Report from the National Justice and Peace Network conference

 People in Britain were urged to support the UN Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, by Mairead Corrigan Maguire, at the 23rd Annual Conference of the National Justice and Peace Network. The conference, held 20-22 July in Derbyshire, was based on the theme: Blessed are the Peacemakers. The co-founder of 'Peace People' in Northern Ireland and Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1976) called for education for peace and nonviolent conflict resolution techniques to be incorporated into the curriculum of schools. "I have been privileged to witness some schools in India where they are teaching Gandhian nonviolence, and programmes on citizenship at our own University of Ulster." she said. Bruce Kent, a former chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and current Vice-President of Pax Christi, condemned the National Missile Defence Project of the United States government. He told nearly 400 people from diocesan Justice and Peace commissions, missionary groups and agencies that letters to politicians and prayer are amongst the actions necessary to stop further billions of dollars being spent on weapons of mass destruction. "We need vibrant church communities who will present alternatives to this kind of project. " he said. Kent joined the conference during a break from his 'Walk for the World' - a walk lasting three weeks between Faslane (the base in Scotland for the four British Trident nuclear submarines) and Fylingdales (a radar base in the North York Moors National Park which the US would like to upgrade for use in its latest 'Star Wars' project). Admiration was expressed for peace campaigners in the United States, such as Philip Berrigan, who face long prison sentences for nonviolent peace actions. Other speakers at the conference included Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi in Britain; Joseph Turay, a CAFOD partner who rehabilitates former child soldiers in Sierra Leone; Gilda Reynes who has developed an Education for Peace programme in her native Philippines; and Columban priest Frank Regan who challenged that, "we are baptized not for the life of the church, but for the life of the world". Participants prayed in solidarity with Network members in Genoa the same weekend urging G8 leaders to cancel poor countries debt and give more resources to meeting the needs of the world's poor.

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