Pax Christi outreach

IssueJuly - August 2007

Pax Christi outreach Pax Christi General Secretary Pat Gaffney gave an account of the Catholic peace group's outreach work at the Pax Christi AGM on 18 June. We've decided to print a few highlights, indicating the kind of work that vigorous peace organisations are doing every day.

On the nuclear issue, we distributed 10,000 campaigning postcards for Tony Blair in just one month, urging the government not to renew Trident; we organised a speaking tour with Senator Douglas Roche from Canada (Chair of Middle Powers initiative and adviser on disarmament to the Vatican) that included meetings with our Bishops; and we also attended the Pax Christi International meeting with Cardinal Martino in the Vatican, flagging up possibilities for two-way co-operation on the issue of nuclear weapons. On Israel/Palestine, we had a success with our Remember Bethlehem pack at Christmas 2006, with 20,000 packs distributed, encouraging the sale and use of olive wood and other goods to draw attention to economic plight of Palestine. We also are also participating in the Enough Coalition - this is a UK response to much wider call for advocacy and awareness raising on the 40th anniversary of the Israeli occupation.

It has not been an easy start for us, and we have had to invest a lot of time in dialogue with some of our Jewish/Christian friends in both allaying their fears that Pax Christi is not a movement that is anti-Semitic - but we are confirmed in our work to speak about the human, moral and legal aspects of occupation and to lobby to bring it to an end. We hope to visit our partners in Palestine in October. Otherwise our next focus is the Lobby of Parliament in November.

We continue with our nonviolence and spirituality programme “From Violence to Wholeness”.

Those who undertook the training last year are using their experience now. Shrewsbury Diocese ran a day event. In the Leeds Diocese and in London, the whole ten-week programme is being offered.

We are delighted at the news from the Vatican on 1 June that German conscientious objector Franz Jagerstatter is now to be canonised and given full recognition for his commitment to peace (he was executed in 1943 for refusing to serve in Hitler's army, being one of very few Catholics to take such a stand).

Pax Christi has long promoted his witness and we will be holding events in the autumn when more news of his canonisation is given.