Founding of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative
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).
Lay people, theologians, members of religious congregations, priests and bishops from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania gathered to call on the Catholic Church to take a clear stand for active nonviolence and against all forms of violence. In his message to the conference, Pope Francis said, “Your thoughts on revitalizing the tools of nonviolence, and of active nonviolence in particular, will be a needed and positive contribution.”
In this time of great violence and injustice, we invite people everywhere to join this powerful initiative by:
• Learning more about the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference
• Studying, endorsing and spreading the appeal
• Reading the background papers
• Studying and practicing Gospel nonviolence
• Getting involved in spreading, integrating and activating Gospel nonviolence in the Church and in your context
• Staying in touch
The conference’s final statement calls on the Church to:
• Continue developing Catholic social teaching on nonviolence. In particular, we call on Pope Francis to share with the world an encyclical on nonviolence and Just Peace;
• Integrate Gospel nonviolence explicitly into the life, including the sacramental life, and work of the Church through dioceses, parishes, agencies, schools, universities, seminaries, religious orders, voluntary associations, and others;
• Promote nonviolent practices and strategies (e.g., nonviolent resistance, restorative justice, trauma healing, unarmed civilian protection, conflict transformation and peacebuilding strategies);
• Initiate a global conversation on nonviolence within the Church, with people of other faiths, and with the larger world to respond to the monumental crises of our time with the vision and strategies of nonviolence and Just Peace;
• No longer use or teach “just war theory”; continue advocating for the abolition of war and nuclear weapons;
• Lift up the prophetic voice of the church to challenge unjust world powers and to support and defend those nonviolent activists whose work for peace and justice put their lives at risk.
See the full statement here: An appeal to the Catholic Church to re-commit to the centrality of Gospel nonviolence.
In addition to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International, the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference was sponsored by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Union of International Superiors General/Union of Superiors General, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Maryknoll missioners, St. Columban’s Mission Society, and Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service.
Participants brought a variety of items to express their commitment to nonviolence; the pieces were displayed on a table in the primary meeting room. Photo by Judy Coode