ISSUE 285                                                     Summer 2019
A word from the International Secretariat...
This summer has been a time of incredible progress and engagement for Pax Christi International and our member organisations around the world. This newsletter should give you a good sampling of how we are working for constructive change for a world which is more peaceful, nonviolent, just and sustainable.

Our summer began with Pax Christi International sections meeting in Brussels from 26-27 June 2019 for our Annual General Meeting (AGM). Representatives from 12 sections were in attendance as well as members from the International Board and International Secretariat. (Group photo above.) For a full report of this meeting, you can click here . And for coverage of the election of our new co-presidents, read more below in the newsletter.

Part of our time together included a special thank you for the extraordinary contributions of our out-going co-presidents, Marie Dennis and Bishop Kevin Dowling. At a special recognition dinner for them , Treasurer Jan Peters delivered a moving dedication to their service as co-presidents, noting how they have transformed Pax Christi International's leadership model and greatly enhanced the network's standing throughout the world. We are so grateful for their leadership and wisdom!
As always, if you have the means to do so, we hope you'll support this transformative, hope-filled work with a financial contribution. You can click on the "Donate" button on the left to give quickly and securely.

We thank you for your generosity and for all that you do as part of the global network that makes up Pax Christi International.
Final statement from April's nonviolence workshop in Rome:
Nonviolence nurtures hope, can renew the Church
(Issued 7/19 ) - Vatican City - The following statement was affirmed by most of the participants at the 2019 "Path of Nonviolence: Towards a culture of peace" workshop, sponsored by Pax Christi International and held at the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in Rome.

As Christians committed to faithfully following in the footsteps of Jesus, we are called to take a clear stand for active nonviolence and against all forms of violence. In this spirit, people from many nations gathered for Path of Nonviolence: Towards a Culture of Peace, a consultation held at the Holy See’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on April 4-5, 2019 in Rome. This was an important follow-up to the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference held in Rome in April 2016 co-sponsored by the then-Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International.

Our recent gathering of people of God from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, Europe, and the Americas included lay people, theologians, members of religious congregations, priests, bishops, and cardinals. Many of us live in communities experiencing violence and oppression. All of us are practitioners of justice and peace.

We are grateful for the special focus that Pope Francis has placed on the spiritual and practical power of active nonviolence to promote integral human development and cultures of peace, including through the 2017 World Day of Peace message on “Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace,” where he proclaimed: “To be true followers of Jesus today…includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence.” We know that Jesus consistently practiced nonviolence in a context that was extremely violent, but “nonviolence was not just a response to particular situations in the life of Jesus – it was the whole life of Jesus” (Cardinal Peter Turkson, University of San Diego, October 7, 2017). . .

Pax Christi International publishes annual report for 2018

15/6/19 - For Pax Christi International, 2018 was a year that saw us launch a youth training programme in the Great Lakes region of Africa, bring together our member organisations in Latin America in Mexico, mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I in France, and connect academics, theologians, peace practitioners and activists to further develop Catholic thinking on nonviolence.

One of the highlights of the year for me personally was the 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM) which was organised in conjunction with the association Centenaire pour la Paix, marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War ...

Pax Christi International welcomes new Deputy Secretary General

4/7/19 - In May, Pax Christi International welcomed a new member to the International Secretariat, Dirk Broos of Belgium. Mr. Broos will be serving in the role of Deputy Secretary General, assisting the Secretary General in providing the daily management of the International Secretariat, and, in particular supervising and implementing the financial management, assisting in the process of developing long term strategic planning and institutional development, and ensuring that Pax Christi International meets all its statutory and legal obligations. Mr. Broos focus will be on financial policy, human resources and legal matters.

Mr. Broos was born in Mechelen, Belgium and in the past was a bio-engineer. He is educated in accountancy, financial management and analysis, audit and labor law. He spent two years as a teacher and several years of civil service at a development organisation in Belgium. For the past 29 years, he has been the financial director at the Flemish section of Pax Christi, Pax Christi Vlaanderen . ..

During Annual General Meeting, new co-presidents elected
(Issued 1/7/19) - At the Annual General Meeting of Pax Christi International 26-27 June, Pax Christi sections elected two new co-presidents: Sr. Teresia Wamuyu Wachira of Kenya and Bishop Marc Stenger of France. Sr. Wachira and Msgr. Stenger immediately succeed Marie Dennis of the USA and Bishop Kevin Dowling of South Africa, who have served together as co-presidents for the past 9 years. 

"We are excited to have Bishop Stenger and Sr. Wachira leading our movement as co-presidents of Pax Christi International," stated Greet Vanaerschot, Secretary General of Pax Christi International. "The beginning of our movement was based on the co-leadership of a man and a woman, Msgr. Théas and Mme. Dortel Claudot and we believe deeply in that model. We look forward to the gifts that both of these extraordinary individuals bring in promoting our mission for peace in our world."

"Pax Christi International is truly blessed by our new leadership," stated Marie Dennis, outgoing Co-President of Pax Christi International. "As co-presidents, Sister Wamuyu Wachira and Bishop Marc Stenger bring to our movement excellent experience and a deep commitment to just peace. I am delighted!"...

CNI project coordinator to speak at UN on culture of peace in September

12/8/19 - Judy Coode, project coordinator for the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, will be a featured speaker at an event at the UN entitled, "Be Peace: Pathways towards a Culture of Peace" on 11 September, from 10am to 12pm at the Church Center, 777 UN Plaza, 44th Street in New York City. 

On September 13, 1999, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 53/243 on the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace. This declaration establishes fundamental principles and commitments to promote a culture of peace in our world. Last year, the General Assembly adopted another resolution, “Follow-up to the Declaration of Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/73/L.43) requesting to give special attention to the appropriate observance of the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, to be held on September 13, 2019...

Pax Christi International promotes faith approaches during
European Development Days

20/6/19 - Pax Christi International, together with other faith-based NGOs (World Vision, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Act Alliance EU, Brot Fur die Welt, EU-Cord Network, Baha'i International Community) organised a lab debate and a stand during the European Development Days in Brussels on 18 and 19 of June. The activities of the interfaith group aimed to promote the role of faith-based approaches and actors in addressing inequalities in the EU context.

In many settings religious groups and faith-based organisations, as members and partners of Pax Christi International, form a major component of local and national capacities. Faith dynamics therefore need to be explored more systematically. These activities aim to provide the participants with a deeper understanding about how to explore these dynamics and draw on them towards sustainable change. Practitioners from the grassroots and policy makers will share their challenges and highlight opportunities which need to be tapped into. ..

Pax Christi International recognises the
European Lawyers in Lesvos as 2019 Peace Prize recipients
(Issued 25/6/19) - Pax Christi International is pleased to announce that the European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELIL), based in Greece, is the recipient of the 2019 Pax Christi International Peace Prize.

The award ceremony will be held at 19.00 on Wednesday, 26 June, at Nelson Mandela Hall, Sleep Well Hostel, Rue du Damier 23, Brussels. The prize will be accepted by ELIL’s managing director, Philip Worthington. Attendees will include Bishop Kevin Dowling (Rustenburg, South Africa) and Ms Marie Dennis, Co-presidents of Pax Christi International and Ms. Greet Vanaerschot, Pax Christi International's Secretary General. Music will be provided by Zem. A reception will follow the one-hour ceremony. 

“European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELIL) is delighted and honoured to have been chosen to receive the 2019 Pax Christi International Peace Prize,” said ELIL’s managing director Philip Worthington. “We are very grateful that our work to uphold the rule of law, protect human rights and ensure meaningful access to justice for refugees on Lesvos has been recognised in this way and hope that it will help raise awareness of the critical importance of ensuring that refugees have access to legal assistance throughout their asylum procedure.” ...

From the Peace Stories Blog:

by Rev. Nandana Manatunga, Director of Human Rights Office in Kandy, Sri Lanka

"Reflections from my work with
torture victims in Sri Lanka"

29/7/19 - “Having seen the tears of the mothers and family members of torture victims, I was compelled to go beyond the cultic role of the priest”

As a very young priest, I saw how the security forces killed thousands of young people in broad daylight. They were suddenly picked by the armed forces and detained. I went in search of them … it was the beginning of my human rights work.

In the very second year of my priesthood, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (People’s Liberation Front or JVP) youth insurrection led to unfortunate incidents occurring during the 1988-89 period, and over 60,000 people, including those who did not have any connections with the JVP, were killed or made to disappear by security forces and paramilitary groups who operated with the blessings of the then-government. ...

Welcome to new member organisations in Africa!

23/7/19 - Pax Christi International is pleased to welcome five new member organisations representing three nations in Africa. Joining our network are the following organisations:

  • RHODHECIC, based in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • SEL et LUMIERE (S&L), based in Togo
  • Horn of Africa Grassroots Peace Forum (HAP-FORUM), based in Kenya
  • Synergie des femmes pour la Paix et le Réconciliation des Peoples des Grands Lacs d’Afrique (SFPR), based in Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Union pour la Promotion, la Défense des Droits Humains et de l’Environnement dans la région des Grands Lacs (UPDDHE/GL), based in Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Threats to human rights defenders are backdrop of upcoming Amazon Synod; Read our statement of support
(Issued 5/6/19) - The Land of Resistance Project Report stated that around 1,179 human rights defenders and 177 communities in seven Latin American countries were subject to various attacks between 2009 and 2018 for the defense and protection of the environment. 81.69% were men and 18.31% women, all victims of threats, assassinations, displacements, disappearances or sexual violence, among others. At least 177 indigenous and afro-descendant communities were victims. The country that registered the highest number of cases was Brazil, with 754, followed by Mexico (222), Colombia (180), Guatemala (97), Ecuador (59), Peru (27) and Bolivia (18). According to the report, most of the attacks and aggressions occurred for the defense of the land, which covers 867 cases, while the defense of the forests was the cause of 242 attacks and that of the water generated 234 more.

In Colombia, the issue is also related to the implementation of Peace Agreement between the government and the previous FARC guerrillas, now demobilised and acting as a political party; this includes the restitution of lands to displaced populations during the armed conflict. Both the Director of the European Union for the Americas and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations have expressed concern and urged the Colombian government to implement a comprehensive policy of protection of leaders and human rights defenders, as well as as of implementation of the Peace Agreement. A total of 805 aggressions against human rights defenders, 155 killings were reported in 2018.

This conjuncture in Latin America is presented when the world prepares for the Pan-Amazon Synod to be held in Rome from October 6 to 27, 2019. Pax Christi International accompanies communities in seven countries of the region in their nonviolent resistance to the impacts of the extractive industry, a topic that the Synod will address. And coordinates with the Pan-Amazon Network-REPAM to express its solidarity with the Amazon and its 172 indigenous nationalities of eight countries. The Extractive Working Group in the region, encouraged by PCI, will be present with a Declaration at the Synod.

Pax Christi International activities around the world...
BePax offers its third "Anti-Racism Day" on 11 October in Namur, Belgium . .. National Catholic Reporter and Catholic News Service published two articles on our new co-presidents Bishop Marc Stenger and Sr. Wamuyu Wachira : New Pax Christi co-presidents look to elevate church's nonviolence teachings and New Pax Christi leaders believe nonviolence education can change world ... Pax Christi USA says that mass shooting tragedies are the expected consequences of hatred and violence ... Pax Christi Australia issues statement on the protests in Hong Kong ... Miriam College-Pax Christi Philippines video featured at SDG16+ policy forum at the UN in July (see photo of Arlyssa Bianca Pabotoy and Sophia Dianne Garcia from Miriam College-Pax Christi Philippines on the right) ... Pax Christi International elects new members of the International Board from Palestine, Peru, Belgium, South Sudan, DR Congo, USA ... Pax Christi UK ‘determined’ to stop arms trade following Campaign Against Arms Trade’s landmark legal challenge ... Pax Christi Italy offers a workshop on inclusive citizenship education ...   Pax Christi International to hold World Assembly 2020 in Hiroshima, Japan ... Pax Christi International UN representative suggests people-to-people diplomacy to ease U.S.-Iran tensions ... New income generating activities begin in Kinshasa in the DR Congo as part of nonviolence and entrepreneurship project ... Pax Christi International mourns the death of International Board member Neles Tebay, of the Papua Peace Network ... For more news articles about Pax Christi International activities around the world, visit our website by clicking here.

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