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June-July 2016

18 July: Pax Christi joins vigil in Parliament Square on night of Trident vote

Pictures  of the event 

Pat=Parliament Square

Pax Christi’s Pat Gaffney speaking in Parliament Square

Members of Pax Christi joined hundreds of others for a two-hour vigil in Pariament Square while MPs in the House of Commons were engaged in a debate on Trident.  Catholics, Quakers, Anglicans, Methodists and Buddhists stood in silence with their clear and simple message: No Faith in Trident.

During the evening members of Parliament from the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Greens and Labour joined the vigil to report on the state of the debate and offer solidarity with those in the vigil.

Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi and Bruce Kent , Vice-President of CND were among the other speakers.  Pat Gaffney spoke on behalf of faith groups.  Pat praised the energy and creativity of those who have been campaigning over recent months and years. She said that many had  taken part in vigils and protests.  Thousands have prayed that our Government will have the wisdom and integrity to vote against the renewal of Trident.

Parliament SquarejpgPat  said that it is  an act of ‘faithlessness’ to claim that we can be protected with a weapon of mass destruction. People of faith say it is never permissible to use nuclear weapons or to threaten to commit mass murder with nuclear weapons. The very existence of nuclear weapons is an affront to and a theft from the poor and vulnerable of our world.

Pat went on to share extracts from statements issues by Church leaders in Scotland, England and Wales, all of which have been shared with MPs in preparation for the vote.  Full text of Pat’s speech here

13 July, London, Faiths unite and say NO to Trident

FaithsMembers of Pax Christi joined with Anglicans, Methodists, Quakers and Buddhists today in supporting the Stop Trident Lobby in Central London today.  Starting with an ecumenical service in St Martin-in-the-Fields they then held an hour-long vigil opposite the House of Commons as the Lobby began.

During the service they heard the words of the Scottish Bishops from a statement issued on 12 July: ” The UK signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Britain should take more decisive and courageous steps to revive Pope Francis1that aspect of the treaty and not seek to prolong the status quo”  The Scottish Bishops have been clear and consistent in speaking out on the immorality of nuclear weapons.

Hundreds of people passed by the vigil, many showing great interest and engaging in conversations.  Following the vigil many of those taking part went in to the  House of Commons to lobby their PMs and MSPs.  Members of Justice and Peace Scotland joined the vigil and Pax Christi members from Leeds, Loughborough,Kent, Surrey and many parts of London took part too. According to CND,  who called for the Lobby, more than 100 MPs were lobbied by hundreds of constituents.  Many Pax Christi members who could not come to London  wrote to MPs or arranged meetings at local level.

On Monday evening there will be another vigil outside  Parliament at 6.00pm.  MPs are due to vote on the replacement of Trident on Monday.

 

11 July – Pax Christi members to Lobby Parliament on replacement of Trident 

Lobby CardPax Christi, the international Catholic movement for peace, has been mobilising its members and others to speak out against the planned replacement of Trident, the British nuclear weapon system, due to be voted upon on Parliament on Monday 18 July. A single Trident warhead is more than six times as powerful as the bomb which killed 140,000 people
in Hiroshima.

In recent weeks Pax Christi have written to every Catholic MP, urging them to consider the moral and legal implications of voting to replace Trident and encouraged their members to do the same with all constituency MPs. Pax Christi is also a co-sponsor of a Lobby of Parliament which will take place in London on 13 July and have called on members to visit their MPs. The Lobby will be preceded by a ecumenical prayer service in the Dick Shephard Chapel at St Martin-in-the-Fields,
Trafalgar Square at 12 noon.

In addition, Pax Christ have been writing to all members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference encouraging them to reaffirm their 2006 statement on nuclear weapons and set a clear moral guidance of this critical issue.

Pax Christi are much encouraged by the words of Pope Francis who has made it clear that nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful co-existence among people and states.

In recent weeks Pax Christi have distributed thousands of copies of the jointly produced Trident Briefing, aimed at helping Christians engage in debate and discussion on replacement.

Pax Christi’s General Secretary, Pat Gaffney said: “We know our members are deeply concerned and disturbed about the possible replacement of Trident. At this time in our history, to be investing money, technology, creativity in such a project is immoral when we ignore the real problems of the world: poverty, injustice, climate change, terrorism. None of
these can be addressed by nuclear weapons. We want to see projects of international co-operation and information sharing that will break down barriers between people, create real safety and security and use skills and resources for the common good”.

17 June 2016 – Launch of report on Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions 

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Pax Christi sister organisation PAX Netherlands has  issued an update of its Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions report. Cluster munitions are banned under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) because they kill indiscriminately.  The report shows that 158 financial institutions invested more than  US$28 billion in seven producers of banned cluster munitions. More here

“Recent use of cluster munitions, in amongst others Yemen, shows the devastating effects of these weapons on civilians,” says Suzanne Oosterwijk of Pax. “No financial institution should want to put money in companies that make cluster munitions. These weapons maim and kill indiscriminately – and their investments support that these illegal weapons might show up on the battlefield, putting civilian lives at risk,” she added.

The Report contains a list of financial institutions that still invest in cluster munitions producers. An investor is defined as someone financially involved in a cluster munitions manufacturer.  Among those listed are Prudential UK which has made an estimated US$43 million available to US based Textron who continue to manufacture and sell cluster munitions.

Earlier this year the British Section of Pax Christi began an engagement with Prudential UK.  Writing to their Chair, Paul Manduca, Pax Christi  have pointed out that Prudential UK should not be associated with the trade in cluster munitions.  The UK Government has ratified the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Act 2010.   The central aim of the act is to ban all assistance, encouragement and inducement to the trade in cluster munitions anywhere in the world, on the part of UK nationals.  Pax Christi will continue to press the issue of investments in Textron with Prudential UK.

The PAX report recommends that States draft national legislation prohibiting investment in producers of cluster munitions. This provides clear guidelines for financial institutions and is in the spirit of the CCM .  At the same time, financial institutions should develop policies that exclude all financial links with companies involved in cluster munitions production. Because all investment facilitates this production, no exceptions should be made for third-party financial services, for funds that follow an index or for civilian project financing for a company also involved in cluster munitions.

Pax Christi believe that Christians are called to challenge those systems and institutions that support and perpetuate the production, promotion and sale of the tools of war.  Pax Christi are inspired by the words of Pope Francis who consistently speaks out against war and the arms trade as in his Easter Message of 2015,  “… we ask peace for this world subjected to arms dealers, who profit from the blood of men and women.”

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