“THE ROAD TO OTTAWA”
A Celebration of the 20TH Anniversary of the Ottawa Treaty to Ban Anti-Personnel Landmines Paintings by PSALM Students of St. Francis de Sales School St. Francis de Sales Central Catholic PSALM students displayed paintings and presented an art installation to celebrate the efforts to rid the world of landmines.
On November 18 and 19th, PSALM (Students Against Land Mines) presented their artistic installation, “THE ROAD TO OTTAWA: THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MINE BAN TREATY” at the St. Francis de Sales Parish Elizabeth Ann Seton Hall. PSALM artworks at the exhibit were inspired by the countries/states like the Holy See that “made it happen” and the continuing work to “finish the job” of a mine-free world. Students also acted as hosts and guides for the visitors. PSALM students wish to thank Monsignor Anthony Cincinnati and the SF Parish family for their support!
“Solidarity is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all” Pope Saint John Paul II, a tireless advocate for a world free of landmines
In 1996, American Catholics joined Pope John Paul II, leaders of the Church around the world, as well as veterans and peace and human rights groups to condemn the use of antipersonnel landmines and work for a global ban. The Catholic Campaign to Ban Landmines included the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Military Archdiocese, Catholic Relief Services, missionary societies, religious communities, refugee groups, and many other Catholic organizations. The Conference of Catholic Bishops views are grounded in Church teaching that calls for a ban on landmines on moral grounds since they are indiscriminate weapons that kill and maim innocent civilians during and long after hostilities end. The Catholic community came together to urge effective, international leadership to ban the use, production, stockpiling, and sale of these indiscriminate killers. In 1997, students at SFCC began to research these efforts and became involved. As believers and Catholics, students were called to be peacemakers and to defend life. In 1999, PSALM ( Students Against Land Mines) was launched, dedicated to advocating for the most vulnerable of the world. The Holy See has noted the “deplorable humanitarian consequences of anti-personnel mines.” The Holy See has appealed to all nations to join the 162 countries that have already adopted this convention, which has been in force since 1999. In the many missions and relief projects by the Catholic Church, the human toll, the lands and villages abandoned, the human terror and destruction caused by the left behind remnants of wars and conflicts were evident. There is a legacy of devastation in places such as Iraq, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Angola, Colombia and Lebanon and in more recent conflicts such as Syria.
Contamination from landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war terrorizes civilians in more than half of the world’s countries and are a significant cause of disability. These weapons instill fear in whole communities, deepening poverty and acting as a lethal barrier to development.
Students feel our faith calls us to it. As disciples of Christ, we seek to make the peace which Jesus gives us visible in our lives and in our world. The Gospel and Catholic social teaching place our service of the poor and vulnerable and our work for justice at the center of Christian witness. That is why PSALM students are so passionate about eradicating landmines and cluster bombs. These weapons infringe on so many areas of life. They are the “war after the war”. Whether it is the loss of life or the immediate medical needs of the survivors, the inability to farm land for food and retrieve water, or the environmental effects of aged weapons that have been seeping into the ground. Our work is necessary because it is not enough to want peace, love and happiness. One must work to rid the world of what stands in the way of others achieving a more just and peaceful life.
St. Francis de Sales PSALM: PROUD STUDENTS AGAINST LANDMINES and CLUSTER BOMBS/WVCBL: West Virginia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs are students and citizens who for 18 years have been committed to educating the public about the devastation caused by landmines and cluster munitions and the indiscriminate nature of these weapons leading to the destruction of innocent life, especially children, after wartime hostilities have ceased. We work to assist survivors, to prevent future casualties through our service projects, and contribute to the universal signature of the treaties banning landmines and cluster munitions by ALL countries.
Long after wars are waged some weapons remain a lurking threat to civilians in the peacetime that follows. Landmines are indiscriminate weapons that wait underground for years and sometimes decades maiming and killing children, farmers and everyday citizens who happen upon them. Here in the U.S. we don’t have to worry about our next step being fatal, but hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens around the world are not so lucky. These weapons are known as hidden killers, weapons of mass destruction in slow motion, or the perfect soldier which never sleeps or misses. It is not about politics or parties, it is about making sure kids can play and farmers can grow their crops safely. More than ninety percent of victims are civilians. With these weapons impacting communities in more than 80 countries and territories, the danger is very real.
Victim assistance is a very important part of the treaties to ban landmines and cluster bombs. Countries that are party to the treaties have the responsibility and obligation to ensure rights of landmine victims are protected and their needs are met.
In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI launched an appeal to raise awareness about the problems of landmines saying, “I encourage everyone to be committed to freeing humanity from these terrible and devious weapons.”
Pope Francis has stated, “ Conventions such as that on anti-personnel mines or that on cluster munitions, are not only cold legal frameworks, but they represent a challenge for all those who are seeking to safeguard and build peace, and, in particular, to defend the weakest. Human dignity is what we all, strong or weak, rich or poor, have in common, apart from our various limitations. True wealth is not money, true power is not arms. True happiness is in love, in sharing and in generosity of heart…. Do we truly want security, stability and peace? Then let us reduce our weapons stockpiles! Let us outlaw the arms that have no place in human society, and let us invest in education, in health, in safeguarding our planet, in building societies that are more supportive and fraternal with their diversity, which is so enriching”.