Anti-nuclear campaigners stage protest at site of Cardinal Manning's old home

 Catholic Workers Zelda Jeffers and Fr Martin Newell cp, from the London Catholic Worker community in Hackney, east London, took part in a non-violent blockade of the UK HQ of Lockheed Martin, the world's biggest arms company, on Thursday. The US-based arms firm Lockheed Martin has a contract to manage the nuclear bomb factory at Aldermaston near Reading. Five people used chains and a wheelchair to block the entrances to the building in Victoria from about 8am, locking workers out for 45 minutes. Banners and placards were displayed, including one that read: 'Lockheed Martin - Nuclear Crime Scene', and leaflets handed out to workers and visitors to the building, and passers by. The UK headquarters of Lockheed Martin is in Manning House, 22 Carlisle Place, near Westminster Cathedral on the site of Cardinal Manning former home. Cardinal Manning was Archbishop of Westminster from 1865 until his death in 1892. Among his many accomplishments was the development of Catholic education in England. He was also very concerned with implementing Catholic social teaching and helped settle the London Dock Strike of 1889. Thousands thronged to get a last glimpse of him as he lay in state in his house in Carlisle Place, and to follow his funeral to Kensal Green Cemetery. In 1884 he had bought the land on which Westminster Cathedral would be built after his death. His remains were moved to the crypt of the cathedral after its completion. Belgravia police were called to deal with Thursday's protesters but no arrests were made. The group was allowed to continue to demonstrate and leaflet peacefully outside the building, until finally leaving of their own accord at 9.30am. Father Martin said: "As Christians we are called to follow the Christ who comes into this world at Christmas to bring "Glory to God, peace on earth and good will to all" (Luke 2:14). As a follower of this prince of peace I feel it is my duty oppose the horror of nuclear weapons. Jesus told us to 'put away our weapons', but we are intent on building ever bigger weapons'. Nuclear weapons were first used at Hiroshina, and as Pope John Paul II said: "To remember Hiroshima is to abhor nuclear war. To remember Hiroshima is to commit oneself to peace." Zelda Jeffers said: "It is terrible that with so much conflict in the world, firms including Lockheed Martin are developing even more destructive weapons such as the ones that will be worked on at Aldermaston. I wish a Happy Christmas to all who work in the building and hope that those working for Lockheed Martin will find it in their hearts to get jobs whose outcome helps create peace on earth in 2008" Irene Willis from Essex said: "Christmas seems an appropriate time of year to reflect upon the horrific effects the arms trade and nuclear weapons have in the world and to ask ourselves whether we really need them."

Share this story