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Loretto: Acting for peace

Posted on February 21, 2021, by Loretto Community

The long march to ban nuclear weapons

Loretto Community members wearing sackcloth stand by the sidewalk with a banner that reads "Loretto Women for Disarmament."
Loretto Community members wearing sackcloth at a protest on Hiroshima Day at Los Alamos, N.M.From left: Pavlina, a Loretto friend; Sharon Palma CoL; Elaine Prevallet SL; Mary Nelson CoL; Anna Koop SL; Eleanor Craig SL; Betty Obal SL; Amelie Starky; Delores Kincaide SL; Rose Annette Liddell SL. Photo: Loretto Archives

1978
The Loretto Community declares its commitment to an end to the production of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy. We are particularly committed to encouraging and assisting in the urgent work of educating ourselves and others to the perils of the continued proliferation of nuclear arms and power.

This Loretto Assembly motion was followed in 1979 by a statement of consensus for the affirmation of ending nuclear proliferation with the support of the entire Loretto Community.

Looking to the past

Since the 1960s, the Loretto Community has been actively working to abolish nuclear weapons. These efforts have taken many forms, including praying and protesting at sites where weapons are manufactured or stored, fasting, attending hearings, attending shareholder meetings of corporations involved in manufacturing weapons, circulating petitions, learning and educating others about the nuclear threat.

In Loretto Magazine in 1999, Karen Navarro CoL wrote, “Fifty-four Loretto members from 12 states were among 5,000 to 7,000 people at the peace demonstration in Washington on Pentecost Sunday, 1982. … Two weeks later, members waved Loretto banners in the million-person U.N. disarmament demonstration in New York City.

“In 1983, nearly 60 Loretto members joined a 17-mile human chain encircling Rocky Flats [a plant near Denver, where nuclear triggers were manufactured].”

The 1980s: An active, hopeful time

The 1980s were an active and hopeful time for the nuclear abolition movement. Pam Solo CoL was one of the initiators of the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, a national effort in the early 1980s to compel the U.S. and U.S.S.R. governments to freeze their weapons as a first step in working toward abolition. Barbara Roche SL served as associate director of the campaign. Hundreds of national organizations, local groups and communities joined the effort. In 1982, over 2 million signatures were delivered to the U.S. and U.S.S.R. at the United Nations asking for a freeze.

“I think it was an important part of the work of changing the conversation,” Barbara says. “I think it helped to build a base of support for people to act both at the local and at the national level.”

Some of Loretto’s tireless efforts are highlighted in these pages.

2015
We propose that the Loretto Community, gathered in Assembly 2015, reaffirm our commitment to work for the unilateral abolishment of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy in the U.S.

2015 Loretto Assembly Proposal:
Abolition of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Energy

… and moving forward

A day for celebration! January 22, 2021: U.N. Treaty Prohibits Nuclear Weapons

By Byron Plumley CoL

With a long history of opposition to nuclear weapons, the Loretto Community joined most of the world in celebrating the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on Jan. 22, 2021, the day it “Entered Into Force” and became international law (EIF Day). Loretto has also celebrated with ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) as the organization won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. In Colorado, Loretto hosted ICAN members, Dominican sisters Carol Gilbert and Ardeth Platte for a 17 day speaking tour in March 2020. The presentations were called “A Yes for Humanity: One Step Closer to Nuclear Disarmament.”

The nine nuclear powers, including the United States, have not signed the treaty. The ongoing work in the U.S. includes local and national efforts to encourage cities to declare support for the treaty, and to pressure Congress and President Biden to sign and ratify the treaty.

Several organizations in cooperation with ICAN are leading ongoing efforts for the U.S. signing. The Loretto Peace Committee is supporting three with financial contributions: The Nuclear Resister, Nuke Watch and Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance. The fourth member of the national effort is the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

Longtime activists gathered on Zoom with great energy to plan EIF Day. We encouraged public presence through banners, vigils, billboards, even flyovers with banners. The message as always is “do whatever you can.”

Byron Plumley is a member of Loretto’s Peace Committee.

Read the Loretto Magazine Winter 2021 issue in full here.

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Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!