24 February 2009
Ash Wednesday, 25 February 2009 Annual liturgy of Repentance and Resistance
to nuclear war preparations
Since 1984, Christians have gathered annually at the Ministry of Defence on Ash Wednesday to call the Government to repent and reject nuclear weapons and nuclear war preparations, through a powerful liturgical witness and acts of nonviolent civil disobedience which use the traditional 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 on 25th February will urge the Government to cancel these plans and to 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 e no victors only victims…” and from 20 Anglican Bishops, writing 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 are:
Rosemary Gomes – age 27 – lives Hackney, London Catholic Worker (LCW)
Henrietta Cullinan – age 47 – lives – Hackney, LCW
Katrina Alton – age 41 – lives – Hackney, LCW
Emil Jansson – age 19 – lives – Listrop Nykrka, Sweden, LCW
Gathering 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.
For more information contact: