Bishops join Extinction Rebellion and priest arrested

On Sunday the Bishop of Colchester, Roger Morris, was at the Trafalgar Square Extinction Rebellion site and joined people there in prayer and worship. He then moved with rebels to a protest site outside Scotland Yard, where people were urging police to return the vital equipment of disabled protestors which had been seized several days previously. At this site he led people in a Eucharist. 

“When our very existence is threatened by our insatiable exploitation of this precious earth, we have to speak up and we have to take action.” he said. “Already we have seen an unprecedented number of extreme weather events that have claimed many lives. These can no longer be described as natural disasters. We have created the conditions in which they occur and our silence and inaction allow them to continue to wreak havoc among the poorest and most vulnerable people on our planet.

“It is this sense of urgency that lies behind the non-violent direct action of the kind we are seeing in London and across the world. This is a wake-up call to the world. It is prophetic. So I thank God for Extinction Rebellion and I pray that their voice may be heard – for all our sakes.

“It was an honour to share in a service of Holy Communion with other environmental protesters today. My being there was an act of solidarity. Our communion was an act of fellowship. Our worship – like all true worship – was an act of subversion and rebellion against the principalities and powers of our present age and a celebration of our shared hope and faith in God.”

Fr Martin Newell, a Catholic priest from the Passionist Order in Birmingham, was also present at the Scotland Yard protest site and was taking part in the action alongside Catholic nun Sister Katrina Alton. The priest was arrested by police when he attempted to glue himself to the floor in solidarity with disabled protesters. When asked why he was part of Extinction Rebellion Fr Newell said: “I am here to help raise the alarm, to call for a profound ecological conversion. The life of God’s creation is under threat, especially the lives of God’s poor. I am here to help protect our common home, our mother, our sister which is among the most abused of our neighbours, as Pope Francis has said”.

Right Reverend Roger Morris is the second bishop to have joined the rebellion, with the Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, also being part of the rebellion at Trafalgar Square earlier on in the week. When on the site, the bishop was involved in a joint action alongside other members of the clergy which involved reading from Revelation.

After he spoke, Bishop Bayes, tweeted his support of the protest, saying that he was “standing as part of @ExtinctionR London, with many Christians, reading from Revelation in Trafalgar Square, remembering our hope in Jesus in a dark time, standing in solidarity with those of all faiths and none who see the terrible urgency of our situation as a planet”


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