Catholics in England and Wales commit to peace in record numbers

By staff writers
9 Jan 2007

The annual World Peace Day message is due to be celebrated by a record number of Catholic parishes in England and Wales this Sunday, 14 January 2007, reports Pax Christi, the international Catholic movement for peace.

Since the Day was first introduced in 1967, Pax Christi, has worked to encourage parishes and communities to celebrate the message as one way of taking up the task of peacemaking. Other Christian traditions – Orthodox, Protestant and Anglican – support a similar initiative under the ecumenical umbrella of the World Council of Churches.

This year Pax Christi is especially delighted with the hundreds of parishes who have been in contact to find out more about the liturgy and resources ideas produced for the day by the organisation, reports Independent Catholic News.

The theme for the 2007 peace message from Pope Benedict XVI, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, is ‘The Human Person - The Heart of Peace’.

In his letter to parishes, Bishop Malcolm McMahon, National President of Pax Christi declares: " I invite you to celebrate the Holy Father's peace message on 14 January. Through the theme we are reminded that the human person is the measure of all things. Each person is of value and it the job of us all to ensure that the dignity of each person is protected. Sadly today, violence and warfare undermine human dignity. As well as causing great physical damage, they leave a legacy of fear, hatred and sometimes, revenge".

In its resource booklet for parishes Pax Christi offer homily notes, ideas for working with children and creative ways of marking the day. These intend to help communities reflect on everything that threaten life: war, poverty, the death penalty, abortion and the destruction of creation. The materials also look at the values needed to uphold the gift of life, peace, non-violence, respect and justice.

Pax Christi say they have seen a marked increase over the past year in enquiries about Christian peacemaking and a demand for resources and campaigning materials on issues ranging from the replacement of Trident to the plight of Christians in the Holy Land.

Part of the upsurge of interest may have come from the global publicity surrounding the four Christian Peacemaker Teams activists held captive by militants in Iraq at the end of 2005 and the beginning of 2006.

Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi said: "In his peace day message Pope Benedict urges that every Christian be tirelessly committed to peace-making and the defence of the human person. Our role in Pax Christi is to help to support and develop this commitment in whatever way we can".

Pax Christi's Peace Sunday resources can be found at: www.paxchristi.org.uk

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