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Haiti, Sarajevo, peacemaking among topics at Pax Christi USA's assembly.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Haiti and its troubled people were on the minds of more than 400 persons who attended Pax Christi's USA National Assembly from Aug. 6 to 8.

The United States and six other nations were represented at a series of seminars and workshops that addressed a wide range of topics related to peacemaking: from sending nonviolent representation to Sarajevo; to caring for the earth; to, observing the 50th anniversary of the beheading of Franz Jaggerstatter for refusing to serve in Adolf Hitler's army.

Many at the assembly, held at St. Mary's College, were most concerned with helping promote the nonviolent return to power of deposed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whose freely elected government was overthrown in September 1991.

Claudette Werleigh, a former aide to Aristide, spoke of the fear and repression wrought by the military government. "People are afraid to do something so technical as gather some rocks to prevent erosion," worried that they might be mistaken as part of a grassroots movement and subsequently beaten or killed, she said.

Werleigh will tram volunteers traveling to Haiti in October and November with Cry for Justice, a mission for peace organized by Pax Christi, and seven other peace groups. Some volunteers will live in six rural areas of Haiti for the full two months. They will be joined intermittently by other volunteers for one or two weeks. Volunteers hope their presence reduces the episodes of military violence against Haitians. They plan to bring back to the U.S. media detailed accounts of what is happening there.

Aristide had been invited to speak to the assembly but was unable to attend because he is involved in negotiations regarding the return of democratic rule to Haiti.

Members of Pax Christi USA's Youth Forum did attend the, assembly, however. Forty forum members had met for a retreat two days before the assembly opened. Similar peace groups for youths are organizing in Pax Christi's 22 other national chapters, said Etienne De Jonghe, general secretary of Pax Christi International in Brussels.

Also at the assembly:

* Sister of St. Benedict Anne McCarthy, national coordinator for Pax Christi USA, delivered the peace group's suggested wording for the 10th anniversary revision of the U.S. bishop's peace pastoral: "Nuclear weapons are immoral. It is immoral to use them, to store them, to threaten to use them, to make them and to test them."

* Doris Donnelly, professor of theology at John Carroll University in Ohio, was appointed chair of the Pax Christi National Council.
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Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Aug 27, 1993
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