ISSUE 274                                                                                                         FEBRUARY 2017
A word from the Secretary General...

We are now a month into the new year and so many exciting things are happening throughout our global network! In December we convened our member organisations in Africa in Johannesburg for a conference exploring the theme “Nonviolence in Africa: Creating a Future of Hope”, and we’re now in the process of providing a regional coordinator for Africa and creating a structure for the continent that will help to support our member organisations there. You can read more about the conference in the first section of the newsletter below.

Following up on Pope Francis’s message on nonviolence for the World Day of Peace, we’ve launched an awareness campaign meant to promote the power and effectiveness of nonviolence by highlighting how our member organisations are using active nonviolence as a force for social change and peace in our world today. This newsletter has information on the social media component of that campaign and a link to resources curated through our project, the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, which grew out of the Rome conference on nonviolence and just peace in April 2016. We’re hopeful that all of our member organisations will continue to witness to nonviolence in their contexts and promote the message of nonviolence to take advantage of the opening that Pope Francis has given us to hold up the work we have been doing together for over 70 years.   

We're also hopeful that you'll look in on the Peace Stories blog which has been redeveloped and populated with stories about nonviolence, stories of refugees from the Young Peace Journalists, spiritual reflections on peace, and interviews with the people and member organisations who make up our movement. You can see the new design of the Peace Stories blog by clicking here.

And lastly, please don’t forget to check out a handful of links in the last section of the newsletter which showcase the work several of our member organisations are doing on behalf of peace and justice. Every day on the website we feature 2-5 short news items from our member organisations spanning five continents. We hope you enjoy and are inspired by reading about how the work we are all doing together cultivates and creates communities of peace and reconciliation.

As always, I thank you for the support of our movement and I keep you, your families and communities in my thoughts and prayers. 

                                                                                          In peace,

                                                                                          Greet Vanaerschot
                                                                                          Secretary General, Pax Christi International
Nonviolence in Africa: Creating a Future of Hope, Dec. 2016

From 5-9 December 2016, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Pax Christi International facilitated a conference gathering together representatives of our African member organisations to explore the theme, "Nonviolence in Africa: Creating a Future of Hope". Over 30 member organisations from nine African nations were represented, in addition to presenters and facilitators from a number of other countries. Our onsite host for the conference was the Denis Hurley Peace Institute, a member organisation based in South Africa. 

The following statement was issued by the participants at the conference... 

We, members of Pax Christi International, the International Catholic peace movement, from different parts of Africa who came together for the conference under the theme “Nonviolence in Africa: Creating a Future of Hope” organised by Pax Christi International in Johannesburg, South Africa from 5-9 December 2016, state as follows:

As we dream and work together towards an Africa that is free from violent conflicts, we are confronted with challenges both old and new that demand moral strength, innovative ideas and unbroken determination to build sustainable peace through active nonviolent approaches.

Inspired by Gospel values, the spirit of Ubuntu and the teaching of the Golden Rule which urges us to treat others the way we would want to be treated…

We recognize that:

  • parochialism, intolerance, extremism and violence are on the rise;
  • young people and children represent the greatest resource in Africa, and if well-harnessed would contribute to the development, well-being and peace of Africa;
  • current adversarial politics is exclusionary and marginalizes certain parts of the society;
  • the huge investment in the militarization of peace and conflict could be channelled towards active nonviolent peacebuilding approaches;
  • civil society is under threat and basic rights are being oppressed...

For a full report of activities at the conference, click here.
A Catholic Vision of
Nonviolence for Africa

by Bishop Kevin Dowling, South Africa
Co-President, Pax Christi International

We are gathered here as peacemakers from several countries in Africa. A few weeks ago a religious sister, Sister Annie, working in Aleppo in Syria where thousands have been killed in that terrible war, said this: "Our world is a gift from God. Part of it is bleeding. Be peacemakers for us and our children." Sister Annie could have said those same words to us here in Africa: "Our Africa is a gift from God. Part of it is bleeding. Be peacemakers for your people and your children."...

Nonviolence in Africa:
Creating a Future of Hope

To get an overview of all that took place at the "Nonviolence in Africa" conference in South Africa, 5-9 December 2016, check out some of the links below. 
  • See photos from every day of the conference in separate photo albums on Flickr
  • Watch videos from throughout the conference, including the press conference sharing the final conference statement, on our Facebook page
  • Read Dr. Elias Opongo S.J.'s presentation on "Political Efficacy in the Great Lakes and Eastern Africa"
  • For full coverage of the conference in South Africa, click here.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of Pakistan
In each month's newsletter, we're going to be shining a spotlight on one of our 120 member organisations. This month, we’re getting to know the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of Pakistan, one of the two organisations awarded the Pax Christi International Peace Award for 2016 (photo on right). Pax Christi International communications intern Marie Just interviewed Cecil Chaudhry, Executive Director of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of Pakistan:

" There are many stories to share. However for me seeing the gradual change [which we have worked for] in the [educational] curriculum in order to promote an unbiased education system, this holds a special place in my heart. Probably because I also had studied such biased material in my school days and thus now that I am a father, this issue and the success--however small it may be--is very important and dear to me. It was a joy to see that after 20+ years, the government has finally brought back chapters on the role of religious minorities into the school textbooks, something that had been removed in the 1980s and 90s... "

Social Media Campaign:

Pope Francis began 2017 with a World Day of Peace message entitled, "Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace". Pax Christi International is making a special effort to "affirm the vision and practice of active nonviolence at the heart of the Catholic Church" during this next year through projects like the Catholic Nonviolence InitiativeAnd 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 to create social change in our world today. Help us spread the word by sharing these messages now and using the hashtag #ThisIsNonviolence.

Catholic Nonviolence Initiative responds to the World Day of Peace message

On 1 January 2017, Pope Francis delivered the World Day of Peace message, entitled "Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace". The message was heavily influenced by the work of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, a project of Pax Christi International started in the wake of the April 2016 Rome conference on "Nonviolence and Just Peace". The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative has gathered a number of resources together for prayer, reflection, study and action on the World Day of Peace message...

Click here to visit the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative's page of resources to promote nonviolence in support of the World Day of Peace message.

STATEMENT: Call for a new Israeli-Palestinian peace process

Pax Christi International believes that now is the moment for a renewed commitment to achieving peace

A just resolution to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is critical for peace in our world today. Despite the difficulties inherent in ending this conflict, it is urgent that it is resolved. 2017 marks 100 years since the Balfour declaration, 70 years since UN resolution 181[2], and 50 years since Israel began its occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the annexation of East Jerusalem. Pax Christi International believes that this is the moment for a renewed commitment to end the violence and to reach a just and sustainable solution guaranteeing the fundamental rights of both Israelis and Palestinians in accordance with international law...

Click here to read the rest of this statement.

Now accepting applications for the
Young Peace Journalists project

by Tabitha Redepenning, Youth Coordinator

Pax Christi International is looking for Young Peace Journalists to give a voice to people seeking refuge. Pax Christi International is building up a young peace journalist team from all over the world to report about the lives of refugees, migrants, asylum-seekers, and displaced persons. As part of the team you will organise an interview with a person from these groups in your hometown or area. Full online training will be given on 4-5 March.
The international team of peace journalists will use their work for awareness-raising and influencing policy makers, as you seek to make a positive difference for one of the most vulnerable groups in society. The deadline for applications is 13 February.

Click here to register.

RESOURCE: Racisme anti-noirs, entre méconnaissance et rejet, from
Pax Christi Wallonie-Brussels

Racism is characterized more by contempt than by phobia. Stereotypes about black people are an illustration of this. Today, the deafening media, political, academic and associative silence surrounding "afro-phobia" is part of a tradition of denial of recognition, marginalization or "invisibilisation" of black people.

In order to answer these questions and more, the authors met 85 actors of the anti-racist struggle and submitted a questionnaire to them.

Pax Christi International activities around the world...
In collaboration with our member organisations in Russia, Pax Christi International wrote a letter to the Russian Federation condemning threats against Gregory Shvedov, the Editor-In-Chief of the Caucasian Knot, an independent Russian media portal founded by our 2013 Peace Prize laureate Memorial ... Staff from the Arab Educational Institute in Palestine contributed to stories highlighting cross-border celebrations ... The Center for Human Rights Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, AC (Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, AC) signed onto a statement condemning violence against human rights defenders ... Danisa Khumalo of the Denis Hurley Peace Institute in South Africa led off the conference on nonviolence in Africa by asking participants to listen to the voices of Africans saying that they do not want to die in war ... Kevin McBride of Pax Christi Aotearoa (New Zealand) joined about 20 academics, librarians, journalists, students and Pacific issues activists for a Morning Star flag-raising ceremony as part of global actions for West Papuan freedom and human rights ... In late December, Pope Francis appointed Fr. Allwyn D’Silva, contact person for the Documentation, Research and Training Centre, as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Mumbai, India ... On the World Day for Migrants and Refugees, Pax Christi Flanders' Youth Ambassador wrote a column about her work with Syrian refugees ... In response to the executive orders signed by President Trump, Pax Christi USA has released a statement expressing their dismay ... For more news articles about Pax Christi International activities around the world, visit our website by clicking here.