Ash Wednesday arrest at Ministry of Defence in London

photo by London Catholic Worker

photo by London Catholic Worker

from Pax Christi UK

For 32 years Christians have gathered at the Ministry of Defence in London on Ash Wednesday to call on the government to repent and move away from nuclear war preparations.   Members of Pax Christi, the London Catholic Worker and Christian CND from around the country gathered to pray and take part in symbolic acts of repentance and peacemaking as they processed, with three prayer stops, around the Ministry of Defence building.

During the March 5 procession, the MOD building was marked with crosses using charcoal and ash blessed at the beginning of the service.  Those marking were Dr. Ray Towey, Fr. Martin Newell and Scott Albrecht.  Scott was the only person to be detained by the police.

This year a key part of the day’s message called on the government to cancel Trident, the UK’s independent nuclear programme.  The government is committed to the replacement of Trident at a cost of £100 billion.   The Catholic Church has always been clear in its teaching on nuclear issues.  This year in his World Peace Day message Pope Francis said: “I make my own the appeal of my predecessors for the non-proliferation of arms and for disarmament of all parties, beginning with nuclear and chemical weapons disarmament. “  Last year Archbishop Mamberti, speaking at the UN said: “We  would like to use this opportunity to renew our call upon the leaders of nations to put an end to nuclear weapons production and to transfer nuclear materials from military purposes to peaceful activities.”

Actions also took place in Liverpool, organised by Pax Christi, who held a public act of repentance on the impact of the use of armed drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) around the globe.  (Liverpool University is one of a number engaged in drone research and development funded by arms manufacturers including BAe Systems, a major player in the global arms trade.)

In Faslane, Scotland, the Glasgow Catholic Worker gathered at the Naval Base where Trdent submarines are based, for a liturgy of repentance.

The London action was planned by Pax Christi and supported by Christian CND and the London Catholic Worker.

* Dr. Ray Towey (70), missionary doctor who has spent most of the last 20 years in East Africa. Dr. Towey has been involved with these Ash Wednesday actions for the past 31 years.

* Scott  Albrecht (51) from The Catholic Worker Farm in Hertfordshire.

* Fr. Martin Newell, London Catholic Worker and member of the Passionist religious order.