17 March 2014
London priest imprisoned for anti-war protests
A Catholic priest has been imprisoned for his involvement in anti-war protests.
Fr Martin Newell, 46, from Walthamstow, east London, was sentenced on Saturday to 28 days in prison for refusing to pay fines of £565 that had been imposed on him after protests against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the use of armed drones and the Trident nuclear defence system.
A member of the Passionist Order, Fr Newell works with homeless refugees at the London Catholic Worker project.
He was sentenced at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, where he told the court that he would not pay the fines “for reasons of faith and conscience”.
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. 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.”
He is being held at HMP Wandsworth.
Nine days ago, on Ash Wednesday, Fr Newell took part in an anti-war demonstration outside the Ministry of Defence headquarters in London, where he marked the walls of the building with ash. He was not arrested.
Above: Police speak to Fr Newell outside the MoD on Ash Wednesday. The message in ash begins 'Choose life'
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