Justice and Peace group

The Churches Together Justice and Peace Group was formed in 1998  and has been meeting regularly ever since to discuss issues and plan events that can inform our local community.  Like everything else this ended with Lockdown in March.  Then sadly the Chair of the group, Maureen Matthews died in August. This page is attempt to keep group informed about the issues we might have considered at meetings.

Spring Mouthpeace   from Shrewsbury and Liverpool Dioceses Spring 2021


Contents: Nuclear Weapons Treaty
Environmental issues  including MESS
Migrants and Refugees
Peace Issues – Palestine/Holy Land



On Friday 22 January 2021 the Treaty which was ratified in October 2020 came into force.  Many churches have already voiced their support for the treaty.   Stockport for Peace are encouraging indivdual faith leaders to sign a pledge of their support and send it to the Prime Minister .   ICN Faith Pledge They suggested the following:
The pledge can be adapted – eg, removing reference to Stockport for Peace email if wished.
It might be most effective if sent directly to relevant MPs and local Councillors.
If this is done, could we (SfP) be kept informed so we can keep a record
Printing out and posting can be more effective than email attachments (esp to MPs)
A photo would be good, especially if we could be sent a copy, but also to use as wish (in parish magazines maybe).

The aim is to get more people aware of the TPNW and to win Councillors over to support it so that the Stockport Council will agree a resolution to that effect – and join other Councils in doing so. 

For more information :  contact@stockportforpeace.org.uk

Many Christian traditions and denominations in the UK have supported the idea of a Treaty to ban nuclear weapons for some time. The Baptist Church, Church of Scotland, Methodist Church, United Reformed Church and Quakers have long-standing positions opposing nuclear weapons and have welcomed the Treaty.  https://christiancnd.org.uk/ban/

Anglican Bishops sign historic letter on UN Nuclear Weapons Treaty.
More than 30 Church of England bishops, including the archbishops of Canterbury and York, have put their names to a public letter urging the UK government to sign the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons which was ratified recently and comes into force in January 2021.
The letter was published in The Observer on Friday, 13 November 2020. Read the full text follows:

A joint statement from the Catholic Bishops of England & Wales and Scotland has called on the UK Government to “forsake its nuclear arsenal” and to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, 
The statement quotes from a message from Pope Francis’ to the UN calling the complete elimination of nuclear weapons a “moral and humanitarian imperative”. It also urges the UK to “strengthen its arms control regulations, tackling the manufacture and sale of other weaponry, which continues to destroy so many lives throughout the world.”

The full text of the statement is shown below:
Statement on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
On Friday 22 January 2021 the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons comes into force. This is a historic milestone on the path to nuclear disarmament and an opportunity to refocus on genuine peacebuilding rooted in dialogue, justice, respect for human dignity, and care for our planet.

In setting out the “moral and humanitarian imperative” for complete elimination of nuclear weapons, Pope Francis reminded us that “international peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation.”[1]

We urge support for the Treaty and repeat our call for the UK to forsake its nuclear arsenal. The resources spent on manufacturing, maintaining and upgrading these weapons of mass destruction, should be reinvested to alleviate the suffering of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society, for the Common Good of all peoples.[2]

At the same time, we implore the government to strengthen its arms control regulations, tackling the manufacture and sale of other weaponry, which continues to destroy so many lives throughout the world.

Above all we pray: “Lord, Father of our human family, you created all human beings equal in dignity; pour forth into our hearts a fraternal spirit. Move us to create healthier societies and a more dignified world, a world without hunger, poverty, violence and war.”[3]

+Declan Lang
Bishop of Clifton Chair, International Affairs Department, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
+William Nolan
Bishop of Galloway Commission for Justice and Peace, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland
+William Kenney Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham

[1] Message to the UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination (23 March 2017) vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/pont-messages/2017/documents/papa-francesco_20170323_messaggio-onu.html

[2] Statement on nuclear weapons (4 August 2020) cbcew.org.uk/statement-on-nuclear-weapons/

[3] Fratelli Tutti vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20201003_enciclica-fratelli-tutti.html         

BACKGROUND   On Saturday October 24th 2020 the treaty making nuclear weapons illegal was finally ratified at the United Nations. The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) opened for signature three years ago. The treaty needed 50 countries to ratify it before it before it could come into force. On Saturday night that milestone was reached. The Treaty will now officially enter into force on January 22nd after 50 countries ratified the agreement, with a further 84 signing.

The terms of the TPNW only apply to the countries that have signed and ratified the agreement. Although the nine nuclear-armed states ( US, UK, Russia, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea)  currently state they will not support it, the treaty is a significant pointer towards changing international attitudes to nuclear weapons. Previous treaties prohibiting chemical and biological weapons helped to stigmatise them in the minds of the public. This is now taking place with nuclear weapons. see  https://www.icanw.org/the_treaty


The ecumenical FELLOWSHIP OF RECONCILIATION  is a community of people who are inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ (Jesus of Nazareth) to oppose war and work together to build a world order based on love.
Our Mission: to grow and resource the community of Christians committed to nonviolence; challenge militarism; embody peace and reconciliation.
Our Methods: to grow and support our membership of nonviolent peacemakers; campaign and advocate at a national and local level; work with partners to campaign at an international level; offer training, prayer, worship, and living example.



MESS is now meeting monthly on zoom.  Work is needed on the Community Orchard which will be going ahead as soon as possible. But most other activities are not possible at present.  But members of the group are writing articles to keep us informed.  For more details see http://marplemess.org.uk/


The Rt Hon Lord Deben (John Selwyn Gummer), chair of the UK’s committee on climate change, told an online gathering to the Catholic Union on March 23rd that Catholics must take climate change more seriously, following the inspirational lead of Pope Francis in ‘Laudato Si’ and in the context of November’s UN Climate talks in Glasgow. Report of his talk https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/41845
Listen to talk  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKIR9MZrhKs

MARY COLWELL,  producer and writer with a zeal for the natural world, shares her passion for one feature of creation in particular: the Eurasian Curlew. Below you’ll find her video (with a soundtrack from co-producer and Platinum-selling singer-song-writer David Gray).


You can find out more about Mary, her latest book and her love of the curlew http://www.curlewmedia.com/


LIVE FAIR FOR LENT  a zoom evening organised by Marple URC on March 22nd.

Matt Oliver from Traidcraft shared 40 things about Fairtrade to know or to do.  He passed on his power point presentation but it is too big to put on the website . If you would like a copy email marian37et@gmail.com

Some things mentioned :
Fair Palm https://www.traidcraft.co.uk/fairpalm
Reducing plastic – all traidcraft sweets and chocolate wrapped  in compostable packaging
 Fairtrade:  jams and spreads https://www.jts.co.uk/    www.traidcraftshop.co.uk/food/store-cupboard/jams-spreads
footballs  https://www.balasport.co.uk/              
 stationery       www.traidcraftshop.co.uk/gifts/by-category/eco-friendly-stationery                      
coffins     http://www.oasiscoffins.com/
and now facemasks www.traidcraftshop.co.uk/search/?q=face%20covering

FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT Feb 22 – March 7    Join our global community during Fairtrade Fortnight 2021 for a free festival of online events and activities to entertain, educate and inspire us all TO CHOOSE THE WORLD WE WANT TO SEE 

 Catch up on two events held in the week:
HOW IS THE CLIMATE CRISIS IMPACTING THE GLOBAL FOOD SUPPLY Monday 22 February    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDL5ouiHMP8

Two interesting case studies were described –  
Farmers Biting Back At The Climate Crisis With Fairtrade Cocoa  link here

Better In A Bunch: Fairtrade Banana Farmers Weathering The Storm Together

Reacting to the announcement that UK aid will be cut to 0.5% of GNI in 2021, CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation, Mike Gidney, said: ‘We are strongly opposed to this deep cut to UK aid, which threatens any hopes for a truly ‘global Britain’. We have seen first-hand this year the devastating impact of this pandemic on some of the world’s poorest farmers and workers. At the same time, Hurricanes Eta and Iota have devastated parts of Central America this month, crippling food production on which we all depend and stripping away livelihoods from thousands of Fairtrade farmers at a stroke.

‘Now is not the time to be withdrawing our support which is meeting urgent needs and helping provide opportunity and a way out of poverty, as well as shoring up the supply of goods on which we rely in the UK.’

KitKat has severed its ties with Fairtrade, despite the organisation behind the scheme warning that thousands of farmers would be hit by the move. The boss of Fairtrade said Nestle’s decision to cut its 10-year association with the non-profit organisation was “profoundly disappointing”. The Swiss owned food giant said it would now source its cocoa for KitKat bars from farms on the Rainforest Alliance terms instead of working with those Fairtrade accreditation. See https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/ under NEWS

This is the latest of several companies to leave the Fairtrade scheme and set up their own alternatives. In 2017 Sainsburys announced it was moving away from Fairtrade labelling for its own brand tea and would use its own scheme to guarantee a good price for suppliers.  
To read the back ground to this, Samanth Subranmanian wrote a very helpful article last July for the Guardian
Thanks to Pauline Howell for drawing my attention to this


THE PANDEMIC IS EXPOSING CRUELTY OF GOVERNMENT SOCIAL SECURITY POLICIES.    1,300,000 UK children live in poverty                    Bernadette Meaden   Independent Catholic News Dec 15th, 2020

The government recently increased the UK’s defence budget substantially, citing the duty of a government to protect its people. In a winter of rising unemployment, the real and imminent threats we face are poverty, hunger, homelessness and the mental and physical anguish they bring – but far from strengthening our defences against those threats, the party of government has spent ten years dismantling them.

The economic crisis we now face is exposing the cruelty of a decade of Conservative welfare policies. These policies were always wrong, they were always causing suffering, but as more and more people feel their impact they are becoming more widely understood and deplored.

Read the full article on https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/41123
Bernadette Meaden has written about political, religious and social issues for some years, and is strongly influenced by Christian Socialism, liberation theology and the Catholic Worker movement.



Back in Tier 3,  it feels as if many of us are continuing to find ways of living with the Covid pandemic. These often involve making difficult sacrifices and discovering ways of dealing with so many types of loss and bereavement. Just as our lives are turned upside down we might find a glimpse of what it feels like to suffer the losses and traumas faced by refugees seeking sanctuary. And for many refugees, particularly those awaiting decisions on their claim, life is particularly challenging. The recently announced 3p per week increase in the asylum seeker subsistence allowance is nothing less than an insult.The weekly amount is now to be £39.63; 14 years ago it was £40.22.

MAY THEY REST IN PEACE  In November, at a time when the thoughts of many turned to remembering loved ones who have died, our thoughts this month were dominated by the tragic deaths of refugees trying to cross the Channel in dangerous conditions.



Moria refugee camp, Lesbos, Greece, Sept 2020 after the fire

A dozen global and regional religious organisations, including the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) released an advocacy statement on the situation of migrants and refugees in Europe that defines their calling as Christians to “welcome the stranger,” and urges the creation of a world in which “we become human together.”

“Solidarity should be the guiding principle governing migration and particularly refugee reception,” the statement says. “We expect the EU to reject the discourse and politics of fear and deterrence, and to adopt a principled stance and compassionate practice based on the fundamental values on which the EU is founded.”

The consortium presented the statement before the EU Commission on 23 September as the commission presented the new Migration Pact.

“Our organisations represent churches throughout Europe and globally, as well as church-based agencies particularly concerned with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers,” the statement reads. “As Christian organisations we are deeply committed to the inviolable dignity of the human person created in the image of God, as well as to the concepts of the common good, of global solidarity and of the promotion of a society that welcomes strangers, cares for those fleeing danger, and protects the vulnerable.”

The statement refers to the recent fire at the Moria camp, which left 13,000 migrants without a home  and to the exacerbrated conditions caused by CORVID-19.    Read the full statement: www.ceceurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20-9-_joint-Advocacy-statement-on-situation-of-migrants-and-refugees-in-Europe_Final.pdf

JUNE 15 -21 
The theme for Refugee Week this year is IMAGINE. With the current Covid-19 pandemic it is relevant more than ever to explore our imaginations. When we are stuck and don’t know where to turn, using our imagination to picture something new to take a step forward is sometimes the best response
Manchester Libraries have an amazing lineup of great events for Refugee Week 2020:    https://manclibraries.blog/2020/06/11/refugee-week-15-20th-june-2020/     

On Tuesday    Manya Alkhmri  shows us how we can use basic craft tools and some things you might find around the house to make your own hand printed cards using styrofoam sheets. Manya works mainly in sculpture but runs workshops across the city in everything from making self portraits in clay to lithography and mosaics.

Thursday 18 June   Kate Milner children’s author is doing a special reading of  her award winning book My Name Is Not Refugee. This powerful story details the journey of a little boy with his mother to seek refuge in another country. Kate offers us an insight into her story and illustrations and explains the journey of refugees very well to young readers.


 10 short films from the library archives  to help us understand life as a refugee ( 1 -5  new up today) 

  1. Hanadi, 17, tells us about her life in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. https://youtu.be/uZMXv7WU8ME

  2. When you don’t exist is Amnesty International’s campaign for the human rights of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in Europe and at its borders. https://youtu.be/_OUpsWCvE38

  3. Hiba Al Nabolsi, age 10, a refugee from Syria, at a center in Macedonia where UNICEF helps tells her story  https://youtu.be/7QVmXX62_H0      

  4. Little Hamze was uprooted from his home in Mosul, Iraq when ISIS swept through the area in 2014. Now, he and his father have made it to Idomeni, Greece where they await safe passage to Germany and hope to be able to send for Hamze’s mother and sister.     https://youtu.be/tkkVnQEB1mE

  5.   Short Animation -Help refugees and asylum seekers

 6 .Filmmaker Lior Sperandeo captures the raw emotion of life as a refugee. According to the UN, 865,000 refugees and migrants reached Greece by sea in 2015. See a harrowing landing in this striking short film that captures the poignant story of Syrian people seeking safety and those that come to their aid.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiujzFNgHcE   

7. The refugee crisis isn’t just a story on the news – it’s happening here and it’s happening now     https://youtu.be/nKDgFCojiT8

8. This film project documents an extraordinary project in which five people from the Netherlands and Belgium were brought into a state of hypnosis, so they could gain deeper insight into the journey of a Syrian refugee. Under the guidance of a professional hypnotherapist, the participants experienced the journey of 29-year-old Marwa, from Syria, as she made her way to safety to the Netherlands.     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8pJKs4u_Q8  

9. Twenty years ago, psychologist Arthur Aron discovered that four minutes of looking into each other’s eyes can bring people closer. Using this discovery, Amnesty International Poland decided to carry out a simple experiment where refugees and Europeans sat opposite each other and looked into each other’s eyes.      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=By_BHbskg_E

10.Hanadi, 17, tells us about her life in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.


Thank you to Pauline Howell for drawing  my attention to this information.

This beautiful poem, ‘Trees of Home’ – by refugees at the Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants in collaboration with Sita Brahmachari and illustrated by Axel Scheffler – speaks to the heartbreak of being separated from loved ones. Even after lockdown many refugee families will still be apart due to unfair UK rules. The Home Office must bring #familiestogether again. #refugeeweek2020



HOLY LAND : ISRAEL DEMOLISHES PALESTINIAN SETTLEMENT FOR THE 4TH TIME .  The Israeli human rights group Btselem reports: The Palestinian community of Khirbet Humsah was demolished by Israel for the fourth time on Monday. These actions – carried out in the midst of a humanitarian crisis caused by the pandemic – are part of Israel’s efforts to forcibly transfer the community on spurious pretexts of ‘military training’ and ‘law enforcement.’ 

Read full report here:https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/41538 http://www.btselem.org/

Meanwhile Covid-19 continues to rip through the West Bank and Gaza – where medical facilities are very limited. While the vaccine program for Israel citizens has been very successful – few Palestinians have been allowed to receive the vaccine. A petition was launched recently appealing for the Covid-19 vaccine programme to be extended to Palestinian people. Sign the petition HERE vaccination petition



Normally when you decide to purchase or rent a property you look for the view, except in Palestine. In Palestine we have no choice, the view comes for granted whether we like it or not. Be it an Israeli settlement, a bypass settler-only roads, or a military surveillance tower, the view is imposed on you.

As a young girl I always wondered: “what if all these settlements surrounding us in the beautiful town of Beit Jala, on the top of the hills, are not there? What if the olive trees, bulldozed to make way for the settlement, are still there ?!! How beautiful would these green hills, surrounding my beautiful town, be!!”

Growing up I always asked myself who these people are on the other side of the nearby settlement!! Where did they come from?!! where were they living before?? I could see their cars moving from my bedroom window, thinking to myself do they see me too. Does my town from their view look pretty!! do their kids wonder who we are, the same way we do?!!

I have seen these settlements grow bigger each day, It is a matter of time, I said to myself until they reach my home!! A thought that always haunted me growing up in Beit Jala.

We do not exist for them perhaps, I thought?? because if we do they wouldn’t have done this to us. Why are they causing all this pain and misery, Who are these people??

Later in life, I realised it is not only the settlements that are growing fast. There are bypass roads built on neighbour’s land for only settlers to use, walls constructed separating land from its owners, olive groves annexed and owners were asked to stay out of their own land. A systematic land and identity theft, and colonisation.

Today I no longer wonder who these people are. They came from all over to settle on my land. For the little me decades ago these settlers were close in proximity but far from us. today they are too close, too close that we no longer can breathe. confiscating and annexing Palestinian land, building roads for themselves, changing my town as I knew it as a child.

The view is becoming way too ugly to bear, wall after wall being constructed, settlements expanding towards us. Highways crossing in the middle of Beit Jala town jeopardising its beautiful nature and authenticity.

These are the reality of settlements and settlers, the last thing they want is to know you. They’ll keep pushing you away in the hope you disappear one day.

My small peaceful Christian town of Beit Jala, like most of the Palestinian towns, has been hit hard by a cancer disease called settlements. They grow fast and destroy lively organs on their way. The Cremisan Valley and the Makhrour area, the soul and backbone of the town, have been annexed.

Everyone in the town is wondering about its fate. The Beit Jala community lives in despair struggling to collect the falling pieces of its remains.

The view in my beautiful town is becoming uglier and uglier each day.

ANOTHER GARDEN TOUR    This time  of the Bethlehem Palestine Museum of Natural History. It features the gardens, animals, sustainable growing practices and much more. The film is narrated by Mazin Qumsiyeh the founder of the museum.