CATHOLIC NONVIOLENCE INITIATIVE: "Choosing Peace", a new book by Pax Christi International Co-President Marie Dennis examines the Catholic Church's return to gospel nonviolence
10/5/18 - The new book, Choosing Peace: The Catholic Church Returns to Gospel Nonviolence, by Pax Christi International Co-President Marie Dennis, has just been published by Orbis Books in the United States.
In the five years of Pope Francis’s pontificate, a quiet revolution has been underway in the Catholic Church’s approach to issues of war and peace: a recovery of the centrality of the tradition of active nonviolence and a growing commitment to just, integral peace for all peoples. Among the milestones was an historic conference hosted at the Vatican in 2016, with support from Pope Francis, which gathered 80 peacemakers from around the world.
Choosing Peace gathers key papers prepared for that conference, including those by Lisa Sowle Cahill (Boston College), Terrence J. Rynne (Sally and Terry Rynne Foundation), and activists John Dear and Ken Butigan, Rose Marie Berger, and Maria J. Stephan, along with reflections from participants from around the globe. Together they advance the conversation about the practice of nonviolence in a violent world, Jesus and nonviolence, traditional Catholic teaching on nonviolence, and reflections on the future of Catholic teaching in a world desperately in need of justice and peace.
Some of the most compelling stories in Choosing Peace are those from church leaders and activists from violent conflict zones. Among the many moving voices:
From Fr. James Oyet Latansio, general secretary of the South Sudan Council of Churches:
“I was born in war; I grew up in war; I went to school in war. I was ordained a priest during war—the bishop hesitated as he was imposing the hand on me because there were artillery bombs flying over the Cathedral. So, my life has been always surrounded by violence.”
From Iraqi Dominican Sister Nazik Matty, whose community was expelled from Mosul by ISIS:
“It was encouraging to see such active presence of the church, not passive, but active. We can’t respond to violence with worse violence. This encourages the spiral of violence up and up."
From Rania Murra from the Arab Educational Institute in Bethlehem:
“I believe that we have several strategies available to deepen and widen the practice of nonviolence in the worldwide Catholic community. All require our energy.”
From Fr. Nandana Manatunga, Sri Lanka:
“The nonviolent witness of Christians contributes to the building up of peace in a way that force cannot, discerning the difference between the cowardice which gives in to evil and the violence which under the illusion of fighting evil, only makes it worse.”