NOTE: This study circle concluded in November 2021 but all materials are archived below for individuals and groups to conduct their own study.

Pax Christi USA is excited to announce our next offering in the “Love is Political: Literary Circles for Liberation” series! The next study circle will read, reflect and analyze Art Laffin’s new version of The Risk of the Cross: Living Gospel Nonviolence in the Nuclear Age. The new study circle will take place between October 5 and November 9, with Zoom gatherings every Tuesday evening, 7-8:30pm ET, beginning October 5.

You can participate as an individual joining in each week’s Zoom gatherings (or viewing the video later), or take up the book with your local group, meeting together as possible, using the study guide (see below), and complementing your discussions with attendance at the Zoom gatherings (or viewing the videos later individually or as a group).

Sessions for this study circle are held virtually on Zoom. Registration is free and open to all. Details below.

The Risk of the Cross: Living Gospel Nonviolence in the Nuclear Age is an excellent resource for courageous groups and individuals seeking to learn about the danger presented by nuclear weapons, to pray and reflect together on the Scriptural call to just peace, and to act in response.”

-Marie Dennis, Pax Christi International

About The Risk of the Cross

Christian discipleship depends not on what ideas we believe but rather on a fundamental question: In whom do we place our trust? In Mark’s gospel, we find what this challenge entails when Jesus declares  that the primary condition for discipleship is “to take up the cross and follow in my steps” (Mk. 8:34). What does it mean to follow Jesus’ way of the cross and to place our trust in God for our true security, instead of in nuclear weapons that can destroy all life on earth? How do we find hope and courage to stand for God’s reign of love, justice, and nonviolence in a time of unprecedented nuclear danger and other global perils?

This new edition of The Risk of the Cross, first published in 1981, seeks answers to these questions. At its core are five study sessions focusing on Jesus’ call to discipleship in Mark’s Gospel — all linked to appendices containing information and inspiration to help faith communities embrace the way of gospel nonviolence and to take action to avert nuclear annihilation.

As the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have set the Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds before midnight due to the existential threats of nuclear war and the climate crisis, this book is a timely invaluable resource for all followers of Jesus committed to bringing about peace, social justice and a disarmed world.

The purpose of these study circles is multi-faceted:

  • to explore, in the context of prayer and reflection, what radical discipleship means in the Nuclear Age

  • to deepen our faith commitment to Jesus’s command of nonviolence and resistance to idolatry and empire

  • to better understand the omnipresent nuclear peril and examine how nuclear weapons serve to reinforce empire, white supremacy and systemic racism and oppression

  • to educate ourselves about Pope Francis’s declaration that the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral and what the implications are for the wider church

  • to explore what actions can be taken to have the U.S. ratify the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)– which now deems nuclear weapons illegal–and abolish nuclear weapons, convert all nuclear weapons facilities and manufacturing sites to non-military production, and redirect the over $1.7 trillion 30-year U.S. nuclear modernization now underway to eradicate poverty and meet urgent human needs.

The Gospel & Nuclear Disarmament Study Circles is a continuation of an ongoing series Pax Christi USA is calling, “Love is Political: Literary Circles for Liberation”.


If the cost is prohibitive, free copies are available. Please email staff member Edward Ablang.


REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED. There will be an Introductory Session (October 5), and the subsequent five sessions (October 12 – November 9) will feature guest speakers with small group breakout rooms to address the theme of each session and corresponding appendix materials. Zoom gatherings will take place from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM ET on October 5, 12, 19, 26, November 2 and 9.

You do not have to attend all of them (see schedule below); attend as you are able. All panel discussions will be recorded and posted for later viewing on Pax Christi USA’s YouTube Channel if you cannot attend. Don’t forget to subscribe!

After ordering the book and registering, print the study guide below for the small group breakout sessions including the Prayer for Disarmament:


We will meet once a week for six gatherings with Art Laffin, author of The Risk of the Cross; Nick Mele, Coordinator of the Pax Christi USA Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament; and Ronnie Fellerath Lowell, former member of the Pax Christi USA National Council. There will also be guest speakers for each session, who will amplify the Discussion Article theme and address the corresponding Appendix Material for the session.

In preparation for the designated weeks, please read the Discussion Article for each session along with the corresponding Appendix Material for that session – all found in the book.

  1. Tuesday, October 5th, 7:00 – 8:30 PM ET: “Introduction” Please read both original and new Introductions and Forewords to the book. Our guest speaker is:

    • Seth Sheldon,  United Nations Liaison for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (or ICAN), which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

  2. Tuesday, October 12, 7:00 – 8:30 PM ET: “Session One: Who is Jesus?” This session corresponds with “Appendix 1: The Courage to Start.” Speakers include:

    • John Dear, author, lecturer, founder and director of the Beatitudes Center for the Nonviolent Jesus and Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace.
    • Molly Rush, longtime Catholic peacemaker, member of the Plowshares Eight and co-founder of the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh

  3. Tuesday, October 19th, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM ET: “Session Two: The Journey of Discipleship.” This session corresponds with “Appendix 2: History of the Nuclear Age and Present Nuclear Peril.” Speakers include:

    • Shelley and Jim Douglass, co-founders of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Kitsap, WA and Mary’s House Catholic Worker, Birmingham, AL. Both are Teachers of Peace, awarded by Pax Christi USA. Jim is author of many books, his most recent being JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (2008).
    • Joe Gerson, Executive Director of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security, Vice President of the International Peace Bureau, and author of Empire and the Bomb: How the US Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World (2007).

  4. Tuesday, October 26th, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM: “Session Three: To Trust in God’s Promise.” This session corresponds with “Appendix 3: Church and Other Statements on War, Peace and Nuclear Disarmament.”

    • Dean Hammer,  member of the Plowshares Eight and Griffiss Plowshares,  teaches clinical psychology at Antioch University New England and practices as a licensed psychologist in Vermont.
    • Martha Hennessy, participant in the Catholic Worker Movement and Kings Bay Plowshares 7 and granddaughter of Dorothy Day.
    • Mary Yelenick, NGO representative at the United Nations for Pax Christi International. A retired attorney, and a member of the Pax Christi International Working Group on Nuclear Abolition and Disarmament, she has for several years actively worked with ICAN (the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) regarding the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Mary is also a member of the Board of Pax Christi International, and a long-time member of the Pax Christi USA Anti-Racism Team.

  5. Tuesday, November 2nd, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM: “Session Four: To Risk Eucharistic Love.” This session corresponds with “Appendix 4: Human, Economic and Environmental Costs of Nuclear Weapons.”

    • Monsignor Ray East, Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace and nationally-known speaker and evangelist, is pastor of St. Teresa Avila parish in Washington, D.C. He has served as the director of the Office of Black Catholics and Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
    • Koko Kondo, Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor. Her father, Methodist minister Rev. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, was featured in John Hershey’s seminal work Hiroshima, and ran an effort called Hiroshima Maidens to allow Japanese girls altered by the bombing to have corrective plastic surgery.

  6. Tuesday, November 9th, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM: “Session Five: Responding As Church to the Nuclear Threat.” This session corresponds with “Appendix 5: Responding as Church to Nuclear Weapons.” Marie Dennis (senior advisor, co-president 2007-2019 Pax Christi International), Nick Mele and Art Laffin will address how the Church can respond to the nuclear threat now. Participants are encouraged to read all the Material in Appendix 5 and review Groups listed in the Resource Section. The session will conclude with readings of the Gospel and Discussion Article from Session 5 and a Psalm of Peacemaking.


Arthur Laffin is co-author of the original The Risk of the Cross (with Elin Schade and Christopher Grannis), and co-editor of Swords into Plowshares. A member of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington D.C., he has long been active in faith-based nonviolent movements for peace and social justice. He is a Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace. 

Nicholas Mele is a retired U.S. diplomat and a faith-based activist based in Washington state. He has worked as a nonviolence trainer for Pax Christi USA; as a founding staff member for the Nonviolent Peaceforce; and as the Pax Christi representative to the Inter-Religious Conference on Article 9, an international group working to reduce militarism and armaments in the Asia-Pacific region.

Veronica (Ronnie) Fellerath-Lowell is a former teacher, community organizer, and social policy researcher and a 30-year member of Pax Christi. She served on the National Council and as Pax Christi Long Island (NY) Regional Coordinator. Currently, Ronnie and her husband Bill live in Silver Spring, MD and belong to a local group, St. John the Baptist – Pax Christi. This year, she is working with PCUSA staff as an Ignatian Volunteer.


Dean Hammer has a few articles you may wish to check out:

Resources for prayer and action provided by the U.S. Association of Catholic Priests:

4 thoughts on ““The Gospel & Nuclear Disarmament” Study Circles

  1. Do I have the right page? On the first session we were given this link to be able to look at the recorded parts of the session, as well as those to come. I wanted to circulate this to build further interest… but I don’t see anything from that first session. Getting them a week or two weeks later certainly diminishes their usefulness. Of course I’d still be glad to get them.

    1. Hi Denny,

      Yes, you have the right page! We will be uploading Seth’s address soon. Thanks for your patience as we prepare the video for uploading as soon as possible.

  2. I’m getting on board late. Please help me to become an activist for this important cause of peace. I would like someone to get in contact with me . . . To help me set up a support system here, Clinton, Ct. Thank you.
    Dr. Vanessa M. Pentz

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