Readings in Nonviolence' features extracts from our favourite books, pamphlets, articles or other material on nonviolence and related areas, or reviews of important works in the field (suggestions and contributions welcome)
This is a short guide to some resources on Christian nonviolence and peace, at home and abroad, divided into ‘Organisations’ and English language ‘Materials’ (though sometimes overlapping). It takes a fairly broad view of nonviolence, so often venturing more generally into ‘peace’....and thereby occasionally to justice or green issues. This is without assuming that these can be subsumed into ‘nonviolence’ or ‘peace’ – but indicating that nonviolence must have a concern for both justice and ecology.
In the nature of this resource listing, it is incomplete and could be added to ad infinitum. Obviously a finely worded search online may point you in a direction you wish to go but this piece seeks to give some pointers. And as mentioned above it only covers materials in English.
The nature of the Christian churches in Ireland, and the relationship of state and society to them, has changed drastically over the last few decades, and – thankfully perhaps – ‘things are not what they were’. This also means that new thinking is possible, and with Pope Francis’ emphasis on nonviolence there is an opportunity for it to move from the margins to the mainstream within the Catholic tradition and beyond. So it is a really exciting time.
A footnote here in relation to this coverage is that INNATE is not a ‘Christian’ network or group but it includes people coming from particular religious or secular and humanist motivations and seeks to relate to all those interested in nonviolence www.innatenonviolence.org/ We are happy to include material in this ‘Readings in Nonviolence’ section which is relevant to nonviolence and peace from different religious and secular viewpoints, as we have done in the past, and welcome suggestions.
Obviously Christians are not necessarily just active in ‘Christian’ groups and in a country like Ireland would often be the backbone of, or important activists in, many civil society organisations of all kinds. This round up relates to ‘Christian’ groups and material but obviously those who are interested in the belief-action spectrum can talk to anyone about what motivates them, and about resources on or from that source.
We are also happy to include news from this sector in our monthly news section, please send information to firstname.lastname@example.org ....likewise if there are important resources which you feel we have missed here.
The Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference has the role of supporting the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference in promoting social teaching. Established in 2005 by the Irish Bishops’ Conference, and then known as ICJSA, it combined the Bishops’ Council for Social Welfare and the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace. http://www.catholicbishops.ie/justice/ NICCOSA is a northern sub-committee of the Irish Council for Justice and Peace, made up largely of lay people with relevant expertise and experience.
Different Protestant churches have different bodies responsible for social affairs. Concerning peace, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) had a Peacemaking Programme which ended in 2009 and has a Good Relations Panel and local peace agents – in relation to Northern Ireland – working at local congregational level. It also has a Conciliation panel which co-ordinates the internal mediation service which is available free of charge to any Presbyterian church dealing with conflict. https://www.presbyterianireland.org/
In Northern Ireland the ‘Four church leaders’ group (now joined by a representative of the inter-church structures) has often spoken out on peace and justice issues. In the past the inter-church structures in Ireland sponsored a Churches’ Peace Education Project (1978-2005) which worked with schools and produced excellent educational materials, including some for adults, but unfortunately that is no more and most materials would be out of print. More recently there was a short-lived Irish Churches Peace Project in Northern Ireland (2012-14) sponsored by a number of churches, and some resources from that are available online regarding Northern Ireland peacebuilding.
Pax Christi International is very actively involved http://www.paxchristi.net/ and information on the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative is available via that website.
Pax Christi work began in Ireland in 1958 with a formal launch in 1967. As well as involvement with Northern issues, and many others, over the years, in recent years Pax Christi Ireland has focused primarily on international disarmament issues including landmines, cluster weapons and so on. Pax Christi Ireland, 52 Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin 6, phone 01 – 4965293, http://www.paxchristi.ie
‘Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation’ (JPIC) groups exist in a number of Catholic dioceses and the general aim of these groups is the promotion of Catholic Social Teaching - Life and Dignity of the Human Person, Call to Family, Community and Participation, Rights and Responsibilities, Option for the Poor and Vulnerable, The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers, Solidarity and Care for God’s Creation.
Clogher Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Group,
www.clogherdiocese.ie Contact: Fr Joseph McVeigh, The Parish Office, 28 Church Street. Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh BT74 7EJ, phone 028 6632 2075 e-mail email@example.com
Kerry Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Group, Contact: Aileen Murphy firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 064 6630532. Address: John Paul II Pastoral Centre, Rock Rd., Killarney, Co. Kerry http://www.dioceseofkerry.ie/justice/ Facebook: Diocese of Kerry.
See piece by Sylvia Thompson on JPIC Kerry at Appendix 1 of this resource listing.
Raphoe Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Group, Contact: Jim Farrell, 086 0566893 email@example.com http://www.raphoediocese.ie/diocese/justice-and-peace
There is also a Derry 'Laudato Si' group and a number of emerging groups. Further contact information on this from firstname.lastname@example.org
In terms of Catholic religious orders with a base in Ireland, the Franciscans http://www.franciscans.ie/ and the Columbans http://www.columbans.ie have thinking which would have an emphasis on peace, justice and the integrity of creation. Many religious orders, and AMRI (Association of Leaders of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland), have justice desks and projects which would work on a variety of issues including poverty, homelessness, ecology, migration, refugees and human trafficking. Some have become involved in divestment from the fossil fuel industry. There is a Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice based in Dublin http://www.jcfj.ie/ and a Jesuit Refugee Service http://www.jrs.ie/
The Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) are the primary representative of the ‘peace church tradition’ in Ireland, with a long and honourable history stretching back way beyond the time of the An Gorta Mór (The Great Hunger of 1846) for which they are probably most renowned. The Quaker peace witness dates back to their origins (“We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fighting with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever" was part of a declaration made to King Charles II in 1660). Despite their small numbers, Quakers have been to the forefront of a variety of aspects of peace and justice work in Ireland. For further information on Quaker beliefs see https://quakers-in-ireland.ie/about-us/principles/beliefs/ and the same website for general information.
Quakers were instrumental, internationally and in Ireland, in the founding of AVP, the Alternatives to Violence Project, which works in both prisons and the community in the Republic. http://avpireland.ie/ However AVP, while still assisted by Quakers, is an independent and secular body.
There has been no Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) group in Ireland since 1998 when the group that existed from 1949 was wound up. However INNATE, the Peace People and Glencree have had had looser connections as affiliates with IFOR, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation which would be inter-faith on a worldwide basis but more Christian in many places. The IFOR website is at http://www.ifor.org/ and UK and USA FOR groups at http://www.for.org.uk/ and https://www.forusa.org/
While the Peace People is a secular group, co-founder Mairead Maguire would often speak from a Christian nonviolence viewpoint, e.g. http://www.peacepeople.com/?p=954
There are other organisations which would not be explicitly nonviolent but which would have a Christian approach to peace. In Northern Ireland Corrymeela https://www.corrymeela.org/ is the oldest, and certainly one of the best known, peace and reconciliation groups. Another in the North, although not as active as heretofore, and coming mainly from the evangelical tradition would be Contemporary Christianity (formerly ECONI) http://www.contemporarychristianity.net/ but the Evangelical Alliance has a public policy officer http://www.eauk.org/northern-ireland/
Ecology is not the same as nonviolence or peace and does not deserve to be subsumed under the latter. Nevertheless, given the drastic implications of climate change for peace, it is worth in this context mentioning Eco-Congregation Ireland http://ecocongregationireland.com/ which promotes an ecological approach in the churches and has various Christian denominations involved.
While there is currently no formal representation of what is listed in relation to the USA as ‘historic peace churches’ in Ireland apart from the Quakers, both the Mennonites http://www.eumen.net/en/ and Church of the Brethren have had links here, and there are usually a number of ‘Brethren Volunteer Service’ volunteers working in Ireland, both the North and the Republic (who are not necessarily members of the USA Church of the Brethren - this church is not to be confused with ‘the Brethren’ in Britain or Ireland). http://www.brethren.org/bvs/
Church and Peace is a European body based in Germany; it is an ecumenical peace church network of communities, training centres, peace organisations and peace service agencies. An annual conference is held for Britain and Ireland, usually in England. See http://www.church-and-peace.org/en/
The World Council of Churches previously had a Programme to Overcome Violence and work during the Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010); further information at https://www.oikoumene.org/en/what-we-do/promoting-just-peace
Gospel Nonviolence – The approach to Gospel Nonviolence represented by Emmanuel Charles McCarthy www.centerforchristiannonviolence.org and www.emmanuelcharlesmccarthy.org has some followers in Ireland; he is a priest of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic church in communion with Rome. To find out more you can contact Peter McGuinness email@example.com or Máirtín Mac Maoláin firstname.lastname@example.org or Fr Morty O'Shea at email@example.com or Chidi Umeano at firstname.lastname@example.org An illustrated storybook of the life of St Patrick for children coming from this approach can be found at http://www.stpatrickpeacemaker.ie/
The websites of the organisations listed above would include a wide variety of resources.
The Pax Christi International website for the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative at https://nonviolencejustpeace.net/world-day-of-peace-2017/ has a link to Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace 2017 message on “Nonviolence: A style of politics for peace” and many other resources – well worth looking at.
Some thoughts by Fr Paul Lansu of Pax Christi International on ‘Legitimate defence and the ideal of nonviolence’ can be found at paxchristipeacestories.com/
Pope Francis’ message includes stating “To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence.” See it at w2.vatican.va His November 2017 comments on nuclear weapons (“the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned”) and disarmament can be found at w2.vatican.va
A classic exploration of Christian nonviolence can be found in Richard McSorley’s “New Testament Basis of Peacemaking”, copies of which can be easily purchased online. Richard McSorley was a US Jesuit (who died in 2002) and this book was published by the Mennonite publishing house Herald Press (1979 and 1985).
Walter Wink (who died in 2012) was a Mennonite - though certainly not the only one - with some important contributions to thinking on Christian peacemaking. His magnum opus is “Engaging the Powers – Discernment and resistance in a World of Domination”, Fortress Press, 1992. This is important not only in relation to nonviolence but also in developing a modern Christian approach to evil. However other publications of his should be found if you search.
INNATE, as stated at the start, is not a Christian or religious organisation but there a few relevant resources on the website. There is workshop material on Nonviolence in Christian Belief on the INNATE website at http://www.innatenonviolence.org/workshops/christianbelief.shtml A few of the poster set are relevant including www.innatenonviolence.org and http://www.innatenonviolence.org/posters/Greater_love_Christianity.pdf as well as one on ‘peace and goodwill’ at Christmas http://www.innatenonviolence.org/posters/Christmas_peace_season[CP].pdf INNATE is also happy to facilitate workshops or discussion on Christian nonviolence.
PC/FOR “Christian Nonviolence – A study pack” was produced by the FOR in Northern Ireland and Pax Christi Ireland Belfast Branch in the mid 1990s. It is available on the INNATE website at http://www.innatenonviolence.org/pamphlets/index.shtml and scroll down to “Christian Nonviolence – a study pack”.
“Coming from the Silence” by Ann Le Mare and Felicity McCartney is a fairly comprehensive overview of “Quaker Peacebuilding initiatives in Northern Ireland 1969-2007” (First edition Williams Sessions 2009; second edition Quaker Service, Northern Ireland, 2011.) It is an impressive account of what a relatively small number of determined people can achieve (with a variety of approaches and responses) and a further credit to the Religious Society of Friends.
The Bruderhof, who run Plough magazine and Publishing house, are an Anabaptist community (with bases in the USA, Britain and Australia) committed to radical discipleship in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount. The Darvell Bruderhof community in the UK (England) has previously been involved with reconciliation work in Northern Ireland but its outreach now is mostly focused on providing resources which include materials on forgiveness, seeking peace and discipleship – some appropriate to people who are not Christians as well as Christians. www.plough.com/requestbook
- See review of one of Plough’s books, on the pursuit of inner peace, in Appendix 2.
Resources from the Irish Churches’ Peace Project are available on the Irish Churches website https://www.irishchurches.org/ under Resources. It includes a directory.
From Violence To Wholeness is a study and action programme, which offers a theological vision of Nonviolence; Butigan, K., & Bruno, P., “From Violence to Wholeness: a ten part process in the spirituality and practice of active Nonviolence” (Las Vegas, NV: Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service, 2002). ISBN: 0-9669783-0-7. Available from Pax Christi UK, http://paxchristi.org.uk/ (go to Shop and then Nonviolence).
From Violence To Wholeness lists the seven principles of Christian nonviolence (pages 46-53) as:
- Using active Nonviolence to resolve conflict is a deeply religious act.
- Human beings are meant to love and be loved.
- Nonviolence is a way to restore balance.
- Violence is not automatic. It is a choice.
- Nonviolence is a choice for a different vision of the world.
- Nonviolence is a process of repentance and transformation
- Christian Nonviolence requires an authentic spirituality.
“The Vision of Peace – Faith and Hope in Northern Ireland” (Orbis Books) is a collection of talks and writings by Mairead Corrigan Maguire, edited by John Dear. It includes reflections coming specifically from a Christian nonviolence approach.
Maryknoll in the USA would be important on nonviolence https://maryknollogc.org/tag/maryknoll-nonviolence-reflections
Diocese of Kerry JPIC Committee
By Sylvia Thompson
The role of the Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation Committee of the Diocese of Kerry is to raise awareness of Catholic Social Teaching. We do this in three ways: by encouraging action, by providing resources and building networks. We also have an advisory role to the bishop.
A little history...
1997/8: The Kerry Diocesan Millennium Justice Committee was set up by the then Bishop, Bill Murphy, to help prepare for the Millennium.
2nd November 2005: Pax Christi International conferred ‘Partner’ status on the Committee, the result of a visit in August 2005 by Fr Paul Lansu for an introduction to our work during which he met Bishop Murphy and others
Since we started we have involved ourselves in all three related areas of our work, peace, justice and the integrity of creation or ecology. We have done this by holding peace vigils, lectures and seminars e.g. November 2008: ‘The Challenge of Violence: Some Current Responses’; building networks, having exhibitions or stands; making journeys, trying to establish parish links and using communication/media to spread the word. We have had a number of pages on the diocesan website (www.dioceseofkerry.ie/justice) since 2000 and we use this to promote our own initiatives and related and appropriate ones of other organisations and individuals.
Our first Earth Day was held in 1999 and is now marked under Season of Creation (1st September – 4th October) and is a significant time when we promote the message of Pope Francis: Laudato Si’ On Care For Our Common Home. Climate Change has been a focus since that first Earth Day and strengthened in December 2009: by our participation in the ‘Ring the Bells for Climate Change’ initiative with Trócaire and the Diocese, and in June 2015 on the issuing of Laudato Si’.
JPIC was the initiator of the Kerry Stop Human Trafficking campaign group following a seminar on the issue in January 2007. That work is ongoing.
Our involvement in the whole area of migration started in December 1999 just before the first asylum seekers arrived in Kerry and is also ongoing.
Since Autumn 2014 we have really focussed on trying to involve parishes and offer them resources rather than taking the initiatives ourselves. This is a slow process. One example was the invitation to parishes to set up a Biodiversity Garden in their parish grounds in 2016 as part of Earth Week, by providing written guidelines and some funding for training. Another linked example was a workshop on Laudato Si’ given by a member of JPIC at the diocesan assembly in October 2017.
Support from like-minded secular groups and involvement of JPIC committee members in such groups remains vital for keeping up the energy and commitment e.g. Transition Kerry, Migrant/ Refugee Support Organisations and most recently groups promoting Sustainable Energy.
JPIC tries to promote and encourage an ‘integral ecology’ as outlined by Pope Francis, care for the earth and care for the poor. This is reflected in its annual programme which now includes the Season of Creation (September-October), a justice talk in Lent and during Mission Month (October) and promotion of particular dates such as World Day of Migrants and Refugees, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and European Day Against Human Trafficking. By the inclusion of members with particular areas of expertise and interest we are ‘kept on our toes’ with the SDGs 9sustainable development goals), 16 Days of Action Opposing Violence Against Women, Human Rights Day, World Day of Peace, the huge issue of divestment, climate change, Fairtrade Fortnight etc.
We have also started to take note of people and places for possible inclusion in the ‘Peace Trail’ e.g. Brother John Conway of Tralee, Fr Thaddeus Moriarty OP and Monsignor Hugh O Flaherty, the “Scarlet Pimpernel”.
Now we are one of many such JPIC or Justice Committees across the different dioceses of Ireland and there is some coordination or communication between them set up by Nicola Brady and being continued by Conn Mac Gabhann of the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference (with a dedicated website due shortly).
We aim to “sing as we go” (LS 244), knowing we can’t do everything but to quote the message “We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well” (attributed to Blessed Oscar Romero.....but in fact composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw) www.usccb.org
by Johann Christoph Arnold, Plough Publishing House, 1999.
Reviewed by Stefania Gualberti
In this book the author explores the pursuit of inner peace. He narrates different stories of ordinary people from around the world and how they were able to deal with the sense of emptiness, tiredness, disengagement and overcoming crisis, loss, grieving and trauma.
With insightful quotes from famous poets and artists (from Khalil Gibran to John Lennon) and with connections to the popular culture movies, those stories go from despair to found peace.
How? Through turning points and hope. Facing the truth, forgiving, letting go, being grateful, taking the courage to make difficult decisions, change. The book encourages the reader to act towards inner peace as a first step to find peace with others, the world and ultimately God.
The spiritual element is quite strong and lots of references to religious practice and different religious figures and teaching (from Thich Nhat Han to Francis of Assisi) are present throughout the book, with a prevalence to the Christian morals and values (including anti abortion view and condemnation of prostitution).
The stories advise the readers to come away from the isolation and connect to meet the other. They promote a worldview of interconnection and the refusal of violence in all its forms. Peace is seen as not merely security and maintaining the peace but it is understood in the wider context of social justice. Peace as a needed revolution in our unjust world.
Ultimately real peace is defined as a “relentless pursuit kept up only by hope, courage, vision and commitment” but also as life giving power which is able to bring wholeness to fragmentation, hope to despair and harmony to discord.