Things that make for peace

Anne Tracy, Alan Gerrard, Nan Saeki, Tom Robinson, Clare and Dave Palmer.

“Things that make for peace” was the theme of this year’s conference of the National Justice and Peace Network in Swanwick, Derbyshire, from 17-19th July. 

Attending from the Middlesbrough Diocese were Clare and David Palmer, Alan Gerrard, Anne Tracy, Tom Robinson, Nan Saeki, Elizabeth Love and Patricia Clarke.

Guest speakers included Prof. Paul Rodgers from the Peace Studies Department of Bradford University and Fr Edu Gariguez, a Fillipino religious leader and environmentalist.

Pax Christi’s Pat Gaffney with Fr. Edu Gariguez.

Fr Gariguez has spent a number of years campaigning against large-scale mining projects which have threatened the existence of indigenous peoples in his native Philippines.

“I am fulfilling the mission that God has given me as a priest”, said Fr. Gariguez when asked about the motivation behind his campaigns for justice, peace and care for creation.

Organisations such as Pax Christi, Cafod and Missio were represented at the conference fayre whilst a variety of workshops were held on subjects such as the Pope’s recent encyclical Laudato Si’ and the militarization of young people.

Bishop John Rawsthorne, a patron the Justice and Peace Network, celebrated a lively and energetic Mass for the conference attendees.

Tom Robinson said: “The weekend was a fantastic opportunity to join with fellow campaigners from across the Church and to share experiences, encouragement and support.

It was heartening to hear about the varied campaigns taking place in our parishes and to meet like-minded people who are committed to the justice and peace cause.”

As the conference came to a close, participants anointed one another with the words “Blessed are you, a peacemaker”. May our small acts of peace overcome the world!


Remembering the ‘Richmond 16’

Richmond16 photoThe ‘Richmond 16’ were remembered in a special service which took place in the Cockpit garden at Richmond Castle on September 6th.

As reported in July’s Catholic Voice, these were men in the North East who took a stand for pacifism when conscription was introduced in 1916.

Detained in the cells at Richmond Castle they believed they were going to be executed but it did not deter them from a deeply held belief that killing their fellow men was in opposition to the teachings of Christ by which they lived.

They paved the way for a new public attitude to conscientious objection and, subsequently, Britain was one of the first countries to enact any kind of legal provision for conscientious objectors.

Sentenced to death when they were sent to France, the sentence was commuted to 10 years penal servitude which for most of them became many years of public hostility and rejection.

We gathered in the garden where there are 16 topiaries, grown to commemorate them. We placed a wreath of red poppies to remember so many who had died in the First World War before naming each of the 16 and placing a white poppy alongside their name circling the wreath.

An excerpt from an article by Clifford Cartwright – one of the 16 – states: “The attitude of those who decided that war was contrary to the teachings of the great Law-giver, has left its mark on the pages of history and, although small in number, the history of the C.O. will live whilst the story of the world war is told.”

One hundred years later, there is an overwhelming need for peace making. Our service of remembrance – organised by the Justice and Peace Commission – concluded by praying for Peace and singing what had become the favourite hymn of the ‘16’ – ‘Nearer My God to Thee’.

In an amazing symbolic ‘coincidence’ there were 16 of us taking part in the commemoration.

-Barbara Hungin

Palestine – time for action

(Via Independent Catholic News

By Pat Gaffney and Ann Farr

Pax Christi (Pat Gaffney) and Kairos Britain (Ann Farr) ran two timely workshops on Palestine at the National Justice and Peace Network Conference last weekend. The following outlines their workshop structure, a vigil for Gaza and follow-up action ideas.

Participants were invited to look at a series of photographs as they came in and to choose the one that challenged them most. Images illustrated the situation in Palestine today: the restriction of movement, the arrest of children by the Israeli military, the demolition of homes. They also showed positive images including families gathered together, of Jews and Palestinians coming together to break the fast on the Mount of Olives and of the rebuilding of homes by an Israeli support group.

The first presentation looked at the context of the conflict in Palestine/Israel: pre 1948; the creation of Israel and subsequent displacement of thousands of Palestinians; refugees living in West Bank and Gaza – no status – fewer resources – no right of return – no compensation. Then the 1967 – 0ccupation; the separation wall/the checkpoints – loss of land – loss of freedom of movement; Israeli settlements’ expansion – illegal but growing in building and population; demolitions in the Jordan Valley – clearing the valley of Palestinians. The Arms Trade – to and from Israel – received attention.

The groups were asked to work in 2s/4s to react to what they had heard and ask questions. There was then a presentation on the work of Kairos Palestine – Kairos Britain. This is a network of individuals, organisations and faith communities formed in response to the Kairos Palestine document, ‘A Moment of Truth’.

The network continues the work of the Christians who met on Iona in May 2012 and issued the Iona call to the Christian communities in Britain and Ireland. It seeks a just and lasting peace in the region based on the realisation of full human and political rights for all, and calls for an end to oppression and injustice.

Participants were given an action planning sheet to write down some actions they wanted to explore further when they left the conference. The sessions ended with a short time of silence to reflect on what was heard and those involved in the conflict – then the Pax Christi multi- faith prayer for peace for said.

Suggested action ideas

Short term

The UK sells £7.9 billion worth of weapons to Israel each year. It also buy weapons and technology from Israel. One of the most important actions is to push for a total embargo on sales of weapons to and from Israel – and to enforce the same with the European Union.

And call to reinforce UN Resolution 1860 – calling for a cessation of hostilities in Gaza. The resolution was formed in 2009 and stands today. It was upheld again by the EU on 16 July 2014. There is need to affirm the EUs obligation to uphold humanitarian and international law.

Write / speak to your MP on these issues as a matter of urgency and also email the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and our new Secretary of State

Medium term

Support the World Week of Peace for Palestine & Israel, 21 – 27 September. This is an ecumenical week of prayer, action and advocacy for peace and justice in Palestine and Israel. The theme for this year is ‘When did we see you in prison’ with a focus on child prisoners. Materials and liturgical resources are on the Pax Christi website.

Where possible, engage with Jewish and Muslim communities – as is happening in parts of Israel where Jews and Muslims have been coming together to ‘break fast’ on some days during Ramadan. Interfaith dialogue and witness is important – and should also begin to engage in some of the hard questions that relate to peace and justice building in Palestine & Israel.

Long term

Come to the NJPN Conference 2015 with the theme “The things that make for peace”. This will explore the interconnection between issues of poverty, war and the destruction of the environment and how we need to work together on these issues to bring about change.


A prayer vigil for Gaza, organised by Pax Christi and Kairos Britain, was held on the Saturday evening at the Swanwick conference. 80 justice and peace activists gathered, in solidarity with thousands around the world, to pray for a peaceful resolution for the people of Palestine.


The Sabeel Prayers from Jerusalem were shared, including a plea for the international community to speak out for justice and compliance with international law and human rights:

God of justice and mercy, give the leaders of the world the eyes to see the suffering and pain of your people in Gaza, and inspire them to act against such violence. Now is the time for the international community to rise up and demand that justice is done so that peace may reign.

God of justice and mercy, our people are tired of temporary solutions. We pray that the international community through the UN will have the courage and determination to face the root causes of the problem and bring about a permanent resolution by ending the occupation of Palestine – West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.

For further reading see:

Kairos Palestine document, ‘A Moment of Truth’.

Iona Call to Peace