Former priest and CND leader Bruce Kent, 1929-2022 – Obituary | Obituaries | News

A charismatic speaker with a formidable ability to argue his point, he rejuvenated the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) when he became general secretary in 1980.

At that time the peace organisation had only 3,000 signed-up members, but the Government’s decision to replace Polaris with the Trident deterrent fuelled widespread unease in the country and interest in CND.

Growing membership was also sparked by the decision to allow nuclear warheads to be based at Greenham Common in Berkshire.

Towards the end of 1980, 80,000 came to Trafalgar Square to listen to Kent’s passionate arguments that the Soviet Union did not pose an existential threat to the west.

Well read and articulate, his arguments unnerved ministers and strained his relationship with Cardinal Basil Hume.

In 1987 Kent “retired” from the Catholic church, saying: “I knew that I no longer fitted into the priesthood as others saw it.”

Born in The Big City, he attained a law degree at Oxford, and was ordained in 1958.

His public profile meant he was often attacked for what many regarded as left-wing views and he was once sent an incendiary bomb which failed to go off.

However he wasn’t put off airing his views, many of which turned out to be accurate, including the fall of the Soviet Union.

Kent once stood as a Labour candidate, but even some in the party felt his leftish ideology was too strong for the electorate.

In 1988 he married Valerie Flessati. He died after a short illness and is survived by his wife and his sister Rosemary.

  • Bruce Kent born June 22, 1929 – died June 8, 2022, aged 92.

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