Making an impact
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. Here are just a few ways we’ve made an impact in four short years.
- This year has been shaped by the Covid-19 pandemic. Fear, anxiety and instability have grown, almost one million people worldwide have died and millions more have been infected. Pope Francis has been deeply affected by this global crisis, and has embraced the opportunity to guide us to a new reality of true solidarity and justice — we cannot return to the previous social systems. Pax Christi International and its Catholic Nonviolence Initiative has been honored to participate in the Vatican’s Covid-19 commission. Pax Christi International/CNI has contributed several essays on the theme of structural violences that have been exposed by Covid-19. Other essays will be posted as they become available.
- CNI has helped shape and lead a virtual table for Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC), bringing together ethicists from different regions of the world to discuss nonviolence and just peace.
- CNI offers the first annual commemoration of the Catholic Nonviolence Days of Action, 21 September-2 October.
- The CNI steering committee and other supporters organized and participated in events such as DePaul University’s Center for World Catholicism & Intercultural Theology (CWCIT) World Catholicism Week, the “Just Peacemaking Through Nonviolence” conference at Seton Hall University, and a major congress on active nonviolence sponsored by Pax Christi Germany.
- Choosing Peace: The Catholic Church Returns to Gospel Nonviolence, edited by CNI executive committee member Marie Dennis, was published by Orbis Books and won the Catholic Social Teaching award from the Catholic Press Association.
- The CNI was featured at a United Nations side-event on the occasion of International Day of Peace.
- Pax Christi Pilipinas has worked toward including a module on Recommitting to Gospel Nonviolence in a training manual to be published by the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP) on Justice and Peace Education
- We organised or participated in university conferences, including at Leuven (Belgium), Tilburg (Netherlands), Georgetown (USA), San Diego (USA), DePaul (USA), Miriam College (Philippines), and elsewhere.
- In the Philippines, during February’s World Interfaith Harmony Week, CNI speakers stressed the values of nonviolence during a panel that addressed both gun violence and the Mindanao peace process.
- The Philippines’ Catholic Education Association manual now includes a module on the nonviolent life and message of Jesus and the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.
- Pax Christi International organised and led 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.
- For International Women’s Day, Pax Christi International invited women to send a message to Pope Francis, thanking him for his leadership on issues of nonviolence and peace, especially for his strong words condemning nuclear weapons and the arms trade. The online “postcard” was available to send in English, Spanish, Italian and French; more than 1,100 women — from all over the world — signed.
- The CNI initiated five roundtables, with virtually equal representation of men and women, bringing together around 60 participants from around the world. We also initiated five related special research projects to create material that will be brought together in a text that we hope can be used as a Church teaching on nonviolence and peace.
- The CNI participated in several university events, including a dialogue at the University of San Diego (USA) between military leaders and Catholic thinkers. We also participated in a consortium on nonviolence in the Catholic tradition at DePaul University’s Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology (USA).
- Resources anticipating Pope Francis’s World Day of Peace message, “Nonviolence: A style of politics for peace”, were developed, including prayer and liturgical resources; background papers on nonviolence, just peace and related topics; suggested actions; and social media messages.
- Presentations were given at venues around the world, including at conferences and events in the UK, the Philippines, Kenya, Australia, Japan, Pakistan, the U.S. and elsewhere.
- Four webinars, each one hour long, were held, focusing on a distinct theme from the conference, attracting 100 participants at each, with hundreds more watching the webinars on YouTube.
- A regional consultation in Johannesburg, South Africa with member organisations from across the continent focused on the theme of nonviolence and included those member organisations affirming the appeal that came out of the Rome conference in April.