Tribute to Bruce Kent by the President of Pax Christi England and Wales

Anne Farr

Ann Farr, President of Pax Christi England and Wales, paid the following tribute during an online memorial to Bruce Kent yesterday, organized by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and the International Peace Bureau. Other speakers included CND leader Kate Hudson and MP Jeremy Corbyn who spoke of “a terrible loss to our peace movement” and said “Bruce’s faith knew no religious boundaries”. He also promised to have a Hornbeam tree planted in Finsbury Park in memory of Bruce Kent.

Thank you for organizing this event to honor Bruce Kent. It’s so hard to choose which stories to share.

We saw that Bruce had a very comprehensive and grounded approach to peace work. A man of compassion, he was deeply concerned about the injustices suffered by others whether it was the cleaner at his school, for whom he advocated for transport to work because of his long walk from home or a countries, like Biafra, which he visited in 1969 during the war, and saw that it was the people who were the victims of the embargoes imposed. He said: “Biafra taught me the importance of fighting the causes of injustice – not just its symptoms. “has

He always noticed and worked for those who were on the margins.

Pax Christi is an international movement, founded after World War II because a French teacher took the initiative to pray for his enemies and encouraged others to do the same. It was not a popular initiative at the time.

In the UK, Pax Christi began in 1958 when a small group began meeting in London to discuss the Church’s teaching on peace and to promote the International Routes, which were walks/pilgrimages to across Europe. The objective was to promote peace by fostering international friendship. Bruce Kent was asked to be his chaplain. As a chaplain at the University of London, he encouraged students to take part in these routes and summer hostels. It is hard to believe today that most of our members were under 30 then.

Bruce frequently lectured on people who had the courage to say “no” to war and one of his heroes was Franz Jagerstatter, the Austrian farmer who was executed in 1943 for refusing to fight in the Hitler’s and Franz’s army remains a very important role. of the educational work of Pax Christi. Bruce and Valerie led pilgrimages to Franz’s birthplace and became acquainted with his widow, who had supported her husband and raised their three children alone. As recently as May this year, Bruce took part in the annual ceremony in Tavistock Square, London, to honor conscientious objectors around the world.

Bruce had a real gift for being a networker and for encouraging organizations involved in peace, development, human rights and, more recently, climate to cooperate and weave the threads that bind them together.

In recognition of all his work, Bruce was one of the first to receive our Pax Christi Peace Award in 2001. He would never miss a Pax Christi AGM and took his role as Vice President very seriously – s critically engaging with the movement and speaking out on behalf of Pax Christi in the public square.

Hearing him speak, with clarity and humor, was an unforgettable experience for so many people, as evidenced by the tributes paid to him.

I live in Coventry, a city of peace and reconciliation and Bruce has been there on several occasions, for the END conference, to speak to my sixth form group, to give the Mayor’s annual peace lecture, to speak to the Hiroshima Day service and to participate in a debate

In 2009, he was awarded the Coventry International Peace and Reconciliation Prize, awarded annually on the anniversary of the bombing, “in recognition of a lifetime of campaigning for peace, justice and human rights”. , having “influenced entire generations in their understanding of the terror of war and the urgency of peace”.

In November last year, Coventry University awarded Bruce an honorary Doctor of Letters. It was aimed particularly at all young graduates,

‘Young people – please think for yourselves. Don’t get carried away with what happens to be the propaganda of the day. Ask your own critical questions:

Why is it okay for charities to raise money for war victims in Yemen, but not for them to ask why Britain is selling bombs to Saudi Arabia? »

Bruce has always encouraged people – especially young people – to exercise their democratic right as global citizens to influence policy. He has always offered a perspective grounded in moral principles, international law and support for the United Nations. His work was based on the belief that human beings can create a world in which war becomes obsolete. At his funeral on Monday, among the symbols placed on his coffin were very well-laminated copies of the Psalms and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights,

Pax Christi England and Wales would not be the organization it is today without the creative energy, enthusiasm and support of Bruce Kent, since its beginnings in the 1960s.

So many of us will miss being with him at vigils, services, demonstrations and peace marches. We will miss chatting with him on a nearby bench or wall as events unfold before us – as we did when we watched Flanders Fields, reflecting on the destruction and loss of life at the war.

Bravely outspoken, deeply concerned about the injustices suffered by others, and working tirelessly to end nuclear weapons and militarism to achieve peace, Bruce has made a difference impossible to measure. We will miss his presence, his questioning interest, his challenges, his knowledge of history, his wealth of experience and of course his humor which never failed to lighten our gatherings.

Bruce lived out his favorite quote from Catholic social teaching: “Peace is the fruit of an anxious daily concern to see that each person lives righteously, as God intends. We will try to continue to walk this path in our lives too.

Ann Farr is a speaker on Sunday July 24 at the NJPN Annual Conference in Derbyshire. See:

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