On February 15, 2003, people all over the world said no to the Bush War against Iraq. Among all those who spoke, Bruce Kent, a vice president of Pax Christi, was most eloquent. We reprint his speech here, given in London's Hyde Park.
Christianity is not about power, pride, privilege, revenge, and the hypocrisy of those who themselves possess thousands of weapons of mass destruction.
On Sunday afternoon, Feb. 16, Bruce Kent spoke to the young Catholics group Time4God in Pimlico. He told a reporter for Independent Catholic News: "I was very impressed with the number of young people who came to this event from all over London and further afield. Some may have thought that the subject of war is not a spiritual issue – but I explained that it is very much so. We are all part of the Body of Christ and we are now planning to kill many members of that Body. The threat of this war is a matter of grave concern to all Christians."
Christianity is not about power...
This is the biggest demonstration in this country that I have ever seen. It's not just London – it's all over the country from Cornwall to Shetland. And it's not just this country, it's worldwide: millions of ordinary people.
The UN Charter starts with the wonderful phrase 'We the Peoples' and that's what we are today. We are saying loudly and clearly that war is no answer to world problems. Even the problems of cruel dictatorships. War simply creates more problems at the cost of ruining so many innocent lives.
There is one group of people who even now could stop it. I'm speaking about the military: our military. The bravery of our armed forces is not in question. The issue is: when should they question their orders and when should they even refuse to accept them? There are brave young soldiers in Israel today who refuse to fight in the Occupied Territories. I salute them. In the last Gulf war a young soldier in the artillery, Vic Williams – and he was not alone – refused to fight in what he called an oil war. I salute him.
Today, General Deverell, Commander in Chief of Allied Forces Northern Europe, says he would not want to go to war without the support of the country. We are here today to tell him that he hasn't got it. And no cooked-up, second Security Council resolution – the result of bullying and bribery – is going to give it to him.
Killing is a serious business. Those who take part in unlawful wars or in unlawful acts in the course of war – and the use of nuclear weapons has not been excluded – now face an international criminal court. Our government has no right to send our servicemen into an immoral and illegal war. Servicemen are not machines. They have minds and consciences. I hope that even at this late hour we will hear them say No.
One final thought. I do not understand George Bush's version of Christianity. Real Christianity is about love, forgiveness, sharing, nonviolence, in the pursuit of justice, and our common humanity. It is not about power, pride, privilege, revenge, and the hypocrisy of those who themselves possess thousands of weapons of mass destruction.
The United Nations' first purpose is to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. That is why we are here today and that is why we will not give up.