International outcry at “Thanksgiving” service for nuclear weapons at Westminster Abbey

The international Anglican Communion has expressed widespread concern about the upcoming “National Service of Thanksgiving” for nuclear weapons, which is being held at Westminster Abbey on Friday May 3.

More than 170 Anglican clergy members have signed a statement, coordinated by the Christian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (Christian CND), calling for the service to be stopped. The signatories to the statement come from the United Kingdom, the United States, Brazil, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. They include eight current or former bishops.Christian CND commended the Church of England for overwhelmingly passing a motion at General Synod in 2018 which noted that nuclear weapons have “indiscriminate and destructive potential” which urges Anglicans to “work tirelessly for their elimination across the world”.

Martin Tiller, Co-Chair of Christian CND said, “Christians around the world will find this service, described by the Royal Navy as a “celebration”, to be completely inappropriate. For centuries, Christians have been praying for peace, and we simply do not accept that a so-called “nuclear deterrent” is God’s answer to that prayer. The huge support for our petition and clergy statement demonstrates that many, many other Christians agree with us.”

The Rt Revd Andrew Hedge, Bishop of Waipu, New Zealand said,”New Zealand has a proud record of being opposed to nuclear weapons and has already ratified the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. I welcome the motion passed by Church of England General Synod in support of the Treaty, and believe that the witness of the church needs to be invested in working to bring about a nuclear weapons-free world. Recognition of the long-standing commitment of the naval submariners to vigilant patrol is laudable; however, the idea of aligning that celebration with the threat of potential indiscriminate destruction through the use of nuclear weapons is completely counter to the witness of the Church in the proclamation of the gospel.”

Christian CND will be taking part in an alternative witness outside Westminster Abbey on Friday 3 May, gathering at 11:30 for reflection and prayer before the witness begins at 12 noon. The witness will be inter-denominational with Methodist, Quaker, Catholic and Anglican representation. The witness is being supported by the Network of Christian Peace Organisations, Pax Christi, the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship, the National Peace and Justice Network, Church and Peace and the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

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