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 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

Webinar: CNI accomplishments and next steps, fall 2017

Watch/listen to this webinar here

Since its creation in 2016, CNI has celebrated a number of positive effects, such as Pope Francis’ 2017 World Day of Peace message, “Nonviolence: A style of politics for peace.” Other concrete actions, events, and dialogue have been ongoing, including dialogue with the Vatican. This webinar, recorded 7 November 2017,  provides an update on some particular accomplishments and concrete next steps to maintain energy around the CNI and offers practical examples of action we can take to help move this forward in different social spheres.

Moderator: Gerry Lee is director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns and member of the CNI executive committee.

  • Overview of CNI accomplishments: Judy Coode, coordinator of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.
  • Example of regional efforts: Jasmin Nario Galace, executive director of the Center for Peace Education at Miriam College and current president of Pax Christi-Pilipinas.
  • CNI’s next steps: Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International and member of the CNI executive committee.
  • CNI’s action guide: Eli McCarthy, director of Justice and Peace with the Conference of Superiors of Men and professor in Justice and Peace Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
  • Discussion

Listen to our previous webinars here.

CNI roundtables begin

Jasmin Nario-Galace, Eli McCarthy and Francisco DeRoux, SJ, at the April 2016 Nonviolence & Just Peace conference

September 2017 — The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI) is focused on promoting a renewed commitment to Gospel nonviolence at the heart of the Church, including the possibility of a new official teaching on nonviolence.

One part of our work toward this goal is to research and elaborate on the theological, scriptural, ecclesial and practical components of nonviolence. In order to do this, we have organized five “roundtables” each of which includes between 7-20 participants from around the world. Each roundtable, addressing a particular topic, ultimately will produce a well-curated document by the end of 2018; hopefully at that time, representatives from each group will meet for a second conference on nonviolence and just peace.

We’re humbled by the number of theologians and peace practitioners who have agreed to participate in these roundtables – all five groups have now started their work via online conversations. Continue reading CNI roundtables begin

ZODEVITE receives 2017 Pax Christi International peace award

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18 September 2017 – Pax Christi International is pleased to announce that ZODEVITE, the Movimiento Indígena del Pueblo Creyente Zoque en Defensa de la Vida y la Tierra (the Indigenous Movement of the Zoque Believing People in Defense of Life and the Earth), based in Chiapas, Mexico, is the recipient of the 2017 Pax Christi International Peace Award.

The award will be presented at a ceremony at the Istituto Maria SS. Bambina (Via Paolo VI, 21) in Rome, Italy at 18.00, Sunday, 29 October.

ZODEVITE is part of a wider movement, MOVEDITE, composed of indigenous groups, that in recent years has waged a nonviolent campaign to stop fracking, oil exploitation and mining business in southern Mexico.

In the past year, Pax Christi International has increased its commitment to nonviolence in all its forms, in relationship to all of creation including the Earth itself, and has formed the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative in order to promote and educate about nonviolence within the church and beyond.

“It is deeply important that we expand our understanding about the many applications and expressions of nonviolence,” said Greet Vanaerschot, secretary general of Pax Christi International. “The efforts of ZODEVITE to resist the exploitation of the land and to promote the dignity of the people of Chiapas serve as an excellent model of active nonviolence.” Continue reading ZODEVITE receives 2017 Pax Christi International peace award

Just war? Enough already.

The following is an excerpt from an article by Gerald Schlabach, published on May 31, 2017 by Commonweal magazine.

Photo of Tyne Cot Commonwealth cemetery (Belgium) by Johnny Zokovitch.

A question for sports fans: What would you make of a coach who drills his team exclusively on last-minute desperation plays, while neglecting the basics? What would you make of players whose whole mindset was geared toward spectacular buzzer-beaters, but couldn’t play sound defense? In much the same manner, a church whose members never train themselves in nonviolent social strategies for resisting injustice or protecting the vulnerable — while their leaders spend centuries focused mainly on “exceptional” last-resort situations of the kind envisioned in just-war doctrine — is way off its game. Or in the wrong game altogether.

A year ago I participated in the Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference, an historic event organized by Pax Christi International and co-sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in Rome. At its close, the conference issued an appeal to the Catholic Church, urging that it “re-commit to the centrality of Gospel nonviolence.” The document reflected the consensus of eighty-some attendees from more than thirty countries—lay people, theologians, religious, and priests, including six bishops—that the church must abandon its reliance on “just-war” theory. By dedicating his 2017 World Day of Peace message to the theme, “Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace,” Pope Francis has signaled that church leadership is listening.

What is so wrong with the just-war theory? The answer lies in the way it overlooks and even undermines alternative approaches. The critique that emerged at the meeting was that while many Christians have come to assume that Jesus’ nonviolent teachings are impractical in the face of violence, they know little about the practice, power, or effectiveness of those teachings. When Pope John Paul II looked back on the 1989 revolution that brought down the Soviet empire, he did not credit Ronald Reagan or Mikhail Gorbachev, but resolute nonviolent action by ordinary people. And rightly so. Political-science researchers Maria Stephan (a participant at the Rome conference) and Erica Chenoweth have extensively surveyed conflicts around the world since 1900 and found that nonviolent resistance campaigns have been twice as successful as violent struggles. …

Read the entire article here.

U.S. Catholics: Write your bishop to encourage his support of active nonviolence

Updated July 5, 2017

“Instruments of reconciliation” is a new national campaign to amplify active nonviolence in the U.S. Catholic Church. Catholics in other parts of the world might adapt the information for their local situations.

Please use this form to let the campaign know if you take action.

Catholics in the United States are asked to choose a date in July (see suggestions below) to share their hope for greater teaching and commitment to active nonviolence with their bishop and to invite him to affirm active nonviolence as the “nucleus of the Christian revolution” by 1) sharing and speaking about Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message broadly within their diocese, seminaries, and other ministries and 2) concretely committing to an initiative to scale-up practices of active nonviolence. Continue reading U.S. Catholics: Write your bishop to encourage his support of active nonviolence