Christians call on Government to ‘repent’ over nukes in Ash Wednesday civil disobedience

By staff writers
February 25, 2009

Christians will call on the Government to ‘repent’ and reject nuclear weapons today, when they gather at the Ministry of Defence.

Since 1984, Christians have gathered annually at the MoD on Ash Wednesday to call the Government to reject nuclear war preparations, through acts of nonviolent civil disobedience which use the traditional religious symbols of the day – blessed ash and charcoal.

During the course of the liturgy, the Ministry of Defence will be marked with blessed charcoal. This action is organised by Pax Christi with Catholic Peace Action and Christian CND.

In 2007 the British Government voted in favour of a programme to replace and up-grade the existing British nuclear weapons programme, Trident. The act of witness and call today will urge the Government to cancel these plans and ‘take a moral lead’ in the global elimination of nuclear weapons.

This annual witness seeks to articulate messages and teaching of Christian churches. In his 2006 World Peace Day message Pope Benedict XVI said "What can be said, too, about those governments which count on nuclear arms as a means of ensuring the security of other countries? Along with countless persons of good will, one can state that this point of view is not only baneful but also completely fallacious. In a nuclear war there would be no victors only victims…"

20 Anglican Bishops wrote in 2006: "Nuclear weapons are a direct denial of the Christian concept of peace and reconciliation, which are social and economic as well as physical and spiritual...The costs involved in the maintenance and replacement of Trident could be used to address pressing environmental concerns, the causes of terrorism, poverty and debt, and enable humanity and dignity to be the right of all.."

Those risking arrest on the day, by marking the building with blessed ash and charcoal will gather in Embankment Gardens at 3.00 pm for the start of the liturgy which will then take the form of a procession with several stopping-points around the Ministry of Defence in Horseguards Avenue.

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