MEDIA: New Pax Christi presidents look to elevate church's nonviolence teachings


(from National Catholic Reporter, 7-8-19)

by Joshua McElwee

Pax Christi International, a global Catholic peace organization that raised its profile in recent years with two Vatican conferences on Christian nonviolence, has changed its leadership for the first time in nearly a decade.

At a general meeting of 12 regional sections of the organization in late June, members elected two new co-presidents: French Bishop Marc Stenger and Kenyan Sr. Teresia Wamuyu Wachira. They replace South African Bishop Kevin Dowling, who had served since 2010, and American activist Marie Dennis, who had served since 2007.

Wamuyu Wachira, a member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the first woman religious to serve as a co-president and the third African, following Dowling and the 2007-10 term of Congolese Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya.*

Stenger has served as bishop in the north-central French town of Troyes since 1999, and had led the French section of Pax Christi for 18 years. In an email interview with NCR, he said that a central lesson he had learned in his time with the organization is that working for peace "is an eminently missionary responsibility."

Stenger said that new global skepticism toward the multilateral international system adopted following the end of the Second World War has increased the risk of conflict around the world.

"Pax Christi International must have as its mission to prevent these conflicts through advocacy work, in order to transform the risks of violence, searching for a new balance and protecting the most vulnerable people and communities," said the bishop.

"The perspective must be the promotion of a culture of nonviolence in the light of the Gospel and the support for the implementation at all levels of alternative strategies that banish violence and make encounter and dialogue prevail," he said.

Wamuyu Wachira is a professor of peace and conflict studies at St. Paul's University in Nairobi who has been working with Pax Christi's Kenyan member groups for years and had previously served a term on the international organization's board...

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Marc Stenger, Wamuyu Wachira, National Catholic Reporter, Joshua McElwee