February 7, 2018

Candlelight Vigil to Support Olympic Truce Will Take Place Friday in Palmer Square

By Donald Gilpin

As the Winter Olympics open in South Korea, an Olympic Truce vigil, sponsored by the Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA), will take place on Friday in Palmer Square from 5-6 p.m.

“This vigil is building on a long history of Olympic Truces and peacemaking, a tradition of worldwide truce at the time of the Olympics,” said CFPA executive director the Rev. Bob Moore. 

Moore described “belligerent rhetoric” between North Korea and the United States “getting worse and worse.” He added, “Many were worried about escalation and increasing risks of miscalculation. Then on January 1 the North Korean leader held out an olive branch. South Korea agreed. ‘Let’s start talking. Let’s get to the Olympics.’ That cooperation has de-escalated the rhetoric.”

North Korea will send athletes, an orchestra, cheerleaders, and a high-level delegation to the Olympics, and the two Koreas have agreed to march together in the opening ceremony and create a joint team for women’s ice hockey. Earlier this year a communications hotline between North and South leaders was reactivated.

“This is a promising opening that could de-escalate tensions and jumpstart diplomatic negotiations,” Moore said. “The CFPA joins peace-loving people the world over in strongly advocating diplomacy, not war with Korea.”

He continued, ”We have to find a way to coexist. This is an opening. If we don’t find a way to peacefully resolve this conflict, the potential future is bleak.” He pointed out that experts estimate the danger of nuclear war is as high as 60 percent with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recently having moved its Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight, the closest it’s been to nuclear war since 1953 at the height of the Cold War.

Friday’s candlelight vigil is part of an internationally-coordinated effort with similar CFPA-sponsored events taking place simultaneously in Philadelphia, Langhorne, Allentown, and Aston, Pa. Moore urged the public “to attend any of these events in solidarity with the Olympic Truce as a way of urging sustained diplomacy to peacefully resolve the North Korea issue.”

Moore, who will also be giving a talk, “Urgent: Diplomacy Not War with Korea!,” Saturday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Camden at a Gathering for Peace and Justice, pointed out that diplomacy with North Korea has worked before. A 1994 agreement prevented at least 100 North Korean nuclear weapons over the following eight years, and more recently diplomacy with Iran produced a peaceful resolution to the nuclear crisis there.

“We urge all elected officials to demand that Donald Trump refrain from any further sabotage of diplomacy with childish insults and bellicose threats, which could lead to war, even nuclear war, with North Korea, and instead to engage in sustained multilateral diplomacy,” Moore wrote in a statement announcing the vigils.