ISSUE 275                                                                                                             MARCH 2017
A word from the International Secretariat...

This week marked the beginning of Lent and we've collected resources and reflections for you to embrace Pope Francis's World Day of Peace message on nonviolence and #LiveNonviolence this Lent. You can see those resources on a special Lenten page we've created on the website to archive and curate Lenten materials. We're also sending weekly reflections out to those subscribers to our email list, so please feel free to forward and share the reflections as you receive them, including the one featured below in this newsletter from Marie Dennis, Co-President of Pax Christi International, for Ash Wednesday.

We’ve also created a social media guide for you to use to help us spread the message #ThisIsNonviolence as part of an awareness campaign meant to promote the power and effectiveness of nonviolence by highlighting how active nonviolence is a force for social change and peace in our world today. More information on the campaign and the guide are available later in this newsletter.

We also hope you'll check out the interviews which focus on concrete contributions that member organisations like Pax Christi UK and individual members like board member Wamuyu Wachira of Kenya are doing to embody nonviolence in their work and lives.  

This newsletter features a number of other pieces which we think will enrich your commitment to nonviolence and highlight how we're working to create a world that is more just, peaceful and sustainable. Senior Advocacy Officer Alice Kooij Martinez has helped to enact new exciting directions for our advocacy work, for instance, some of which you'll read about below.

And lastly, please don’t forget to check out the links in the last section of the newsletter which showcase the transformative work several of our member organisations are doing. Every day on the website we feature 2-5 short news items from our member organisations spanning five continents. Their witness is an inspiration to all of us

                                                                                 In peace,                                                                                                                                                                     
                                               Johnny Zokovitch
                                                                                  Senior Communications Officer, Pax Christi International
Statement on the Nuclear Weapons Ban Negotiations:
Four Calls to Governments for a Human-Centered Treaty 

Pax Christi International welcomes the UN General Assembly’s decision to negotiate a legally binding prohibition of nuclear weapons. We consider it a milestone that nuclear weapons be explicitly banned by international treaty and see the treaty as an exercise in the moral values and global responsibilities required to build a more secure and sustainable world. Moreover, a nuclear weapon ban treaty should not be seen as a revolutionary step, but rather as the logical next step leading towards the near-universal goal of a world without nuclear weapons. It would also strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty by reinforcing the existing obligation to achieve nuclear disarmament. We call upon all governments to uphold their responsibilities and attend the nuclear weapons ban treaty negotiations in March and June/July 2017.

Nuclear weapons are instruments of ultimate violence. Our planet has no place for weapons of such terror and mass destruction. For anyone to possess them takes a toll on everyone’s humanity. Their presence in an era of increasing interdependence is an affront to human dignity. Nuclear weapons are designed to cause catastrophic humanitarian consequences and their use, under any circumstances, is unjustifiable and unthinkable. The Catholic Church has been outspoken against the indiscriminate nature of nuclear weapons: "Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation."

To free the world of nuclear weapons is a global public good of the highest order and a responsibility of all states. Humanitarian imperatives drive these negotiations towards a clear and explicit prohibition of the most destructive weapon ever created. The requisite protection for people and the planet depends on a complete legal prohibition of nuclear weapons leading towards their total elimination. As long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk of any intentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons is very real. The only way to eliminate such risk is to eliminate all nuclear weapons. Our movement thus calls upon governments to consider these human-centered parameters for the nuclear weapons ban treaty negotiations:

Pax Christi International announces new advocacy priorities

by Alice Kooij Martinez
Senior Advocacy Officer

In accordance with the outcomes of the World Assembly in 2015, last year the International Secretariat carried out an assessment to review and strengthen the movement’s capacity for international advocacy. Questionnaires were sent out to international board members, member organisations, NGOs, coalition partners and policy makers, which resulted in 146 responses.

Building on the results of the assessment, the international movement developed an advocacy strategy for 2017–2020, setting out priorities, procedures and working processes. Central to this strategy is that through member-based advocacy and by working with partners to complement the work carried out by member organisations, we aim to bring our concerns and proposed solutions to the international level...

UN event on "Nonviolence,
A Style of Politics for Peace"

On  March 2nd we co-organised a panel at the UN in New York City on Pope Francis's 2017 World Day of Peace message. This event was truly multi-medial: We covered the event via Twitter, Facebook and via web TV.

Our partners for the event were the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns and the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.

  • Watch the entire event recorded on video via UN web TV
  • See our Facebook page for additional video, photos and mor
  • See our Twitter feed for live-quotes from the event, photos and more. Search for tweets on the event by using the hashtag #WDPUN

Read more about the event here.

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 Pax Christi UK. Pax Christi International communications intern Marie Just interviewed Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi UK:

" In 1958 a small group started meeting in London to discuss Church teaching on peace and to promote the international routes, which are marches/pilgrimages across Europe, for peace. The objective was to further peace by fostering international friendship. John Geary, a young man who had taken part in Pax Christi International routes in Germany, Italy and France, inspired these activities. ... Pax Christi had strong links with London University and most members were under 30 years of age. ...  New papal teaching on peace contained in the encyclical Pacem in Terris (1963) and in documents emerging from the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) gave encouragement to Pax Christi’s mission. Issues of contemporary concern which the British group took up included the lack of rights for conscientious objectors in Catholic countries such as Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal, and British arms sales to Nigeria, Biafra, and South Africa. Pax Christi emphasised the value of international exchanges with foreign students visiting London and with young people staying in its summer hostels. Joint retreats and conferences were held with PAX, an older Catholic peace group, and in 1971 a single Catholic peace movement was created when PAX and Pax Christi merged. .. "

Use social media to help us spread
the message: #ThisIsNonviolence

Since January, we've been circulating messages over Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms encouraging people that "This is what NONVIOLENCE looks like" with the hashtag #ThisIsNonviolence.

You can find several images like the one above with Pope Francis and a quote from the World Day of Peace message on nonviolence in English, French and Spanish to post and share.

Help us spread the word by sharing these messages now and tagging it #ThisIsNonviolence. We've created a social media primer for you with suggestions for how to use the messages and visuals on the campaign page and participate in the campaign via your social media accounts.

You can find the primer by clicking here.

A reflection for the start of Lent,
Ash Wednesday, March 1st

by Marie Dennis
Co-President, Pax Christi International

“Even now says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning: Rend your hearts, not your garments and return to the Lord, your God.” (Joel 2: 12)

Deep in many religious traditions, including in our own Christian faith, is a recognition of prayer and fasting as essential dimensions of spiritual practice. Particularly appropriate in the face of intractable evil or as an expression of repentance, fasting also carries social and political weight – all of which seem particularly important this year...

Click here to read the entire reflection.

MEMBER PROFILE: Teresia Wamuyu Wachira, IBVM of Kenya

"Nonviolence is really about making choices; it is taking that prophetic step: 'standing up and being counted' as one that is walking that 'road that is less traveled' – the path of nonviolence."

In this latest installment of the #IamPaxChristi interview, we’re profiling Teresia Wamuyu Wachira, a Sister of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (also known as the Loreto Sisters). She is from Kenya and a member of the Pax Christi International Board. The interview was conducted by communications intern Marie Just in December at the Nonviolence in Africa conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Marie Just: What does nonviolence mean to you personally and professionally? How would you describe it?

Teresia Wamuyu Wachira: I believe that human beings are good and ultimately desire peace. When provoked human beings react in a particular way either peacefully or nonviolently. According to me, nonviolence is the way to go. However, this is not usually the first option when one is provoked. The easier and faster way is the way of violence. As a member of Pax Christi, when someone annoys me or acts violently towards me, this gives me an opportunity to practice what I proclaim to others – the way of active nonviolence. This means first looking at the situation, reflecting on it and making a decision on how to respond. Do I want to react in a violent way or do I decide to act nonviolently? ...

Click here to read the rest of the interview.

Report and update on the
Young Peace Journalists project

by Tabitha Redepenning, Youth Coordinator

The first Young Peace Journalist group continues to publish interviews and stories of people, who are seeking refuge. The latest English story is about Layla, a young girl from Aleppo. It is very moving to read such an open interview, which is more than just answering questions. She opens her heart and her deepest thoughts to the reader. ...

The application deadline for the second Young Peace Journalist application term is closed and we got amazingly 60 applications! We have to say thank you for the huge interest in our project!

The training for the new participants will take place on 4-5 March and the participants will get to know their team colleagues from all over the world: Turkey, the Netherlands, Germany, Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, USA and more...

Click here to read the entire update.

2017 Lenten Reflection Guide from Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns

The  2017 Lenten Reflection Guide: A Journey with Gospel Nonviolence  from Pax Christi International member organisation the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns in Washington, D.C. contains reflections, questions, prayers, and actions based on each week’s Gospel reading and the written reflections and recorded discussions by the 83 Catholic peacemakers who attended the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference in Rome in April 2016.  

Lent offers us all a special opportunity to grow in our relationship with God and to deepen our commitment to a way of life, rooted in our baptism. Use this guide individually or in small groups to reflect upon our life patterns, to pray more deeply, and renew our spirits to face the realities of our world.  

Pax Christi International activities around the world...
Communications intern Marie Just put together an excellent retrospective video of Pax Christi International's highlights throughout 2016 ...  As part of the celebration of the 50th World Day of Peace,  Pax Christi Portugal produced the brochure "Active and creative nonviolence: ways to build peace." ... In the march against corruption in Lima, Pax Christi Peru's  Walter Powosino participated in the demonstration and sent us a short report... Pax Christi International, with its members Pax Christi Montreal and Pax Christi Toronto and in support of our regional work in Latin America, sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to request the creation of an ombudsperson in Canada to handle the grievances of people affected by Canadian oil, gas and mining companies abroad ... Pax Christi International with Pancras Jordan of our Sri Lankan member organisation, the Human Rights and Media Resource Centre, raised the Sri Lankan human rights situation at the UN Human Rights Council 34th session ... Pax Christi International's member organisation in Croatia, Centre for Peace – Osijek, is proud to participate in its 3rd Erasmus+ project and this time in the coordinator role of the project HOME AWAY FROM HOME: best practices in the integration of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in European societies ... With the new project, Radio-Television of Peace, our member organisation, Réseau Jeunes dans le Monde pour la Paix (RJMP, Young Network in the World for Peace) provides peace education to a variety of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo ... Our member organisation in Palestine, the Arab Educational Institute, shared how women in the village of At-Tuwani, in the South Hebron Hills, led a demonstration focused on calling attention to and aimed at ending settler violence ... For more news articles about Pax Christi International activities around the world, visit our website by clicking here.