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September – December 2018

November 2018: Peace groups gather to say ‘No more war: let’s make peace happen.’

Several hundred people gathered in London on 11 November, members and supporters of the First World War Peace Forum, to reflect on the impact of war on the world and re-commit to building peace in the years ahead.  More pics of the day here 

Meeting in Tavistock Square, which hosts a powerful sculpture commemorating Conscientious  Objectors , they heard Marigold Bentley of Quaker Peace and Social Witness speak of the failure of war, the failure to love our neighbours as ourselves; failure to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us; failure to seek peace and pursue it; failure to leave no stone un-turned in the search for a peaceful solution; failure even to imagine the limitless possibilities of peace that are before us.  She affirmed the work of organisations working for peace, “The possibility of peace is constantly with us.  The activities of peace demonstrated here today by many participants and organisations who have been part of the World War One Peace forum are a living testimony to the alternative stories.”

Actor and playwright Michael Mears read a testimony from FWW Conscientious Objector Clifford Allen and Sue Gilmurray, a poet and songwriter from the Anglican Pacifist  Fellowship performed her new poem, Lest We Forget.Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi invited those present to share words of commitment, “We commit ourselves to peace and justice…to use our power to work for a different kind of world starting with ourselves…our families, our neighbourhoods, communities, country.  We invite everyone  to join us in this urgent task.  For humanity’s sake our message is , No more war, let’s make peace happen.”

In silence, each of the organising groups laid wreaths and arrangements of white flowers around the CO Memorial.

Following on from the ceremony, a peace festival was held in Friends House, bringing together 23 peace organisations.  They offered a rich array of resources and approaches to peacemaking including films on the women’s peace movements of the First World War, talks on drone warfare, the contemporary arms trade and the impact of militarisation on schools, and play and craft activities for children and families led by the Woodcraft Folk.

At the same time Pax Christi members were involved in events around the country.  Catholic parishes in Leicester, Wolverhampton, Barnet , Thames Ditton, and Tollington Park  prayed and reflected on  the need for peace,  in Leeds Pax Christi with J&P Leeds hosted a service and talk on the theme Remembrance is not Enough; St Joseph’s Parish in Guildford hosted an hour-long peace vigil after Mass with readings and prayers calling for a commitment to peace,  in Liverpool Pax Christi members joined others at the Peace Garden in the city centre for a peace and remembrance commemoration.

The First World War Peace Forum members are:  Anglican Pacifist FellowshipConscience: Taxes for Peace not WarNetwork for PeacePAX ChristiPeace Pledge UnionPeace NewsQuakers in BritainWomen’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Movement for the Abolition of War, Right to Refuse to Kill Group, and The Fellowship of Reconciliation

Let’s Make Peace Happen is a core theme of services and gathering of Remembrance this year. 
30 October 2018

Pax Christi, together with a network of other peace groups in the First World War Peace Forum, have been promoting this message to churches, communities and individuals who will gather around the country to remember the end of the First World War with a commitment to working for peace for the future.  Serious remembrance of wars calls for serious work for peace.

Pax Christi have been overwhelmed with orders from churches and Cathedrals for a postcard they have produced for the day which invites people to think about their own family’s experience of war and of all the wars taking place in our world today.  It also invites them to mark Remembrance with a commitment to end war and invest in peacemaking by challenging the global trade in arms and promoting peace in our schools and among young people.  A prayer from Pope Francis with the words: instill in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace,is also offered.

There have been hundreds of visits to the Pax Christi web resources for Remembrance which offer liturgy ideas, poems and stories of Catholic Conscientious Objectors of the First World War.  In Leeds, the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission and Leeds Pax Christi have created their own liturgical resource which has been sent to every parish in the Diocese.  It carries a special message from Bishop Marcus Stock , “ In remembering the lives of soldiers who died in the First World War, we can easily forget the any others who suffered and for whom the war had a great impact.  These include civilians on all sides, those who died from accidents in munitions factories  such as Barnbow in Leeds), the effects of communities decimated by their loss of men and those who were Conscientious Objectors.  The necessity of remembering has not always sat well with a commitment to working for peace.”

Pax Christi in Australia are also commemorating Remembrance Day with a commitment to peace.  In Melbourne, a day conference is organised on 11 November with the theme : A World at Peace with itself – an elusive dream or achievable goal?

Full listing of events can be seen here 

The First World War Peace Forum members are:  Anglican Pacifist FellowshipConscience: Taxes for Peace not WarNetwork for PeacePAX ChristiPeace Pledge UnionPeace NewsQuakers in BritainWomen’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Movement for the Abolition of War, Right to Refuse to Kill Group, and The Fellowship of Reconciliation

Henrietta Cullinan reports on Pax Christi arms trade workshops offered at Taize this summer.
5 September

This summer arms trade activists, Henrietta Cullinan, Pax Christi member, Nora Ziegler from the London Catholic Worker  and Nick Cooper of Put Down the Sword  visited the Taizé community in south east France, to give two workshops entitled No Faith in War: Christians challenge the arms trade. The week at Taizé was for a gathering of over 2,000 young adults from all over Europe.

We were introduced by Br Ulrich, one of the monks from the Taizé Community. After introducing ourselves, we explained briefly why it was important for us to resist the arms trade. Then we dived straight into a brainstorm of what the arms trade sells and who is involved. This was followed by a game that matched common myths about the arms trade with facts that refute the myths, drawn from CAAT papers on arms trade jobs  and Paul Holden’s book Indefensible. For instance, far from providing valuable employment in the UK, the arms trade actually provides a very small number of jobs, 0.2% of the total workforce which in time could be replaced with jobs elsewhere, in renewable energy production for instance.

The reading activity raised a lot of questions, partly because of the problems with translation, and partly because the facts were mostly to do with UK and the US, but it was also the intention to stimulate discussion. Some participants flatly disagreed, some doubted the veracity of our myth busting facts, despite the citations, while others said they would like to be able to use the facts in arguments with their friends. Others puzzled over why governments, the UK government in particular are so attached to the arms trade, which was the intention of the exercise.

Nora and Nick  gave an account, including a video, of the No Faith in War day of action in September 2017, during the set up of the DSEI arms fair, during which 17 were arrested, some for just walking around in the road. Full account here and resource produced by Pax Christi for the event

 

Pax Christi at the Eucharistic Congress, Liverpool, 8 September 

Among the creative parallel programme of events to be held in Liverpool on 8 September is the day entitled ” On the altar of the world” run jointly by the National J&P Network, Northern Dioceses Environmental Group, Together for the Common Good, Pax Christi and CAFOD Liverpool.  Events will be held in St Philip Neri Church, Catherine Street between 11.–am – 5.00pm.  Pax Christi have also produced a dedicated issue of their newsletter on the theme Eucharist, Peace and Justice

The beautiful Pax Christi ICON of Peace and Reconciliation will be a focal point for prayer and meditation at the start and end of the day.  Jenny Sinclair, Director of Together for the Common Good will be in conversation on the theme ‘Talking about Reconciliation for the Common Good’.

Pax Christi will facilitate a conversation with women peacemakers, Emma Atherton, Ella Holliday and Carol Burns to explore motivations and approaches to peacemaking in different contexts and what we can learn from them.  Fr Eamonn Mulcahy CSSp will offer insights into how Teilhard de Chardin and Pope Francis’ Laudato Si have re-energised work for eco-justice and care of creation.

The CAFOD team will speak about Creation time and the Livesimply award and the Northern Dioceses Environmental Group will offer family based activities during the day, including building Bat or Bird Boxes and making eco-bricks.  There will be art and peace-symbol making activities offered by Pax Christi.

Details of full parallel programme here 

 

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