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May – August 2018

2 June, Pax Christi Annual Gathering, Nottingham

Liverpool Pax Christi members share a joke

They came from Sussex, Leeds, Southampton, Liverpool, Abingdon, Leicester, Salford, London, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Lincoln and beyond, Pax Christi members and supporters attending the Annual Gathering in Nottingham.  More photographs here .

They heard Pax Christi Chair, Holly Ball, outline a time of transition and long-term planning as the movement prepares for the retirement of its General Secretary, Pat Gaffney, in spring 2019 and a change in its Peace Education work when Matt Jeziorski leaves this summer.  The movement is in a stable financial  position and planning will include a commitment to develop a theology and practice of active nonviolence ; the strengthening of peacemaking communities around the country and a deepening of Pax Christi’s work  with teachers, chaplains and schools . Treasurer Joe Burns reported that Pax Christi currently has 1,100 members who contribute around 15% of income and 1,700 supporters, mostly parishes, who support the annual Peace Sunday appeal to the tune of around £102,000, 43% of income.

Two Pax Christi members were elected for the first time to the Executive Committee, Lorraine Mirham and Theresa Alessandro  both from Leicester.  Each brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the Committee.  Holly Ball, Chris Cole and Helen Gilbert all agreed to stand for another term.  Paul McGowan stood down from the Committee after six years.  Paul ‘s great achievement in persuading the West MIdlands Pension Fund to divest from Cluster Munitions was noted.

Maya Evans and Pat Gaffney

Administrator, Fausta Valentine, thanked members for their ideas and engagement in their own parishes on Peace Sunday.

Pax Christi team member Valerie Flessati spoke of plans to commemorate the lives of Catholic COs from the FWW on 2 October, International Day of Nonviolence and of joint work in preparation for Remembrance Day  that will enable parishes and groups to raise a much-needed commitment to peaceamaking in this season.  A new logo/image has been created entitled ‘No More War: Let‘s make peace happen’.

Pax Christi’s on-line shop attracts much attention and new nonviolence resources, including Choosing Peace – the Catholic church and Gospel nonviolence were presented. This will be developed by publications worker, Peter Hickey

Speakers Maya Evans and Max Brookman Byrne up-dated the gathering on drone warfare today. Maya, a campaigner who has worked with Voices for Creative Nonviolence related her experiences in Afghanistan, where the continued use of drones has a major impact on young people in particular, creating fear and damaging their health. She spoke of ‘signature strikes’, where information is gathered about potential targets who may be deemed terrorists and of the way in which the military calculate their tolerance for ‘collateral’ damage – equating the value of a target in terms of the number of civilians who might be killed in the process. Max, an academic researching and teaching  international law  at Lincoln University, spoke of the need to develop and use political and ethical challenges to drone warfare in addition to legal challenges, which can all too often justify their use. Concepts of self-defence and necessity often dominate discussion about the use of armed drones making it very hard to uphold claims that their use is in contravention of international law.

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, President of Pax Christi, commented on the drone warfare discussion in his homily, speaking of the importance of truth – seeking and highlighting the distinction between legality and morality.  As people of faith, we are called to challenge the legality of action when the cross the line of morality and ethics. He was joined in the celebration of Mass by Bishop Patrick McKinney, Bishop of Nottingham.  We were delighted to welcome Bishop Patrick to his first Pax Christi event.

The day, held at the church of Our Lady and St Patrick,  was supported by the Nottingham J&P Commission who worked behind the scenes to make the day such a success.

 

15 May 2018 – Conscientious objector day in Tavistock Square, London

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C/O day gathering at Tavistock Square

Today over well over a hundred people came together in Central London for the annual commemoration of International Conscientious Objector Day.  Pax Christi members as well as some of the office team gathered together with various groups from the peace movement to celebrate and remember those who refused to fight and continue to suffer persecution today for refusing to engage in violence and war.

 

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Speakers Hannah Brock and Selam Kidane

Hannah Brock of War Resisters International gave us a frank and informative update on the situation in South Korea and also on the new laws being passed in Sweden.  Selam Kidane from Eritrea spoke to us about the situation in her own home country where forced conscription is still in force and where a ‘shoot to kill’ policy still controls the border for those who try to leave.  Many who passed by the busy Tavistock Square stopped to take a few moments and listen to the engaging speakers and share this special time with us.

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Remembering true heroic bravery

People were then invited to take a white rose and to lay it on the C/O stone as the names of conscientious objectors from some 80 countries were read out. One of those names was Blessed Franz Jagerstatter who was killed on 9 August 1943 for refusing to fight in WW2.

We heard some great music and spent a moment in silence together to remember all those who have died and continue to suffer so much for conscience.

Other similar events have taken place up and down the country and Internationaly also. See which events are happening near you.

To all those who have established and are maintaining the right to refuse to kill’

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