Scotland s LONG WALK for Peace is set to reach its conclusion tomorrow, (Tuesday 19 September) with a rally at the Scottish Parliament at 3.00pm.
The rally will feature speakers from the major political parties and representatives from the country s faith communities. There will be contributions from Cardinal Keith Patrick O Brien, President of the Bishops Conference of Scotland, the Right Reverend Alan McDonald, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and the Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh, the Right Reverend Brian Smith.
Earlier in the day, at 1.00pm, St John s Episcopal Church, Princes Street, will host a symbolic foot washing ceremony on the terrace outside the Church. Bishop Smith, Cardinal O Brien and the Moderator will be washing the feet of some of the people who have been taking part in the Long Walk which set out from Faslane on Thursday 14 September. During the feet washing an inter faith service of reflection, led by lay people, will take place inside St John s church.
The Government will decide before the end of 2006 whether Britain will continue to have nuclear weapons and whether to build new submarines to replace Trident. Having travelled 85 miles across Scotland, the LONG WALK for Peace demands that the Scottish Parliament and Scottish MPs work to make Trident history.
Speaking prior to today s events Cardinal Keith Patrick O Brien, President of the Bishops Conference of Scotland, said:
We are convinced that if it is immoral to use these weapons, it is also immoral to threaten their use. We urge the Government of the United Kingdom not to invest in a replacement for the Trident System and to begin the process of decommissioning these weapons with the intention of diverting the sums spent on nuclear weaponry to programmes of aid and development .
The Cardinal added;
"We remind all who will listen that if nuclear war is illogical, immoral and inconceivable, then investing billions of pounds in more nuclear weapons is iniquitous, irrational and absurd."
The Moderator of the General Assembly, the Rt Rev Alan McDonald, commented:
The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has said that he wants there to be an open public debate about the possible replacement for the Trident ballistic missile system. The LONG WALK shows that the people of Scotland are contributing to that debate, and they are arguing against weapons of mass destruction.
How can it be right to spend £25 billion on a weapon of unimaginable destruction and horror when so many of the 6 billion inhabitants of earth still exist on less than a dollar a day? Furthermore, in this Post Cold War, new War on Terrorism World, exactly who would we target with our new, improved nuclear weapons? That is indeed a good question “ one that brings the sheer insanity of nuclear weapons into sharp relief.
Since 1981 the Church of Scotland has said, time and again, that nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction are morally and the ologically wrong. I am very proud to have the chance to reiterate this position today.
Catholic Media Office
5 St. Vincent Place
0141 221 1168
Note to News Desks:
1. For information on ˜Scotland s for Peace the coalition of groups behind the LONG WALK for Peace, please log on to www.scotland4peace.org .
2. For enquiries in connection with photo opportunities or interviews, please contact:
Mrs Pat Holdgate (Church of Scotland) on 0131 240 2243
Mr Peter Kearney (Scottish Catholic Media Office) on 0141 221 1168