Celebrating 60 years of peacemaking

 Several hundred people gathered in London on Saturday to mark the 60th Anniversary of Pax Christi, the international Catholic movement for Peace. These included representatives of Pax Christi from Austria, Italy, France and Belgium. In a day that recalled the origins of the movement, established to bring reconciliation after World War II, participants were challenged by Nobel La reate Mairead Maguire, to continue the task of peacemaking today. She questioned the moral and legal use of state violence, as in the recent wars with Afghanistan and Iraq arguing that wars and the use of violence are incompatible for followers of Christ. Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, who is President of Pax Christi International, reminded participants that the Holy Land is a land of two peoples and three religions and that any resolution to the current conflict between Israel and Palestine that ignores this fact is bound to fail. He still believes that a two-state solution is possible but fears attempts by Palestinian leader Abbu Mazen to embrace non-violent solutions will be undermined by the increasingly violent behaviour of settler communities. Patriarch Sabbah also presented Pax Christi peace awards to three women. Sr Pat Robb cj, Margot Hutchison and Judith Dawes (posthumously). The day also included peacemaking activities for children, meditations session with the Pax Christi ICON of peace and a liturgy which ended with hundreds of rainbow coloured balloons carrying messages of peace being released into the sky by children. In a tribute read out at the eventCardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor said: "It was because of the spirit which Pax Christi helped nurture in the ashes of World War II that Europe embarked on a process of solidarity rather than revenge. That is something for which we must all be eternally grateful. The best was of expressing that gratitude is to offer our own experience for the benefit of others. As Pax Christi puts it so well, 'the call must be for amnesty not for amnesia'. That same spirit, the healing spirit of Christ, is needed across the world as never before. I hope that Pax Christi in the next 60 years continues to grow and prosper, extending its healing work across the world. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan William said in a message: "Pax Christi has been a beacon in the world of Christian peacemaking - always taking us beyond slogans and into the hard work of conversation, without which nothing ever happens. "In 60 years, the focus has changed often enough, but the need for this witness seems to become greater as the new millennium unfolds. Please go on helping and prompting all the churches to become what God wants us to be - activists for reconciliation, mercy and justice".

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