Grassroots UK Catholics pray for peace in Iraq and Middle East

 Grassroots Catholics across the UK are strongly opposed to war in the Middle East. In the run-up to Peace Sunday on 19 January, there has already been such a demand for the 'Prayer for Peace in Iraq and the Middle East' prepared by the National Justice and Peace Network, Pax Christi and CAFOD, that several reprints have been made, and a total of 170,000 cards have been produced. The following feedback on distribution and use of the cards over the past two months has been received from the Catholic dioceses of England and Wales. Arundel and Brighton - More than 800 prayer cards were circulated, along with information in the Ad Clerum and the December issue of the J&P Newsletter. Bruce Kent will give the annual "Howard Lecture" in the Asa Briggs hall on the Falmer campus of the University of Brighton at 6pm on Thursday, January 30, 2003. His subject is: "The Abolition Of War: Impossible Dream?" The lecture is organised by the Universities of Brighton & Sussex Catholic Chaplaincy Association and is free. Further details from Fr. Rob Esdaile on 01273-698032 or Birmingham: Prayer cards were distributed to J&P activists and then parishes placed further orders. Brentwood: Around 800 prayer cards were initially circulated in the diocese, particularly through the J&P Newsletter and mailings from other diocesan departments and the Chigwell J&P Centre. Cardiff: Each Saturday morning there is an hour-long Silent Vigil for Peace outside Penarth Library. Prayer cards are handed out to interested passers-by. In St Joseph's church, Penarth and St Mary's church, Dinas Powys, there is a weekly Exposition and the prayer cards are used at the end of that service. Clifton: 9,000 cards have been distributed East Anglia: 500 cards distributed Hallam: The bishop distributed prayer cards and information in his Ad Clerum. Hallam Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission, whose President is Bishop John Rawsthorne, holds a "Time of Prayer for Peace in the Middle East" every Friday at 12 noon in St Marie's Cathedral in Sheffield City Centre. Sheffield's Anglican Cathedral holds a Prayer Service for Peace every weekday, Monday to Saturday at 12 noon also. Hexham and Newcastle: During Advent, St. Cuthbert's College, Ushaw, had an Advent peace candle lit by the entrance. Visitors were invited to join the college in a prayer for peace and to take a prayer card. Both the Iraq peace prayer and the Pax Christi daily prayer cards were available and most were taken. Positive feedback was reported from several members of the College and some visitors. Prayers for peace have been said after Mass every Friday since 11 September by approximately 30 people at St, Mary's parish, Forest Hall, Newcastle. The prayers have been adapted to take account of changing events. A special liturgy is planned for Peace Sunday on 19 January. Lancaster: The bishop wrote to all priests recommending that parishes say the Iraq peace prayer on Fridays. Leeds: The prayer has been promoted in the diocesan J&P newsletter. Links have been build-up with other groups opposed to a pre-emptive war against Iraq. Liverpool: The chair of the J&P Commission wrote to all parishes in the Archdiocese during October inviting them to join in the prayer and include information about it in their newsletters. Now more parishes are incorporating the prayer into their liturgies on Fridays or having special times for prayer and reflection centred on the 'prayer for peace'. Since 11 September 2001, the Pax Christi Group in Liverpool has been holding a weekly prayer vigil outside a city church. At the parish house of St. John's parish in Wigan there are regular Friday prayers using the prayer card, plus a time for sharing the latest news about the proposed war with Iraq. Ecumenical friends are invited. Large size copies of the prayer have been made available for parishioners to take home, if they cannot attend the prayer meetings. Menevia: Prayer cards were distributed at a J&P retreat in Clynfyw, North Pembrokeshire, during December. Middlesbrough: The parish of the Holy Name of Mary in Middlesbrough has made the prayer cards available at the back of the Church. Nottingham: 1500 cards were distributed in Ad Clerum and sent to Parish J&P contacts. A "Peace on Earth" poster was produced during Advent, showing a picture of Bishop Malcolm McMahon and a quote from him encouraging people to continue praying for peace as the birth of Prince of Peace was awaited. This was sent to all schools and parishes in the diocese for use up until Peace Sunday on 19 January. Plymouth: Peace vigils have been held in Plymouth, Poole, and St Austell using the prayer cards. Information was circulated in the diocesan J&P Newsletter and special intercessions have been said during Sunday masses in many parishes. Portsmouth: The call for prayer on Fridays was well publicised in St Edmunds, Abingdon. As a result, the creative liturgy group prepared four Masses for Peace on the four Fridays of Advent, beginning on 29 November. There was a regular 7pm Mass on Fridays but for these four Fridays there was a focus on Peace - Peace within ourselves, Peace within Home and Family, Peace as a nation and, finally, Peace in our world. One parishioner wrote a special setting of a Mass for Peace which was sung during the fourth of these Masses. A Tuesday morning vigil for Peace is supported by Christians from different churches in Abingdon and those in the Abingdon Peace group who are not members of a particular church. Salford: Around 800 prayer cards were initially circulated and individual parishes ordered further supplies. Shrewsbury: The bishop sent a letter to priests promoting the Prayer cards. The J&P Office sent out further information plus a list of useful websites on Iraq, the Middle East and peacebuilding. Southwark: 50,000 prayer cards were ordered by Archbishop Michael Bowen who wanted every person in diocese to have one. The Catholic Chaplaincy at HMP Wandsworth has placed prayer cards in the chapel, available for prisoners to pick up and take back to their cells. Westminster: Nearly one thousand prayer cards were given to all priests at the diocesan meeting at Bognor Regis in November. It was distributed at many North London deanery meetings Wrexham: Each Friday evening in the cloister of Wrexham's Catholic Cathedral in Wrexham an informal ecumenical prayer group meets and the prayer is said. Bishop Edwin Regan sometimes attends. "Wrexham Against War" held a candle-lit evening vigil for peace in the town centre each Thursday leading up to Christmas (when there was late night shopping). Prayer cards are available from Pax Christi on 020 8203 4884 and further ideas for vigils can be found on It is suggested that the prayer is said on Fridays by individuals and by church communities until the current crisis ends.

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