Catholic Life

Couple receive peace prize

Bishop Malcolm McMahon presents the Campbells with the award

A couple from Southampton with decades of involvement in anti-war campaigns and human rights work were given an award by the British section of Pax Christi on May 29.

The Pax Christi Peace Award is given every two years to people who demonstrate faithful and persistent work for peace.

Audrey and Frank Campbell received their award from Pax Christi’s national president, Bishop Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham diocese. Illustrated with a dove of peace, the award was produced at Neve Shalom, a cooperative village between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem where Jews and Muslims live side by side peacefully.

The Campbells have campaigned for a reduction in Britain’s nuclear arsenal and against the renewal of Trident. They have supported local Justice and Peace events for many years, bringing to that network their concern at the iniquities of the arms trade. They have supported peace vigils at Aldermaston’s Atomic Weapons Establishment and the annual Pax Christi Ash Wednesday witness in London. In 2009 they were part of an ecumenical fact-finding group to Israel and Palestine and have shared their experiences with a number of groups. After receiving the award they paid tribute to Pat Gaffney, Pax Christi’s general secretary, “whose own peace work is an inspiration to us all”.

During the day, held at Holy Apostles parish hall in Pimlico, around 60 people also listened to a talk from Canon David Porter, director for reconciliation ministry at Coventry Cathedral. He suggested that “bad” religion often trumps “good” religion since it is easier to motivate fears than raise hopes. A lively discussion ensued with contributions from Bruce Kent, Pax Christi’s vice-president, and members of JPIC Religious Links and the National Justice and Peace Network.

The day also heard reports of Pax Christi’s work on such initiatives as Peace Sunday and peace education. The group was described as “acting well beyond its real capacity, with only three staff members and an annual budget of around £200,000”.