Notes on peace and justice

Franziska Jagerstatter dies at 100

Franziska Jagerstatter at her husband's beatification in 2007. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Franziska Jagerstatter at her husband’s beatification in 2007. (CNS photo/Reuters)

The April issue of the Pax Christi International newsletter reported on the recent death of Franziska Jagerstatter, widow of Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, the Austrian conscientious objector who was executed by the Nazi regime in 1943.

She died peacefully surrounded by family and friends in St. Radegund, Austria, two weeks after her 100th birthday.

On March 4, her birthday, Msgr. Ludwig Schwarz, president of Pax Christi Austria, celebrated a Mass in St. Radegund in her honor. The previous day a Mass also was celebrated in her honor at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Linz, Austria.

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna and Austrian President Heinz Fischer also sent birthday greetings.

Blessed Franz Jagerstatter was executed Aug. 9, 1943, for his refusal to serve a second tour of duty in the Nazi army. His stance was unsupported by his parish priest, diocesan bishop and Catholic friends. He was beatified Oct 26, 2007, in Linz. May 21 is his feast day.

Bishop Taban honored for promoting peace

Pax Christi International also reports that Bishop Paride Taban, retired bishop of Torit, South Sudan, received the Sergio Vieira de Mello Prize from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his work in creating the Holy Trinity Peace Village for orphaned children in Kuron, South Sudan.

The award was presented March 1 in Geneva during the annual lecture sponsored by the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation. The foundation was established to carry out the peacebuilding work of de Mello, one of 22 United Nations workers killed during the 2003 bombing of the U.N. compound in Baghdad.

Bishop Taban is a member of Pax Christi International’s advisory board and the village is a member organization of the worldwide Catholic peace group.

50th anniversary of “Pacem in Terris” marked in D.C.

Pope John XXIII’s encyclical “Pacem in Terris” (“Peace on Earth”) will be the subject of a two-day conference hosted by The Catholic University of America April 9-10.

Leaders of the Catholic peace movement will be on hand to discuss the 1963 encyclical and what it means for the world in contemporary times.

Plenary speakers include Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom; Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace; Carolyn Woo, president of Catholic Relief Services; and Father J. Bryan Hehir, professor in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Pope John wrote the document as Catholic Church leaders met in the midst of the Second Vatican Council. In the encyclical he emphasized the rights of people to live peacefully without fear of war or violence and that all people must be assured of having access to basic needs such as housing, food and health care. He also challenged the world’s nation to end their dependence on nuclear weapons as a deterrence to war and to work ensure the rights of all people.

Catholic News Service will report on the conference next week.

U.N. adopts arms trade treaty

The U.N. General Assembly has adopted the Arms Trade Treaty, regulating the trade of arms between countries.

The April 2 vote found 154 nations in favor of the treaty and three against it with 23 countries abstaining. Only Iran, North Korea and Syria voted against the pact.

The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns was among several Catholic organizations backing the treaty.

The United States, as the world’s largest arms dealer, pushed for the treaty’s passage and co-sponsored it despite pressure from pro-gun ownership groups to scuttle it. The groups maintained that the treaty could be invoked to control arms sales within the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that would not be the case, explaining that it covered only international deals.

The legal arms trade accounts for about $70 billion in sales annually. The treaty covers attack helicopters, tanks and other larger arms as well as small arms and ammunition for such weapons.

Under the agreement, nations are required to determine whether an arms shipment to another country would be used to commit atrocities or violate human rights or if they could be diverted for such purposes and report back to the U.N. on their efforts.

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