A reflection by Fr. John Heagle, published in the National Catholic Reporter, June 8, 2022

“There is no peace because there are no peacemakers.”

Jesuit Fr. Daniel Berrigan wrote these words in the early 1970s at the height of the Vietnam War. Not surprisingly, they continue to challenge — and puzzle — many Catholics today. Is he using poetic hyperbole to provoke us? Or is he an overzealous activist that we can simply ignore? After all, billions of believers from all spiritual traditions long for, pray for, walk for and work for peace every day. And during this Easter season, Catholic parishes everywhere were praying for peace in Ukraine at all their liturgies.

Isn’t this peacemaking? What is Berrigan trying to tell us? Why does he appear to ignore our Catholic experience, not to mention centuries of what most Christians consider the traditional practice of working for peace?

The answer to this question, I believe, is both simple and complex: simple because we are witnessing a clear reclaiming of Gospel nonviolence; complex because this new vision is disrupting our long-held convictions, as well as creating controversy in our already fractured community. …

Click here to read the entire article on the National Catholic Reporter’s website.

Fr. John Heagle is the chair of the Gospel Nonviolence Working Group of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and the author of Justice Rising (Orbis Books, 2010).

Resources from the Gospel Nonviolence Working Group of the Association of Catholic Priests of the United States

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