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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 12:53 GMT
Catholic leader defends Trident stance
Demonstrators at Faslane nuclear base
Cardinal Winning disagreed with the demonstration
The leader of Scotland's Roman Catholic community has defended his decision not to take part in this week's blockade of the Faslane nuclear base.

Cardinal Thomas Winning turned down the invitation from another religious leader to take part in Monday's mass demonstration.

Cardinal Winning said that while the church was in favour of nuclear disarmament, it wished to distance itself from "civil disobedience".

Cardinal Thomas Winning
Cardinal Winning: Civil disobedience cannot be condoned
A spokesman for the cardinal said the Catholic Church had made its position on nuclear weapons very clear.

He said: "As far back as 1982, the Bishops of Scotland published a declaration which stated that 'if it is immoral to use nuclear weapons it is also immoral to threaten their use'.

"We are on record in recent years, calling for the government to increase investment in our health service, 'spending less on defence of the realm and more on defence of the sick'."

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend Andrew McLellan, had asked the cardinal to attend the demonstration.

'Misgivings'

But the Catholic leader declined his invitation.

The spokesman said the Catholic Church did not want to be seen to condone civil disobedience in its fight against nuclear weapons.

"We do, however, have misgivings about the methods of civil disobedience which are likely to be used during the protest and which our presence would appear to condone'" said the spokesman.


"We must be consistent on this issue too

Spokesman for Cardinal Winning
"The Catholic Church in Scotland has been very careful not to condone such acts by anti-abortion demonstrators, for example.

"While we respect the opposite point of view, we do not believe that chaining people to railings, lying down in the street and disrupting life for workers going about their lawful business is an effective means of changing hearts and minds."

The spokesman added: "We have said so in the abortion debate and we must be consistent on this issue too."

More than 370 peace protesters, including 15 clergymen, were detained at the protest, which also saw Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan, Labour MP George Galloway and Green MEP Caroline Lucas arrested.

An ecumenical service of prayer, led by the moderator, was held outside the gates of the base as part of the demonstration.

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