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The Peace Pulpit:  Homiles by Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton

By special arrangement, The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company is able to make available Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton's weekly Sunday homilies given at Saint Leo Church, Detroit, MI.  Each homily is transcribed from a tape recording of the actual delivery and made available to you as an NCR Web site exclusive.  You may register for a weekly e-mail reminder that will be sent to you when each new homily is posted. From time to time, Bishop Gumbleton is traveling and unable to provide us with the homily for the week. NOTE: The homilies are available here five days after they are given, always on Friday.
  August 8, 2004

The Scripture passages will be posted next week upon Bishop Gumbleton's return.

* A longtime national and international activist in the peace movement, Bishop Gumbleton is a founding member of Pax Christi USA and an outspoken critic of the sanctions against Iraq.
He has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, and has published numerous articles and reports.

* Scripture texts in this work are in modified form from the American Standard Version of the Bible and are available as part of the public domain.

For your convenience, the Scripture texts, as they appear in the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 1998, 1997, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C., may be found at the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCC).

** The Web link to Pax Christi is provided as a service to our readers.

Note from the Editor 

There is no August 8th homily from St. Leo Parish in Detroit because Bishop Thomas Gumbleton participated in the annual “Stop the Bombs” event of OREPA (Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  This is the site of the Y-12 nuclear weapons facility where the U.S. government is doing research and development of the newest version of nuclear weapons. 

The “Stop the Bombs” campaign believes the power to end nuclear weapons production is in the hands of the people, and that nuclear disarmament begins at home. Hundreds of people from all parts of the country joined the protest.  More information (including the annual event) is available at:

This is the Bishop’s weekly message to parishioners from St. Leo Church Bulletin, Sunday, August 8, 2004. 

Dear Friends,

Early in the 1980’s Pope John Paul II visited Japan, and, of course, made a special trip to Hiroshima.  He walked in the Peace Park – a very beautiful area of trees, flowers and grass, actually including a mound which is the mass grave of thousands of people who had been destroyed in the horror of August 6, 1945.  The paradox of this place is overwhelming.  It is a place where you see such beauty and feel such peace – even though it is also the site of so much violence and evil.  There is a memorial museum very close by where visitors see pictures of what happened on that historic day in 1945.  It is deeply disturbing to walk through this museum.

It seems obvious that Pope John Paul II was deeply affected by his visit there.  He spoke in a very passionate way about the horrific suffering and death of so many people.  He also spoke about the futility and evil of war.  At one point he said, “Today, the scale and horror of modern warfare – whether nuclear or not – makes war totally unacceptable as a means of settling differences between nations.  War must belong only to the tragic past of human history.  It must find no place on humanity’s agenda for the future.”

This weekend we mark the 59th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  During these years since 1945, on a number of occasions, we have come very close to using these weapons of mass destruction again.  And, of course, we have failed to make war something that is only from history.  The result has been suffering and death for tens of millions of people, the majority of whom have been innocent civilians, mostly women and children.

In Oakridge, Tennessee our government is now engaged in researching and building the newest version of nuclear weapons, in spite of the fact that we have gone to war and brought death and destruction to Iraq because we falsely accused them of trying to develop such weapons.

In opposition to this action of our government to build and use these weapons of mass destruction, a small group of St. Leo parishioners will be joining with me in protest at the nuclear bomb making facility at Oak Ridge this weekend.  Please pray for us and for our country, we must make war something only from the “tragic past of human history.”  If we fail, the consequences will far exceed the horrors of August 6 and August 9, 1945.  It will be the end of human history.

Bishop Gumbleton

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