Wednesday, 31 October 2018 14:59

Just War or Just Peace?

Written by Kevin Carroll
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Kevin Carroll – Nonviolence and Peace Fellow,
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

A project of Pax Christi International, The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, or CNI, is a global effort affirming the vision and practice of active nonviolence at the heart of the Catholic Church. It grew out of the landmark Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference held in Rome in April 2016, which was co-sponsored by the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Pax Christi International, and other organizations, including Maryknoll. Leaders include Ken Butigan of Pace e Bene and DePaul University, and Marie Dennis of Pax Christi International.

Attendees at Nonviolence and Just Peace conference at the Vatican

Attended by lay people, members of religious congregations, bishops, priests, and theologians from six continents, the conference called on:

  • Pope Francis to share with the world an encyclical on nonviolence, and
  • The Catholic Church to recommit to the centrality of Gospel nonviolence.

Rooted in the Christian scriptures and tradition, Gospel Nonviolence is a way of life and discipleship that expressly stands against violence without using violence; actively confronts evil; strives to engage, transform, and resolve conflict to foster reconciliation and unity; and tirelessly seeks justice, peace, and the well-being of all. Nonviolence is central to affirming and safeguarding the dignity and infinite worth of every human being, and to honoring and healing planet Earth, our common home.

CNI calls on the Church to:

  1. continue developing Catholic social teaching
    on nonviolence;
  2. 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);
  3. promote nonviolent practices and strategies (e.g., nonviolent resistance, restorative justice, trauma healing, unarmed civilian protection, conflict transformation, and peacebuilding strategies);
  4. initiate a global conversation on nonviolence—within the Church, with people of other faiths and no faith, and with the larger world, to respond to the monumental crises of our time with the vision and strategies of nonviolence;
  5. no longer use or teach the “just war theory” and continue advocating for the abolition of war and nuclear weapons;
  6. lift up the prophetic voice of the Church to challenge unjust world powers and support and defend those nonviolent activists whose work for peace and justice puts their lives at risk.

Actions Affiliates can take:

  • Read and sign the appeal as an individual or as an organization (https://nonviolencejustpeace.net/final-statement-an-appeal-to-the-catholic-church-to-re-commit-to-the-centrality-of-gospel-nonviolence/).
  • You can also support CNI at https://nonviolencejustpeace.net/support-the-catholic-nonviolence-initiative/.
  • Read Choosing Peace: The Catholic Church returns to Gospel Nonviolence, edited by Marie Dennis, which can be found at https://www.orbisbooks.com/choosing-peace.html.
  • Talk about the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative in your Affiliate Chapter or faith-sharing group.
  • Work on being more devoted to nonviolence in your own life and interactions.
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