The Journal of Pax Christi
September / October 2002 No 232 Online Contents:
Summer Peace Awards
On July 19th, Bruce Kent was awarded an honorary doctorate by Middlesex University. The nomination came from the Missionary Institute London, a partner college to the University. Director of Studies Giovanni Scudiero said, "We wanted to acknowledge the huge contribution that Bruce has made to building world peace. He is a great internationalist, reminding us all that we are global citizens before any other affiliation. His skills as a communicator have kept issues of disarmament and international peace building on both church and secular agendas for several decades".
On August 7th Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi was awarded the first Peacemaker Award of the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace at their 20th Chapter meeting in Roehampton, London. Pat was chosen as the first recipient because of her 12 years of work as General Secretary of Pax Christi and her long-term work to promote peace and social justice, work which she sees as essential for spreading the gospel of Christ. In accepting the award Pat said: " Given our current political climate, creating peace partnerships between religious congregations and peace movements will be one important counter-witness to the culture of evil ad violence that many in political power attempt to offer us". The award, which will be given at each Congregation Chapter meeting, carried a prize of £5,000 for Pax Christi's work.
Call to Conversion Prayer Pilgrimage
In July of this year I attended the Annual National J&P conference, which had as its title 'Who Is My Neighbour?' By the end of the conference I not only knew who my neighbour is, but how many neighbours I have - 6.4 billion of them!
Shortly after this I took part in the Prayer Pilgrimage organised by Pax Christi and CAAT. This began at the memorial for innocent victims of war at Westminster Abbey and proceeded by way of the DTI, Treasury, and Foreign Office to Downing Street where a document called 'Call to Conversion' was handed in at No.10.
'Call to Conversion' calls for a change from manufacturing weaponry to making things that will benefit humankind. I was asked to say a few words outside the gates at Downing Street and reflected on the huge number and variety of my neighbours. Despite the great variety they all have something in common they are made in the image of God, and they are ALL loved by God.
This caused me to think that if I say I love God but hate any one of my neighbours then God says to me, 'You are a liar'. If I do violence to any one of my neighbours, then God says, 'You do violence to Me, because I have created them in my image.' How is it then that when so many millions of our neighbours are crying out for food that we give them guns and bombs instead, which are instruments of death, rather than life-giving and nourishing bread?
Part of the horror of the situation is that there are some 500 million guns in the world and I wonder what 500 million tons of food, or 500 million implements/tools/aids to enable people to grow and provide food would achieve? The one creates widows and orphans, the other would give hope and life. Here are two ways set before us, the way of life and the way of death. We are called to say to those in power, choose life.
I also reflected
on a group of people that we often don't give much thought to. These are the
ordinary people who work in the factories making arms and weapons. Some 10
ago I helped to organise a conference in East Anglia on the issue of arms manufacturing.
We had two T.U. leaders of the day, Ron Todd & Moss Evans, speaking to
and telling us about their efforts to get the industry to change from the manufacture
of 'swords' to 'ploughshares' but sadly with little or no effect.
So, there are many who are trapped in the arms industry, workers for whom there are no other jobs. Many of them, to say the least, can not be happy in their work, can not be happy that the bread on their table is there because someone else has bought the gun they helped to make and will use it to take life.
To bring about a conversion of manufacture from weapons to instruments of peace would be to restore to so many workers the dignity of knowing that they would be enhancing life, instead of serving death. We should call upon our leaders today not to boast about 'saving' or 'creating' jobs by pulling off huge arms sales, but to be truly creative and use every means at their disposal to turn industrialists from the manufacture of instruments of death to life giving and life enhancing products.
St.Paul speaks of our having 'spiritual treasure in a clay pot.' That is to show that the power in which we do this, the power we did what we did on our Prayer Pilgrimage is, thank God, not ours, not of ourselves, but of God. It is this that makes us bold, fills us with hope and gives us our strength.
CAAT Christian Network and Pax Christi have will keep the initiative running in the months ahead. We urge members and others to use the week 1st - 7th December for local lobbying of MPs / meetings with MPs on the three political issues raised by the Call to Conversion:
will be producing some supplementary notes and guidance for this work, which
will be included in the Call to Conversion resource pack. If you would
like a copy of the pack write the office sending £2.50 (post and packing
2002: No 229
January/February 2002: No 228
November/December 2001: No 227
September/October 2001: No 226
July/August 2001: No 225
Mar/Apr 2001: No 224
Jan/Feb 2001: No 223
Nov/Dec 2000 No 222
July/August 2000: No 220
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