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

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.

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

Pope Francis condemns nuclear weapons; dismantlement is “moral imperative”

On 10-11 November 2017, the Vatican hosted a conference entitled “Perspectives for a World Free from Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament.”

A large delegation from Pax Christi participated in the conference, including Marie Dennis, co-president of the Pax Christi International board; senior policy adviser for Pax Christi International Fr. Paul Lansu; and Pax Christi UK general secretary Pat Gaffney, to name only three.

During the gathering, Pope Francis gave a strong and clear condemnation of nuclear weapons: “Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family.” Continue reading Pope Francis condemns nuclear weapons; dismantlement is “moral imperative”

Holy Cross family releases statement on nonviolence and Just Peace

Following is a press release from the Holy Cross International Justice Office

October 2017 — In a world reeling from violence, the leaders of the four Congregations of Holy Cross sisters, brothers and priests have issued a joint statement on nonviolence and Just Peace, declaring that “Jesus taught us to respond to violence with love and forgiveness” and committing to abide by his words and example.

The statement calls the four Holy Cross congregations to collaboratively take specific actions to reject violence in its multiple forms, including violent responses to conflict, particularly war and terrorism; denial of human and civil rights; economic and military policies that exacerbate poverty and inequality; degradation of natural resources and ecosystems; and violent and disrespectful political discourse.

According to the statement, Holy Cross sisters, brothers and priests will collaborate in support of actions and policies that: promote nonviolent means of conflict resolution; disallow discrimination; generate an equitable economic system for all; foster a culture of global solidarity and Just Peace*; and Protect Earth and Life in all its diversity. Continue reading Holy Cross family releases statement on nonviolence and Just Peace