Anne Dodd, former Chair of Pax Christi gave the following talk yesterday, Peace Sunday, in Abingdon parish, Portsmouth Diocese.
Every year the Pope issues a reflection for the World Day of Peace. Every Pope has done this for the last 53 years - a reflection on the centrality of peace and reconciliation to what we profess as Catholics. The Bishops of England and Wales have always designated this particular Sunday in January as the Sunday that each parish can reflect anew on our role as peace-makers and peace-builders.
Pope Francis' reflection for this year is on Peace as a journey of Hope - for Hope, as he says ,"is the virtue that inspires us and keeps us moving forward, even when obstacles seem insurmountable". Peace, as he says, must be built up continually - a journey made together in constant pursuit of the common good, truthfulness and respect for law. "Listening to one another," he continues, "can lead to mutual understanding and esteem and even to seeing in an enemy the face of a brother or sister."
Peace building as Pope Francis makes clear - whether on a personal, local, national or international level is a slow progress in which each individual has a contribution to make. It calls for patience and trust and the willingness to take risks and there are no quick fixes but as Catholics we know that we are not alone. " Day by day, as Pope Francis says, the Holy Spirit prompts us in ways of thinking and speaking that can make each one of us artisans of justice and peace.
This Peace Sunday also gives me the chance to appeal on behalf of Pax Christi, the International Movement for Peace which embodies, in every aspect of its work, the principles of peace making and peace building which Pope Francis emphasises.
Pax Christi itself was born out of the experience of war 75 years ago. Our founder, Martha Dortel-Claudot, began a campaign of prayer for peace in 1945, for reconciliation between the people of France and Germany and to encourage people to work to bring an end to war. Today Pax Christi is present in 50 countries: an international network of people of goodwill, inspired by our faith, to work for peace built on justice, reconciliation and non-violent change. In England and Wales Pax Christi, through its small team of 4 staff, its volunteers and its members, works to create opportunities to support Catholic people, like us, to work for peace.
We know so well that the gospel of peace seems to be needed more than ever in the world.
Pax Christi helps every parish to celebrate Pope Francis` peace message.
- It delivers peace education sessions to young people in schools.
- It challenges the global arms trade and the suffering and destruction it causes.
- It promotes a just peace for Palestine and Israel.
- And speaks up for non-violent approaches to conflict.
Pax Christi in this country is a very small organisation. It has chosen not to be a charity so that it can speak out clearly, in the name of papal teaching. It is largely dependent on donations, especially on Peace Sunday and could do so much much more. Please consider how you might support its work.
To donate to its work please take the envelope offered as you leave church and bring it back next Sunday (or the one after that!) and put it in the collection plate. Please consider becoming a member and please pray for Pax Christi`s work. The daily prayer that Pax Christi members say is in today's newsletter.
There is more information about Pax Christi's work on its website: www.paxchristi.org.uk where you will also find the full text of Pope Francis' reflection on Peace. There are also copies on the table at the back of church. Please take one if you wish.
I'll also be at the back of the church if you need further information about becoming a member or have any questions
Finally, thank you for listening.
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