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May 12, 2021, Adrian, MichiganThe General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters endorses the following statement by scientists and Catholic leaders, encouraging President Joseph Biden to work toward a world that is free of the nuclear threat. The statement is in alignment with the Corporate Stance, adopted by the Sisters in 2007, calling on the U.S. government “lead the way for the global abolition of nuclear and all weapons of mass destruction by adopting a plan to lock down, reduce, and eliminate nuclear and all weapons of mass destruction.”   

We are scientists committed to protecting health and safety, and Catholic leaders committed to the common good of all people. We are united in calling on President Biden to reduce the nuclear threat as our nation works with others for a world without nuclear weapons.

Scientific research has provided ample evidence of the devastating humanitarian and ecological consequences of the production and use of nuclear weapons. Testing and production has killed or impaired the health of many thousands. One nuclear bomb dropped on a major city could kill millions; a nuclear war could bring on a nuclear winter and kill billions. Spending on nuclear weapons diverts scarce resources from programs that improve human health and security. 

Catholic social thought, whose principles find resonances in other religious traditions, forbids the use of weapons of mass destruction that would cause indiscriminate harm to civilians and damage disproportionate to any legitimate objective. The Catholic tradition has condemned the nuclear arms race as a theft from the poor. The arms race robs humanity of the resources it needs to address basic human needs and aggravates the underlying causes of war.

The year following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Albert Einstein warned:  “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” During his 2019 visit to Nagasaki, Pope Francis declared, “…[A] world without nuclear weapons is possible and 
necessary…. We need to ponder the catastrophic impact of their deployment, especially from a humanitarian and environmental standpoint….”

Together we affirm President Biden’s extension of the New START Treaty with Russia as a solid first step. We pledge our support for additional steps to reform U.S. nuclear weapons policy, reduce nuclear dangers, and reaffirm a U.S. commitment to pursue a world free of the nuclear threat. We urge the Administration to:

  • declare that the United States will never use nuclear weapons first;

  • work with Russia and then with other nations to verifiably reduce nuclear arsenals;

  • redirect spending from new nuclear weapons and modernization programs toward other pressing needs that build human security;

  • affirm the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as complementary to existing agreements, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty;

  • work for a successful conclusion at the Tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, with nuclear states honoring their disarmament obligations;

  • aim to ratify and bring into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty;

  • promote a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty to prohibit production of weapons-grade materials; 

  • strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor compliance with disarmament obligations; and

  • extend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, set to expire in 2022.

We will urge bipartisan support of an ambitious nuclear disarmament agenda. In his second inaugural address, President Reagan supported “the elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth.” In his Prague speech, President Obama “state[ed] clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” We call on President Biden to reaffirm the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and to take concrete steps to realize it.

Dr. Pierce S. Corden, Former Official, Arms Control Agency* and State Department*; Expert Adviser at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN*
Marie Dennis, Senior Advisor, Co-President (2007-2019), Pax Christi International
Tara Drozdenko, Ph.D., Acting Executive Director, Outrider Foundation
Elise D. García, OP, President, Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Laura Grego, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Co-Director, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists*
Susan Gunn, Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Dr. Gregory Hall, Associate Professor, Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce*
Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love, Associate Professor, The Catholic University of America*; Board Member, Arms Control Association*, Catholic Peacebuilding Network*
Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy, Bishop of San Diego
Yuki Miyamoto, Ph.D., Associate Professor, DePaul University*
Most Reverend John Stowe, OFM Conv., Bishop of Lexington, Bishop President, Pax Christi USA
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark
Aditi Verma, Ph.D., Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School*
Frank von Hippel, Ph.D., Co-Founder, Program on Science & Global Security, Princeton University*, former White House official*
* Organizational affiliation for identification purposes only.

Members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ General Council are Sisters Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress; Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor; Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor; and Elise D. García, OP, General Councilor.

May 11, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – Sister Elise D. García, OP, General Councilor of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, and Angie Kessler, Director of Communications, were part of a six-member panel of leaders and communicators of congregations of U.S. Sisters who spoke on successful collaboration between practitioners of the two disciplines. Angie succeeded Sister Elise, who was Director of Communications before she was elected to the General Council in 2016.

From left: Sister Elise D. García, OP, and Angie Kessler

The webinar, Successful Collaboration between Communicators and Leadership, was offered May 3, 2021, and sponsored by Communicators of Women Religious (CWR) and the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).  

Other panelists were Sister Eileen McKenzie, FSPA, President, and Jane Comeau, Communications Director of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Sisters Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP, Prioress General, and Beth Murphy, OP, Communications Director of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois.

The webinar focused on best practices, success stories, and challenges in collaboration. Sister Elise noted one success story for the Adrian Dominican Sisters is the ability of the General Council to issue statements on a broad range of issues. Once the General Council has agreed on a statement, she said, it relies on the Communications team to prepare it for release and to get it out to media outlets and on social media. 

Occasionally, Sister Elise added, Angie suggests a topic or issue on which the General Council might want to issue a statement. “That’s a huge help because it means we’re all attuned and have our ears to the ground to issues of importance to our world and to our congregation,” Sister Elise said.

Angie noted that one component to successful collaboration is respect, specifically the General Council’s treatment of the Communications team as partners. “I know many times communication can be seen as a tool, but we are really seen as a partner in the mission of the Adrian Dominican Sisters,” Angie said. “That means being at the table, being part of the planning process, which gives us a broad understanding of the issue that we’re trying to create a message for.”

In discussing the challenges they face, Sister Elise noted the “incredible pace at which we’re working across the board.” Both she and Angie spoke of the importance of taking the time to study new forms of communication and to plan the best way to reach each audience with the various means of communication, from bulletin boards to electronic media and new forms of social media. The best practice to face that challenge, Angie said, is to “think through everything very carefully … making sure we’re doing the communicating as we need to, in a timely way, but also making sure that everything is communicated well.”

The panelists also discussed the role of trust and confidentiality in their successful collaboration and shared stories on challenging efforts, such as sharing a difficult message about the Congregation’s past in a way that was transparent and honest.

Watch the recording of Successful Collaboration between Communicators and Leadership.



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