Tag Archives: National Catholic Reporter

PAX CHRISTI INTERNATIONAL: Pax Christi marks 70 years of pursuing peace

By Tom Roberts, NCR

Jose Henriquez gestures during an interview in Washington Sept. 23. Looking on are Bishop Kevin Dowling and Marie Dennis. (CNS/Bob Roller)

Jose Henriquez gestures during an interview in Washington Sept. 23. Looking on are Bishop Kevin Dowling and Marie Dennis. (CNS/Bob Roller)

Pax Christi International was born 70 years ago of two people, one a bishop, the other a laywoman, who advanced ideas that were jarringly dissonant in the context of that time.

The bishop, Pierre-Marie Théas, of Montauban in the south of France, was a rare member of the hierarchy to both publicly protest the deportation of Jews from France and urge prayers for the enemy, Germany. Marthe Dortel-Claudot, who lived in the south of France with her husband and children, found herself thinking about praying for the enemy. Pondering the suffering of the German people, she wrote in her journal, “Jesus died for everyone. Nobody should be excluded from one’s prayer.”

The two, sharing a vision of reconciliation, went on to form the organization Pax Christi. Germany and France live in peace today; Europe has achieved union and nonviolent means of settling differences. Pax Christi, however, has not gone out of business. The purveyors of violence are endlessly inventive. From child soldiers to the utter detachment of drones, from crude IEDs to sophisticated bombs, from oil wars to the formation of caliphates, those who use violent means no longer observe rules or boundaries.

Perhaps the reality that most solidly links the decades of Pax Christi’s existence is the understanding that confronting violence is a complex and difficult undertaking and involves advancing ideas that are at odds with the prevailing thinking of the day.

Pax Christi has grown increasingly global in its reach, and that is reflected in its three principal leaders: co-presidents Marie Dennis, a laywoman from Washington, D.C., and Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa; and General Secretary José Henríquez, a native of El Salvador who now lives in Brussels, where Pax Christi is headquartered. The co-president arrangement, reflective of the founders, was instituted in 2007…

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REFLECTION: Beatitudes, Matthew 25 key in following the Lord

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

As I mentioned in introducing the Gospel today, it seems to me that Jesus is quite frustrated. After all, he has been preaching the good news, proclaiming the message of God’s love. He’s been working signs, healing people, driving out spirits — evil spirits — going about everywhere doing good, and the scribes and the Pharisees, the religious leaders, demand of him a sign. “Prove who you are,” in a sense they are saying.

Jesus tells them, “Look back in your own history.” Jonah, that great prophet who went to Nineveh, preached for three days, even though he was very opposed to this mission that God had given to him, and discovered that the people would follow him, which they did, and they were converted. And Jesus says, “Someone” — talking about himself, of course — “greater than Jonah is here, and you won’t listen. You’re demanding more signs.”

Then Matthew goes on to cite how the queen of the south, the queen of Sheba, came to Solomon because he was world-renowned for his wisdom. These Jewish leaders knew this; they knew about Jonah, they knew about Solomon, and Jesus says, “There’s someone greater than Solomon here. Why can’t you listen?”…

To read this entire article, click here.

INTERVIEW: Jesuit death row chaplain says that we allow revenge to ruin many lives

Interview by Sr. Camille D’Arienzo, NCR

Fr. George Williams, S.J. at San Quentin State Prison in California.

Fr. George Williams, S.J. at San Quentin State Prison in California.

Sr. Camille: Jesuits are admired for their intelligence, learning and leadership qualities. Some readers might wonder if you’re wasting your time, your life, ministering to men on San Quentin’s death row.

Fr. George Williams: I’ve been asked that question many times by colleagues who are correction officers. Two groups have never asked me that: Jesuits and my friends who know me well. Jesuits know that St. Ignatius spent time ministering to prisoners and other outcasts, and he even mentioned prisoners in the founding documents of the Society of Jesus.

In the “Formula of the Institute,” which defines what Jesuits are, Ignatius wrote: “Moreover, he should show himself ready to reconcile the estranged, compassionately assist and serve those who are in prisons or hospitals, and indeed, to perform any other works of charity, according to what will seem expedient for the glory of God and the common good.”

Ignatius’ vision of what it means to be a Jesuit included serving those in prisons. The educational institutions came later…

Read the entire article by clicking here.

REFLECTION: New ‘religious’ group just as deadly as the ones that preceded it

Joan Chittister, osbby Joan Chittister, OSB
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

Here’s the problem with religion. You never know which religion you’re going to meet: the “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” kind or the “Get thee behind me, Satan” kind.
You have to be very careful not to confuse one with the other. Your very life could depend on it.

The golden-rule types take people into the center of the community; the get-out-of-my-sight kind keep people out of it. One kind of religion embraces those who are different from themselves; the other excludes those who are different, the ones who are not like them: blacks if they’re white; Jews if they’re Christian; women if they’re men.


Some people have lived restricted lives and even died at the hands of those who sought to restrict them — some for trying to eat at white lunch counters or sitting down on buses; some for having ancestors in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago; some for serving soup that was cold or not ironing the shirts right.

The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t really matter how the transgressions were defined. What matters is that the arguments in defense of doing it were always the same: God didn’t want mixed races, or God wanted women to obey men, or God wanted Jews punished because the Romans crucified Jesus. Go figure

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REFLECTION: How will Obama’s visit with Pope Francis go?

reeseHeadshotWebby Thomas Reese, S.J. in NCR

The leaders of two of the world’s superpowers, one political and the other spiritual, will meet in Rome on Thursday. As with any important international meeting, the media will focus on areas of conflict, and liberals and conservatives will try to spin the results to support their causes.

Obama and Pope Francis

Conservatives will predict that President Barack Obama will get a tongue-lashing from Pope Francis on abortion and on the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Liberals will have Obama and Francis singing a duet.

What is likely to happen when Obama visits Pope Francis? Two earlier visits give us a good indication.

Obama and Pope Benedict XVI

This will not be Obama’s first visit to the Vatican. He met with Pope Benedict XVI in July 2009, and the visit went smoothly. Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi told reporters after the audience that “great serenity and great cordiality” characterized the meeting. The pope “seemed extremely satisfied with how the meeting went.” He said the pope found Obama to be “attentive and ready to listen.”…

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ON THE LINE: February 2014 edition includes campaign against gun violence, NCR interview, Vow of Nonviolence, and more

Compiled by Johnny Zokovitch

Each month, “On The Line” features news items and announcements from around the nation featuring Pax Christi members, local groups, regions and partners. These are gleaned from articles in local newspapers, websites, magazines, and elsewhere.

PC LONG ISLAND (NY) INITIATES CAMPAIGN AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE: (by Sr. Rosalie Carven) After the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, some members of Pax Christi Long Island met to consider how to respond to the prevalence of gun deaths, not only recurring mass shootings but also the 30 gun deaths that happen each day in our nation—homicides, suicides and accidental shootings. The nonviolent ethic of Pax Christi conditioned us to embrace a particular perspective on this tragedy: not to react in the belief that individuals and communities find personal and public security at the end of gun barrel. So a small committee of the Pax Christi Long Island council began a campaign to educate and encourage communities on Long Island to seek sensible gun regulations. The InSight Campaign to End Gun Violence was born… Read more at http://paxchristiusa.org/2014/02/12/regional-news-pax-christi-long-island-initiates-insight-campaign-to-end-gun-violence/

PC-LI's December 8 interfaith service at St. Martha’s Parish in Uniondale. It was arranged  to commemorate the 20th anniversary of a lone gunman’s rampage on the Long Island Rail Road, in which six people died, and the first anniversary of the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which took the lives of 20 children and six staff members. The speaker is Det. Steven McDonald of the New York Police Department. While McDonald was on patrol in New York’s Central Park in 1986, a 15-year-old boy shot him and left him paralyzed. He has since become an eloquent advocate of forgiveness.

Det. Steven McDonald of the NY Police Department, shot in Central Park in 1986 by a 15-year-old boy, speaks on forgiveness at PC-LI’s interfaith service at St. Martha’s Parish in Uniondale. The service commemorated the 20th anniversary of a gunman’s rampage on the Long Island Rail Road, in which six people died, and the first anniversary of the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct.

PC SEATTLE MEMBERS TAKE VOW OF NONVIOLENCE WITH ARCHBISHOP: (from Louise McDonald, CSJ) On Friday, January 17, 2014, twelve members of Pax Christi USA from the Seattle area made a Vow of Nonviolence at the 5:30 PM Liturgy at St. James Cathedral. Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who presided, welcomed the group to commit themselves to the journey of peacemaking through the nonviolence of Jesus. The group made their vow while holding lighted candles symbolizing Christ as the Light of the World. Pax Christi Central Seattle members had prepared for this step by making a day-long retreat last fall led by Sr. Kathleen Pruitt, CSJP, Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace. Deacon Dennis Duffell stated “it was fitting that we members of Pax Christi were able to profess a Vow of Nonviolence on the weekend honoring the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man of nonviolence.”  Eugene Underwood, the Coordinator of the Pax Christi Pacific Northwest Region remarked that “we were pleased that Archbishop Sartain was able to preside and Fr. Michael G. Ryan, pastor of St. James Cathedral, to concelebrate. That made the event very meaningful.” And Emily E.B. Meyer, co-coordinator of Pax Christi Central Seattle reflected that “it was a peace-filled evening standing together in the candlelight, strengthening each other for a year of active peacemaking.” Read more at http://www.stjames-cathedral.org/Events/2014/album-paxchristi.aspx

Members of Pax Christi in Seattle take the Vow of Nonviolence with Archbishop Sartain on MLK Day. (Photo by Maria Laughlin)

Members of Pax Christi in Seattle take the Vow of Nonviolence with Archbishop Sartain on MLK Day. (Photo by Maria Laughlin)

Mary and Nick Eoloff

Mary and Nick Eoloff

PC MINNESOTA MEMBER FEATURED IN NCR FOR HER WORK FOR PEACE: (from National Catholic Reporter) The interview below was conducted by Sr. Camille D’Arienzo for her “Conversations with Sr. Camille” feature on the National Catholic Reporter’s website. This interview is with Mary Eoloff, a long-time member of Pax Christi USA living in St. Paul, MN. Q: Can you recall an event or situation that gave direction to your life? A: I believe three events were life-changing for me. My senior English teacher, Sister Marion, insisted I go to college (a first in my family), and I graduated from the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University). The second event was the Second Vatican Council, which changed me forever. It gave me permission to think for myself. Before the council, I had been a very obedient member of a rules-oriented church. The third event was President Jimmy Carter’s reinstatement of the draft in 1980… Read the entire interview at http://paxchristiusa.org/2014/02/05/interview-advocate-for-peace-feels-the-spirit-in-every-breath/

PC METRO NEW YORK PARTICIPATES IN PANEL ON THE LEGACY OF MANDELA: (by Rosemarie Pace) I never know what I’m going to hear when I pick up the phone or check messages at Pax Christi Metro New York. This time it was a man named Gordon Tapper from the United Nations asking to have someone from Pax Christi speak at an Interfaith Harmony Forum at the UN on Friday, February 7th. He wanted a representative of Pax Christi to address the Christian perspective on the theme of “Tolerance, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation in recognition of Nelson Mandela”. Immediately, I thought this is something someone from the Pax Christi International NGO Team should do. Surely one of them would be more appropriate and articulate than I on the topic and in that setting. At first, one of the members of the NGO Team agreed to take on the challenge, though she admitted she wasn’t comfortable with public speaking and thought I was the more appropriate person to present. I still hesitated until I learned more about the request. Ultimately, I agreed to accept the invitation. I thought it would be a good experience for me and a good opportunity for Pax Christi… Read more at http://www.nypaxchristi.org/KeruxLive.html

PCUSA NATIONAL COUNCIL MEETING NOTES: (from Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, PCUSA Executive Director, and Sr. Josie Chrosniak, HM, PCUSA National Council Chair) On the weekend of January 23rd-26th, the Pax Christi USA National Council met for its bi-annual gathering at the PCUSA National Office in Washington, D.C. Ten members of the Council, along with the staff, were present. The following includes glimpses of actions taken by the National Council… To read more, go to http://paxchristiusa.org/2014/02/10/news-report-to-membership-from-the-january-2014-national-council-meeting/

Members of the council and staff, with two regional representatives and two members of PCART, at the planning day with Crossroads.

Members of the council and staff, with two regional representatives and two members of PCART, at the planning day with Crossroads.

PAX CHRISTI USA ENDORSES THE CAMPAIGN NONVIOLENCE: (from Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN) Pax Christi USA has endorsed Campaign Nonviolence that is being circulated through Pace e Bene. This campaign is certainly in keeping with PCUSA’s spirituality of nonviolence and peacemaking along with our other initiatives. The more our organizations can assist in connecting the dots between poverty, militarism, racism and the environment, the better off our world will be. I call your attention to the Pace e Bene website where you will find a wealth of information along with concrete actions to support the Campaign… Read more and consider becoming a promoter with the Campaign: http://paxchristiusa.org/2014/02/03/nonviolence-pax-christi-usa-endorses-the-campaign-nonviolence/

PC MEMPHIS PARTICIPATES IN DAY OF DISCERNMENT: (from PCUSA Ambassador of Peace Janice Vanderhaar) In order for Pax Christi Memphis to remain relevant and effective in our work for a nonviolent and just world, we engaged in a daylong process entitled “Honoring the Past, Welcoming the Future,” led by Mary Jo Greil, President of the Carson Greil Group and organizational change consultant.  Our purpose was to revitalize our mission and create a path for our future. The day was exhilarating, energizing, spirit-filled and enlightening.

Pax Christi Memphis participates in a day of discernment for their group.

Pax Christi Memphis participates in a day of discernment for their group.

Upcoming or Ongoing Events:

February 28-March 2 – PC Metro New York’s Annual Retreat with Sr. Kathleen Deignan, CND at the St. Joseph’s Renewal Center in Brentwood, Long Island; http://www.nypaxchristi.org/events.html

March 1 – PCUSA National Council election nominations due, http://paxchristiusa.org/2014/01/14/national-council-nominations-now-being-sought-for-pax-christi-usa-national-council-elections-4/

March 5 – Ash Wednesday

March 5 – Ash Wednesday leafleting with PC Metro New York from 12-1pm at St. Patrick’s Cathedral; http://www.nypaxchristi.org/events.html

March 5-15 – Coalition of Immokalee Workers “Now is the Time” tour, http://ciw-online.org/blog/2014/01/time-is-now-schedule/

March 9 – PC New Jersey will be cosponsoring an event with author and educator Paul K. Chappell, in Stirling, NJ; email cbush@stshrine.org for more info

March 14-16 – Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space conference in Santa Barbara, CA, http://www.space4peace.org/actions/gnconf_2014.htm

March 21-24 – Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C. Theme is “Jesus Weeps: Resisting Violence, Building Peace” with John Dear, http://advocacydays.org/

March 22 – PC Southern California regional assembly, “A Call to Nonviolence: One Year with Pope Francis,” with keynote speaker Ted Smolich, S.J., at Loyola Marymount University, http://www3.paxchristisocal.org/

March 24 – Archbishop Romero assassinated, 1980

March 28-29 – Friends of Sabeel North America Conference in Philadelphia, http://www.fosna.org/content/philadelphia-conference-march-28-29-2014

March 29 – PC Michigan State Conference, “Christian Nonviolence: The Great Failure, the Only Hope,” with Fr. Charles Emmanuel McCarthy; at Cristo Rey Parish, Lansing, MI, http://www.paxchristimi.org/#!pcm-2014-annual-conference/c6oh

March 29-30 – PC Florida Annual Retreat, “Nonviolent Resistance” with Jim Douglass, at Dayspring Episcopal Conference Center in Ellenton, FL; http://paxchristiflorida.org/events/

March 31 – Cesar Chavez Birthday

April 5-6 – Pax Christi Texas State Conference, “Christian Peacemaker Teams: Peacemaking in Palestine,” followed on the 6th by the regional dialogue at the Dominican Center for Spirituality in Houston, http://paxchristiusa.org/programs/regional-dialogues-2012-13/

April 14-18 – Holy Week Pilgrimage with the Norfolk Catholic Worker and Hampton Roads Pax Christi that will stop at 14 area military bases in the Hampton Roads, VA area, the most militarized place on the planet; contact Steve at williamsbaggarly@gmail.com for more info

May 3 – Regional Dialogue with Pax Christi Metro D.C.-Baltimore, http://paxchristiusa.org/programs/regional-dialogues-2012-13/


Dr. Arland Jacobson spoke recently on the topic of “Humiliation as a Source of Conflict” to the Fargo-Moorhead (ND) Pax Christi group and guests. His presentation was based on his article “The Role of Humiliation in International Conflict,” published in the fall issue of the Northern Plains Ethics Journal … Pax Christi USA will be moving to a new location in Washington, D.C. beginning March 1 … PC Indianapolis member Fran Quigley wrote this excellent article on efforts regarding immigration reform in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and other local congregations … PC members in Amarillo (TX) recently hosted “The Soldier and the Refusenik: Two Israelis. Two Choices. One Conclusion”. They highly recommend other PC groups consider hosting this extraordinary presentation …  PC Richmond (VA) hosted a special World Day of Peace Mass on New Year’s Eve which included a special remembrance of Bishop Walter Sullivan … PC El Paso (TX) recently hosted the film “Brother Outsider” on civil rights activist Bayard Rustin … A new e-booklet for small group discussion on Pacem in Terris’ 50th anniversary is available as a free download from the PCUSA website … PC Minnesota member Steve Clemens contributed this article to the Twin Cities Daily Planet on the frac sand trial in which he was a defendant … PC St. Jude (GA) participated in the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s Justice and Peace Expo earlier this month … Pax Christi Metro New York wrote a moving reflection on Pete Seeger following his death last month … There will be a “gathering of hope” on Feb. 17 in Knoxville for the Transform Now Plowshares. The sentencing phase of their trial is set for Feb. 18 … Pax Christi International’s February 2014 newsletter is online … See more local and regional updates in the Fall 2013 edition of The Peace Current

REFLECTION: In Pietermaritzburg and Durban (South Africa journey, part two)

Rev. John Dear, S.J.

by John Dear
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

On Jan. 22, we drove eight hours south from Johannesburg and Soweto, close to Lesotho, then into KwaZulu-Natal to Pietermaritzburg. Along the way, we passed a side road near Howick where Nelson Mandela was arrested long ago, the arrest that led to his 27 years in prison. A tall, powerful memorial that outlines his face marks the spot. Our drive was magical, through lush, rolling hills, magnificent distant mountains on all sides, and occasional wild animals.

Pietermaritzburg felt like a stepping back into old Victorian South Africa. In the city center, we marveled at the tall orange-brick City Hall with its magnificent clock tower. But we had a specific goal — a little pilgrimage to the train station where Gandhi was once thrown off a train, an act that led to his lifelong determined fight against injustice and violence. I had come to see the place for myself, and my friends — Fr. Ray East, his sisters and cousin — were happy to join me.

Gandhi told the story in his autobiography and in many subsequent interviews. It was June 7, 1893. He had just arrived from India as a young barrister and was on his way to Pretoria for his first case. He had ordered a first-class train ticket by mail and did not know that nonwhites were not allowed to ride in the first-class section.

At 9 p.m., the train pulled into Pietermaritzburg. Train officials received complaints about him sitting in first class. They ordered him to leave, and he refused. So they threw his luggage, which kept his overcoat, off the train. When that didn’t deter him, they threw Gandhi himself off the train. He landed on the platform, and the train sped off. It was a bitter cold night. He was freezing. Train officials took his luggage, and he did not dare ask for it back to get his overcoat for fear of further mistreatment.

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