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Members News 2018

11 November – Peace and Remembrance in Wisbech

Sean Finlay a member from Wisbech in East Anglia writes:  A small group of peace activists assembled at the Thomas Clarkson memorial on Sunday evening and I represented Pax Christi.  The reading below was done by Maureen James, a local historian. We lighted some candles. And after a period of silence we made our way to the war memorial nearby where the wreath was laid. As far as I know it is is still there. We were keen to make the point that on this memorable date we should not be content with remembering the fallen but state that never again should our young people he asked to go to war. This is true remembrance and the best honour we can render to the fallen.

Maureen’s talk began: this gathering is important for more reasons that that it is 100 years since the end of the First World War.  It is also the anniversary of the unveiling of this, the Clarkson Memorial in 1991.  Thomas Clarkson ws a driving for behind the abolition of slavery and a founder of the Peace Society... more here

10 November 2018

St Joseph’s parish Guildford mark remembrance with a Eucharist and prayer vigil.

Report from John Williams.
Beginning with a celebration of the Eucharist over 50 people attended and others came and went.It continued in North St. with the PPU stall and John Morris of the Peace Party selling white poppies. Five other Quakers joined him later. (The stall was outside  Guildford Meeting  House with building next door is a furniture shop now but was one of the pubs hit by the IRA in 1974.)

October 2018 Peace Award for Sister Elizabeth O’Donohoe

On Sunday 14 October, Elizabeth was one of three people to receive the Gordon Wilson/Sidney Hinkes Peace Award.  The Award too took place during the Week of Prayer for World Peace.

Elizabeth is a member of the Catholic congregation of Sisters of the Holy Cross.  After teaching for some years, a spell in Chile, and then serving as a university chaplain, she re-trained as a psychotherapist in 1995, and that has been her work ever since. In 1994 she became involved with Westminster Diocesan Interfaith Commission, and joined the team as the North London representative.

The most distinctive activity of this group has been an annual Multi-Faith Pilgrimage for Peace which attracts about two hundred people for a day visiting places of worship in a particular neighbourhood of London.

Elizabeth is a member of her parish justice and peace group at St Mellitus Church, Tollington Park, London N4.  Her special contribution has been her interfaith contacts, carefully nurtured by her regular attendance at the Islington Interfaith Forum, getting to know leaders at the Finsbury Park Mosque and Muslim Welfare House, and the grassroots building-up of community, good will, and friendship.  For 20 years she has been part of the Finsbury Park Christian and Muslim Leaders group which meets monthly to discuss faith, life, and current concerns. Elizabeth is a member of Pax Christi, and supports the annual Hiroshima and Nagasaki Day vigils, Ash Wednesday liturgy outside the Ministry of Defence, and similar public events.

 

New divestment campaign by Pax Christi & J&P  members in Coventry

Paul McGowan writes: 2017 ended for us with one of those rare things – a success for the peace movement. The West Midlands Pension Fund ended its last remaining direct investment in the cluster bomb trade, by withdrawing its funds from the South Korean firm, Hanwha. Since then, we have spent some time considering how to proceed. We now believe we have found the way forward.

In 2015 we discovered that Lockheed Martin, the world’s biggest arms-dealers, had moved into offices in the Design Hub building, which is part of Coventry University’s Technology Park, situated on Mile Lane. LM, which had bought out the previous occupants, quickly removed any signs of their presence when they realised they had been noticed, and in 2016 a new name appeared to take their place in the same location. We assumed that Lockheed Martin had left. We were wrong.

What had actually happened was this: in 2016 Lockheed Martin merged its IT wing with another US firm, previously known as SAIC. The new company became known as Leidos, and that is the name which is now displayed in the entrance to the Design Hub. Lockheed Martin owns 50.5% of Leidos and nominates three Directors to its Board. In other words, Lockheed Martin owns Leidos outright and has a hand in managing their activities.

Leidos does several things: military logistics, cyber technology, homeland security and healthcare management. It is ranked, by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 17th in the world top 100 arms-dealers, with 61% of its business classified as arms-related. In relation to its military logistics activity, its website declares: ‘Whenever a US soldier fires a weapon in the Middle East, no matter how big or small, the ammunition likely came from a staging area in Kuwait … managed by the FORTUNE 500 company Leidos.’ Leidos, therefore, under the direction of Lockheed Martin, is channelling weapons into the world’s most troubled and unstable region.  Read on

 

Round-up of Hiroshima events, August  2018

Anne Dodd reports for the  Abingdon Peace Group.  We had our usual vigil at the War Memorial from 7.45-8.15 am, and were joined, as last year, by a young man who comes from Hiroshima and who in fact will be back there this week with his wife and son, visiting his family. We also had a little ceremony in the Abbey Meadow in the afternoon to dedicate the Peace Tree, a Japanese cherry which we planted many years ago but which had to be replaced recently. We read a “postcard from Hiroshima” which reported on a 50-day pilgrimage taking place now, from the island of Okinawa to Hiroshima. We also heard a poem written by one of our members, Mavis Howard, after a visit to the Luneberger Heath and the death camp at Belsen, reflecting on the deaths there and in the firestorm at Dresden.

David Mumford reports from Dunbar, Scotland: The vigil service held at the Peace Pole in the grounds of St. Anne’s Episcopal/Methodist Church, Dunbar, commemorated those who died and witnessed to the continuing need for peace, disarmament and reconciliation.
The vigil on Monday August 6th was supported by members of other churches in Dunbar. The Rev. David Mumford, a retired priest at St. Anne’s, welcomed those who came. The words of Pope Francis were read, calling on humanity to reject war for ever and to ban nuclear weapons.
Thanks were given for the recent United Nations Treaty approved by 122 countries outlawing nuclear weapons and prayers said that our nation would sign up to the Treaty. The vigil ended with prayers for peace between countries, for peace between people and for inner peace.

 

 

Reflection on Drone Warfare discussion at our AGM, member Frank Campbell, Southampton.  June 2018

Frank with Bruce Kent

I have attempted to follow the evolution of drones as weapons and the campaign mounted by Chris Cole to have their use banned as weapons of war.  I am prompted to write following the talk at the recent AGM of Pax Christi in Nottingham, where a speaker discussed the implications in international law of challenging the use of armed drones in non-judicial executions and anti -terrorist campaigns.

There is general agreement internationally that the use of ABC weapons (atomic, biological, chemical) are banned but this does not cover the increasing use of drones in conflicts.

There is a difficulty in speaking of ‘war’ at present because we inhabit a world in which the conventions of declaring war and of concluding a peace settlement are widely ignored. Legally the USA and North Korea are still at war after fifty years.  Nor can we assume that the people using armed drones have any authority as nation states to take such actions.  Read on

Reflection from Patricia Stoat, opening our AGM in Nottingham.  June 2018

This very day, as Pax Christi meets in Nottingham, there’s a parade going on up the road. HMS Sherwood is being granted the Freedom of the City. Not a real ship, of course, but the East Midlands’ Royal Navy Reserve. There’s a ceremony in the Old Market Square.

Yesterday, the Church remembered St Justin and his companions, martyred by the Roman imperial authorities in 165ad. They were invited to offer incense to the Emperor … a gesture, merely. “Look away, cross your fingers, just a pinch of incense on the altar, all done.  It won’t hurt a bit. But of course if you refuse … “. Justin and his companions did refuse. “Do what you will”, they said. “We are Christians. We do not sacrifice to idols”.

The enduring idol to which humankind sacrifices so much is the idol of war. We sacrifice wealth, scientific and technical skills, emotional commitment, our hopes and our freedom to this idol; we surround it with pageantry, drums and banners and bands, to cast over it a glamour that will disguise its true nature; we offer it our intellectual integrity, when we accept or concede that our freedom depends on the capacity to kill, maim and destroy.  Read on

 

Bikes for Peace in Liverpool, May 2018

Pax Christi Liverpool  was amongst other groups that welcomed a group of cyclists from Norway including representatives of Mayors for Peace . Travelling from Warrington to Liverpool they visited the Warrington Peace Centre . One of their earliest projects was in the 1970s cycling in Northern Ireland to promote peace and they have also campaign about the dangers of nuclear weapons visiting affected areas. It was an opportunity to share and reflect with a reception hosted by the Quakers.

Remembering Gaza and Challenging the Arms Trade in Coventry, May 2018

Ann Farr, Pax Christi member from Coventry, reports on two recent events outside Coventry Cathedral.

Pax Christi members, Paschal Somers, Paul McGowan and Ann Farr were joined, on the steps of Coventry Cathedral Ruins, by Marwan Darweish, Carol Rank and Andrew Rigby for a silent vigil for Gaza. At intervals we read aloud the names of those brutally killed in Gaza on Nakba Day. We remembered too all those who had been killed during the Great March of Return, all those injured and all who mourn. We held posters that reminded us, and passers by, that Coventry, the City of Peace and Reconciliation, is implicated in the carnage through its Pension Fund investments in the Arms Trade. Coventry University rents property to Leidos, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, the biggest Arms Trader in the world.

Then on Thursday, 17th May, Peace Campaigners stood outside Coventry Cathedral as local citizens went in to take part in the installation of the new Lord Mayor. The posters we held read: ‘We have stopped cluster bombs. No council Tax for any arms dealers’.

In conversations with those going in , we explained that for 5 years we have campaigned for Coventry, and the other members of the West Midlands Consortium, to divest our Pension Fund money from cluster bombs – which are illegal! It has finally happened. Now we want them to divest from all Arms Dealers.

The City Councillors gathered, significantly, in the bombed ruins of the old Cathedral and processed down the steps into the new. We silently lined their path with our placards and a huge banner saying: ‘No Council Tax to Arms Dealers’. A reminder that we have not gone away and that there is more work to do!
The protest has been organised by members of Coventry Deanery Justice and Peace Group and Pax Christi every year for the past 5 years. We were joined by members of Coventry Friends of Palestine.
We do not think it is possible for Coventry to be a City of Peace and Reconciliation and contribute to weapons manufacturers  and therefore to the killing and injuring of thousands of people and the destruction of infrastructure.

 

Creating a Peace Chain in Arras, France, April 2018

IMG_2090 (1)Pax Christi member and J&P worker for Westminster Diocese, Barbara Kentish, recently took part in a peace festival in Arras, France where Pax Christi Interational was holding its Annual General Meeting.  Barbara writes here of her experiences:

15000 people were going to make a ‘human peace chain’ along the Western Front in Northern France at the end of April, to mark the centenary of the end of the ‘Great War’ and my sister and I wanted to be part of it.   The problem was finding out more.

Faites La Paix/Make Peace was an event sponsored by several towns in Nord-Pas-de-Calais: Lille, Lens, Arras, as well as charities such as  Pax Christi, and even a bank.  Pax Christi had told us about it back in the Autumn, and since we have visited our grandfather’s Commonwealth war grave on the Somme battlefield several times, we wanted to be part of the peace celebration.  There were various websites to sign up on – which instantly asked us to volunteer, to come for planning meetings, to facilitate, guide, welcome.  Alas, distance, time and expense prevented that.   But how could we simply turn up from

Members of PCI team who took part in overnight walk

Members of PCI team who took part in overnight walk

England and take part?

Pax Christi International was holding its annual general meeting in nearby Arras, and Pat Gaffney, UK coordinator, gave us a clearer picture.  There would be talks, films and concerts on the Thursday and Friday in Lille and Arras, with a major event at the national ‘Necropole’ of Notre Dame de Lorette.  This is a monument to the 20,000 unknown French soldiers whose remains were unidentified, and more recently, a monument of a different kind.  On the Saturday there would be a sort of Fair, with music, food and games in the grounds of the Arras Diocesan Centre.  Overnight a torchlight walk would trace the trenches of the soldiers,  from Arras to Notre Dame de Lorette.  On the Sunday, a triangular chain of people would link Neuville St Vaast, a German memorial, with Vimy, a Canadian one and Souchez, a site of huge losses of 188,000, of which 100,000 were French, along the Artois front.  This was the ferocious battle, in 1914-15, for the tiny hill (168 metres above sea-level) of Notre Dame de Lorette. Full article here

 

What happened for Peace Sunday?

image1Helga Galloway from St Gregory’s parish, Barnet organised a stall in here church and reports: I was pleased that our pastoral assistant used the children’s activity cards in the children’s liturgy group and with the communion preparation group.  Cards were also given to children who attend non-catholic schools and their parents.  More than 100 Pax Christi membership leaflets were handed out.

 

Frances Hogwood from Dorchester reported that her parish, Holy Trinity,  held a beautiful  Holy Hour between  3-4 pm on 14 January, finishing with Benediction.  Pax Christi prayer cards and the activity card for children were distributed and Frances gave out  more than 50 copies of extracts of the World Peace Day message

The Liverpool Pax Christi Group ran an information stall at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool on 14 January for the 10.00 Family Mass and again in the Crypt for the Student Mass. A group member in the parish of Christ the King in Childwall ensure that  Peace Sunday was celebrated and a special collection was taken for Pax Christi.IMG_2024

In London, Westminster Cathedral Primary School created an art-work for Holy Apostles Parish.  Each class  will make a 3D paper candle, writing on it  the name of a country where refugees have had to leave. These were presented on a 3D display of a road and the words ROAD to PEACE along it as well as a picture of a DOVE.

Pat Gaffney spoke at Masses at St Wilfrid’s Church, Kennington Park on Sunday 14 and at Our Lady’s Church, Acomb, York on Sunday 21 January.  Hundreds of prayer cards and leaflets were distributed and good conversations held.  Both parishes took collections for Pax Christi’s work.

Stall in York

Stall in York

 

 

 

 

 

In St John’s Church, Bath, the J&P group created a special quiz/information flyer for people to complete, testing knowledge of refugees, the arms trade etc…  The Nonviolent Jesus prayer card was much appreciated and several hundred of these were  given out.

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