Pope Calls For Nonviolence in 2017 World Day of Peace Message

Pope calls for nonviolence in 2017 World Day of Peace message
U.S. religious leaders respond

Today in his message “Nonviolence: A style of politics for peace,” for the 50th World Day of Peace, celebrated each year on 1 January, Pope Francis urges people everywhere to practice active nonviolence and notes that the “decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence has produced impressive results.”

Pope Francis writes: “The decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence has produced impressive results. The achievements of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the liberation of India, and of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in combating racial discrimination will never be forgotten. Women in particular are often leaders of nonviolence, as for example, was Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who organized pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace talks to end the second civil war in Liberia.

“Nor can we forget the eventful decade that ended with the fall of Communist regimes in Europe. The Christian communities made their own contribution by their insistent prayer and courageous action. Particularly influential were the ministry and teaching of Saint John Paul II. Reflecting on the events of 1989 in his 1991 Encyclical Centesimus Annus, my predecessor highlighted the fact that momentous change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about “by means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice”. This peaceful political transition was made possible in part “by the non-violent commitment of people who, while always refusing to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in finding effective ways of bearing witness to the truth”. Pope John Paul went on to say: “May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes and war in international ones”.

“The Church has been involved in nonviolent peacebuilding strategies in many countries, engaging even the most violent parties in efforts to build a just and lasting peace. Such efforts on behalf of the victims of injustice and violence are not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone, but are typical of many religious traditions, for which “compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life”. I emphatically reaffirm that “no religion is terrorist”. Violence profanes the name of God. Let us never tire of repeating: “The name of God cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war!”

U.S. religious leaders and nonviolence scholars and strategists are beginning to respond to Pope Francis’ message:

“There is no place for violence in a heart at peace and in a world that is just. As Pope Francis said, “Everyone can be an artisan of peace. ” We all can cultivate peace by looking within, committing to a spirituality of active nonviolence, by moving beyond our comfort zones to embrace the suffering of the world, and collaborating with others for a sustained just peace.”—Sister Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, executive director of Pax Christi USA

“In this advent time of waiting for the coming of the one who is peace eternal, we are grateful for the challenge of Pope Francis to commit ourselves to peacebuilding through active Gospel nonviolence. Let us join in solidarity with all who know the injustice of violence, oppression, and poverty to build God’s beloved community.”—Ann Scholz, SSND, Associate Director for Social Mission, Leadership Conference of Women Religious

“With his breathtaking World Day of Peace Message, Pope Francis has broken new ground by calling on people everywhere to unleash the power of active nonviolence as a way of life and as an effective alternative to the scourge of violence. This first official papal document on active nonviolence offers a way forward to build a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.”—Ken Butigan, senior lecturer, DePaul University, Chicago and Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service staff
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Video: ‘Say No to the Pipeline’

Much thanks to Heather Wilson and Cathleen Falsani over at Sojourners for dressing up the video of my speech last week outside at the rally against the Keystone XL pipeline.–Rose

Say NO to the Pipeline from Sojourners on Vimeo.

Sojourners Associate Editor Rose Marie Berger addressed hundreds gathered outside State Department hearings in Washington, D.C. last week, to protest the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

If approved by the Obama administration, the pipeline would transport crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada 1,600 miles south — through the American Heartland — to the oil fields of Texas near the Gulf of Mexico.

In the September/October issue of Sojourners Magazine, environmental activist Bill McKibben called the Keystone proposal, “the ugliest project you’ve probably never heard of.” McKibben, author of The End of Nature and founder of the group 350.org, explained:

And make no mistake — that pipeline is a radical act. It helps unlock the planet’s second-largest pool of carbon, outmatched only by the oil wells of Saudi Arabia. There’s enough carbon up there that if you could burn it all off you’d raise the atmosphere’s carbon concentration from its current 390 parts per million to nearly 600. Even burning a much smaller amount of these tar sands would mean that it’s “essentially game over” for the climate, according to [NASA scientist James] Hansen.
The pipeline is ugly for other reasons too — it trashes native lands and endangers prime American farmland (can you imagine running an oil pipeline atop the Ogallala Aquifer?). But it’s beautiful for one reason: President Obama, all by himself, can stop it. Since it crosses national borders, it requires the man himself to sign a piece of paper saying it’s “in the national interest.”

On Oct. 7, the State Department held its final public hearings on the proposed U.S.-Canada pipeline, including testimony from various activists and faith leaders, such as the Rev. Jacek Orzechowski of the Franciscan Action Network, the Rev. Mari Castellanos of the United Church of Christ, John Elwood of the Evangelical Environmental Network and Joelle Novey of the Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light.

C-SPAN has made video of the lengthy hearings (4+ hours) available online. Watch HERE.

A decision on the Keystone XL pipeline is expected from the Obama administration by the end of the year.

The video of Rose Marie Berger was produced by Heather Wilson, associate web developer at Sojourners. Cathleen Falsani, Sojourners’ Web Editor and Director of New Media, also contributed to this report.