Peace Stories

Pax Christi International believes in the dignity of each person, because all are created and loved by God. Our spirituality confirms that in our struggle against violence, poverty and injustice we will act with love and compassion - respecting the human dignity of our opponents, even of perpetrators.

This belief invites us to build bridges between people and communities, rich and poor, to overcome the borders that separate and marginalize people, to establish bonds of collaboration between those who hold decision-making power and those who can hardly make their voice heard. On our path for just peace we seek reconciliation and work for it.

 

Voice from the Middle East (Israel and Palestine)

I experienced the Presence of God in the stories of conversion that were shared. One was the story about the Israeli father who had lost his daughter and came to see that his suffering was no different from the Palestinian woman who had lost her loved one. He experienced a common humanity that opened the flood of compassion into his heart.

God is surely present in the nonviolent efforts of both Palestinians and Israelis. They are rising above histories of animosity and retaliation, and resisting the sinking into frustration and anger. It is the best of the human spirit which is moving within them. Dorothy and her colleagues, our witnesses, could no longer live with the values of militarism.

The “New Profile” is an organisation of non-militarism and a turning to the values of nonviolence, mutual care and cooperation. They also do much education to promote a non-militaristic life-style.

 

– Reported by Mary-Ellen Francoeur

Antennes de paix, Pax Christi Montréal, Canada

 

 

Witness from South Asia (Sri Lanka)

Dilan (10) and his father were crossing the Nandikadal lagoon in the last phase of the war (ending in 2009). The aerial attacks made Dilan so frightened. His father was also frightened as he crossed the muddy lagoon, carrying Dilan on his shoulders. Dilan’s father recalled: ’At one point we saw a dead body of a woman floating in the lagoon. There were so many other dead bodies but this woman’s blocked the way of the crossing IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons).

Many were pushing the corpse here and there and that was very disrespectful. We went up to the body and dragged it towards a huge tree and stuck it so that it will not float anymore. This was a gesture of reverence and respect for the dead woman, even when we were in fear and agony’.

 

- Fr. Nandana Manatunga, The pain of the war victim children,

Human Rights and Media Resource Centre, Sri Lanka

 

 

Advocating dignity of women, from Africa (DR Congo)

In their efforts to promote the dignity and respect of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, especially in the eastern part of the country, women advocates have paid a heavy price for their actions: verbal and physical attacks, rape, intimidation, arbitrary detention, death threats and torture.

Some have been forced to leave their homes and be separated from their children. Others had to flee the country and to run for their lives. Family members have also been targeted. Their homes and workplaces have been vandalized, their property confiscated or destroyed. The list goes on.

We face these dangers, because we are women and therefore share a particular vulnerability. The risks are higher, because we defy societal structures, patriarchal institutions, entrenched economic interests, traditional practices and twisted interpretations of religious teachings. We are targeted by community elders, religious groups and even family members.

We do all this, because we want to say that ‘You, who have been sexually abused, know that you too are precious in our sight. You are still our mother, our sister, a beloved daughter. You remain the cherished spouse of our father’.

 

– Justine Masika Bihamba, DR Congo, Coordinator of Synergie des femmes pour les victimes des violences sexuelles (Women’s Synergy for Victims of Sexual Violence).

She was honoured with the Pax Christi Peace Award in 2009.

 

 

Voice from a Pax Christi intercontinental gathering

We shared beautiful experiences of nonviolence, faith, belief. We did not directly experience violence against ourselves, but we were closely involved with the violence committed against others. Although we felt anger, we try to act non-violently, to humanize the other, to redeem the other, in order to move to an effective, practical relationship with them. It is our spirituality which confirms that the other is a human being, an opponent, not an enemy.

 

- Northern Consultation in 2009, Antwerp, Belgium

 

 

Voice from North America

My experience of God has not changed, but it is surely strengthened. I am called to conversion in many ways.  I am challenged to recognize my tendency to hold resentment, to see “other” as “enemy”, to judge rather than listen to the person in face of me. I can see my need to pray constantly for openness, for understanding, for compassion.

 

- Mary-Ellen Francoeur, Antennes de paix, Pax Christi Montréal, Canada

 

 

Insight from Pax Christi International

Strategy and Methodology

The peace spirituality behind Pax Christi International’s advocacy is founded upon the preferential option for the person, the whole person, “created and loved by God.”  Advocacy inspired by this spirituality must, therefore, focus upon the perspective of the human person.

Such advocacy urges us to accompany and serve those who suffer and are victims of selfishness and unjust structures, and at the same time, to be present where decisions are made in order to wield a transformative influence on the complex issues of those injustices. 

This spirituality, then, invites us to build bridges between rich and poor, to overcome the borders that separate and marginalize people, to establish bonds of collaboration between those who hold decision-making power and those who can hardly make their voice heard.

 

– Rev. Paul Lansu, Spirituality of Advocacy in Pax Christi International 

International Representation, Advocacy and Campaigning, June 2009