Scotsman Obituaries: Bruce Kent, clergyman and peace campaigner

Bruce Kent, political activist and peace campaigner in Blackheath, London. Born: 22 June 1929. Died: 8 June 2022, aged 92

Tributes have been paid to political activist and peace campaigner Bruce Kent, who died on Wednesday aged 92 after a short illness.

Mr Kent, who was a retired Catholic priest, was vice-president of Pax Christi – the Christian peace organisation – and emeritus president of the Movement for the Abolition of War at the time of his death. He was also a vice-president for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Kent was ordained as a Catholic priest for the Diocese of Westminster after doing National Service with the Royal Tank Regiment and studying law at Brasenose College, Oxford.

Bruce Kent at a demonstration outside Edinburgh's St John's Church (Picture: Colin Hattersley)

He went on to serve in several London parishes and as a chaplain at the University of London between 1958 and 1987.

In the 1980s he became a leading spokesman for CND and a critic of then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s defence policy at a time when public opposition to the acquisition of Trident, and Cruise missiles, was escalating.

Kent was committed to many peace and human rights campaigns over many decades, including the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, the reform of the United Nations, and the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which came into force in 2021.

Kate Hudson, general secretary of CND, led the tributes to Kent, saying he “transformed the scope and confidence of the anti-nuclear movement beyond all recognition”.

“His leadership of CND in the 1980s was the embodiment of integrity, creativity and sheer determination,” she said.

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“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.”

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “I am devastated to learn of the passing of Bruce Kent, an incredible local activist and a dear friend.

“My thoughts are with his family and the global peace movement at this difficult time.”

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, who knew Mr Kent since her student days, said he was “a huge influence on my life” and had an “inspirational” commitment to peace and human rights.

She said: “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.”

Archbishop of Liverpool Malcolm McMahon, who is the Pax Christi president for England and Wales, said: “Peacemakers across the world will be 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.

“Personally, I’ll miss him for being a wonderfully warm human being.”

OBITUARIES

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