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Human Rights Day—A Day to Remember Our Holy Innocents  December 10, 2013

Usually, Pax Christi Metro New York hosts a prayer service on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, December 28th, to remember victims of violence, especially children. This year, however, the Feast of the Holy Innocents falls on a Sunday, which means it is not on the liturgical calendar. Consequently, we are holding our service on Human Rights Day, December 10th. Our prayer will still be for victims of violence, especially children. It will be drawn from the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child. Please join us on Wednesday, December 10th, at 6:30 PM in St. Joseph’s Parish House, 371 Sixth Avenue, in Greenwich Village. We’ll begin with pizza, so please RSVP. We also hope to have a speaker who works with children whose lives have been affected by violence. We’d greatly appreciate a free will donation to cover cost.


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Annual Events

 

Peacemaking through the Arts
For several years now, PCMNY has been promoting peace with the help of the performing arts.  We’ve held concerts from folk to jazz.  We’ve hosted plays like In Between about being half Israeli Jew and half Palestinian Muslim and Pilgrims and Prophets of Peace about Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.  We’ve used music and literature to pay tribute to Fr. Daniel Berrigan.  In 2014, we presented Luke Live! which was created and performed by Fr. James DiLuzio, CSP.  Luke Live! is a dramatic proclamation of the Gospel of Luke
interspersed with Song Meditations--both sacred and secular.  For Pax Christi, Fr. DiLuzio highlighted the Peace and Justice components in Luke's Gospel. If you think your parish would like to host Luke Live!, visit www.lukelive.com to learn how to do so.

Annual Retreat
Each year, PCMNY hosts a retreat to invite members and friends to take some time away to pray, grow spiritually, and be inspired to return home to do the work of peacebuilding. From February 28th to March 2nd, 2014, Sr. Kathleen Deignan, CND led us on our retreat at the St. Joseph’s Renewal Center in Brentwood, Long Island. Blending her passions, her retreat theme was "Pax Christi/Pax Terra: Thomas Merton and Thomas Berry in Dialogue on Making Peace with Earth." Fifty-one retreatants were blessed by the experience.


Ash Wednesday Leafleting
Our tradition on Ash Wednesday is to offer a Lenten Reflection to the faithful outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral. On Ash Wednesday, 2014, six PCMNY members distributed 1500 leaflets to the faithful receiving ashes. Click here to read this year’s Reflection.

Good Friday Way of the Cross
PCMNY is probably best known for its Good Friday Way of the Cross, which was its founding event. Our 32nd consecutive Good Friday Way of the Cross, commemorating Jesus' suffering in His own life and in the lives of people throughout the world today, took place on April 18th, 2014. Hundreds processed together, praying for change in ourselves and a society marred by such sins as poverty, racism, bullying and gun violence, human trafficking and war.  Concluding with a 15th Station, we were reminded that we are a Resurrection people in a Good Friday world. Plan to be with us and pray with us at our 33rd Way of the Cross on April 3rd, 2015.

Peacemaker Awards Reception
Each year PCMNY honors peacemakers, some known nationally, some known locally, and some known mostly within the Pax Christi community, but all doing noteworthy work to make the world a more peaceful and just place for all of us to live. We honor these exemplary people at a reception that is a true celebration of them and the peace community that supports them. On Sunday, June 1st
, 2014, our Peacemaker Award Reception honored Sandy Hook Promise for their work against gun violence, the Carmelite Commission for Peace, Justice, and the Integrity of Creation for its ministries to people in need and for social change, and Sr. Jean Fallon, MM, for her work in support of nuclear weapons abolition and Palestinian rights. We enjoyed the beautiful music of Jeff Smith (our gifted Good Friday flutist) and friends Frank Lalley and Dorothy Valla. We feasted on hot and cold hors d'oevres, cookies, wine and soft drinks. And we "gave peace a chance" with a variety of raffles and prizes.

40-Day Fast for Christian Nonviolence
Pax Christi Metro New York joins others around the country in an annual fast for Christian Nonviolence. This fast is an opportunity to remember, repent, and resolve to transform our culture of violence, whether the violence of the street or the violence of war, drones, and nuclear weapons proliferation. It begins each July 1st and ends on August 9th, the tragic triple anniversaries of the executions of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), Jewish convert to Catholicism and holocaust victim; Blessed Franz Jaegerstaetter, martyr for refusing to serve in Hitler's army; and the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, the largest Christian community in Japan. PCMNY frames it with prayers made available for you to pray alone or in community. For more information about the fast, contact the PCMNY office: info@nypaxchristi.org or, when the Fast approaches simply sign up as an individual or group to fast a day, a week, or longer between July 1st and August 9th to end the horror of nuclear weapons proliferation and all forms of violence. Let the PCMNY office know your chosen day(s) and date(s).

Hiroshima/Nagasaki Memorial
Each year PCMNY offers this commemorative event to mourn and repent for the horrific loss of life caused by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945 and to advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons today. Now, we can add Fukushima to the list of Japanese cities devastated by nuclear tragedy. This year’s Memorial featured the film, The Ultimate Wish: Ending the Nuclear Age, with a discussion led by co-producer, Dr. Kathleen Sullivan. It took place on Sunday, August 3rd, starting at 2:30 PM in Casserly Hall, St. Joseph’s Greenwich Village Church. A silent procession and public vigil followed.

Summer Picnic
PCMNY’s annual pot-luck picnic has become a refreshing tradition that brings together members and friends in a spirit of invaluable camaraderie. Our most recent picnic brought together 10 people who delighted in the comfortable weather, a delicious assortment of foods, and great conversation. We gathered in Central Park in view of the majestic Metropolitan Museum of Art, behind the Temple of Dendur. Plan to join us at our next picnic in 2015.

UN International Peace Day
The UN International Peace Day has been held on September 21st  for decades now, but so many people still aren't familiar with it; yet, it's such an important day.  Not only is it a day for the United Nations to renew its dedication to the pursuit of peace; it is also a Day of Ceasefire, both personally and politically.  In 2014, we celebrated the actual day with the People’s Climate March, but continued the recognition on Sunday, October 5th, when John Kim, UN Representative for Fellowship of Reconciliation, spoke on "Ending U.S. War in Korea: from Armistice to Peace."

Fall Assembly
On Saturday, November 8th, Pax Christi Metro New York hosted its annual Fall Assembly at the Convent of Mary the Queen in Yonkers. This year’s theme was “The Joy of the Gospel: The Peace Passages.” Author and editor Margaret O’Brien Steinfels led us in a discussion of Pope Francis’s teachings on peace as found in his inspiring encyclical, Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel. In addition to this stimulating afternoon presentation, we dedicated the morning to a reflection on PCMNY’s very identity as a peace community. We prayed together, shared our stories, and lent each other support. We hope you’ll join us at our next Fall Assembly in 2015.

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Featured Recent Event


Fall Assembly, 2015

by Dr. James Kelly


On Saturday, November 8th, approximately 45 Pax Christi Metro New York members and friends gathered for our annual Fall Assembly at the Convent of Mary the Queen in Yonkers. The morning was an opportunity to pray together, hear about our shared efforts for peace, pick up some informative literature on Catholic perspectives on ISIS, and engage in some stimulating discussion. Of particular interest was a presentation on Pax Christi International, introducing some to its history and edifying all about its current activities across the globe.

The afternoon session featured the former editor and current Commonweal columnist Margaret O’Brien-Steinfels. The Education Committee asked Peggy (as it came to seem natural to call her) to explicate the sections (#217-#237) dealing with peace in Pope Francis’ recent exhortation EvangeliiGaudium and placed in the context of the Pope’s much cited (mis-cited, actually) interview comments about ISIL on his return flight from his visit to South Korea. Peggy’s explication of Francis’s four principles of peace was winningly honest and sparked an unusually animated discussion afterwards. She was very orderly. First the meaning of an exhortation and its significance, the peaceprinciples, then their context, and ultimately their relevance to ISIS.

Peggy explained that an “exhortation” does not define church doctrine, has less formal authority than an encyclical, and can be viewed as a papal editorial emphatically urging us to do something. EvangeliiGaudium is the pope’s response to the synod on the new evangelization (Rome, October 2012) and its distinctive exploratory tone (personal, moments of self-criticism, much citation from the Bishops themselves) contrasts with the post-Vatican II exhortations of his predecessors and, Peggy suggests, portends a recapturing and possibly precedent-setting embodiment of the Vatican II intention to more organically link papal teaching, episcopal reflection, and lay reception.

The specific peace principles as discussed in the exhortation are: Time is greater than space; Unity prevails over conflict; Realities are more important than ideas; The whole is greater than the parts. With a winning honesty, Peggy found the principles – even after reading them “many times” – elusive and not entirely clear. She added that the exhortation was not particularly well-organized and that Francis was right when he joked that maybe it was too long. She helpfully employed the just published biographyThe Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope by Austen Ivereigh to place the principles in theirhistorical context, which was the pre-Papal, deeply divisive events Bergolio faced as a Jesuit superior and then as Bishop in an Argentina torn by disagreements about Vatican II, liberation theology, the option for the poor, the dirty war and the disappearances, and the Falklands War with Britain. She pointed out that the principles first appeared in Bergolio’s sermons and were more homiletic cues than principles that he actually developed. They are perhaps deliberately elusive because at that time Francis, wanting “unity to prevail over conflict,” did not want to identify specific persons and factions. Her conclusion (which drew several comments in the afternoon discussion) of this homiletic context was that one suspects that with these principles Francis originally had in mind “the churches of Latin America…..  We are,” she continued, “accustomed as Europeans and North Americans to reading and interpreting such documents from our own historical and cultural context which we have shared with recent popes. Now we can listen as a pope speaks as a Latin American to South Americans, Africans, and Asians; we have to re-tune our ears and check our preconceived ideas about politics, economics, and culture”.

For example, applying the principle “realities are more important than ideas,” Peggy wondered if the pope was calling attention to the way our ideas and ideologies that frame our worldvieware characterized by what Madeleine Albright, when she was Clinton’s Secretary of State, called our sense that the United States is the indispensable nation.

The principle that sparked the most discussion after Peggy’s presentation was time is greater than space. Here’s what she said: “The emergence of ISIL in Syria and Iraq has created a particularly complex problem that bears on this issue of time: Do we think both of the short-term and the long-term? ISIL would seem to be an issue particularly for the nations of the Middle East, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Jordan, the Gulf nations and Saudi Arabia …. Yet it is the demands of our own members of Congress that press for the U.S. to take action. And the U.S. bears some responsibility for the conditions in Iraq that have encouraged ISIL…. Should we have taken the actions we have? Should we have waited? Should we have hung back? Why didn’t we? Even now, some government leaders, General Dempsey and Secretary Haig, call for more boots on the ground….”

Peggy provided the entire quote of Francis’s response to reporters asking him on his return flight from South Korea about ISIS: “In these cases where there is unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underscore the verb ‘stop’; I don’t say bomb, make war – stop him. The means by which he may be stopped should be evaluated. To stop the unjust aggressor is licit, but we nevertheless need to remember how many times, using this excuse of stopping an unjust aggressor, the powerful nations have dominated other peoples, made a real war of conquest. A single nation cannot judge how to stop this, how to stop an unjust aggressor. After the Second World War, there arose the idea of the United Nations. That is where we should discuss.”

Peggy’s concluding  judgment was that, for her, the pope’s four principles, when applied to ISIS, brings us to a position of a hesitant and critical just war perspective that must be placed in a thoroughgoing international United Nations context. Peggy’s honest and straightforward discussion of the peace section of the exhortation sparked a spirited discussion that had theaudience personally replicating many of Peggy’s expressed difficulties and especially the tensions between a position of an absolute active nonviolence and a morally evolving Just War Theory, which, of course, reminds us of Francis’s third principle: Realities are more important than ideas.

 

 


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