Pax Christi welcomes British plan to withdraw Iraq troops

Pax Christi NSW has joined its British counterpart in welcoming the news that the UK government is to withdraw at least 1,600 troops from Iraq in the next few months.

The Universe reports that Pax Christi, or the International Catholic Movement for Peace, has consistently campaigned over the issue of violence in Iraq and called for diplomatic solutions rather than the use of more troops.

Spokesman for Pax Christi UK, Pat Gaffney said: "We welcome the British Government's consideration of the role and value of troops in the region and also their consideration as to how the occupation is being received in Iraq.

"Our knowledge and research has shown people in Iraq feel they have become an occupied state and the fact the initial presence of the military in the region was aggressive means the perception is hard to shift.

"Any withdrawal of troops may take the heat out of the situation and focus attention away from acts of aggression."

In a statement yesterday, Pax Christi Australia NSW also welcomed the withdrawal of UK and Danish forces from Iraq.

Spokesperson for the group, Fr Claude Mostowik says the presence of Coalition forces has been shown to be a catalyst for further and ongoing violence in Iraq.

"Democracy cannot be brought about by the killing of people," he said in the statement.

"The continuing occupation of Iraq by the Coalition forces cannot serve any purpose but to bring about more bloodshed and communal strife."

He says that it is time to tackle the situation in Iraq "not with more military personnel and weapons" but with "assistance that will enable the people to truly engage in the political processes so long denied them: that means health care, education, and other infrastructure."

"As we approach the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Australians must question themselves as to whether they will support the God of War or the God of Peace," the Sacred Heart Missionary priest said.

According to Fr Mostowik, the welcome yesterday given by Australia to US Vice-President Dick Cheney "means that we have yet to make the choice" for peace.

"The visit of Vice-President Cheney, a man of war, to Sydney caused disruption to the city this evening whereas the visit of a man of peace such as Father John Dear who gave his first lecture at the ACU this evening and the lecture of Major Dan Michael Mori, a man of justice, at the University of Notre Dame brought no disruption to the city," he said, referring to the visit this week of the American Jesuit peace activist and the military lawyer for accused terrorist David Hicks respectively.

"The media made no mention of the these but Cheney and his colleagues receive much attention on Lateline and other news services," Fr Mostowik said.

Meanwhile, eight people have been charged over yesterday afternoon's protests against the Iraq war as US Vice-President Dick Cheney arrived in Sydney for two days of high-level meetings.

Peace group welcomes troop withdrawal plan (The Universe, 22/2/07)
Pax Christi NSW welcomes Iraq troops withdrawal (Pax Christi, 22/2/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pax Christi NSW
Pax Christi UK
Pace e Bene Australia | Fr John Dear SJ Australian tour
University of Notre Dame, Sydney Campus
Major Michael Mori (Wikipedia)

Non-violence a "way of being", Benedict says (CathNews, 19/2/07)
Indian Catholics mark Gandhi non-violence centenary (CathNews, 6/2/07)
Pax Christi raps profiteers in Palestinian occupation (CathNews, 12/7/06)
Pax Christi stands firm on nuclear weapons (CathNews, 19/7/05)
Pax Christi call for commitment to nuclear arsenal elimination (CathNews 2/3/05)
Pax Christi Australia call for end to Falluja violence (CathNews 19/11/04)
Pax Christi call for US to act as "honest broker" (CathNews 31/5/04)

Heavy security greets Cheney (ABC, 23/2/07)

23 Feb 2007