Nonviolence nurtures hope, can renew the Church

The following statement was affirmed by most of the participants at the 2019 Path of Nonviolence: Towards a culture of peace workshop, sponsored by Pax Christi International and held at the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. (Photo of 2019 workshop by Johnny Zokovitch)

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As Christians committed to faithfully following in the footsteps of Jesus, we are called to take a clear stand for active nonviolence and against all forms of violence. In this spirit, people from many nations gathered for Path of Nonviolence: Towards a Culture of Peace, a consultation held at the Holy See’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on April 4-5, 2019 in Rome. This was an important follow-up to the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference held in Rome in April 2016 co-sponsored by the then-Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International.

Our recent gathering of people of God from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, Europe, and the Americas included lay people, theologians, members of religious congregations, priests, bishops, and cardinals. Many of us live in communities experiencing violence and oppression. All of us are practitioners of justice and peace.

We are grateful for the special focus that Pope Francis has placed on the spiritual and practical power of active nonviolence to promote integral human development and cultures of peace, including through the 2017 World Day of Peace message on “Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace,” where he proclaimed: “To be true followers of Jesus today…includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence.” We know that Jesus consistently practiced nonviolence in a context that was extremely violent, but “nonviolence was not just a response to particular situations in the life of Jesus – it was the whole life of Jesus” (Cardinal Peter Turkson, University of San Diego, October 7, 2017). Continue reading Nonviolence nurtures hope, can renew the Church

NCR: Archbishop Chong advocates nonviolence

Published in the National Catholic Reporter, October 8, 2019

Fiji archbishop advocates nonviolence to help stabilize social unrest
by Rose Marie Berger

In late September, thousands of schoolchildren stayed home from school in Suva, the capital city of Fiji, due to rumors of “public unrest” circulating on social media. According to FBC News, people who started fake news stories likely intended to hurt the country “economically and politically” by creating panic and shutting down work. Fiji’s religious leaders acted promptly to calm, instruct and stabilize the population, which is largely Protestant, Hindu, Roman Catholic and Muslim.

“Because of the 1987, 2000, and 2006 coups,” said Catholic Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, “Fiji has been labelled as a country with a coup culture. The coup culture paradigm claims that coups and violence will help politicians and activists achieve their political goals.” However, Chong explained, “studies on political resistance and campaigns show that violent methods have a low success rate.”

Chong, president of the Federation of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania and a member of Pax Christi International’s Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, addressed the religious path of nonviolence in his message posted to Facebook on Sept. 28:

“God’s vision for humanity is the nonviolent life: to make peace with one another; resist the violence and injustice that threaten or destroy this peace; and foster a Church and world where the fullness of this peace is the birthright of all. Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King were all social transformers who were practitioners of nonviolence. Peace and nonviolence are fundamental values of the world’s classic religions. Jesus proclaimed a nonviolent vision and showed us a way to live it, even in the midst of violence and oppression. He taught us the unconditional love of neighbor. Jesus called his disciples to love their enemies (Matthew 5:44), which includes respecting the image of God in all persons; to offer no violent resistance to one who does evil (Matthew 5:39); to become peacemakers; to forgive and repent; and to be abundantly merciful (Matthew 5-7).” Continue reading NCR: Archbishop Chong advocates nonviolence

CNI update, August 2019

Photo from April 2019 workshop by Johnny Zokovitch

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In April, the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, through its parent organisation, Pax Christi International, hosted a gathering, Path of Nonviolence: Towards a Culture of Peace, at the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in Rome. Approximately 75 theologians, peace practitioners, bishops, archbishops, social scientists, educators, and pastoral ministry workers met for two days to share a deeper conversation about mainstreaming nonviolence in the Church and in society.

CNI is a project of Pax Christi International, which now has two new co-presidents, Bishop Marc Stenger (Troyes, France) and Sr. Wamuyu Wachira, IBVM (Nairobi, Kenya). Learn more about Bishop Stenger and Sr. Wachira and their shared commitment to nonviolence in these articles from Catholic News Service and the National Catholic Reporter.

Choosing Peace, a compilation of essays on nonviolence and just peace, and other documents in support of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, edited by CNI executive committee member Marie Dennis, was awarded the 2019 Catholic Social Teaching book from the Catholic Press Association. It is available from Orbis Books.

Pax Christi UK has created a five-session study guide (in English) to enhance your reading of Choosing Peace. The study guide is available for free download from the Pax Christi UK website. Continue reading CNI update, August 2019

Choose just peace framework to respond to conflict with Iran

The following essay, written by Eli McCarthy, was published in The Hill, a newspaper focused on the U.S. Congress. McCarthy, a professor at Georgetown University in Justice and Peace Studies as well as the director of Justice and Peace for CMSM, which serves the U.S. leadership of Catholic men’s religious institutes, serves on the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative steering committee and coordinates the Washington, D.C. Peace Team.

As key leaders in the United States government escalate another conflict with threats of violence, we must find a creative way to avoid another war and transform the conflict into an opportunity for mutual growth.

How can we do this? We can shift our approach and reasoning to a just peace framework. This offers more creative possibilities and potential for sustainable peace. Continue reading Choose just peace framework to respond to conflict with Iran

“Choosing Peace” study guide

Thanks to Pax Christi UK for creating a study guide to accompany Choosing Peace, a compilation of essays on nonviolence and just peace and other documents in support of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative. The study guide is available for free download from the Pax Christi UK website.Dennis Choosing Peace Final

Before you begin: To understand how Choosing Peace came about, read the Acknowledgements section right at the start of the book. The five sessions of the quick study guide will help you dip into selected parts of the book to help understand five key areas. The book is rich with wisdom and witness. We hope you will be inspired to read more of it.

Choosing Peace was published by Orbis Books.

Faith leaders, peace practitioners deepen Church’s commitment to nonviolence and peace

Vatican City – On 4-5 April, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. for Promoting Integral Human Development and Pax Christi International’s Catholic Nonviolence Initiative organized a workshop on the theme, “Path of Nonviolence: Towards a Culture of Peace.”

Final statement affirmed by workshop participants (in English, français, español)

Cardinal Peter Turkson’s opening remarks

Additional materials presented at the workshop are available here

With a consideration and understanding of current situations of conflict and violence, participants engaged in dialogue about the roots of violence, the hope for peace and reconciliation, and reflected on paths to a conversion to nonviolence. They noted that nonviolence is not only a method but a way of life, a way to protect and care for the conditions of life for today and tomorrow.

“Our conversations on nonviolence and peace filled our hearts and minds with a consideration of the dignity of each person – young people, women and men, people who are impoverished, citizens and leaders,” said Mons. Bruno Marie Duffé, Secretary of the Dicastery. “Nonviolence and peace call us to a conversion to receive and to give, to gather and to hope.”

“Pax Christi International deeply appreciates the support and participation of the Dicastery in this workshop, which has been a significant and positive step in the work of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative,” said Marie Dennis, Co-president of Pax Christi International. “We are touched by the interventions from all the participants, who reiterated the importance of nonviolence rooted in respect, patience and spiritual strength.” Continue reading Faith leaders, peace practitioners deepen Church’s commitment to nonviolence and peace

Accompaniment on U.S.-Mexico border

From CNI steering committee member Eli McCarthy:

(Updated) On Dec. 15, 2018, a trained group providing protective accompaniment joined a large posadas gathering at the San Diego/Tijuana border.

Las Posadas is a Christmas tradition, primarily within the Hispanic community, celebrated December 16-24. It is a processional ceremony which re-enacts the Holy Family’s search for welcome at the time of Jesus’ birth.

Some basic goals of protective accompaniment are:
1) Accompany those most in need
2) Prevent and defuse hostility/violence
3) Interrupt de-humanization
4) Re-humanize and cultivate empathy Continue reading Accompaniment on U.S.-Mexico border