Passing of Bruce Kent
Bruce Kent passed away on 8 June 2022 aged 92. He was a political activist who was in turns the general secretary, chair and most honorary vice-president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).
He was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest and was a chaplain to the University of London but retired from the active ministry in 1987 rather than comply with an instruction from Cardinal Basil Hume to desist from involvement in the 1987 general election in accordance with the canon law of the Catholic Church.
He visited Coventry many times and most of those who heard him speak were impressed with his wisdom, expressed with such honesty and compassion.
Hearing him speak, with clarity and humour, was an unforgettable experience. Among many other things he delivered Lord Mayor’s Annual Peace Lecture, addressed the Hiroshima Day service at Coventry Cathedral and took part in a debate organised by CAIF on nuclear weapons and defence policy.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby awarded the Lambeth Cross for Ecumenism jointly to him and to his wife “for exceptional, tireless and lifelong dedication to the Christian ecumenical search for peace, both individually and together.”
However he was not without critics. The Guardian describes him as “the most controversial Catholic priest of his generation in Britain” and says a “ferocious campaign [was] waged against Kent by self-avowedly God-fearing Conservative MPs, MI5 and the Vatican’s diplomatic representative in Britain, Bruno Heim”. But “Kent was no firebrand and even when confronted and abused by his detractors [he] was emollient. He followed Christ’s example, often quoted but notoriously hard in practice, of turning the other cheek.”