Nonviolence: The Path to Integral Peace
Pax Christi is moving Catholics to bridge the gap between a violent world and effective nonviolent strategies for transforming conflicts.
More than a year in the making, the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference, held in Rome from April 11-13, 2016, brought together more than 80 people for an unprecedented gathering to discuss the Catholic Church’s history of and commitment to nonviolence. The focus was on the experience of those from the global South and areas of conflict.
Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)
Pax Christi’s Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI) is mobilizing the Catholic Church and 1.3 billion Catholics to build bridges between communities devastated by war and structural violence with experience of nonviolent approaches to conflict transformation and the teaching of the Catholic Church which has the capacity to amplify and validate nonviolence as the moral and effective way of solving violent conflict.
Pope Francis’ leadership of the Catholic Church represents an extraordinary opportunity to catalyze the substantial interest – in the Church and beyond – in nonviolence as a way of life and a powerful force for transforming conflicts.
The CNI has three main goals:
1. Engage the Vatican to support Pope Francis in writing an encyclical on nonviolence as an enduring base in Catholic social thought for a commitment to Gospel nonviole into the life—including the sacramental life—and work of the Church through Catholic educational institutions and formation programs, including seminaries, universities, colleges, and secondary and primary schools to ensure a widespread positive response from across the Faith.
2. Gather and galvanize leading Catholic theologians, academics, and experienced peace practitioners from the global North and the global South to develop a revised Catholic moral framework for the prevention of violence and the protection of threatened persons that moves beyond the language of just war and is essential to an encyclical on nonviolence.
3. Increase grassroots Catholic engagement in different contexts and with different experiences of violence around the world in the development of effective nonviolent practices and strategies for transforming conflict, preventing violence and protecting vulnerable communities; empower Pax Christi regional networks to strengthen local ownership and grassroots connections and provide a contextually appropriate vision of and leadership for nonviolent routes to just, integral peace.
Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)
The Catholic community who will become key actors for the promotion of nonviolent alternatives to violent conflict. For example:
Youth directly affected by violence being trained in Gospel nonviolence in the Africa Great Lakes region by our 16 Member Organizations in DR Congo, Burundi and Rwanda, involved in building nonviolent alternatives to conflict with the leadership of dioceses in Kinshasa, Goma, Kinsangani and Bukavu. Local indigenous communities such as the Zoque people in Chiapas Mexico, and environmental NGOs, supported by our Member Organizations in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay and Chile who are countering the negative impact of extractive industries. Catholic youth in Manila and Muslim youth in Mindanao where Pax Christi Philippines is bridging divisions that can lead to violence. Former gang members in Haiti learning nonviolence as a way of life through sports and gardening.
How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)
The bridges we are building between leading Catholic thinkers, the Vatican, and mainstream Catholics and nonviolence are utterly unique. Previous approaches to promoting active nonviolence in the Church have been limited to a specific context; to a relatively limited “peace” sector of the Church; or to nonviolence as an aspect of personal spirituality.
Pax Christi is replacing simplistic ideas about nonviolent action as utopian with more accurate, expanded, and evidence-based information about effective nonviolent tools – from diplomacy to trauma healing, restorative justice to nonviolent civilian protection, civil resistance to nonviolent communication – that will lay the groundwork for a more peaceful world.
As the global Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi’s Catholic Nonviolence Initiative is uniquely positioned to influence directly the institutional Catholic Church while also working at the grassroots and international policy level for the promotion of cultures of peace.
Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)
Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.
Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)
Pax Christi International is a Catholic peace movement with 120 member organisations worldwide that promotes peace, respect of human rights, justice & reconciliation throughout the world.
Grounded in the belief that peace is possible and that vicious cycles of violence and injustice can be broken, Pax Christi International addresses the root causes & destructive consequences of violent conflict and war.
Organization Filing Status
Yes, we are a registered non-profit.
In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.
The scene is painfully familiar: North Korea and the U.S. are posturing, with nuclear weapons in the mix; hundreds of thousands of Syrians are under siege in al-Raqqa; women are in danger from unrelenting violence in South Sudan and the DR Congo; another young African American is killed in a war on U.S. streets.
The human community simply cannot sustain the levels of war and violence that have such unconscionable consequences. Empirical research demonstrates there are nonviolent alternatives.
Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).
Pax Christi has deep roots in the Catholic tradition and access to Catholic leaders around the world. The Church has huge capacity worldwide to educate and activate millions of people through dioceses, parishes, schools, universities, seminaries, religious orders, media and diplomatic channels.
Pax Christi’s actions are informed by the experience of our members - by their courageous work on the ground tackling the root causes of violence and developing effective nonviolent tools to stop and prevent violence. For example, in the Philippines our member organization is nonviolently resisting extra-judicial killings; in the DR Congo members are developing nonviolent strategies to stop the illegal recruitment of youth by armed actors; in Europe they are challenging the root causes of the refugee crises.
Through the CNI, our members with others living in contexts of violence, based on their experience are influencing the Church to recommit to the centrality of Gospel nonviolence.
Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)
The 120 Pax Christi member organizations around the world are incorporating the CNI vision into their own strategies. CNI is led by Pax Christi, also working in close partnership with prominent Catholic organisations such as the Unions of Superiors General in Rome, many religious congregations including Maryknoll and the Columbans, plus Pace e Bene and Sojourners. Numerous Catholic universities are engaged and we are also in good communication with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
Two examples: Pax Christi International in 2013-14 led a project reintegrating ex-combatants into Africa Great Lakes communities, including the creation of micro-credit projects in support of their livelihoods. And in 2016 we cosponsored with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace a conference in Rome on nonviolence and just peace that initiated the CNI.
Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)
Pax Christi is best positioned to lead this initiative because:
• We bring over 70 years of expertise in active nonviolence, policy advocacy, and coalition-building.
• We have over 120-member organizations worldwide that – based on their own experience with nonviolent action in dangerous contexts – are united in an effort to promote nonviolence as a way of life and a powerful tool for conflict transformation.
• We have extensive relationships within the Vatican and women and men, worldwide.
Global scope contextualized through our regional networks - especially in Africa and Latin America.
How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)
24 months to bring the results of a global consultation process now underway to a conference in Rome on nonviolence and just peace; work with Catholic universities to promote the inclusion of nonviolence education in peace studies curricula and research into the effectiveness of different nonviolent strategies; build bridges to contextually specific, effective examples of nonviolent action evidenced by our regional work; complete trainings with local communities in Africa and Latin America.
Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)