Bruce Kent, a Vice President of Pax Christi, has written to Pope Francis I urging him to speak publicly on the morality of the use and threatened use of nuclear weapons. In the letter Mr Kent offered Pope Francis some background to the situation here in the UK, with the planned renewal of Trident and the failure of nuclear states to live up to their obligations to nuclear disarmament under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
He writes: "It would help the worldwide Church if you were to give us your own views. There is a consistent Catholic opposition to nuclear weapons of mass destruction that goes back to Pope John's Pacem in Terris but which now needs restating. Holy Father, please speak to the world about the elimination of war and all weapons of mass destruction. The human race can and should live in peace, free from the threat of weapons of mass destruction which, as a result of accident and misunderstanding, have several times brought us close to disaster in the recent past."
More than one hundred people, members of Pax Christi and the National J&P Network gathered in London for the Pax Christi Annual General Meeting. As well as hearing about work of the past year those attending heard Prof Tina Beattie reflecting on the ethical challenges of development of modern technologies of warfard such as cyber war and drone warfare. She suggested that Drones are perhaps the most important development since nuclear weapons, challenging the rules of lawful engagement in war and making the likelihood of war easier for political leaders as military personal are safeguarded and distanced from the violence of warfare. (Prof Beattie's presentation here) Listen here to the presentation.
Pax Christi gave its bi-annual Peace Award to four local peace activists: Susan Clarkson from Oxford, Alison Williams from Wimbledon and Ann and Stewart Hemsley from Cambridge. The Award allows Pax Christi to acknowledge the peace and justice commitment of ordinary people within the UK. As a membership organisation, a movement for peace, Pax Christi members, supporters and collaborators for peace are our strongest asset - they remind us of the words of Pope Paul VI: "peace is the fruit of anxious daily care, to see
that each person lives in justice as God intends" (read more here) The award is a beautiful medal which reflects the work of Neve Shalom-Wahat al Salaam village in Israel for Israeli’s and Arabs to live together. The award was presented by Jose Henrique, the new General Secretary from Pax Christi International.
Picture: Stewart and Ann Hemsley, Susan Clarkson, Alison Williams and Jose Henrique from Pax Christi International
During the week when the UK began its own remote operation of unmanned aerial vehicles in Afghanistan (drones) hundreds took part in protests at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire where the UK's Reaper drones will be operated. The protest, organised by the Drone Campaign Network (of which Pax Christi is a member), CND, Stop the War Coalition and War on Want, brought together hundreds of people concerned about the legality and morality of the use of Drones. Until now the operational base has been at a US base outside Las Vegas.
Chris Cole of the Drone Campaign Network spoke of the danger of pilots developing a play-station mentality, of pilots sitting in a base thousands of miles from where the weapons they launch will be used. John Hilary of War on Want said that drones should be banned in the same way that landmines and cluster munitions have been banned. MP Jeremy Corbyn spoke of drones as the ultimate in use of first-world power over the poor. They also allow us to remove ourselves from the horror of war.
Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi said: “We believe that the use of armed drones is a new challenge to the morality of warfare. Among other things, their low cost, ease of use and minimal military casualty rate make them attractive to politicians. They insulate Western public opinion from the true horrors of war. Decisions leading towards war and military intervention will be more not less likely. We urge our Church leaders to evolve a new moral teaching that reflects the challenge of this new technology. "
Informative Channel 4 report here
See photographs from the event here
The clear message to cut military spending in favour of human needs was given outside Parliament this morning as members of Pax Christi, CAAT the Movement for Abolition of War took part in street-theatre and protest to mark the Global Day of Action on Military Spending.
This morning the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released its Annual Report on military spending. Globally the world spent $1.75 trillion in 2012 - a decrease of 0.5%. Worryingly however, spending in North Africa and the Middle East has increased and Britain still holds its place as the fourth largest military spender.
A game show in which contestants were offered choices between spending on university fees, projects to tackel climate change and investment in health care against military spending illustrated the huge disparity between social need and military spending.
Hundreds of similar actions have taken place around the world today, in addition to those in London, Coventry, Wrexham, Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Tonight there will be a meeting in Parliament in which these issues will be further discussed with members of Parliament and campaigners. Photographs of the event can be seen here and here
Read here a round-up of reports from around the country and world!
Pax Christi members joined with hundreds of people around the country at the traditional Easter protests at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston, Berkshire. Aldermaston is where the nuclear warheads for Trident are being processed.
Christian CND organised a time of prayer at one of the gates on the theme Easter Resurrection Hope: Raising the Alleluia. A Buddhist monk and nun from the Myohoji order offerd prayers and chanted and prayers from other faith traditions were shared.
Among the speakers was Bruce Kent, a vice-president of Pax Christi. He spoke passionately about the need to make links between the new welfare cuts, cuts to overseas aid and the miitary budget, in particular the £100 billion that is tied to the development of Trident. He urged people to use all means possible to ask why no politician, no NGO working on domestic or international poverty eradication ever talk about cutting the military budget as a way of protecting the poor.
Today also marks the start of Bruce Kent's 'Scrap Trident' speaking tour which will take him to many towns around the country during the month of April. Read more about the tour here
See more photographs of the event here
To mark the 33rd anniversary of the assisination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, Pax Christi and the Romero Trust hosted a speaking tour in England with Marie Dennis, Co-president of Pax Christi International. Pax Christi and Justice & Peace groups in Nottingham, Wrexham, Birmingham, Coventry and Oxford hosted meetings to hear of the challenge of Romero's life for our own times.
On Saturday 23 March the annual ecumenical service for Romero was held at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London at a service led by Revd Richard Carter. Marie Dennis gave the homily.
Speaking on the theme, Romero - A prophet of peace for our time Marie said: When the signs of the times were exceedingly hostile, vicious, Romero took on the evil as Christ did , to overcome it and to utterly defend God’s cause, the cause of justice, the cause of integral salvation, the cause of sustainable peace, from the effects of personal sin and from the effects of social sin, social injustice, social violence.
Romero chose sides in an extremely complex, violent socio-political reality. But his commitment to nonviolence was impeccable. He positioned himself in a very narrow space where he could speak truth publicly and privately based on the stories he heard and the reality he witnessed day after day – where he could plead for an end to all the violence, for a peace that was (in his own words) not the silence of cemeteries but shalom.
Right: Bishop Malcolm McMahon, President of Pax Christi with Marie Dennis in Nottingham.
Listen here (user name: Marie Dennis. Password: Nottingham) to the talk given in Nottingham, introduced by Pax Christi President Bishop Malcolm McMahon
Full text of talk given in Nottingham, Wrexham, Birmingham and Oxford
Full text of homily given in St Martin-in-the-Fields
Just two weeks after celebrating her 100 birthday Franziska Jaegerstaetter died peacefully, surrounded by her family in St Radegund, Austria. Pax Christi heard that, though weak and in bed, Franziska had much enjoyed the birthday greetings and cards. A message from Pax Christi UK was read out to her. She received congratulations from the Austrian President and from Cardinal Christoph Schonborn. Pax Christi also sent a message which was read out in Linz cathedral at the celebration there on Sunday 3rd March.
On 28 February Blessed Franz Jaegerstaetter was honoured at the barracks in Enns where he had announced his refusal 70 years ago. A memorial tablet was blessed by Christian Werner, the Military Bishop. Members of Pax Christi Austria commented that it was evident that the governor of Upper Austria, Josef Puhringer, and the commanders of the barracks were not only fully aware of Franz's decision but also declared their complete agreement with any objection and refusal to comply with inhuman orders or commands, even in the army of a democratic state. Pax Christi are so grateful for the lives of Franz and Franziska.
This year also marks the 70th anniversary of Franz Jaegersaetter's execution. Pax Christi will encourage members and churches to commemorate his feast day on 21 May. See here photographs from the Beatification Mass in 2007 and other events here
"One of the most powerful and moving experiences of my ministry was the privilege of being able to celebrate the Eucharist with Franziska sitting by my side around the kitchen table of their home with a group of young people from Italy. I remember being acutely aware that I was in the presence of a truly humble and holy person - and that maybe it should have been her presiding rather than me. May she now rest in the joy - and peace - of God's presence, re-united at last with her husband." (Fr Ceirion Gilbert)
In the run-up to his planned visit to Israel/Palestine Pax Christi sections have written to the President urging that the US Government give the same clear commitment to the people of Palestine as they have to the people of Israel. They urge the President to raise two key issues of injustice with the Israeli leadership: Settlements and the Separation Barrier.
The letter refers to the December 2012 UN Security Council condemnation of Israel's latest settlement expansion,which the US refused to support and urges President Obama to recognise that settlements remain illegal under international law. It goes on, ' the United States alone may have the authority and the power to hold the Israeli government to international law and to higher standards of social justice'.
Pax Christi has sent birthday greetings and messages of solidarity to Franziska Jaegerstaetter, the widow of Franz Jaegerstaetter to mark her 100 birthday on 4th March. Franz was executed in Berlin in 1943 for his conscientious objection to serving in Hitler's army. Franziska gave him unstinting support for his decision. In 2007 Franz was recognised as a martyr and beatified by the Catholic Church.
In a letter sent to be read at a Mass in Linz Cathedral on 3 March, Pax Christi said: We wish to express our love and admiration of Franziska. Many members of Pax Christi UK have met Franziska over the years and remember her warmth, her humour and her steadfast commitment to the life and witness of Franz. Indeed, this is a double witness and Franziska has been so brave and gracious in keeping this story alive when at times it must be painful and sad for her to do so. In this Year of Faith, Franz and Franziska are most important, credible and challenging witnesses to this faith. Be assured that we will continue to share their story with others, to encourage younger generations to learn from this remarkable faith and witness to the Gospel of peace and nonviolence.
On 4th March in St Radegund, the home village of the Jaegerstaetter family,another Mass will be celebrated with Bishop Ludwig Schwarz
This year also marks the 70th anniversary of Franz Jaegersaetter's execution. Pax Christi will encourage members and churches to commemorate his feast day on 21 May. See here photographs from the Beatification Mass in 2007 and other events here
More than 100 people gathered at the Ministry of Defence in London today for a liturgy and actions of repentance and resistance to nuclear war preparations.During the procession and liturgy the walls of the Ministry of Defence were marked with blessed ash and charcoal to call the Government to turn away nuclear war preparations and the Trident nuclear system in particular.
Among those taking part were a representatives from several religious congregations, members of Pax Christi and Justice & Peace groups around the country and a group of students from Trinity Catholic School in Leamington Spa - members of a recently formed peace group. Similar actions took place at the Capenhurst Nuclear Fuels plant on the Wirral and at the Faslane Trident Naval Base in Scotland.
The event was organised by Pax Christi, London Catholic Worker and Christian CND
The British Section of Pax Christi, the international Catholic movement for peace, has issued a statement outlining its concerns at the development and use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as Drones.
Pax Christi is deeply concerned about the rapid growth in the development and use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles. In theory these might possibly be used in a way that conforms to Just War teaching - such as a war declared by legitimate authority, with discrimination between combatants and civilians. However, UAVs are not currently used in this way.
In Pax Christi's judgement now is the time to challenge their development, before UAV's become enshrined a 'legitimate' weapons system and play a deeper role in the tragedy of warfare. Pax Christi believe that they contravene existing moral and legal codes that govern war and the conduct of war.
According to Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi, their low cost, ease of use and minimal military casualty rate make them attractive to politicians. They insulate Western public opinion from the true horrors of modern warfare. With the use of drones we feel that decisions leading towards war and military intervention will be more not
The UK is involved in the development of its own UK-operated systems and has a contract with the Israeli company, Elbit Systems and Thales UK for the Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle due to be operational by the RAF in Spring 2013.
Pax Christi is a member of the Drone Campaign Network which is already campaigning for an end to the secrecy surrounding the use of British drones in Afghanistan in order to encourage proper public debate. This should include the reasons for individual drone strikes and the number of people killed.
Parishes around the country are preparing to celebrate Peace Sunday with Pax Christi on 20 January.
Writing to parishes, Bishop Malcolm McMahon, President of Pax Christi said, " "Pope Benedict's World Peace Day message for 2013 is Blessed are the Peacemakers. The message will affirm the Church's teaching on peace, from the great letter of Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris to the challenge offered by the Year of Faith, for us to seek out and hold up the 'credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord."
The Pax Christi office are encouraged by the number of orders and enquiries they have received for prayer cards, leaflets and liturgy materials. They hope that thie 2013 theme, Blessed are the Peacemakers, will encourage parishes to look at the qualities of being a peacemaker and celebrate those in their own communities who live out these qualities.
As well as focusing on the peace message during Mass on 20 January, some parishes will mount exhibitions, others will hold vigils, some will create special children's peace liturgies. Pax Christi promoted the annual Peace Day message since 1967.
Liturgy and other support materials can be found here
Pax Christi International, on 15 January 2013, wrote a letter on Syrian humanitarian aid to act as a call to ensure relief to the Syrian people. Pax Christi International calls upon the UN, the EU, and other intergovernmental and non-governmental bodies to increase and diversify the aid to be given for the refugees and displaced people in and around Syria. The movement expressed its concern about the winter conditions that are adding to the hardships for more than 600.000 Syrian refugees. Full text here
Delegates from Pax Christi International Regional groups and their partners met in Jordan last week. Representatives from the UK, Italy, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, India and the US gathered to hear, first hand, the experiences of those living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Palestine and to discuss ways in which we can support them, and each other, in our non-violent work for a just peace in the Middle East.
The delegates met with religious representatives of the Middle East Council of Churches, the Arab Women's Media Centre and Caritas Jordan. In the Caritas School we enjoyed an excellent Christmas performance by the talented girls of the school and later visited the after school classes that are run for the Syrian children who live in the refugee camp near by. All the families escaping to Jordan from the violence of Syria have suffered terrible traumas and the school also provides creative therapy and counselling support for them.
Having listened to each other we gathered in groups to discuss our future work in the region, in particular with Palestine and Syria and in developing inter-religious dialogue. This will include international advocacy work with Pax Christi International in the UN, the EU and in our own regions and governments.In our final session we gave thanks for all that we had been able to share and learn from each other, for those who work non-violently for peace and to provide relief in the major conflicts in the region and prayed that we will continue to work together for a Just Peace in the Middle East
Prayers for peace Afghanistan, Syria, Israel and Palestine were at the heart of this annual service which has been held now for twenty years. More than two hundred people gathered at St Aloysius Church in Euston, London for a service of prayers, readings and songs that reflected the longing for peace in our world and the Advent call to be prophets of peace.
Special prayers were shared for a five-woman delegation who will travel to Kabul, Afghanistan this coming weekend. The women, friends of Pax Christ,i are Maya Evans, Susan Clarkson, Mary Dobbing, Ariadne Bechthold and Bethan Tichborne. They will stay with the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul, offering solidarity, meeting with ordinary people in Kabul and supporting on-the-ground peacework. This is part of an on-gong project of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. The congregation were invited to
sign a specially made card with their own peace-greetings to the Afghan Peace Volunteers. A collection was also taken, raising more than £700, in support of a women's project in Kabul providng employment to women who make much-needed winter covers for those still living in refugee camps.
The music was led with great gusto by Canon Pat Browne and following the service Pax Christi held an 'alternative' christmas market with goods from Peru, Palestine, Philippines, Jesuit Refugee Service and St Joseph's Pastoral Centre. Find out more about Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Pax Christi Executive Committee member Ann Farr will represent the British Section of Pax Christi at a Middle East regional gathering in Jordan between 11 - 15 December 2012. The gathering will discuss the best practices and lessons learned from the Spring Revolutions and reflect on Living our Differences: Confronting Violence and Diversity. The group will also work together on improving international advocacy and strengthening the Pax Christi network in the region. On 12 December, participants will visit refugees from Syria and Iraq and meet with religious representatives.Those taking part are from are from Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, Croatia, USA, El Salvador and India
On 16 December Co-President Marie Dennis and General Secretary Jose Enrique will travel to Jerusalem for meetings with H.B. Michel Sabbah, former President of Pax Christi International, and Israeli peace and human rights activists.
Read a here about the poor response from Mr Cameron - we are pursuing this matter
Wearing colourful paper cranes, a symbol of peace and good health in Japan, a group Year 9 students from Maria Fidelis School London delivered a letter to the Prime Minister at Downing Street yesterday urging him to abolish nuclear weapons, an urgent message for our time. 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis and closer to home, Defence secretary Philip Hammond announced £350 million contracts for the design of new nuclear-armed submarines.
This action, organised by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and Pax Christi was part of an international project initiated by young people in Hiroshima, Japan. They have written to every world leader with their message, " As youth from Hiroshima, we are deeply concerned that our future is still being threatened by almost 20,000 nuclear weapons. We are writing to you and other leaders to ask for help in eliminating this threat. We enclose a gift of 1,000 hand-made paper cranes - each one a prayer for a peaceful nuclear-free world." In return for their gift, they are seeking a message of support for a treaty banning nuclear weapons.
In the delegation to Downing Street were Harriet Agyekum, Catherine Huberson-Abie, Nawal Saleh, Regina Salazar and Tyty Mamisa and Martin Birdseye who is a member of ICAN-UK and Pax Christi. ICAN-UK was set up in 2007 to raise awareness of the need for a comprehensive nuclear weapons abolition treaty and build popular support for the government to begin work on such a multilateral agreement.Pax Christi is a member.
Pax Christi members joined other Christians* outside Church House Conference Centre for morning prayer, the feast of All Saints. The vigil was to ensure a critical presence outside a defence conference that had been sponsored by a number of arms companies including BAE Systems and General Atomic. Security staff from Westminster Abbey and from Church House Conference Centre tried to move the prayer vigil, stating that no protests could take place on Abbey property or private property. Those taking part insisted that it was quite legitimate for Christians to pray on church land. One participant, an Anglican priest, expressed her deep concern at attempts to be moved from her own Abbey church.
The service involved prayers, scripture readings and songs. Individuals prayed for victims of the arms trade and war; for the peace saints who have given their lives nonviolently for peace and for those attending the defenct conference that their hearts and minds be changed away from the ways of war. Many members of the Armed Forces - from the UK and other countries, passed by the vigil.
The Conference Centre is hosting a two-day 'Air Power Conference' organised by RUSI in association with the Royal Air Force and is sponsored by six arms companies, (including BAE Systems and General Atomic) all of them linked to the manufacture and sale of drones.
Pax Christi has written to the Conference Centre and to the Council of the Corporation of Church House expressing its deep concern at the association of the Centre and the Church of England with the Conference.
* Christian CND, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Pax Christi and Christianity Uncut. More pictures here
Meanwhile, an on-line letter addressed to Archbishop Rowan Williams has been created for people to express their concern at the church property being used in this way.
Hundreds gathered at St George's Cathedral, in South London for the closing Mass to celebrate the success of the 100 Days of Peace Legacy, a joint project of the Dioceses of Brentwood, Southwark and Westminster with Pax Christi, CAFOD and others. During his homily, Mgr John Armitage spoke of the strong human desire for peace whether it be among the people of Aleppo or parents of children murdered on our streets in London. We want to make sense of these experiences and find ways of creating good from tragedy. Jesus calls us to a life of peacemaking, to create a culture of life, to hunger and thirst for what is right and just.
The Pax Christi ICON of peace was displayed, having visited 17 parishes and two Cathedrals throughout the 100 days.
It has been an inspiration and source of nourishment to peacemaking and reconciliation. At the end of Mass, which was concelebrated by Archbishop Peter Smith, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Bishop Luis Henrique, of Rio de Janeiro and priests from the Brazilian Chaplaincy and parishes in London, the Peace Legacy was passed on to the Church in Brazil as it now prepares for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Two symbols were passed to Bishop Henrique by way of encouragement and challenge to keep the peace flame alive: a copy of the Pax Christi ICON of Peace and a wooded Olympic cross used in the Joshua Youth Camp in London.
Other fruits of the 100 Days Peace Legacy were on display in the Cathedral - work undertaken by schools in London. Many schools took part in the Release Peace Project producing poems, images, speeches on the theme of peace and the Olympics.
Photos: Barbara Kentish from Westminster J&P Commission with Bishop Luis
left: Work from St Ursula's School, Greenwich
Today we have heard wonderful news that the Campaign Against Arms Trade are one of the four recipients of the 2012 Right Livelihood Award (alternative Nobel Peace Award). This is a much deserved recognition of the years of research and campaigning by the CAAT team and supporters all around the country. CAAT's work in challenging the UK's arms trade has been consistent and thorough - exposing in a public way the horrors of the arms trade and taking political and commercial actions to oppose this trade. Pax Christi was one of the founder organisations of CAAT and Pax Christi members around the country have been involved with CAAT's work for years.
Read more about the CAAT nomination here
Other recipients of the Right Livelihood Award 2012 are: Gene Sharp from the USA for his training and development on nonviolent actions; Sima Samar from Afghanistan for her couragsous dedication to Human Rights and those of women in particular and Hayrettin Karaca from Turkey for his advocacy and stewardship for the protection of our natural world.
Read more here
The Pax Christi ICON of Peace is in Southwark Diocese on the last stage of its Olympic Peace journey
Seven parishes in Southwark Diocese are to host the Pax Christi ICON of Peace as part of their involvement in the 100 Days of Peace Olympic Peace Legacy. The ICON began its journey on 8 June at St Patrick's Parish, Wapping and has been in parishes in Westminster and Brentwood Diocese since then.
The ICON, made for Pax Christi at the Monastery of St John outside Jerusalem, depicts the stories of peacemakers throughout the ages as well as presenting passages from Scripture that teach about inclusiveness and reconciliation. Throughout the 100 Day of Peace the ICON has created a ring of prayer around London. Parishes have organised vigils, holy-hours, times of discussion on peace and reconciliation. In the weeks ahead the ICON will be in the following venues:
To 14 Sept, Aylesford Priory, Kent
14 - 21 Sept, Oratory of St Francis de Sales, Hartley
21 - 28 Sept St Peter the Apostle, Woolwich
28 Sept - 5 Oct, St Edmund of Canterbury, Beckenham
5 - 12 Oct, St John the Baptist, Purley
12 - 19 Oct, Our Lady Immaculate, Tolworth
19 - 27 Oct, St George's Cathedral, Southwark
There will be a Mass to mark the end of the 100 Days for Peace at St George's Cathedral, Lambeth Road, SE1 7HY on Sunday 28th October. The 100 Days of Peace is a project of the Dioceses of Southwark, Brentwood and Westminster with Pax Christi, CAFOD, More than Gold and London Citizens.
Twenty-five supporters joined Ray Towey, Henrietta Cullinan and Katrina Alton for a time of prayer outside Hammersmith Magistrates' Court today before a three-hour hearing which found them guilty of causing
The three offered clear and moving accounts of their peace actions at the Ministry of Defence during Holy Week 2012 when they marked the building with blessed charcoal using words such as Trident Crucifies the Poor and Disarm Trident. Reports from arresting officers were read out in court which affirmed that there actions had been totally nonviolent and that they had not resisted arrest in any way. While not disputing the fact of their action, they all argued that they had lawful excuse and moral convictions for what they did.
Ray, Henrietta and Katrina explained the relevance of the time and symbols used: Lent, a time for reflection and repentance at both personal and community levels and charcoal, a known symbol of that repentance that is used within the Christian faith community. The protection of life and people was at the heart of their actions and they all stated that these were more important than property or buildings. Their intention in marking the Ministry of Defence building was to engage the Ministry and those who work there in critical reflection on the UK's nuclear defence policy and the Trident programme in particular in order to change it and prevent nuclear weapons from ever being used. Judge Susan Williams acknowledged her understanding of this in her questioning of Ray Towey, and again in her summing up saying that these were profound means used to highlight the folly of humankind.
The three, who defended themselves, were given substantial time to present their own evidence and outline why they did what they did. The Judge said that she needed a good amount of time to reflect on what she had heard and the legal implications and adjourned the hearing for almost two hours. Before adjournment, Ray Towey made a short intervention inviting the Judge to discharge them and to stand outside the normal boundaries of the legal institution and set a precedent. On her return she gave a fulsome summary - showing that she had listened with great care to all that she had heard - but ultimately finding them guilty of criminal damage. They were each charged with paying £200 court costs. While the Ministry of Defence had put forward a claim for £400 cleaning costs the Judge refused to enforce this. The three were
given an absolute discharge. All of them made it clear that they could not in conscience pay the court costs.
Their action was supported by the London Catholic Worker, Catholic Peace Action and Pax Christi
67 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945, Pax Christi memberscommemorated the events with vigils, prayer times, exhibitions, urging that governments around the world, and the UK in particular, commit to the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Nine states have nuclear weapons, USA, Russia, China, France and the UK have all signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, others India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel have not. Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi said "We continue to press the UK government to lead by example and live up to agreements it has made within the NPT framework. Instead we see a government that is ready to replace Trident, a submarine-based nuclear weapons system, committing us to another 50 years of nuclear weapons as a cost of billions"
In London Pax Christi held daily vigils at Westminster Cathedral. This year the message of peace and disarmament was offered in eight languages. It read: "Two nuclear bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people. We must not risk nuclear weapons being used ever again. Pax Christi invites you to work and pray for peace in our world. ‘Hear my voice, for I speak for the multitudes in every country and in every period of history who do not want war and are ready to walk the road of peace’ Pope John Paul II, Hiroshima, Japan 1981"
Other activities organised by Pax Christi members around the country included parishes in Hitchin, York and Southampton arranging exhibitions on Hiroshima, an interfaith service of prayer and readings at the Chapel of Unity in Coventry Cathedral and an evening prayer vigil on 9th August at Aylesford Priory in Kent.
Pax Christi in New Zealand hosted two Hibakusha (survivors of the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki on a speaking tour;in Austria, members of Pax Christi held vigils in Vienna on 6th& 9th August and in the USA Pax Christi Metro New York organised a seminar on the theme ' Nuclear lies, nuclear truths' which was followed by a procession and public witness.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan issued a statement on the occasion of their annual Ten Days for Peace. Speaking of the on-going crisis caused by the Fukushima Nuclear Plant disaster of 2011 they say 'the path to peace is precisely the path to cherish and respect life. Therefore, let us make every effort to appeal anew to abolish nuclear plants immediately and to create a society where people protect life and seek peace.'
The Executive Committee of Pax Christi International is pleased to announce the appointment of Jose Henriquez, from
El Salvador, as the next Secretary General of Pax Christi International. Jose has been actively engaged with the international peace movement since he coordinated the first Pax Christi Latin America and Caribbean Consultation in 2007. He brings to Pax Christi International a deep personal commitment to peace and social justice.
Jose has a master's degree in development management from American University in Washington, DC; a degree in sociology and Catholic social teaching from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome; and undergraduate degrees in theology and education.
For many years, Jose has worked on diverse initiatives with a focus on social justice, peace and human rights. He has accompanied communities experiencing structural violence, and has been deeply inspired by their courageous struggle for the realization of their rights. Education on social justice issues to young people in particular, has also been an endeavour close to his heart.
As executive director of the Fundacion Marista, Jose was part of the Latin American Marist solidarity network. He also served as chair of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Guatemalan Conference of Women and Men Religious (CONFREGUA).
Jose's personal commitment and professional skills will build on the organizational development process with which Pax Christi International has been engaged over the past several years. He will take office in September.
Bloomsbury Baptist Church in London was the venue of a seminar that brought together representatives from peace, human rights, medical, journalistic, military chaplaincy and academic networks for this seminar whose purpose was to offer a range of insights into moral, political and legal concerns that are developing around the increased use of armed unmanned drones. Participants heard from five paneslists: Dr Peter Lee, Senior Air Power Lecturer, Kings College London & Royal Air Force College, Cranwell,Tara Murray, Deputy Director, Reprieve,Chris Cole, Founder of Drone Wars UK and author of Drone Wars Briefing, Jack Serle, of Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Mary Dobbing, Researcher on Israel and unmanned warfare. Introducing the event Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi said, "The place and use of armed, unmanned aerial vehicles is an example of one of the new challenges we face in our work for peace. We need to better inform ourselves about this in order to explore what for us is distinctive about this particular weapon system and so determine what our response might be in terms or public education,co-operation with others, engagement with our Church and with the defence industry and Government."
Tara Murray from Reprieve and Dr Peter Lee, Kings College London
As part of the project to create a circle of prayer for peace around London for the 2012 Oylmpics, Our Lady's Parish in
Welwyn Garden City have made a Peace Garden. This was opened on Friday 6 July following a Mass of welcome for their week-long programme with the Pax Christi ICON of Peace.
Three parishoners, Rosa Rawashima, Anne Stapleton, a Pax Christi member,and Anne Keller had the vision for the Peace Garden. Work began in April 2012 with a team of volunteers from the parish. The Peace Garden will be a place for all to come to learn and experience the meaning of Peace, aided by the design and symbols in the garden. They also hope that it will be a place where peace is celebrated and where those who contribute to peace, unity and forgiveness may be remembered.
The garden has a specially designed Peace Plaque and in several places, words of peace in different languages, contributed by members of the parish. One of the flower-beds is created with colours that form the rainbow. There is an Olive tree and a Peacemaker rose together with healing herbs and many features designed to make the garden bird and animal friendly!
Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi spoke with Fr Norbert Fernandes, the parish priest about the week-long programme with the Pax Christi ICON of peace. Among other things, the ICON will be present in a prayer tent during the civic celebration to mark the Olympic Torch coming through Welwyn; it will be taken to Welwyn Station where a parish choir will sing peace songs to commuters; it will be visit six schools in Welwyn and the Coptic Bishop Angaelos from Stevenage will lead a meditation on ICONs. This is one of the most creative programmes we have seen to date, said Pat Gaffney. We are very impressed that the Catholic community in Welwyn have worked so well with civic, ecumenical and other faith communities in promoting the 100 days of Peace message to the whole of Welwyn Garden City.Barbara Kentish from Westminster J&P commission /100 Days of Peace project
Pax Christi International - supported by Pax Christi Sections and partners around the world, have written an open statement in support of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States.
The Sisters' ministries to people on the margins of our world is often lived out in situations of immense violence. We have seen their compassion in local neighbourhoods across the United States; in war-torn communities of South Sudan, El Salvador, Cambodia and beyond; in situations of repression and horrific human rights violations. We have seen them respond with wisdom and courage to trafficked women and children; to domestic violence; to rape as a weapon of war; to torture and abuse in prisons on every continent; to people uprooted by war or poverty. Read full letter here
The Holy See's recent disciplinary action against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has greatly saddened members of Pax Christi International around the world. Women religious in the United States have been deeply committed to promoting the peace of Christ. They are at the heart of our movement, proclaiming with clarity and love the possibility of a world without war, a future beyond dehumanizing violence.
See photographs of the launch here
Pax Christi members and office team were a part of the successful all-night vigil to launch the 100 Day of Peace Legacy project. .Hundreds gathered in St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in Central London for an opening service which was followed by hour-long presentations during the night offered by a range of peace and faith groups reflecting a variety of peace-making models and styles of worship. This began with a session by the City Safe project which heard testimony from headteacher Paul O'Shea from St Charles Sixth Form College, Barry and Margaret Mizen and pupils of Our Lady's High School Hackney on their work to support young people who are victims of violence. Later the teaching and practices of the Buddhist peacemaker Thich Nhat Hahn were explored through a practical walking meditation and as the morning broke, Pax Christi offered its own workshop. This took the form of story-telling of peacemaking in and around St Martin's when Valerie Flessati and Bruce Kent led a group through the Dick Sheppard Chapel in St Martin's to South Africa House and the Edith Cavell Statue outside St Martins. It concluded in St Martin's with a reflection on the nonviolent peace actions of the 20th century and a call to be inspired and encouraged by such stories, led by Pat Gaffney.
Two choirs, St Mary's Rainbow Choir from Crew and Maria Fidelis Gospel Choir from London lifted the spirits and energy of participants with their thrilling performances. St Mary's choir sang two special songs for peace, one Every Child Has a Right, which Pax Christi has promoted as a resource for Peace Sunday and a specially commissioned One Hundred Days song about the Olympic Peace Truce. Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Bishop Richard Chartres, Bishop of London both gave reflections on peace during the final service. Read more about other 100 Days of Peace project and legacy here
This week, the Pax Christi ICON of Peace begins its journey around London as part of the 100 Days of Peace Olympic Peace Legacy project.
The Pax Christi Icon of Peace is a large sacred painting made by monks at the Monastery of St John in the Desert, near Jerusalem. It is dedicated to Pax Christi, the international peace movement and has been hosted by the British Section of Pax Christi for almost six years.
From 9th June to 27 October 2012 the ICON is being made available to churches and Cathedrals in the Diocese of Westminster, Brentwood and Southwark as a focus for prayer and reflection for peace during the 100 Days of Peace.
The Pax Christi Icon of Peace depicts stories from the bible, and saints of both Eastern and Western traditions, linked by the theme of peace and reconciliation. The Icon has already been an inspiration to many, displayed in several Cathedrals around the country, used in parish communities and schools and at interfaith gatherings.
The Pax Christi Icon of Peace begins its journey in St Patrick's Parish in Wapping where a peace vigil will be held on the night of Saturday 9th June at 7.30 pm.
See more about the ICON and its journey through the 100 Days of Peace here
Confident and stable are two words that described the work and health of Pax Christi at its AGM in Bristol on Saturday. More than 70 members, guests and national president, Bishop Malcolm McMahon, gathered at St Nicholas of Tolentino Parish to learn more about the work of the past year and celebrate the on-going peace-work of staff and members around the country.
Anne Dodd, chair of Pax Christi affirmed members in their key role of keeping the movement vibrant and visible. Tthey are, she said Pax Christi's greatest asset. In the past year more members have come forward to help promote a peace message at local events, promote Peace Sunday, take part in campaigns such as lobbying on Israel-Palestine issues and speaking out against the development of Drones technology.
As a lay-led movement Pax Christi has the freedom to speak and act out of its vision, to create a world where people can live in peace, without fear of violence in any form, a peace built on justice where human rights are respected. This role was affirmed by many at the AGM as being critical at a time when work for peace and justice and the role of the laity seems under threat within certain parts of the Church.
Pax Christi's outreach work is growing. In the past year Matt Jeziorski, the schools and youth officer, has worked in 14 Dioceses. Pax Christi has also had a public presence at protests against the arms trade, nuclear weapons and the development of military bases in South Korea, public meetings and workshops around the country on issues relating to Israel-Palestine and Common Security. Most recently, Pax Christi has become involved in the Olympic 100 Days of Peace project. The Pax Christi ICON of peace will be present in 18 parishes and two Cathedrals during the hundred days, forming a circle of prayer for peace and reconciliation around London during the Olympic Games.
Oliver McTernan, Director of Forward Thinking an NGO that works on interfaith cooperation especially in the Middle East, spoke of the need for inclusive peace processes that do not lay down pre-conditions to peace talks . Having a clear analysis of facts, sound sources of knowledge and information and an understanding of the motivations of the key players within the Israel-Palestine conflict are essential elements in building a just peace.
Bishop Malcolm McMahon celebrated Mass in thanksgiving for the work of Pax Christi and in memory of those Pax Christi members who had died in the past year, in particular Rosemary Read who had been a member of Pax Christi's Executive Committee for six years. Paul McGowan, a member from Coventry was elected on to the Executive Committe and Emma Atherton from Liverpool was co-opted for one year.
Pax Christi, the Columban JPIC team, members of religious congregations and the Catholic Worker were among more than 60 people who gatherd outside the Korean Embassy in London today to protest the developent of a naval base on Jeju Island in South Korea.
Jeju island is of strategic importance to South Korea and the USA. Work to develop a huge naval base on the island has begun at huge environmental and human costs. Pax Christi has partner groups in South Korea who have been part of a national protest movement for some time. Today a call was made for international solidarity actions around the world. Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi handed in a letter to Ambassador Choo Kuy Ho. It said:
'we are here today, keeping vigil, in solidarity with the people of Gangjeong village on the island of Jeju and with those groups and religious networks who are supporting them. As a Catholic NGO we are aware that the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea has spoken out strongly against the plans of the Government of the Republic of Korea to continue with the building of a naval base on Jeju. Speaking earlier this year Bishop Peter Kang U-il said, "It is essential that the naval base plan be abandoned, for the sake of Jeju residents and the whole of the Republic of Korea"
We understand that work to blast the sacred Gureombi rocks has begun. We know that the building of the base, as well as its long-term presence, is being strongly resisted on grounds of environmental destruction, damage to the existing community and the likelihood that this base will become a focus for US security operations in the region. We support nonviolent resistance to this work and urge your Government to take a brave stand and cancel this project. Read full letter here and more reports here See images of the demonstration here and here
Members of peace groups the Campaign Against Arms Trade and Pax Christi and workers from BAE Systems Brough, were among those raising questions at the Annual General Meeting of British Aerospace Systems in London today. British Aerospace Systems is now the second largest global defence supplier with ‘home markets’ in the US, UK, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Australia and India. Its 2011 Report shows sales worth £19,154 million and a profit of £1,580 million.
Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi, has been attending these Annual Meetings since the mid-1990s when BAE were involved in the sale of Hawk Aircraft to Indonesia, at that time an occupying force in East Timor. Speaking of today’s meeting Pat said: I raised questions to challenge their deep involvement with Saudi Arabia where defence spending is very high. I wanted to know why they continue with this when they speak of the financial risks of working in the Middle East, and in their own words, the political instability and civil disturbance in the region. I wanted to know if by this they meant the search for democracy and human rights that we see in Bahrain, Egypt and elsewhere? I also wanted confirmation that their 200 Tactica Vehicles, sold to the National Guard of Saudi Arabia,had not been used against protestors in Bahrain last year. Dick Olver, the Chair, was unable to give this.
Moving questions were raised by some of the 800-strong work-force at Brough near Hull who face redundancy. Little appears to be moving with BAE in terms of a thought-out, viable diversification programme in a world where military spending is decreasing. Their major strategy of ‘alternatives’ is in the expansion of their Cyber and Intelligence work. This has military and business dimensions but they were unable to go into detail.
Pat Gaffney continues:in all the years I have attended these meeting a consistent claim is that BAE Systems do nothing which is illegal, they cooperate with Government and with the licencing requirements of Government.Today I asked them to push their boundaries and really live up to the ethics to which they aspire,to take the moral stand against Government by refusing to work with countries such as Saudi Arabia who have an appalling record on human rights and who support violent responses to democratic actions
Pax Christi was among a number of groups presenting a Petition to Mr David Cameron in Downing Street on Friday 30th March. It asked the UK Government to take action to prevent the destruction of Palestinian Life in Jerusalem. Pax Christi the Catholic peace movement, the Amos Trust, Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine, Friends of Al Aqsa, Friends of Sabeel, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights all supported the petition which had gathered more than 5,000 signatures.
Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi said, "As we approach Holy Week and Easter let's us remember those Palestinians who will be denied access to their places of worship. When the Israeli Government arbitrarily issues permits during the Easter and Christmas seasons it is suggested that Palestinian Christians should feel happy to receive access to Jerusalem for a couple of weeks, and forget about the fact that full access for Christians and Muslims is a right and not a favour. "
Diana Neslen, Jews for Justice for Palestinians said "Jerusalem means 'City of Peace'. It is our belief that peace will not come to a city that privileges one community, the Jewish community, over all the other communities who hold Jerusalem dear. We believe that the policies pursued by the Israeli government in Jerusalem today are against all the tenets of Jewish ethics and values and we challenge Israel to recognise that its behaviour in Jerusalem undermines its professed claim to democratic credentials."
Those supporting the Petition call on our Government to work with the UN to ensure that the state of Israel recognises its responsibilities under international law to Jerusalem as a shared city, sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians and ends its occupation of East Jerusalem."
The full text of the petition is: 'We, as British citizens, call for action now to prevent the destruction of Palestinian life and culture in Jerusalem. We call on our Government to take steps to ensure that the Israeli authorities end: - systematic demolition of Palestinian homes - building of illegal settlements and associated infrastructure - granting of insecure residency status to Palestinians - expulsion of Palestinians from Jerusalem - by arbitrarily removing their residency rights and building the Wall to shut Palestinian communities out of the main city - preventing freedom of worship through barring Palestinian Christians and Muslims from visiting Jerusalem We call on our Government to work with the UN to ensure that the state of Israel recognises its responsibilities under international law to Jerusalem as a shared city, sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians and ends its occupation of East Jerusalem.'
Peace, the root value of the Olympic Games
We ( Pax Christi and Westminster J&P Commission) are among the founding members of ‘The 100 Days of Peace’ (the Olympic Sacred Truce). This is an initiative of a network of Christian groups who believe that London’s hosting of the Olympic Games provides an excellent opportunity to promote and reassert, in London and beyond, our commitment to peace and reconciliation, unity, internationalism and cooperation. We believe we can build a real legacy of peace for our own London citizens - in schools, places of worship and community networks that will embrace the needs of the global community and extend far beyond the Olympic Games themselves.
This initiative is inspired by the Olympic Truce tradition and vision. Indeed, Lord Coe, the chairman of London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) and representing the British Government, presented a resolution at the UN last October calling for a truce to be observed in all the world's conflicts throughout the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Sport helps to mend broken communities
Some visitors to London this summer will be from countries in conflict, perhaps even facing internal repression. All the more important then that the message of peace and the creation of a community of ordinary people who can live, work and solve problems together should be central to this uniting of nations under the Olympic ideals. Lord Coe affirmed this at the UN saying that sport..."can and does help to mend broken communities, rebuild trust, rediscover self-respect, and foster the values at the core of our common humanity" It is therefore with some dismay that we hear of the central role being allocated to the Armed Forces during the Games in the Welcome and Victory ceremonies.
Why it matters
We find it difficult to equate this prominent role with the ideal of the Olympic Truce. Engaging our armed services in this manner could give a militaristic message at what is arguably the greatest of all international gatherings that Britain will host, and might not be conducive to creating a welcoming atmosphere for those attending. It could also be perceived as insensitive to visitors from countries still experiencing violence and repression, and likewise to those of our London citizens who are sanctuary-seekers themselves from war-torn countries.
A possible alternative
This engagement could appear imbalanced, moreover, beside other 'services' within the UK which make a vital contribution to society, and which witness to the values outlined above by Lord Coe. We suggest that the role of flag bearing and so on be extended to inspirational people and volunteers in other services, such as nurses, doctors, teachers, community organisers, social workers, ambulance, fire-service and coastguard workers, and even older competitors or referees from the 1948 Olympics. Then to emphasise unity of purpose, one might have Paralympians for the Olympic ceremonies and Olympians for the Paralympian ceremonies). All of these people, as well as the Forces personnel, are inspirational for our society.
We urge you to reconsider this aspect of the role of the Armed Forces in the XXX Olympiad and Paralympics, and instead, lead the way in offering more inclusive and peaceful models of security, cooperation and internationalism so as to create a real legacy of peace that honours London, Britain, the international community and the Olympics.
The British Section of Pax Christi today issued a statement setting out seven concrete steps which it is presenting to the UK Government, that could be taken to avert a war with Iran. Any talk of a pre-emptive attack, they say, must be challenged as illegal and immoral. In solidarity with the people of Iran and all peoples potentially threatened by nuclear weapons through accident, misunderstanding or deliberate use, we must seek a peaceful way forward.
While recognising the need to face the unresolved issue of Iran's civilian nuclear programme, to which it is entitled, and the fears that this will develop into a nuclear weapons programme, the statement urges the British government to lead by best example. As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Britain has promised to eliminate its own nuclear weapons.
Pax Christi also urge the government to cease preparation of a new generation of nuclear weapons to follow Trident - a clear breach of Britain's NPT commitment; to show the transparency it seeks in Iran with regard to allowing international inspections of its own nuclear plants and facilities; to call on Israel to officially admit to having a nuclear arsenal and to work to demilitarise the region through a sustained programme of conventional and nuclear disarmament and in particular to create a Nuclear Weapons Free Middle East.
These steps, if taken could contribute to establishing common regional structures that ensure the security needs of all states to build a common sustainable security.
More than 150 people gathered at the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall for the 30th celebration of resistance and repentance to nuclear war preparations.
During a procession and liturgy those taking part heard how the UK Government's commitment to nuclear deterrence is an on-going challenge. The UK alone has 225 nuclear weapons and the Royal Navy boasts a proud record of over 40 years of uninterrupted nuclear deterrence, as at least one of the four Vanguard-class submarines is on patrol at any time. They that the government might have a change of heart and direction. The messages presented were clear and scripture based - REPENT, CHOOSE LIFE and NO TRIDENT.
Messages of support came from Bishop Thomas McMahon and Bishop Declan Lang, the Student Christian Movement, J&P Scotland, the Columban JPIC Programme, the Carmelite Community Quidenham, Gerry W Hughes sj. See all statements.
During the liturgy the Ministry of Defence building was marked with blessed ash and charcoal. Those marking were stopped by police but there were no arrests.
From Scotland Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh wrote: I am firm in my belief that in making this protest you are in excellent company - following on the leadership of our own Pope Benedict XVI, as well as that of Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the Holy See's representative at the United Nations. Like so many people of good will, I share those thoughts and words of Pope Benedict XVI when he indicated that we should be replacing Trident, not with further weapons of mass destruction, but rather "with projects which bring life to the poor". A challenge does indeed face us all in the United Kingdom at this present time - leadership is called for - and hopefully, with the tremendous efforts of people like yourself, that leadership will soon come, giving an example to all nations in the world.
The event was organised by Pax Christi, Christian CND and London Catholic Worker
When Peace comes, they will plant flowers instead of mines. Afghanistan Student
Around 50 people gathered on the steps outside St Luke's Church in Liverpool City Centre for the Ash Wednesday service on 22nd February. The service had been planned and arranged by members of Liverpool Pax Christi and Liverpool Justice and Peace Commission. St Luke's is a very symbolic location. The church suffered aerial bombardment in the Second World War and has been left as a consecrated ruin.
The main focus of the service was sorrow for war ,and repentance for our role in the arms trade, as a major exporter of weapons,. Those gathered included Christians of different denominations, Quakers and members of campaigning groups such as C.N.D and Palestine Solidarity Movement.The service was held on the steps of the church facing the busy shopping area of Berry St/Bold St; it began with statements which were very moving from those who had suffered through war and violence. The highest casualties are inevitably civilians, and we listened to a moving testimony from a Palestinian doctor whose three children had been killed, in an Israeli bombardment in Gaza. Songs and scripture readings also formed part of the service ,and ashes were distributed to all gathered. The use of a megaphone enabled passers by to hear the words clearly from a distance. The service ended on a symbolic note of hope. Seeds were given to all present to take home and plant and witness new life being brought forth.
Just before midnight on Monday, 23 January, Israeli bulldozers demolished the home of Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh for the fifth time. The Israeli Supreme Court had ruled in 2009 that the house was illegal because it didn't have a building permit. Since 1967 when the Occupation began, more than 26,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israeli authorities all in violation of international law. In December 2011, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights called on Israel to halt demolitions forthwith. Israel's demolition of homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem displaced more than 1094 people in 2011, twice that of the previous year and the highest number since 2005.
After each demolition of the Shawamreh home, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions rebuilt it, as an act of political resistance to Israel's heinous demolition policy and to demonstrate that there are Israeli partners for peace. After the fourth demolition in 2003, the house was rebuilt as a peace centre and named Beit Arabiya. But now even this icon of peace is reduced to rubble. How much longer will Israel be allowed to escape accountability by using the excuse that Palestinians don't comply with Israeli regulations when in fact Israel is the guilty party because it refuses to allow Palestinians to build their much needed homes? We call upon all people concerned, including leaders of faith communities, to speak out and respond to repeated Israeli actions which only push peace further out of reach.
For information on Beit Arabiya and ICAHD see: www.icahd.org.
Supported by: Linda Ramsden, Director, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions UK Rev Chris Rose, Director, Amos Trust William Bell, Policy Officer Middle East, Christian Aid Pat Gaffney, General Secretary, Pax Christi, International Catholic Movement for Peace Linda Mead, Commitment for Life, United Reform Church Paul Northup, Director, Greenbelt Vivien Lichtenstein, Jews for Justice for Palestinians Ibrahim Hewitt, Chair of Interpal (Palestinian Relief and Development Fund) Ismail Patel, Chair, Friends of Al-Aqsa Rt Rev Richard Llewellin, former Bishop of Dover Warren Bardsley, KairosPalestine UK Dr Stephen Leah, Member of the Methodist Conference Jan Davies, Friends of Sabeel UK Penny Rivers, Churchwarden of St John the Evangelist, Farncombe, Surrey Angus Geddes, United Reformed Church, Havant John Hilary, Executive Director, War on Want John Pilger, Patron, ICAHD UK Baroness Jenny Tonge, Patron, ICAHD UK Prof Avi Shlaim, St Antony's College, Oxford, Patron, ICAHD UK Rev Dr Stephen Sizer, Patron, ICAHD UK, author Abe Hayeem, Chair, Architects and Planners Justice in Palestine Sarah Colborne, Director, Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Pax Christi General Secretary, Pat Gaffney, took part in a 30-minute discussion programme on Peace on the BBC Wales religious programme 'All things considered' presented by broadcaster Roy Jenkins. The other contributors were Matthew Dobbs, who served as an officer in the British Army in Kosovo and Bosnia and is now an Anglican priest in South Wales; Jane Harries, from Bridgend, a Quaker and peace activist; and Chiel Mooij who teaches at Atlantic College at St Donats in the Vale of Glamorgan, where he’s Head of Peace and Conflict Studies.
Parishes around the country will be marking Peace Sunday, 15 January, and promoting Pope Benedict’s annual Peace Day message with its theme this year, Educating young people in justice and peace. Pax Christi have promoted Peace Sunday since the 1970s and are encouraged that each year the number of parishes celebrating Peace Sunday increases. In his letter to parishes, Bishops Malcolm McMahon, National president of Pax Christi wrote: I am particularly encouraged this year as the theme links my role with Pax Christi with my role as Chair of the Catholic Education Service. The theme will allow both parishes and schools to reflect on how we offer our young people opportunities to learn about the Gospel call to peace-making and also how we learn from young people themselves through the many activities and projects for peace and justice that they are involved with already”.
Pax Christi has a long involvement in education for peace with schools and young people. A new resource, Elements of Peace offers a collection of mini-workshops, activities and reflections designed to introduce young people to key themes in Christian peacemaking.
Parishes can find resources to support their celebration of Peace Sunday here
Dangerous developments in global fight against Cluster Munitions.
Negotiations on a new international law are threatening the comprehensive ban on cluster munitions, as ensured by the Convention on Cluster Munitions
(CCM). This new legislative initiative would allow the use of cluster munitions, already being banned under the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Pax Christi International is deeply concerned and shares the objections concerns expressed by the Cluster Munitions Coalition. This new international legislation would cause unacceptable harm to civilians and means a weakening of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Full statement here
23 November 2011
Speaking out for Palestine Lobby
Pax Christi members from Derby, Coventry, Southampton, St Albans and
The four main concerns raised with the members of Parliament were
1. The issue of UK/Israel links in the arms trade/sharing of military
2. The recognition of Palestine as a member of the United Nations.
3. Protection of Jerusalem as the a place of worship Christians,
4. The end of the siege of Gaza - and the legalising of imports and
Pax Christi will continue its solidarity work with peacemakers in
13 September 2011
Pax Christi members protest at Defence Exhibition , Docklands, London
Several hundred people, including Pax Christi members from around the country, members of CAAT and the East London Against Arms Trade, gathered at dusk at the Excel Exhibition Centre, in London on 12 September for a silent vigil in protest against the Defence & Security Equipment International, the world's largest arms fair.
Held every two years, the exhibition hosts 1,300 companies all displaying their military hardware and technology. In 2001 the Exhibition took place as the Twin Towers in New York were being attacked. While other events in London were cancelled, the Defence Exhibition went on - business as usual for the arms trade.
Solidarity events elsewhere. In Liverpool a group gathered at St
Among those taking part were Bishop Thomas McMahon of the RC Diocese of Brentwood. Bishop Thomas has been a faithful participant since the Fair began to be held in Docklands at the end in 2001.
Pax Christi members also took part in a CAAT Vigil outside Parliament on the morning of 13 September before joining in a lobby of Parliament to urge their Members of Parliament to end the UKs involvement in the arms trade.
The Middle East is a key 'target' area for arms companies and the UK in particular. Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax christi said: "Given the fragility of the region - where wars are still being waged with our support and where nonviolent democratic movements are being persecuted by military dictators, it is both tragic and immoral that we continue to sell arms to this region - or any region of the world".
See here images from Parliament protests
30 August 2011
Christian peace organisations lead the way in nonviolence at Greenbelt Festival 2011
A team of young volunteers and staff members from Christian peace organisations ran a popular and successful a Peace Zone at the 2011 Greenbelt Christian Arts Festival in Cheltenham between 26- 29 August.
Over the course of the weekend the Peace Zone introduced people to the active nonviolence of Jesus' ministry through activities, drama and prayer -illustrating Jesus' 'Third Way' of responding to violence beyond traditional fight or flight models to one that affirms the dignity of all parties and uses the power of nonviolence to bring deep and lasting change for the good.
Matt Jeziorski, Pax Christi's Schools and Youth Officer was part of the planning team for the Peace Zone 2011.
(right : Matt with Margaret and Barry Mizen and Ann Farr of Pax Christi)
This nonviolent approach to violence and change will be brought to life by two presentations offered on the main programme by Catholic christians. Margaret and Barry Mizen, whose son Jimmy was murdered in South London in 2008 spoke to a packed audience on Sunday on the theme Out of the darkness - ending the cycle of violence. Peace activist Chris Cole who has taken part in many acts of nonviolent civil disobedience against the arms trade and militarism will speak on Saturday on the theme, How my faith took me to prison. Chris also took part in a panel discussion on the theme War what is it good for.
The Network of Christian Peace Organisations which has maintained a Peace Zone presence at Greenbelt for a number of years is made up
Chris Cole with some of the Peace Zone team
3 August 2011
Pax Christi worldwide remembers Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Around the world, Pax Christi members will remember the anniversaries of the first use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki through prayer, discussion and action. In the UK, vigils, exhibitions and stalls will be held in London, Coventry, Oxford, Abingdon and Aylesford, inviting people to work to reverse Government policies on the renewal of Trident. In the United States groups in New York, Los Alamos, Colorado, Callas and Washing, to name but a few, will hold services and showings of the film "The Forgotten Bomb: Everything Depends on Remembering," In Germany the President Bishop of Pax Christi Heinz Josef Algermissen, issued a statement in which he said, “ A future without nuclear weapons is not only in the European interest, but is also a perspective for the whole of humanity. The banning and prohibition of nuclear weapons must be understood as step towards comprehensive security, a human right.” In Austria, Pax Christi will join with other peace groups at a vigil in the centre of Vienna, in Belgium vigils will be held in the city of Leuven. This year, the focus of prayer also includes the plight of all those effected by the nuclear disaster in Fukushima.
A message sent from the International Secretariat in Brussels to members around the world said, “ The deployment of the nuclear weapons in 1945 remains a defeat for humanity. Even after 66 years, the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still suffer from the effects of these bombs. This thriving tragedy should be an eye opener and a testament to the world to “never again” use weapons of that magnitude.
Despite 66 years of pleading and campaigning, nations still maintain nuclear weapon arsenals. While states have engaged in reduction of these weapons, we witnessed the dynamics of regional nuclearisation and the modernisation of existing arsenals and weapon systems. While people are confronted with economic hardship, military budgets continue to increase.
Pax Christi International has been engaged for decades in local and international initiatives for nuclear disarmament. We believe it is our duty to contribute to the plea heard 66 years ago in Hiroshima and Nagasaki…: only a world free of nuclear weapons, liberated from armed conflict and war, can do justice to the legacy of every victim of war.”
25 June - Response to Armed Forces Day 25 June 2011
Today [Saturday 25 June] is Armed Forces Day, one of the clearest examples of the creeping militarisation of British society.
From the military covenant to Help for Heroes, from military displays at summer festivals to an increased engagement of the the armed forces with our schools, a massive PR apparatus is being deployed to promote military culture and its values.
To date, over 370 UK armed forces personnel have died while serving in Afghanistan. Most of these deaths were of men and women in their early 20s. Nearly 30 were just 18 or 19 years old.
While public involvement in events such as Armed Forces day is rooted in concern for members of the forces, veterans and their families, the Government has other ends in mind. After 10 years of unpopular wars, it clearly gains from creating a climate of uncritical acceptance of all things military.
After so many military deaths - not to mention the uncounted numbers of civilians killed in the conflict zones – surely it is time to reflect on the longer-term impact of our military culture and to ask what steps we might take to prevent war itself.
Emma Sangster (Forces Watch)
Ben Griffin, army veteran
Pat Gaffney (Pax Christi)
Emily Johns (Peace News)
Maya Evans (JNV)
2 June - Pax Christi marks the World Week of Prayer for Peace in Israel-Palestine
Pax Christi members joined with Quakers and members of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine & Israel at a vigil of readings, prayer and silence in central Londonto mark the 5th year of the World Week of Prayer for Peace in Israel Palestine - an initiative of the World Council of Churches.
During the vigil flowers were laid in memory of peacemakers, living and dead, who have worked for a just peace in Israel-Palestine, including Juliano Mer-Khamis, Tom Hurndell and groups such as Pax Christi partner the Arab Educational Institute, Women in Black and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
Those gathering also heard readings of Christian, Jewish and Muslim experiences of injustice and exclusion within the city of Jerusalem - Jerusalem being the theme of the 2011 Week. They shared a prayer, especially written for the day, "We long for Jerusalem to be a place where every child is know to be a child of god, and where, like Jesus, they may grow in wisdom and grace, and in the full knowledge of the God of Abraham".
A focal point for the gathering was an 8 metre replica of the Separation Barrier which cuts into Palestinian land and property - preventing movement by Palestinians into Israel and separating many Palestinians from their land.
At the same time a vigil was held at Shenstone UAV engine factory, near Lichfield in the Midlands. This was followed by service at Shenstone Methodist Church organised by Friends of Sabeel and Pax Christi.
28 May 2011 - Pax Christi celebrates its AGM in London
|Part of the day was given to the Pax Christi Peace Award, offered every two years to grass-roots peace activists in recognition of their faithful and persistent work for peace. The recipients of the 2011 Award, Audrey and Frank Campbell from Southampton and Dave Webb, from Leeds, all highlighted the efforts and courage of other peacemakers in accepting their Awards from National President, Bishop Malcolm Mc Mahon. Audrey and Frank spoke of the many ‘engine stokers’ throughout the country who daily witness to peace and justice and Dave Webb said that he was inspired by a Korean peace activist, *Yang Yoon-Mo, on hunger strike since 6 April, protesting against the development of a US Naval Base near the village of Gangjeong. Dave spoke of the value of all peace actions – from handing out leaflets to direct action – and peace paths and influences to which such actions lead.|
Audrey and Frank have been active in peace, development and solidarity work for many years, using their passion and skill to raise awareness with others within their own local church and Diocesan Justice & Peace network. Dave Webb has been active in local campaigning against nuclear weapons in Yorkshire, is Chair of CND and is currently a director of the Praxis Centre on the Study of Information and Technology in Peace, Conflict Resolution and Human Rights at Leeds Met University.
The meeting also heard from Canon David Porter, Director for Reconciliation Ministry at Coventry Cathedral. David described himself as a reflective practitioner, involved in socially engaged theology where questions arise from the Church for society. The focus for his talk was religion as a source of conflict and a resource to heal conflict. He stated that the challenge of reconciliation and peace-building is always political as politics is the art of negotiating relationships at all levels – within our churches, the family, the workplace as well as society at large.
In talking about the role of ‘bad’ religion over ‘ good’ religion he suggested that bad religion drags down hope, it is much easier to play on the fears and anxieties of people and so will often trump good religion. He also linked bad religion to the kind of authority we call upon, religious nationalism, for example, is invoked in all sorts of ways, many of which are violent and destructive.
The gathering also heard reports of the work of the movement, which, according to one participant, really acts well beyond its real capacity – with only three staff members and an annual budget of around £200,000. Anne Dodd, Chair of Pax Christi said that this was possible because of the work and commitment of individual members around the country. Anne also said that we need to work more as a Movement to encourage our church leaders to be more courageous and prophetic in speaking truth to power, regarding for example, the replacement of Trident and the response to the Palestinian Kairos document and also in promoting an understanding of what true human security consists of.
*Read more about Yang Yoon-Mo and US bases in Korea here
5 May 2011 - Pax Christi USA Statement on the death of Osama Bin Laden
The killing of Osama bin Laden is an occasion for deep reflection. It must become a turning point in our nation's nearly decade-long wars in response to the tragedy of 9/11. As people of faith, and as Catholics who, only days ago, celebrated Christ's victory over condemnation, torture and death, we pause in this moment in a posture of prayer and repentance. As Christians we are troubled by the displays of celebration and call upon all people of good will to pause and reflect rather than rejoice and exalt. We pray for the victims of that terrible day in September: for their families and loved ones, whose lives were changed forever; we pray for the first responders whose sacrifice and heroism inspired a shocked and grieving nation and who laid down their lives in an effort to save others; and for the countless volunteers who spent weeks amidst the rubble, dust and death at Ground Zero and who continue to suffer serious health effects today. However, we also mourn our nation's misguided response to the events of 9/11, the carnage and mayhem unleashed, the distortion of our deepest values, the abandonment of our highest principles and ultimate subversion of our national character. And so our prayers extend beyond those victims of September 11th and focus also on the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives lost in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and across the globe as a direct result of our response.
The spiral of violence of which Pax Christi warned in September 2001 has sadly remained unbroken. The killing of bin Laden becomes one more waypoint in a quest for vengeance that will, as all acts of violence do, lead to ever more violence and death. The cycle must be broken. To do so will take much courage and sustained effort. Our prayers for the victims, both of bin Laden's violence and our militarized response, must give way to true repentance-a turning away from violence as a path to national redemption...
Read more here , including reflections from Kathy Kelly and John Dear sj
26 March 2011 - March for the Alternative - Welfare or Warfare
Pax Christi members joined with thousands of trade union groups, the National Justice & Peace Network,Young Christian Workers, Church Action of Poverty and others on the March for the Alternative, to help make the connection between military spending and spending on welfare and human security.
In a week which has seen a budget commit £40 billion to Defence and only £24 billion to Housing, £7.5 billion to Overseas Development and £3.3 billion to Energy and Climate Change, this march and rally were a timely reminder of the need to look at how priorities are set for UK Domestic and Foreign policy.
Prior to the March hundreds gathered at St Martin- in-the-Fields for the memorial service for Archbishop Oscar Romero, champion of the poor and a voice for nonviolent transformation of society. His words and witness continue to be an inspiration and encouragement to Chrsitians involved in work for peace and social justice - and speak as loudly today as thirty years ago.
22 March 2011 - Pax Christi response to Libya
With deep concern we watch the escalation of the use of military force against the regime of Colonel Gaddafi in Libya. While this is supported by the authority of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 our fears are that the human and longer-term political costs of this action may be deep and difficult to resolve.
Under the terms of the resolution which - which stresses the humanitarian nature of the intervention - a huge responsibility is placed on the members of the coalition "to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory" . Everything must be done to ensure transparency and compliance with this demand. In a week which marks the eighth anniversary of the war with Iraq (a non-UN sanctioned intervention) we cannot contemplate another protracted conflict in an already fragile region.
All of the non-military aspects of resolution 1973 must be pursued: the continued arms embargo, the prevention of the flow of mercenaries into the region, the freezing of assets, as a means of de-militarising the region in a nonviolent way.
Pax Christi, an international Catholic movement for peace, holds firmly to the Gospel imperative that evil cannot be overcome with evil. The use of violence and counter violence as a means of resolving disputes and conflicts remind us that we still have much to learn about building global solidarity based on justice, cooperation and the support for democracy. We keep in mind the words of Paul VI, before the United Nations in 1965: War No More, War Never Again! And Pope John Paul II in 2003, "this war (with Iraq) would be a defeat for humanity which could not be morally or legally justified."
Read more: " I am not afraid of the bombs, but rather the inability to try and dialogue" Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, Tripoli 23/03/2011
9 March 2011 - Ash Wednesday, Ministry of Defence, London
"Repentance means a change of mind and heart. Joel calls it hearbreak...The call to repentance is a call to the Nation to change political, social and economic structures which oppress and expliot the weak ( Gerry Hughes sj)
For the 29 year, Christians and Buddhists gathered at the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall for a liturgy of repentance and resistance to the British Governments nuclear war preparations.
The event, organised by Pax Christi, Chrsitian CND and the London Catholic Worker, brought around one hundred people together to use the traditional symbols of the day, ash and charcoal, in a liturgy that used readings from scripture and from Archbishop Rowan Williams 2009 sermon in Nagasaki and prayers from Pope John Paul II.
Pax Christi member Frank Campbell from Southampton said: "Confronting the reality of the power of destructive force in that massive building, guarded by police who manage and market death and destruction with the words of scripture and the steadfastness witness for peace made the liturgy come alive in a way which is quite rare" The walls of the building were marked in several places by members of the London Catholic Worker with extracts from scripture and appeals to turn away from the evils of nuclear weapons. There were no arrests.
Download liturgy here Ash Wednesday Liturgy 2011 : Repentance and Resistance to Nuclear War Preparations
22 February - When will we ever learn – the arms trade is a trade in death
A year ago this month, Pax Christi and the Fellowship of Reconciliation launched their Security for the Common Good : A Christian Challenge to Military Security briefing highlighting all the human and opportunity costs that are lost in the military model of security adopted by our Government. Part of the briefing dealt with our role in ‘exporting security’ via the global arms trade. Tragically we see on the streets of Bahrain, Libya and elsewhere the fruits of this trade. News reports that Britain had been involved in granting export licences for military equipment, tear gas, electronic batons and so on to Libya and Bahrain should not be a surprise. Yet again, they indicate that the arms trade is such a central plank in UK Trade and Foreign Policy that it cannot be touched. Words of regret and horror from politicians are hollow. Indeed, as events unfurl in Bahrain, Libya and elsewhere the UK arms industry is exhibiting at an arms fair in Abu Dhabi. Freedom, democracy and justice cannot be achieved through fear, threat or military might, yet we support and enable countries who are locked into such models.
This is in a week with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) report that the top 100 arms producing companies have increased arms sales over the past year by £9.1 billion. Second in the 'top 100' list is Britain's own BAE Systems. Groups like Pax Christi, the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Campaign Against Arms trade have consistently spoken out and acted against the morality of the arms trade. The best way to prevent repression, military and state violence is to abolish this horrific trade
9 February - Pax Christi International Statement on events in Egypt
Pax Christi International Supports the Peaceful Protests in Egypt On 6 February 2011, the Co-Presidency of Pax Christi International issued a statement supporting the peaceful protests in Egypt. The peaceful protests of the Egyptian people, who are demanding justice, freedom and democracy, deserve the unconditional support of democratic forces and governments throughout the world. Pax Christi International calls on the international community to support the people of Egypt and the transition they seek without manipulating the outcome and to condemn all acts of violence against peaceful protest. “We honour the courage on display in Egypt these days and the resistance to violence of those calling for change. We hope and pray that the challenges of today could be converted into the opportunities of tomorrow for all Egyptians."
Sign AVAAZ Statement of support for the people of Egypt
News of a Pax Christi Ecumenical Accompanier in Palestine
Pax Christi Executive Committee member Ann Farr is now on her Ecumenical Accompaniment placement in the village of Yanoun, not far from Nablus in Palestine. We will post regular letters from Ann here.
Right: Ann, second from left, with the team who are with her in Yanoun
12 January 2011
Interview with Ann Farr of Pax Christi on Vatican Radio. Ann first speaks of the importance of Peace Sunday then of her current experiences as an Ecumenical Accompanier in Palestine (12/01/2011)