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).
by Rose Marie Berger
Pope Francis announced this week that “the use of nuclear weapons is immoral, which is why it must be added to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”
Two years after the Vatican State signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (currently ratified by 34 countries), he declared during an in-flight press briefing from Japan to Rome, “Not only their use, but also possessing them: because an accident or the madness of some government leader, one person’s madness can destroy humanity.”
Nearly 75 years after the United States used nuclear weapons against Japan —killing, by some estimates 150,000 people in Hiroshima and 75,000 in the historic Catholic city of Nagasaki — Pope Francis reiterated that nuclear weapons are a threat to humanity, strategically reckless, and an offense to the poor and to God.
If the pro-life, anti-nuke Pope’s position is formally added to the catechism, the collected principles of faith used in basic instruction in the Catholic Church, then second-graders in Catholic schools will learn that that nuclear weapons are a sin, in the same moral category as intentional murder and the death penalty. As Jesuit Richard McSorley put it in Sojourners in 1977, “building a nuclear weapon is a sin” and “our possession of them is a proximate occasion of sin.”
What does this evolution of moral principles mean for lay Catholics who are required to answer for our complicity in unjust laws or unjust social situations? Read more.
Tom Roberts has written an excellent opinion piece in National Catholic Reporter titled It’s not about ethics, it’s about how we imagine God, on preeminent theologian Bryan Massingale’s July address in which he shifts the conversation on LGBTQ Catholics.
“I come to this conversation as a Black, gay priest and theologian,” said Massingale at a July 4 talk titled “The Challenge of Idolatry for LGBTQI Ministry,” at the 50th anniversary conference of DignityUSA, a group that self describes as “Celebrating the wholeness and holiness of LGBTQI Catholics.” DignityUSA also hosted a four-day gathering of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics prior to the conference.
Here is an excerpt from Massingale’s email and phone conversation with Tom Roberts:
The major challenge we face as sexually minoritized persons is not a problem of sexual ethics. We tend to think, and we are told, that our problems in church and society stem from our nonconformity with the church’s moral code.
But the church has a solution for that issue. If you sin, you can go to confession. You receive forgiveness and absolution. … Our deepest problem — the one that causes us the most pain, alienation, and self-estrangement — is that we’ve been told a false story about God and have been given false images of God. That’s our problem.
Underlying all of the struggles we endure around the world and the stories that we’ve heard throughout this assembly — stories of being kicked out of parishes, ostracized from our families, and in general being not welcome — underlying all of these experiences is a story that Catholicism tells about itself.
At the heart of this story is that to be Catholic is to be straight. “Catholic” = “straight.” Official Catholicism tells a story where only heterosexual persons, heterosexual love, heterosexual intimacy, heterosexual families — only these can unambiguously mirror the Divine. Only these are truly sacred. Genuinely holy. Only these are worthy of unreserved acceptance and respect. All other persons and expressions of love, family life, intimacy, and sexual identity are sacred (if at all) only by toleration or exception.
In effect, we are told that we are “afterthoughts” in the story of creation, not part of the original plan. In other words, we are “children of a lesser god.” … Yes, we certainly need to rethink our church’s official sexual ethics. But even more, we have to rethink God.—Bryan Massingale
Catholic laity are promoting restorative justice processes to address sexual violence by clergy. The Archdiocese of St. Paul (Minn.), according to the Star-Tribune, is experimenting with restorative justice and healing forums in a handful of churches, bringing in convener Janine Geske of Marquette University’s Restorative Justice Initiative, “to deepen parishioners’ understanding of clergy abuse and to be a bridge to survivors.”
Catholic social teaching provides several concepts to explicate and support restorative justice , according to the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, a project of Pax Christi International. Among them are the dignity of the person, the common good, mutual rights and duties, subsidiarity, solidarity, participation, and integral human development.
“The Healing Circles” video series has been developed by Janine Geske, distinguished professor of law and former justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court who started RJI at Marquette in order to help support victims and communities in the process of healing from the effects of crime. “The Healing Circle” video (http://healingcirclegroup.com) brings us face to face with the victims of sexual abuse by clergy and their pain. As part of a restorative justice process, the video helps to develop an understanding of the ripple effect of the violence as it explores the impact on the victims, their families, other believers, and those working in institutional church settings. Ultimately, the video helps examine the ways the violence has created a crisis of faith and helps grapple with the complexity of the healing process.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan introduces the videos saying, “It’s very important for us all to come face to face with the victims of these horrific acts. … I know that this scandal has shaken all of us and tested us. An important trust has been violated and the pain has been overwhelming for victims, their families, and loved ones.”
Diane Knight, chair of the national review board of the USCCB, has given her endorsement to Healing Circles video and process. “The individual stories in this DVD are compelling, and they are a powerful springboard for meaningful discussion that can extend the healing process in all of us. This is a must see for anyone who care deeply about the impact of the clergy abuse scandal,” said Knight.
The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative reports that “Restorative justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by behavior. It is best accomplished through cooperative processes that include all stakeholders. This can lead to transformation of people, relationships and communities.”
“The Healing Circle” is a professionally produced DVD that is edited into three segments and runs one hour. Ultimately, it helps viewers examine the ways the sexual abuse scandal has created a crisis of faith and helps them begin to address the complexity of the healing process. It is available in two formats, one with a taped introduction by Archbishop Timothy Dolan and one without. The DVD may be ordered at www.healingcirclegroup.com.
The Restorative Justice Initiative at Marquette University Law School is one of the nation’s leading resources for the restorative justice process. Led by Distinguished Professor Geske, it is at the forefront of promoting scholarship and research on restorative justice.
Each human has innate dignity, the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative asserts, even those whose lives have been deeply marred by injustice, and those responsible for causing it. The common good requires that all share in the benefits of society, participate in building up society, and fulfill reciprocal obligations. Solidarity speaks to the attitudes of compassion and respect necessary to sustain a good society. Integral development is a term used by Paul VI and later popes to indicate that individuals reach their full potential in a holistic atmosphere of peace, human dignity, and respect for economic and civil rights.
Restorative justice initiatives are part of the larger array of Catholic nonviolent practices used to build accountable justice and integral peace. Catholic laity have powerful tools in our tradition for responding to violence, even within the church.
The information above is compiled from these web sites:
St. Paul Archdiocese Bankruptcy Wraps Up, Many Call for Church Leaders to be Held Accountable, Star-Tribune by Jean Hopfensperger (September 29, 2018)
The Healing Circle http://healingcirclegroup.com/
Vimeo The Healing Circle
19 APRIL 2018 UPDATE from Matthew W. Daloisio, part of the legal team for Kings Bay Plowshares 7:
Contribute to the Kings Bay Plowshares legal fund.
Federal Charges: We have been in touch with an Assistant US Attorney (AUSA) in the Southern District of Georgia. It is our understanding from the communication thus far that it is likely that the US Attorney will want to prosecute. At this point, we cannot give a definitive timeline, but we are preparing for a possible indictment on federal charges in early May.
An indictment would be followed by an appearance before a US Magistrate who will handle arraignment, bond and/or conditions of release, and scheduling subsequent court dates.
The AUSA has been trying to get in touch with the State Prosecutor, and we have reached out as well. He, and we expect that once the feds indict the local DA will likely drop the state charges. This may or may not mean a transfer from the Camden County jail.
Bond Challenge: As you know, on Friday, April 6th, Chief Magistrate Jennifer E. Lewis of the Camden County Magistrate Court said in court she was denying bond on the felony charges (and she set $50,000 on the misdemeanor).
We are in the process of pursuing a bond appeal. A local public defender will file an appeal on behalf of Carmen, and myself and Anna Lellelid will file on behalf of the other folks. We anticipate filing the papers in the next week, with a hearing likely to occur May 8th.
The outcome of the bond appeal is uncertain. There is a small possibility that folks could be released. A more likely scenario would be the decreasing of the misdemeanor bond amount and a setting of bond on the felony charges with certain release conditions after which folks could decide how to proceed. It is also possible that the court upholds the current determination.
State Charges: The seven folks are currently charged in state court with possession of tools for the commission of a crime and interference with government property, both felonies, and criminal trespass, a misdemeanor.
The state has 90 days (approx. July 6th) to indict and arraign on these charges. After an indictment, there will likely be a number of pre-trial hearing dates set.
Next Steps: We will continue to pursue the appeal of the bond on the state charges, although this may become a moot point if the state charges are dropped in favor of the federal charges.
We should know more in the coming weeks, and certainly by early May about what the path forward looks like.
Visit Update: We met with the women for two hours in the morning, followed by two hours with the men. I was able to go back later in the day and met with the men and women together for another two hours.
Everyone is in good spirits, happy to now have underpants, more food, and extra layers, purchased through commissary. We were able to deliver some books and a packet of legal information.
There are three men’s ‘pods’ in the jail, and one pod for women. There are 24 beds in each pod – and up to 30 people…meaning some are on mattresses on the floor. Carmen and Mark are together in a pod. Steve and Patrick are in separate pods. All of the women are together in a pod – and cell, with Clare on a mattress on the floor.
In terms of other jail logistics: (1) there are three standing counts during the day, with the first being at 5am, and the last at 11pm. The lights go off at midnight and are back on at 5am. There is limited access to fresh air, and when folks do get outside, it’s on paved ground with a fence overhead. (2) the phone is available in each pod most of the day (roughly 8am-10pm). Calls are limited to 15 minutes, and the line for the phone is fairly constant. (3) there is one computer in each pod where folks are able to send and receive emails (if you sign up for an account https://deposits.jailatm.com/webdeposits/default.aspx) –Matthew W. Daloisio
Bond Denied for 7 Catholic Protesters Who Prayed on Nuclear Submarine Base in Georgia
KINGS BAY, Ga. — Just steps away from a decommissioned submarine buried in the ground near the main gate at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia, anti-nuclear peace activists held a vigil Saturday morning to protest the U.S. nuclear arsenal and to show support for seven Catholic peace activists arrested early Thursday morning for unauthorized entry onto the base.
Pastor Eric Johnson of Durham, N.C., opened the vigil by reading from Acts 4, describing early Christians in court for disobeying local authorities and continuing to heal and preach in the name of Jesus, which was illegal:
“Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men and women, the leaders, elders, and scribes were amazed, and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus.”
Saturday’s peace vigil at the Kings Bay base follows the arrest of seven Catholic leaders who entered the base on Wednesday without authorization to draw attention to the global dangers of the Trident fleet and link the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
[April 19, 2018 update here.]
Seven Catholic leaders trespassed onto the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia on Wednesday. This is the first major direct anti-nuclear action taken by U.S. Catholics since Pope Francis announced in November that Catholics should condemn not only the use of a nuclear weapon but their possession.
“The threat of their use as well as their very possession is to be firmly condemned,” the pope told participants at a conference on nuclear disarmament hosted by the Vatican in collaboration with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons passed by the United Nations in July 2017.
The seven members of the Kings Bay Plowshares, a nonviolent movement committed to “beating swords into plowshares” (Isaiah 2:4), included Elizabeth McAlister, a revered leader in the American Catholic peace movement; Fr. Stephen Kelley, a Jesuit priest; Martha Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day who was founder of the Catholic Worker movement and currently considered for sainthood; with Clare Grady, Patrick O’Neill, Carmen Trotta, and Mark Colville.
In a video statement made before crossing on to the naval base, Hennessy said: “We plead to our Church to withdraw its complicity in violence and war. We cannot simultaneously pray and hope for peace while we bless weapons and condone war making. Pope Francis says abolition of weapons of mass destruction is the only way to save God’s creation from destruction.
Clarifying the teachings of our Church, Pope Francis said, “The threat of their use as well as their very possession is to be firmly condemned … weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family, which must rather be inspired by an ethics of solidarity.”
Currently, all seven are held in Camden County jail in Woodbine, Georgia. They have been denied bond. At a support vigil held on Saturday, 7 April, at 10a (EST), the supporters read sections from the book of Acts until the sheriff’s department moved the vigilers away from the entrance gate to the base.
Famed Catholic attorney William Quigley will be leading the legal defense. (Contribute to the legal fund.)
The Kings Bay submarine Base is the U.S. Atlantic Fleet’s home port for U.S. Navy Fleet ballistic missile nuclear submarines armed with Trident missile nuclear weapons.–Rose Marie Berger
April 6, 2018
A 9-minute video with Sr. Guadalupe Ramirez, MCDP, on Our Lady of Guadalupe. It’s part of the Catholic Women Preach video series.
“I have come to the conclusion that whenever I am presented with a new challenge, I want to ask ‘why me?’ I need to change that and ask, ‘Why not me?’ So I ask you, ‘Why not you?’”–Sr. Ramirez, MCDP
It’s been a busy summer! Below is an update on the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, a project I’ve been deeply involved in. Amid the chaotic violence in our own country and around the world, I’m grateful to have this opportunity to contribute toward building positive peace–and grateful to Sojourners for supporting me in it!
Keep the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative — and Pope Francis and Cardinal Turkson — in your prayers. (Also here’s the “offering basket” in case you want to contribute. This is, of course, an unfunded global project currently supported by voluntary labor and the barter system!)–Rose
September 2017 — The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI) is focused on promoting a renewed commitment to Gospel nonviolence at the heart of the Church, including the possibility of a new official teaching on nonviolence.
One part of our work toward this goal is to research and elaborate on the theological, scriptural, ecclesial and practical components of nonviolence. In order to do this, we have organized five “roundtables” each of which includes between 7-20 participants from around the world. Each roundtable, addressing a particular topic, ultimately will produce a well-curated document by the end of 2018; hopefully at that time, representatives from each group will meet for a second conference on nonviolence and just peace.
We’re humbled by the number of theologians and peace practitioners who have agreed to participate in these roundtables – all five groups have now started their work via online conversations.
1) Toward a foundational theology of nonviolence: This roundtable process will research, map and elaborate a comprehensive theology of nonviolence as a foundational basis for the Church’s re-commitment to the centrality of Gospel nonviolence. Co-conveners: Ken Butigan (CNI executive committee; DePaul University, Chicago, IL, USA), Jose Henriquez (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland) and Maria Clara Bingemer (Pontifícia Universidade Católica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
2) The biblical foundations of nonviolence, including its centrality to the life and mission of Jesus: This roundtable process will illuminate the biblical roots of active nonviolence and the Gospel nonviolence at the core of Jesus’ life, mission, and way, and thus at the core of the life, mission, and way of the Church. Co-conveners: Sr. Teresia Wamuyu Wachira (CNI executive committee; St. Paul University, Nairobi, Kenya) and Terrence Rynne (Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, USA).
3) Nonviolence and Just Peace: A new moral framework for Catholic theology in the context of a violent world: This roundtable process will research and frame a new moral framework rooted in Gospel nonviolence in response to the violence and injustice of our time. Co-conveners: Marie Dennis (CNI executive committee; Pax Christi International, Washington, DC, USA) and John Ashworth (adviser to South Sudan Catholic Bishops, Nairobi, Kenya).
4) Integrating Gospel nonviolence at every level of the Church: This roundtable process will imagine and elaborate concrete ways Gospel nonviolence can be explicitly integrated into the life of the Church. Co-conveners: Gerry Lee (CNI executive committee; Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Washington, DC, USA), Fr. Boniface Mendes (former director of Federation of Asian Bishop Conferences Human Rights Office and member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Pakistan) and Fr. Felix Mushobozi (Union of International Superiors General Justice & Peace, Integrity of Creation Commission, Rome, Italy).
5) The power of nonviolence: Concrete experience, principles, methods, and effectiveness – Past, present, and envisioned future: This roundtable will comprehensively profile active nonviolence—its dynamics, its impact, its history, its contemporary applications, and a series of concrete examples—and frame how it can be spread and applied globally to respond to the monumental challenges of our time. Co-conveners: Pat Gaffney (CNI executive committee; Pax Christi British section, London, UK) and Rose Berger (Sojourners, Washington, DC, USA).
“The reasons for moving made sense – closeness to family and new work, but my heart had not consented.”
(5 minute video)
I’m so grateful for the moments I’ve spent with Maria Teresa Gaston and her son, Martin (former Sojourners intern). And so proud that Maria Teresa participated in the Catholic Women Preach video series.–Rose
FIRST READING: 1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12
PSALM: Ps 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130
SECOND READING: Rom 8:28-30
GOSPEL: Mt 13:44-52
Maria Teresa is an organizational psychologist and ICA certified ToP facilitator specializing in facilitation of collaborative discernment and decision-making. She received a BA in theology from Marquette University, an MA in Hispanic/Latinx theology and ministry through Barry University, and an MA/PhD in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Maria Teresa served for many years in social ministry in Immokalee, Florida and at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. She and her spouse, John Witchger, have three sons Felipe, Martin, and Luke and two grandchildren, Micaela and Theo. Maria Teresa lives in Durham, North Carolina where she directs Foundations of Christian Leadership, a formation program for Christian social innovators through Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School.
Catholics and others around the U.S. have an opportunity in May to write to their local Catholic bishop to encourage them to teach and preach on active gospel nonviolence. This is part of the global outreach offered by the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative to support the Catholic Church in re-centering Gospel nonviolence in Catholic life and faith.
Social concerns committees, diocesan social justice directors, youth groups, and individuals can host letter-writing events in May at churches, coffee hours, prayer groups, and other key gatherings.
Write the bishop of your diocese in May. (And you don’t have to be Catholic to join in. See bottom of post.)
Instruments of Reconciliation: A National Campaign to Amplify Active Nonviolence in the U.S. Catholic Church
Three suggested dates below in the month of May have been chosen in the United States to ask Catholics and other concerned Christians to share their hope for greater teaching and commitment to active nonviolence with their local bishop and invite him to affirm active nonviolence as the “nucleus of the Christian revolution” by:
1: Sharing and speaking about Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message broadly within their diocese, seminaries, and other ministries
2: Concretely committing to an initiative to scale-up practices of active nonviolence within his diocese.
As Pope Benedict wrote, “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behavior but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God’s love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one’s enemy constitutes the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution.’”
We want to support our Bishops in their efforts, like Pope Francis, who pledged the assistance of the church in “every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence.”
Some dioceses – such as the Archdiocese of Chicago – are already experimenting with a commitment to a culture of nonviolence and practical steps to greater active nonviolence to address tensions and crime within the diocese. Pope Francis wrote them a letter of encouragement.
May 3 is the anniversary of The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response (1983), the Bishop’s pastoral letter.
May 8 is the birthday for Daniel Berrigan (b. 1921) and Sophie Scholl (b. 1921).
May 20 is the Feast of Austrian conscientious objector and martyr Franz Jagerstatter who was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.
What if I’m not Catholic and I want to participate? Thank you! The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative welcomes support from all people of good conscience who want to see greater teaching from the Catholic Church on effective and active Gospel nonviolence.
You do not need to be Catholic to ask you local Catholic bishop for greater teaching on this. Search for your Catholic diocese’s web site to find the address of the local Catholic bishop.