Priests Arrested as Climate Protests Intensify in London

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Photo: Screenshot from Twitter - Christian Climate Action

In a show of commitment to raising awareness about climate change, several priests have been arrested while participating in protests across London. 

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These clergy members are part of a growing movement demanding immediate action from the government to address the climate crisis. The arrests highlight the determination of these individuals to “sound the alarm” on climate change and their willingness to face legal consequences for their activism.

Last week, a retired priest, Rev Bill White from Macclesfield, made headlines as he was taken into police custody three times for participating in road marches organized by the group Just Stop Oil. The protesters, now in their twelfth week of demonstrations, are calling on the government to cease granting new licenses and consents for oil, gas, and coal projects in the UK.

Rev White, holding a sign that read ‘Act out of Love,’ emphasized that his faith and scripture command him to take action. He stated, “In obedience to this, I am called to sound the alarm about the climate crisis; but always in a way which is nonviolent, consistent with the teaching and example of Jesus.”

Rev White accused the authorities of disregarding the climate crisis by ignoring the alarm, rather than addressing the root problem. Despite the risk of arrest, he remains committed to his cause, stating, “To be faithful, I need to say no to the police officers when they ask me to stop and keep on walking.”

In a separate incident, retired priest and renowned climate activist Sue Parfitt was also arrested after violating her bail conditions stemming from previous climate protests. Parfitt explained that she felt compelled to take risks to combat climate collapse, stating, “We’ve all been forced between a rock and a hard place, either we allow climate collapse to happen or we take the risks that come with standing against it with all our might.”

In another protest action, members of Christian Climate Action joined forces with other climate activists outside Wimbledon’s first gate to call for the removal of Barclay’s sponsorship of the tennis tournament. They accuse Barclays, a leading funder of fossil fuels in Europe, of attempting to “sportswash” its reputation by associating itself with the event. Rev Helen Burnett of Christian Climate Action highlighted the bank’s investments in fossil fuels and stressed the importance of raising awareness regarding their detrimental impact on the environment.

During the demonstration, the group distributed flyers to Wimbledon attendees, displayed climate change posters, and presented a massive pink dodo, symbolizing the impending extinction humanity faces if urgent action is not taken to address climate change.

In a related development, the Diocese of Oxford passed a motion during the General Synod, urging both the Church and the Government to expedite efforts to combat climate change. The motion calls for a comprehensive review of the Church’s policies and procedures to prioritize environmental care. Furthermore, it asks the Government to review planning regulations to facilitate the installation of renewable technologies in listed church buildings or those located in conservation areas.

The actions taken by these priests and climate activists underscore the growing urgency to address the climate crisis. 

Their commitment and willingness to face arrest demonstrates the strength of their convictions and their determination to effect change.

 As the protests continue, they hope to inspire others to join the cause and compel governments and corporations to take decisive action to safeguard the planet for future generations.

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