ISSUE 276                                                                                                                 APRIL 2017
A word from the International Secretariat...

This month leaders from Pax Christi sections and the International Board will gather with the International Secretariat for our Annual General Meeting in Brussels. One highlight of the gathering will be a special panel event on 21 April organised by our Senior Advocacy Officer Alice Kooij Martinez on how European Union policies can support nonviolent strategies for prevention of violent conflict and protection of vulnerable communities. You can find more information on the event in the newsletter below. This is the second event in a series on "Nonviolence, a Style of Politics for Peace," following the first one held at the United Nations in New York City on 2 March.

The next ten days will encompass the observation of Holy Week and Easter and our Lenten program to #LiveNonviolence continues. Special reflections on nonviolence and Lent by leaders from throughout our movement will be sent out and posted for Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday; you can access these and past reflection on our special Lenten page on the website. The most recent reflection, for the 5th Sunday of Lent, was written by Martha Inés Romero, Latin America Regional Coordinator for Pax Christi International.

We also want to remind you that this newsletter is published in English, French and Spanish. At the end of the newsletter, you'll find links to the Spanish and French versions, which typically are sent out two weeks following the English version. The English version is published during the first week of the month, with the other versions following on or around the 15th of the month. If you prefer to receive the Spanish or French version (and are not already receiving it in your email box), you can sign up specifically to receive the language version you prefer by clicking here and checking the appropriate box. 

As always, the strength of our movement is in the work being done at the grassroots level by our 120 member organisations on every continent. This newsletter features a small sampling of this incredible work via links in the last section, but every day on the website we also feature 2-5 short news items from around our movement. Take a few moments this week to visit the site and see what's going on. 

                                                                                 In peace,                                                                                                                                                                     
                                               Johnny Zokovitch
                                                                                  Senior Communications Officer, Pax Christi International
Panel discussion on ‘Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace’ to take place on the 21st of April in Brussels

In his message for the World Day of Peace on 1 January 2017, Pope Francis called for a renewed culture of nonviolence to inform global politics today, saying military responses to conflicts only breed more violence. In this regard, the EU, along with its member states, has an important role to play, having employed and supported financially a wide array of external assistance instruments for the prevention of violent conflict and peacebuilding.

However, the EU has increasingly taken more initiatives in the area of defence and various member states have increased their defence spending, despite the recognition in the EU Global Strategy that preventing conflicts is more efficient and effective than engaging with crises after they break out.

Panel discussion, 21 April

At our 21 April event taking place in the afternoon we will focus on the potential of nonviolent strategies and tools, especially as part of EU policies responding to conflicts in the world. Participants will gain greater understanding about nonviolent approaches to conflict and their effectiveness. In addition, the panel will discuss how EU policies can support nonviolent strategies for prevention of violent conflict and protection of vulnerable communities. This event follows an event held on 2 March at the UN in New York.

Speakers panel discussion

The panel of speakers includes: 

  • Ms. Marie Dennis, Co-President, Pax Christi International
  • Sr. Teresia Wamuyu Wachira, lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies at St. Paul’s University, Nairobi, and board member of Pax Christi International
  • Ms. Canan Gündüz, Mediation Advisor at the EU External Action Service (EEAS)
  • Prof. Dr. Joachim Koops, Dean of Vesalius College, Free University of Brussels (VUB) and Director of the Global Governance Institute (GGI)

Moderator: Ms. Pat Gaffney, Coordinator of Pax Christi UK

Negotiations to ban nuclear
weapons make a good start

by Jonathan Frerichs
United Nations Representative

The negotiations for a nuclear ban treaty pit a world majority pledged never to have nuclear weapons against a tiny minority of mostly powerful states that show little sign of giving them up. The talks face concerted opposition from nuclear-armed governments and their allies. 

“This treaty can and will change the world,” an 85-year-old survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima, Setsuko Thurlow, told the negotiators. With no defenders of nuclear weapons in the hall, her impassioned plea evoked sustained applause from normally stoic diplomats. 

Pax Christi members in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America have been lobbying their governments to support the ban negotiations for a year. 

“We consider it a milestone that nuclear weapons be explicitly banned by international treaty,” Pax Christi International said in a call to all governments to participate in the talks. “We see the treaty as an exercise in the moral values and global responsibilities required to build a more secure and sustainable world.”...

Fostering resilience
for sustainable peace

All over the world, we are witnessing victims of crises and conflicts and the instability they create. These may result from social, economic and environmental injustice, often leading to violence and war. We have also seen the emergence of hybrid threats which instigate vulnerabilities and put peace at risk. Globalisation has increased dependency and rising inequalities are posing a serious challenge to sustainable development.

In light of this fragile environment, Pax Christi International welcome the EU Global Strategy that has set resilience as one of the EU’s strategic priorities in its external action. The current geopolitical context requires efforts to strengthen the resilience capacities of people, families, communities, states and societies in order to prepare them for situations of shock and stress.

The upcoming Joint Communication on resilience should therefore further build on the evaluation of existing strategies and provide a common narrative and guidance for resilience-fosering efforts. They should be embedded in EU’s conflict prevention and peacebuilding strategies and mainstreamed into all external and internal policies...

For more information and a link to the position paper, click here.

Advocacy at the nuclear weapons ban treaty negotiations 

Last month, Jasmin Nario Galace (leader of Pax Christi Philippines) delivered a statement representing Faith Communities Concerned about Nuclear Weapons at the UN nuclear weapons negotiations in New York. The statement was initiated by Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and supported by Pax Christi International and several of its members.

  • Watch Jasmin Nario Galace delivering the statement here (video, skip to 2:52:33)
  • See our Facebook page for more videos and information on the nuclear weapons negotiations
  • Our members have been contacting nuclear armed and alliances governments to attend the negotiations sessions with our latest statement
  • Download the statement as a pdf here
  • Read this article about Jasmin Nario-Galace of Pax Christi Pilipinas reading the joint statement on behalf of Faith Communities Concerned about Nuclear Weapons
Join us on social media and
help us expand our reach! 

Part of our strategy for increasing the capacity of our member organisations and promoting the centrality of nonviolence as a value and tactic for resolving conflict and creating social change is to expand our ability to reach many more people, especially youth and young adults, through our social media platforms. Social media provides us a higher degree of accessibility and a direct relationship with our members, partners, friends and supporters than we could ever reach through traditional means. It is an especially fruitful line of communication with young people, to whom we made a specific promise in the Bethlehem Commitment which came out of our world assembly in Palestine in 2015.

In order to expand our outreach through social media, we need your help. 

Click here for four things you can do right now to help us reach new audiences and spread the word about our work and the importance of nonviolence.

Reflections for Lent and Easter
to #LiveNonviolence

In his World Day of Peace message on January 1, 2017, Pope Francis stated, "To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence."

This is the perfect time of the liturgical year to take up Pope Francis's call to action regarding nonviolence, to embrace Jesus's "teaching about nonviolence".

To that end, we've been posting reflections on the website for your use throughout the Lenten season to deepen your commitment to nonviolence in word and deed, in personal lifestyle choices and in action aimed at creating social change. We encourage you to share them over social media with the hashtag #LiveNonviolence.

Click here to read past reflections and check back for reflections for Palm Sunday through Holy Week.

Wiltrud Rösch-Metzler of Pax Christi Germany

"There were never short-term moments [that made a difference], but rather long-term processes. This means that you need to have a lot of patience. And that you have to stay focused on the message of peace, and in carrying that out."

In this latest installment of the #IamPaxChristi interview, we’re profiling Wiltrud Rösch-Metzler, former member of the International Board of Pax Christi International. She is from Germany and has served as the national chair of Pax Christi Germany. This series aims to highlight short conversations with the women and men who make up our movement. The interview was conducted by communications intern Marie Just earlier this year.

Marie Just: How did you become involved with peace and justice work, and what was your first involvement in Pax Christi International??

Wiltrud Rösch-Metzler: I think international justice is a central theme to my life. This initially started to connect with the ecclesiastical youth work that I was involved in; it got me interested and engaged with what we call ‘one-world-topics’ today, or at the time the ‘North-South conflict’. That is why I went to study politics. And it is also the reason for my strong affiliation with justice...

Click here to read the rest of the interview.

Young Peace Journalists project expands

by Tabitha Redepenning, Youth Coordinator

The Young Peace Journalist project has been growing. In March 15 new participants got trained in the principles of responsible/ peace journalism, the situation of refuges, IDPs, migrants and asylum seekers and how to do an interview. Now they are ready to conduct their own interviews in their hometowns. The group will regularly meet in online-sessions to follow up on the process, reflect on the interviews and exchange about their ideas. The training was a mix of webinar sessions and discussions to deepen the knowledge. Moreover, the group also got to know each other better by writing a short story about the meaning of their name. These stories started to reveal the diversity in the group. There are participants from Portugal, Democratic Republic of Congo, England, Kenya, Germany, The Netherlands, South Africa, Papua New Guinea and the US.

In the next month, we will continue to broaden our horizon and learn more about the situation of refugees in other countries. With this additional group the Young Peace Journalists can cover more stories from more people who have a refugee background. The first and second group are now also able to shed light on geographically diverse situations and raise awareness for the plight of people who have fled.

All the stories are and will be published at Pax Christi International’s Peace Stories blog.

RESOURCE: #ThisIsNonviolence -
On the Peace Stories Blog

In 2017, Pope Francis built his World Day of Peace message,  “Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace” , around the vision and practice of active nonviolence.

For over 70 years, Pax Christi International and our member organisations have been bringing about peace and social change through the power of active nonviolence. In 2016, we launched the  Catholic Nonviolence Initiative , a special project to “affirm the vision and practice of active nonviolence at the heart of the Catholic Church”.  

We’re inviting all of our member organisations, supporters and partners, Catholics and other people of good will to help us spread the message of the vitality and strength of active nonviolence in a variety of ways, including by sharing stories on the theme of nonviolence on the Peace Stories blog. We encourage you to post and share these stories across social media with the hashtag, #ThisIsNonviolence.

Pax Christi International activities around the world...
PAX in the Netherlands is calling on the UN Security Council to take action after the chemical attacks in Syria ... The South Africa Catholic Bishop's Conference (SACBC) published a statement to address the dismissal of the Minister of Finance which damages the economy and the poor ... Pax Christi UK marked the beginning of Lent with an Ash Wednesday witness at a number of military sites  ...  Pax Christi International encouraged our members to honor women peacemakers on International Women's Day on 8 March and to use this prayer written by Palestinian women from Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Bethany, sent from our member organisation, the Arab Educational Institute (AEI) ... Pax Christi in the Philippines opposes any move toward reinstituting the death penalty in their country ... CIPCRE, a Pax Christi International member organisation in Cameroon, organised a workshop on protecting child victims of sexual violence, gender discrimination ... Pax Christi France held their annual conference on the theme "From citizenship to brotherhood" ... Pax Christi USA offered their reaction to the new travel ban aimed at Muslims from Trump administration ... Pax Christi International Co-President Marie Dennis spoke at the Voices of Faith event in Rome for International Women's Day ... For more news articles about Pax Christi International activities around the world, visit our website by clicking here.

This newsletter is also posted in Spanish
on the 15th of each month. Click above
to read last month's issue.

This newsletter is also posted in French
on the 15th of each month. Click above 
to read last month's issue.