50th Papal Message for World Day of Peace: Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace

Pope Francis  has released the 50th papal Message for the World Day of Peace, which is on January 1st.  “Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace”  Pope Francis is calling for a renewed culture of nonviolence to inform our lives and global politics, saying military responses to conflicts only breed more violence.

1.    At the beginning of this New Year, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious, civic and community leaders.  I wish peace to every man, woman and child, and I pray that the image and likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity.  Especially in situations of conflict, let us respect this, our “deepest dignity”,  and make active nonviolence our way of life.

This is the fiftieth Message for the World Day of Peace.  In the first, Blessed Pope Paul VI addressed all peoples, not simply Catholics, with utter clarity.  “Peace is the only true direction of human progress – and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence, nor repressions which serve as mainstay for a false civil order”.  He warned of “the danger of believing that international controversies cannot be resolved by the ways of reason, that is, by negotiations founded on law, justice, and equity, but only by means of deterrent and murderous forces.”  Instead, citing the encyclical Pacem in Terris of his predecessor Saint John XXIII, he extolled “the sense and love of peace founded upon truth, justice, freedom and love”.    In the intervening fifty years, these words have lost none of their significance or urgency.

On this occasion, I would like to reflect on nonviolence as a style of politics for peace.  I ask God to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values.  May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life.  When victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promotors of nonviolent peacemaking.  In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms.

A broken world

2.    While the last century knew the devastation of two deadly World Wars, the threat of nuclear war and a great number of other conflicts, today, sadly, we find ourselves engaged in a horrifying world war fought piecemeal.  It is not easy to know if our world is presently more or less violent than in the past, or to know whether modern means of communications and greater mobility have made us more aware of violence, or, on the other hand, increasingly inured to it.

In any case, we know that this “piecemeal” violence, of different kinds and levels, causes great suffering: wars in different countries and continents; terrorism, organized crime and unforeseen acts of violence; the abuses suffered by migrants and victims of human trafficking; and the devastation of the environment.  Where does this lead?  Can violence achieve any goal of lasting value?  Or does it merely lead to retaliation and a cycle of deadly conflicts that benefit only a few “warlords”?

Violence is not the cure for our broken world.  Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world.  At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all.

The Good News

3.    Jesus himself lived in violent times.  Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come” (Mk 7:21).  But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach.  He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives.  He taught his disciples to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (cf. Mt 5:39).  When he stopped her accusers from stoning the woman caught in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11), and when, on the night before he died, he told Peter to put away his sword (cf. Mt 26:52), Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence.  He walked that path to the very end, to the cross, whereby he became our peace and put an end to hostility (cf. Eph 2:14-16).  Whoever accepts the Good News of Jesus is able to acknowledge the violence within and be healed by God’s mercy, becoming in turn an instrument of reconciliation.  In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts”.

To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence.  As my predecessor Benedict XVI observed, that teaching “is realistic because it takes into account that in the world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and therefore that this situation cannot be overcome except by countering it with more love, with more goodness.  This ‘more’ comes from God”.   He went on to stress that: “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behaviour but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God’s love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone.  Love of one’s enemy constitutes the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution’”.   The Gospel command to love your enemies (cf. Lk 6:27) “is rightly considered the magna carta of Christian nonviolence. It does not consist in succumbing to evil…, but in responding to evil with good (cf. Rom 12:17-21), and thereby breaking the chain of injustice”.

More powerful than violence 

4.    Nonviolence is sometimes taken to mean surrender, lack of involvement and passivity, but this is not the case.  When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she clearly stated her own message of active nonviolence: “We in our family don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace – just get together, love one another…  And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world”.   For the force of arms is deceptive.  “While weapons traffickers do their work, there are poor peacemakers who give their lives to help one person, then another and another and another”; for such peacemakers, Mother Teresa is “a symbol, an icon of our times”.   Last September, I had the great joy of proclaiming her a Saint.  I praised her readiness to make herself available for everyone “through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded…  She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crimes – the crimes! – of poverty they created”.   In response, her mission – and she stands for thousands, even millions of persons – was to reach out to the suffering, with generous dedication, touching and binding up every wounded body, healing every broken life.

The decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence has produced impressive results.  The achievements of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the liberation of India, and of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in combating racial discrimination will never be forgotten.  Women in particular are often leaders of nonviolence, as for example, was Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who organized pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace talks to end the second civil war in Liberia.

Nor can we forget the eventful decade that ended with the fall of Communist regimes in Europe.  The Christian communities made their own contribution by their insistent prayer and courageous action.  Particularly influential were the ministry and teaching of Saint John Paul II.  Reflecting on the events of 1989 in his 1991 Encyclical Centesimus Annus, my predecessor highlighted the fact that momentous change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about “by means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice”.   This peaceful political transition was made possible in part “by the non-violent commitment of people who, while always refusing to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in finding effective ways of bearing witness to the truth”.  Pope John Paul went on to say: “May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes and war in international ones”.

The Church has been involved in nonviolent peacebuilding strategies in many countries, engaging even the most violent parties in efforts to build a just and lasting peace.

Such efforts on behalf of the victims of injustice and violence are not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone, but are typical of many religious traditions, for which “compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life”.   I emphatically reaffirm that “no religion is terrorist”.   Violence profanes the name of God.   Let us never tire of repeating: “The name of God cannot be used to justify violence.  Peace alone is holy.  Peace alone is holy, not war!”

The domestic roots of a politics of nonviolence

5.    If violence has its source in the human heart, then it is fundamental that nonviolence be practised before all else within families.  This is part of that joy of love which I described last March in my Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in the wake of two years of reflection by the Church on marriage and the family.  The family is the indispensable crucible in which spouses, parents and children, brothers and sisters, learn to communicate and to show generous concern for one another, and in which frictions and even conflicts have to be resolved not by force but by dialogue, respect, concern for the good of the other, mercy and forgiveness.   From within families, the joy of love spills out into the world and radiates to the whole of society.   An ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue.  Hence, I plead for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons: nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are incapable of grounding such an ethics.   I plead with equal urgency for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and children.

The Jubilee of Mercy that ended in November encouraged each one of us to look deeply within and to allow God’s mercy to enter there.  The Jubilee taught us to realize how many and diverse are the individuals and social groups treated with indifference and subjected to injustice and violence.  They too are part of our “family”; they too are our brothers and sisters.  The politics of nonviolence have to begin in the home and then spread to the entire human family.  “Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship.  An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures that break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness”.

My invitation

6.    Peacebuilding through active nonviolence is the natural and necessary complement to the Church’s continuing efforts to limit the use of force by the application of moral norms; she does so by her participation in the work of international institutions and through the competent contribution made by so many Christians to the drafting of legislation at all levels.  Jesus himself offers a “manual” for this strategy of peacemaking in the Sermon on the Mount.  The eight Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-10) provide a portrait of the person we could describe as blessed, good and authentic.  Blessed are the meek, Jesus tells us, the merciful and the peacemakers, those who are pure in heart, and those who hunger and thirst for justice.

This is also a programme and a challenge for political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and media executives: to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their respective responsibilities.  It is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers.  It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost.  To do so requires “the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process”.   To act in this way means to choose solidarity as a way of making history and building friendship in society.  Active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict.  Everything in the world is inter-connected.   Certainly differences can cause frictions.  But let us face them constructively and non-violently, so that “tensions and oppositions can achieve a diversified and life-giving unity,” preserving “what is valid and useful on both sides”.

I pledge the assistance of the Church in every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence.  On 1 January 2017, the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will begin its work.  It will help the Church to promote in an ever more effective way “the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation” and concern for “migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture”.   Every such response, however modest, helps to build a world free of violence, the first step towards justice and peace.

In conclusion

8.    As is traditional, I am signing this Message on 8 December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Mary is the Queen of Peace.  At the birth of her Son, the angels gave glory to God and wished peace on earth to men and women of good will (cf. Luke 2:14).  Let us pray for her guidance.

“All of us want peace.  Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers”.   In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to build nonviolent communities that care for our common home. “Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”.

From the Vatican, 8 December 2016
Francis

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December Newsletter 2016

“Jesus stands at the door knocking. In total reality, he comes in the form of the beggar,
of the dissolute human child in ragged clothes, asking for help. He confronts you in
every person that you meet. As long as there are people, Christ will walk the earth
as your neighbor, as the one through whom God calls you, speaks to you, makes
demands on you. That is the great seriousness and great blessedness of the
Advent message. Christ is standing at the door; he lives in the form of a human
being among us.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “God Is In the Manger”

Christmas 2016

Dear Friends,           

Two thousand years ago in a small village, in an occupied country, a baby was born of an unwed mom and a slightly confused dad.  This Holy Family quickly became undocumented refugees in Egypt.  From these humble beginnings, a band of brothers and sisters arose with the grace of God.  So much has changed since then.

Two thousand years from now, if our species survives threats like climate change and nuclear annihilation, there will be even greater changes than we can imagine.  The arc of history has been and will be toward full equality between men and women.  Mortal enemies of yesterday (France and England,  Japan and the USA, Germany and Poland) are and will become one world.  The arc of history, if we are to survive, must lead to a world without war. (Note: in every war today, 2/3 of all casualties are innocent civilians). 

Feudalism ruled our world from about the 9th to the 15th century.  Primogeniture, surfs, lords, education only for rich male heirs were all common and accepted as the way things were and would be forever.  They are ending. Democracy is new.  Marrying for love is in its infancy. Women’s right to vote is less than a hundred years old.

So much has changed and will change.

The light of Christmas, born in a stable, is an invitation to each and all of us to be on the right side of the arc of history.  Women’s rights, civil rights, a world without war, equality for all with one God – this is our future, if we give ourselves enough time to travel there as brothers and sisters.  For now, in our lives and work, we try to feed the hungry, give a drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned and find Christ. (Matt 25)

Have a Holy Christmas,

Larry Purcell, Ronnie Georges, Sr. Mary Jane Floyd,
Jan Johanson, Aida Figueroa, Susan Crane,
Doug Herbek and J. Arthur 
White.

P.S. If you believe that the above is pie-in-the-sky, then remember, cannibalism was once an acceptable way to survive.

NEEDS

  1. FOOD in any amount. 
  2. Household needs:  quart size freezer bags, tickets to events, bikes (locks and lights, too), lap top computers, ipods, cars, RV’s, brooms, a power washer, a handy man to fix little things, detergent, cleanser, Pine Sol etc.
  3. Day Laborers: If you need gardeners, haulers carpenters, plumbers, craftsmen or handymen call Cesar or Juan Carlos (650) 339-2794.
  4. Homeless friends need: sleeping bags, blankets, socks, ponchos, long underwear, tents, camping equipment, and warm jackets & sweat shirts.  Call Susan or Doug (650) 366-4415.
  5. A house or money to buy a house. Call Larry for a free cup of coffee. (650) 366-4415.
  6. Your ongoing love and support. This year we are helping 5 college students with  individual $3,000 grants.

MAY 23, 2014 – GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION TO CLOSE GUANTÁNAMO

Join people all over the world in the global day of nonviolent action to close Guantanamo.

We will meet in front of Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, CA (Mathilda and Java Streets), from 12-1 pm to remember those still held at Guantanamo, to call for the end of indefinite detention, and to tell Lockheed that torture is immoral.May 23

On May 23rd of last year, President Obama again promised to close the detention facility at Guantánamo.  His pledge came in response to the mass hunger strike by men protesting their indefinite detention and to the renewed, global condemnation of the prison.  One year later, far too little has changed: few detained men have left the prison and hunger strikes and forced feeding continue.

It’s a well-known fact that  contractors supply interrogation services, and contractors have traditionally not been subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Lockheed Martin has been involved in the interrogation (torture) of prisoners at US facilities in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Lockheed spokesperson Tom Jurkowsky asserts “During our period of performance at Guantanamo, our employees were under the direct authority of” the U.S. Southern Command.  “We had no authority to, nor did we, direct the actions of any military member, active or reserve.” However, prisoners who have been released say otherwise. 

Since Obama’s speech, only 12 men have been released. 154 remain, nearly all of whom have never been charged with a crime.  76 were cleared for release by the US government years ago.  56 men are from Yemen, the largest national group at Guantanamo, but they remain subject to an effective moratorium on their release based on their nationality.  No one from Yemen has been freed since the May speech.

Up to 40 prisoners continue to hunger strike, and many are being subjected to forced feeding — a practice condemned by international human rights organizations, medical associations, and members of the US Congress.   New lawsuits in US courts lay bare the extreme cruelty of the forced feeding at Guantanamo.  To quell the public outcry against the prison, the US military in December 2013 stopped reporting the numbers of hunger strikers.  More recently, it has classified their protest, in Orwellian fashion, as “long term non-religious fasting.”

During his May, 2013 speech, President Obama asked the American people: “Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are being held on a hunger strike . . . Is this who we are?”

Sadly, as we face yet another broken promise, this is what the United States remains — a country that continues to indefinitely detain and brutalize the men at Guantanamo.

Join the Catholic Workers, the Pacific Life Community, and folks from the Dorothy Stang Center of Notre Dame de Namur University for a spirited gathering on Friday, May 23, at noon in front of Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale.

For further reading, check out these articles:

DID YOU KNOW LOCKHEED MARTIN PROVIDED INTERROGATORS TO “EXTRACT” INFORMATION FROM DETAINEES AT GUANTANAMO, AFGHANISTAN, AND IRAQ?   written by Bob Aldridge, on wevigil.org

Meet the New Interrogators: Lockheed Martin Chatterjee Pratap

Witness Against Torture: May 23 Global Action

Call the Redwood City Catholic Worker at 650-366-4415 for more information about the action at Lockheed Martin on May 23.

 

Mother’s Day Proclamation

Mothers’ Day, as it is generally celebrated, is a time to buy a card or a gift for your Mom, thank and celebrate her, make breakfast for her with your children, take her out for dinner, or have brunch and a family day together.  All good. Gratitude is always good.

However,  the original idea of Mothers’ Day was for mothers organize for the common good, to mourn the war dead,  to bring aid to both sides of the conflicts, and to figure out ways to organize world peace. The holiday has been hijacked.

Here’s some of the history that Brian Handwerk researched for the  National Geographic:

“It all started in the 1850s, when West Virginia women’s organizer Ann Reeves Jarvis—Anna’s mother—held Mother’s Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination, according to historian Katharine Antolini of West Virginia Wesleyan College. The groups also tended wounded soldiers from both sides during the U.S. Civil War from 1861 to 1865.
In the postwar years Jarvis and other women organized Mother’s Friendship Day picnics and other events as pacifist strategies to unite former foes. Julia Ward Howe, for one—best known as the composer of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”—issued a widely read “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870, calling for women to take an active political role in promoting peace. (National Geographic, Mothers’ Day Turns 100: It’s surprisingly dark history by Brian Handwerk)

When Ann’s daughter, Anna Jarvis, saw Mother’s Day commercialized and eviscerated of the intended meaning, she dedicated her life and her income to defending the original meaning of the holiday.  Outspoken, arrested, and isolated, she died in poverty.

Here is the appeal that Julia Ward Howe wrote:

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God –
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

 

Good Friday Prayer at Lockheed Martin

Prayers for conversion of our hearts and conversion of our warmaking Empire 

About 50 people gathered at Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, CA to reflect and pray about the consequences of war and empire to the earth and all life on the earth. Under the umbrella of the Pacific Life Community,  Catholic Workers, people in religious orders, students from Notre Dame de Namur Univ in Belmont, and many, many friends gathered to remember those who suffer today. Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest military contractor and a full-service weapons maker. Lockheed makes, among other things, missiles that carry trident nuclear warheads, and hellfire missiles that are used by drones. After the Stations of the Cross, three people walked up to the Lockheed Martin Gates, and when stopped by police, knelt down in prayer. Mary Jane Parrine, Ed Emhke, and Steve Kelly, SJ were cuffed and held by the Sunnyvale Police. Mary Jane was released, and has a citation that says she is charged with trespass. She has a court date in the Santa Clara Superior Court on June 4, 2014. Ed and Steve were held over Easter and were released near midnight on Tuesday, March 22.

Good Friday Call to Conversion at Lockheed Martin

Converting our hearts and our weapons….

Join  Catholic Worker communities, and the Pacific Life Community, at Lockheed Martin (Sunnyvale, CA) April 18, 2014 for the Stations of the Cross. We will meet at noon, at North Mathilda Ave and 5th Ave.

IMG_6624

Good Friday, 2013 at Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest military contractor and a full-service weapons maker. Lockheed Martin has provided interrogators for Guantanamo Bay, built spy satellites, unmanned aircraft, cluster bombs, all sorts of military aircraft, and in Sunnyvale, builds missiles that carry nuclear warheads.

We call for the conversion of our hearts and Lockheed Martin from violence to nonviolence, from death dealing to life making. We know that the money spent on warmaking at Lockheed would create many more well paying jobs in schools, hospitals, clean energy, and general civilian use.

Everyone is welcome. Please join us.

Also, we’ll have a bake sale for the conversion of Lockheed.  Buns not Bombs! Scones not Drones!

 

 

“There is a movement of nonviolence all over the world” Dorothy Day

In 1971, Dorothy Day and Tom Cornell were interviewed on the Christopher Closeup Show. Dorothy was introduced as the cofounder of the Catholic Worker movement, author of several books, and widely travelled lecturer. Tom Cornell was the former editor of the Catholic Worker newsletter.

During the interview, Dorothy, comments that “There is a movement of nonviolence all over the world.”

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