Rose Marie Berger, Jean Stokan, and Scott Wright join Pax Christi USA director Johnny Zokovich to discuss “The Power of Nonviolence – Action and Resistance.”
Rose Marie Berger is senior editor of Sojourners magazine and a co-editor of Advancing Nonviolence and Just Peace; Jean Stokan is a member of the Institute Justice Team for the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and former Pax Christi USA Policy Director; and Scott Wright is director of the Columban Center for Outreach and Advocacy.
This 1:17 hour video is a great primer on active nonviolence today–and includes the 11-minute Pax Christi video on nonviolence that played at the Vatican in December 2020.
You are invited to “The Power of Nonviolence – Action and Resistance” webinar on Wednesday, 14 April 2021, from 3:00-4:00 p.m. (EST). This Zoom event is part four of Pax Christi USA’s study circles on the book Advancing Nonviolence and Just Peace in the Church and the World. Register here or watch the watch the livestream on Pax Christi USA’s YouTube page.
In preparation for this session, read Advancing Nonviolence Part III: The Practice and Power of Nonviolence. Panelists will include Rose Marie Berger, senior editor of Sojourners magazine and one of the co-editors of Advancing Nonviolence; Jean Stokan, a member of the Institute Justice Team for the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; and Scott Wright, director of the Columban Center for Outreach and Advocacy. The panel discussion with Rose, Jean, and Scott will be followed by breakout sessions for small group discussion.
With gratitude to the students of Bellerive FCJ Catholic College in Liverpool, UK for this presentation. And with gratitude for the youth and religious leading Myanmar’s Civil Disobedience Movement for dignity and freedom.
I knew Sr. Dianna through her advocacy work and through regular gatherings for Mass at the Assisi Community in Washington, D.C., where she lived for 25 years. I came to know her more closely during her fast for justice in the mid-1990s when I wrote an article with Julie Polter for Sojourners out of that experience.
In 2007, poet Joseph Ross and I organized a poetry reading and poetry anthology to accompany an exhibit of paintings by Colombian artist Botero in D.C. We were so grateful to Sr. Dianna for writing the forward to Cut Loose the Body: Anthology of Poems on Torture and Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib paintings. She wrote:
“To our feelings of betrayal, fear and isolation, must we also carry the insistent sense of hopelessness our torturers would force up on us? No, we need not. Oh no, we will not. We who have survived this crime against humanity have, indeed, learned to speak for ourselves and to be understood …”
As I reflect on Sr. Dianna’s life and death I keep thinking: Dianna is what resurrection looks like in public. She came out of the belly of death in Guatemala with her scars intact, and she dealt with her wounds every single day. Somehow, she turned her experiences of death into the power of resurrection that saved the lives of thousands of people. And through that slow process of resurrection she came to know a God called Mercy.
Forgive me and us Dianna for all the ways we hurt you and didn’t understand. We in turn “forgive” you for making us uncomfortable when you were bold enough to claim your healing in public. You are our saint of nonviolent witness. Presente!–Rose Marie Berger
Dianna Ortiz (Sept. 2, 1958 – Feb. 19, 2021) died early this morning on 19 February 2021, after a brief recurrence of cancer. She was a member of the Catholic Ursuline order who lived for 25 years at the Assisi Community in Washington, D.C. She was was 62.
To write about the final days of Sister Dianna Ortiz’s life is beyond sad. For those who have not heard, Dianna passed away early this morning after a short illness; my apologies for conveying word of it in such an impersonal way.
Actually, her illness and devastating diagnosis of an inoperable cancer has taken place almost too quickly to comprehend at this moment. Three weeks ago a member of our Assisi Community – of which Dianna has been a part for 25 years – insisted that she go to an emergency room for persistent and increasingly painful stomach pain. In rapid succession, Dianna was hospitalized, discovered to have a serious abdominal blockage and biopsied, revealing the cancer. She was designated for chemotherapy to reduce the tumor but when her symptoms continued to increase, she underwent surgery and the inoperable status of the cancer was discovered. All in less than three weeks!
It is said that our parents’ final legacy is their acceptance of death. Surely this can be said of anyone close to us who walks bravely through the dying process. It is most certainly true in the case of our dear sister – friend – community member – and exemplar. After the initial shock of this rapid series of events, Dianna seemed to call on a deep well of faith, acceptance and resignation as she faced the inevitability of her situation.
Andrew Bolton writes in Peace News (UK): “I abandoned Catholicism 50 years ago. Imagine my surprise to learn about a new, fresh wind of hope blowing in the Catholic church called the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI). The CNI is an astonishing story of visionary, vibrant, and faithful Catholics embracing and promoting a repentant, progressive and fully inclusive form of Christianity. …
Let me start with the frustrations. It feels this was a rushed job. It is written for Catholics, but it could have helpfully thought about sympathetic non-Catholic readers because its message can serve and encourage all Christians. Woefully it has no index and not all key assertions are foot noted. It helped me to understand that this is a resource book to support engagement of Catholics in the CNI, recalling Catholics to abandon the just war position for gospel nonviolence as a new default position, and advocating for Just Peace.
Once I got into it, I found it truly inspiring. For instance, I forgot I was holding a Catholic text as I read sections on the Hebrew Bible and the Christian scriptures. Its treatment of the nonviolent Jesus is beautiful and very moving. Theological themes like creation, who is Jesus, Holy Spirit, and the nature of the church are very well done. There is a very good and comprehensive review of peace studies research – creative nonviolence works and leads to much better outcomes!” Read the rest.
I grew up under the leadership and presence of Cicely Tyson as a force in movies and theater. Her roles in Sounder (1972) and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman (1974) particularly shaped my childhood. More recently I marveled at her role as Ophelia Harkness in How To Get Away With Murder with the stunningly brave Viola Davis.
In particular, I remember Ms. Tyson’s speech at the memorial service for Mrs. Rosa Parks in Washington, D.C. (see 8-minute video clip above). Her faith was on full display and she spoke with a voice that channeled the powerful spirit of the “old folks.”
This 7-minute video on Christian nonviolence includes interviews with Myla Leguro (Philippines), Archbishop Peter Chong (Fiji), Rania Murra (Palestine), Fr. Emmanuel Katongole (Uganda), Jasmin Nario Galace (Philippines), Fr. Dave Kelly (USA), Sarah Thompson (USA), Jean Baptiste Talla (Cameroon), Christina Leaño (USA), and Pietro Ameglio (Mexico).
“THIRD-CENTURY FRESCOES in Roman catacombs hold the earliest depictions of the Adoration of the Magi. In one, three men advance in a line toward a child standing in his mother’s wide-legged stance, showing her authority. Others reveal the Magi extending platters of bread toward the child Jesus. Another illustrates men with camels approaching Mary and Jesus with gifts. The lead gift-bearer extends a disproportionately large right hand to an encircled star overhead. These are the earliest details of the nativity narrative: travelers, bread, camels, a wide-legged woman, a child, a star. Later portrayals add partially visible soldiers.”–Rose Marie Berger, “Epiphany Is a Time for Imaginative Leaps,” Sojourners (Jan 2020)