Bishop backs youth 'peace corps' for international conflict zones

By staff writers
September 13, 2006

Bishop backs youth 'peace corps' for international conflict zones

-13/09/06

A Catholic Bishop from Belfast is backing a "peace corps" of young people to travel into conflict zones overseas.

The suggestion is part of an apparently growing trend amongst churches to explore peacemaking possibilities, which has seen groups such as Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) enter hotspots around the world such as Iraq.

Although their actions are sometimes controversial, some have won praise from amongst others former US President Jimmy Carter.

Dr Donal McKeown, Bishop of Down and Connor, told the Belfast Telegraph: "There is no magic wand for peace, but people have to take their first steps, as we did in Northern Ireland.

"What we can do best is to share our experience and try to help those in other parts of the world who are caught up in areas of conflict today."

Bishop McKeown was responding to a recommendation from a review of the Irish Churches Peace Education Programme for Northern Ireland and the border counties, which was launched at Stranmillis University College.

The report suggested that the Church communities in Northern Ireland were well-placed "to contribute to successful peace-building initiatives in other regions of conflict, possibly through the development of a regional peace corps."

Christian peacemakers often undertake a range of tasks. In the occupied Palestinian territories they monitor and report violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and support acts of non-violent resistance alongside local Christian and Muslim Palestinians and Israeli peace activists. They also offer protection through non-violent presence, engage in public policy advocacy, and stand in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the occupation.

Bishop backs youth 'peace corps' for international conflict zones

-13/09/06

A Catholic Bishop from Belfast is backing a "peace corps" of young people to travel into conflict zones overseas.

The suggestion is part of an apparently growing trend amongst churches to explore peacemaking possibilities, which has seen groups such as Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) enter hotspots around the world such as Iraq.

Although their actions are sometimes controversial, some have won praise from amongst others former US President Jimmy Carter.

Dr Donal McKeown, Bishop of Down and Connor, told the Belfast Telegraph: "There is no magic wand for peace, but people have to take their first steps, as we did in Northern Ireland.

"What we can do best is to share our experience and try to help those in other parts of the world who are caught up in areas of conflict today."

Bishop McKeown was responding to a recommendation from a review of the Irish Churches Peace Education Programme for Northern Ireland and the border counties, which was launched at Stranmillis University College.

The report suggested that the Church communities in Northern Ireland were well-placed "to contribute to successful peace-building initiatives in other regions of conflict, possibly through the development of a regional peace corps."

Christian peacemakers often undertake a range of tasks. In the occupied Palestinian territories they monitor and report violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and support acts of non-violent resistance alongside local Christian and Muslim Palestinians and Israeli peace activists. They also offer protection through non-violent presence, engage in public policy advocacy, and stand in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the occupation.

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