ISSUE 281                                                         MAY-JUNE 2018
A word from the International Secretariat...
You're receiving this latest newsletter in the midst of the tragic news we are hearing coming from Gaza. Our hearts break as we get reports of the latest killed and those wounded. We especially express our solidarity today with our member organisations and partners in Palestine, including the Arab Educational Institute in Bethlehem and our International Board member Rania Murra . Staff members here in Brussels participated with Pax Christi Flanders in "silence circles," expressing our hope that the human rights of Palestinians would be honoured and respected. In preparation for the commemoration of the Nakba, we crafted a special statement to mark this 70th anniversary . You can read it below in this newsletter.

Much has happened in our movement over the past few months; you will see in this newsletter a sampling of all that is going on to further the cause of peace, justice and reconciliation while promoting the power of nonviolence in our world. As always, don't forget to check out the Peace Stories blog where we are featuring the stories and voices of the people who make up Pax Christi on every continent. And you can always find the latest happenings from our network on our website .
As always, we thank you for your ongoing support of this movement and for all the work you do. Whether it is training young people in active nonviolence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, strategising with indigenous communities to challenge the extractive industry in Latin America, or advocating for torture survivors in Sri Lanka, our network is building the sustainable peace today that will create a better world tomorrow.
Pax Christi International urges the international community to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakba
(Issued 14/5/18) On 15 May 2018, the 70th anniversary of the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”), the expulsion of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and the destruction of over 400 Palestinian towns and villages to make way for the Israel state is commemorated. Pax Christi members and partners around the world will organise activities in support of the Palestinians and especially those who, after seven decades, remain refugees.

In its statement for the commemoration Pax Christi International calls the international community to take the following actions:

  • Recognise the Nakba and the right of return and/or compensation for Palestinian refugees as a prerequisite for a just and fair Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, for which increased commitment from the international community is urgently necessary;
  • Acknowledge that Palestinians have the right to nonviolent, peaceful protest, to look for practical ways to support them and to endorse the UN call for an independent inquiry on the use of any excessive force against unarmed civilians;
  • Insist that all Palestinians are afforded their human rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, and other human rights treaties and instruments, and that violations of these rights are condemned and independently investigated. ...

Pax Christi participates in the Global Days of Action on Military Spending

On the occasion of its 2018 Annual General Meeting, which took place in Arras (France) from 19-22 April, Pax Christi International contributed to the Global Days of Action on Military Spending social media campaign.

The Global Days of Action Against Military Spending (GDAMS) is an initiative from the International Peace Bureau (IPB) of which Pax Christi International is a member. The campaign ran from 14 April to 3 May with the aim to create public awareness about what the money invested in increasing military spending could be used for instead ...

Consultation on Catholic teaching on nonviolence held in Nairobi, Kenya

On 9-10 April in Nairobi, Kenya, Pax Christi International hosted a consultation as part of the  Catholic Nonviolence Initiative  with African peace practitioners, theologians, activists, and grassroots leaders living in the midst of situations of violent conflict. The consultation explored the question of a new moral framework for Catholic teaching on nonviolence and just peace, one of the areas in which the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI) is focusing its work. This new moral framework will support the creation and promotion of nonviolent alternatives and effective strategies to grapple with and transform violence and injustice...

Our Story: The Human Rights Office-Kandy, Sri Lanka
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. In this story, we’re getting to know the  Human Rights Office-Kandy, our member organisation in Sri Lanka . This interview was conducted by email with Fr. Nandana Manatunga, director of the office.

The Human Rights Office of the Kandy Diocese is part of the Catholic Church and headed by Fr. Nandana Manatunga. The office provides an important service on protection, security, legal advice, health, and trauma counseling to victims of rape, torture and other serious human rights violations “in breaking the silence”. The office engages in the rehabilitation of prisoners and their families and the families of missing persons. Efforts are made to educate the general public on the need to campaign for the defence of human rights and getting redress for the victims.

When and how did Human Rights Office-Kandy start?

The Human Rights Office (HRO) was started in 2008. I did human rights work with victims since 1997 when I was at Caritas as the director and also at the Diocesan Media Centre as the Director. When I had to leave the Media Centre , I decided to open up the HRO, but it took several years for the Bishop to understand our work and give an official approval. So it was purely an effort of the staff, the survivors and of the members of the support group...

This is what NONVIOLENCE looks
like in the DR Congo!

Since Pope Francis's World Day of Peace message, "Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace", we've been making a special effort to "affirm the vision and practice of active nonviolence at the heart of the Catholic Church". One way we're doing this is by highlighting the many different manifestations of active nonviolence within our movement. We've been featuring images from our member organisations which show concretely how they're using active nonviolence to transform the world.

Our latest image from Africa Reconciled in the Democratic Republic of Congo has just been released, along with another one from Pax Christi Uvira in the same country. We hope you'll join us in sharing them over social media and showing the world that "This is what NONVIOLENCE looks like!". ...

UN Report: UN conception of peacekeeping evolving

The United Nations’ concept of “peacekeeping” has historically centered upon the provision of humanitarian aid and the deployment of UN-member nation troops abroad, in an effort to maintain, through that third-party military presence, a cessation of active warfare in the host country.

Yet that time-honored formulation and concept of “keeping peace” is undergoing a fundamental reevaluation at the United Nations, under the leadership of Secretary General Antonio Guterres. There is a new focus on helping to create and foster the underlying conditions – the availability of sufficient food, housing, employment, opportunities for youth, clean water, and healthcare, and the elimination of gender-based violence, among them – that give rise to, and sustain, true peace.

These new approaches are consonant with those long embraced by Pax Christi International. Peace is possible and lasting only where there is enough for all...

Pax Christi International launches Africa programme on empowering new generations on active nonviolence
Pax Christi International launched a new programme in the Great Lakes region in Africa called, ‘Empowering new generations on active nonviolence and entrepreneurship'. The purpose of the programme is to educate young people on the culture of peace and active nonviolence and includes assisting disadvantaged youth in creating small businesses. This project took place simultaneously in 3 countries (Burundi, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo) and was implemented by 16 organisations in Kinshasa, Kananga, Kisangani, Goma, Bukavu, Butembo, Uvira, Butare and Bujumbura.

Over two weeks, the project was launched with two "Trainings for Trainers", first in Goma and then in Kinshasa, where we educated 32 men and women in the principles of active nonviolence. Afterwards, they were sent to their hometowns to give trainings on active nonviolence in different educational institutions and youth movements, reaching thousands of young people. ...

From the Peace Stories Blog:

Rev. Paul Lansu, "Emotions dominate people and world events"

Besides being a century of migration and globalisation, our 21st century has also become a century of nationalism and of a renewed search for identity. The ideological battle of the 20th century and of the Cold War especially (1945-1989) has become an identity battle. We live in a time in which we carry out our “identity”, both as an individual and as a nation. We demand the right to be unique, to be different. Some are even prepared to “battle” in order to make others acknowledge them in their existence.


Emotions or passions are part of our human feelings. One needs a certain passion in order to come across convincingly. All of us are driven by emotions, but because these differ in most cases – at times are even opposed to each other – these divide us rather than unite us. And by definition our emotions are selective since they are mostly subjective. Some selective emotions, for instance the extreme egoism of my own country first (America First or Mother Russia First), are more dangerous to the world than universal cynicism and the complete absence of emotions. By nature, emotions are variable and diverse and at times even contradictory. But that one emotion that has been driving us the last couple of years is fear, in various forms. Some speak of an actual culture of fear ...

Refugee Stories:
"Ljubav I Život - Stories of war,
Kafana love and remembrance"

by Alexandre Fonseca
Young Peace Journalists project

The following interview was done by Alexandre Fonseca, a member of the Young Peace Journalists and an EVS Volunteer at Volunteers’ Centre of Vojvodina with the project “People BeyONd Borders” (Erasmus + Program).

Nina is a student of journalism, an active citizen and was a participant in the Youth Exchange, “Get up – crossing borders” in Klösterbuch devoted to the current refugee situation in Europe, financed by OFAJ and organized by the Volunteers’ Centre of Vojvodina, Treibhaus and Le Petit Graine. Nina was always willing to contribute, share her opinion and also her story of being a baby refugee from Krajina (part of Croatia) in a very emotional Living Library related to the topic.

We met afterwards for coffee and čvarci in a hostel in the downtown of Novi Sad to catch up and hear more about her story. After an hour or so, her story became the story of the family and the story of a house, of Glina, of Yugoslavia and war. Nina suggested we visit her in her home and talk to her mom, who lived through the journey and those years of ethnic conflict with full conscience...

Pax Christi International holds Annual Meeting in Arras, France
The 2018 Pax Christi International Annual General Meeting (AGM) was organised in conjuction with the association Centenaire pour la Paix marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War. The AGM took place in Arras, France from 19-22 April 2018. Located in northern France in the Hauts-de-France region, Arras was the only town in France to occupy a front-line position for the entire duration of the First World War. Because of this, dozens of places of remembrance of all nationalities are marked all across the region. This makes it a very interesting and meaningful location to organise a Pax Christi gathering and to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the end of the Great War with all the peace-related activities organised by the Association Centenaire pour la Paix, for the "Faites la Paix" (Make Peace) event.

Members of the International Board, representatives of Pax Christi sections from around the world, Pax Christi International representatives from international decision-making bodies (UN, UNESCO, Council of Europe, etc.), and the staff of the International Secretariat all took part in the AGM. 

In addition to the organisational meetings, the programme included pilgrimage visits to WWI commemoration sites, an interfaith ceremony, an interactive program on peace organised by the Centenaire pour la Paix, a human chain to connect several commemoration sites (AM), and an overnight walk for peace.  ....

Pax Christi International activities around the world...
The new book, Choosing Peace: The Catholic Church Returns to Gospel Nonviolence, by Pax Christi International Co-President Marie Dennis , has just been published by Orbis Books in the United States. Through a special arrangement with Orbis Books, friends of Pax Christi International can purchase   Choosing Peace   for a 40 percent discount now through May 21 using the coupon code, PAXC18 . .. BePax is offering a 17 May training in Brussels on "Deconstructing conspiracy theories" ... The National Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Pakistan observed 29 April as a Day of Prayer and Mourning for all the victims of religious intolerance, violence ... Pax Christi UK joined other organisations in urging Boris Johnson to commit to full participation in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Committee ... Africa Reconciled in the DR Congo instituted a new annual program to recognise International Women's Month ... Pax Christi Aotearoa/New Zealand hosted talks by indigenous Lumad education advocates from the Save Our Schools network ... The Arab Educational Institute in Bethlehem signed onto the statement, "The Palestinian people are committed to seeking freedom" ... Pax Christi Italy has joined a chorus of voices in the protest over the Giro d'Italia taking place in Israel ... Pax Christi USA has published a new resource from their anti-racism team on housing discrimination in the USA ...  I n Mexico, the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas, AC (Frayba), reported that there was a humanitarian emergency in Chiapas due to massive displacements of Indigenous Peoples and issued a call to stop repression ... Rev. Claude Mostowik, msc of Pax Christi Australia wrote "An ANZAC Day Lament" ... Pax Christi Germany was at the Katholikentag in Münster exploring the topic, "Reconciliation needs courage and energy" ... 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
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This newsletter is also posted in French
within 2 weeks of the English version. Click above to read the most recent issue.