A Catholic priest was among five Christian climate activists arrested on Monday for protesting against government policy on climate change.
The five, from the group Christian Climate Action, were arrested for criminal damage, after writing in whitewash and black paint on the wall of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
In a statement the group said: “Underneath the hypocritical whitewash of fine talk on climate are DECC policies that lead to death.”
The five, acting on the first day of the climate summit in Paris, arrived at the protest wearing white paint suits with “DECC” on them. They delivered a letter to Amber Rudd, the Energy Secretary, prayed and stood with a skeleton and a “whitewashed tomb” before whitewashing the wall, and painting in black letters, “Dept for Extreme Climate Change”.
Passionist priest Fr Martin Newell, one of the five, said: “Climate change is the most serious danger facing the world that God created to be good.
“Rather than addressing climate change, DECC policies are undermining global efforts to confront this threat. The meeting of world leaders at the Paris summit this week is a crucial moment. We have taken this action because the urgency and importance of real cuts to greenhouse gas emissions is not getting through. Climate change is already a source of war, conflict and refugees. The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.
“So we hope more Christians and others will be blessed with a holy rage, moved out of their apathy and led in love to prophetically resist climate ignorance and denial, realising our need for fundamental change and repentance,” he said.
Fr Newell, 48, was sentenced to 28 days in jail in 2014 for non-payment of fines arising from anti-war protests. He has been sentenced six times in total, his longest stretch being in 2000 when he received a 12-month sentence for burglary and criminal damage for cutting the wire at RAF Wittering, illegally entering the base and disabling a nuclear weapons convoy vehicle, putting it out of use for six months.
Among the four others arrested was 79-year-old Phil Kingston from Bristol.
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