Dozens of peace groups and individuals will be taking part in a prayer vigil and demonstration outside Westminster Abbey on Friday, 3 May to protest at a service to mark 50 years of the UK's nuclear weapons system. The official invitation describes the event as a 'National Service of Thanksgiving to mark 50 years of the Continuous at Sea Deterrent (CASD)'. There is at least one Trident submarine at sea at any one time, with each carrying sufficient nuclear warheads to bring about catastrophic damage to many cities and impact the climate in a way which would affect the entire world. A planned revamp of the arsenal is going to cost £205 billion.
Kate Hudson, CND general secretary, said: "It's morally repugnant that a service of thanksgiving for Britain's nuclear weapons system is due to be held at Westminster Abbey. This sends out a terrible message to the world about our country. It says that here in Britain we celebrate weapons - in a place of worship - that can kill millions of people. If the Defence Secretary doesn't cancel this service, we call on the Church authorities to step in to stop it."
She pledged: "CND will hold protests at Westminster Abbey on the day of the service if this celebration of nuclear weapons goes ahead."
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told Parliament on Monday 25 March: "In this, the 50th year of the continuous at sea nuclear deterrent, the MOD is proud to continue to protect the security and stability not only of our nation, but of our allies. I will be attending the commemoration service in Westminster Abbey on 3 May, at noon, and I hope that many colleagues from both sides of the House will also be able to commemorate this important milestone."
Christian CND said in a statement: "We believe nuclear weapons are contrary to the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. We regret this anniversary and wish that it had not been reached. The decision to host this service in Westminster Abbey is, we believe, contrary to the motion passed by the Church of England General Synod in July 2018. That motion says that 'nuclear weapons, through their indiscriminate and destructive potential, present a distinct category of weaponry that requires Christians to work tirelessly for their elimination across the world.'
Christian CND urges supporters to pray "not only that those involved in the planning of the service would have a change of heart, but also that the UK would disarm its nuclear weapons in the near future. Pray also that the Church of England Synod motion would unite Anglicans in seeking this end."
Christian CND is coordinating the following statement which has already been signed by nearly 200 Anglican clergy opposed to the service. See: http://christiancnd.org.uk/clergy-statement-on-westminster-abbey-service/
Successive Popes have spoken out against nuclear weapons for many years. On 26 September 2018, the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, made the following statement at a high-level meeting at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly to mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons:
"The world is not safer with nuclear weapons; it is more dangerous. A policy that relies on the possession of nuclear weapons, is contradictory to the spirit and purpose of the United Nations because nuclear weapons cannot create for us a stable and secure world, and because peace and international stability cannot be founded on mutually assured destruction or on the threat of total annihilation."
Pax Christi, The Network of Christian Peace Organisations, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Christian CND, Quakers, Methodists, National Justice and Peace Network are among the groups which will be gathering outside the Abbey at 11am.