On May 3, 1983, the U.S. Catholic bishops published “The Challenge of Peace: God’s promise and our response,” a pastoral letter which focused primarily on the futility of nuclear weapons and the responsibility of the Church to promote peace and nonviolence. Read the entire document using this link.
Pax Christi USA held a webinar on May 24, 2023 to discuss the document and how it has shaped the work of the Catholic Church in the United States. Participants included Pax Christi USA Bishop President John Stowe, OFM. Conv., Pax Christi USA national council member Josephine Garnem as moderator, Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace Donna Grimes, and Dr. Lisa Sowle Cahill from Boston College.
The final version of the letter, which had been proposed by Bishop Tom Gumbleton and other Pax Christi bishops, was a combination of drafts submitted by the Pax Christi USA Disarmament Commission and the staff of what was then known as the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Written during the Cold War and the presidency of Ronald Reagan (a strong supporter of nuclear weapons), the document was a significant rebuke to the arms race and the expanding military budget.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace Joe Fahey, the convener of Pax Christi USA’s Disarmament Commission in the early 1980s, wrote an extensive report on the history the pastoral letter for The Journal of Social Encounters, Vol. 6, 2022. It is a fascinating account of one of the key moments in our movement. Use this link to read his entire essay.
Join us on Wednesday, May 24, 8 pm Eastern, for a special webinar to discuss “The Challenge of Peace” and its relevance to our work today. Speakers will include Pax Christi USA Bishop President John Stowe, OFM Conv.; Dr. Lisa Sowle Cahill from Boston College; Pax Christi USA National Council member Josephine Garnem; and Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace and USCCB staff member Donna Toliver Grimes.