Pax Christi USA is one of the signatories of the following statement released today, October 5, 2023:
WASHINGTON, DC – Religious leaders from Franciscan Action Network, Sojourners, Religions for Peace USA, Reconstructionist Rabbinic Association, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Pax Christi USA, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Institute of Justice Team, Churches for Middle East Peace, and the Center for Conscience and War urge Congress and the Administration to focus on incentivizing creative diplomatic initiatives to end the mass slaughter in Ukraine. We are building off the energy of more than 230 faith leaders signing a letter that calls for robust diplomatic initiatives to end the war and establish a just peace in Ukraine.
This action is part of a strategic sequence of activity over the past few months and the present Global Days of Action for Peace in Ukraine, Sept. 30-Oct. 8. By amplifying the voices of faith leaders, we seek to encourage key political leaders in Congress as well as the Administration to turn their focus to diplomatic and peacebuilding initiatives to establish a just peace.
Now is a critical moment. Polling trends suggest that support for sending weapons to Ukraine is declining across both major political parties. Some polling suggests the majority of U.S. public opinion is seeking alternatives to the ongoing and escalating military conflict in Ukraine, which is also exacerbating the climate crisis. It is time to refocus our solidarity with Ukraine towards efforts for a just peace through diplomacy and peacebuilding.
A diplomatic process entails a sequence of steps to build momentum and verifiability, such as ceasefires in particular areas and over a set period of time, pulling back of troops, reduction of sanctions, prisoner exchanges, return of refugees/displaced persons/children, reparative commitments, accountability mechanisms, and so forth.
“Pope Francis has consistently called for diplomacy as the only effective way to end the war in Ukraine. Pax Christi USA, like the pope, prays not only for all who are affected by the devastating conflict there, but for those in war-ravaged areas around the world. The human and ecology costs of war are too high; we must provide humanitarian and peacebuilding aid.” Johnny Zokovitch, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA
“War can often feel inevitable and self-perpetuating, clouding our imagination to see other possibilities. The ability to imagine and advocate for alternatives to war is a core Christian responsibility. With this commitment in mind, we call on the US government to further pursue and prioritize diplomatic and nonviolent efforts to end the war in Ukraine. It’s incumbent upon those of us who are followers of the Prince of Peace to galvanize spiritual and political will to end the war and expand the effective witness of nonviolence”. Rev. Adam Russell Taylor, President, Sojourners
“This week we celebrate the feast of St Francis, who suffered serious physical and mental health effects from war and became an avid peacemaker, seeking to end violence locally as well as in the Crusades. We must do no less in the present time. We must ask: what is the way to a just peace, one that will end the massive human suffering and allow Ukraine and Russia to live as peaceful neighbors? The way to peace is not through arming both sides for ever-escalating warfare, nor is it through abandoning Ukraine to be at the mercy of whatever Russia would impose. As people of faith, we call on political leaders to become as resourceful and determined in pursuing a just peace as they have been in pursuing military options.” Michele Dunne, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network
“While we call on our own politicians to pursue the path of diplomacy, we also call upon all people of goodwill in the world to pray and work towards meaningful diplomacy instead of war results so that it results in the resolution of the conflict in Ukraine. Diplomacy, not war, is the path to just peace. The drums of war are beating still louder with each passing day. We must stand up as people of faith and peace to speak truth to power.” Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia, Executive Director, Religions for Peace USA
“The psalmist tells us to ‘Seek peace and pursue it.’ We understand that every human is created in the image of God and is inherently endowed with the right to pursue a life of meaning free of violence and oppression. The war in Ukraine has taken far too many lives already. It is time for all of us to do our part in ending the conflict through diplomacy and finding a just end to this bitter and dangerous conflict.” Rabbi Elyse Wechterman, CEO, Reconstructionist Rabbinic Association
“How do we cultivate a ‘just peace’? Our human dignity is rooted in being a gift, especially a sacred gift from a God of Love. We live in accord with this dignity and illuminate it for the world, when we engage conflict as gifts and re-humanize the other even when we have strong disagreements. We urge the U.S. Government to lean into this way of conflict transformation by focusing on incentivizing diplomatic initiatives rooted in the needs of the stakeholders, and on robust multi-level peacebuilding practices to make diplomacy more likely to succeed. That is the way to just peace. How much more suffering, lost lives and trauma do we need to see to change our approach?” Eli McCarthy, Just Peace Fellow, Franciscan Action Network; Theology Professor, Georgetown University.
“After the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, many countries and millions of people worldwide stood in solidarity calling for an end to the war and the violence. Now, almost a decade into the Russo-Ukrainian War, the world is largely silent and has moved on to address other atrocities and urgent needs. Yet, this year, thousands of people have lost their lives, and the violence of the war continues, with tens of thousands of civilians being injured and ongoing destruction and death. As Christians and people of faith, we are committed to justice and peace. We call on the U.S. government to do everything within its power to encourage diplomatic and peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine, the Middle East, and around the world to end all war and violence between people. We at Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) hold onto a vision of a just peace, which illuminates human dignity and cultivates thriving relationships for all people around the world.” Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, Executive Director, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)
“…And they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning knives. Nation will not lift up a sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” In such tumultuous and violent times, it is hard to even hear the Prophet Isaiah’s vision for peace. War accomplishes nothing but death and prevents us from addressing the root causes of conflict. Despair and hopelessness must not take hold in us! Instead, we must be people of hope crying out and acting for peace. Now is the time to live into the prophet’s vision and give the world a glimpse of this vision. Today, we join with people of faith in urging the United States Government to support calls for a process toward a ceasefire in Ukraine and to vigorously engage in diplomacy with the broader international community toward a negotiated resolution to the war.” Lamar Bailey, Director, Institute Justice Team, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Institute Justice Team
“In our work with military conscientious objectors, we have learned that moral injury – wounds to the soul caused by participation in war – does not discriminate, even when one may be fighting on the side of the “good guys.” War harms us all. The only way to achieve a just and lasting peace and to promote healing of the visible and invisible wounds of war is through diplomacy and dialogue.” Maria Santelli, Executive Director, Center for Conscience and War