August marks the 75th anniversary of the United States detonating atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
This year also could be when the prayers of two internationally known Catholic nuns, who for nearly 50 years have been fighting for nuclear disarmament, are answered.
“I have more hope today than I’ve had over all these years,” said Sister Ardeth Platte. “We’re way ahead of where we’ve ever been.”
Platte, 83, and Sister Carol Gilbert, 72, both of the Dominican religious congregation, are in Colorado Springs for a few days to spread the news of what they see as a groundswell of support for the anti-nuclear movement and issue a call for more resistance.
“People think there’s nothing they can do, but there are things they can do,” Gilbert said. Those include not supporting investments related to bomb making or sustainment.
Wearing sweatshirts that read, “I’m already against the next war,” Platte and Gilbert joined Citizens for Peace in Space at Acacia Park Tuesday, holding banners with such sayings as, “Nuclear Weapons: May They Rust in Peace.”
The two activists made headlines in 2000, when they were arrested at Peterson Air Force Base for spraying their blood on a fighter plane. The charges were dropped.
They were arrested again two years later after cutting a chain-link fence to enter a nuclear missile site in northeastern Colorado, praying and pouring their blood in the shape of a cross on a Minuteman III missile silo.
They served 41 months in a federal correctional facility in Danbury, Conn., at the same time as television personality Martha Stewart and Piper Kerman, who wrote “Orange is the New Black,” which became a Netflix series with Platte depicted as one of the characters.
“We did yoga together,” Platte says of her incarceration with the celebrities.
For several years, the nuns have been working on support for the United Nation’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was passed in 2017 but must be ratified to ban everything from possession to transfer of nuclear weapons.
The pair, who live at a Dorothy Day Catholic Worker house in Washington, D.C., have promoted the treaty across the United States, including delivering a copy to Peterson Air Force Base in 2017, and promoting it in cities, churches and colleges.
Platte and Gilbert are to meet Wednesday from 2:30 to 4 p.m. with University of Colorado at Colorado Springs students and the public in the Kraemer Library on campus. At 7 p.m. Thursday, the public is invited to a talk they'll give at All Souls Unitarian Church at Dale and Tejon streets. The event is sponsored by the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission.
The nuns also are to appear in Canon City, Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins.
Their message has broadened to encompass climate change and fossil-fuel divestment because “it's all one issue," Gilbert said. "We're trying to save the planet for future generations."
They praised Pope Francis, the first Pope to condemn the possession of nuclear weapons, declaring them “immoral.”
Platte said she thinks people are “showing signs they’re tired of war,” with two-thirds to nearly three-fourths of Americans indicating in polls they do not want nuclear weapons.
However, she said, President Donald Trump "knows the biggest business in the U.S. and millions of jobs are in the industry of war."
“We know we’re not going to get the United States to sign onto the treaty,” Gilbert said.
A total of 135 nations joined the treaty, in support of getting rid of nuclear weapons, Platte said. An additional 15 countries are needed for a total of 50 ratifications. That can be achieved this year, the pair said, adding that they’re headed to an international conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty in April.
None of the countries that have nuclear weapons are “anywhere near signing on,” Gilbert said. Nine nations have nuclear weapons and another five have nuclear weapons on their soil that the U.S. supplied, she said.
“There’s no such thing as good nukes and bad nukes,” Gilbert said. “They’re all bad.”