20 June 2022, The Tablet

Calls to increase Pax Christi membership as donations fall

At the annual meeting of Pax Christi England and Wales, the work of the late Bruce Kent, the veteran campaigner, was praised.

Calls to increase Pax Christi membership as donations fall

The late Bruce Kent pictured at an anti-racism march, London 2014.
Janine Wiedel Photolibrary / Alamy

Pax Christi’s income from Peace Sunday has fallen by a quarter for each of the past two years, 60 members of Pax Christi England and Wales were told at their annual meeting.

More than half the dioceses of England and Wales sent less than £1,000 from all their parishes to Pax Christi for Peace Sunday 2022. Brentwood, Southwark and Westminster sent more than £5,000. There were calls to increase membership and to strategise for Peace Sunday in January 2023.

“Living in a time of war in Europe, and seeing the devastating consequences of the arms trade, militarism, nationalism and occupation, is a stark reminder of why Pax Christi came into being and why our work continues to be so important,” Ann Farr, chair of Pax Christi England and Wales, told the meeting last Saturday, held online and also in person at the Bloomsbury Baptist Church in central London.

National president Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool paid tribute to the late Bruce Kent, who was Pax Christi vice president.

He particularly affirmed Kent’s work on disarmament which has been taken up by Pope Francis, questioning the morality of holding nuclear weapons and of planning to use them.

The late peace campaigner’s visits to schools, conferences, demonstrations, embassies as well as his letter writing and persistent campaigning were also praised. “We miss his presence, his questioning interest, his knowledge of history, his wealth of experience and of course his humour that never failed to lighten a gathering,” said Farr, adding that “our love, condolences and assurance of our prayers go to Valerie and to all his family and friends’.

Sr Wamuyu Wachira IBVM, co-president of Pax Christi International, sent a message praising Kent’s dedication to shutting down weapons of mass destruction – a mission which “gave life to so many people”. The international movement thanked Pax Christi England and Wales for its participation in several international working groups, including such as Israel-Palestine, Power of Active Nonviolence and the Nuclear Ban Treaty.

Work over the year in England and Wales included Pax Christi stalls at conferences, knitted squares for banners destined for Cop26 in Glasgow, vigils at arms fairs and commemorative services for International Women's Day and Franz Jägerstätter’s anniversary. A number of successful webinars included one on creation and violence.

Education worker Aisling Griffin reported on visits to schools in five dioceses for peace education work, organising confirmation retreats, workshops, online assemblies and running stalls at the national Conference for Catholic teachers of RE.  Valerie Flessati was thanked for producing the Just Peace newsletter which goes out to members.

After the meeting, guest speaker Revd Mary Gregory, canon for arts and reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral, spoke on seven themes that might help clarify what building the peace of Christ looks like today. She said it would involve confrontation through the naming of injustices and would start from the position of the marginalised.

Peacemaking will have local dimensions and it will involve people working communally. It will risk being branded as “foolish” because peace people challenge the dominant narratives, she added.

The amount of work done by two staff members working with the chair, vice-chair, members of the executive and dedicated volunteers was described as “amazing”.


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