Pax Christi International

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Pax Christi International, an international Catholic organization for promotion of world peace, was formed in March 1945 by a French Catholic laywoman, Madame Dortel-Claudot, and Bishop Pierre Theas of Montaubon. Its original objective was to promote reconciliation between the French and Germans, initially, through an apostolate of prayer. It soon expanded its vision to peace among all nations. The organization received encouragement in 1947 from Pope Pius XII. By 1950 it had grown into an international federation of European groups with its headquarters in Fribourg, Switzerland, and later moved to Paris. Cardinal Maurice Feltin, Archbishop of Paris, was its first international president. Its objective was "the unity and pacification of the world through the promotion of international order based on the natural law and on the justice and charity of Christ." Pax Christi was a significant inspiration for Vatican II's teaching of the right to conscientious objection and of its condemnation of nuclear war. It has promoted a wider understanding of the social teaching of popes John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II whereby peace, grounded in justice and directed by charity, must be further based on a just economic development of poorer nations. In 1965 its headquarters moved to the Netherlands under the presidency of Cardinal Alfrink, and in 1978 to Belgium under the secretariat of Etienne de Jhonge. Pax Christi has been active in peacemaking in Northern Ireland, Poland, South Africa, East Timor, and the Middle East. In 1983 it received the UNESCO Peace Prize, and in 1987, the UN Peace Messenger Award. In the midst of the Vietnam War, Pax Christi USA was established in 1972 as an affiliate of Pax Christi. In a development of Pax Christi's original broader mission, Pax Christi USA promotes a gospel-inspired non-violence: "Pax Christi USA commits itself to peace education and, with the help of its bishop members, promotes the gospel imperative of peacemaking as a priority in the Catholic church in the United States." Two American bishops were its first moderators, Carroll T. Dozier (d. 1985) of Memphis and Thomas J. Gumbleton of Detroit. By 2000, membership in Pax Christi USA had grown to more than 11,500 members, including more than 120 bishops.

[d. p. sheridan]