Friday, October 16, 2015




Contacts: Max Obuszewski 410-366-1637/727-543-3227 or mobuszewski at

WHO:  Members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) have been speaking out against the illegal actions of the United States government since 2003.  They have organized numerous actions across the country involving nonviolent civil resistance as they call attention to the crimes of our government. For example, on April 22, 2015 [Earth Day] they gathered first at the EPA headquarters, and second at the Pentagon.  At the Pentagon, eight of them were arrested when they requested a meeting to discuss the military’s role in climate chaos.  The government eventually dismissed charges filed against the defendants.

WHAT:  More recently, members of NCNR wrote letters to Rep. Paul Ryan and President Obama [these letters are available upon request] seeking meetings to urge them to heed the call of Pope Francis to make drastic policy changes to bring about real change in ending war, poverty, the climate crisis, and systemic violence.  However, there was no response to either letter, so on September 22 twenty citizen activists first went to the Longworth Building to go to Ryan’s office and later close to one hundred activists gathered at the White House.  This was part of the week of actions called for by Campaign Nonviolence with over 325 actions around the country between September 20 and 27.

     At 10 AM, the delegation at Ryan’s office discovered the door was locked.  On the door was a sign “Entry restricted to those with an appointment.”  Since a letter was sent requesting a meeting, we knocked and Rebecca peeked out.  She said we cannot enter.  After some discussion, the activists left bags of seeds of hope and articles about Ryan’s disastrous Republican budget, and then taped messages on and around the office door.  Great displeasure was expressed that citizens were denied the basic courtesy of entering the office of a member of Congress.  Before leaving the building, some of the group went to Rep. Mark Pocan’s office and received a warm reception, which included food and drink.  NCNR selected Ryan’s office, as he is representative of all that is wrong with Congress, with their disregard for doing what is in the best interest of the people of the United States and of the world.

  Just prior to the historic visit of Pope Francis, who was to arrive that day at 4 PM, after the visit to Congress there was a rally first in Edward R. Murrow Park and later on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.  Amidst heavy security, speakers challenged the issue of Islamophobia, nuclear weaponry, fossil fuels, global inequality, corporate control of governments, climate chaos and the attack on polar bears, killer drone strikes and other issues in which our government is complicit.  During the White House rally some twenty-five of the citizen activists went to the visitor’s entrance to the White House to seek a meeting.  After their request for a meeting was rebuffed, many of them sat down in solidarity with the world’s suffering.  While sitting there, they noticed many people including members of the media, a climate delegation from France and other officials did get through to the White House.  Members of the French delegation were very supportive of the sit-downers, and took copies of the letter sent to Obama.  Since people were entering through this gate, some of the activists got in line.  Again they were rebuffed, and eventually fifteen of them were arrested by an inefficient and incompetent force of Secret Service officers.  The incompetence continued at the police station as the arrestees were not released for six hours.  Nevertheless, they were  charged with “blocking passage” and were to appear in D.C. Superior Court on October 15.


  Renowned attorney Mark Goldstone informed the group that the government dismissed all charges against the citizen activists on October 14, 2015.  This fits a recent pattern for activists arrested in the District of Columbia or at the Pentagon.  The Pope Francis Fifteen are as follows: Joe Byrne, Baltimore’s Jonah House, Don Cunning, Carol Gay, Mary Ellen Marino and Manijeh Saba, all from New Jersey, Joy First and Phil Runkel, from Wisconsin, Kathy Kelly, Art Laffin, Malachy Kilbride, a Maryland Quaker, Joan Nicholson, a Pennsylvania Quaker, Max Obuszewski, Baltimore, D.C.’s Ellen Taylor, Brian Terrell, Iowa, and the venerable Eve Tetaz in a walker, Washington, D.C.

WHY:  One can only speculate as to why the government dismissed the charges.  Those arrested were looking forward to going to trial.  Testimony would have been presented as to the importance of listening to the pope’s message—end militarism and income inequality and stop the environmental degradation of Mother Earth.  The defendants would have showcased how Rep. Ryan’s locked his door to prevent citizen activists from engaging in dialogue. And the charge of “blocking passage” would have been vehemently contested.  The activists at the White House came up against the classic Catch 22.  The Obama administration, like so many other government officials, ignored NCNR’s request for a meeting to discuss the pope’s message, so members went to the White House.  They were told no entry without an appointment.  How do you get an appointment?  Request one.  We did, but we did not get a response. So instead we were arrested.

In a real democracy citizens have a right to access to their elected officials.  A representative produces a budget to benefit the wealthy and to hurt the poor.  NCNR members wanted to express their opinion against such a budget.  But we were denied entry.

Our letter to President Obama emphasized that killer drone strikes are illegal, unconstitutional and immoral.  At the White House, we wanted to express our extreme displeasure to this assassination program which is only creating more terrorists.

It is worthwhile to remember what Kathy Kelly said before getting arrested at the White House,  "The Obama administration bears responsibility to educate the U.S. public about the greatest terrors we face, - the terrors of what we are doing to our own environment. Not one dime of U.S. resources should ever again go to war profiteers, war planners, and Pentagon exploits.  Instead, those resources should be used to alleviate the impact of climate change and to meet human needs within the U.S. and beyond."

  In a fitting tribute to Henry David Thoreau the citizen activists were in jail when Pope Francis arrived in the USA on September 22.  If our elected officials continue to ignore the pope’s warnings, the people and our planet will suffer irreversible and deadly consequences.  Inevitably, members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance will continue to speak out and take the risks of peace.

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


October 15, 2015

Contact: Janice Sevre-Duszynska, 859-684-4247, is an activist priest with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. See

   On October 13ththe Superior Court of the District of Columbia dismissed charges against Roy Bourgeois, 76, a former Maryknoll priest of 40 years who was excommunicated by the Vatican for his support of women priests. Bourgeois, a nominee for the Nobel Prize for Peace, founded the School of the Americas Watch, an internationally known human rights group, in 1990.  After refusing to repent for participating in the ordination of woman priest Janice Sevre-Duszynska in 2008 and for his continued public support of women priests, he was excommunicated by the Vatican and later thrown out of his Maryknoll community.

    Six activists (four women priests, two male priests and a former Jesuit brother) held signs in support of women priests and took part in a “die-in” in the street as Pope Francis spoke to the 300 bishops of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on September 23rd

    Bourgeois was not “papered” according to Atty. Mark Goldstone of Washington, D.C. who is representing the five activists who were charged with “blocking passage”.  Jane Via of San Diego, who was also represented by Goldstone on Oct. 13th, is a Roman Catholic Woman Priest. Her name also did not appear on the court calendar. According to Atty. Goldstone, such proceedings indicate that the government will likely not proceed with the criminal charges against the activists who called on Pope Francis to end the discrimination of women in the church and to ordain them.

   “We call on Pope Francis to abolish Canon Law 1024 that forbids women from priesthood and diminishes them,” said Bourgeois. Such male-only images of God -- who is beyond gender – are idolatrous.”

   The sixth activist, Franciscan Fr. Jerry Zawada, 75, who sat in his walker from 5:15 a.m. with his sign: “God Is Calling Women to Be Priests,” was not charged on the scene. Roman Catholic Woman Priest Maria Eitz, 81, of San Francisco paid a $50 post and forfeit fine at the police station and was not further charged.

   Two women priests from the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, Janice Sevre-Duszynska and Donna Rougeux of Lexington, Kentucky, were also charged with “blocking passage”. Sevre-Duszynska will be represented in court on October 20th by Goldstone. Rougeux and former Jesuit brother Felix Cepeda of New York City were also arrested but their future court status is unknown. 

    “We want Pope Francis to make the connection between the marginalization of women in the church and the violence, abuse and poverty of women and their dependent children – who make up 70 per cent of the world’s poor,” said Sevre-Duszynska.

    After their action, Bourgeois, Rougeux and Sevre-Duszynska said Pope Francis saw their signs in support of women priests and made eye contact with them as he drove past. Sevre-Duszynska and Rougeux were dressed in priestly vestments of white albs and stoles.

    “While Pope Francis speaks of a more inclusive church, women priests are living a fully inclusive church now where all are equal and all are welcome,” said Sevre-Duszynska who celebrates Eucharist in Lexington, KY, Cincinnati and across the country.


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