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

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?”

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“Choosing Peace” now available

From Orbis Books:

“Choosing Peace: The Catholic Church returns to Gospel nonviolence,” edited by Marie Dennis, is now available from Orbis Books.

In recent years the Catholic Church’s approach to issues of war and peace has refocused on the tradition of nonviolence and peacebuilding in place of the traditional framework of Just War teaching. Among the milestones was an historic conference hosted at the Vatican in 2016, which gathered 80 peacemakers from around the world.

Watch this short video about Choosing Peace.

Drawn from the conference and presented here are contributions by many of the participants, including Lisa Sowle Cahill, Terrence J. Rynne, John Dear, Ken Butigan, Rose Marie Berger, and Maria J. Stephan, among others. Together they advance the conversation about the practice of nonviolence in a violent world, Jesus and nonviolence, traditional Catholic teaching on nonviolence, and reflections on the future of Catholic teaching. The book concludes with Pope Francis’s historic Message for World Peace Day in 2017.

Marie Dennis is co-president of Pax Christi International and author of many books, including The Diversity of Vocations (2008) and (as co-author) St. Francis and the Foolishness of God (2015) and Oscar Romero: Reflections on His Life and Writings (Orbis 2000), all from Orbis Books.

Baltimore’s Archbishop Lori promotes King’s principles of nonviolence

Image from Archdiocese of Baltimore

On February 14, 2018, Ash Wednesday, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Maryland, released a pastoral letter entitled, The enduring power of Dr. Martin Luther King’s principles of nonviolence.

In his reflection, Archbishop Lori writes that he hopes that Dr. King’s principles of nonviolence, honed in the civil rights movement of the United States, will shape the consciousness of the Catholic Church.

The teaching document addresses the riots that shook Baltimore in 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray Jr., who died from injuries while in police custody. It encourages a serious examination for U.S. Catholics of Kingian nonviolence — including reflection questions tied to each of Dr. King’s principles of nonviolence — and ties this philosophy to the history of Catholic witness and presence in Baltimore as well as to “Safe Streets,” an current evidence-based, trauma-informed, anti-violence project carried out in partnership with Catholic Charities. Continue reading Baltimore’s Archbishop Lori promotes King’s principles of nonviolence

International Women’s Day, 8 March: Thank Pope Francis for his leadership on peace and nonviolence

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Pax Christi International and the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative are deeply grateful to Pope Francis for his consistently strong condemnation of nuclear weapons and the vicious arms trade. His clarity on and commitment to peace and nonviolence are wonderful gift to our movement.

This year for International Women’s Day (8 March), we invite women to send a thank-you message to Pope Francis, in appreciation for his leadership on these issues. We want him to know that we are listening to and affirming his words.

Please share this online “postcard” with women in your communities and networks and ask them to sign this thank-you message. We will collect the responses over the next month, and will deliver the names and personal notes to the Vatican on 8 March. Continue reading International Women’s Day, 8 March: Thank Pope Francis for his leadership on peace and nonviolence