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CPT INTERNATIONAL: Quilting Peace--A report from the Vatican Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference

 


From April 11-13, 2016, I had the privilege of representing JustFaith Ministries at a Catholic conference on nonviolence in Rome, Italy. The conference was titled, “Nonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to a Catholic understanding of and commitment to nonviolence.” This historic conference, co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International, brought together about eighty people from around the world—lay people, members of religious congregations, priests, and bishops—whose experiences of nonviolence ranged from scholarly and theological study to on-the-ground nonviolent resistance, to advocacy on a local, national, and international scale.

All sessions were rich with stories of hope in situations of despair, of mending in in places of fracture, of love in places where hate would be easier.

Bishop Paride Taban of South Sudan talked about Holy Trinity Peace Village, the manifestation of his dream, in which members of different tribes who used to call each other enemies now live, work, and solve problems as a community. The bishop’s peacemaking efforts extend far beyond the village, as he has, among other things, participated in negotiations between the South Sudanese government and rebels.

Stories from the Philippines included both the nonviolent movement that led to Ferdinand Marcos stepping down from the presidency in 1986 and the countrywide peace education that has been going on there since shortly after that.

Fr. Francisco de Roux, SJ, shared his experiences from the Magdalena Medio region of Colombia, where he and his teams talked to everyone—the military, the paramilitary, and the guerrillas— in an effort to create peace. In his personal statement he wrote, “in the Magdalena Medio, when we were surrounded by violent groups, we discovered that there is no safety in weapons. That the only true and sustainable protection comes through trusting people. And that to win trust we have to go through a long process of dialogue and mutual acceptance, and unpredicted individual and social changes, in the midst of uncertainties.” Now he is involved in the negotiations for a peace agreement that may finally bring the decades-long violence in Colombia to an end.

Each story added a new patch to the blanket of peace. 

Many more, we need so many more before we can cover the whole world in peace. 

Prayers for Peacemakers 8 June 2016 Indigenous Peoples' Solidarity

Prayers for Peacemakers 8 June 2016

Give thanks for all who came together as part of River Run 2016 to call for the clean up of decades of mercury pollution in Wabigoon River.

*Epixel for Peacemakers June 12, 2016  
Grassy Narrows First Nation ‪#RiverRun2016‬ stopping traffic with a round dance in Toronto
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah Psalm 32:7
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text  from the upcoming  Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.



IRAQI KURDISTAN: Finding community and empowerment after ISIS

The afternoon brought a visit to Baynjan Women's Center—a safe haven for women of many ages, and many different cultural backgrounds:refugees from Syria and elsewhere, women who have been internally displaced, Kurds, Arabs, and Yazidi/Ezidis, gather together each day in a place that has become "the gate to happiness"; a comfortable and safe space radically different from the chaos that drove them so far from their homes. Again and again, as the women talked, they expressed gratitude for a space where they could "be themselves," "be comfortable," "be safe," "experience family, after I was separated from my own." The women put together a drama that they have shared in refugee and IDP (internally displaced people) camps and that they shared on International Women's Day. The drama showed a young women's struggle to achieve her goals in the midst of an arranged marriage. The woman comes into her own power as the drama continues. The theater expresses the depth of issues that women face on a daily basis in a way that goes far beyond just words. The women find community together, challenge systems, work for human rights and demonstrate peacemaking every day.

Wouldn't you love to meet people like the ones working at STEP and Baynjan Women's Center?  Check out our delegation schedule!

Indigenous Peoples’ Solidarity Poem: Grassy Narrows-Asubpeeschoseewagong-one hour north of Kenora

Grassy Narrows-Asubpeeschoseewagong-one hour north of Kenora

Grassy Narrows, where the water narrows and the wild water grasses grow.

Where the fish emerge from their eggs and grow healthy and strong.

Their rich protein feeds the people—Anishinabek

Fishermen come from the world to find the fish and the men of Grassy Narrows guide them to the best spots on the lakes and rivers.

The money buys flour for bannock and fuel for the boats. 

Then one day the community realises something is wrong.

Judy da Silva says, “The fish were acting strange. They were jumping right out of the water-onto the land and then dying there.”

As if they could not bear to stay in their habitat anymore. 

The elders said that this was wrong. Something was wrong with the water.

Mercury-whatever would give a company the right to dump such toxic chemicals into the river?

As if it would dissolve and disappear.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: “The oil companies may be the end of us”


“We survived the Ottomans; then we survived the British; then we survived Saddam Hussein. After all that we’re still here, but the oil companies may be the end of us.”

This quote was from a villager that Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraqi Kurdistan has worked with for several years now, but anyone from several communities we have visited in the past week could have said it.  In a small community outside of Erbil/Hawler called Haji Ahmed, we met with a villager who showed us land that used to be full of vineyards and a running stream. Now, the streambed is dry, the land is mostly dust, and the people aren’t sure what will happen to them.

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