August, 2016

Dear Friends,


It’s August, and my friends are heading up to Los Alamos, New Mexico, again to engage in our annual public “sackcloth and ashes” prayer vigil in the park where the original Hiroshima bomb was built for the 71st anniversary of Hiroshima. We go to repent of the mortal sin of war and nuclear weapons and beg the God of peace for the gift of nuclear disarmament and peace. I know it sounds ridiculous, but the world has gone insane with violence, and in the Gospels, Jesus advocates this as a last resort.

So we’re taking our cause to a higher power, so to speak.

Frankly, I think we all need to repent in “sackcloth and ashes.” We are in a global epidemic of violence from the killings in St. Paul, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Nice, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, from guns and drones and bombs, and we need to turn in prayer to the God of peace, repent of our social violence and start anew the journey of Gospel nonviolence.

I said all this on July 29th at the Albuquerque Forum on Gun Violence. There, I called everyone to reclaim the imagination for peace, pursue the vision of a new “Nonviolent Albuquerque,” and work for a new land of nonviolence. After my keynote talk, the panelists responded, including a city council member, state senator, the district attorney, the head of the NAACP, and the head of NM to Prevent Gun Violence. (You can read my speech on my website.)

Next month, we will have our third national Campaign Nonviolence week of action. This September 18-24th, we hope to have as many as 500 demonstrations across the U.S., in every state, where people take to the streets against war, racism, police brutality, poverty, nuclear weapons, and environmental destruction, and for a new culture of nonviolence. Please join us; check out

This year, we also launched our “Nonviolent Cities” Project, and I’ve been on the phone all summer talking with activists across the U.S. about how to help organize a city-wide movement for a nonviolent city. We have some 35 cities interested in the project. It’s all based on “Nonviolent Carbondale,” a great model for us all.

The talk from the presidential campaign is far from this vision of nonviolence, to say the least, but that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook, or there’s nothing we can do. We have to continue to organize and promote the vision of nonviolence, and especially to help Christians choose the nonviolence of Jesus. I hope we can continue to beg for the coming of God’s nonviolent reign on earth, practice nonviolence in our daily lives, and contribute to the grassroots movements working for justice and peace.

That’s what I’m doing everywhere lately—from the Vatican to New York to Yosemite—speaking out for a new world of nonviolence. We’re still hopeful that Pope Francis will write an encyclical on nonviolence, that many more will join our Campaign Nonviolence, that Jesus’ vision will catch on in our own times.

Thank you for doing what you do for peace, justice and disarmament. Please keep me in your good prayer and support our Campaign Nonviolence projects.

God bless you,

Fr. John