21 May, Pax Christi Annual General Meeting in Leeds
The Leeds Pax Christi group offered warm hospitality to those who gathered from around the country to take part in our Annual General Meeting. The overall message was that Pax Christi’s work in schools, parishes and internationally is thriving. Anne Dodd, outgoing Chair, opened the meeting by thanking Exec, staff members for all they do to support and resource members to put their faith into action and bring peacemaking, reconciliation and peace-building to the heart of the Church community.
Speaking of financial matters, Treasurer Joe Burns explained that Pax Christi is working on a well-managed budget where income and expenditure match, enabling us to maintain key outreach work. This financial stability is due in part to the success of Peace Sunday which accounts for around half of Pax Christi’s income. Annual report here
Schools and youth officer Matt Jeziorski spoke of an increased demand for workshops and sessions in schools and of the cooperation that is being developed with local members around schools work. Peter Hickey spoke of the high demand for Pax Christi resources, especially our Palestinian Christmas card and goods, around Advent and Christmas. Increasingly our resources are web-based and we hope to develop a Pax Christi shop in the year ahead. Fausta Valentine spoke of the value of on-line giving and membership. We recruited 103 new members in 2015 and need to remind members that this facility is available.
A highlight of Pax Christi’s outreach was the report given by Valerie Flessati and Pat Gaffney on the recent international conference in Rome on Nonviolence and Justpeace. Co-hosted by Pax Christi International and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace it brought together eighty participants from around the world, peace practitioners, theologians, academics to explore four themes: Experiences of nonviolence, Jesus’ way of nonvolence, nonviolence and just peace and moving beyond unending war. Valerie, Pat and Chris Cole participated from the UK and helped with the process. We have great opportunities now to work with others, including Pax Christi sections around the world, to flesh out for the Church a deep understanding of active nonviolence and the processes and tools needed to replace Just War approaches to conflict with Just Peace approaches.
The gathering thanked and acknowledged Anne Dodd as Chair and Arn Dekker, Exec member who were standing down. Anne has been a most sensitive and reflective Chair for the past six years and a member of Pax Christi since the 1960s. Arn will remain on the Finance Committee and is also working with the office on developing the on-line giving. Holly Ball was elected as the new Chair of Pax Christi. Holly served on the Exec in the 1990s and returned two years ago. She has experience of Pax Christi’s grass roots work in England and Wales and of the work of International having taken part in assemblies in Assisi, Jordan and Bethlehem.
Subversive Peacemakers was the theme for our afternoon Conference. Clive Barrett introduced something of the lives of First World War CO and presented some of the music that gave strength to those in prison – representing either commitment to internationalism, socialism or faith. Everyone happily joined in singing the People’s flag and a peace version of the National Anthem with the words: ” may peace her sway extend, foe be transformed to friend, and Britain’s power depend on war no more”!
Active peacemaking today was presented in the work of Lindis Percy. In the 1990s Lindis founded the Campaign for Accountability of American Bases to expose and oppose their presence in the UK. Through often painstaking legal challenges Lindis is using local and international law to challenging US military presence in the UK. Arrested most recently at Menwith Hill in May Lindis awaits the outcome and consequences of this action.
15 May, International Conscientious Objector Day
Pax Christi was involved in a number of events to mark this day. In London a gathering was held at the memorial to COs in Tavistock Square. Speakers included two relatives of the COs from 1916. Jill Gibbon spoke about her grandfather, Bert Brocklesby, who was one of those sent to France and given the (commuted) death penalty. Siw Wood spoke about her uncle, Walter Roberts, who was the first man to die as a consequence of his treatment, in the terrible conditions at Dyce camp.
Hannah Brock from War Resisters’ International gave a short overview of the situation for COs today. Read a fuller report of the London event from Ellen Teague.
Pax Christi member Arn Dekker took part in an event in Cambridge where a procession was held between Kings Parade and the Market Square. Here they stopped and invited those passing to add a white poppy to the wire wall they created.
In Edinburgh Pax Christi member Arianna Andreangelli took part in a vigil in Edinburgh where the name of the 235 Edinburgh men who were COs were read out. Arianna took an image of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter and shared some of his words. The Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre is working to erect a memorial to COs in Princes Street Gardens.
18 April 2016. Global Day of Action on Military Spending marked across UK
Here you can read the statement from Pax Christi International , ‘If we want to give peace a real chance, we have to give it a real budget’.
Health & Education were top of the list in a ballot taken today in Central London for the Global Day of Action on Military Spending.
Members of Pax Christi, part of the national GDAMS planning group, held a ballot at Kings Cross Station earlier today inviting passers-by to ‘Vote for a Safer World’. Their choices in order: Education & Healthcare; Tackling Climate Change; International cooperation and Arms and Military intervention.
This is the 5th year that the Global Day of Action on Military Spending has been marked in the UK. At the weekend events were held in Edinburgh and Huddersfield and today events that we know of took place in Leeds, Dorchester, Hebden Bridge, Keighley, Oxford, Abingdon, Kingston, Coventry, Liverpool and London.
The 2016 UK Government budget for the military stands at £46 billion. The UK is the 6th largest military spender in the world. Globally
military spending stands at $1.75 trillion. GDAMS offers ordinary people an opportunity to think of what will make for a safer world.
At a recent conference co-hosted by Pax Christi International and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Pope Francis offered a message in which he urged people to “seek solutions to the unique and terrible ‘world war in instalments’ ” Catholic Social Teaching has for decades made the connection between human need, development and disarmament.
GDAMs urges that military spending to be redirected towards social and environmental needs. These needs should take priority over aircraft carriers, long range strike aircraft, armed drones, weapons exports and weapons of mass destruction. In addition we also need new thinking involving civil society and government to create a clear programme of action for spending, research and investment to build sustainable, common security at national and international levels.