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.
The overall goal of the CNI is that the Catholic Church, rooted in faith, will lead the world away from perpetual violence and war by expanding its investment in its intellectual, pastoral, academic, diplomatic and financial resources in developing and promoting nonviolent practices and strategies. The Church also will educate Catholics and society at large about active nonviolence as a spirituality, a way of life, a universal ethic, and a practical and effective tool for building peace within families, local communities, nationally and globally
Participants in the 2016 Nonviolence and Just Peace conference brought a variety of items to express their commitment to nonviolence; the pieces were displayed on a table in the primary meeting room.
This initiative 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.”
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 (for example, 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.
Conference sponsors. 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.
A second gathering, co-sponsored by Pax Christi International and the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (into which the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace had been folded), was held in April 2019. Find more information about this event, including background papers and more, here.
Learn more, get involved
In this time of great violence and injustice, we invite you to:
• Learn more about the 2016 Nonviolence and Just Peace conference and 2019 Path of nonviolence, toward a culture of peace workshop.
• Study, endorse and spread the 2016 Appeal to the Catholic Church
• Study and practice Gospel nonviolence, starting with our frequently asked questions
• Get involved in spreading, integrating and activating Gospel nonviolence in the Church and in your context
• Stay in touch