Advancing Nonviolence and Just Peace in the Church and the World is the fruit of a global, participatory process facilitated from 2017-2018 by the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI), a project of Pax Christi International, to deepen Catholic understanding of and commitment to Gospel nonviolence.
Edited by: Rose Marie Berger, Ken Butigan, Judy Coode, MarieDennis
This book includes biblical, theological, ethical, pastoral and strategic resources that might serve as a contribution to Catholic thought on nonviolence.
The film above has been created to recognize the day and the words of collaborators for the National Day of Mourning for Indigenous peoples. It includes explanations about the history and reverberations of the Day of Mourning by Dr. Stephanie Pratt and Marial Quezada and a poignant reading of Frank James’ suppressed text which he wrote for the 350th anniversary of the Mayflower’s sailing, which he was not allowed to read. 2020 marks the 400th commemoration of the arrival of the Mayflower. #NoNewWorlds
400 years after English Protestant separatists landed in Wampanoag territory in November 1620, let us tell the story rightly and truly.
THE SUPPRESSED SPEECH OF WAMSUTTA JAMES
Three hundred fifty years after the English Pilgrims began their invasion of the land of the Wampanoag, their “American” descendants planned an anniversary celebration (1970). Still clinging to the white schoolbook myth of friendly relations between their ancestors and the Indigenous Wampanoag, the anniversary planners thought it would be nice to have an Indian make an appreciative and complimentary speech at their state dinner. Wamsutta James was asked to speak at the celebration. He accepted. The planners, however , asked to see his speech in advance of the occasion, and it turned out that his views — based on history rather than English supremacy and myth — were not what the Pilgrims’ descendants wanted to hear. Wamsutta refused to deliver a replacement speech given to him by a public relations person. Wamsutta James did not speak at the anniversary celebration. Below is the prophetic speech he was never able to give:
I speak to you as a man — a Wampanoag Man. I am a proud man, proud of my ancestry, my accomplishments won by a strict parental direction (“You must succeed – your face is a different color in this small Cape Cod community!”). I am a product of poverty and discrimination from these two social and economic diseases. I, and my brothers and sisters, have painfully overcome, and to some extent we have earned the respect of our community. We are Indians first – but we are termed “good citizens.” Sometimes we are arrogant but only because society has pressured us to be so.
It is with mixed emotion that I stand here to share my thoughts. This is a time of celebration for you – celebrating an anniversary of a beginning for the white man in America. A time of looking back, of reflection. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People.
Even before the Pilgrims landed it was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them as slaves for 220 shillings apiece. The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans. Mourt’s Relation describes a searching party of sixteen men. Mourt goes on to say that this party took as much of the Indians’ winter provisions as they were able to carry.
Massasoit, the great Sachem of the Wampanoag, knew these facts, yet he and his People welcomed and befriended the settlers of the Plymouth Plantation. Perhaps he did this because his Tribe had been depleted by an epidemic. Or his knowledge of the harsh oncoming winter was the reason for his peaceful acceptance of these acts. This action by Massasoit was perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end; that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people.
What happened in those short 50 years? What has happened in the last 300 years?
Advancing Nonviolence and Just Peace in the Church and World is the groundbreaking Catholic “peoples encyclical” on nonviolence as the forward-looking theology, spirituality, and practice for the Church when engaging issues of violence and developing peace.
120 theologians, social scientists, biblical scholars, grassroots practitioners, and pastoral leaders across 39 countries met over three years to discern how to return nonviolence to the heart of the Catholic Church.
Advancing Nonviolence is edited by Rose Marie Berger, Ken Butigan, Judy Coode, and Marie Dennis and published by Pax Christi International. All proceeds support the work of Pax Christi International.
What are people saying about Advancing Nonviolence?
“We need to mainstream nonviolence in the Church. We need to move it from the margins of Catholic thought to the center. Nonviolence is a spirituality, a lifestyle, a program of societal action and a universal ethic.”–Bishop Robert McElroy, San Diego
“In reading Advancing Nonviolence, I was moved by the gift we have been given through the gospel, tradition, and teachings of peace and nonviolence.”–Josianne Gauthier, Secretary General, CIDSE
“Active, compassionate and cooperative nonviolence is essential for our future survival. This book helps chart that path.”–Tiffany Easthom, Nonviolent Peaceforce
“The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, on behalf of Pax Christi International, has now put together a significant, integral argument for advancing nonviolence globally. While discussions on just war have had such texts for centuries, it is hard to say that the movement for Catholics supporting nonviolence have had such a foundational text of compelling resources until now.”–James Keenan, S.J., Boston College
Item Weight: 13 oz. Paperback: 322 pages Paperback ISBN: 978-178456-716-3 Dimensions: 5.75 x .75 x 8.25 inches Publisher: Pax Christi International (October 2020) Language: English
“The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?”–Soren Kierkegaard, Provocations: Spiritual Writings
The freedom struggle of the American south was built upon the firm foundation of Christian nonviolence. Here are the ten commandments of nonviolence that formed the basis of the pledge that Dr. King and others committed to as they engaged in courageous confrontation, wise and strategic organizing, and gentle, fierce service to a larger vision of equal justice under law and democracy that reflected the Beloved Community.
Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
Remember always that the non-violent movement seeks justice and reconciliation – not victory.
Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
Pray daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free.
Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all men might be free.
Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.
Seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.
Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.
Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.
Follow the directions of the movement and of the captain on a demonstration.
“The Torah portion this coming Shabbat is called “Va’yera” after its first word, which means “was seen” or “became visible.” The opening sentence (Genesis 18:1) reads like this:
“Now YHWH [the Interbreathing Spirit of the World] was seen by him [by Avraham} in the oaks of Mamre as he was sitting at the entrance to his tent at the heat of the day.”
First let me say, “in the oaks of Mamre” is an unconventional but utterly reasonable translation of “b’elonai.” Most translators say “by the oaks” because they want to point to three men who are about to appear as messengers of God, making God visible, and they are uncomfortable with the notion that God may be visible in the trees themselves. But most of the time in the Bible,” b’” means “in.”
How could God be visible in that forest? If “YHWH” is the Breath of Life, the Wind of change, the Spirit of the world, then the rustling of leaves in that forest, blown by the Wind, would make visible the Wind that is about to change the life of Abraham and Sarah and the world.
Secondly, in our own generation the scientists at last have taught us– – and perhaps long ago wise human beings knew the deep truth – that trees use chemicals to communicate with each other, that they help each other when some of them are in danger, that they breathe out the oxygen we need to breathe in and they breathe in the CO2 we breathe out.
When in Deuteronomy 20:19 Torah asks, “Are the trees of the field human?” we thought the question was tongue-in-cheek and that the answer was obviously No. But perhaps if being “human” means communicating wisdom across generations the answer is obviously “Yes!” (Consult Richard Powers’ insightful novel The Overstory.)
I have several times led prayer circles where I have invited people as part of the service to seek out a tree and listen to it breathe, then hear the tree’s own prayer, then come back to the community and share the tree’s prayer. When a dozen people do this, each prayer is unique, the prayers are as different as you can imagine — and profoundly “spiritual.”
Finally, how many of us have seen God become visible in a forest, a river, a bird, a cloud of fireflies? Time for us to welcome these bearers of life into the minyan, the quorum that makes prayer possible. Indeed, there could be no minyan without them.”–Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center
So a Bahai and a Catholic walk into the voting booth … both consider social justice as foundational to their faith. What happens next?
InterfaithISH with Jack Gordon hosted Vasu Mohan, an international elections expert who is also Bahai and me, a Sojourners magazine editor and Catholic for this 60-minute podcast. Give yourself a treat and enjoy a generous and engaging conversation.
As the election approaches, we reflect on the spiritual responsibility to exercise our civil right, navigating the challenges of partisanship, and who we are remembering this All Souls Day. Featuring Vasu Mohan, an international elections expert and member of the DC Baha’i community, and Rose Berger, senior editor at Sojourners magazine and a member of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.
Happy Feast of St. Francis Day! I am missing all of my St. Francis friends, especially on this important celebration. Please share this with our Franciscan family and know how much we love you.–Barbara Berger