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Sunday, March 26, 2017
London priest in court over peace demonstration
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¬†Fr Martin Newell cp appeared at Stratford Magistrate's Court in east London yesterday for non-payment of fines of £660, for actions during a memorial service for the innocent victims of war in Iraq, held by a group outside the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall on 28 December. the twenty Christians began praying while five of the group, including Fr Newell, began to dig graves for a coffin in the lawn outside the MoD, and to inscribe a wall as a memorial in blood-red paint with the words 'Remember the Innocent - Stop the War'. They were arrested, tried and ordered to pay costs and compensation. Fr Newell, 38, refused to pay the levy, and has also refused to co-operate with the bailiffs. In his statement to the court, he said: " I am here today to witness to the Truth that sets us free. I appeal to you to hear me, open to the Truth. I am, from another perspective, here for my refusal to co-operate, my refusal to pay a levy imposed by the State. This levy is a result of an attempt to break through the moral blindness and spiritual darkness of our times, to break through our own hardness of heart. "Today, I continue to withdraw co-operation. This is Holy Week, when Christians remember that Jesus was taken to Court and refused to co-operate. He remained silent. He did not try to escape the punishment that was coming. He did not trust himself to the judgement of human beings, but left the judgement of true justice to God and to history. He was convicted and executed on the cross, but we know the verdict of God and history: that he was innocent of any crime, and that his prosecutors were the guilty ones. "As a Christian, as a Catholic, as a Passionist priest, I believe that 'by his wounds we have been healed'. And I try to follow the way of Jesus as he asked us to do. So, I will say again: I refuse to co-operate with the war-making State, the widow-making system. I will not pay any fine, any levy, nor will I co-operate with the bailiffs as they know already. God and history will be our judge and yours, and we are quietly confident that we are on the side of ruth. And because of my own participation in the sin, by silence and selfishness, I am ready to do penance." After listening carefully to what he had to say and his reasons for refusing to pay, the Magistrate issued a 'Collection Order' and gave Fr Newell a further month to pay, reminding Fr Newell that further refusal will risk a prison sentence, and that "prison is a rather unpleasant place". Fr Newell said he expects to be back in court in a couple of months time. He is working with the Catholic Worker movement in Hackney. For more information see:
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