Pax Christi head hopes to meet Toronto group

  • December 7, 2006

PaxChristiTORONTO - The next secretary general of Pax Christi International wants to see the international Catholic movement gain a foothold in Canada.

Former prime minister of Haiti Claudette Antoine Werleigh was designated the successor to long-time Pax Christi secretary general Etienne De Jonghe in November. She will fully take over the post when De Jonghe retires at the end of 2007.

"I am pleased to know that there exists a small group in Toronto, Catholics for Peace — Toronto, which aspires to spread itself across the country and eventually become Pax Christi Canada," Werleigh told The Catholic Register in an e-mail shortly after being designated secretary general by Pax Christi's executive committee.

"I anticipate there is great potential in Canada," she said.

Werleigh was Haiti's minister for social affairs and foreign affairs from 1990 to 1995, then prime minister of the Caribbean republic in 1995 and 1996. She has also served on the executive committee of Pax Christi from 1992 to 2001. Since 1999 she has been working full time for a Pax Christi affiliate organization in Sweden, The Life and Peace Institute. The Life and Peace Institute runs peace-building projects in the Horn of Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Brazzaville.

"Like a lot of Haitians, I do have personal connections in Canada (family members as well as work-connected links)," Werleigh said.

Among her Canadian connections is a brief period of work with the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace in 1987.

Werleigh said she hoped to meet with members of Catholics for Peace — Toronto when she visits Canada as head of the international movement.

"I certainly am looking forward (to) a fruitful collaboration with them," she said.

Pax Christi is the Vatican-recognized Catholic peace movement with 60,000 members in 50 countries.

Meanwhile, Catholics for Peace — Toronto was to discuss American soldiers seeking refugee status in Canada and protests against Canadian troops in Afghanistan at its next meeting Dec. 14 at the Paulist Centre, 830 Bathurst St., just north of Bloor, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

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