Prayers for peace in Westminster and Battersea

The annual interfaith peace prayer service, organised by Pax Christi, was held last night in the Crypt Chapel of Westminster Cathedral, to commemorate the anniversary of the execution of Blessed Franz Jagerstatter in 1943, who refused to join Hitler's army, to pray for the many thousands of victims of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki in 1945, and to pray for all those who work for peace. Pax Christi had a stand and organised prayers in the Cathedral Piazza on Hiroshima Day (6 August) and Nagasaki Day (9 August).

Dr Ray Towey gave the address. As a doctor working in Africa he said he had watched helplessly "the premature death of scores from diseases easily preventable by a little money or curable by modest means" while around the world governments spends billions on weapons. "This remains the global injustice of our time" he said.

Read his full address here: See:

The service was followed by the peace walk to the London Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park. The interfaith service was led by Mr Shigeo Kobayashi. Rev Gyoro Nagase from the Nipponzan Myhoji Buddhist Order gave a blessing. Bruce Kent gave a short address, Christian prayers were said by Rev Dr Alan Gadd.

Mr Shigeo Kobayashi read extracts from a speech by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony in Japan. He said: "Nagasaki is not just an international city with a long and fascinating history. It is a global inspiration for all those who seek to create a safer and more secure world. "I am humbled to be here with you to commemorate the women, men and children killed by the nuclear attack on Nagasaki on 9 August 1945," he said conveying his "deepest respect and condolences to everyone here today, and to all the victims and survivors of the atomic bombs".

Calling the city "a beacon of hope and strength, and a monument to the resilience of its people," the UN chief underscored that while the atomic bomb killed and injured tens of thousands, it "could not crush your spirit".

"From the other side of the apocalypse, the hibakusha have raised their voices on behalf of the entire human family. We must listen," he asserted. "There can be no more Hiroshimas, no more Nagasakis, and so no more hibakusha."

Mr Guterres noted that 73 years on, fear of nuclear war still prevails, as States are spending vast sums to modernise their nuclear weapon arsenals.

"More than $1.7 trillion was spent in 2017 on arms and armies - the highest level since the end of the cold war and around 80 times the amount needed for global humanitarian aid," the Secretary-General pointed out. Meanwhile, disarmament processes have slowed and even come to a halt. "Many States demonstrated their frustration by adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons last year," said Mr Guterres.

Other deadly weapons also threaten incessant peril, such as chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, and those developed for cyberwarfare. Moreover, conflicts fought with conventional weapons are lasting longer and are becoming more deadly for civilians, he added.

After Buddhist prayers and ceremonies, and a song for peace from Bridgette Bennett, as the sun began to set - in spite of some thunder and rain - the paper lantern floating ceremony went ahead on the River Thames.

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Tags: Nagasaki, Dr Ray Towey, Franz Jaegerstaetter, Pax Christi, Battersea, Shigeo Kobayashi, Rev Dr Alan Gadd, Bruce Kent, Antonio Guterres, Rev Gyoro Nagase

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