Working for Peace
In a Mi’kmaq village in New Brunswick, William Payne falls sick while being part of a violence-reduction team sent by Christian Peacemaker Teams. He receives an herbal remedy from the chief’s sister for his flu and recovers. When he thanks Kwegsi at the band office the next day, the chief laughs and says to the young people with him, “ We never learn. For 500 years when they get sick, we give them medicine!”
Payne came to the Sisters of St. Joseph ‘Theology On Tap’ speaker series at the Duke of York Pub on Feb. 22 and told powerful stories of his seven years with CPT.
Christian Peacemaker Teams is an organization that places violence-reduction teams in crisis situations and militarized areas around the world at the invitation of local peace and human rights workers. It was initiated by Mennonites, Brethren and Quakers, and emphasizes creative public witness, nonviolent direct action and protection of human rights. Four CPT peacemakers have been missing in Iraq since November 2005 including Canadians Harmeet Singh Sooden and Jim Loney.
Payne and Loney are friends. He described Loney’s journey in coming to see the Sacred Heart as deeply meaningful in an article he wrote called “In Defense of the Sacred Heart.” The first revelation happened in a country church in Ontario when Loney “was struck by the uncompromising vulnerability of the posture of the figure of Jesus ‘meeting the world with heart absolutely and irrevocably wide open, welcoming everything and everyone…’” The second encounter was in an Auschwitz Block 11 cell 21, where “Jim discovered the image of a young bearded man with luminous eyes, a halo, robes and a heart exposed in the centre of his chest. A member of the Polish underground named Stephan Jansiencki, captured in 1944, had carved the image with his fingernails.” It taught him “there is no suffering in which the Sacred Heart does not dwell.”
Payne placed Jesus at the centre of CPT’s mission. He referred to Jesus as a “disturber of unjust peace.” He said Jesus’ message was one of abandoning retaliation and a call to love one's enemies. “To proudly preach peace, one should be willing to die for it,” said Payne.
Rebecca Johnson, Administrative Coordinator of CPT Canada, then explained how one could be either a full-time or part-time member of CPT.