Jubilee Ploughshares

Personal Statement from Fr. Martin Newell


I am here to uphold the Law. The Law is being broken by the threat of nuclear holocaust that Trident represents. In 1997 the World Court ( International Court of Justice of the UN) ruled the threat or use of nuclear weapons to be generally illegal under International Law which is part of local Law)

In 1963 the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church said "the indiscriminate destruction of large areas along with their inhabitants is a crime against God and humanity, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation".

Morally and legally, the threat and the use of such weapons are the same. Trident constitutes such a threat. That which merits such condemnation demands removal: law breaking demands prevention. As an ordained Catholic Priest, I have a duty to speak God's truth with my life, as well as the common Christian duty to do good and resist evil.

When I was a child, I remember learning about the Nazis Holocaust of the Jews. And I questioned myself: "What would I have done if I had been a German in the 1930's? Would I have stood up for the Jews and for peace?" And I was taught about the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, where people were convicted of not disobeying unjust orders. And again I asked myself: "What would I have done? Would I have disobeyed unjust orders? What if there was a Holocaust happening now, or being threatened now? Would I do anything? As a child, I thought, sadly, 'No'.

Now, as an adult, I have asked myself: "What will I do about this threatened nuclear holocaust, which quietly hangs over the world: Which, just as in the 30's, we prefer not to think about? Up until now, I have acted in small ways. Now, encouraged by the Judgement of the World Court, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, I seek effectively and symbolically to prevent crime and sin, to wield not weapons of war, but weapons of the Spirit of peace. I seek to help our nation to beat these 'swords into ploughshares'. To begin a process only government and people can complete.

And this Trident nuclear system, the weapon of the rich and powerful is backing up the global armed robbery of the poor of the world. In the daily death of thousands around the world, the nuclear holocaust is already happening. The Jubilee 2000 Debt Campaign has tried to 'break the chains' of the worlds poor. Let us also break this chain of death, and take up the hard work of making peace, of restoring justice, of proclaiming Jubilee in God's world.

Fr Martin Newell, 2 November 2000