Since its founding in 2016, the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI), a project of Pax Christi International, has significantly advanced the conversation and understanding of nonviolence and just peace in the Catholic Church and beyond.
Formed after the April 2016 Nonviolence and Just Peace conference held in Rome, the CNI strives to see the Catholic Church help lead the world away from perpetual violence and war by an expanded investment of its intellectual, pastoral, academic, diplomatic, and financial resources in educating Catholics and society at large about active nonviolence as a practical and effective tool for building peace within families, local communities, nationally and globally.
A brief update on the past year
In April 2019, Pax Christi International, through the CNI, was honored to co-sponsor a two-day workshop at the Vatican, “Path of nonviolence: Towards a culture of peace,” which aimed to deepen and strengthen the Catholic Church’s understanding of and commitment to nonviolence.
Leading up to last year’s workshop, the CNI presented the participants and the Vatican with the findings from the five roundtables which had been convened in 2017-2018. These documents are a rich and deep exploration of the history, application and potential of nonviolence in the Church and in society at large. This material is now in the process of being published by Pax Christi International and should be available soon.
- In the past year, CNI has continued conversations with collegial organisations such as the Catholic Peacebuilding Network, the International Federation of Catholic Universities, Caritas Internationalis, Catholic Relief Services, Jesuit Refugee Service, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, among many others, and with bishops, archbishops and cardinals from the United States to Fiji and many locations in between.
- CNI steering committee members and other supporters organised or participated in university symposia and conferences. We were especially pleased that DePaul University’s Center for World Catholicism & Intercultural Theology (CWCIT) focused on nonviolence for its World Catholicism Week in May 2019; many speakers at the event were participants from our 2016 and 2019 Vatican conferences. Another major campus event was the Just Peacemaking Through Nonviolence conference at Seton Hall University on 30 September-1 October 2019.
- The key components of CNI were shared at two Vatican conferences in Rome: 1) in September on the Common Good in the Digital Age and 2) in December at a conference honouring the 10th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in veritate.
- Pax Christi International continues to organise and lead several training-of-trainers workshops on nonviolent strategies with communities in the Great Lakes region of Africa and held similar gatherings in several Latin American locations.
- Choosing Peace: The Catholic Church Returns to Gospel Nonviolence, edited by CNI executive committee member Marie Dennis, published by Orbis Books in 2018, was given the Catholic Social Teaching award from the Catholic Press Association.
- CNI was featured at a side event at the United Nations on the occasion of the International Day of Peace in September 2019.
- CNI leaders and supporters have been published in the Journal of Moral Theology, Catholic Moral Theology, National Catholic Reporter, Catholic News Service, Sojourners, Huffington Post, and many other media outlets, and have participated in webinars such as one focused on the efficacy of nonviolent resistance, hosted by the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict.
- Thousands of individuals and hundreds of organisations representing tens of thousands of members continue to endorse CNI’s statement from 2016, An appeal to the Catholic Church to re-commit to the centrality of Gospel nonviolence.