NewsMediaFor 75 years Pax Christi has said “Yes!”

For 75 years Pax Christi has said “Yes!”

In 1945, after years of the trauma of war, French Catholics Marthe Dortel Claudot and Bishop Pierre Marie Théas worked together to encourage reunion with German Catholics, and the Pax Christi movement was born with a vision based on the gospel – love your enemies – and rooted in a deep belief that reconciliation was possible. Today, 75 years later, Pax Christi has grown and expanded to six continents, and continues to accompany communities of faith around the world deepen their understanding of and commitment to reconciliation and peace.

In the past 75 years, the world has experienced profound changes in weapons of war, which are an extremely lucrative business, cause environmental damage and utterly disregard human life and dignity. Too many tools of destruction still exist – they create wealth for a handful of shareholders yet threaten us all, more so people in vulnerable and unstable locations. While violent conflict seems to be omnipresent, peace practitioners from the Philippines to South Sudan to Colombia are building networks of peacemakers, resisting the dominant culture which foments further violence and anxiety. The global Pax Christi network weaves this work with our Catholic tradition and faith. We are a privileged and active witness as the world evolves toward peace, such as with the recent ratification of the nuclear weapons ban treaty. Agreeing to outlaw these horrific weapons is a special moment in human history, a chance to reverse the hubris of humankind and choose life instead of destruction.

The past 75 years also has seen transformations within the Catholic Church: Vatican II, as we know, “opened the windows.” Pax Christi International has embraced this progress within the Church by modeling a shared leadership of the laity and religious. Just relationships are essential to just peace – Catholic hierarchy and local communities, ordained and lay, women and men bring equal gifts to the work for peace. In the early 2000s, the international board decided to model the leadership to which we believe the church is called and returned to the original governance as shown by Mme. Claudot and Bishop Théas: the presidency of Pax Christi International now is shared equally between a bishop and a woman. As co-presidents, we speak with one voice though with our distinctive ‘accents’.

Seventy-five years after Mme. Claudot and Bishop Théas dreamed of reconciliation and peace, we carry this torch, amid the ongoing pain of Covid-19, a pandemic that has touched our core as human beings who are called to care and compassion. We celebrate the evolution of the human community, of the Church and other communities of faith, and we give thanks for all who walk this path with us.

This article is available in SIGNIS Media. Is peace on earth possible?


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