonders when Congress will no longer subsidize agribusiness and its contributions to global warming;

“Unless he aligns himself with the members of Congress who oppose the death penalty;

“Unless elsewhere in his stay in Washington he takes time to comfort John Wojnowski, who was molested by a Catholic priest and who almost daily for the past 17 years and nearly 5,000 days has stood in front of the Vatican embassy with signs denouncing the pedophilia cover-ups;

“Unless Francis visits the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House on Rock Creek Church Road and will be the only pope among Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI to visit a Worker house, even though its volunteers’ commitments to housing and feeding the poor are unrivaled in carrying out the Gospel’s message of social justice;

“Unless he censures Georgetown University and the other Catholic schools for hosting ROTC programs;

“Unless after he meets with President Barack Obama in the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., he walks across the way to 1601 Pennsylvania Ave., to bless Concepcion Picciotto and her friends who have camped in Lafayette Park since 1981 to protest nuclear weapons, only to be regularly arrested for their efforts;

“Unless he offers an apology from the church for its complicity in past assaults against natives and minorities, as he did on his July visit to Latin America;

“Unless he is self-critical about the Vatican’s immorality, including banking scandals and sex crimes;

“Unless when in New York City he breaks away from the showboating pomp that is a specialty of Cardinal Timothy Dolan and visits fellow Jesuit Fr. Daniel Berrigan, said to be in frail health;

“Unless he reinstates Roy Bourgeois to the priesthood;

“Unless he speaks with the full-contact ire of the biblical Amos and stands with the peacemaking activism of so many in the church’s flock;

“Then Francis, in his speeches and visitations, won’t have gone much beyond incensed pieties and play-it-safe verbiage.”

See also articles and interviews by and about theologian Matthew Fox (author of numerous books including The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved) including “Is Pope Francis a fraud?” and “A New Pope and ‘The Most Corrupt Vatican Since the Borgias'” and “Pope Among The Poor — Against Liberation Theology — Complicit With Dirty War.”

« Previous PageNext Page »