France and UK urged to engage with the treaty banning nuclear weapons
The Second Meeting of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) took place in New York from the 27th November to the 1st December.
There are currently 69 states who have ratified or acceded to the Treaty and 93 who have signed which means that the majority of the world’s nations now support the treaty and see it as the best way of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
The UK is not a signatory to the treaty and, to date, the Government has firmly refused to engage with any of the treaty processes – not even sending observers to treaty events.
In the build up to this meeting, we joined with other UK organisations in writing to the new Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron to urge a change in policy. We also joined with other UK and French organisations (including Pax Christi Scotland and Pax Christi France) in writing to Prime Minster Rishi Sunak and President Macron urging both countries to engage with the treaty. You can read copies of the two letters here and here
Merseyside Pax Christi Group out and about again in Liverpool
Members of our Merseyside Group were out in Liverpool on the 16th November, raising the issue of nuclear weapons and their illegality under the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
“There was a good response to our vigil supporting the nuclear ban and calling for Liverpool to support the nuclear ban. Lots of people stopped to have a chat with us – often, understandably, about the Gaza situation. Many people were thoughtful and commented on the sheer waste of money that nuclear weapons use.” Jan Harper
Powerful Speeches at the National Alternative Remembrance Ceremony 2023
At the National Alternative Remembrance Ceremony in London on Remembrance Sunday, our Vice President Pat Gaffney spoke powerfully about our ongoing work with peace campaigners in Israel and Palestine and the unfolding situation in the West Bank.
You can watch a recording of her talk on the Peace Pledge Union YouTube page here along with a speech from Richard Kuper of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and a moving message of grief and hope from the Parents Circle – Families Forum, a joint Israeli-Palestinian organisation of families who have lost loved ones to the ongoing conflict.
UN Disarmament Week – 24th – 30th October
“Disarmament and non-proliferation are investments in peace. They are investments in our future.” António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations
We marked UN Disarmament Week 2023 by signing a Scrap Weapons Open Letter calling on all members of the UN to move forward with preparations for a fourth UN Special Session on Disarmament.
The first UN Special Session on Disarmament (UNSSOD I) was held over 45 years ago in 1978 and established the multilateral disarmament processes that have governed the UN’s disarmament work ever since. Further special sessions were held in 1982 and 1988 but without any significant changes to what had been agreed in 1978.
Member states have long recognised the need for UNSSOD IV, and have adopted an annual resolution on the issue. The latest resolution was adopted in December 2022 and repeated the belief that a special session of the UN General Assembly devoted to disarmament could set the future course of action in ‘disarmament, arms control, non-proliferation and related international security matters”. Whilst there might be almost universal support for convening UNSSOD IV, however, little practical action has been taken.
In his New Agenda for Peace, published in July, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres recognised the need “to reform the disarmament machinery” and called for an “an inter-governmental process to …consider the role, timing and preparations of a special session of the General Assembly on disarmament”.
The open letter urges member states to end their inaction and support a resolution that would establish a committee to oversee preparations for UNSSOD IV.
You can find a full copy of the letter here
Catholic Nonviolence Days of Action
On the 21st September we held an online gathering to launch this year’s Nonviolence Days of Action. With a theme of ‘Blessed are the feet of those who bring nonviolence’, we reflected on 10 years of nonviolence in the teaching of Pope Francis, what we might do during the Days of Action, as well as taking the chance to pray and commit ourselves again to living nonviolently. You can find a video recording of the gathering on our YouTube channel: here
As it was the International Day of Peace we also uploaded a recording of the input from CAFOD and Pax Christi’s joint webinar on the 60th anniversary of Pope St John XXIII’s encyclical letter Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) to our YouTube channel which you can watch here
Pope Francis on 60th Anniversary of Pacem in Terris
In a message sent to participants in a Vatican conference on the 60th anniversary of “Pacem in Terris”, Pope Francis renews his calls for nations to eliminate nuclear weapons and use ‘conventional’ arms only in self-defence….
Bishops’ Conference issues Statement on Arms Trade
Christian CND Pilgrimage of Peace
Aisling Griffin, our Schools and Youth Education Officer and Jan Harper (5th and 4th from left) who co-leads Pax Christi Merseyside, joined Christian CND for a Pilgrimage of Peace
Blessed Franz Jägerstätter Anniversary Service
On the 9th August, we held our annual commemoration service for Franz J in the Crypt at Westminster Cathedral. Independent Catholic News (11/8/23) reported on the Service. You can read the report here and the reflection given by Canon Rob Esdaile here.
There was an international presence at the service as we were joined by Etienne, Pastor Matthias and Marc who were taking part in an International Fast, which brought together between 50 and 100 people in 5 countries who fast between Hiroshima and Nagasaki days.
The G7 Summit in Hiroshima – An opportunity to make significant progress on the abolition of nuclear weapons
In the lead up to this weekend’s G7 Summit in Japan, our Chair Ann Farr and our Chief Executive, Andrew Jackson, joined others from Pax Christi sections in signing a letter from Pax Christi International to Japan’s, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
The letter commended Prime Minister Kishida on choosing Hiroshima as the venue for the summit and encouraged him in his aim of using the summit to urge the G7 leaders to address the continuing threat to the world posed by nuclear weapons.
The letter points out that the G7 summit is a strategic opportunity for leaders to build on previous declarations, particularly those made at the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in August 2022, and reminds them of Pope Francis’ declaration in Hiroshima in 2019 that it is not just the use of nuclear weapons that would be immoral but their possession.
Prime Minister Kishida is asked to ensure that the leaders:
- Meet with survivors of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima;
- Resolve to adopt collective, verifiable steps to reduce nuclear arsenals;
- Co-operate with states-parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in providing victim assistance and environmental remediation for people harmed by nuclear weapons;
- Undertake to set and pursue a common deadline for the elimination of all nuclear arsenals.
You can read a copy of the letter here. Copies have been sent to the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak and James Cleverly and Ben Wallace as Foreign and Defence Secretaries respectively. We have urged the Prime Minister to engage meaningfully in the planned visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and in all talks on nuclear disarmament.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons have also issued four demands for the summit which you can read here: ICAN G7 Demands
Gwylnos Heddwch Peace Vigil
Our Chair, Ann Farr led the Gwylnos Heddwch Peace Vigil on Saturday 24th June
These peace vigils are part of an initiative by the Palestine forum of ACT Alliance – a group of more than 145 churches and organisations from around the world, of which Christian Aid is a member.
ACT Palestine encourages groups to hold a prayer vigil at 8pm on the 24th of each month until the Israeli occupation is dismantled, violence in the Middle East ends, and all can celebrate a just and lasting negotiated resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The Wales Christian Aid Peace Vigil has been taking place since January 2021 and June’s event was the 30th.
The Pax Christi Peace Awards 2023
Every other year, since 2001, the Pax Christi Peace Award has been presented to peacemakers nominated by Pax Christi Members to celebrate their efforts in the cause of peace.
Recipients are given a beautiful peace medal created by the sculptor and medallist Natasha Ratcliffe in 2013 which she named the P.E.A.C.E. medal – Please Engage All Communities on Earth.
Medal Recipients for 2023:
Sally Reynolds was one of the founder members of the Abingdon Peace Group in the 1980’s and became its secretary. For more than 40 years she has held the group together in meetings, campaigns and actions. An active member of the Movement for the Abolition of War and other peace organisations, she brings the Quaker values of quiet persistence, integrity and serenity to all her peace work.
Jennifer Rowlands is currently Head of Religious Studies at Bellerive Catholic College, Liverpool and a member – for many years – of Pax Christi. Throughout her teaching career she has shown an outstanding commitment to promoting peace through education.
Janette Harper is a member of Pax Christi and has served on the Pax Christi’s executive. Never one to make a fuss, she is a quiet dedicated peacemaker, believing passionately in justice, in following the path of nonviolence, in ridding the world of both nuclear and conventional weapons, and in combatting militarism. For more than 20 years Jan has organised the meetings of the Pax Christi Liverpool group; she has invited speakers; held film nights; organised petitions and letters to MPs, held stalls and activities against injustices. All of this has been accompanied by prayer and Days of Reflection.
Martin Birdseye is an active member of Pax Christi and a dedicated campaigner with Christian CND and has served on its executive committee for many years. Martin has been the Justice and Peace representative in Heston Parish and involved in the wider West London Justice and Peace network. He is a modest but persistent campaigner; his expertise has been focussed on nuclear weapons and on the moral issues surrounding British defence policy. He created and disseminated ‘The Nuclear Morality Flowchart’ which has been translated into several languages, including Chinese. Christian CND presented the Iranian Ambassador at the UN with a copy in Farsi.
Musicians for Peace and Disarmament: Tribute to Bruce Kent
On the 25th of May, Musicians for Peace and Disarmament kindly presented a concert to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Bruce Kent on 8th June 2022. Pat Gaffney, our former General Secretary paid tribute to Bruce during the evening and the proceeds of the concert were donated to Pax Christ, CND and the Movement for the Abolition of War. You can read a report of the evening in Independent Catholic News here
Catholic Bishops’ Conference Response to Refugees and Migrants: Love the Stranger
Pax Christi welcomes this new publication from the International Department of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales. In our work for peace we know that the issues of conflict and migration are integrally linked.
Bishops’ Conference writes:
‘In 2023, people making dangerous journeys across the Channel to reach the UK are called by various names: ‘refugees’, ‘asylum seekers’, ‘migrants’, and often by more derogatory terms.
Love the Stranger is a new publication by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales’ Department for International Affairs that articulates our Christian duty to look beyond such labels and see the person who has left their homeland in search of a better life.’
You can download the document here:
When you’ve read it, think who you might share it with … and drop a note of appreciation to Liam Allmark, Secretary of Migration email@example.com and Policy at Bishops Conference and your own bishop.
Readers may find Liz Dodd’s critical comment The Problem is that the Asylum System is Corrupt on the Bishops’ Statement in The Tablet (25/3/23) of interest.
Pax Christi Testimony of Witness from the Holy Land
Brussels, 15 March, 2023: The Board of Pax Christi International welcomes the testimony from members of the Pax Christi delegation who recently returned from a 10-day peace pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Thirteen members from six countries took part in a visit that enabled them to reconnect with Pax Christi partners, see, first-hand, the facts on the ground, meet with religious leaders, activists, NGO, and UN representatives, and most importantly, to hear from those whose daily lives are affected by the occupation.
The delegation stayed in Jerusalem and Bethlehem and visited Ramallah, Hebron, the Cremisan Valley, Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, and Bedouin communities under threat of immediate eviction.
As Marie Dennis, Director of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, a project of Pax Christi International, commented “We heard talk of a new Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe referring to the expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians and annihilation of more than 400 villages) and it feels that way. The stories of heartbreak are not old stories; they are ongoing.”
At every stop the group witnessed the brutal realities of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem now entering its fifty-sixth year. They heard harrowing stories of home demolitions, forced evictions and removals, violent settler attacks and the many indignities of oppression and repression experienced by Palestinians. The escalating fears for the future as the new ultra-nationalist government takes control was palpable.
The team met with the family of murdered Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who, nearly one year after her death, has seen no accountability or justice. Their call for the international community to intervene was the same one heard at every encounter.
As a Catholic peace movement, the team recognised the perseverance and tenacity of the Palestinian people in attending to their daily activities despite constant aggression, as the most profound form of nonviolent resistance. The expression “to exist is to resist” underpins even the most mundane of tasks.
As Rev. Paul Lansu, Pax Christi International, remarked, “The current situation is terrible and quickly deteriorating. Our visit could not have been more timely. The pilgrimage was a visible demonstration of solidarity with all our Palestinian sisters and brothers in the Holy Land. It was a reaffirmation of Pax Christi’s steadfast commitment to advocate for a just peace that ensures freedom, justice, and equality for all.”
Read the full Testimony here https://paxchristi.net/2023/03/15/pax-christi-international-publishes-a-testimony-of-witness/
Pope Francis emphasises Peace Message to European Bishops
Independent Catholic News (24/3/23) reports:
Pope Francis addressed the Bishops of the European Union and their new Presidency on Thursday 23 March 2023. The Holy Father asked them to never lose sight of
“the two great dreams of Europe’s founding fathers: the dream of unity and the dream of peace”.
Comment on the AUKUS Deal from Pax Christi Partner in Australia
In a report issued by Independent Catholic News (16/3/23) Ann Farr, Chair of Pax Christi England and Wales, endorses the criticism made by Australian Missionary and Pax Christi partner, Fr Claude Mostowik of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. Ann asserts, “investing in weapons, including nuclear submarines, will not make us any safer from large hostile powers but will make us possible targets and so more vulnerable.”
Pax Christi International: Statement on the war in Ukraine
We welcome and support today’s statement from Pax Christi International on the war in Ukraine. You can read the whole statement here.
Anniversary: Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
January 22nd marked two years since the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force, and with 62 states having joined. Pax Christi’s Schools and Youth Education Officer, Chair and Chief Executive joined friends from other peace organisations to deliver a letter to the Foreign Secretary calling for meaningful progress on nuclear disarmament. https://christiancnd.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/NCPO-letter-to-FCO.pdf