Bishop Declan Lang: Jesus will never abandon the people of Afghanistan

Bishop Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton

Source: Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales

The Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs has urged Catholics to pray for the people of Afghanistan, while pointing to the work of humanitarian organisations, and efforts to welcome refugees, as signs of hope.

Bishop Declan Lang said:

“As Christians, we are called to be people of hope, even when a situation may appear hopeless.

Today our hope can be placed in those who are working tirelessly for dialogue, justice, and peace in their country.

Our hope can be placed in the humanitarian organisations that are continuing to offer their assistance, and the efforts to welcome and protect refugees fleeing their homes.

Above all we place our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom we pray in the knowledge that he will never abandon the people of Afghanistan.”

After the Angelus on Wednesday Pope Francis called for dialogue in the country:

“I ask all of you to pray with me to the God of peace so that the clamour of weapons might cease and solutions can be found at the table of dialogue. Only thus can the battered population of that country – men, women, elderly and children – return to their own homes, and live in peace and security, in total mutual respect.”

Congratulations to Ellen Teague and John Williams – Pax Christi 2021 Peace Award Winners

Pax Christi Peace Award Medallion

Westminster Justice and Peace extend congratulations to Ellen Teague and John Williams on receipt of the Pax Christi 2021 Peace Award. Both have a long association with Justice and Peace in the Diocese and we applaud this recognition of their labours over many years to bring faith to bear on many issues connected to peace-making and justice-building.

Source: Pat Gaffney, Independent Catholic News

The gifts and talents of Ellen Teague and John Williams, recipients of the Pax Christi 2021 Peace Award, were celebrated with great thanks at the Pax Christi AGM on 22 May. Since 2001 Pax Christi has offered this bi-annual Peace Award to those who have shown a commitment for peace and justice but whose work may not be publicly recognised. Both happen to be Pax Christi members but the award sought to recognise the great breadth of their commitment to the Gospels.

Many would share our view that Ellen has done more than any other individual to bring together the strands of ‘justice and peace’, human rights and justice for the global poor, peace, disarmament and nonviolence, and environmental issues, particularly climate change. Her work in this field goes back decades. Ellen’s sheer hard work, responsiveness, commitment, skill, and efficiency is astonishing. As is her writing, from her editing for many years of the Columban journal Vocation for Justice to weekly Mass bulletins put out by the Redemptorists, the international St Anthony Messenger magazine, The Tablet, The Universe, and Independent Catholic News. Her personal integrity and honesty shines through especially about the Church, means that Ellen asks the awkward questions, however unpopular that might be with some church leaders put on the spot. People across the country value her warmth, concern for others, and encouraging friendship.

In accepting her award Ellen reflected on some of her experiences with Pax Christi since 1990: Some of the highlights have been editing the 1995 publication A Taste for Peace, taking part in a delegation to Palestine in 2015, kneeling outside the Ministry of Defence on Ash Wednesdays, playing the guitar at Pax Christi liturgies and much more.

“I also owe thanks to the Columban JPIC programme, where I have worked for three decades and greatly appreciate the strong links that have been established between Pax Christi and the Columban global family.”

It was encouraging to see Columban Lay Missioners and Columban priests at the ZOOM ceremony.

John Williams’ gifts have been especially expressed through his career in Catholic education. As a teacher in St Wilfrid’s School, Crawley, then as Head of RE and subsequently Deputy Head at St Peter’s in Guildford to his role in the Westminster Diocesan Education Advisory Team, John has championed the role of peace education and the social teaching of the church within Catholic schools. In all of this, he has been a close partner of Pax Christi and has given great support to successive Peace Education workers, a source of wise advice.

In his advisory work John coordinated a number of INSET days for teachers to explore issues of peace and nonviolence, especially in the wake of a number of knife crime incidents in Catholic schools in the Diocese. He took a lead role in developing a peace resource for schools for the London Olympics in 2012.

Within his parish Justice & Peace Group in Guildford John has helped to organise prayer vigils and memorial services including around the time of Remembrance and the 2014 WWI commemorations in particular

John continues to be valued Trustee of the Christian Peace Education Fund.

John said that he was accepting the award on behalf of all teachers who live peace through their skills in conflict resolution and in the way they present themselves to students. He reflected on the power of international visits, to schools and communities in Bethlehem in 2009 and to Malta in 2012, where he visited a church-base refugee project, as life-expanding experiences.

Both spoke with thanks of the role their families have played in supporting and forming them.

The medal they received was created by the artist Natasha Ratcliffe, its theme, PEACE, Please Enlist All Communities on Earth, an injunction certainly reflected in the life and work of both Ellen and John.

Catholic Bishops oppose increase in Trident nuclear warheads

Source Independent Catholic News

Church leaders across seven denominations have issued a statement following the publication of the UK Government’s integrated review of foreign and defence policies.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference Chair of the International Affairs Department, Bishop Declan Lang, and the Lead Bishop on Peace and Disarmament Issues, Bishop William Kenney, have signed the statement.

The full text follows

“The Government’s decision in the integrated review of defence, security and foreign policy to increase the number of Trident nuclear warheads the UK can stockpile by more than 40 percent is a retrograde step that will not make any of us safer.

“Our Trident submarines already carry warheads that in total have an explosive yield equivalent to hundreds of the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima. It is immoral that the UK government is committing resources, which could be spent on the common good of our society, to stockpiling even more.

“Over the last 50 years, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has restricted the increase in the number of nuclear weapons worldwide as well as the number of new nuclear-armed states. This announcement puts those gains in jeopardy and weakens collective action on non-proliferation.

“Progress on reducing the threat from nuclear weapons will come through dialogue, diplomacy and principled action. The Government’s announcement today will complicate rather than aid this process.

“The entry into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition in of Nuclear Weapons is an encouraging development. As people of faith, we join with millions across the world who are working towards the elimination of nuclear arsenals.

“Living up to our responsibilities under the Non Proliferation Treaty would be a step towards realising that vision. We believe that ‘Global Britain’ should strive for peaceful and cooperative international relationships, and joint endeavour on climate change, global poverty and other challenges. This announcement takes us in a worrying and wholly wrong direction.”

Signatories

The following Christian leaders signed the statement:

Most Revd and Rt Hon Stephen Cottrell
Archbishop of York

Most Revd John Davies
Archbishop of Wales

Revd Clare Downing
Moderator of General Assembly, United Reformed Church

Bob Fyffe
General Secretary, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

Bishop William Kenney
Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham
International Affairs Department, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Bishop Declan Lang
Bishop of Clifton, Chair, International Affairs Department
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Carolyn Lawrence
Vice-President of the Methodist Church

Revd David Mayne
Moderator of the Baptist Union Council

Paul Parker
Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain

Revd Dr Joanna Penberthy
Bishop of St Davids

Revd Richard Teal
President of the Methodist Church

LINK

Integrated defence review: www.gov.uk/government/publications/global-britain-in-a-competitive-age-the-integrated-review-of-security-defence-development-and-foreign-policy

Crisis in Yemen – International Day of Action 25th January 2021

BBC Documentary

The BBC has highlighted the on-going disaster in Yemen in a programme on 18 January 2021 which is now available on iPlayer

BBC iPlayer – Yemen: Coronavirus in a War Zone

Justice & Peace Scotland – Crisis in Yemen Event – Sunday 24th January 4.30pm

The conflict in Yemen is one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters, their suffering driven by UK made weapons.

Ahead of the International Day of Action for Yemen (Monday 25th January) Justice and Peace Scotland invites you to hear more about the devastating links between arms manufactures here and the devastating conflict in Yemen on Sunday 24 January 2021 at 4.30pm.

Speakers include:

Emma Cockburn is the Scotland Coordinator at Campaign Against Arms Trade and is responsible for highlighting Scotland’s contribution to the UK’s arms trade. Emma is currently working on supporting defence diversification projects and arms divestment opportunities across the country. Coming from an anti-nuclear and trade union background, Emma is passionate about empowering activists to create lasting change and is currently involved in creating a reporting detailing the arms industry’s influence in Scotland.”

Rev Daniel Woodhouse a Methodist minister currently serving in the Brighton and Hove Methodist Circuit. Over the past 15 years has been involved in many different forms of anti-arms activism, including a break in at BAE-Systems Warton over the sale of Jets to Saudi Arabia and their use in Yemen.

To book tickets to attend Crisis in Yemen click here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/crisis-in-yemen-tickets-135651732985

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons enters into law – Friday 22nd January 2021 – Invitation to a Thanksgiving Service

The Treaty was negotiated at the United Nations in 2017 and supported by 122 states. It will enter into legal force on 22 January 2021, banning nuclear weapons under international law.

THANKSGIVING SERVICE

On Friday 22 January at 11.30am the Network of Christian Peace Organisations will be gathering to celebrate the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons with a short Thanksgiving Service hosted by the Network of Christian Peace Organisations. It will take place on Zoom and they hope to finish with bells ringing in celebration of nuclear weapons being banned. Click here for the Zoom link.

More details from Christian CND

Statement on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales

Peace Sunday 2021 National Liturgy – Saturday 16th January, 6pm on Zoom

Join Pax Christi to reflect on Pope Francis’ World Peace Day Message ‘A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace’.

About this Event

Together we will gather on zoom to pray, share and reflect on Pope Francis’ message ‘A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace’. We will explore what this message calls us to do as peacemakers and how we respond to the call to live nonviolently.

Register with Eventbrite

If you have any questions or problems registering for this event, please contact the office at admin@paxchristi.org.uk

This year has been one of unprecedented and continuing challenges. We are all conscious of the need to restore and rebuild our communities here and around the world, accepting that we need new ways of working and relating to each other.   The Christian message of peace, through reconciliation, justice and nonviolence, can offer hope and direction in these times.  I invite you to seriously consider facilitating a collection for, or making a donation to, the work of Pax Christi at this time as a way to make a practical contribution to continuing the work of peace

Pax Christi National President, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon

Peace Sunday resources can be found here: https://paxchristi.org.uk/peace-sunday-2021/    

Contact: info@paxchristi.org.uk

Catholic Bishops Endorse UN Treaty on Nuclear Weapons, ahead of Peace Sunday – 17th January 2020

Source – Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales

On Friday 22 January 2021 the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons comes into force. This is an historic milestone on the path to nuclear disarmament and an opportunity to refocus on genuine peacebuilding rooted in dialogue, justice, respect for human dignity, and care for our planet.

In setting out the “moral and humanitarian imperative” for complete elimination of nuclear weapons, Pope Francis reminded us that “international peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation.” [1]

We urge support for the Treaty and repeat our call for the UK to forsake its nuclear arsenal. The resources spent on manufacturing, maintaining and upgrading these weapons of mass destruction, should be reinvested to alleviate the suffering of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society, for the Common Good of all peoples. [2]

At the same time, we implore the government to strengthen its arms control regulations, tackling the manufacture and sale of other weaponry, which continues to destroy so many lives throughout the world.

Above all we pray: “Lord, Father of our human family, you created all human beings equal in dignity; pour forth into our hearts a fraternal spirit.

Move us to create healthier societies and a more dignified world, a world without hunger, poverty, violence and war.” [3]

+Declan Lang
Bishop of Clifton
Chair, International Affairs Department, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

+William Nolan
Bishop of Galloway
Commission for Justice and Peace, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland

+William Kenney
Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham

[1] Message to the UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination
(23 March 2017)

[2] Statement on nuclear weapons
(4 August 2020)

[3] Fratelli Tutti

Press Statement on the scheduled annexation of Palestinian West Bank territory on 1st July 2020

“Westminster Justice & Peace Commission stands with people of the Holy Land in the face of plans for unilateral Israeli annexation of West Bank Palestinian territory, scheduled for 1st July 2020. Our condemnation follows that of the united Church leadership in the Holy Land, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and that of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Prominent Jewish  members of British society have also expressed alarm at the prospect.

Annexation will all but destroy chances for a negotiated peace, further limiting prospects of establishing a Palestinian state. More violence is likely and  the lives of Palestinians, suffering already under Israeli occupation, will be further degraded.  It will do nothing to enhance Israel’s standing in the world.

The Commission calls on Israel and the United States to respect International Law and existing UN resolutions and to abandon such a reckless plan, in the name of justice and peace.”

Statement on the Annexation from the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, 24th June 2020