Category Archives: Publications

Court Report: Independent Catholic News September 2012

3 activists who took part in actions at MoD

The three offered clear and moving accounts of their peace actions at the Ministry of Defence during Holy Week 2012 when they marked the building with blessed charcoal using words such as ‘Trident Crucifies the Poor’ and ‘Disarm Trident’. Reports from arresting officers were read out in court which affirmed that there actions had been
totally nonviolent and that they had not resisted arrest in any way. While not disputing the fact of their action, they all argued that they had lawful excuse and moral convictions for what they did.

Twenty-five supporters joined Dr Ray Towey, 68, Henrietta Cullinan, 50, and Katrina Alton , 44, for a time of prayer outside Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court today before a three-hour hearing which found them guilty of causing criminal damage.

Ray, Henrietta and Katrina explained the relevance of the time and symbols used: Lent, a time for reflection and repentance at both personal and community levels and charcoal, a known symbol of that repentance that is used within the Christian faith community. The protection of life and people was at the heart of their actions and they all stated that these were more important than property or buildings. Their intention in marking the Ministry of Defence building was to engage the Ministry and those who work there in critical reflection on the UK’s nuclear defence policy and the Trident programme in particular in order to change it and prevent nuclear weapons from ever being used.

Judge Susan Williams acknowledged her understanding of this in her questioning of Ray Towey, and again in her summing up saying that these were profound means used to highlight the folly of humankind.

The three, who defended themselves, were given substantial time to present their own evidence and outline why they did what they did. The Judge said that she needed a good amount of time to reflect on what she had heard and the legal implications and adjourned the hearing for almost two hours.

Before adjournment, Ray Towey made a short intervention inviting the Judge to discharge them and to stand outside the normal boundaries of the legal institution and set a precedent. On her return she gave a fulsome summary – showing that she had listened with great care to all that she had heard – but ultimately finding them guilty of criminal damage. They were each charged with paying £200 court costs. While the Ministry of Defence had put forward a claim for £400 cleaning costs the Judge refused to enforce this.

The three were given an absolute discharge. All of them made it clear that they could not in conscience pay the court costs.

Their action was supported by the London Catholic Worker, Catholic Peace Action and Pax Christi.

For Ray Towey the outcome of this trial would be finalised on 24 June 2014 when he was called to attend Camberwell Magistrates Court to explain why he had not paid the court £200 costs. He had during this time several letters from bailiffs requesting the money and he had replied that as a Christian to him nuclear weapons were immoral and that he could not in conscience pay the court as he considered his actions in 2012 justified and therefore he was not guilty. Usually this defence is not accepted and a prison sentence of about 7 days would be expected. The judge listened to his explanation and replied that she would not accept this refusal but would give him more time to pay. He asked her not to delay her judgement as he was not going to pay and he wished to resolve the issue that day. She told him to go away and consider payment. He therefore left the court disappointed that the issue still remained unresolved. As he was descending the stairs leading to the exit the Clerk of the Court called out to him to return to the court as there was now a possibility of another outcome which might be beneficial to him. On return to the court the Judge sentence him to one day in jail. A one day sentence means that he was confined to the court till the end of business that day. It is in effect a symbolic sentence which meant he had no longer any need of paying the costs and would be free that day to go home. Ray Towey thanked her when the court rose and went home as a free person.

Analogies: the Bomb and Abortion?

catholicherald.co.uk, 3 October 1986

Continuing our series on Peace, Carmel Martin, anti-nuclear activist, defends our right to live

ON JULY 23, 1986, my third child, a daughter, was born. I rejoiced at the wonder of creation and this new life entrusted to my care.

When I was only 15 weeks pregnant, a time in which a woman could legally have an abortion, I visited the hospital for an ultra sound scan. Through this new technology I clearly saw, much to my astonishment, the child within me sucking her thumb and kicking her legs vigorously, and I couldn’t feel a thing! She was so tiny and yet so alive and human.

To think of abortion fills me with great sorrow, but I am much sadder to hear that even christians are among its supporters, or are at least confused about where they stand. They use the many pro-abortion arguments which place the humanity and life of the unborn child lower down the scale of values. The key assumption in favour of abortion is that the fetus is not human enough to be accorded the human rights that people outside the womb are supposed to have. The basic right to life is denied to what is a unique human being in the prenatal stage of their existence. This is a scientific/medical fact which is often over shadowed by other considerations.

Many men and women do not want to bring the child within the womb to full development for social, cultural, economic or political reasons. Tied up with all these reasons is the “women’s right to choose” argument, which states that the final decision is to be taken by the woman who is pregnant and who alone bears the burden of the pregnancy, birth, and often child rearing. I understand and sympathise with the physical and emotional traumas some women experience; especially if the child-to-be is unplanned and unwanted, or handicapped, or the result of rape; or if the woman/family lives in dire poverty.

I can only make a plea to the mother for the right to life of the child who is innocent and voiceless.

To others and society I say that if we really love and care for the unborn, we need to love and care for mothers. In a more just society of better health care, less poverty and more community support, women will choose abortion less often. Men need to take more responsibility for reproduction, for fighting everything that oppresses women from pornography to rape, and for child-care. Finally, we need to make adoption more acceptable as a nonviolent solution to an ‘unwanted’ child.

The same confusion of values and sometimes callousness regarding unborn children, is reflected in the justification for the possible use of nuclear weapons, which would result in the slaughter of millions of innocent people. In the deadly game of military and economic domination people are expendable. Their life is not as important as our values, our politics, our lifestyle. Mother Theresa drew the connection quite clearly when she said that once society accepts the killing of the unborn, all that is left for us to do is to kill each other.

This we are planning with great speed and ingenuity. There are enough weapons to kill everyone many times over, and more are planned (eg HM Government’s plan to buy Trident submarines). And even if only a small percentage of the world’s 50,000 nuclear weapons were used, climatic changes would result in the destruction or at least a fundamental change to life as we know it. The use of nuclear weapons would not only be murderous but suicidal and yet, as if the rulers of this world have gone mad or believe themselves to be gods, that is exactly what is planned and contemplated.

What else connects these two issues?

Nuclear radiation is most especially lethal to unborn children. The nuclear industry (weapons and power) is causing abortion and birth defects now through radio-active contamination of the environment. Women who survived the nuclear explosions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki later gave birth to deformed children. Women in the South Pacific and Australia who were exposed to nuclear testing by the US, French, and British governments also gave birth to deformed children. This genetic damage will be passed on from one generation to the next.

The language of abortion and war dehumanises the victims. In wartime entire nations are called “Reds”, “Communists”, “Fascists”, “members of an evil empire”. The millions of innocent civilians who would be killed in a nuclear exchange are called “collateral damage”. In abortion, pregnancies are “terminated” and the suction bottle contains “products of conception”.

Neither the woman who chooses abortion nor the soldier who is trained to obey orders are exposed to the consequences of their actions. Before an abortion, the woman is not told the full medical and biological facts (not to mention the moral or religious ones), nor afterwards is she shown the tiny arms and legs that are burned or vacuumed from her womb. Soldiers trained to push buttons for nuclear missiles are not told that alongside the 60 military targets in Moscow live 8 million people, most of whom have nothing whatsoever to do with the military.

Mother Theresa is right. The acceptance of the silent holocaust of abortion will pave the way for the nuclear holocaust. But the rev.trse is also true. Our conditional, yet sincere intention to use nuclear weapons, which will result in the murder of millions of people, poisons our very hearts and souls and blinds us to the burning and dismemberment of millions of unborn children.

To conclude with an explicitly religious analogy. In the same way that abortion terminates the life and development of the unborn child a nuclear war will arrest, if not completely destroy, God’s plan to build the Kingdom “on earth as it is in Heaven”. Human sin will have intervened and successfully rebelled against God. But unlike the crucifixion of 2,000 years ago, this global crucifixion of Jesus will not be followed by a resurrection.

With both issues prevention is the only cure. The anti-abortion and anti-nuclear movements can and should work more closely together. The logic of death by abortion and nuclear war is the same, and can be successfully countered by a united front for life and peace; and where necessary, one movement should challenge the inconsistency of the other. The anti-abortionist should not forget the threat to all life, for all time, because of nuclear weapons; nor should “peace” workers forget the war being waged daily against unborn children in hospitals throughout the land.

The symphony of life and peace can drown out the dirge of death, but only if we all play our part to defend life and make peace.

The author is a Catholic mother of three children, ages 5, 3.5, and one month  [Update: a 4th child was born in 1989]. In the last three years she has been arrested five times outside the Ministry of “Defence” in Whitehall while engaging in prayerful nonviolent resistance to the nuclear war preparations in this country.

Cecilia Hatt letter in Tablet

1984-04-07-Cecilia-Hatt-letter-in-Tablet

Add title

THE TABLET 21/28 April 1984

Letters A question for disarmament

Sir: Cecilia Hatt in Viewpoint asks a question and I hasten to answer. The point I made at the London meeting on 20 March and at other times as well was quite a simple one.

If Catholics and others concerned for peace do not agree with the policies of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, then why do they not instead become active members of one of the many organisations with more general aims?

From the Freeze Coalition to the Campaign against the Arms Trade, from Pax Christi to the United Nations Association, such movements exist in quite large numbers and they ought to have solid Catholic support. That they do not is simply a matter of observation.

I am still almost the only British priest with concern for the entirely non-controversial World Conference of Religions for Peace. It is good news that Cecilia Hatt and I can at least agree on the excellence of the American bishops’ pastoral letter, so well prepared and presented.

If we were to apply its conclusions to government policy here, we would very soon be in collision with government policy. It calls for a halt on further nuclear weapons deployment, an end to nuclear war-fighting doctrines, and opposes deterrent policies resting on a willingness to target cities.

Julian Critchley MP, by no means a enthusiast for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, has recently agreed that our present policies in this area can be summed up as “population extermination”

Of course, we can all do things sometimes, which others will judge to be silly, extreme or over-judgmental, though Catholic Peace Action must answer for itself.

I can only speak for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament which has clearly made mistakes in its time. But no one ought to expect perfection from an organisation before getting involved. Or even afterwards, as the failings of the Vatican Bank may serve to remind us….

(Mgr) Bruce Kent

General Secretary Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

11 Goodwin Street

London

N4 3HQ  

28 April 1984

Sir:

Cecilia Hatt has given the wrong impression of Catholic Peace Action and also reveals a lack of understanding of Christian civil disobedience (Viewpoint, 7 April). Her charge against CPA of “self- righteousness” and “uncharitable language” is based on two quotes. The first quote does not support her in the least and the second is not only taken out of context but is a misquote.

To mention three examples: After our second act of civil disobedience on 11 October 1983, CPA supporters and many of the police exchanged handshakes of peace. Our twice-monthly leafleting of the Ministry of Defence workers now elicits friendly greetings, smiles, written responses and often a civil dialogue or two. And when the magistrate sentenced two of us to prison over the Christmas period last year, we did not feel any ill-will toward him; indeed, he acted with more patience and understanding during this, our second trial, than he did during our first one.

Mrs Hatt goes on to take out of context and misquote a statement of ours which explained our Ash Wednesday act of civil disobedience. The full quote, in the proper context, is: “Today we pray for the conversion of this nation and for all those involved with nuclear war preparations. We pray in the place where planning for genocide continues day after day, the Ministry of Defence building in Whitehall. In sorrow and love, we bring a message of repentance to the Ministry of Defence workers and through them the government and nation: ‘Repent; in the name of God and life stop preparing for death and destruction.’ “

As the actual sentence reads, we did not single out the Ministry of Defence workers as the only ones in need of repentance. During the action, the four members of Catholic Peace Action who wrote on the pillars the word “Repent” also daubed their own foreheads, along with the 40 people praying with us. Our statement further read: “We sin by omission if we fail to do what we can to stop this nuclear madness.” Sins of omission and commission cover, I presume, everyone, including ourselves.

Mrs Hatt seems to think that the word “genocide” cannot correctly be applied to nuclear weapons or nuclear war preparations. She and others can believe what they like, but perhaps an even more appropriate word is “omnicide”. What other consequences would follow the use of nuclear weapons? How else could their use be described?

Let us not delude ourselves. Nuclear weapons are here to be used. During the last elections, Mrs Thatcher was quite clear that she would, under certain circum- stances, “Of course” push the button. So thousands of military personnel and many civil servants are involved in maintaining a certain level of readiness so that the button can be pushed (even if they personally do not have the intention to use nuclear weapons themselves).  And these people, of course, are not acting alone — they do their job as servants of the people; the Government sincerely threatens to use nuclear weapons in our name.

Even if every person in this country agreed with such a position it would not, in our opinion, make it right. One of our responses to this situation is non-violent resistance and civil disobedience. We would sin by omission if we did not say “no” as clearly and as powerfully as we could. And we believe that there is nothing more powerful than actions based on love and non-violence. On a point of agreement with Mrs Hatt, I also “take heart” from the American bishops’ pastoral letter The Challenge of Peace. In the section “The Value of Non-violence”, they mention Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King, as having a “profound impact on the life of the Church in the United States”. It may not be well known, but Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, engaged in civil disobedience over many issues. It was during the fifties that she went to jail for resistance to nuclear “defence” preparations.

My heart was most taken, however, when one of the principal authors of the pastoral letter, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, met two members of Catholic Peace Action and thanked them for what we were doing and wished that he could do it also. He was very supportive. We are encouraged also by the statements and actions of Bishop Matthiesen of Amarillo and Archbishop Hunthausen of Seattle. These bishops are active in a campaign to stop the shipment by rail of Trident warheads from Amarillo, where they are assembled, to Seattle, home of the Trident submarine.

In a recent joint statement they encouraged people to “monitor and offer non-violent resistance to each successive violation of our pastoral letter. Our stand in the pastoral letter is that no further deployment of nuclear weapons can possibly be justified. Every missile and nuclear weapons shipment is both a significant step toward a first-strike holocaust and a violation of the moral stand we have taken.  What we can all do along the tracks when these shipments come through is stand in prayerful witness to the alternative power of divine love and non-violent action. “

Non-violent civil disobedience may be “unintelligent” to Mrs Hatt, but it has a long Christian tradition and a growing number of Christian practitioners, both in this country and in the United States.

Dan Martin

Catholic Peace Action

7 Putney Bridge Road

London

SW18 IHX

Dan Martin letter in Tablet

1984-04-28-Dan-Martin-letter-in-Tablet

28 April 1984

Sir:

Cecilia Hatt has given the wrong impression of Catholic Peace Action and also reveals a lack of understanding of Christian civil disobedience (Viewpoint, 7 April). Her charge against CPA of “self- righteousness” and “uncharitable language” is based on two quotes. The first quote does not support her in the least and the second is not only taken out of context but is a misquote.

To mention three examples: After our second act of civil disobedience on 11 October 1983, CPA supporters and many of the police exchanged handshakes of peace. Our twice-monthly leafleting of the Ministry of Defence workers now elicits friendly greetings, smiles, written responses and often a civil dialogue or two. And when the magistrate sentenced two of us to prison over the Christmas period last year, we did not feel any ill-will toward him; indeed, he acted with more patience and understanding during this, our second trial, than he did during our first one.

Mrs Hatt goes on to take out of context and misquote a statement of ours which explained our Ash Wednesday act of civil disobedience. The full quote, in the proper context, is: “Today we pray for the conversion of this nation and for all those involved with nuclear war preparations. We pray in the place where planning for genocide continues day after day, the Ministry of Defence building in Whitehall. In sorrow and love, we bring a message of repentance to the Ministry of Defence workers and through them the government and nation: ‘Repent; in the name of God and life stop preparing for death and destruction.’ “

As the actual sentence reads, we did not single out the Ministry of Defence workers as the only ones in need of repentance. During the action, the four members of Catholic Peace Action who wrote on the pillars the word “Repent” also daubed their own foreheads, along with the 40 people praying with us. Our statement further read: “We sin by omission if we fail to do what we can to stop this nuclear madness.” Sins of omission and commission cover, I presume, everyone, including ourselves.

Mrs Hatt seems to think that the word “genocide” cannot correctly be applied to nuclear weapons or nuclear war preparations. She and others can believe what they like, but perhaps an even more appropriate word is “omnicide”. What other consequences would follow the use of nuclear weapons? How else could their use be described?

Let us not delude ourselves. Nuclear weapons are here to be used. During the last elections, Mrs Thatcher was quite clear that she would, under certain circum- stances, “Of course” push the button. So thousands of military personnel and many civil servants are involved in maintaining a certain level of readiness so that the button can be pushed (even if they personally do not have the intention to use nuclear weapons themselves).  And these people, of course, are not acting alone — they do their job as servants of the people; the Government sincerely threatens to use nuclear weapons in our name.

Even if every person in this country agreed with such a position it would not, in our opinion, make it right. One of our responses to this situation is non-violent resistance and civil disobedience. We would sin by omission if we did not say “no” as clearly and as powerfully as we could. And we believe that there is nothing more powerful than actions based on love and non-violence. On a point of agreement with Mrs Hatt, I also “take heart” from the American bishops’ pastoral letter The Challenge of Peace. In the section “The Value of Non-violence”, they mention Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King, as having a “profound impact on the life of the Church in the United States”. It may not be well known, but Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, engaged in civil disobedience over many issues. It was during the fifties that she went to jail for resistance to nuclear “defence” preparations.

My heart was most taken, however, when one of the principal authors of the pastoral letter, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, met two members of Catholic Peace Action and thanked them for what we were doing and wished that he could do it also. He was very supportive. We are encouraged also by the statements and actions of Bishop Matthiesen of Amarillo and Archbishop Hunthausen of Seattle. These bishops are active in a campaign to stop the shipment by rail of Trident warheads from Amarillo, where they are assembled, to Seattle, home of the Trident submarine.

In a recent joint statement they encouraged people to “monitor and offer non-violent resistance to each successive violation of our pastoral letter. Our stand in the pastoral letter is that no further deployment of nuclear weapons can possibly be justified. Every missile and nuclear weapons shipment is both a significant step toward a first-strike holocaust and a violation of the moral stand we have taken.  What we can all do along the tracks when these shipments come through is stand in prayerful witness to the alternative power of divine love and non-violent action. “

Non-violent civil disobedience may be “unintelligent” to Mrs Hatt, but it has a long Christian tradition and a growing number of Christian practitioners, both in this country and in the United States.

Dan Martin

Catholic Peace Action

7 Putney Bridge Road

London

SW18 IHX

Bruce Kent’s letter Tablet 1984

THE TABLET 21/28 April 1984

Letters A question for disarmament

Sir: Cecilia Hatt in Viewpoint asks a question and I hasten to answer. The point I made at the London meeting on 20 March and at other times as well was quite a simple one.

If Catholics and others concerned for peace do not agree with the policies of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, then why do they not instead become active members of one of the many organisations with more general aims?

From the Freeze Coalition to the Campaign against the Arms Trade, from Pax Christi to the United Nations Association, such movements exist in quite large numbers and they ought to have solid Catholic support. That they do not is simply a matter of observation.

I am still almost the only British priest with concern for the entirely non-controversial World Conference of Religions for Peace. It is good news that Cecilia Hatt and I can at least agree on the excellence of the American bishops’ pastoral letter, so well prepared and presented.

If we were to apply its conclusions to government policy here, we would very soon be in collision with government policy. It calls for a halt on further nuclear weapons deployment, an end to nuclear war-fighting doctrines, and opposes deterrent policies resting on a willingness to target cities.

Julian Critchley MP, by no means a enthusiast for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, has recently agreed that our present policies in this area can be summed up as “population extermination”

Of course, we can all do things sometimes, which others will judge to be silly, extreme or over-judgmental, though Catholic Peace Action must answer for itself.

I can only speak for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament which has clearly made mistakes in its time. But no one ought to expect perfection from an organisation before getting involved. Or even afterwards, as the failings of the Vatican Bank may serve to remind us….

(Mgr) Bruce Kent

General Secretary Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

11 Goodwin Street

London

N4 3HQ  

Cecilia Hatt letter in Tablet

1984-04-07-Cecilia-Hatt-letter-in-Tablet

Add title

THE TABLET 21/28 April 1984

Letters A question for disarmament

Sir: Cecilia Hatt in Viewpoint asks a question and I hasten to answer. The point I made at the London meeting on 20 March and at other times as well was quite a simple one.

If Catholics and others concerned for peace do not agree with the policies of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, then why do they not instead become active members of one of the many organisations with more general aims?

From the Freeze Coalition to the Campaign against the Arms Trade, from Pax Christi to the United Nations Association, such movements exist in quite large numbers and they ought to have solid Catholic support. That they do not is simply a matter of observation.

I am still almost the only British priest with concern for the entirely non-controversial World Conference of Religions for Peace. It is good news that Cecilia Hatt and I can at least agree on the excellence of the American bishops’ pastoral letter, so well prepared and presented.

If we were to apply its conclusions to government policy here, we would very soon be in collision with government policy. It calls for a halt on further nuclear weapons deployment, an end to nuclear war-fighting doctrines, and opposes deterrent policies resting on a willingness to target cities.

Julian Critchley MP, by no means a enthusiast for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, has recently agreed that our present policies in this area can be summed up as “population extermination”

Of course, we can all do things sometimes, which others will judge to be silly, extreme or over-judgmental, though Catholic Peace Action must answer for itself.

I can only speak for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament which has clearly made mistakes in its time. But no one ought to expect perfection from an organisation before getting involved. Or even afterwards, as the failings of the Vatican Bank may serve to remind us….

(Mgr) Bruce Kent

General Secretary Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

11 Goodwin Street

London

N4 3HQ  

28 April 1984

Sir:

Cecilia Hatt has given the wrong impression of Catholic Peace Action and also reveals a lack of understanding of Christian civil disobedience (Viewpoint, 7 April). Her charge against CPA of “self- righteousness” and “uncharitable language” is based on two quotes. The first quote does not support her in the least and the second is not only taken out of context but is a misquote.

To mention three examples: After our second act of civil disobedience on 11 October 1983, CPA supporters and many of the police exchanged handshakes of peace. Our twice-monthly leafleting of the Ministry of Defence workers now elicits friendly greetings, smiles, written responses and often a civil dialogue or two. And when the magistrate sentenced two of us to prison over the Christmas period last year, we did not feel any ill-will toward him; indeed, he acted with more patience and understanding during this, our second trial, than he did during our first one.

Mrs Hatt goes on to take out of context and misquote a statement of ours which explained our Ash Wednesday act of civil disobedience. The full quote, in the proper context, is: “Today we pray for the conversion of this nation and for all those involved with nuclear war preparations. We pray in the place where planning for genocide continues day after day, the Ministry of Defence building in Whitehall. In sorrow and love, we bring a message of repentance to the Ministry of Defence workers and through them the government and nation: ‘Repent; in the name of God and life stop preparing for death and destruction.’ “

As the actual sentence reads, we did not single out the Ministry of Defence workers as the only ones in need of repentance. During the action, the four members of Catholic Peace Action who wrote on the pillars the word “Repent” also daubed their own foreheads, along with the 40 people praying with us. Our statement further read: “We sin by omission if we fail to do what we can to stop this nuclear madness.” Sins of omission and commission cover, I presume, everyone, including ourselves.

Mrs Hatt seems to think that the word “genocide” cannot correctly be applied to nuclear weapons or nuclear war preparations. She and others can believe what they like, but perhaps an even more appropriate word is “omnicide”. What other consequences would follow the use of nuclear weapons? How else could their use be described?

Let us not delude ourselves. Nuclear weapons are here to be used. During the last elections, Mrs Thatcher was quite clear that she would, under certain circum- stances, “Of course” push the button. So thousands of military personnel and many civil servants are involved in maintaining a certain level of readiness so that the button can be pushed (even if they personally do not have the intention to use nuclear weapons themselves).  And these people, of course, are not acting alone — they do their job as servants of the people; the Government sincerely threatens to use nuclear weapons in our name.

Even if every person in this country agreed with such a position it would not, in our opinion, make it right. One of our responses to this situation is non-violent resistance and civil disobedience. We would sin by omission if we did not say “no” as clearly and as powerfully as we could. And we believe that there is nothing more powerful than actions based on love and non-violence. On a point of agreement with Mrs Hatt, I also “take heart” from the American bishops’ pastoral letter The Challenge of Peace. In the section “The Value of Non-violence”, they mention Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King, as having a “profound impact on the life of the Church in the United States”. It may not be well known, but Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, engaged in civil disobedience over many issues. It was during the fifties that she went to jail for resistance to nuclear “defence” preparations.

My heart was most taken, however, when one of the principal authors of the pastoral letter, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, met two members of Catholic Peace Action and thanked them for what we were doing and wished that he could do it also. He was very supportive. We are encouraged also by the statements and actions of Bishop Matthiesen of Amarillo and Archbishop Hunthausen of Seattle. These bishops are active in a campaign to stop the shipment by rail of Trident warheads from Amarillo, where they are assembled, to Seattle, home of the Trident submarine.

In a recent joint statement they encouraged people to “monitor and offer non-violent resistance to each successive violation of our pastoral letter. Our stand in the pastoral letter is that no further deployment of nuclear weapons can possibly be justified. Every missile and nuclear weapons shipment is both a significant step toward a first-strike holocaust and a violation of the moral stand we have taken.  What we can all do along the tracks when these shipments come through is stand in prayerful witness to the alternative power of divine love and non-violent action. “

Non-violent civil disobedience may be “unintelligent” to Mrs Hatt, but it has a long Christian tradition and a growing number of Christian practitioners, both in this country and in the United States.

Dan Martin

Catholic Peace Action

7 Putney Bridge Road

London

SW18 IHX