Christians gear up for Ash Wednesday protests following Aldermaston

By staff writers
February 16, 2010
Peace service at Aldermaston

Bishop Thomas McMahon, vice-president of Pax Christi and Bishop of Brentwood Diocese, joined people from other faith traditions at a peace service at the faith gate of the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment yesterday morning (15 February).

The day began early for many who took part in blockades of the many gates of Aldermaston - the site which builds and maintains nuclear warheads for Trident. The closure of the gates prevented many workers from entering the site for several hours.

Bishop McMahon read a poignant passage from Thomas Merton which included the words: "Help us to be masters of the weapons that threaten to master us...Help us to use our science for peace and plenty, not for war and destruction".

Tomorrow (17 February) which is Ash Wednesday in the Christian calendar, Pax Christi members will again protest against the UK's nuclear weapons programme at its annual Ash Wednesday liturgy of repentance at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in London.

In previous years this has involved arrests of the Christian protestors, and subsequent imprisonment.

The traditional symbols of the day, ash and charcoal, will be used in a peaceful procession and vigil outside the MoD. This liturgy which has been taking place for more than twenty-five years, attracts support from Christians around the country .

Both actions come in the week Pax Christi UK and Pax Christi France issued a joint statement calling on their Governments to abandon their nuclear weapons programmes and set an example to others as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference takes place in New York in May.

According to Pax Christi, the UK and France, two of the nuclear weapons states, are in breach of their obligations under Article VI of the NPT which challenges them to engage in genuine actions for disarmament.

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