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Pax Christi Document Summarizes People's Hope for Peace
Dennis Sadowski
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Saturday, December 12, 2009
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WASHINGTON (CNS)—Pax Christi USA is calling upon Catholics to reflect on ways to integrate peacemaking and embrace nonviolence in their everyday lives.

The call follows a wide-ranging six-year endeavor that the Catholic peace organization calls a People's Peace Initiative. The effort involved dozens of discussions nationwide to express the challenges of peace in the 21st century.

"How we define nonviolence and peace is really critical to all of us in the church in order to fulfill our requirements as Catholics as peace advocates," said David Robinson, Pax Christi USA executive director.

To engage Catholics in the pews across the country Pax Christi released a 48-page document, "Called to be Peacemakers: The Challenge and Promise of Peace in the 21st Century." The document outlines numerous ways that violence is expressed in the world— including war, racism, unrelenting poverty and environmental degradation—and invites Catholics to begin to take steps to reduce the influence of violence throughout society.

The years-long process involved roughly 150 discussions across the country among local Pax Christi groups, diocesan ministries, particularly those working with minority communities, Catholic organizations such as the National Black Catholic Congress, and communities of men and women religious.

Robinson said efforts were made to involve black and Hispanic Catholics, whose voices traditionally have not been integrated into peacemaking efforts.

"We wanted to have new voices and a diverse set of voices," Robinson told Catholic News Service Dec. 9. "We recognized if we were going to be saying anything as laypeople about peace, we had to make sure to go the extra distance."

The document spells out a series of ills affecting the world, building from what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. identified as the sins of racism, war and poverty, and acknowledges the example of Christ, whose practice of nonviolence in the face of oppression is told in the Gospels.

"It is our encounter with Jesus that shapes our understanding of peace," the document reads. "It is our experiences of the risen Christ in our families and communities that gives expression to that understanding and our faith as Catholics."

The document cites Catholic social teaching as the basis for its call to Catholics to embrace nonviolence and peacemaking. It invites Catholics to relate the church's social teaching to examples of injustice they may have seen in their communities.

"We were looking at a way to animate and encourage a wider and more intentional engagement of the Catholic community on issues of peace in the 21st century," Robinson said. "We hope that those groups and individuals that take a look at this will see their own experience and feel more comfortable in building alliances and doing peacemaking and working for justice."
Editor's Note: The full document "Called to be Peacemakers" is available online at

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