They came from Sussex, Leeds, Southampton, Liverpool, Abingdon, Leicester, Salford, London, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Lincoln and beyond, Pax Christi members and supporters attending the Annual Gathering of Pax Christi in Nottingham on 2 June.
They heard chair Holly Ball outline a time of transition and long-term planning as the movement prepares for the retirement of its General Secretary, Pat Gaffney, in spring 2019 and a change in its Peace Education work when Matt Jeziorski leaves this summer.
The movement is in a stable financial position and planning will include a commitment to develop a theology and practice of active nonviolence; the strengthening of peacemaking communities around the country and a deepening of Pax Christi's work with teachers, chaplains and schools. Pax Christi currently has 1,100 members who contribute around 15% of income and 1,700 supporters, mostly parishes, who support the annual Peace Sunday appeal to the tune of around £102,000, 43% of income. Administrator, Fausta Valentine, thanked members for their ideas and engagement in their own parishes on Peace Sunday.
Pax Christi team member Valerie Flessati spoke of plans to commemorate the lives of Catholic COs from the FWW on 2 October, International Day of Nonviolence and of joint work in preparation for Remembrance Day that will enable parishes and groups to raise a much-needed commitment to peaceamaking in this season. A new logo/image has been created entitled 'No More War: Let's make peace happen'.
Pax Christi's on-line shop attracts much attention and new nonviolence resources, including Choosing Peace - the Catholic church and Gospel nonviolence were presented.
Speakers Maya Evans and Max Brookman Byrne up-dated the gathering on drone warfare today. Maya, a campaigner who has worked with Voices for Creative Nonviolence related her experiences in Afghanistan, where the continued use of drones has a major impact on young people in particular, creating fear and damaging their health. She spoke of 'signature strikes', where information is gathered about potential targets who may be deemed terrorists and of the way in which the military calculate their tolerance for 'collateral' damage - equating the value of a target in terms of the number of civilians who might be killed in the process. Max, an academic researching and teaching international law at Lincoln University, spoke of the need to develop and use political and ethical challenges to drone warfare in addition to legal challenges, which can all too often justify their use. Concepts of self-defence and necessity often dominate discussion about the use of armed drones making if very hard to uphold claims that they are illegal.
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, President of Pax Christi, commented on the drone warfare discussion in his homily, speaking of the importance of truth - seeking and highlighting the distinction between legality and morality. As people of faith, we are called to challenge the legality of actions when they cross the line of morality and ethics. He was joined in the celebration of Mass by Bishop Patrick, Bishop of Nottingham.
The day was supported by the Nottingham J&P Commission who worked behind the scenes to make the day so successful.