Bishop William Kenney to chair major arms control body

 Bishop William Kenney, an auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham and spokesman on European Affairs for the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has been confirmed as International Chairman of the important Gothenburg Process, a high-powered ecumenical body working to reduce the sale of small arms and light weaponry world-wide, writes Peter Jennings. Bishop Kenney, CP, a member of the Passionist Congregation, was an Auxiliary Bishop of Stockholm, Sweden, from 1987 until 17 October 2006, when the Vatican announced his move to the Archdiocese of Birmingham. The confirmation of Bishop Kenney's appointment was made during the Third Gothenburg Process, international ecumenical conference, held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 7 to 10 October, at the Desmond Tutu Ecumenical Conference Centre of the All Africa Council of Churches. Bishop Kenney stressed that the Gothenburg Process is only involved the legal sales of arms and light weaponry. The conference, strictly by invitation and closed to the media, was attended by delegates representing both the arms control authorities, and for the first time in Nairobi the arms users. Bishop Kenney said: "We were given a fascinating insight into the current situation in the Continent of Africa with regard to the sales and the use of small arms and light weapons." Bishop Kenney revealed that during a session about the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), the conference was addressed by senior representatives from South Africa, Costa Rica and France. He said: "This was followed by frank discussion in which we grappled with the question of what the Churches should be doing to get UN Treaty Approval to reduce and control the sale of small arms and light weapons." On the final day, Wednesday 10 October, delegates considered the future of this ecumenical initiative, under the heading: Towards Gothenburg Four .Bishop Kenney said: "We agreed on four specific ways forward: One - The production of a formal theological and ethical reflection on the morality of the small arms trade. Two - A follow-up of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Three - To work with the Ecumenical Network on Small Arms (ENSA) based in Geneva. Four - To continue a series of seminars in various parts of the world to raise concerns on the ethics of the small arms trade." Bishop Kenney said that a Fourth Gothenburg Process is now planned for 2010 if the necessary funding is found. Meanwhile, a seminar is planned in Thailand during January 2008 as a follow-up to seminars already held in Brussels, Strasbourg, Washington DC and New York. Bishop Kenney went on to explain the background to the Gothenburg Process. He said that at the end of the 'cold war' in the late 1980's, sales of arms and light weaponry went down. He added: "However, since 1995/96 sales have increased significantly for reasons that are not completely clear." Bishop Kenney explained: "In 1998 a Swedish Catholic Mr Peter Brune who worked for an ecumenical peace organisation in Stockholm, came to me with the idea of holding a high-level, one-off international ecumenical conference to see what could be done about helping to reduce the sale of small arms and light weaponry." The Swedish Government funded the First Gothenburg Process, in June 2001, during the Swedish Presidency of the EU. The Second Gothenburg Process, was also held in the city during May 2004. Bishop William Kenney emphasised: "The Gothenburg Process is already supported by the Holy See and the World Council of Churches and other major ecumenical and international bodies. We are now looking to make contacts with the British Government and some of the major producers of small arms and light weaponry in UK."

Share this story