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Priest jailed over anti war protests in Britain

By editor - 16 March, 2014

Fr Martin Newell and members of the London Catholic Worker.

Fr Martin Newell and members of the London Catholic Worker.

A court in London has sentenced a Passionist priest to 28 days in prison for non-payment of fines arising from numerous non-violent peace protests against war.

Fr Martin Newell told Westminster Magistrates Court that for “for reasons of faith and conscience” he would not pay the fines of €676.

They 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.

The protests were organised by Catholic peace groups, Pax Christi, the London Catholic Worker, and Christian CND, at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in London to mark Ash Wednesday.

In court on Saturday, Fr Newell said, “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.”

He said 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 (46) 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.

Letters/cards and messages of support can be sent: Martin Newell, HMP Wandsworth, PO Box 757, Heathfield Road, London,  SW18 3HS, UK.

Courtesy: Independent Catholic News http://www.indcatholicnews.com

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