War memorial protesters arrested for trespassing

Published November 1, 1998

Three pacifists, including a retired Anglican priest, were arrested on a recent Sunday for trespassing near the war memorial at St. Paul’s Bloor Street, Toronto.

Rev. Dan Heap, an Anglican priest and former New Democrat MP in Toronto, Rev. Bob Holmes, a Roman Catholic priest and Leonard Desroches, a Roman Catholic layman, have been trying to get the church to change the sword on the war memorial into a plowshare.

The trio also wants all churches to denounce the so-called just war doctrine — a test used to determine if war is justified under biblical teaching. The group claims war is never justified.

The idea of changing the sword into a farm tool comes from Isaiah 2:4, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares.”

When the men arrived at the church on Oct. 4, they were warned by the wardens not to enter the area near the war memorial, which is fenced off from the sidewalk. Mr. Heap and his supporters ignored the warnings and entered the property using their ladders.

“First we laid flowers … then we turned and offered our tools to the church leaders, to the parish and to the city’s churches, not only Anglican,” Mr. Heap said.

They carried a hammer, a chisel and a crowbar. “Those are what we think would be needed to take the sword off the cross,” Mr. Heap said.

Rev. Barry Parker, rector at St. Paul’s, said members of the church had no choice but to call the police because of the tools the protestors were carrying.

“We weren’t sure what the implications were,” Mr. Parker said.

Mr. Heap said they had no intention of damaging the memorial.

The men were issued $65-tickets for trespassing. They plan to hold a similar protest Nov. 5 and every month after until Easter.

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