CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

CND up in arms at abbey plan for ‘nukes’ service

26 April, 2019 — By The Xtra Diary

CND’s Bruce Kent is a former Roman Catholic priest

 

A house of peace – or a house of maintaining an outdated morally repugnant status quo?

Such questions are being asked as to what the role of Westminster Abbey actually is after it was announced that next week a special thanksgiving service will be held to mark 50 years of Britain having nuclear weapons permanently chugging about the globe…

Hosted by the Royal Navy with the blessing of the Dean of the Abbey, defence secretary Gavin Williamson will be there to bow his head in prayer – as will a real man of the cloth, the ever-green campaigner Bruce Kent.

Bruce, who is CND’s vice- president, of course, would not take part in such a dubious event, and instead will hold a service outside the abbey for anti-nuclear campaigners calling for repentance.

The service has already prompted much outrage from the congregation. One regular told Diary: “This service is just about the most un-Christian thing I can think of. We could hold a service in memory of those who have died in conflict, or for the servicemen sent off to their perceived duty abroad to return home to an ungrateful nation, but a service to give thanks for having a weapon of mass destruction wandering about the seas for 50 years? If it wasn’t so horrendous, it would almost be funny.”

Their views are echoed by CND general secretary Kate Hudson, who told Diary: “It’s morally repugnant that a service of thanksgiving for Britain’s nuclear weapons system is due to be held at Westminster Abbey. This sends out a terrible message to the world about our country. It says that here in Britain we celebrate weapons, in a place of worship, that can kill millions of people. If the defence secretary doesn’t cancel this service, we call on the Church authorities to step in to stop it. CND will hold protests at Westminster Abbey on the day of the service if this celebration of nuclear weapons goes ahead.”

An abbey spokesman countered the claims that this celebrated nuclear weapons, telling Diary: “The service marking the 50 years of the continuous at-sea deterrent is not a service of thanksgiving or a celebration of nuclear armaments. The service will recognise the commitment of the Royal Navy to effective peace-keeping through the deterrent over the past 50 years and will pray for peace throughout the world.”

Yet, as CND point out, no matter how you spin it, hosting such a bizarre event runs in direct conflict with Church of England policy: in July last year, the General Synod passed a motion stating: “…nuclear weapons, through their indiscriminate and destructive potential, present a distinct category of weaponry that requires Christians to work tirelessly for their elimination across the world”.

But the abbey occupies a strange place in the Church of England: it is known as a “Royal Peculiar”, a church that belongs directly to the monarch and not to any diocese, and does not come under the jurisdiction of a bishop.

As the government pushes ahead with its plans to spend an eye-watering £205billion plus on a new wave of Trident missiles, surely the time has come for some common sense to be applied; and the UK to accept the nuclear age is now a relic of Cold War days long gone.

 

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