Bruce Kent
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Bruce Kent's funeral took place on Monday 4 July at 11am.

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Bruce Kent, peace campaigner, has died
 
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It is with great sadness, but deep gratitude for his life and gifts, that Bruce Kent's family announce his death, on 8th June after a short illness. He would have been 93 on 22nd June 2022.

At the time of his death Bruce was a Vice-President of CND, a Vice-President of Pax Christi, and Emeritus President of the Movement for the Abolition of War.

After national service in the Royal Tank Regiment and a law degree at Brasenose College, Oxford, Bruce Kent was ordained a Catholic priest for the Diocese of Westminster. Between 1958 and 1987 he served in several London parishes, as secretary to Cardinal Heenan, and as the RC Chaplain to the University of London.

It was his Christian faith that brought him to reject nuclear weapons as fundamentally immoral because, even without their use, nuclear deterrence itself depends on a willingness to commit mass murder. As a leading spokesperson for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the 1980s, Kent became well known as a formidable opponent of Margaret Thatcher's defence policy at a time when public opposition to the acquisition of Trident, and Cruise missiles, was escalating.

With his warmth and wit, Bruce Kent was a popular speaker with audiences of all ages from primary schools to pensioners' groups. His commitment to innumerable peace and human rights campaigns over many decades included the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, for the reform of the United Nations, and the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (which came into force in 2021). He was always actively concerned about the welfare of prisoners, especially those maintaining their innocence, and prison reform.

Among his heroes was Franz Jägerstätter, the Austrian farmer who was executed in 1943 for refusing to fight in Hitler's army. As recently as 15 May, Bruce Kent took part in the annual ceremony in Tavistock Square, London, to honour conscientious objectors throughout the world.

He was an Honorary Fellow of Brasenose College, and in the past year was awarded the Archbishop of Canterbury's Lambeth Cross for Ecumenism.

Bruce Kent is survived by his wife, Valerie Flessati, his sister Rosemary Meakins, sister-in-law Ruth Kent, and their extensive families.


More biography here



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In May 2021 Bruce Kent visited the embassies of the nuclear nations
urging them to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

In 1969 Bruce Kent hired an armoured car to attract attention
to his protest about arms sales fuelling the Nigeria-Biafra war.

Media Links (some newspapers may need a subscription)

The Guardian Obituary
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/09/bruce-kent-obituary
The Guardian Notice
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/09/bruce-kent-tributes-paid-as-peace-campaigner-dies-aged-92
Tribute from journalist and friend, Ellen Teague
https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/44871
Tribute from Cardinal Vincent Nichols
https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/44872
Abolish War
https://abolishwar.net/obituary-bruce-kent/
YouTube BBC News
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IakPEu8KtQ
The Times
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/4615be32-e80f-11ec-aa87-2eea7c6e5b01?shareToken=9f46d9af45b2ffa007e601705dff3334
The Telegraph
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2022/06/09/bruce-kent-catholic-priest-led-campaign-nuclear-disarmament/
The Independent
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/bruce-kent-obituary-nuclear-peace-campaigner-b2103570.html

Tributes:

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC
I have known Bruce Kent since my student days in the early seventies when he was Catholic Chaplain to London University. He was a huge influence on my life and his commitment to peace and human rights was inspirational. He wanted a more compassionate and inclusive Church and a more decent and just society. He lived out his faith in everything he did - for the marginalised and the poor - and he gave his all with such a great sense of fun. He was one of the finest human beings I have ever met.

Malcolm McMahon op, Archbishop of Liverpool, and President of Pax Christi England & Wales
Peacemakers across the world will saddened to hear of the death of Bruce Kent who made a lasting contribution to the peace movement within the Christian churches and much farther afield. Bruce became well known and influential in his national role in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and with Pax Christi, the international Catholic Peace Movement. His clarity of thought and deep Christian faith brought light and direction to many people wrestling with the complex arguments around war and peace. Personally, I'll miss him for being a wonderfully warm human being. May he now rest in the Peace of Christ to which he dedicated his life.

Paul Rogers, Emeritus Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, and President of the Movement for the Abolition of War.
For more than fifty years Bruce was an utterly determined advocate for peace, and a relentless campaigner against the idiocy of nuclear weapons. He never let up and was forever optimistic and inspiring, even at the most difficult of times.

Reiner Braun, Executive Director of the International Peace Bureau
It is seldom we call someone a ‘peace hero' because, as peace activists we are generally against such terms. But Bruce was one of these historical peace figures with his deep, lifelong, emotional and argumentative engagement for peace. We are doing everything to continue the work in his spirit.

Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Bruce Kent transformed the scope and confidence of the anti-nuclear movement beyond all recognition. His leadership of CND in the 1980s - when the US and UK governments attempted to bring nuclear-armed cruise missiles to Britain - was the embodiment of integrity, creativity and sheer determination; it enabled great struggles to be undertaken and significant outcomes to be achieved. During his early years as general secretary of CND, Bruce saw its national membership rise from around 4,000 to 90,000 members with local members standing at over a quarter of a million. A spontaneous upsurge of groups and activities was embraced by CND, and Bruce's wisdom in responding in this way was typical of his broad and inclusive approach to activism, civil society alliances and social change. Recognising his stature and influence, hostile political and establishment forces attempted at times to discredit Bruce, but such efforts were treated with the contempt they deserved; Bruce's razor-sharp intellect, together with his humour, tireless work, intolerance of flannel, and total commitment to his faith and principles, made him a leader of our movement beyond compare. He will be much missed.

Dr Stuart Parkinson, Executive Director, Scientists for Global Responsibility.
Bruce was such an inspirational figure. We met at numerous peace events over the last 15 years - and worked together on a 'Climate and Conflict' video, commissioned by the Movement for the Abolition of War in 2013. With my background in climate science and politics - and their links with peace issues - he would often direct questions to me in these areas. This contributed to an expansion of my own research and campaigning on these issues - which continues to this day. My memories of our conversations will be lasting encouragement - especially given we face such difficult times.

Joseph Kelly, founder The Catholic Network.
It has been my great honour to have known Bruce for more than 40 years - from my first teenage encounters with him at early Greenham protests to my later years editing a national Catholic newspaper for which he penned a regular column. Bruce was one of the most courteous yet passionate people I've known. In a life crammed with so many far greater urgencies he always found time to offer advice, encouragement - and even the occasional well-timed words of caution! I will always have very cherished memories of late nights in small London restaurants where the world was able to be put right for just a few hours. Rest in peace, my friend, your work is done, and ours is just beginning.

Commander Robert Green RN (Ret'd), former Co-Director, Disarmament & Security Centre, Christchurch, Aotearoa-NZ.
Thank you, Bruce for taking me under your wing when I first spoke out against nuclear deterrence in January 1991. As a former RN Commander involved with nuclear weapons, I felt vulnerable to be associated with CND. You understood this having done National Service, guided me to join Ex-Services CND, and continued to support me thereafter. You were a potent anti-nuclear ambassador, and a wonderful man: I salute you.

Carol Turner, Co-Chair London Region CND
London CND supporters will join with me in expressing regret and sadness at the death of Bruce Kent, after a short illness, less than a fortnight before his 93rd birthday. We celebrate his contribution to the peace and-anti war movement, and send sympathy to his family, particularly his wife Valerie who stood shoulder to shoulder with Bruce in many of the campaigns he espoused.
Bruce Kent was a leading figure in CND over six decades. including a period as General Secretary then Chair throughout the 1980s. He remained a leading spokesperson for the Campaign thereafter. On his death he was a Vice President of CND, President Emeritus of the Movement for the Abolition of War, Vice President of Pax Christi and Patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
He was too a Vice President of London Region Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and remained active right up to his death. Unable to join us at Lakenheath on 21 May, he recorded a video message urging support.
Bruce joined CND in 1960, a new convert to nuclear disarmament. I recall the story he told of his first encounter with the young nuclear disarmament movement and his irritation when, as a newly-ordained Roman Catholic priest, the arrival of the bride and groom at a wedding service he was officiating at was delayed while protesters on the first Aldermaston march passed nearby his parish church.
This self-deprecating tale was typical of the humour and perspective he brought to his work for CND, and a reason of why he remained popular with audiences young and old over many decades.
Tributes to Bruce are pouring in, including from the Ham and High, his local Haringey newspaper which described him as a 'peace hero'. He will be warmly remembered, and missed, for many years to come.

Mike King (Bruce's website)
The King family (Bernadette, Mike, Callum and Rory) first met Bruce through MAW when it was in its infancy and our sons Callum and Rory were infants too. Bruce's wit and hint of mischief always delighted the boys and Bruce and Valerie were always top favourites when they came for supper.
Swapping the order of the two numbered birthday cakes which transformed Bruce's 85th into his 58th was so memorable.
A dear friend who we will miss terribly, but someone who we will always remember and admire as one of the very finest human beings.

Commander Robert Forsyth RN (ret'd) - served in the Polaris force and a submarine captain.
I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting this great man of our age and sharing thoughts on how, despite our military backgrounds in metal boxes - tanks & submarines - we had both come to realise (myself somewhat slower than he!) that the concept of nuclear deterrence contains fatal flaws and the only way to avoid a nuclear war is to get rid of them before they are used by accident or design.
I am so glad I got to know him in the last few years. Where he led we should continue to follow.

Bishop Kevin Dowling, South Africa. Former Co-President, Pax Christi International
My deep sadness at the death of Bruce Kent whom I have admired all my life, especially in the many years I served with Pax Christi International. What an extraordinary, warm and passionate human being. I send my prayerful condolences to his wife, Valerie, and to all who mourn his passing.
I pray we can continue to work for the ideals he cherished.

Will Newcomb
Hi Bruce, I'm wondering whether you can read all these tributes from your new home?
I remember the first time I met you. At that time I was neither a Menno nor a member of the peace movement, but was 'tagging along' with Gillian Brown as she did interviews at a rally in Trafalgar Square. That was a formative time for me since your nature completely disarmed my preconceptions of both you and the peace movement. So thank you!
Also, I have such fond memories of you staying with us at the London Mennonite Centre. I remember how you won over Eileen who was quite suspicious of you! And I remember how you always said hello to the parrot in the room next door to the kitchen when you came down to dinner!!! Haha!
Being in China for 8 years I've been out of circulation you can say, though I was pleased to say hello at Alan Kreider's memorial service in Bloomsbury Baptist Church in 2017 during a short visit back to the UK. Because of the virus I've not been able to get back since.
I do send my condolences and prayers to Valerie at this very hard time for her.
You will continue to be an inspiration and a model to me.
A huge thank you for your life with us.

Arthur Champion (Revd)
I am very grateful that in the dark days of the Cold War when US Cruise and Pershing missiles were arriving in England, Fr Bruce Kent spoke against warmongering and thus inspired millions of Christians to keep on praying for disarmament which by the grace of God started to happen after Reagan met Gorbachev in 1985.

Guido Grünewald, peace historian and international speaker of the German Peace Society-United War Resisters (DFG-VK)
Bruce was one of the most impressive and warm-hearted people I had the pleasure of meeting.
Among other things, he was distinguished by his sharp mind coupled with wit and repartee, strategic thinking and the ability to practically translate ideas into action. Bruce combined visionary thinking with pragmatic action; he was also not above doing peace work at the grassroots level. I worked with Bruce on the board of the International Peace Bureau (IPB) in the 1980s and in 1988 did a half-hour portrait of his life to date and his peace activities for a major West German broadcaster. At the IPB, which he greatly advanced, Bruce advocated non-violent solutions to conflict at a time when there were influential voices there in favour of armed humanitarian intervention; he also consistently supported conscientious objectors.
Bruce was interested in learning from the history of peace movements.
He was a co-initiator of the annual Peace History Conferences, which started in 2007 and at which I had the privilege to speak twice. I will miss him.

Hephzibah Yohannan
My thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends and colleagues, and wider peace family.

Dave Webb
We will all miss Bruce and at a time when his knowledge, understanding and leadership are most urgently needed.
Bruce had an amazing ability to mix the everyday with the profound. His wisdom combined with his sense of humour were such valuable tools in the struggle to create a non-violent society.
We will miss him so much but must carry on with his work.

Colette Joyce, Westminster Justice & Peace Co-ordinator
Shortly after I started in my current role for the Diocese of Westminster I was surprised and delighted to get a phone call from Bruce.
Amidst warm words of support and encouragement he offered one firm piece of advice,
'Colette, don't forget about peace.'
His words have echoed often in mind as I tackle first one, then another of the many and varied issues of social justice, serving as a reminder to always keep before my eyes the other half of the work implicit in the job title 'Justice and Peace' - the great goal of a peaceful world.
Rest in true peace, Bruce

Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, Chair of Westminster Justice & Peace Commission
Bruce Kent was an icon for Catholics, Christians and so many others committed to promoting justice and peace.
His single-minded commitment to what he believed, prophetic gifts in advocacy and campaigning, and the faith and humanity behind all this endeared him to so many.
The Justice and Peace Network in the Diocese of Westminster will miss him greatly.

Geoff Barnes
As a Catholic teen in the 1980s frustrated by the reluctance of senior figures in the church to speak up against injustice and militarism, Bruce was an inspiration.
And he continued to be so in the 35 years after his retirement from the Priesthood.

Clive Barrett
Bruce Kent stood firmly and proudly in the tradition of Dick Sheppard and John Collins, ethical leaders making a stand for peace in their age in ways that revealed the shortcomings of their respective religious establishments.
How could any Church preaching Jesus Christ, who upheld nonviolence even to his own death, fail to oppose nuclear weapons in all their horror?
For millions of people not corrupted by casuistry, Bruce was the voice of sanity, humanity, reason, morality and the survival of the human race.
Real saints are seldom gentle, meek and mild, and Bruce could eloquently express his anger at all political parties - including to its shame, the Labour Party - who put vested interests and narrow nationalism before the abolition of nuclear weapons.
With his charismatic guidance, CND spoke for all people of peace, and could bring over a million to the streets to witness to the cause.
Despite the best efforts of Bruce Kent, and the movements he championed, nuclear weapons, though now illegal, are still with us and could yet obliterate us all in a moment. Bruce, ably supported by Valerie Flessati, campaigned for peace to the end.
His determination, commitment and values are models for generations to come. Whether his Church recognises it or not, Bruce has been a saint for our age.
It has been a privilege to have known him.

Dan Carrier
As a child in the 1980s, the threat of nuclear oblivion was something that hovered in the back of my mind, a spectre I didn't quite fully understand but was like a scary monster that you tried not to think about before you went to bed. My parents would take my siblings and I on CND marches, visit Greenham and Aldermaston (my older teenager sisters would camp out there), and so I felt aware of a 'good';' side who did not want to blow every one up.
My parents held Bruce in such high regard, my young mind saw him as a Father Christmas like figure, a man who had our backs and was working to ensure the baddies wouldn't drop a bomb on anyone.
As I grew up, I began to understand why Bruce, my parents and millions of other people believed the murder of others in the name of a state, the development of WMDs, and the war industry was utterly immoral and something no one could sit back and be passive when such things were happening on our watch.
He was an inspiration to me as a kid, as an adult , and always will remain so. Thanks, Bruce xxx

Marjolijn Snippe
My heartfelt condolences to Valerie and to all to whom Bruce was dear.
He was a wonderful person, so kind and compassionate. I am grateful to have known him.
I would like to say to Bruce 'say hello up there!' and thank you for your unconditional support and all the good work. I have confidence you will have a wonderful journey.
All good wishes and thank you Bruce. Mara/Marjolijn

Anne S Milne
Remembered for all the right reasons.
Rest in Peace, Bruce.

David Somerville
Happy memories of Bruce Kent as chaplain at London University and his no-nonsense manner.
Also of his effective public support of Pax Christi and CND for so many years.
May he rest in peace and rise in glory!

Kate Swann
My condolences to Valerie and the family on the death of Rev Bruce Kent.
I was expelled from an RC boarding school for joining CND at age 16, in 1960, I continued to demonstrate whenever possible and at age 21 took a ship to New York and joined the Catholic Worker, where in the fullness of time I married a draft resister who later went to prison for refusing to be drafted to fight in Vietnam.
I'm now 78 so a lot of water has gone under the bridge, please thank Bruce's family for the influence he had on my life.
He will surely rest in PEACE.

Liz Woodhouse nee George
I first knew Bruce when he arrived as young priest at OLV in Kensington.
I was a brand new Phil at Sacred heart and had been asked to join OLV choir. Of course a very good looking priest was greatly admired by the young people.
We kept in touch and he lived at our local parish later. Imagine my delight when he visited me in hospital.
Later over the years Zi was able to attend some of his live talks and follow other work online etc.
We kept in contact.

Frances Fernandes (nee Collins)
I met Bruce during his early days at the London University Catholic Chaplaincy when I was president of the Westfield College Catholic Society.
He used to come all the way up to Hampstead to say mass. Later, I lived in the chapliancy, where I met and married my husband Joe Fernandes.
When we moved to California, he came to visit with us and we have stayed in touch all these years.
I went to see him earlier this year on Venetia Road, not knowing it would be the last time I would see him.
He has always been a moral touchstone. His kind face would come to mind and I struggled with a thorny issue.
I feel blessed to have known him and will miss him and his firm moral stance tremendously.

Alan Whelan
Since I first met Bruce (and Valerie) when I attended Bedford College Cath Soc Mass in October 1969 he played a big influence on my life.
In my time living in 111 Gower Street I met my future wife Kate Murray by accident of being President of London University Cath Soc.
We were both imbued with Bruce's J&P ideals.
When in 1987 I stood as Lib Dem candidate in Islington I often bumped into Bruce at bus stops, etc. it was clear that Bruce held very different political views.
We remained friends and several years later he told me how he was sorry to have stood in Oxford West in 1992 because it allowed a Tory victory.
At Bedford College I was pleased to be a good friend of Bruce's god-daughter Julia Wright.
I know that Julia too joins with us in the knowledge that Bruce is today sitting alongside The Prince of Peace.

Arn Dekker
It has been an honour to have known Bruce, he was a great person to share the planet with. R.I.P.

Angela Allport
May you know the peace you would have liked to have brought on earth.

Paula Shaw
Thank you Bruce for being a wonderful peacemaker and for being a good friend to WILPF UK for so many years.
I cannot imagine attending our CO Day or Hiroshima Remembrance without having your company.

John Gittings
Bruce not only had a remarkable clarity of vision on peace and war and the great challenges of our time, but an exceptional ability to speak about them in a simple and effective way.
The label of "controversial" is misleading.
He just told things as they were, with charm and an endearing wit, and he was generous in his praise and support for others.
In an earlier age, he would have engaged in friendly discourse with Desiderius Erasmus.
In our age, he spoke and wrote to, and for, everyone: an example for us all in the peace movement, to pursue, as he did, till the end.

Rhiannon Rees
Bruce Kent was always an eloquent and effective speaker and a dedicated and courageous peace campaigner.
I only met him a few times at peace protests, but he was also friendly, genial and unassuming.
I send my deepest sympathy to his wife, Valerie and to his family on their great loss.

Michael Naughton
I was saddened to hear of Bruce's passing, but have many treasured memories of working together with Progressing Prisoners Maintaining Innocence (PPMI).
Bruce was always great company and I learned much from him, whether around a committee table or in the pub afterwards.
I always thought that he had an innocence about him and a natural ability to ask questions that got straight to the heart of the problem, much like the boy in The Emperor's New Clothes.
He embodied 'speaking truth to power' and was inspirational and motivational in equal measures in the struggle for the progression and release of innocent prisoners.
R.I.P. Bruce. The World is the better for having you, but the poorer now that you have gone.

Elena Lieven
Bruce and I worked alongside each other in CND for about a decade.
He was the most wonderful, humane man with a brilliant sense of humour that got us through some hard membership discussions.
He was awarded an Honorary degree by Manchester University, thoroughly deserved but somewhat unnerving, I think, for the powers that be.
We need need more people like him and he will be very much missed.

Claire Poyner
I think I first met Bruce around 1997 when I started volunteering (then later was a paid employee) with the National Peace Council.
Bruce was treasurer for Abolition 2000 UK which was based in the NPC office.
He got involved with the NPC's Children's Mystery Walk around the London Peace Trail, by dressing up as Sherlock Holmes and signing children's "passports".
Bruce was great with children. My daughter says she looked on him as an honorary grandpa.
Later, when the NPC restructured and I found myself without a job, Bruce offered me the post of co-ordinator with A2000 after the previous incumbent left due to illness.
One of my memories was Bruce arriving in the office after he'd been on holiday and asking "have we banned them yet? No? Claire, what have you been doing all this time?"
Later, contact with Bruce was kept up by my being offered employment with Christian CND, and then when the NPT folded and was replaced by the Network for Peace, Bruce was a keen supporter and was always sure to turn up at our meetings.
I find it difficult to imagine meetings without Bruce there.



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 Website last updated 06-07-2022 16:30 by Mike King