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May – June 2017

Pax Christi honours peacemakers at Annual Gathering on 3 June

Every two years Pax Christi, the international Catholic movement for peace, honours the work of unsung
and unknown peacemakers as a way of acknowledging the essential daily work of peacemaking. The first awards were given in 2001 and since then thirty-one women and men have been recognised in this way.

The awards will be presented by Greet Vanaerschot, General Secretary of Pax Christi International who is joining us from Brussels.  The 2017 award is a peace medal created by the artist Natasha Ratcliffe with the title P(lease) E(ngage) A(ll) C(ommunities on) E(arth).

The 2017 awards go to Nan Saeki, Middlesborough Diocese and Rev Gyoro Nagase, Nipponzan Myohoji  Buddhist Order

Nan3 Nationally Nan has been Chair of National Justice & Peace Commission and for many years a member, and Treasurer of Pax Christi’s Executive Committee, perhaps her first love. Nan understands the importance of local groups, and of the friendships and networks these can form across communities. A founder member of York Ecumenical Justice and Peace group and an active participant, she has a special gift of welcoming new people. She is involved with various York organisations including City of Sanctuary, and Friends of St Bede’s Pastoral Centre.

Nan was a prison visitor for 6 years, and she represents NJPN on the CSAN Criminal Justice Forum. Nan was a member of the chaplaincy team and a governor at All Saints School. She supports the Fairer World shop in York, maintaining a regular stall in her parish. Nan is an active member of Middlesbrough
J&P Commission, at onetime as Chair, and currently as Treasurer

Rev. Nagase has lived in Battersea Park, London since 1984 where he is responsible for the care and upkeep of the London Peace Pagoda. Rev. Nagase is a monk of the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order foundedNagase
in 1917 by the Most Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii. Faced with the devastation of WW2, in 1947 Fujii Guruji determined to build Peace Pagodas in Japan and across the world to inspire peace and provide a focus for all to unite in working for reconciliation and harmony.  Rev. Nagase first came to England in 1978 to help with the construction of the Milton Keynes Peace Pagoda. Rev. Nagase has become part of local, national and global peace-making networks.  He is a regular participant in the Westminster Interfaith Peace Walks, the Pax Christi  Ash Wednesday Witness for Peace at the Ministry of Defence and Franz Jagerstatter Memorial Service on Nagasaki Day, London Catholic Worker Peace Actions, & Hiroshima Day Commemorations  in Tavistock Sq; the Japanese Against Nuclear weekly Friday demonstrations outside the Japanese Embassy and TEPCO in solidarity with the people of Fukushima.

Pax Christi International Statement on Palestinian Prisoners – 17 May 2017

Pax Christi International calls on the international community to urgently pressure Israel over the situation of Palestinian prisoners.    Pax Christi International, together with its member organisations (1) and partners (2), is deeply concerned about the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons—especially those who have been on a hunger strike for one month and whose situation is deteriorating. Their health is in danger and they are being subjected to violent and coercive measures and policies by the Israeli Prison Service and special units, attempting to push the prisoners to end their hunger strike. (3) – See more 

Events to mark International  Conscientious Objector Day 13 – 15 May 2017

Group pic

Valerie Flessati, Mary Rylance and Bruce Kent at the CO Memorial Stone, Tavistock Square

Pax Christi members joined with more than a hundred people who gathered in London on 15 May for the annual commemoration of International Conscientious Objector Day.  Pax Christi’s Valerie Flessati welcomed everyone to the event where powerful presentations were offered by Nick Jeffrey, a Vietnam draft resister and Mary Rylance, actor and peace campaigner.  This event was organised by the First World War Peace Forum.

You can read a full account of the event here 

We also have reports of the Leicester event, held on 14 May. They  read out the names of some of those who are currently in prison around the world (in countries that include Israel, Eritrea, Singapore, South Korea, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan) for refusing to fight. More here.  In Sheffield giant white  poppies formed part of the vigil/display held in the city centre on 13 May.

Pax Christi in the news this week – 5 May 2017 

Universe5 MayThe Tablet 5 May has a Parish Practice from Pax Christi which offers opportunities for creating activities in parishes to promote Gospel nonviolence.  In The Universe there is an interview with Pax Christi’s Pat Gaffney on the models of leadership we should be encouraging within the political environment.




 Mark Rylance to perform at International Conscientious Objectors’ Day- 15 May 2017

Images of First World War COs

Images of First World War COs

Other events here 


Sir Mark Rylance, acclaimed in many roles from Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall to Roald Dahl’s BFG, will be speaking at the annual Conscientious Objectors’ Day ceremony held in Tavistock Square, London WC1 at 12 noon on Monday 15 May.

Mark Rylance has gone on record as a supporter of the right not to contribute to military taxes on grounds of conscience. ‘I believe that no society should force any of its citizens into a state of bad conscience. Surely conscience is the most precious and necessary characteristic of any citizen in a healthy democracy. To force a citizen into a state of bad conscience is to breed illness and corruption in society.’

He will introduce and read from the play Not about Heroes – which features the First World War experience of Siegfried Sassoon.

2017 is the centenary of US entry into the First World War.  It is also 50 years since the US became more deeply entrenched in its disastrous war in Vietnam.  Nick Jeffrey, who resisted the US draft, will also be speaking at the ceremony.

The names of conscientious objectors representing all countries and all times in history will be read out, as flowers are laid at the CO memorial in the square, and a minute’s silence will be observed.  Sue Gilmurray will lead the music with Raised Voices choir.

Every year since 1982 15th May has marked International Conscientious Objectors’ Day – to commemorate those who have resisted and those who continue to resist war, especially by refusing military service.

The national commemoration in London is organised by the First World War Peace Forum – a coalition of 12 national peace organisations, including Pax Christi

 Contact: 020 3515 9132  campaign@conscienceonline.org.uk

Elsewhere in the UK the following events are being organised to commemorate International Conscientious Objectors’ Day 2017.

Permanent link to this article: http://paxchristi.org.uk/news-and-events/news-reports/may-june-2017/