Ash Wednesday peace vigils

 Christian anti-nuclear protesters will be holding vigils across Europe today, to mark the beginning of Lent. This afternoon, outside the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, groups from Pax Christi and Christian CND will be staging a vigil of prayer and non-violent civil disobedience to protest against the British government's continued commitment to nuclear war preparations. Using the traditional symbols of Lent - blessed ash and charcoal, six people will be marking the building with words such as: "Repent and Choose Life" and "Trident = Death". A spokeswoman said: "this action links the personal need for repentance with a call to the nation to turn away from the sin of nuclear war preparations." This will the 18th year the vigil has been held. It is likely to lead to arrests and charges of criminal damage. The action will take place in the context of a Christian liturgy, beginning at the Embankment Gardens and at the Ministry of Defence Building in Horseguards Avenue at 4pm. Fr David Stanley, a Catholic priest from South London, will preach the sermon and bless the ash and charcoal. Each participant will mark their own forehead as a sign of personal need for repentance. A spokeswoman said: "The world is in danger of entering a new nuclear arms race and so becoming more insecure. Resources are squandered on nuclear security while the needs of the poor of the world go unheard. Nuclear war preparations are illegal and immoral - a crime against God and humanity." Other events are being held in Oxford, Liverpool, Albermarle, Newcastle upon Tyne, Sutton Coldfield, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Gothenberg.