London, 27 December 2003
Holy Innocents : The Forgotten Children of War
Marking the feast of the Holy Innocents, members of Pax Christi and other Christian Peace organisations gathered at St Martin-in-the Fields, central London for a service that focused on the way in which children of Africa suffer as a consequence of war.
David Partridge, co-chair of the Network of Christian Peace Organisations, opened the service with these words:
“ We come together today to remember and repent of the appalling wrongs done to children, the innocents, especially the children of Africa and the Middle East.
It is 2000 years since Herod, furious at being “outwitted” by the wise men, directed that all male babies under two years of age be slaughtered because just one of them might have been Jesus, the infant King of the Jews.”
During the service Jenny Taylor, head of media at the Church Missionary Society and Francesca Roberts of the International Refugee Trust, spoke of the brutalisation of children in Northern Uganda – forced to become ‘soldiers’ or drawn into sex slavery. They also spoke of the heroic work of the churches in this area – individuals and religious orders who maintain a presence of support and solidarity with the peoples of the region.
Following the service more than 50 people took part in a procession which stopped at Downing Street to hand a letter to Tony Blair. This urged the British Government to take greater responsibility for preventing conflict and violence in Africa – in particular to bring an end to arms sales to the region and to focus aid programmes on conflict prevention.
The procession ended with prayers of intercession at the Innocent Victims’ Memorial stone outside Westminster Abbey.
Copies of the liturgy available from Pax Christi
London, 20 November 2003
George Bush in London ... Christian Groups hold silent vigil for Peace
|More than 400 Christians, members of Pax Christi, Christian CND, Fellowship of Reconciliation England and Quakers, took part in a two-hour silent vigil in Trafalgar Square, London - to mark the visit of George Bush to the city. With messsages such as : One World-One Family-One Peace and War is a Defeat for Humanity, they stood at a prime site, visible to passing traffic, tourists and workers at the busy lunch-time period. Their strong, silent presence was a contrast to life of the busy city. Many went on to join the national march and rally - said to be one of the largest week-day demonstrations the country has known. Pax Christi members from Cambridge, Sussex, Oxford as well as from London attended the vigil.|
London, 27 September 2003
Pax Christi speaker at the "End the Occupation of Iraq" RallyPax Christi members from around the country joined the tens of thousands of people who took part in a rally in London on Saturday 27th September to express their unrelenting opposition to the continued military occupation of Iraq. Faith groups, trades unions, environmental groups, together with peace and human rights groups presented a clear message: the war against Iraq was wrong and the military occupation of Iraq - which has resulted in more deaths than the war, is wrong. Stewart Hemsley, Chairperson of Pax Christi was invited to speak at the rally which ended in Trafalgar Square. He had this to say:
" I speak as Chair of Pax Christi UK. Pax Christi is an International, Catholic, Peace organisation represented on every continent and in many countries throughout the world. It was conceived following the horrors of the Second World War. We support this demonstration because, as those who would be called 'Children of God', we must be 'Peacemakers.'
Peace doesn't come cheaply - it has to be worked at and made, and so our faith teaches we must do justice to all without partiality, and do what is morally right - then - and only then, will we have what we most desire - Peace and Security… Again and again we have been told: 'We have no alternative.' A statement that is morally and spiritually bankrupt. There is always an alternative! Christianity teaches us not to deal in falsehood and lies - but to speak truth and deal honestly with one another - this is to be the norm for the whole of society. Sadly we see a British Government lining up with Pontius Pilate who, cynically, asked: 'Truth - what is truth?' To which the answer seems to be: 'Whatever will serve the purposes of the Government of the day!'…
|Christianity teaches that all people are
made in, and bear the image of, the Divine. To violate another - is
to violate God. We cannot remain silent when faced with the shackled,
hooded, prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, caged like wild animals. If we
don't raise our voices on their behalf now, when our turn comes, there
will be no voices to be raised. Civil liberties world wide are endangered.
Together - we must confront these issues. We must not be divided. We must not allow ourselves to be used for other political agendas. Our diversity of faith and political beliefs can be a strength if we unite for the common good, working for a world of justice and equality where we desire the good of the other as much as our own.
As Martin Luther King said 'We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters - or perish as fools.' "
Full text available from the Pax Christi office or download it in PDF format (you need Acrobat Reader) or as Word document
13th September - Pax Christi Chairperson speaks at 11th Kurdish International Festival in Germany
Stewart Hemsley, Chairperson of Pax Christi British Section, spoke to a crowd of thousands at a gathering of the Kurdish community in Germany this week. Stewart,who was part of a delegation monitoring elections in Kurdistan last year. He was asked to make a response to the 'Road Map' for a peaceful and democratic solution to the Kurdish question in Turkey. Below is an extract of his presentation:
"Today I bring you greetings from Pax Christi U.K. We recognise that you are an ancient people with a civilisation long pre-dating our own. You are the people who inhabited the very cradle of civilisation and we honour you as such. We are indebted to you for much of what has come down to us through the centuries by way of literature, the arts, and all that enhances life.
The struggle for recognition of your language, culture, customs, and uniqueness is one that as an inhabitant of the 'British Isles' I can identify with. We too have our distinct peoples - the Welsh, the Scots, and the Irish. With some we have learned, after centuries of bitter persecution, to recognise and value. With others we still have some way to go.
Your 'Road Map' for a Peaceful and Democratic solution to the Kurdish Question in Turkey is an admirable document. It is worthy of both respect, acceptance and implementation. I have taken up the substance of this document and asked my MP to take action in the UK parliament. I have also asked the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to take positive action. The Euro MP's who represent my region have also been asked to take up, as a matter of urgency, this issue with the European Parliament.
We at Pax Christi endorse, and this is not just the UK branch, the positive, constructive attitude towards peace making exhibited by the 'Road Map.'
Only last week the head of the Catholic church, Pope John Paul 2nd, called for an end to all terrorism. He also called for all religions of the world to unite their efforts and work for justice, peace and fraternity. Your 'Road Map' is an excellent example of putting this call into practice. We must all be prepared however to be ready for the sacrifices that bringing such aspirations to fruition will entail. Of one thing we can be most certain and it this: the gun, the bullet, and the bomb will never conquer evil and bring peace. Neither will the gun, the bullet, the bomb, or torture and repression ever conquer the spirit of peoples born to be free. They will not stop a free people from enjoying their heritage, their customs, and their patrimony. For sooner or later with their very bodies and unquenchable spirit they will overcome those who would seek to oppress them. You will overcome. You will see a new dawn. You will take your rightful place amongst the nations.
Truth, justice, and right will prevail. Remember it is always better to light a candle in the darkness than to curse it. And if they blow out our candle we will light it again and again and - yes - again! And the light will assuredly overcome the darkness."
Sixtieth commemoration of execution of Franz Jägerstätter
Hundreds of people from around the world gathered in the tiny village of St Radegund in Austria to commemorate the death by execution of Franz Jaegerstaetter.
In 1943 Franz, a farmer, announced that he was refusing to fight in the German army. His trial took place in July 1943 when he was condemned to death for sedition.
Writing about his situation Franz was clear that he could “change nothing in world affairs,” but that he wished “to be at least a sign that not everyone let themselves be carried away with the tide.”
Following a Holy Hour in the neighbouring parish of Oestermiething, presided over by Bishop Maximilian Aichern of Linz, participants joined a three-hour procession to St Radegund where Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Austria, the Bishop of Linz and Bishop Luigi Bettazzi of Italy.
A parallel service took place in Westminster Cathedral Crypt on Saturday 9th August.
Pax Christi members from Italy, England, Germany and Austria, on pilgrimage from Ostermiething to St Radegund
|Fransiska Jaegerstaetter, 90, at the grave of Franz with Cardinal Schoenborn, the Bishop of Linz and Bishop Bettazzi, Italy.|
25th June 2003
Service of Remembrance and Reconciliation for those who died in the war against Iraq
Christian groups from around the country gathered at Baptist Central Church in London on Tuesday 24th June for a service which offered Christians and others an opportunity to remember the dead, pray, repent of war and commit themselves to work for peace and nonviolent means of resolving conflict in the world. Two members of the Iraqi community in London took part in the service - reading the names of over 25 Iraqi civilians and military personnel who were killed in the war.
Organised by Pax Christi, the international Catholic movement for peace and supported by the Baptist Peace Fellowship, CIIR, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Jesuit Refugee Service and the National Justice and Peace Network the service is linked with another post-war project - the book of Condolence for those who died in the war. In just three weeks, Pax Christi has received more than 6,000 signatures in support of the message of Condolence which was read at the service. It says:
"We present our names as a gesture of sorrow and mourning for all who died in the 2003 war against Iraq, many of whose names are known only to God. We offer our prayers for those bereaved or injured. We feel only grief and regret at the suffering caused to the people of Iraq by an illegal and immoral war. We believe that the most authentic way to remember those who have died is to commit ourselves to work for greater justice in the world and create peaceful, non-violent means of resolving future conflicts." The books of condolence were presented to the America Embassy in London, Mr Tony Blair and Iraqi representatives in London.
Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi said "
during the war Christians around the country were involved in campaigning and
public protest against the war. We are aware that little has been resolved by
this war and that thousands of Iraqi's have been killed while others now live
with a new uncertainty - still seeking peace with justice. It is right that
we should lament the tragedy of war and our part in it. We also need to reaffirm
our resolve to continue in our work for peace and non violence".
9th June 2003 - Celebrations at Pax Christi's Annual General Meeting (photo gallery)
Pax Christi members, from ten dioceses around the country, gathered in Birmingham on Saturday 7 June for their Annual General Meeting.
speaker at the meeting, Fuad Giacaman,
Director of the Arab
Education Institute (AEI) in Bethlehem, spoke passionately
of the importance of education for peace and nonviolence for the young
of his own country and in Europe. He said that since September 11th so
many young people have been exposed to what he called "fear education" by
their governments and the media. What is needed, and what his own Institute
and movements such as Pax Christi can offer, is 'hope education'.
Much of the work of the AEI is bringing young Christians and Muslims
together to live and work as one community - to challenge negative stereotypes
the 'other' as a threat or enemy. Where possible the Institute tries
to engage also with young Israelis, but this is not always practically
politically possible. In recent months, the Institute has helped to organise
of nonviolent actions - such as vigils and pilgrimages - to resist and
challenge the occupation. They have started the 'Open Schools' campaign
to draw attention to the way in which education is disrupted by closures,
curfews and the limitation of movement. The Institute also encourages
three-way sharing on the Jewish, Muslim and Christian scriptures - engaging
people in reflection and discussion on themes such as 'compassion' -
'justice' - 'land' to help focus on common concerns and teachings. The
to Pax Christi International.
G. Scudiero, P. Gaffney, Fuad Giacaman
Fuad & Bishop Malcolm
|Pax Christi has also launched a Condolence Book for all those who died in the war against Iraq and will host an ecumenical service of Remembrance and Reconciliation in central London on 24th June.|
Pax Christi UK 2003 Peace Prize
The peacemaking efforts of three people were given special recognition at the meeting
Clare Edwards, Mark James and little David, Bishop Malcolm
Bishop Malcolm McMahon, National President of Pax Christi, presented each with a medal of the Neve Shalom community in Israel (a village founded by Fr Bruno Hussar to bring Jews and Muslims together)
Click here for Photo Gallery
2 May 2003 - "Condolence Book" : remembering the victims of the war against Iraq
While no formal 'ending' of the war has been announced the plight of the peoples of Iraq is slipping off the political agenda.
In order that our Churches and communities can remember all those who had died in the war to date Pax Christi is producing a Condolence Book which will be presented to Mr Tony Blair, the American Embassy and Iraqi representatives in London in June.
Click to download (PDF format - you need Acrobat Reader) and print copies of this Condolence Sheet for use in your own community, school or parish.
Wednesday 23 April 2003 - Los Angeles priest among anti-war protesters serving jail terms
Catholics who engaged in civil disobedience in Los Angeles to protest the war in Iraq are now serving jail sentences. Fr Christopher D. Ponnet, who began serving a 45-day jail sentence on 23 April, has said: "The pope and the bishops have articulated a prophetic vision. War is not the answer. International law is the appropriate place to resolve conflicts". He was in a group arrested on Ash Wednesday for praying and singing in the street and blocking traffic at an intersection in downtown Los Angeles.
Fr Ponnet co-directs the Los Angeles chapter of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi. The 46-year-old priest said his decision to lead anti-war vigils, fasts and engagement in civil disobedience reflected his commitment as a Catholic priest to oppose an unjust war.
Four others serving jail time for their opposition to the war against Iraq are members of the Catholic Worker. Jeff Dietrich, who directs the local chapter, has been in jail since mid-March. Catherine Morris, his wife, was also arrested on Ash Wednesday and was to begin her 45-day sentence on 1 May. "In our hearts we were risking arrest, because we are willing to suffer that as a part of our commitment to stopping the war," said Morris. Because of overcrowding in the jails, the actual time served by Father Ponnet, the Morrises and others could be shortened. Their imprisonment comes at a time when polls show the majority of Americans are pleased with the outcome of the war. But activists say they are prepared to continue decrying violence, even if they are in the minority.
Friday 28 March 2003 - Christian Anti-war Demonstrator Arrested at Ministry of Defence
A Catholic protestor against Britain's war with Iraq was arrested for obstruction at a Ministry of Defence building in Central London this morning.
Scott Albrecht had continually tried to block the access driveway to and from the Old War Office for a short period before being dislodged by a heavy police presence. The Old War Office, on Horseguards Avenue, is being used to conduct Ministry of Defence work while the main MoD building opposite is being refurbished. The 41-year-old married father of four from St. Alban's is a former school chaplain and currently a student of Theology at the Missionary Institute of London. He and Dan Martin, 48, a Catholic charity worker and a married father of four from Wandsworth, had been attempting to use chains to block the driveway for a longer period and to display a banner with the command of Jesus: 'Love your enemies'. A joint statement from the two protestors said:
"Even in the best of times this command is difficult to understand and mostly ignored. But in the worst of times, as during this present war, it is virtually impossible even to hear. The need to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction is a goal we also seek, in the other countries of the world as well as Iraq, including Britain and the USA. Instead we hear from the coalition forces threats to use weapons of mass destruction. Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, on 2 February insisted that Britain was prepared to launch a nuclear strike on Iraq "in the right conditions". He has recently also authorised the use of depleted uranium weapons and cluster bombs. By blockading the Ministry of Defence we hope to disrupt, even if only in some small way, the process whereby such weapons may be used. We also hope to give pause to the killing process. The poor of Iraq have suffered the tyranny of Saddam's regime for too long. That innocent people have died at his hands is a tragedy. Equally tragic are the deaths of those who have been and continue to be killed by the coalition forces. Are we better people because we will kill fewer innocent people than Saddam Hussein? The killing of the innocent does not advance the cause of peace, as 'collateral damage', even if our intentions are 'better'. To its victims war is terror. Pope John Paul II has said recently: 'War is a failure of humanity.' By our blockade we are saying it is never too late to recover from failure, to make amends, to repent, to choose life!"
The action was sponsored by the Catholic peace groups Catholic Peace Action and Pax Christi and is part of their Lenten Campaign of Repentance and Resistance, which began on Ash Wednesday. On that day, 5 March, five Christians risked arrest by marking the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall (the Old War Office) with blessed ash and charcoal in order to resist the nuclear war preparations of this country and to encourage the nation to repent. Again on 17 March four people did the same.
further information contact: Maria Albrecht on 077 88481036 or Carmel Martin
on 079 03068685.
Photos available from Carmel Martin.
Press release circulated by: Pax Christi, St Joseph's, Watford Way, Hendon, London, NW4 4TY, 8203 4884.
15th March 2003 - "Pacem in Terris" Remembered
140 people attended a day meeting in London on 15 March to mark the fortieth
anniversary of Pope John XIII's famous encyclical, "Pacem in Terris"
or "Peace on Earth". The conference, "Pacem
in Terris - Unfinished Business for the Church Today", was organised
by Pax Christi, an international Catholic peace group, and had as its special
guest Dr Kishore Jayabalan, a representative
of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican. Speaking
the weekend before war with Iraq was launched, he told participants at the
Maria Assumpta Centre in Kensington that Pope John Paul II had been urging
world leaders to seek a peaceful path to resolving the crisis. He added
that he was, "so pleased to witness activity for peace outside of the
walls of the Vatican". Dr Jayabalan has responsibility for disarmament
affairs at the Council.
Roger Ruston, of the Centre for Law and Religion at the University of Cardiff, was one of three keynote speakers noting that "Pacem in Terris" described peace as consisting of four elements: human rights, development, solidarity, and world order. It had urged a cessation of the arms race and for Catholics to be involved in action for justice and peace, he said. Ian Linden, former Director of the Catholic Institute for International Relations, pointed out that the encyclical, "reached out to the secular world". He regretted that Catholic peace groups over the past four decades "have received very little financial backing from the Church".
In his workshop Bruce Kent, a vice-president of Pax Christi, said the devastating effects of modern weapons and huge civilian casualties - in the wars of the last few decades more than 80 per cent of casualties have been civilian - mean that war should be abolished as a strategy for resolving conflict. "If I had an argument with my neighbour and attacked him with a weapon I'd be arrested" he said. "How can it be acceptable for states to act in this way?"
by Ellen Teague
5 March 2003 - ASH WEDNESDAY
Ministry of Defence Building - London
calling to peace and rejection of
nuclear terrorism and war
nailing prayers of hope and peace
to a wooden cross
On two occasions on 5th March, Ash Wednesday, the Ministry of Defence building in Whitehall, London, was marked with blessed charcoal by Christian peace activists using the words "Peace" - "No to Nuclear Terrorism" - "Repent" - " No to War" - "War Never again" and "Axis of God". The actions took place within the setting of an Ash Wednesday liturgy and pilgrimage around the Ministry of Defence.
More than 100 people participated in the pilgrimage - joining in symbolic actions which included nailing prayers of hope and peace to a wooden cross and reflecting on the invitation of Pope John Paul II and the World Council of Churches to pray and fast for peace this Ash Wednesday and in Lent.
The organisers, Pax Christi, Catholic Peace Action and Christian CND, said: "Our action and prayer are all the more urgent as the world is at the brink of war with Iraq. Our prayer is that the British Government will turn away from a defence policy that is reliant on nuclear weapons and live up to its own obligations to disarm. Our own Defence Secretary has threatened to use nuclear weapons against Iraq".
Those who marked the building during the morning action were detained but not charged. Pax Christi members organised similar actions in Liverpool City Centre and at Albermarle, a nuclear convoy stop-over, near Newcastle.
For further general information contact: Pax Christi, Pat Gaffney on 020 8203 4884
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14th January 2003
Pax Christi Celebration of Pope John
Paul II's Peace Message
"Peace on Earth - a Constant Endeavour"
Sunday - 19th January
As we enter another critical week, watching the world move ever closer to war, parishes throughout England and Wales are invited to turn their thoughts and prayers to peace as they celebrate Peace Sunday and Pope John Paul II's 2003 peace message.
Pax Christi, the International Catholic Movement for Peace, has once again taken the lead in encouraging parish communities to mark Peace Sunday in some special way and reflect on the theme of the peace message. Bishop Malcolm McMahon, President of Pax Christi, in his letter to parishes says: "The theme chosen by the Holy Father for this year is inspired by the 40th anniversary of the encyclical " Pacem in Terris". Pope John Paul appeals for a new and courageous commitment in favour of peace. Given the fragile state of our world at the moment, where we live with war and rumours of war, this appeal reminds us that much is at stake if we are to truly realise Peace on Earth for the majority of the world's people". To support parishes, Pax Christi has produced suggestions for a Mass for peace, reflection notes on the theme and activities and ideas for working with children.
Staff at the Pax Christi office report a huge demand for prayer cards, leaflets and other support materials. Pax Christi has heard from parishes who will be organising exhibitions on peace, holding special liturgies for children, inviting guest speakers on Pax Christi's work. Many will use the occasion to hold special prayers for peace in Iraq. A group in North London are planning a peace walk and prayer vigil, involving six churches in their area. A parish in East London will hold an overnight peace vigil timed to coincide with the UN weapons inspector report, opening their Blessed Sacrament chapel for exposition and prayer all through the night.
A spokesperson for Pax Christi said: "The yearning for peace is always present in the human heart - at this time it is even more palpable. Pope John XIII knew this when, forty years ago, he called world peace humankind's perpetual dream. But he also knew that it will only be realised when all peoples learn to work together to become bearers of God's peace to a broken world. We hope that the Catholic community will see Pax Christi as a resource and inspiration for peacemaking."
Click here for more information or contact Pax Christi at 020 8203 4884
Saturday 28th December 2002
Christians Pray for Innocent Children of Iraq
a Holy Innocents' Day service organised by Christian
CND in the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in the centre of London, the
assembly recalled the slaying of children by Herod in the context of current
and imminent suffering of children in Iraq. Sixteen Church Leaders from around
the UK sent messages of support and solidarity. The main speakers were Pat
Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi UK, Felicity Arbuthnot,
freelance journalist, and Milan Rai of Voices
in the Wilderness UK and ARROW,
and author of War Plan Iraq.
A procession to the memorial of the Innocent Victims of Violence at Westminster Abbey concluded the service. On route, a letter to PM Tony Blair was handed in at 10 Downing Street pleading with him to turn away from war on Iraq.
Click here to read Milan's challenging exhortation and Felicity's moving reflection.
Saturday 21st December 2002
For the past year our work in Pax Christi has been even more defined
by war and rumours of war and by a culture of fear that compounds these rumours.
In Belfast and the Holy Land, walls are to be erected anew to 'keep the peace'
while the fragile peace processes of both places appear to be unravelling. Bethlehem
is under curfew and tanks are surrounding the Church of the Nativity to prevent
another occupation of the Basilica. At this very moment we hold our breath as
daily we hear of plans that move us ever closer to a war with Iraq. It is as
if the Governments of the United States and Britain are hoping for non-compliance
and non-cooperation in order that they can have their war. In another continent,
Africa, the people wait for the world to wake up to their plight at a time of
hunger, war and displacement.
Stay awake! Be ready! - is the Advent message. Just now, this message seems hard to take. For how long must we be awake to and aware of what is happening in our world? For how long must we be ready to sing a different song, give witness to another way of living and being in our world today? We have been here before, many times. The promise of peace is always there, but we seem unable to bring it to life, unable to heal the wounds of God's people throughout the world.
Forty years ago, - at another time of trouble, war and rumours of war, Pope John XIII offered his encyclical letter Pacem in Terris - Peace on Earth. For many, this was an inspired document, clearly reading the 'signs of the times" and reminding the peoples of the world of their responsibility to work for the common good, for human rights and for peace and justice for all. "Everyone must sincerely co-operate in the effort to banish fear and the anxious expectation of war from our mind." The task of creating peace on earth is as urgent as ever, which is why Pope John Paul II has returned to this theme for his 2003 World Peace Message. Peace on earth, he reminds us, is a constant endeavour!
How, though, do we sustain this 'constant endeavour' when we are tired or when our hope is worn and our inner resources are drained? There is another dynamic to the Advent message which recognises this human state and reminds us that we are not in this alone! The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Lord will give strength to the wearied who remain faithful and open to the vision and way of God - the only future and the only way worth waiting for.
It would not make sense to wait for "nothing". The injunction to wait comes with a promise of hope. This hope can be nourished by others and especially by our solidarity with those whose hope is challenged daily by deeds of violence and death - who are to be found in war zones and refugee camps around the world. Many hold fast to the vision of a world that has been turned up-side-down and transformed. They are 'Magnificat' people. If they do not give up how can we!
We may also find strength - and be encouraged to act ourselves - by acts of solidarity of those who refuse to be contained by walls and barriers - who in Belfast and Bethlehem will cross the barriers that have been built to drive a wedge between Catholic and Protestants, Jews, Christians and Muslims. They do sustain our hope.
And those who refuse to let fear and suspicion curtail their witness to God's love and work for justice - who travel in these days between the United States, Europe, Iraq and the Middle East on a missions of solidarity and reconciliation. They do sustain our hope.
The yearning for peace is always there. John XIII knew this when, forty years ago he, called world peace 'humankind's perpetual dream. ' But he also knew that it will be realised only when ordinary people like you and me work together to become bearers of God's peace to a broken world.
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Monday 2 December 2002
Arrests during 3-hour "die-in" at Whitehall/Downing Street, London
Pax Christi members from London, Newcastle, Derby, Cambridge and Manchester joined with the UK group Voices in the Wilderness for a day of nonviolent protest in Whitehall. The purpose of the gathering was to bring the reality of war to London and to express the growing opposition to war against Iraq.
Stuart Hemsley, Chair of Pax Christi, Fr Giovanni Scudiero IMC, Vice-president, and Pat Gaffney, General Secretary gave logistical support during the day. Pax Christi has also endorsed the Pledge of Resistance - organised by Voices in the Wilderness. The Pledge encourages ordinary citizens an opportunity to take part in nonviolent civil disobedience should there be a military attack on Iraq.
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Saturday 30th November
Pax Christi Seminar Highlights Church Opposition to Iraq war
Pax Christi British Section hosted a Seminar "The War on Terrorism - Iraq and Beyond" in Central London on 30th November. More than 70 people representing church and peace and justice networks from England, Scotland and Wales attended. The purpose of the Seminar was to inform participants of the humanitarian, legal and political consequences of a war with Iraq. The resource speakers were Julian Filochowski, Director of CAFOD, Dr Scilla Elworthy, Director of the Oxford Research Group and Phil Shiner, Director of Peacerights and Public Interest Lawyers.
Phil Shiner, Scilla Elworthy, Rosemary Read, Julian Filochowski, Pat Gaffney
Reflecting on the Seminar Ellen Teague writes:
"Apprehension regarding the humanitarian consequences of pre-emptive strikes on Iraq has motivated many Christian churches to oppose military action. This was the view of Julian Filochowski, CAFOD's Director, when questioned about mushrooming church disapproval at the Pax Christi seminar. His talk, based on a recent visit to Caritas Iraq and to leaders of the country's half a million Christians, highlighted that 30% of Iraqi children are already chronically malnourished. Catholic concern has been demonstrated in heavy demand for the card, "Prayer for peace in Iraq and the Middle East" produced recently by the National Justice and Peace Network, Pax Christi and CAFOD. Around 150,000 cards have been distributed for Friday prayers in parishes and a third reprint is likely during December."
"Whether International Law recognises pre-emptive strikes is debatable," Phil Shiner, Director of Peacerights and Public Interest Lawyers, told participants, "and if it does, then it clearly doesn't apply to Iraq". He is a solicitor involved with a judicial review, instigated by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), examining whether or not the Government will be acting illegally if war is declared against Iraq without the UN Security Council passing a fresh resolution authorising the use of force. Scilla Elworthy, Director of the Oxford Research Group and the third speaker, called for nonviolent alternatives to bombing Iraq and a closer look at whether or not Iraq's oil is a significant motivation in US intentions. She also commented that, "the Iraq question can only be solved in a regional context that takes into consideration the future of the Palestinians".
Action points arising from the Seminar include:
Oxford Research Group: www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk
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Friday 22 November
Prayers at Downing Street and a Plea for Peace for Iraq and the Middle East
Support for the Pax Christi Declaration on the Morality and Legality of War against Iraq has grown since the first 5,000 were presented to Downing Street in August. A further 4,000 signatures were presented to Mr Tony Blair on 22nd November. Among the Church leaders who have added their support are Bishops Terence Brain and Christopher Budd, the Most Rev Bruce Cameron, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and Rev Dr Kenneth Greet, former President of the Methodist Conference.
Members of the Delegation presenting the Declarations included Rev Giovanni Scudiero IMC, Dean of Studies at the Missionary Institute, London and Vice-president of Pax Christi, Rosa Shea, Chairperson of the National Justice and Peace Network and Sister Maureen Lynch, Comboni Missionary Sisters and Pat Gaffney, General Secretary, Pax Christi.
In their accompanying letter to Mr Blair they said:
"The ordinary people of Iraq have suffered enough - they should not have to bear the burden of military violence carried out in the name of alleged noncompliance with UN resolutions, regime change or any political or strategic interest which the UK and the USA are trying to secure.
On many occasions in recent history, Pope John Paul II has reminded us that war is a failure of humanity; it diminishes all those who are involved. The Gospel also reminds us that the way to transform an 'enemy' is through love and actions that create reconciliation, trust, and the social justice that ensures that all peoples have their needs met.
We also offer, to you and your family, a copy of the Prayer for Peace in Iraq and the Middle East. This is being used every Friday by Christians around the country in private prayer or in services and vigils in parish communities. We invite you to share this with your family.
We urge you to take the risk of peace. Thousands of people around the world are looking to the United Kingdom to bring its wisdom and discernment to the political arena at this time to prevent further suffering and bloodshed in Iraq."
At the same time, Pax Christi held a prayer vigil at Downing Street. This was
in solidarity with the call for regular Friday prayer which
has come from Pax Christi, CAFOD and the National Justice and Peace Network.
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14th October 2002
Call for prayer for Peace in Iraq and Middle East
Three Catholic organisations, the National Justice and Peace Network, Pax Christi and CAFOD have come together to urge parishes, religious communities and schools around the country to set aside time every Friday to pray for peace in Iraq and the Middle East. They believe in the need for strong Christian solidarity and prayer at this very fragile time and will distribute special prayer cards which invite people to pray for an hour, a day or even to organise 24-hour prayer vigils every Friday during the coming months.
Rosa Shea, Chair of the National Justice and Peace Network said: " We are conscious that the lives of many people in Iraq and the Middle East are already blighted by violence and suffering. They now face an even greater threat of violence which would create an intolerable burden. It would be wonderful to think of our Cathedrals, convents, parish communities and schools becoming beacons of prayer and hope for peaceful alternatives. This would be a great witness within our own country and an act of solidarity with those who are suffering."
Peace in Iraq and the Middle East
We come to you, God Creator.
You are the source of life and beauty and power.
Your son Jesus is the way of faith and hope and love.
Your Spirit is the fire of love, the fount of wisdom, the bond of unity.
You call us at all times to be people of the beatitudes,
Witnesses to the Gospel of peace and love and forgiveness.
You call us at this time, when war and rumours of war,
weigh heavily on the peoples of Iraq and the Middle East.
Their lives are already broken by suffering and violence.
We renew our acceptance of your call.
We promise to work:
To bring the light of the Gospel to those living in darkness,
To bring the hope of the Gospel to those living in despair,
To bring the healing of the Gospel to the lonely, the disadvantaged, the marginalized,
And to bring the peace of the Gospel to a divided world.
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24th September 2002
| While politicians debated the crisis with Iraq in the House of Commons Christians gathered for the Pax Christi vigil and fast for peace in Parliament Square. The vigil, which lasted from 11:00am - 5:00pm, attracted people from Cambridge, Surrey, Oxford, Kent, as well as from parishes, Quaker groups, and religious communities in the London area. The vigil was enhanced by the presence and chanting of Japanese Buddhist monks who joined the vigil. |
The vigil was called to offer prayerful support for the politicians engaged in debate - to urge that they work towards peaceful, nonviolent responses to the situation in Iraq. The simple message was "No to war in our name. Yes to Peace with Justice." Pax Christi reported that groups and parishes around the country were also engaged in prayer and fasting during the day. Members of a parish in Wales were praying every hour on the hour. In Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, a group were meeting for evening prayer for peace. A group of Christian women gathered at Menwith USA airbase in Yorkshire in solidarity with the London vigil. Support extended to the United States as Catholic, Quaker and Episcopalian's in Connecticut organised their own fast for peace. Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi, said: Christians have deep and valuable traditions to draw upon in times of crisis. Prayer and fasting are two such traditions. We wanted to be proactive in creating an opportunity for people to express their deep concern before any further tragedy unfolds. There is enough suffering and violence in the world already and thousands of ordinary people, aware of this, know that military responses to problems only create further suffering.
Fasting and Prayer for
Peace with Iraq
Stuart Hemsley (Chair) & Pat Gaffney (General Secretary of Pax Christi UK)
photo by Ellen Teague
|Members of Pax Christi will take part in the national Stop the War Rally due to take place in Central London on Saturday 28th September.|
16th September 2002
Pax Christi Calls for Prayer - Vigil and Fasting for Peace in Iraq
Pax Christi, the International Catholic movement for Peace, is urging its members, supporters and Christian communities around the country to pray and fast for peace in Iraq on Tuesday 24th September. This is the date which has been set for the debate within Parliament on the current crisis with Iraq. Pax Christi will also hold a silent vigil and fast for peace in Parliament Square between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm on 24th September.
Speaking from the Pax Christi office, Pat Gaffney, General Secretary said: " We are living in a very dangerous time - a time of war and rumours of war. We need spiritual and political actions at this time to help inspire and inform the debate with a spirit of true peace and justice. Prayer and fasting are traditional practices for people of faith - our simple fast can be an act of penance at this critical time"
Pax Christi is also urging that prayers and fasting for peace with Iraq be made in communities and parishes each week - suggesting that Friday be set aside for this. Pax Christi has produced a simple sheet of prayers in support of this.
In July Pax Christi launched the Christian Declaration on the Morality and Legality of War with Iraq. To date, more than 5,000 signatures have been presented to Mr Blair. The office reports that there are daily demands for these petitions from groups and parishes around the country. An increasing number of signatures are now coming from the United States where Pax Christi USA have made the Declaration available to its members. This is an important time for solidarity and action between British and American Christians.
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13th September 2002
Support Grows for Declaration on
Legality and Morality of War with Iraq
Since its public launch in mid-July, the Christian Declaration questioning the morality and legality of war against Iraq has gained widespread support. The initial signatories included Archbishop Rowan Williams, Anglican Bishops John Perry and Peter Price, Roman Catholic Bishops Malcolm McMahon, Thomas McMahon and Edwin Regan and academics and theologians from around the country. A further 7000 signatures of support (including from Scotland Rt Rev Michael Hare Duke, Most Rev Bruce Cameron, Primus of Scottish Episcopal Church and Rt Rev Maurice Taylor, Bishop of Galloway) have been received from churches based groups, academics and individuals. Pax Christi, the organisers of the Declaration report that they have received much encouragement for the initiative. Many people said that had been looking for an alternative voice to that being offered by our political leaders and hope that the Declaration will generate serious reflection among decision makers. The Declaration appears to have captured the energy of convents, parishes, religious communities and families. It states: " It is deplorable that the world's most powerful nations continue to regard war and the threat of war as an acceptable instrument of foreign policy, in violation of the ethos of both the United Nations and Christian moral teaching. The way to peace does not lie through war but through the transformation of structures of injustice and of the politics of exclusion, and that is the cause to which the West should be devoting its technological, diplomatic and economic resources".
The Declaration was presented at Downing Street at 1.00 PM on Tuesday 6th August. This was also the anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima in 1945. The organisers believe there is a strong link between the two. Forty-three years on the British Government still holds and threatens to use its nuclear weapons.
Dr Tina Beattie, a member of the delegation presenting the Declaration said " When our elected leaders are considering fighting a war in our name, funded by our taxes, there is no morally neutral position. Christians have a responsibility to affirm certain fundamental principles of justice, and for those who consider that a military attack on Iraq would violate those principles, then there is a duty to speak out publicly. The response to this declaration suggests that many welcome an opportunity to do so, adding our voices to the growing number expressing disquiet in military and political circles as George W. Bush and Tony Blair prepare for a war that could further destabilise one of the world's most volatile and violent regions, with devastating consequences for all the people of the Middle East."
Full text of declaration
·* Includes Rt Rev Michael Hare Duke, Bishop of Beverley, Bishop of Chichester (Anglican), Bishop of Northampton (Roman Catholic), Gerard Hughes SJ, Kathy Galloway, Leader, Iona Community, Rev Alan McDonald, Church and Nation Committee of the Church of Scotland, Wilfred McGreal O.Carm, Prior of Aylesford Priory Kent/ Provincial leaders of the following religious orders: Daughters of Wisdom, Passionists, Carmelites, Comboni Sisters, Xaverian Missionary Society, Srs of St Joseph of Peace, Religious of the Assumption/ Churches Together in Loughborough, Kings Lynn, Stockport, Highgate, Falmouth, Wales, Manchester/ General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Wales/The Iona Community Meeting in Plenary/ academics from Universities in Oxford, Birmingham, Lancaster, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Zambia,/ Religious communities in Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Italy and concerned individuals from Australia, USA, Canada, Japan, India, Switzerland and Italy.
Delegation handing in Declaration:
Dr Tina Beattie (Theologian, academic and member of drafting Committee), Rev Rob Esdaile, (Chaplain, Sussex University), Sr Ann Rutan (Leader of the Srs of St Joseph of Peace), Rev David Pattison, (Churches Together in Loughborough and Loughborough Council of Faiths), Sr Annaliese (representing the Anglican Community of the Sisters of the Church), Stuart Hemsley, (Chair, Pax Christi)
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23rd July 2002
Christian peacemakers take to the streets
More than 150 people, members of religious orders, human rights and peace groups, took to the streets of Westminster on Tuesday 23rd July to challenge Government policy on arms trade during a week when it was 'business as usual' for the arms export industry at the Farnborough Air Show. Their protest also followed reports by House of Commons Committees who claim that the decision to continue selling arms to India and Pakistan during the latest crisis flies in the face of the Government's own export guidance.
|The Call to Conversion statement was delivered to the Department of Trade and Industry, the Treasury, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Downing Street during a prayer pilgrimage. The specific political demands were for the Government to tighten its export controls and keep to those guidelines already in place; to end subsidies, currently around £760 million, to arms export companies and to help companies involved in the arms trade reorientate from military to civil production by creating a National Conversion Fund. This coincided with a letter to The Times by church-leader signatories of the Call to Conversion in which they stated "Christian communities around the world urge us to do what we can to stop the flooding of their countries with weapons and to end the exploitation of political differences and conflicts that make financial profit."|
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20th June 2002
Christian Leaders Challenge Legality and Morality of War Against Iraq
A group of Christian theologians and activists, in collaboration with the Catholic peace movement Pax Christi, today launched an ecumenical declaration on the morality and legality of a war against Iraq.
The declaration has among its initial supporters Archbishop Rowan Williams - Bishop Malcolm McMahon (RC) - Bishop Thomas McMahon (RC) - Bishop Edwin Regan (RC) - Bishop Peter Price (Anglican) - Bishop John Perry (RC) - Revd Dr John Vincent, Past President, Methodist Conference of Great Britain - Rev Alan McDonald, Church and Nation Committee, Church of Scotland - Christine Allen, Executive Director, CIIR - Sr Jessica Gatty for the Religious of the Assumption - Sr Rosemary Reilly for Sisters of St Joseph of Peace - Timothy Radcliffe OP - Prof Ursula King, University of Bristol - Rev Bernie McDermot, Director, Columban Fathers - Dr Laurence Hemming, Heythrop College - Rosemary Read, National Justice and Peace Network.
The declaration calls for 'a far-sighted and effective response' to the problem of terrorism through the processes of international law. It also argues that a clear distinction must be made between the 'war on terrorism', which is an act of political rhetoric, and any proposed military campaign against Iraq. It draws attention to the historical situation in Iraq and to the on-going suffering of the Iraqi people, and it argues that the UN Charter precludes any pre-emptive strike against a sovereign state, no matter how great the perceived threat might be. The declaration supports the reintroduction of UN inspectors to Iraq, but it also calls upon the world's nuclear weapon states, including Britain, to honour their own obligations to conclude negotiations aimed at the abolition of nuclear weapons. It expresses 'grave concern' over recent threats to use nuclear weapons against Iraq by the British Secretary of Defence, Geoffrey Hoon. The declaration ends with the conclusion that 'an attack on Iraq would be both immoral and illegal', and it calls upon the international community seek peace not through war, but 'through the transformation of structures of injustice and of the politics of exclusion'.
The declaration will be circulated for signature among Christian clergy, academics and parishioners, with the intention of giving a collective Christian response to the present crisis in international relations, before being presented to Mr Tony Blair on August 6.
Full text of declaration
|Further information from:||Pat Gaffney on 020 8203 4884|
|Tina Beattie on 01179 426212|
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9th June 2002
Pax Christi Members Celebrate Good News
Annual General Meeting - 8th June 2002, Derby
There was much good news to celebrate at the Annual General Meeting of Pax Christi, the international catholic movement for peace. Members from around the country gathered in Derby to hear about positive developments in the movement. These include an increase in membership, renewed support for the celebration of Peace Sunday and the success of the Call to Conversion arms trade project, which has the open support of twenty-five Church leaders and sixteen Christian organisations. Etienne De Jonghe, the International Secretary of Pax Christi spoke of the growth of the movement in Asia, Latin America and Africa which brings richness and new challenges to the Movement. A video on Pax Christi's work was also launched.
New vice-presidents were welcomed to the Movement: Margaret Scally, former Chairperson, Rev Giovanni Scudiero, Dean of Studies at the Missionary Institute London, Archbishop Rowan Williams, Canon Nicholas Frayling - new Dean of Chichester and Dr Leslie Griffiths from Wesley's Chapel, London. These last three represent the desire of Pax Christi to be more open to ecumenical co-operation in its work for peace.
Guest speaker, John Battle MP, outlined various approaches to international relations and contrasted the traditional pragmatic realism that governs state-to-state relations and is underpinned by a pessimistic view of human nature with a biblically inspired vision of the Kingdom of God. The former is also characterised by the supremacy of the State over the rights of individuals and against international solidarity. This model is enforced by violence and militarism. He suggested that the apparent intractability of many problems we are faced with today - Middle East, Kashmir etc - is often rooted in a loss of a sense of history that can lead to a failure to deal with realities of injustice. These problems resurface regularly as conflicts.
Bishop Malcolm McMahon, National President of Pax Christi, celebrated Mass at the end of the day.
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16th April 2002
A Pax Christi - CAAT Christian Network / Project
Launch of Christian Project to Challenge the Arms Trade "A Call to Conversion"
On Monday 15th April, the CAAT Christian Network and Pax Christi launched a joint project aimed at engaging Church leaders and faith communities in a campaign to press the UK Government on arms trade issues. In the 'Call to Conversion' statement - which will be sent to every Church leader following the launch, the supporting organisations say:
"We believe that pleas from our brothers and sisters around the world amount to a call to conversion. We believe that it is time to have a fundamental review of our role in the world with regard to our arms dealing. Christian communities around the world remind us that fundamentally we are all sisters and brothers, children of the one God. They urge us to do what we can to stop the flooding of their countries with weapons."
To date, the project is endorsed by:
Church Leaders & Representatives
Revd Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Wales
Bishop Malcolm McMahon OP, President of Pax Christi
Bishop Thomas McMahon, (RC), Brentwood
|Bishop Wilfred Wood, (CoE) Croydon|
Bishop John Perry, (CoE) Chelmsford
Bishop Colin Bennetts, (CoE) Coventry
|Bishop Kieran Conry, (RC) Arundel & Brighton||Bishop John Crowley, (RC) Middleborough|
|Bishop Crispian Hollis, (RC) Portsmouth||Bishop Mark Jabala, (RC) Menevia|
|Bishop Graham James, (CoE) Norwich||Bishop James Jones (CoE) Liverpool|
|Bishop Michael Langrish, (CoE) Exeter||Bishop Kevin McDonald, (RC) Northampton|
|District Bishop Jack Nicholls, (CoE) Sheffield||Bishop Edwin Regan, (RC) Wrexham|
|Bishop David Stancliffe,(CoE) Salisbury||Bishop John Sentamu, (CoE) Stepney|
|Bishop Michael Turnball, (CoE) Durham||David Coffey, General Secretary, Baptist Union|
|Fr Chris Boles SJ, Jesuit Province||David Cornick, United Reformed Church Peace Forum|
|Rev William Morrey, Methodist District Chair, South Wales||Rev Norman Shanks, Leader of Iona Community|
|Dr N. Wright, President of the Baptist Union||John Kavanagh, OFM Cap (Parish Priest)|
|Dominic J. Kavanagh||Fr Giovanni Scudiero, Consolata Missionaries|
|Fr Gerard Hughes SJ|
Baptist Peace Fellowship
Africa Europe Faith & Justice Network UK
Anglican Pacifist Fellowship
Columban Faith and Justice
Conference of Religious
Jesuit Refugee Service
|Jesuit Social Apostolate Commission||Missionary Institute London|
National Board of Catholic Women
National J&P Network
Northern Friends Peace Board
Quaker Peace & Social Witness
|Unitarian Peace Fellowship|
Participants at the launch heard from :
Bishop Thomas McMahon, Bishop of Brentwood and vice-president of Pax Christi who affirmed the project and challenged the contradiction of politicians who call for an end to terrorism and yet still promote the arms trade
| || |
Sr Pat Robb, a representative of the Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network who has worked on health-related projects in conflict regions of Africa for ten years. She spoke of the complete breakdown of health, education and development programmes as a result of war and conflict.
The 'Call to Conversion Campaign' addresses three specific political issues to the British government.
Double-click here for full text of the Statement
For more information contact:
|Chris Cole, CAAT 020 7281 0297 or Pat Gaffney, Pax Christi on 020 8203 4884 |
Call to Conversion Campaign Pack available from CAAT 11 Goodwin Street, London N4 3HQ
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