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4 Disarm Ship in New York City During Fleet Week

May 25, 2003 For Immediate Release

Four Catholic Workers Disarm Ship in New York City During Fleet Week

On Sunday, May 25, at about 4 pm, four Catholic Workers, calling themselves the Riverside Ploughshares, went aboard the USS PhilippineSea during the 16th Annual Fleet Week hosted by the Intrepid Museum in New York City.

During a tour of the USS Philippine Sea, Sr. Susan Clarkson, Mark Colville, Brian Buckley, and Joan Gregory poured their blood and hammered on the missile hatches that hold Tomahawk Cruise Missiles. Kneeling on top of the missile hatches, Mark Colville held up pictures of Iraqi children who had been injured and maimed by US weapons. Mark read the statement the group had written, and read from the scriptures. Brian unfurled their banner which read, "Riverside Ploughshares: Disarm and Choose Life."

The Catholic Workers said that they came to the Fleet Week event to enflesh the words of the prophet Isaiah to "hammer swords into plowshares." They believe that nonviolence will lead to peace, and that violence will only lead to more violence. They were arrested and escorted off the ship into an awaiting unmarked blue van. The tour that they were on was cut short.

Tomahawk cruise missiles are long range missiles that fly at a low altitude and therefore are difficult to detect. The USS Philippine Sea has launched Tomahawk cruise missiles against the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yugoslavia. The ship has also been used to enforce the sanctions against Iraq.

Mark Colville, who lives at the Amistad Catholic Worker community in Connecticut, father of 6 children, said that "We cannot love neighbor or enemy without disarming ourselves. We cannot serve the poor without defending them against the violence of the state." We cannot affirm life without standing directly, nonviolently in confrontation with all that deals death."

The Catholic Worker Movement, founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in 1933, is grounded in a firm belief in the God-given dignity of every human person. Today over 185 Catholic Worker communities remain committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and foresaken. Catholic Workers continue to protest injustice, war, racism, and violence of all forms.

Photos available Monday at http://www.warresisters.org/riversideplowshares.htm

Statement and Biographies Follow.

Riverside Ploughshares Statement

Fleet Week, New York City, May 2003

We come here today to enflesh the prophecy from Isaiah, "They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks" (2:4).

With hammers we have initiated the process of disarming this battle ship, of transforming this carrier of mass destruction into a vessel for peace. The USS Philippine Sea uses Tomahawk cruise missiles, depleted uranium munitions and the Aegis radar system to enforce the US Empire's will on other nations and regions. We pour our blood on this ship to reveal the blood of the innocent already shed by the use of this weaponry. We also pour our blood to repent for our complicity in the pervasive violence of our world.

We are trying to follow Jesus Christ's commandments to love our enemies and neighbors, to forgive those who do us harm and to repent. We seek to stop the injury of war on the human family and heal our communities by living nonviolently and seeking justice for all. The peace and security that comes from an empire wielding weapons of war and intimidation are false and illusory. With hammers we disarm this weapon of mass destruction and with blood we reveal its purpose.

In the spirit of Dorothy Day, who co-founded with Peter Maurin, the Catholic Worker in New York City seventy years ago, we try in our daily lives to practice the Works of Mercy, set out in Matthew, Chapter 25. We feel that to follow God's will we must do more than serve the broken of our society. It is also our duty to challenge, as Christ did, that which causes poverty. Until we convert weapons that end life into tools that enhance life, poverty will continue to cripple our society. For this we pray and for this we act.

We are Susan Clarkson, Mark Colville, Joan Gregory and Brian Buckley from urban and rural Catholic Worker communities.

Susan Clarkson
Mark Colville
oan Gregory
Brian Buckley

Riverside Ploughshares Biographies Fleet Week, May 25, 2003, New York City

"I feel urged to act today because of the exposure I've had over the past three years to the charism of the Catholic Worker. The recent horrors of the massacres in Afghanistan and Iraq, the iniquitous sanctions imposed on Iraq since the first Gulf War, and my own Government's shameful alliance with the US, against the wishes of the majority of the British public, compels me to take this step of symbolic and practical disarmament, united with my American brothers and sisters."

Sr. Susan Clarkson

Sister Susan Clarkson, (56) was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, England. She has been in her religious congregation for thirty-seven years and has been a member of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community in Washington DC since May 2002. She sees her part in this ploughshares action as a coming together of many strands in her life: her religious vocation; peace activism in Britain; long time membership of the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; an M.A in Peace Studies; work with young people in the industrial North of England and with homeless people in London.

"The example of Christ is clear: We cannot love neighbor or enemy without disarming ourselves. We cannot serve the poor without defending them against the violence of the state. We cannot affirm life without standing directly, nonviolently in confrontation with all that deals death. War is the worship of death. Preparation for war is the denial of God. Therefore I join the Riverside Ploughshares in an act of faith, offered to God as a plea for the lives of my children, and all children. Disarm. Choose Life.

AMEN."

Mark Colville

Mark Colville, 41, is a member of the Amistad Catholic Worker Community in New Haven, Connecticut. He and his wife, Luz, have been married for 13 years and are the parents of 6 children ranging in age from 7 months to 15 years. Mark's commitment to nonviolence and peacemaking is rooted in the Catholic faith and nourished by prayer and the daily practice of the Works of Mercy.

"Thank you to those who have showed us the will of the spirit through their obedience to truth and struggle for justice. To all who are victimized by our complicity, please forgive us."

Brian Buckley

Brian Buckley lives and works at Little Flower Catholic Worker farm in central Virginia. He was born and raised in Asia, and taught English in Africa with the Peace Corps.

"When falsehood and domination are so prevalent in our government, I must stand up for truth and nonviolence. We must disarm and choose life."

Joan Gregory

Joan Gregory, 70, lives at the Peter Maurin Catholic Worker Farm in New York. She was in religious life for 15 years, later married and now has two children. She has been a teacher and administrator in New York state schools and institutions for 25 years.

Contacts: 212-234-2447 Elmer Maas/Susan Crane
201-264-4424 Matt Daloisio
718-877-8637 / 212-228-0450 Melissa Jameson


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