ISSUE 277                                                                                                                 MAY 2017
A word from the International Secretariat...

The past few weeks have been busy ones at the Pax Christi International offices in Brussels. Leaders from Pax Christi sections and the International Board gathered with the International Secretariat for our Annual General Membership (AGM) meeting, which included a special panel event on nonviolence opened to the general public, as well as advocacy visits to the UN, a special Mass at the Chapel of Europe, and more. You'll find articles on those visits as well as photos from the AGM later in this newsletter. We thank all of the board members and section leaders who were able to make it to the meeting in Brussels. The stories you share with us about the work that you are doing fills us with hope and is an inspiration to all throughout our global movement.

In December 2016 we held a special conference, Nonviolence in Africa: Creating a Future of Hope, in Johannesburg, South Africa with representatives of our member organisations from across the African continent. Our host group for the conference was the Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI), our member organisation in South Africa. We could not have done the conference without their help with all of the on-site logistics and support. We're excited to feature their work in this newsletter as the latest installment in the "Our Story" series, highlighting the member organisations who make up our world-wide network. We hope you'll read the interview with the DHPI below. 

Additionally in this newsletter, you'll find a reflection from Easter on nonviolence, a report from the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, an interview with a refugee from one of our "Young Peace Journalists", a welcome to a (not-so) new staff member, and more. 

Thank you so much for your ongoing support of this movement and for all the work you do to witness deeply and concretely to the power of peace and nonviolence in our world today. 

                                                                                 In peace,                                                                                                                                                                     
                                               Johnny Zokovitch
                                                                                  Senior Communications Officer, Pax Christi International
OUR STORY: The Denis Hurley Peace Institute of South Africa

This is the latest installment of a regular feature on the Peace Stories blog featuring the stories of our 120 member organisations on five continents around the world. For May 2017, we’re getting to know the Denis Hurley Peace Institute, one of our member organisations in South Africa. This interview was conducted by email with Director Danisa Khumalo and Jeanette Lesisa.

____________

South Africa (SA), for historical reasons, commanded world attention for decades. The word that best describes this attention is the word ‘Apartheid’, a form of constitutionalised racism. It united socialist and capitalist countries against it; it brought about a unity of purpose between rich and poor, East and West, in their opposition to it.

Rather than being an ugly aberration, South Africa was really an extreme parable of an entire global system. This bleeding land was and is a microcosm of the oppressive dynamics which now govern the world order.

When, why and how did the Denis Hurley Peace Institute start?

Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI): Since the democratic transition in 1994, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has received numerous requests for assistance in the area of conflict management from the Catholic Church across the African continent. South Africa owes a huge debt to its African neighbours for the support they gave to the country during the dark days of Apartheid. The Bishops felt the need to repay that debt by responding as best they could to the requests they received.

The lot fell on the Justice & Peace Department of the SACBC to actually go to those countries and support them in whichever way they could. The outcome was that the Justice & Peace Department was spending much of its time outside the country and that the Justice & Peace work in the country was suffering. Therefore, the Bishops decided to establish a Peace Institute, which would have the specific mandate to respond to the call of Africa...

Report from “Nonviolence as
a Style of Politics for Peace” event

by Alice Kooij Martinez
Senior Advocacy Officer

On April 21, Pax Christi International organized a lively EU panel discussion on ‘Nonviolence, as a style for politics for peace’ at its Brussels office. Its aim was to further build on Pope Francis’s 2017 World Day of Peace Message calling for a renewed culture of nonviolence to inform global politics today.

The speakers participating in the panel discussion were from a variety of backgrounds (grassroots, policy, research) and spoke about the potential as well as challenges regarding nonviolent strategies and tools in responding to conflicts in the world, especially making the link with EU policies. The panel of speakers included the following persons: 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)

During the panel discussion, the effectiveness of nonviolence as a method for conflict prevention and peacebuilding was discussed...

Recent update from the
Catholic Nonviolence Initiative

The  Catholic Nonviolence Initiative continues to promote nonviolence within the Church (and the wider community), to develop resources, and to be at the service of the Church as it explores the development of innovative Church teaching, including the possibility of an encyclical on nonviolence and just peace. 

We have been buoyed especially by Pope Francis’ 2017 World Day of Peace message,  Nonviolence: A style of politics for peace. In early March, CNI and others participated   at a panel discussion at the United Nations  in New York City on this theme, hosted by the Holy See’s UN mission. On April 21, a   similar panel was held  at the Pax Christi International Secretariat in Brussels, with a particular focus on the European Union. 

A number of workshops on Gospel nonviolence and Pope Francis’ 2017 World Day of Peace message have been held in Uganda, Kenya, the Philippines, UK, Belgium, Mexico, United States, Australia, Japan, and many other countries. Marie Dennis spoke at the  2017 Voices of Faith gathering at the Vatican on International Women’s Day, March 8; the theme was nonviolence and women...

Advocacy: Raising the voices of Palestinians at the EU

On 21 April, a delegation of Pax Christi International consisting of Ms. Marie Dennis (Co-President), Mrs. Rania Giacaman Murra (from our member organisation in Bethlehem and an International Board member), and Ms. Alice Kooij Martinez (Senior Advocacy Officer) had a meeting with the EU External Action Service (EEAS), the office of EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, to raise the voices of Palestinians.

This meeting was a follow-up action to our online petition of February in which we petitioned the EU High Representative to push the EU to take a stronger stance towards the Israeli government in condemning the legalisation of illegal settlements on Palestinian lands as incompatible with the human rights clause of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Also, we asked for the EU to take economic measures until Israel respects International law.

The officials were open to the situation of Palestinians and value the work that NGOs like ours are doing to keep the peace process going. The delegation was able to present the work of Pax Christi International, such as our online petition and December statement, as well as raised the following issues with the EEAS...

Click here to read more of this article.

Refugee Stories: The Teaching of Life 

by Valerie Luckey
Young Peace Journalists Project

Khina Dahal became a naturalized American citizen in June 2016. She is a former Bhutanese refugee. When I first met Khina Dahal in September 2015, I was beginning my ministry at Saint Benedict Center, an early education childhood care center in Erie, Pennsylvania. On my first day of ministry, I was asked to help in a classroom consisting primarily of Nepali-speaking Bhutanese children, many of whom had been born in Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal.

Khina worked as an assistant teacher in the classroom, helping these young preschoolers learn and grow while also aiding with language translation. With no other staff speaking the Nepali language, she proved to be an invaluable asset at Saint Benedict Center. She continues working at the center today. Khina agreed to tell me her own story as a Bhutanese refugee in Nepal, a story that began for her at the age of ten.

In 1989, the Bhutan government imposed the law, “One Nation: One Policy.” This law stated there would only be one religion practiced in the country, one language spoken: Dzongkha, and one set of customs and clothing accepted. The educated Nepali-speaking southern Bhutanese appealed this law, asking for the rights to practice their own religion, speak their own language, and continue living their own customs. The Bhutan government denied this appeal...

Click here to read the rest of this article.

A reflection for Easter Sunday: Nonviolence reaches for the greater good

by Nancy Small
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

Acts 10:34, 37-43 | Col 3:1-4 | Jn 20:1-9

Since you’ve been resurrected with Christ, set your heart on what pertains to higher realms, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand. (Col 3:1)

We began Holy Week in hope proclaiming hosanna. We end in hope proclaiming alleluia. Alleluia to the Risen Christ! Alleluia to hope rising and resounding with joy in our hearts!

Today’s epistle reading invites us to live as an Easter people, saying, “Since you’ve been resurrected with Christ, set your heart on what pertains to higher realms” (Col 3:1). This summons is given by disciples who committed themselves to continuing the nonviolent way of Jesus. With Christ as their stronghold, they lengthened the reach of nonviolence into the heart of society. Each time they were beaten or imprisoned, they persevered, never giving up, always reaching toward the greater good.

The way of nonviolence has a lot to do with reaching for the greater good. We reach for the greater good within ourselves and appeal to the greater good in one another. And we reach for the greater good that lies in the heart of society. We do this by calling forth and cultivating more of the stuff of heaven that we long for on earth. More justice, more peace, more love...

Click here to read the rest of this reflection.
Getting past the impasse:  North Korea, the US & Nuclear Abolition

By Nick Mele

This morning, a friend sent me a political cartoon showing North Korea's Kim Chong Un and US President Donald Trump climbing into a wrestling ring, each wearing costumes that read “The Madman”. That caricature of the conflict between the two nations aptly captures a major flaw in how most Westerners view North Korea, as a rogue nation led by a family whose sanity is doubtful.

In fact, from a North Korean perspective, there is nothing abnormal about the drive to acquire nuclear weapons or the apocalyptic rhetoric voiced at the United Nations and in propaganda broadcasts from Pyongyang. Although North Korea clearly watched closely as Libya gave up its nuclear weapons program in response to U.S. overtures, the North Koreans have been unwavering. The government has  sought a credible nuclear arsenal for decades and seem to be on the verge of developing the ability to send missiles tipped with nuclear warheads across the Pacific Ocean as well as to potential targets in Japan and South Korea. A 2016 book by former military intelligence analyst Robert Daniel Wallace, North Korea and the Science of Provocation, examines hostile words and acts by Pyongyang from the 1960s onward and tries to correlate them with various factors, including domestic tensions within the North. The only strong correlations are with political transitions in South Korea and joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises. Currently, South Korea is experiencing a long and momentous transition following the impeachment and now indictment for corruption of former President Pak Keun Hye; every spring, the U.S. and South Korea hold large scale military exercises that include simulated defense against North Korean invasion and live fire exercises. The U.S. draws on military reserves and units stationed far from Northeast Asia for these exercises...

Welcome Noémie Deby!

Pax Christi International is pleased to announce that a new member has joined the International Secretariat. Noémie Deby joined the staff in November 2016 and assumed the position of management assistant.

Prior to joining Pax Christi International, Ms. Deby has done studies in Public Policy and Human Development and attended the Graduate Institute of Peace Studies in South Korea.

"This 1.5 year experience abroad marked my life for good as I understood that 'peace' is just a pretentious word until your actions actually match with the deep meaning this powerful word stands for," stated Ms. Deby.

Read more by clicking here.

RESOURCE: #ThisIsNonviolence -
Pope Francis on nonviolence

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. 

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. On the "ThisIsNonviolence" campaign page, you'll find visuals (like this one) specially created to lift up quotes from Pope Francis's World Day of Peace message on nonviolence. The quotes are in English, French and Spanish and can be used in a variety of ways across digital platforms.

We encourage you to download, post and share these visuals across social media and on your websites with the hashtag, #ThisIsNonviolence.


Pax Christi International activities around the world...
Marino Ficco, Pax Christi International's deputy representative to UNESCO in Paris and a member of Pax Christi France, attended the UNESCO NGO Forum on "Youth and their Social Impact" in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia ... Blagovest Media, in collaboration with Pax Christi Flanders member Jo Hanssens on behalf of Pax Christi International, has produced a docu-drama on the Christian way to avoid war and to overcome violence called "Cross or Sword?" ... The UNFPA East and Southern Africa Regional Office featured our member organisation in Burundi, Centre Jeunes Kamenge, on their Facebook page for their youth-friendly health services ... Pax Christi sections from 15 countries gathered in Brussels in April for the Annual General Membership meeting ... Pax Christi International has been working with our partners in Latin America, including El Salvador which recently banned metallic mining, on a project that enables communities to engage and resist extractive industries ... Our member organisation in Thailand, Jesuit Refugee Services, writes about weaving the future by fostering understanding ... Pax Christi Italy released a statement following their recent National Congress ... Pax Christi Aotearoa co-organised an action to draw attention to the West Papua media blackout ... A delegation from Pax Christi International including Mrs. Martha Ines Romero (Regional Coordinator for Latin America) visited the EU Directorate-General Cooperation and Development  to discuss our statement on resilience and to discuss how supporting communities through training in nonviolence approaches for the transformation of conflicts can contribute to resilience by presenting our work in the Latin American region (Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Paraguay) ... Fr. Peter Mubunga Basaliza, secretary of Pax Christi in Uganda, has been actively exploring how to practice nonviolence and peace within his region of Kasese, as well as to promote a just peace by meeting with different groups of stakeholders in regional disputes ... Our member organisation in Sweden, The Life & Peace Institute, will have its Horn of Africa Regional Programme lead a 3-year project financed by the European Union to contribute to policies that prevent border-related conflicts in the Horn of Africa ... 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.