As the indomitable campaigner steps down as head of Pax Christi, she talks to Peter Stanford about what it takes to make peace happen – persistence, diplomacy and hard work
A commitment to justice and peace has long been one of the hallmarks of how the Catholic Church operates on a global, national and local stage. But work for justice has always tended to receive more emphasis than work for peace.
The two, of course, are often so intimately linked as to be indistinguishable – which might be why the Vatican has renamed its Justice and Peace Commission the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Opting to be on the front line of the peace movement can be the road less travelled – as Pat Gaffney knows.
This Easter will see Gaffney stand down after 29 years as general secretary of the English and Welsh branch of Pax Christi, the international Catholic movement for peace. In those almost three decades, she has been arrested 11 times and jailed four times, usually but not always for her part in the annual witness on Ash Wednesday when peace workers mark – “Please don’t say daub,” she gently urges me – the Ministry of Defence with crosses in the same ash and charcoal used in the liturgy earlier that day.