Members Blog 2023

Move next business – Paul McGowan

If your MP voted for a Ceasefire, ask them whether it is to be permanent and how the people of Gaza are supposed to live from now on. If your MP voted for a Pause, ask them when the bombing and displacements should reasonably begin again and whether there will be other Pauses. If your MP abstained, ask them why it was so hard for them to make up their mind and whether they will do so anytime soon.

Nothing in this catastrophe ‘began’ on October 7. Neither the bombing nor the evictions nor the destruction of people and places. We do not even know what happened on October 7. No one is telling us the truth about that.

But neither did our perceptions ‘begin’ that day, though the manipulation of them did. Just as they were manipulated two years ago about Putin and Ukraine, or twelve years ago about Gaddafi and his threats, or twenty years ago about Saddam and his WMD. All of which enterprises have left behind nothing but ruins. And a row of Prime Ministers staring at the Cenotaph and thinking about their next job. Clean hands are in short supply.

The Second Vatican Council declared in Gaudium et Spes (1965) that acts of war that aimed to lay waste to cities and their populations were to be utterly condemned. We should not be too literal here. Towns, villages and farms are included, we may be certain.

The ‘rules-based order’ has often been invoked recently, usually as an allegation of its flouting, rather than as a sincere desire to see it enacted and respected. Last year it was Ukraine; today it’s Gaza.

Where next? And when?

Prayer Vigil for Palestine and Israel in Coventry Cathedral – Ann Farr

On 18th October, about 170 people gathered in a semi-circle at the back of Coventry Cathedral, looking outwards, through the beautifully engraved, glass West Screen, towards the Ruins. The old and the new Cathedrals joined by a canopy that links the destruction of war to the new life of resurrection. 

We were there for a Prayer Vigil for Palestine and Israel, in which prayers were to be offered from many faith traditions. We would  stand with all who are suffering, and  bring their plight before God and one another, each according to their own tradition and belief. 

We looked out on the darkness and torrential rain and onto the Global Candle-stand in the centre of our circle. A gift from Kiel, it was designed by students in Europe to mark the victims of the 2005  Seven-Seven  bombings in London. There are individual candle holders for each of the victims and four for the perpetrators of the bombing. It is a symbol of the Cathedral’s enduring commitment to sharing together in building community. Kiel was also heavily bombed during the Second World War and has been twinned with Coventry since 1947.

Prayers from different faith traditions were interspersed with profound silences and poignant words and music sung by a small group of the Cathedral Choir. The lighting of candles throughout was deeply moving, the lights multiplying as signs of both our distress and hope for peace with justice for all those in the Holy Land. 

Paul McGowan: On Speaking Out

And they came to him again and said they had another question for him. It was a question which had been bothering them, they said. And they were sure he could give them the answer to it. They knew he was a good person, they said, because they had heard him speak often about good conduct and treating others as they should be treated. And they said they knew he spoke without fear or favour, so they knew his answer would be unbiassed and unambiguous. But in spite of all this, they said, they were still anxious to know what he thought because no one had heard him say anything specifically about the matter.

The matter, he said. Yes, they said.

So, you know I am a good person, and you have listened to what I have said many times, and that I speak fearlessly and do not dodge the questions put to me. Yet you are puzzled.

We are puzzled that you have not spoken on the matter.

What do you think I think? Having listened to me.

It’s not for us to say. We would be afraid to put words into your mouth.

You do not have to put words into my mouth. You already have my words. You say you know them well. I begin to wonder what you really want.

You have to give us an answer, they said. We cannot go back without your answer.

Ah, he said. Someone has sent you here to do their bidding. You were not speaking for yourselves.

And, with a sigh, he said: very well. But since you already know what I think, I will tell you only what I see. Those who had eyes now have none. Those who had legs now have none. Those who waited for good news now weep. Tell them that. Tell them to look and see for themselves. 

I am sorry if they did not know. I should have been clearer.

Paul McGowan


Paul McGowan: The (Other) Two Sons

And he said to them: What do you think about this? Your opinion is important to me.

There was a man who had two sons.

One day he said to the first: My son. We need more weapons. Our customers have bought all we had so we must make some more. I need you to get down to the factory and start production.

And the son said: Yes, father. I’ll get down there right away. Mustn’t keep the customers waiting. They have wars to fight and enemies to kill. They can’t do that empty-handed, can they?

That’s my boy, said the father.

But when his father had gone the boy said to himself: The old man’s finally lost it. Why should we slog away when we have plenty of money? And he gave himself the day off. Not only that, he slipped into town and met up with a bunch of people he wasn’t supposed to know. And they spent the day (and much of the night) doing things they really shouldn’t have been doing.

Now meanwhile the father noticed that the factory was silent, and he went to his other son and said to him: My son, our customers want more bombs and we have sold all that we had. We must make more. I need you to get the men working again in the factory.

But the son said: Not likely! I’ve got plans for today, and they don’t involve working in the factory.

And the father was sad.

And he said: I know you don’t like what we do. I worry about it myself. Making explosive devices and thinking about how they might end up hurting people, in the wrong hands. It keeps me awake at night, sometimes. But the customers are always right. That’s what we have to remember. We just give them what they want.

So later, seeing how upset his father had been, the boy said to himself: Come on, do it for the old man! He loves this business. Old school. Duty and responsibility. Self-discipline. Job creation.

And he got the workers together and they spent the day rolling out new bombs, just as the father wanted.

So what do you think: which of the sons did right? The one who decided to please his father or the one who spent his time sinning?

Paul McGowan


Paul McGowan: On appearances

I have met them at close of day

Coming with vivid faces

From counter or desk.

I have passed with a nod of the head…

So WB Yeats begins his poem Easter 1916. The people you pass in the street may have more to them than meets the eye.

We do not know what we might be looking at. Psychopaths, to take today’s preoccupation, don’t look like psychopaths.

But I find more and more that I have to refuse to believe the stories I am told. I have to resist looking in the direction I am supposed to look. And it’s not just a post-modernist psychosis. In John 8 Jesus is told about a terrible crime, apparently committed by some individual dragged before him. What is he going to do about it? Perception and reality. Did this woman look like an adulterer?

Soon the DSEI Fair will get under way. It will be full of men (sic) in well-cut suits and neatly-trimmed hair. Some of them will go to work in modern buildings down quiet leafy lanes on the edge of the countryside. Some of them will spend time in smart boardrooms and attend committee meetings where they will routinely shuffle papers on which the details of their latest Projects are described in careful prose and the cost calculated. Some of the visitors to the Fair will take away information to be used in their next important speech before the House, in which they will explain the necessity of buying such-and-such if the safety of the people is to be maintained.

Many of the visitors will put on other well-cut suits. They will put on uniforms and medals, as a sign of the seriousness with which they take their responsibilities, the same responsibilities as are to be discussed in the House. Or some other House.

And there are others in overalls busy assembling the stages so that the men (sic) in suits and uniforms can be seen more easily and look more impressive still. And when it is over they will take the stages away and put them on lorries and display them somewhere else, for some other assembly. (It’s just a job.)

And there might even be some among the crowd whose job it is to use this shiny equipment. Some who watch screens and decide when to push buttons and go home when their shift is finished and they can leave their counter or desk and play with their children in the garden.

And not one looks like a psychopath.

Copyright ©️2023 Paul McGowan

Remembering Hiroshima & Nagasaki

There seem to have been more reports this year of people getting together to mark the anniversaries for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Is it in response to the recent Oppenheimer film? Or less concern over Covid risks? Or increasing worry over Russia’s war in Ukraine?

From Dunbar, David Mumford writes:

Dunbar Outdoor Vigil Service

“Members of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Pax Christi together with local Quakers and some of the congregation of St. Anne’s Episcopal/Methodist church in Dunbar held an outdoor vigil service at the peace pole by St Anne’s church to remember all those who suffered at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 78 years ago.

The Rev. John C Dorward was a Church of Scotland missionary interned in a monastery near Nagasaki when the bomb dropped. Part of his family live in Dunbar. He wrote, ‘There was a single plane in the sky. And then a light, terrifying in its intensity…. The first thing that I saw was the mushroom cloud.’

Morning prayers in the monastery the following day took the form of a memorial service. The text was Matthew 25:40 ‘Inasmuch as ye did this to the least of my brethren you did it unto me.’

The words of Pope Francis when he was in Japan were read as was the statement from the Scottish Catholic Bishops condemining weapons of mass destruction.

There are prayers for peace and for an ending to the violence in the Ukraine every Thursday at 12 noon at the peace pole to which all are welcome.

From St Albans, Barbara writes:

“On Sunday afternoon, some of the Cathedral congregation gathered alongside members of other local churches gathered at the Peace Pillar to remember those affected by those bombings and to pray for world peace. 

The Peace Pillar stands at the entrance to Sumpter Yard and was given by the people of Japan in gratitude that the Dean at that time, Cuthbert Thicknesse, refused for the Cathedral bells to be rung with other bells in the city to mark Victory in Japan because it had come at such a cost in terms of destruction and loss of life. 

We continue to pray for all who strive for peace in our own day.”

Romford Hiroshima Event, Yukon Moriyama-Wiffen writes:

To mark the 78th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a commemorative service took place at the Friends Meeting House in Romford, London, on August 6th. During the service, attendees gathered around a Ginko sapling that had been grown from a Ginko tree in Hiroshima that miraculously survived the atomic bombing.(We would like to thank “the Green Legacy Hiroshima Project” for providing us with the Ginko seed.) Our distinguished guest for the event was Valerie Flessati, who delivered an insightful speech. She reminded us that we each have a responsibility to bring about a more peaceful world and each can take action according to our ability. The peace statement from Hiroshima by Yoshiatu Takamura was also recited during the service, underscoring the significance of the peace movement and asking people to raise voices and unite in support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. To conclude the service, candles from both Hiroshima and the Christian CND were lit, creating a poignant and symbolic gesture.

Valerie Flessati (3rd from left) was guest speaker at a Hiroshima Day service in Romford 
organised by Ruth Kettle (4th left) of Romford Quakers and Geraldine Ellis (holding poster) of Christian CND. 
Each year the group exchanges a candle and a message of peace with friends in Hiroshima. 

Westminster Cathedral Nagasaki Commemoration

Statement by Bishop Nicholas Hudson

“I’m very pleased to be here today. I wanted to come along to show solidarity with the people of Japan first and foremost, as a way of stating that we as Catholics in this Diocese, and along with Pax Christi, stand in solidarity [with them]. I want everyone to remember what happened there 78 years ago. I’m here to support Pax Christi, specifically in their working and praying for a world free of nuclear weapons. I’m also here as a way of expressing my solidarity with Pope Francis in his conviction that we must work towards freeing the world of nuclear weapons, and his conviction that a world free of nuclear weapons is possible and necessary. Thank you”. 

Westminster Cathedral Nagasaki Commemoration

Merseyside Remembers the Atomic Bombings – Jan Harper reports:

Merseyside Pax Christi joined CND to mark the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima at the Peace Section of St Johns Gardens . They were joined by the Lord Mayor Councillor Mary Rasmussen who laid the wreath of white flowers remembering all those who perished . Poems and music were also part of the commemoration . They concluded with the Universal Peace Prayer.

Several days later Pax Christi held a stall at the Anglican Cathedral where members again remembered the events of Nagasaki and focused on the story of Sadako and the peace cranes . Sadly, they were not able to engage passers by – many of whom were tourists visiting the cathedral . They were, however, grateful to speak to a visitor from Cambridge who had been involved  commemorations in her own city . They hoped some some small seeds were sown – much work is needed now,  and urgently – to make a world free of nuclear weapons .

Paul McGowan: Here’s hoping ..

At our AGM on Saturday 17th June, our CEO set us some very good questions to discuss. One of them was about Hope, I think. Andrew’s wording was along the lines of: ‘Where do you draw energy from to persevere?’ Obviously, there are implications behind the question. We need energy, It runs out. It has to be replenished from somewhere. There is a need to persevere, ie: there are obstacles in the way and they don’t easily move, but there is something important to do. And so on.

I was a bit embarrassed at the thought that came to mind. I realised that it was important to me to be able to identify signs of progress, success even, in order to keep going. I was embarrassed because this sounds rather calculating, lacking idealism, and suggests an inclination to give up.

St Thomas Aquinas had a plan to condense his multi-volume Summa into a work with just three headings: Faith, Hope and Charity. He seems to have completed ‘Faith’ to his satisfaction. Thirty pages into ‘Hope’ he announces that he must now show that it is actually possible to attain the Kingdom, otherwise ‘it would be hoped for and prayed for in vain.’ He has two ways of showing this. Firstly, from the assurances of Scripture, and secondly, by means of an ‘evident example which shows that it is possible.’

Unfortunately for us, the manuscript ends at this point. We will never know what St Thomas had found which was going to clinch the argument.

We still have the assurances of Scripture, but are we not entitled to see glimpses of the reality of the Kingdom in relation to the things we work for. I like to think this is the sort of thing St Thomas had in mind, in his ‘evident example’.

Ten years ago, hundreds of thousands of council tax-payers across the West Midlands were funding the manufacture and distribution of cluster bombs. Today, they are not. Twenty years ago, those who denounced plans to invade Iraq were ignored by their governments. Today, no one will dispute the denunciations. I will count these as my ‘evident examples’.

At this very moment, in London, the Ukraine Recovery Conference is getting under way. Its first aim, according to the UK Government’s website, is to provide opportunities for the ‘private sector’ to get involved. I will not be looking in this direction for encouraging signs.

No such event took place in the cases of the wars in Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Libya, or Syria.  Here, we still await some ‘evident examples’ to give us hope.

Knife Angel in Crewe

Knife Angel in Crewe

Joan Sharples writes…

Knife Angel, a sculpture created by Alfie Bradley from 100,000 seized blades is currently in Crewe. This impressive 27 foot tall sculpture is educating about knife-crime and acting as a memorial to those who have lost their lives as its result.

On Sunday 21 May, I went along to the Service of Peace organised by of Crewe Churches in the Memorial Square, Crewe. the statue had clearly had an impact. Whilst we were listening to the readings and prayers, people approached the statue, walked around it and – inevitably, took photos of each other in front of it…which they will likely share with others, leading to conversations about violence. During the service, we were asked to write – on a wooden picnic knife – a symptom of violence and symbolically to break the knife identifying an action we would take for peace .

if it comes to a town near you, do take a look.

Pax Christi Merseyside marks Conscientious Objectors’ Day in Liverpool

Members of Pax Christi Merseyside in Liverpool on CO day 2023

While Pax Christi staff and members attended the International Conscientious Objectors’ Day National Ceremony in Tavistock Square, London, members in Merseyside arranged their own event in Liverpool.

Jan Harper who helped organise the event said:

‘Pax Christi members, supporters and friends held a small informal marking of Conscientious Objectors Day in Liverpool. It was our first public event around this theme so we weren’t sure how it would go but, despite it being a small gathering it certainly provoked a lot of thoughtful reflection. We hope it can be built on for the future. It was also good to have the company of a former member of Liverpool Pax Christi Group who now lives in Barrow.

Starting at the Central Library we made our way to the Cenotaph and shared the story of the three Allen Brothers , Catholics who had refused to serve in the army in the First World War and who had suffered  considerably as a result. We then processed to the Peace Gardens where we were able to listen to reflections and poems (including Edna St Vincent Millay’s poem  Conscientious Objector), as well as an account of a young Israeli Conscientious Objector who had been imprisoned for refusing to serve in the Israeli Defence Forces. We read and remembered the names of several Conscientious Objectors past and present. We listened to Down by the Riverside on the violin and closed with a so

An evening with St. Alban’s Justice & Peace Group

Our Administration and Finance Manager, Fausta Valentine (third from left), recently spent an evening with St. Albans Justice & Peace Group talking about our work. Our thanks to the group for the invitation and their interest in Pax Christi. The photo shows the group getting ready for a Mass for Migrants.

If your group or church would like a speaker to come and speak about peace, peacemaking and what we do, please let us know

St. Albans Justice &Peace Group

Ann Milner’s Camino Blog 6 – the Arrival

Ann Milner at the end of her Camino

Ann’s sixth blog from Independent Catholic News (11/5/23) describes her arrival at Santiago de Compostela
So, I made it and what a journey it has been. I don’t think I was ever so close to giving up on a pilgrimage as I was when I came out of Sarria and me…  Read More

Ann Milner’s Camino Blog 5

Ann’s fifth blog from Independent Catholic News (10/5/23)

‘So, did I take a bus from the next town? No. I had had a sign of encouragement from above and this was enough to motivate me to keep going. To be hone…’  Read More

Ann Milner’s Camino Blog 4

Ann’s fourth blog from Independent Catholic News (5/5/23)

‘So, my last blog ended in O’Cebreiro. I awoke next morning to teaming rain with the promise of what had been foretold – rain all day. As I wrote in th…’  Read More

Ann Milner’s Camino Blog 3

Independent Catholic News (29/04/23) records Ann’s third blog:
So, in the last blog I described the awful weather I had had. I woke up next day at El Acebo to blue skies, sun. ‘Great, fantastic, this is more like …  Read More

Holy Land: Eyewitness Report from Aida Refugee Camp

An eye-witness report from Fleur Brennan, Pax Christi member in Holy Apostles parish in Pimlico recorded in Independent Catholic News (24/4/23).

During their parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land last week, Fleur Brennan and her husband Colin from Holy Apostles, Pimlico, central London, visited Ai…  Read More

Ann Milner from ICN

Ann Milner’s Camino Blog 2

Independent Catholic News (24/4/23) records Ann’s second blog:

So I started my Camino proper on 11 April. Leaving the refugio at 8.45am, it was a beautiful day. Cool but with blue skies. Soon I reached a little chapel…  Read More

Pax Christi Member Ann Milner steps out on the Camino Again Blog 1

Ann Milner is a regular volunteer in the Pax Christi Office, but not just now.

Independent Catholic News (18/4/23) chronicles her journey on the Camino. Blog 1.

“So here I am again, on the Camino. ‘What are you doing there?’ I hear you ask. ‘Well,’ I reply, ‘It was like this…..’

Last year I walked from Fromista on the Camino de Santiago as a ‘thank you’ for the prompt treatment I’d had the previous January for my diagnosed lung cancer…  Read More

Ann Wilson at St. Anne’s and St. Bernard’s, Liverpool

Ann Wilson (second left) with members of Merseyside Pax Christi

Members of our Pax Christi Merseyside Group supported fellow member Ann Wilson when she spoke at St.Anne’s , Overbury St , Liverpool on the 15th April, sharing her recent experience as an ‘Ecumenical Accompanier ‘ based in  Jerusalem .  

Ann told stories of the experiences of people in the Shufat refugee Camp in the West Bank , including that of a doctor who continues to provide a rehabilitation service in the most difficult circumstances . ‘We have to fight for our existence  in a peaceful way ‘ , he told Ann. Now in his 70’s , he has experienced previous intifadas but said ‘ This is the worst time ever .’ 

Whilst there, Ann also made regular visits to Bethlehem  to witness  the experience of Palestinians at crossing points .

Andrew Jackson: Language Matters – The Illegal Migration Bill and that tweet.

Language matters.  And for those who would be peacemakers and peace activists it matters intensely. 

We are a number of weeks on from BBC Presenter Gary Lineker’s now famous tweet but, as the UK Government’s Illegal Migration Bill continues to make its way through Parliament, the point Gary Lineker made still applies. It isn’t just the content of the Bill that is inhumane and dangerous it is the language with which it is promoted. 

On the day the Government announced the Bill, I found myself reading ‘The Road to Peace’, a collection of Henri Nouwen’s writings on peace and justice.  These include ‘Peacework’, a characteristically short book which outlines what Nouwen believes are the essential qualities of a spirituality of peacemaking.

One of these qualities is resistance to death and violence.  Reflecting on our preoccupation with both (even in how we entertain ourselves), Nouwen says that this preoccupation goes far beyond any real or imagined involvement in physical violence.  Instead, in the language we use to talk about people:

‘We find ourselves engaged over and over again in much less spectacular but no less destructive death games’

Long before we start a war, kill people or destroy nations:

‘We have already killed our enemies mentally by making them into abstractions with which no real intimate human relationship is possible’. 

Peacework was written against the background of the Cold War and US intervention in Latin America.  In visits to Nicaragua, and in subsequent conversations and lectures about the Nicaraguan people in the US, Nouwen had become increasingly aware of how ‘quick judgments and stereotypes’ can transform people and nations into distorted caricatures – offering a welcome excuse for ‘destruction and war’. 

These judgments are indeed a form of moral killing’ he writes.  ‘I label my fellow human beings, categorise them and put them at a safe distance from me.  … …. I divide my world into those who are good and those who are evil, and thus I play God.  But everyone who plays God ends up acting as a demon’. 

In an address to the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Breakfast in 1985 which is included in the collection, he said:

I’ve seen so many situations in which people were killed first with the word before they were killed with the gun.  The real violence usually starts with words.  The real violence starts in the way we speak about people, make assumptions about them, and decide they are not like us

Isn’t this just language we have seen this Government and its predecessors use whenever they discuss migration and refugees? 

From the ‘hostile environment’ of Teresa May’s period as Home Secretary, to Priti Patel’s Rwanda policy and right up to Suella Braverman’s talk of an ‘invasion on our South Coast’, the language judges, categorises and dehumanises.  It tells us that there is an enemy to be feared.  It portrays people as ’illegal’ in themselves.  It says they are a threat to our security, to our way of life, that they are coming to take something from us and that they are people from whom we need defending. 

Where the word ‘migrant’ is spat rather than spoken and the dream of a Home Secretary is to see a photo of a plane deporting people to a country with a questionable human rights record at best (anywhere but here), the language is dangerous.  It won’t just lead to violence.  The violence has already begun.

As peacemakers, we can have nothing to do with it.  This language cannot be on our lips nor find any place in our hearts.  As Henri Nouwen says:

The word of God is the word of love.  But when the word ‘hate’ becomes flesh, it leads to violence, and we have to start there.  And we have to say ‘no’’”

We must resist and we must hold power to account for its use.  We must protest.  And yes, maybe that means a tweet and a comparison to the most obvious previous example of the dangers of its use.  Germany in the 1930s. 

Andrew Jackson

Paul McGowan: ‘the baseless fabric of this vision…’

Last week, on the 20th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, I was trying, and failing, to remember the name of the civil servant who chaired the committee of inquiry which ran from 2009 to 2016. In the end, I had to google it. I could put this lapse down to increasing age, I suppose, but it goes to show how quickly things can be forgotten. And one of the things that has been forgotten is the outrage so many felt and demonstrated in 2003 at the lies and distortions that led us into the Iraq War, whose consequences are still being suffered by the people of Iraq, and ourselves, in a small way. No one now denies this. Everyone acknowledges it was a disaster.    

But, Ukraine …? Lies and distortions abound, but there is no widespread opposition. The national demonstration in February attracted hundreds, not hundreds of thousands. This time, the propaganda has won. 

One of the EU’s top diplomats, Mr Borrell, says Russia is firing 50,000 (Mr Stoltenberg of NATO says 20,000) artillery rounds at Ukrainian forces every day, and Ukraine needs to be able to do the same from their side. Sticking with Mr Borrell, that would make 100,000 shells a day. 700,000 a week. The Allies’ opening barrage at the battle of the Somme is said to have used 1.5 million artillery rounds. So, Mr Borrell would have us countenance a repetition of this every fortnight for the foreseeable future. They can’t really get away with that, can they?

My son, Chris, has been telling me about Arthur Ponsonby. Ponsonby was a prominent British politician during the years 1910-1940. On the face of it, a pillar of the Establishment. Ponsonby was a product of Eton and Balliol. His father had been Principal Private Secretary to Queen Victoria. But Ponsonby campaigned against war, before, during and after ‘the war to end all wars’, and for the setting up of institutions that would help us avoid it in future. In 1928 he published a book called Falsehood in Wartime. Ponsonby’s analysis of wartime propaganda is very detailed, but it comes down to ten points, which all sides in a conflict maintain. So, currently Russia and Ukraine (and NATO) all claim:

  • we don’t want war, we are only defending ourselves;
  • our adversary is solely responsible for this war;
  • our enemy’s leader is inherently evil;
  • we are defending a noble cause, not our particular interests;
  • the enemy is committing atrocities;
  • the enemy is using illegal weapons;
  • the enemy’s losses are much greater than ours;
  • all sections of society support our cause;
  • we are defending principles of the highest order;
  • anyone who doubts what we say helps the enemy and is a traitor.

In the present circumstances, some of this is particularly awkward for anyone who has doubts about the war. Try explaining the impact of NATO expansion eastwards, and Russia’s view of that. How often have you heard otherwise decent people assert that Mr Putin is clearly mad? How often have you avoided a discussion of the war because you would be in a minority of one? This is all it takes for the ‘chilling effect’ to take hold. And at the other extreme, how powerful the urge to conform can be, as seen in the overwhelming support our MPs have given to the interventions of Mr Zelensky into the workings of the Mother of Parliaments. Did they mean what they appeared to be saying? Time will tell, as it has for Iraq.

Medieval theologians used to talk about the ‘manner’ of Our Lord’s actions – the way he did things. His way of entering the world, being in the world and leaving the world. We focus sharply on these things in Holy Week. Betrayals, lies, subterfuges, appeals to high principles, curtailment of the truth, cowardice, silences. But also food for the journey. Here. Eat this. Drink this. You’ll need it.

Copyright ©️2023 Paul McGowan

Ash Wednesday Witness

Photo: Lauri Clarke

Pax Christi EW joined with Christian CND for a moving prayer service in which those present remembered situations of conflict in the world, lamenting the UK’s involvement in arms production, and called for repentance.

It was beautiful and set us up for Lent”

Ellen Teague, journalist

Words from PCI’s C o-President, Sr Teresia Wamuyu Wachira …

“Thank you to each one of you gathered here. I am very grateful to be part of this journey when we accompany those who are suffering in our world as a result of different wars. Our gathering here gives us the opportunity to reflect on these wars which not only affect us and generations to come but also our environment.   We are especially conscious of the ongoing war in Ukraine. Our coming together gives us the opportunity too to respond to these realities. In our reflections we ask:

Where am I/We in all these? Where have I/We failed? – In the act of contrition we say, “in what I have done and in what I have failed to do”.  What is my sin of omission in these realities? 

The people for whom we gather to pray today and with, are hurting, too deep are their wounds that they can no longer feel, they suffer in silence; the women cannot enjoy life with their children; the men cannot meet to share, the children can no longer freely play games.  

In this reality, our call is reflected in Micah 6:8, to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God. How do we do this? […]

Thank you for all you are doing; you are the hope of those that are suffering, you are the voice of the voiceless; you are putting your lives on line for the sake of all these people who are suffering. They are suffering from governments that have hardened their hearts that they can no longer feel, blocked and deafened their ears that they can no longer hear the people’s cries.

Photo by Jan Harper

Thank you and blessings to you all during this time of Lent as we look forward, with hope, to the coming Easter…

Ash Wednesday in Liverpool

The ever-faithful Liverpool Pax Christi group with friends from Merseyside CND gathered at St Luke’s bombed church on Ash Wednesday and walked to the Town Hall pausing for prayer and reflection.

Fr John Daley IC touched by Image of Black Jesus (10/2/23)

Fr Daley writes…

‘I have always admired Pax Christi, small but powerful in its witness.  I saw this prayer card of the crucifying of a black Jesus and was touched by its beauty more than by any other image I have seen. 

The Catholic Men’s Society of Great Britain is promoting its message and our local Catholic Academy is about to – teams of students packing the cards in tens.  People will pay 50p per pack and such a scheme will finance itself.  We know people feel more involved when they pay something rather than simply receive a card. 

How will people react when invited to end colour and racial violence and offer forgiveness and reconciliation? 

The teams at school glimpse they are part of a non-violent battle for hearts and minds, the CMS is more knowing in terms of age and experience – but the intention is the same: God’s human family living in harmony, not unison.  We long with Pax Christi for the harmonies of different voices, we do not want the unisons of blocs of those who hear only themselves. 

Pax Christi has challenged us “Can we?”  The CMS and St Thomas Aquinas Academy have answered “We can.” 

Peace Sunday Reports

Merseyside Pax Christi at the Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool

Pax Christi Chair, Ann Farr, spoke at Mass at Birmingham Cathedral. Masses for peace were celebrated at the Cathedrals of Southwark, Middlesbrough and Lancaster dioceses and Pax Christi’s President, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon celebrated a Mass for peace in Liverpool Cathedral. This provided Jan Harper from Pax Christi Merseyside with the opportunity for a five-minute interview on peace and the work of Pax Christi on Radio Merseyside. Members of the local group supplied resources to other parish groups including St Michael and Sacred Heart, Kensington, Liverpool , Our Lady Star of the Sea, Seaforth, and Saint Catherine and Martina, Hoylake across the Mersey in Shrewsbury Diocese.

Peace Sunday Mass at the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
Holy Apostles, Pimlico, London

Independent Catholic News (16/1/23) reports an inspiring account of a parish involving its children in the Peace Sunday Mass:

Once again, Peace Sunday celebrations at Holy Apostles, Pimlico, were led by the First Holy Communion children who devised and took part in the liturgy…  Read More

St Mary of the Angels, Worthing

Dereck, a member of the J&P Group of St Mary of the Angels, Worthing, writes of their recent Peace Sunday stall: ‘We had resources – prayer cards, nuclear weapons pamphlets, Justpeace newsletters, badges, peace poppies and posters on the stall and Pope Francis’ Peace Day Message on the noticeboard behind.’ – And they had a second collection for the work of Pax Christi!

We are very grateful for the donations which we have received. These will help us to expand our efforts to support and resources peacemakers.

You will find Peace Sunday resources on the Peace Sunday website page

The Holy Father’s 2023 Message for World Peace Day is:  “No one can be saved alone. Combatting Covid-19 together, embarking together on paths of peace.”

Read the full text here.

Message for World Peace Day

In her article on Pope Francis’ World Peace Day Message in Independent Catholic News (2/1/23) Ellen Teague highlights Pope Francis’ pertinent questions:

Pope Francis urges reflection on what lessons can be learned three years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “What new paths should we follow to cast off the shackles of our old habits, to be better prepared, to dare new things? What signs of life and hope can we see to help us move forward and try to make our world a better place?” He feels, “the greatest lesson we learned from COVID-19 is the realisation that we all need one another.”Message for World Peace Day 2023

  Read More

If it wasn’t possible to have a Mass for peace in your parish last Sunday, do find a more convenient occasion. Sadly, peace, nonviolence and reconciliation continue to be much needed in our world!


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