Loretto Continues 50-Year Call for Worldwide Nuclear Ban
“One of our sisters told me she was teaching in Sante Fe when the first bomb was tested at Los Alamos and a boy brought a piece of debris in for show-and-tell. She put it on the window ledge outside and a few days later men in safety gear showed up to take it away. As early as the 1960s Loretto members began to protest at Los Alamos and to offer testimony about the dangers of the process locally as well as globally.”Mary Ann McGivern SL, Loretto Peace Committee member, cites one of myriad examples in which Loretto has worked to resist nuclear arms production wherever they are missioned.
For more than half a century, the Loretto Community has dedicated both personal and Community efforts through action and ongoing education to seek the abolishment of nuclear weapons worldwide. Loretto views its opposition to nuclear weapons as an urgent moral imperative. In addition to opposing nuclear weapons, the Community has committed itself to press politically for the development of safe, alternative energy sources, especially renewable resources, to call for a moratorium on further development of nuclear power plants, to demand that the U.S. government take a moral stand on the country’s use of energy as it affects future generations and to urge our government to work toward global disarmament. The seeds of Loretto’s impassioned actions for a nuclear weapons ban took root at our Loretto Assemblies in 1978 and 1979. Loretto issued another strong statement calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons in 2015.
Worldwide, the best news to date regarding the effort to ban all nuclear weapons took place in 2017 at the United Nations, when delegates from 122 countries (out of 193) voted to adopt the U.N. Treaty to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Many organizations have called for the elimination of nuclear weapons, but this treaty represents the world’s most hopeful action in the 75 years since the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The treaty ban is comprehensive as nations agree not to develop, test, manufacture or possess nuclear weapons, or threaten to use them, or allow any nuclear arms to be stationed in their country.
Once 50 nations have ratified the treaty it will “enter into force” 90 days later and become international law. So far, 44 countries have ratified the treaty. This past Sept. 20, 56 former prime ministers, presidents, foreign ministers and defense ministers from 20 NATO countries, plus Japan and South Korea, released an open letter imploring their current leaders to join the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
In 2007, 10 years before the U.N. treaty was first introduced, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was established. ICAN is a coalition of non-governmental organizations that promote adherence to and implementation of the U.N. nuclear weapons ban treaty. Loretto, in its role as a non-governmental organization at the United Nations, has worked directly with ICAN in support of its efforts. The organization was awarded the Nobel Prize for 2017. It is clear that all those who have worked to abolish nuclear weapons, including members of the Loretto Community, share in this award.
The Loretto Peace Committee was established by Loretto’s General Assembly. The committee’s purpose is to educate the Loretto Community, calling for peace and acting for peace. The Peace Committee gives presentations, leads retreats, circulates petitions, attends conferences, and stands with others at protests; members sometimes have risked arrest. More often than not, though, the committee’s actions are warmly welcomed. The Loretto Peace Committee members know they are never alone in their actions.
Loretto recognizes that part of the struggle to disarm the world and create a clean, safe environment independent of the use of nuclear energy requires all of us “to engage in a process of disarming ourselves of our sometimes violent and competitive behavior toward one another and toward our environment.”