Priest among six arrested at Pennsylvania pipeline construction site

| Dennis Sadowski | October 23, 2017 | 2 Comments
Natural gas pipeline

A gas pipeline juts from the ground at a farm near Dimock, Pa., in this 2012 file photo. Atlantic Sunrise is proposing to run a similar pipeline for natural gas through property owned by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ religious congregation in Columbia, Pa. CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA

A priest arrested for protesting a natural gas pipeline being built through land owned by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Pennsylvania said he acted because he agreed with the sisters that the project is desecrating the earth.

“We just want to support them and symbolically stop the pipeline and put our lives on the side of justice,” Father Bill Pickard, 70, a retired priest of the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, said Oct. 23, two days after the protest.

Father Pickard was one of six people arrested and charged with defiant trespass during the second nonviolent protest in a week at the sisters’ property in Columbia, Pennsylvania, southeast of Harrisburg. They were arrested after stretching a quilt across the entrance of the construction site.

Planned by the grass-roots group Lancaster Against Pipelines, the protests were designed to slow if not stop construction on a leg of the 183-mile Atlantic Sunrise pipeline being built by Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams Partners to carry gas from the Marcellus Shale in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The Adorers have resisted the pipeline routed through farmland the order leases since it was proposed, but have not endorsed the protest because of their lawsuit challenging the project on religious freedom grounds.

“We don’t have any other option to stop this. Civil disobedience is a powerful spiritual tool,” Father Pickard, who recently joined the Catholic Worker community at Mary House in New York City, told Catholic News Service.

Four other Catholic Workers and a Mennonite minister were among those arrested.

“We’re pleased to notice how people outside the immediate county are starting to weigh in on this issue and are making great efforts to support us,” said Ann Neumann, spokeswoman for the anti-pipeline group.

Chris Stockman, a Williams spokesman, has maintained that while the company respects the peoples’ right to protest, it wants to complete the project “in a safe, efficient manner.”

The first protest Oct. 17 saw 23 people arrested, charged with defiant trespass and summoned to appear in court later.

Lancaster Against Pipelines received permission from the Adorers to build a small chapel on the property, adjacent to the pipeline route. The site has become a gathering place for prayer and community meetings related to the project.

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  • di36464

    Article is obfuscating. They apparently LEASE the land and thus have no RIGHTS on determining its use. If they OWNED the land, they could refuse to give rights. By the way, do they use any NG for cooking, heating, etc?

    • Ron Stabb

      The Nuns lease a section of their hundred acre spread to a corn farmer who can go right back to growing corn again once the pipe is in.

      Their retirement community is heated by NG.

      The Adorers lost badly in court, don’t look for their appeal to go anywhere.
      Their complaint was filled in the wrong court, at the wrong time.
      The Adorers failed to intervene in the FERC proceedings and didn’t object
      to the pipeline as long as it didn’t run on their property.
      I see nothing Catholic in this, their time would be better spent saving souls.