Every year Catholics in England and Wales celebrate the Pope's message on Peace Sunday, 14 January, promoted by Pax Christ and supported by the International Affairs Department of the Catholic Bishops' Conference.
No one can be unaware of the tens of thousands of people around the globe who have been displaced and forced to leave their homes because of violence, war, trafficking and climate-related disasters, so it is no surprise that Pope Francis has chosen the theme 'Migrants and Refugees - men and women seekers of peace,' for his 2018 Peace Day message.
In his letter to parishes, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, National President of Pax Christi says: "Many in the UK have responded to the invitation to shelter the stranger and more are involved in campaigns to stem this tragic flow in their work to challenge the arms trade and protect the environment. With this timely theme, we are all invited to reflect on our role to be peacemakers, and peace seekers, today.
"Every year we are encouraged by the creative ways in which parishes take on this challenge, said Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi. Some engage young people in writing special prayers, distributing prayer cards and literature, telling or acting out stories that amplify the theme. Others create displays and exhibitions that draw people into the theme of the day. Many Parish Priests tell us how they value the homily notes that are offered linking the theme to the readings of the day. And all of this is supported by the materials Pax Christi send to every parish in the country and through resources on the Pax Christi website.
"Pax Christi works all year, here and around the globe, as an International Catholic Movement for Peace, to support communities in their own peacemaking efforts and to shine the light on those things that deny peace and fuel conflict: the global arms trade, the manufacture of fear and mistrust, the scapegoating of the 'other'. Pope Francis affirms this painstaking work in his message saying: " it is not enough to open our hearts to the suffering of others. Much more remains to be done before our brothers and sisters can once again live peacefully in a safe home."
"Support for Peace Sunday not only allows a Gospel of Peace to be announced in our Churches it can also provide much-needed financial support to the work of Pax Christi."
Resources for Peace Sunday can be found here: http://paxchristi.org.uk/news-and-events/peace-sunday/