Catholic priest Martin Newell has been sentenced to 28 days in prison for non-payment of fines arising from numerous nonviolent peace protests against war and war preparations.
Vigils are taking place today (18 March 2014) and tomorrow for the clerical peace activist.
Appearing at Westminster Magistrates Court on the morning of 15 March 2014, Fr Newell told the court that for “for reasons of faith and conscience” he would not pay fines of £565 that had been imposed following protests against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the UK’s use of armed drones and Trident nuclear weapons system.
He declared: “Jesus taught us to love not just our neighbours but also our enemies. He showed us by his life and example how to resist evil not with violence but with loving, persistent, firm, active non-violence. It was this revolutionary patience on behalf of the poor and oppressed that, humanly speaking, led to him being arrested, tried, tortured and executed by the powers that be.
"The acts of witness that resulted in the fines I have refused to pay were a form of conscientious objection. Refusing to pay them is a continuation of that objection. It is a privilege to be able to follow on the path that led Jesus to the way of the cross and resurrection.”
Fr Newell is a member of the Passionist Order. He currently works with homeless refugees at the London Catholic Worker, and is planning to move soon to start a new project in Birmingham. He was born in Walthamstow, London, and is 46 years old.