30 June Peace Vigil outside Church House Conference Centre
More than twenty people gathered this morning outside Church House Conference Centre to protest at the sponsorship of some of the largest arms manufacturers, Lockeed Martin and MBA Missile Systems, of the RUSI Land Warfare Conference. As they stood in silence they were watched by military personnel, journalists and representatives of arms companies who were entering the building to take part in the conference.
The Rev Adam Dickson, an Anglican Priest, celebrated a Eucharist as part of the witness of prayer. Before offering a sign of peace to all those present he prayed, ” The peace of the world is the peace of wealth and empire, of borders and nations, of warfare and weapons. But Jesus said, ” Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. Not as the world gives, do I give you”.
This is the third time the Christian campaigners have organised such a vigil. In 2012 and 2014 similar vigils were held in spite of engagement with Church House Conference Centre and Archbishop Justine Welby, to prevent them.
Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi said: we wrote again this year urging the management of Church House Conference Centre and Archbishop Welby as leader of the Anglican communion to cancel the booking for these Conferences. The Church of England has an Statement of Ethical Investment and speaks of its expectation that companies are ‘conscientious with regard to human rights, sensitive towards the communities in which they operate…” I wanted to assure them both that the companies involved, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems and so on are responsible for the abuse of human rights and the breakdown and fragmentation of communities through conflict and war”. As yet, Pax Christi has not received a response.
The vigil is being supported by Fellowship of Reconciliation, Pax Christi, Campaign Against Arms Trade Christian Network, Christian CND, Christianity Uncut and SPEAK
A further vigil will take place on 15 July when the Chief of Air Staff’s Air Power Conference will be held at Church House Conference Centre.
27 June 2015 – War marketed as family entertainment
Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi and Bruce Kent of the Movement for the Abolition of War are among signatories to a letter published in the Independent today challenging the impact of military culture on young people.
Today is Armed Forces day, a relatively new venture created by the Government to provide a way for ‘the public show their support for the Armed Forces’. However, signatories to the letter believe that it is primarily a promotion and celebration of military culture that is very much aimed at children and young people. This is clearly seen in the number of family fun events, exhibitions and ‘hand-on’ activities that are being held around the country. They are especially concerned for those under-18s who may be recruited into the armed forces as a result of these events. More than 7,000 people have signed a Petition urging our Government to raise the recruitment age to 18. Currently the recruitment age is 16.
The signatories argue: “Rather than institutionalising public support for the armed forces we should stop selling war to children through sanitised celebration of the military and the promotion of “military ethos” in schools. It is unacceptable for the UK to be the only country in the EU to still recruit 16-year-olds into the armed forces, defying the growing international consensus against child recruitment.
As one of the thousands of signatories of our petition to change the law said: “Children should be protected from conflict, not incorporated in it.”
For more information on the impact of policies on young people http://www.forceswatch.net/
Towns and cities across the UK will today (27 June) be “celebrating” Armed Forces Day. Many councils hold these events as signatories to the Armed Forces Community Covenant; almost every local authority has pledged support to the armed forces in perpetuity, and hundreds of businesses, charities and schools have signed the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant.
Many of today’s events are packaged as “family fun”, with military vehicles and weaponry to entice young people, and cadet and armed forces careers marketing to recruit them. War is not family entertainment.
The school assembly packs on offer from the Ministry of Defence display a breath-taking economy with the truth about the purpose and consequences of military action.
Pat Gaffney Pax Christi UK
Emma Sangster ForcesWatch
Ben Griffin Veterans for Peace UK
Bruce Kent Abolition of War
Matt Jeziorski Peace Education Network
Claire Poyner Network for Peace
Philip Austin Northern Friends Peace Board
Brian Larkin Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre
6 June Peace Awards to three women at Pax Christi AGM
Read more about the AGM here
Three women peacemakers were acknowledged at the Pax Christi Annual General Meeting in London, receiving the Neve Shalom – Wahat al Salam Peace Medal from Pax Christi President, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon. The award is given bi-annually to acknowledge grass roots work for peace and justice. The three were Anna Kobayashi Anna Kobayashi , Sue Scott and Sheila Gallather.
Anna Kobayashi has campaigned for many years against the arms trade, joining the blockade at AWE Aldermaston in prayerful witness at the Tadley Gate. She is an active member of Pax Christi, CND and CCND, Trident Ploughshares, the Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp and supporter of Catholic Worker groups. Anna takes part in the Pax Christi Ash Wednesday witness at the MOD in London.
In her parish in Wickford in Essex she was a prominent supporter of the Traveller community at Dale Farm, next door to the Catholic Church and she has been instrumental in dispelling the unjust and prejudicial feelings towards travellers and promoting peace in that respect.
Anna is a central character in the organisation preparing and celebrating the
annual peace service on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Sue Scott has been a Pax Christi member for a good number of years. She was also a founding member of the Midlands branch of the Neve Shalom – Wahat al Salam support group.
She has been a supporter of the Palestinian cause as well as the beatification of Franz Jaegerstaetter. Sue has made two exposure visits to Palestine with Pax Christi, most recently the 2015 World Assembly in Bethlehem
She keeps in contact with a group of people similarly concerned with peace issues, informing them of news of conferences, lectures etc. by email. Sue has been part of the Birmingham Circle of the Newman Association and a local choir performing at charity fund raising events.
Sheila Gallagher was nominated for the Peace Award because she has been involved with peace and justice issues since the early 80’s. She was a founder member of the North London J+P Network, for some years as its Co-ordinator. The Network lobbied for a J+P Commission for the Westminster Diocese and was a member of this when it was founded. A few years ago she became aware of the need for food banks and decided that Barnet needed one. She founded the Chipping Barnet Food Bank together with her ecumenical contacts in the area.
Sheila planned and established a Peace Garden in the grounds of St.Peter’s church, acknowledging the financial support from the Christian Peace Education Fund.
Sheila is usually part of marches and demonstrations for peace and justice related issues and takes part in the Ash Wednesday witness in Whitehall, London. Her example is, to many people, the embodiment of Christ’s message to ‘do unto others as we wish done to ourselves.’
29 May – Pax Christi Annual General Meeting, 6 June, London
Participants at Pax Christi AGM in London on 6th June look forward to a packed programme that will include hearing from Ziad Hilal sj, a Syrian national who works with Jesuit Refugee Service speaking of his work in Homs. Fr Ziad was a colleague of Frans Van der Lught who was
killed in Homs in 2014. Last year, Jesuit Refugee Service in Syria were given the Pax Christi International Peace Award. Pax Christi’s International Secretary, José Henriqué, who was recently refused entry into Israel for the movements 70 Anniversary Assembly in Bethlehem, will also speak.
Pax Christi members and supporters from around the country will gather in London to celebrate
70 years of the movement which was founded in France in 1945. At its recent World Assembly in Bethlehem 160 delegates from around the world affirmed the role and mission of Pax Christi,
“Forged in the broken relationships of a brutal war, Pax Christi began its journey 70 years ago with a vision based on the gospel – love your enemies – and rooted in a deep belief that reconciliation was possible. Shaped over the years by people of faith struggling to make peace in the midst of injustice and war, violence and repression, our movement brings to this moment in history a renewed commitment to make real in our lives and in our work for peace the values we claim to hold.”
Pax Christi’s national president Archbishop Malcolm McMahon will be present and will give the bi-annual Pax Christi Peace Award to three women : Sheila Gallagher from Westminster Diocese, Sue Scott from Birmingham Diocese and Anna Kobayashi from Brentwood Diocese. The Award
goes to grass-roots peacemakers who quietly and persistently work in issues of social justice and peace at local level. The Award is a beautiful medal which reflects the work of Neve Shalom-Wahat al Salaam village in Israel for Israeli’s and Arabs to live together, established by the late Fr Bruno Hassar.
Reports on the work of the Pax Christi in England and Wales will be given by the chair, Anne Dodd and members of the Pax Christi national team. Pax Christi AGM Agenda
21 May – Pax Christi marks its 70th anniversary in Bethlehem, Palestine 12 – 17 May 2015
Resolving disputes with cattle herders in Uganda, creating a peace museum in Germany, nonviolent resistance to the Separation Wall in Palestine and peace education in the Philippines were just some of the topics shared among members of Pax Christi International at the 70th anniversary World Assembly gathering in Bethlehem, Palestine last week .
160 members gathered for a four day event entitled Pilgrims on the Path to Peace to celebrate 70 years of Pax Christi International and the on-going peace work of those members around the world. Six members of the British section of Pax Christi took part including General Secretary Pat Gaffney and Executive Committee members Chris Cole, Holly Ball and Ann Farr.
The gathering was rooted in the search for peace in the Middle East and in Israel & Palestine in particular. In the opening ceremony HB Michel Sabbah, former International President of Pax Christi made fulsome critique of political leaders who abuse their power: “ …the quest of peace in the Middle East is also a fight against the political powers of the world, who are making new plans for a new Middle East, and are exploiting this religious extremism to be one of their means to achieve their new planning for a new Middle East. So those who kill today in the Middle East are two: religious extremism, or extremist Islam, and the world powers who pretend to fight this extremism, and in reality they use it and give it space to kill.
Visits to Bedouin communities under constant threat of eviction; meetings with Christian Peacemaker Teams and the Israeli group of former IDF soldiers, Breaking the Silence, working in the divided city of Hebron; projects aimed at protecting people and the environment in the Jordan Valley formed part of the outreach programme to enable participants to better understand the impact of the illegal occupation of Palestine. Participants reflected on these visits, sharing their analysis of what was seen and comparing and contrasting the underlying causes of violence and responses to it from their own working perspective.
One great sadness of the Assembly was that the general secretary of Pax Christi, Jose Henrique, had been refused entry into Israel. He spent his time in Amman, Jordan and send a video message where he said, “ I am living this experience in deep solidarity with the Palestinian people. This is only a small part of what they have to experience when they are denied access to East Jerusalem for medical care, family reunions and even for religious celebrations”.
During the Assembly the Pax Christi International Peace Award 2015 was given to a women’s group from Columbia, Women, Peace and Security Collective for Reflection and Action. The award was accepted by Rosa Emilia Salamanca from the Association who spoke passionately about building links of friendship and solidarity between women peacemakers . The Association works in difficult and often violent environments with an aim of humanising dialogue between those who rarely meet as a step in the process of confidence-building.
On 15 May, NAKBA day, when Palestinians remember the 750,000 Palestinians who were driven out or fled in 1947/1948 members of the Assembly gathered in Manger Square Bethlehem for a vigil of prayer and song, naming many of the villages that were ‘lost’ to Palestine at the time. The Assembly welcomed the Vatican’s recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state and urged all UN-member states to ban Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine.
15 May 2015 : Pax Christi supports International Conscientious Objectors’ Day events
Remembering women conscientious objectors and conscientious objectors worldwide
To mark International Conscientious Objectors’ Day 2015 the First World War Peace Forum will hold a ceremony of remembrance at 12 noon in Tavistock Square, London WC1.
Among the speakers are Sheila Triggs of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom which this year celebrates its centenary, and Mia Tamarin, a young woman who served four prison terms as an Israeli conscientious objector.
Names of other conscientious objectors from around the world will be read out during the ceremony and flowers will be laid at the Conscientious Objectors’ stone in the square.
Music will be provided by members of Raised Voices and the Red and Green choir.
The CO ceremony is being organised by the First World War Peace Forum – a coalition made up of Conscience, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Movement for the Abolition of War, Network for Peace, Pax Christi, Peace News, Peace Pledge Union, Quaker Peace and Social Witness, the Right to Refuse to Kill group and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
Other events taking place on the same day include:
Edinburgh 5 – 6.30pm
Conscientious Objectors’ Day Vigil from 5 – 6:30pm on the Mound, Princes St, Edinburgh. Remembering Conscientious Objectors of all wars, past and present, especially those of the First World War. We will be reading the names and hear some of the stories of Conscientious objectors. With Protest in Harmony. Organised by Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre. Contact: Brian Larkin – tel (44) (0)131 229 0993 – mob (44) (0)7584492257
Brighton 8.45pm: Troublesome People – world premiere of a new play by Jill Hass. A character-led drama that portrays the Second World War through the eyes of conscientious objectors and Jewish refugees working for farmers on the Isle of Man. 8.45 pm Friday 15 May – Lantern Theatre, 10 Rock Place, Kemp Town, Brighton BN2 1PF . Contact: Rowan Scarborough, Artistic Director/ Producer, 07850 648 941
Liverpool 11am – 3pm: Liverpool Quakers with Merseyside Peace Network will run a stall in School Lane near the Bluecoat or, if wet, in the Quaker Meeting foyer. Display about local conscientious objectors during World War One, and worldwide today.
In the evening Emily Johns will speak about ‘The World is my country’, her exhibition of posters, poems and songs associated with World War One. 7 – 8.30pm at Quaker Meeting House, 22 School Lane, L1 3BT
Portsmouth 2pm: In recognition of International Conscientious Objectors’ Day Portsmouth Quakers are having a prayer meeting at 2pm at the Friends House, 25 Northwood Road, Portsmouth PO2 9Q7
1 May: Prayer and fast for climate change and peace
In a great model of cooperation the Columban Missionaries, Religions of the Assumption and Pax Christi came together to hold a vigil of prayer and fasting for climate change in the Maria Assumpta Chapel in Kensington on 1 May.
The vigil was in solidarity with the Pray and Fast for Climate project which is working towards the UN Conference on climate in Parish in December. Those taking part were encouraged to renew a vision of world peace, compassion for all and environmental awareness for today and future generations. They heard of the impact of war and conflict on the environment – from the time of the American Civil War to resource wars of today in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo. During a time in the Maria Assumpta garden they were invited to get in touch with nature and offer a decade of the rosary for young people who will bear the brunt of climate change.
The evening ended when the fast was broken with a simple supper and sharing of information from each of the groups involved.
The Westminster Justice and Peace Commission, who have initiated this Pray and Fast for Climate project, spoke of their Pilgrimage to Paris which will begin in August of this year over a three-day period and continue in December in time for the UN gathering in Paris.