The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative: Affirming the vision and practice of active nonviolence at the heart of the Catholic Church

The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, a project of Pax Christi International, the Catholic peace movement, affirms that active nonviolence is at the heart of the vision and message of Jesus, the life of the Catholic Church, and the long-term vocation of healing and reconciling both people and the planet.

This bold effort was launched at the Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference held in Rome April 11-13, 2016 and co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Pax Christi International, and other international bodies (see full list below). Continue reading The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative: Affirming the vision and practice of active nonviolence at the heart of the Catholic Church

Pope: Universities must be “involved in planting the seeds of peace.”

One of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative’s goals is an increased awareness of and commitment to teaching peace and nonviolence in Catholic schools and universities. We are heartened by the following article published on 12 November 2018 by Vatican News which reports that Pope Francis has urged the Pontifical Lateran University to promote peace.

Pope encourages promotion of peace in universities
In a letter to the Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Lateran University, for the inauguration of the new academic year, Pope Francis emphasises the importance of following a curriculum that promotes peace in the world.

By Francesca Merlo

The heart of Pope Francis’ message to Cardinal de Donatis, Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, for the inauguration of the start of the new academic year is that students and all staff must feel “involved in planting the seeds of peace.” The Pope explains that this “begins with listening, professionalism and dedication” which he says must always be “accompanied by humbleness, meekness and the desire to be all things to all.”

Education for peace
In current times, the Pope says, there is an ever-growing need to prevent and resolve conflicts. “The Church, in the light of the Gospel, feels called to inspire and support each initiative that ensures…a journey of peace.”

To do this, the Pope continues, there is a need for “an educational effort to listen and understand”, but also for “knowledge and studies of the assets of value” and “of the instruments capable of demolishing tendencies towards isolation, closure and power that brings violence and destruction”.

Searching for solutions
In quoting Evangelii gaudium, Pope Francis goes on to explain that it is not only the Church who is called to favour “finding solutions to problems affecting peace, social harmony, the land, the defence of life, human and civil rights, and so forth.” The university world also has an important role in the pursuit of this objective, says the Pope. He describes university as “a place that symbolises the integral humanity that needs to be constantly renewed and enriched”. This, the Pope explains, helps produce the brave renewed culture that the current time asks for.”

However, the Pope continues, “This does not mean altering the sense of the institution and the traditions consolidated in our academic realities”, but rather “steering its function in the outlook of a more missionary Church”. He stresses that this must be done “first and foremost by addressing the younger generations”.

A dream of peace
Therefore, says the Pope, this is the task with which we are entrusted: “incarnate the Word of God for the Church and for the humanity of the Third Millennium.” All this, says the Pope “without being afraid of risking and dreaming of peace for all people and for all nations”.

Conscience and remembrance: 100 years after World War I

Photo of Commonwealth World War I cemetery in Belgium by Johnny Zokovitch, 2016

World War I, the “war to end all wars,” ended 100 years ago this week.

Pax Christi UK offers several resources for reflection on the Great War:

For King and country … and conscience“: Valerie Flessati writes about the experiences of British and Irish Catholic men who registered as conscientious objectors during World War I. Published on the Tablet, November 2018. Registration required. (Free, but it takes several steps.) Continue reading Conscience and remembrance: 100 years after World War I

Migrants process in caravan in spirit of salt march, March on Washington

Photo: KNAU, Arizona Public Radio

Our friend Pietro Ameglio, who works with SERPAJ-Mexico (Servicio Paz y Justicia/Peace and Justice Service), speaks in the video below about the caravan of migrants which is now crossing from Central America into Mexico. Pietro reminds us that the members of the caravan are people fleeing violence and poverty; they “refuse to be killed in the name of progress.” This caravan should be considered akin to the salt march in India led by Gandhi in 1930 and the March on Washington led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963.

Pietro calls on the Catholic bishops from Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States to join the migrants on their journey.

#ThisIsNonviolence

Transform violent relationships and structures within the Church

st-peters-basilica-01Oct2018

From the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative: “Active nonviolence is an effective way to engage the violences of our world, including the violence of sexual abuse that has led to the heartbreaking scandal in our church. The Catholic Church can make an essential contribution in response to this crisis by transforming violent relationships and structures in the church.”

European ecumenical network calls churches to nonviolence

Church and Peace, based in Germany, is the European ecumenical peace church network of communities, training centres, peace organisations and peace service agencies. The following article was published on the Church and Peace website.

29 June 2018 – Church and Peace has called the churches to make nonviolence their point of orientation on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. Path to ‘just peace’ must overcome logic of violence and investing in war step-by-step.

Meeting under the theme of Psalm 85:10 “Justice and Peace shall embrace”, the European ecumenical peace church network’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and international conference on 21-24 June in Hoddesdon, UK, took participants further on the ecumenical journey from ‘just war’ to ‘just peace’.

The gathering assembled 93 ecumenical pilgrims from Albania to Ireland, from France to Russia, with the aim of “journeying together for reconciliation in a fractured Europe”. They came from all corners of a Europe which is increasingly putting up walls of division and prioritizing a militarized quest for security. The delegates, representing a range of church traditions and organizations, were hosted by the Britain and Ireland region where Brexit is exposing and widening societal fractures and injustice. Continue reading European ecumenical network calls churches to nonviolence

Pax Christi International publishes nonviolence advocacy paper

From Pax Christi International:

In his message for the World Day of Peace on 1 January 2017, Pope Francis called for a renewed culture of nonviolence to inform global politics today, saying military responses to conflicts only breed more violence. In his statements to the international community and in meetings with world leaders from around the world, he has been recalling this important and timely call.

Pax Christi International has a long-term commitment to active nonviolence as a way of life and as an effective political strategy. We are therefore releasing a position paper calling the international community to support nonviolent policy options for sustainable peace. It further builds on the Pope’s message, the work of our Catholic Nonviolence Initiative project, the panel discussions on nonviolence we have organised in the EU and UN context in 2017, and the work of our members and partners.

We ask the international community that, instead of spending huge amounts on wars and weapons harming people and the planet, they invest their resources in policies that promote nonviolent approaches that have proven to be effective in reducing violence and conflict. Continue reading Pax Christi International publishes nonviolence advocacy paper

Bishop McElroy on Pope Francis’ commitment to planet, peace, poverty

In an essay published by America magazine on April 23, 2018, San Diego’s Bishop Robert McElroy writes about Pope Francis’ “contributions to Catholic social teaching have reflected the three Franciscan priorities of poverty, peace and the planet.” Bishop McElroy writes that the pope’s Latin American roots must be considered and respected when assessing his positions, as much as St. Pope John Paul II’s Eastern European roots were.

Bishop McElroy writes, “[One] element of the new lens that Pope Francis brings to Catholic teaching on poverty, peace and the planet is the reintegration of nonviolence into the heart of Catholic teaching on war and peace. … For most of the church’s history … nonviolence has been seen as a heroic though unrealistic choice, an eccentric part of our patrimony that was displaced by St. Augustine’s powerful logic of war as last resort.

“In his World Day of Peace message in 2017, Pope Francis … reiterated the contention of the early Christian community that Christ’s call to love of neighbor and enemy alike is, in an unrelenting way, incompatible with recourse to war. … Can the church do anything less than seek to construct a powerful and realistic politics of nonviolence rooted both in reality and in the words of the Lord himself?”

Photo used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International