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Saturday, October 1, 2016
Pax Christi International Assembly
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In a world where the Catholic Church is now generally associated with clerical sexual abuse, it's good that there are still parts of the Church which give a more positive message. 'There are many Rooms in the House of Peace' was the theme of the Pax Christi International Triennial World Assembly (TWA), which took place in Strasbourg, France, from 12 - 16  May.  About 100 delegates from different member organisations worldwide and more than 40 different countries took part.

Two archbishops, including the outgoing co-president, the Archbishop of Kinshasa, several bishops, a papal representative, who delivered a warm greeting from the Pope, and laity, nuns and priests working for peace in many parts of the world attended.  South Africa was represented by Bishop Kevin Dowling, now elected as new co-president of the movement, and John Ashworth, Acting Director of the Denis Hurley Peace Institute. Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Burundi, DRC and Ivory Coast were also represented.

Pax Christi is steeped in Catholic social teaching and the meeting began with a reflection on Pacem in Terris.

We heard testimony from a Sierra Leonian priest who got involved in justice and peace after his ordination was cut short by gunfire and he was confronted with the atrocities committed by rebel groups, a Sri Lankan priest who had to fish the bodies of parish youth out of the river every day after extra-judicial executions by the army, a Croatian working to establish truth and reconciliation commissions, a Japanese nun working for nuclear disarmament, various Africans dealing with refugees and internally displaced people, and many others, including Palestinians and Latin Americans.

Bishop Kevin delivered a moving keynote speech at the beginning of the meeting, John gave a presentation on transitional justice and impunity, and other groups looked at forced migration, nuclear disarmament, youth violence, radicalisation and climate change.

During the Assembly, Pax Christi Peru was accepted as a new Pax Christi section, the first Pax Christi section in South America. The Centro Dominicano de Asesoria e Investigaciones Legales (CEDAIL), Dominican Republic; and the Centro Fray Bartolomé de las Casas in Chiapas (México) were accepted as new member organisations. Catholics for Peace has been accepted as Pax Christi Toronto and Antennes de Paix as Pax Christi Montréal.

This TWA reflected upon the signs of the times and challenged all participants to explore innovative ways and approaches to peace building leading towards action models at a global or regional level

Six particular concerns were identified and explored: Human Migration Resulting from Conflict; Youth Violence and Civil Unrest; Climate Change, Violence and Climate Refugees; Nuclear Disarmament; Impunity, Transitional Justice and Truth Commissions; Religion and Violent Radicalisation.

At the TWA, delegates were invited to reflect upon the articulation of a common theology and spirituality of peace. "There is no way to peace, peace is the way - Our life is a journey in peace - a peacemaking journey" is the title of an ongoing project of Pax Christi
International which will be implemented at a grassroots level around the world.

On 15 May, delegates participated in the pilgrimage of reconciliation to the Peace Cross of Bühl in Germany. The "Bühler Kreuz" is a monument to French - German reconciliation after World, War II. In Bühl, Pax Christi International celebrated its mission as an
international movement for reconciliation, justice and peace.

Special focus was given to youth delegates who met in parallel conference in a youth seminar to enter in a dialogue process with European policy makers on the question of military spending versus, development. 30 youth delegates came from different European countries to attend.

It was an enjoyable and fruitful meeting, with plenty of networking, which also formed part of a process looking at Pax Christi International's structure and strategy.

Source: John Ashworth/Pax Christi/Fr Paul Lansu

For more information see: www.paxchristi.net

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Tags: Bishop Kevin Dowling, Centro Dominicano de Asesoria e Investigaciones Legales (CEDAIL), Centro Fray Bartolomé de las Casas in Chiapas, John Ashworth, Pax Christi International Triennial World Assembly (TWA), Pax Christi Montréal, Pax Christi Toronto


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