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Bruce Kent: who was peace campaigner dead at 92, what were his views on nuclear weapons, and what is the CND?

Bruce Kent became well known as an opponent of Margaret Thatcher’s defence policy

Catholic priest Bruce Kent has died at the age of 92.

But who was the peace campaigner and what were his views on nuclear weapons?

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Catholic priest Bruce Kent has died at the age of 92

Here’s what you need to know.

Who was Bruce Kent?

Bruce Kent served national service in the Royal Tank Regiment and completed a law degree at Brasenose College, Oxford, before being ordained as 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.

Over time, he came to reject nuclear weapons and became a leading spokesperson for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in the 1980s.

Kent became well known as an opponent of Margaret Thatcher’s defence policy at a time when opposition from the public to the acquisition of Trident and Cruise missiles was rising.

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

Kent was also an Honorary Fellow of Brasenose College, and in the past year was awarded the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lambeth Cross for Ecumenism, which is the aim of promoting unity among the world’s Christian Churches.

CND said: “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.”

‘His commitment to peace and human rights was inspirational’

A number of people had paid tributes to Kent, including Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, who said: “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.”

Paul Rogers, Emeritus Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, and President of the Movement for the Abolition of War, added: “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.”

Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: “Bruce Kent 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

“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.”