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August-September 2016

 

Pilgrim group with the German Cross

Pilgrim group with the German Cross

30 August  Peace Pilgrims return from Vezelay  

See full set of photographs here 

Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi and former chair Anne Dodd were among the fourteen pilgrims from around England who have have just returned from a walking pilgrimage to Vezelay in France. Organised by Student Cross and supported by Pax Christi, the pilgrimage was arranged to mark the 70 anniversary of the 1946 Pilgrim Cross.

The 2016 pilgrims walked for 55 km from Auxerre to Vezelay over two days. On route they prayed for peace and unity in the world in the spirit of the 1946 pilgrimage.  The pilgrims were members of Student Cross, Pax Christi and the National Board of Catholic Women.

Patricia Stoat, Anne Dodd and Pat Gaffney setting off in Auxerre

Patricia Stoat, Anne Dodd and Pat Gaffney setting off in Auxerre

The Pax Christi links with the Pilgrim Cross go back to 1946.  The “crusade for peace” of 1946 was an action of penitence, conversion, forgiveness and peace, with an European dimension. Fourteen wooden crosses were walked and brought from Great Britain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and from several places in France to the magnificent roman basilica. Ignaas Lindemans, one of the former presidents of Pax Christi Flanders and at that time student at the Catholic University of Leuven, followed one of those fourteen wooden crosses with the Belgian delegation.  The German prisoners of war who helped constructing the lodging for the pilgrims requested at the last moment permission to have a cross as well. A fifteenth cross was soon erected

Pat Gaffney took the opportunity to raise funds for the peace education work of Pax Christi through the Christian Peace Education Fund and has raised £1,700 to date.

Pax Christi members remember Hiroshima 2016  (More photographs here)

Stall, Westminster Cathedral

Stall, Westminster Cathedral

Pax Christi members from Barnet to Kendal, London to Liverpool and Southampton to Abingdon and Coventry, took part in Hiroshima events on 6th August 2016.  From bidding prayers in memory of the dead, to information stalls, prayer vigils and acts of witness, the story of the first use of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima in 1945 was shared with hundreds.  The past and the present were brought together as those taking part were urged to work now to overturn the decision make in Parliament in July to replace the Trident nuclear programme.

In London Pax Christi members took part in two events.  Outside Westminster Cathedral members led times of prayer in memory of those who died in Hiroshima and calling for peace and disarmament today.   They also handed out hundreds of leaflets, many in different languages, to communicate with the large tourist population, to remind people of the anniversary and of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.

Bishop Thomas McMahon speaking in Tavistock Square

Bishop Thomas McMahon speaking in Tavistock Square

In Tavistock Gardens, Tavistock Square, an interfaith and civic gathering was coordinated by London Region CND.  Among the speakers was Bishop Thomas McMahon, Emeritus Bishop of Brentwood and Vice-President of Pax Christi.  He spoke passionately about the need to keep on raising awareness and campaigning following the vote to renew Trident.  He stressed that we must now call the Government account for its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to total nuclear disarmament.  Others speakers were Walter Wolfgang, veteran of CND, Mayor of Camden Nadia Shah, Rev Nagase from the London Peace Pagoda, Mohammed Kozbar, Chair of the Finsbury Park Mosque and Sahrar Ali, Deputy Leader of the Green Party.  They were united in their call for the abolition of nuclear weapons, for truth-telling and integrity in political affairs and in a commitment to active nonviolence and peacemaking as the best way to bring about justice and change in society.

Bruce Kent, vice-president of CND and Pax Christi spoke at the annual Hiroshima Day ceremony in Coventry Cathedral and in Abingdon Pax Christi’s Anne Dodd helped organise the Abingdon Peace Group  vigil in the Market Square.  They were joined by Katsuaki Inoue a research scientist living in Abingdon with his wife and young son. When he heard that there was a vigil to mark the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima he rushed down to the war memorial to join in. Katsuaki said, “My father was living in Hiroshima in 1945, but was fortunately in a village a few miles away on August 6th when the bomb was dropped. I am so touched that people in Abingdon still remember what happened. Thank you!”

 

Remembering Hiroshima & Nagasaki

Remembering Hiroshima & Nagasaki

6 and 9 August  Hiroshima and Nagasaki Anniversaries 2016

Pax Christi members around the world will be commemorating the 71 anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945.

In London, Abingdon, Liverpool, Coventry, Scotland  Pax Christi members will participate in  vigils and services of remembrance for Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  On 6 August Bishop Thomas McMahon will speak at an interfaith gathering in Tavistock Square organised by London region CND.  Members of Pax Christi London will hold prayer times and host an information stall outside Westminster Cathedral on both 6 and 9 August.  In Liverpool, Pax Christi members will join the commemoration service in the city centre on 6 August and will host an information stall in the Metropolitan Cathedral on Sunday 7 August.  Bruce Kent will speak at an Hiroshima day service in Coventry Cathedral

Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi said, “This year it is all the more important that we draw attention to the impact of that first use of nuclear weapons – the deal toll, the contamination of the land, the genetic damage caused by radiation.  Our Government has just voted to renew our nuclear weapons programme, Trident at a huge cost.  Perhaps we need to remind the public and our politicians of the humanitarian and environmental costs of nuclear war and nuclear weapons testing.  We must refocus our efforts now to bring our Government in line with their nuclear disarmament commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

Globally, Pax Christi sections around the world will also mark the day.  In a statement issued on 1 August Pax Christi International say:

The profound immorality of nuclear weapons is no longer a subject open for debate. Peacebuilding efforts aimed at increasing our collective security are undermined when the military powers of the world community continue to manufacture and possess nuclear weapons. It is time to pursue a peace that is rooted in the practice of justice and solidarity rather than dependent on the threat of mutually assured destruction

The global community has settled for empty promises, lofty rhetoric and weakened half-measures toward nuclear disarmament for far too long. The enthusiasm among a growing majority of states in favour of a nuclear weapons ban is encouraging, especially as nuclear-armed countries move to modernize their arsenals. The recent decision of the British Parliament to renew and expand the Trident submarine program over the next half-century is a case in point

Full statement here 

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