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Catholic Worker Priest in Brixton Prison for Anti-War Action

category international | anti-war / imperialism | press release author Saturday May 05, 2007 01:43author by Prison Solidarity Report this post to the editors

Fr. Martin Newell was present in Dublin a solidarity organiser around the three Pit Stop Ploughshares trials. He previously served a one year sentence in Belmarsh Prison (London) for disabling the nuclear convoy vehicle that carries British nuclear warheads from Aldemaston to the Treident subs in Faslane. he recently co-founded a Catholic Worker hospitaity house for refugees and assylum seekers in Hackney, London.

Fr Martin Newell CP was today sentenced to fourteen
days in prison following a peace protest in December
2004. Before sentencing Fr Newell stated: “I work
with refugees. I see the effects of wars daily. Jesus
said ‘whatever you do to the least of my brothers and
sisters you do to me’, and the war in Iraq is killing
our brothers and sisters.” On December 28th, the
Catholic Feast of the Holy Innocents, seven people
mostly from the radical “Catholic Worker movement”,
had converted the lawn outside the Ministry of Defence
(MoD) opposite Downing Street into a war cemetery in
memory of the dead of the invasion and continuing
occupation of Iraq. Fr Newell was writing “Remember
the Innocent – Stop the War” and “Remember Iraqi War
Dead” on the wall of the MoD as a memorial to the
dead, when he was stopped by police. Prayers of
remembrance and repentance were also said. He was
later found guilty of criminal damage at Horseferry
Road Magistrates Court, Westminster and ordered to pay
£660 compensation to the MoD. He has refused to pay
this as a further act of non-co-operation with the war
on Iraq. He was among six others arrested on the day,
of whom four were ordered to pay compensation. Mr
Chris Cole recently spent two weeks in HMP Wandsworth
after also refusing to pay compensation.

Fr Newell said “Like King Herod at the time of Jesus,
we are a in state of denial. We deny our
responsibility for the suffering in Iraq. We deny our
sin in taking part in this invasion. We deny that the
presence of US and UK troops in Iraq continues to make
things worse not better. We deny the reality of our
participation in violence. So we went to the Ministry
of Defence to grieve, because to grieve is the only
way out of denial: to grieve for our innocence, to
grieve for our loss, to grieve for all those who have
suffered and died and lost loved ones in Iraq, where a
fate worse than death is to be the one who is left
behind. We went to express our grief in the hope that
hearts would be opened and lead to the repentance,
conversion and change that could end the occupation.
This is still our hope and cry: end the occupation:
bring the troops home now.”

“Herod had the innocent killed in order to maintain
his power and control. This US / UK led war is about
exactly the same thing: ‘protecting our national
interests’, which is to say, keeping control of oil
resources, maintaining power and deterring others who
may seek to go their own way. And the innocent suffer
in ever greater numbers. The latest estimates are of a
million people dying and child malnutrition rising
fifty per cent since the invasion (1).”

“In the past governments and armies needed young men
to go to war for them. But with today’s high
technology warfare, all they need is our silence and
our taxes. We should refuse them and withdraw
co-operation. This is why we have refused to pay our
fines. We are calling for an immediate the end to the
occupation. We are calling for a step up in protest to
and direct resistance to this war. And we are calling
on the Catholic Bishops and all church and faith
leaders to be at the forefront of the campaign to end
this unjust, inhuman and un-winnable war.”

Fr Martin Newell cp is a member of the Passionist
Religious Order in the Catholic Church, and has been
missioned to work with the London Catholic Worker. He
is 39, and has been a priest for 10 years. He lives in
Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Hackney Borough.

Tel: Fellowship of Reconciliation: Chris Cole: 01865
748 796
London Catholic Worker: Scott Albrecht:
tel: 01923 777 201 email:

For more information on the ‘Catholic Worker movement’
see OR

(1) figures on malnutrition from Caritas
Internationalis and Caritas Iraq. [child malnutrition
has risen from 19% before the invasion to 28% now, a
50% rise ]

London Catholic Worker website:

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