Three Unclean Spirits Like Frogs -That gather The Kings of The Earth

Catholic Peacemaking

The workshop on Catholic peacemaking consisted of three presentations and discussion. The centerpiece was a paper by Rev. Drew Christiansen, SJ, of Woodstock Theological Center and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, entitled "Catholic Peacemaking: From Pacem in terris to Centesimus annus." According to Father Christiansen, it is hard to identify the precise starting point of modern Catholic peacemaking. Official reckoning assigns credit to Pope Benedict XV for his efforts to end the First World War. To Benedict, we owe the phrase, "Never again war, war never again," made famous by Pope Paul VI's 1965 address before the United Nations, and repeated by Pope John Paul II on several occasions. But Benedict's overtures were dismissed by the great powers, partly because his proposals did not fit their interests, partly because they suspected his sympathies with Catholic Austria, and partly because the pope himself was still a prisoner in the Vatican with reduced political influence. Other observers would place the starting point with Pope Pius XII. As a former diplomat, Pius took exceptional interest in international affairs, promoted Catholic internationalism, and played a significant role in Cold War politics.

One could argue that the true starting point came with Pope John XXIII. Not only did he play an active and a positive role in perhaps the most dangerous of post-war confrontations, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, but Pope John also issued an encyclical letter on peace that for the first time elaborated Catholic teaching on the matter in a sustained way. Pacem in terris ("Peace on Earth," 1963) had significant influence on the approach of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) to engagement in the world. It also provided the motivation for the most sustained Catholic contribution to post-conciliar peacemaking, namely, the church's defense of human rights as the foundation of peace. In 1973 when Chilean president Salvador Allende was overthrown by a bloody military coup, John's teaching on human rights would become the conceptual basis for establishment of the first major Catholic human rights office, originally called the Committee for Peace, and later the Vicariat for Solidarity, under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Chile. In addition, Pacem in terris, published only months before John XXIII's death, received an incredibly warm reception from the non-Catholic, secular world. The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, for example, celebrated the encyclical with quadrennial conferences by the same name for two decades.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy White House was looking for back channels to communicate with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev. After a request from the White House, Pope John sent a signal to Premier Khrushchev--which given the circumstances today sounds vague and convoluted--but Khrushchev welcomed the message, and began his movement back from the brink. Some days later, reflecting with his physician on the state of the world, Pope John shared his dream of writing an encyclical on peace. It was to be the last major act of his pontificate. Less than a year later he was dead of stomach cancer detected during the physical exam that November day.

The remainder of Christiansen's presentation falls into two parts. The first is an exposition of the Catholic vision of peace. This quick tour d'horizon helps define what is distinctive about Catholic peacemaking and points up at least one major weakness as well as significant strengths. The second part deals with official Catholic peacemaking, understood as the peace work of the pope, the Vatican, episcopal conferences, and individual bishops. The subtitle for Father Christiansen's paper, "From Pacem in terris to Centesimus annus," is shorthand to encompass the recent history of Catholic social teaching and praxis. Pacem in terris, of course, represents John XXIII's contribution to teaching on peace and the praxis of human rights; Centesimus annus ("The Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum novarum," 1991) represents Pope John Paul II's extraordinary role in Eastern Europe and his positive endorsement of non-violence in the encyclical of that name, one of the great "secrets" of contemporary Catholicism.

The Catholic Vision of Peace

Father Christiansen begins with Pope John XXIII and Pacem in terris because, as Catholic teaching insists, peace is not the mere absence of war, nor even the avoidance of war. Peace is the positive realization of the dignity of the whole human family. The Catholic vision of peace consists of several constructive components, the first of which is human rights. By contrast with some other religious traditions presented in the Institute's series of workshops, with their emphasis on conflict resolution and conflict transformation, the modern Catholic social tradition emphasizes the positive content of peace. While in the 35 years since the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, Catholic peacemaking has come to recognize the importance of non-violence, and indeed to formally adopt non-violence in significant ways, its own theory of conflict resolution remains relatively underdeveloped as compared to its positive teaching on peace. The paradoxical result of a strong positive doctrine of peace and a less articulated doctrine of conflict resolution is that even as church leaders are thrown into the role of national conciliators because of the credibility they have won on the basis of their work for peace in fields like human rights and development, they find themselves bereft of tools and support as they attempt to exercise their responsibilities in conflict resolution. We return to this paradox at the conclusion in the discussion of the role of bishops in conciliation and mediation.

The Catholic vision of peace consists of four elements: (1) human rights, (2) development, (3) solidarity, and (4) world order. Pacem in terris re-conceived the whole of Catholic political theology in terms of human rights. The common good was redefined as the "objective recognition, respect, safeguarding and promotion of the rights of the human person." The encyclical declared that upholding the common good so conceived was the goal of all public authority. In so doing, it prepared the way for notions of humanitarian intervention as part of what might be called Catholic cosmopolitanism, the view that in international affairs the rights of persons take priority over the rights of states. Above and beyond the good of individual political communities and international relations, Pacem in terris also identified "the universal common good" and called for transnational institutions to address global problems. Two years after the release of Pacem in terris the Vatican Council declared that the promotion of human rights was one of the three ways in which the church served the world.

A second element of the Catholic understanding of peace is the value of integral or authentic development. Set forth in the council's Gaudium et spes ("The Pastoral Constitution on the Church and Modern World," 1965), Pope Paul VI's Populorum progressio ("Development of Peoples," 1968), John Paul II's Sollicitudo rei socialis ("On Social Concern," 1988), and somewhat less extensively in Centesimus annus (note 52), the idea of authentic development consists of three points: (1) the right of all people to the means for their full development as human beings, (2) the proposition that authentic human development consists of more than economic progress, and (3) the affirmation that the affluent nations of the world have an obligation to share the benefits of development with the poor, not just through aid, but also through structural economic changes such as equity in trade reform. The notion that "development is the new name for peace" appears as a summary tagline in Pope Paul VI's Populorum progressio. It is re-articulated in Centesimus, where Pope John Paul II presents development as an alternative to war in two senses. First, development addresses some of the longstanding causes of war; and second, church leaders hope that "a concerted worldwide campaign for development" will provide what William James called "a moral alternative to war," a high cause that can be widely shared and for which people will make considerable sacrifices.

The third component of the Catholic idea of peace is solidarity. In Catholic social theology, solidarity is a very rich and complex concept. Basically, it consists of active commitment to the belief that under God we belong to one human family. It has many applications in various contexts and for various classes of agents: for the poor, for workers, for affluent countries, between classes, between nations, and so on. Within the church, solidarity has special reference to the ties that bind churches in one part of the world to churches and people in other regions and continents. Thus, the church in the United States exercises solidarity in the representations it makes to governments on behalf of the church in Congo, or Guatemala, or Lebanon with respect to conflict resolution, re-development, and other post-conflict policies. Solidarity is manifest in public life as well, undergirding, for example, citizens' pleas to governments for debt cancellation or for restructuring trade.

Furthermore, the Second Vatican Council declared that a second way in which the church served humanity was in fostering the unity of the human community, a task which is fundamental to the church's own identity. Because of this commitment to the unity of the human family, church documents were among the first to recognize the trends toward interdependence and globalization. The church, to the consternation of some politically active American Catholics, has tended to be internationalist in its outlook, to support the United Nations system, and to search for new mechanisms to meet global problems.

Father Christiansen notes that the fourth element in the Catholic vision of peace consists in its teaching on world order, which focuses on issues of the breakdown of order. Over the past 20 years, the church has condemned nuclear war-fighting and made the elimination of nuclear weapons a goal for an ethical military policy. In a dramatic shift, moreover, the church has moved from simply praising the practitioners of non-violence to espousing non-violence as the fundamental Christian response to conflict. Reflecting on the events of 1989 in Eastern Europe, Pope John Paul II wrote: "I pray the example [of active non-violent resisters in Eastern Europe] will prevail in other places and in other circumstances. May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their international disputes, and war in international ones." The Holy Father is clear that non-violent activists who accept their sufferings in imitation of Christ are "able to accomplish the miracle of peace and [are] in a position to discern the often narrow path between the cowardice which gives into evil and the violence which, under the illusion of fighting evil, only makes it worse."

The espousal of non-violence has meant a downplaying of just-war analysis in Vatican pronouncements, though it still utilizes the just-war criteria in criticism of acts of war the Holy See regards as immoral. In principle, however, the church continues to admit of a limited just use of arms when non-violence fails. In practice, however, it appears to regard "humanitarian intervention" as the sole remaining "just cause," and even then is quite reserved about the means to be utilized in defense of the innocent. Finally, because of their harmful effects on large civilian populations, as in Iraq and Cuba, the church has been highly critical of the use of sanctions as a tool of coercive diplomacy and a supposed alternative to war.

To sum up, the Catholic vision of peace is primarily a positive one, focusing on the promotion and defense of human rights, collaboration in authentic development, building bonds of solidarity among people, and constructing the institutions of world peace. Its approach to the breakdown of peace is to foster non-violent practices and to permit the use of arms in humanitarian intervention only when whole populations are at risk.

The Catholic Practice of Peace after Vatican II

The Second Vatican Council brought about two structural changes in church organization that have shaped its ability to respond to questions of justice and peace for the past 35 years. The first was the establishment of bishops' conferences as forums for bishops to consult and coordinate on matters of pastoral and social strategy. When bishops work in harmony, their conferences can be a steady force for peace even in very violent societies. Their pastoral letters and public statements are often catalysts in opening public debate or in galvanizing public opinion, even outside the church. Their coordinated social initiatives mean that work for peace and justice, especially where there is a Catholic majority or a sizable Catholic population in a country, can spread wide and deep within society.

The second innovation was the institution of justice and peace commissions, beginning with the creation of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace as part of the Vatican curia (the administrative organization of the Holy See). The council carries out research and organizes programs in areas like the control of trade in small arms, the abolition of anti-personnel land mines, trade reform, and debt relief for poor nations. Officials of the council also represent the Holy See in major international conferences. At lower levels, justice and peace commissions, or sometimes human rights commissions, are the church organs that deal up close with local, national, and regional problems. The networking of these commissions, moreover, provides international support for those working on the frontlines for justice, peace, and human rights.

Although not a structural change, a third contribution of the Catholic hierarchy to peacemaking should be noted--the role of individual bishops as conciliators and mediators.

1. The Papacy and the Holy See. Whole books have been written about Pope John Paul II. Father Christiansen notes that several of the pope's biographers and many political analysts regard him as the single most important figure in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Pope John Paul has greatly increased the role of the papacy in international affairs, especially through his travels. Wherever he has traveled, dictatorial regimes have fallen, most notably, the Jaruzelski government in his native Poland and the Duvalier regime in Haiti. His visit to Lebanon and his apostolic exhortation concluding the Synod for Lebanon were landmarks in the movement toward reconciliation in post-civil war Lebanon. The Holy Father's three-cornered conversation with Polish president Wojciech Jaruzelski and Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, one biographer believes, may have prevented military confrontation between the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites as communist governments fell in 1989.

Under John Paul II, Vatican diplomacy has changed its approach to world affairs. The Vatican undersecretary of state for relations with states, Monsignor Celestino Migliore, calls it "a diplomacy of conscience" because its primary concern is the good of the human family, in keeping the peace, in defending human rights, in protecting religious freedom. Even the church's agreements with states tend today to focus first on human rights, then on religious rights generally, and only last on the specific needs of the church. For example, both the 1993 Fundamental Agreement with Israel and the 2000 Basic Agreement with the Palestinian Liberation Organization follow this pattern.

2. Episcopal conferences. At a recent international Mennonite-Catholic dialogue near Karlsruhe, Germany, one of three papers addressing "What Is a Peace Church?" came from a Mennonite pastor from Guatemala. The church that he described as a peace church, however, was not the Mennonite Church in Guatemala, but the Catholic Church and especially its bishops' conference. The bishops of Guatemala have been a steady force for peace in their society, promoting negotiations, defending human rights, providing accompaniment for refugees. Unlike some conferences in neighboring countries during some points over the past 20 years, the Guatemalan bishops have been both moderate and united, and this has contributed to the weight of their peacemaking in their country. Sadly, the importance of their work was reinforced two years ago with the murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi just after he had filed a report on human rights abuses during Guatemala's civil war.

The bishops' conference of the United States plays a unique role among episcopal conferences. After Brazil's, it is the largest conference in the world, with more than 300 active members. Because the policies of the United States impact so much on the world, other conferences and individual bishops, sometimes at the suggestion of the Holy See, look to the U.S. bishops' conference to help address their problems. Occasionally the U.S. government looks to the bishops to assist with its problems. President Clinton, reports one bishop, attributes his last-minute dispatching of President Carter and General Powell to Haiti to negotiate with the Cedras government on the eve of the "intravention" on that island to have been inspired in part by a joint letter of the presidents of the U.S., Canadian, and Latin American bishops' conferences. The U.S. bishops' conference's most notable accomplishment, of course, was the widely read and much studied 1983 pastoral letter on nuclear arms, "The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response," which played a major role in forming public opinion in favor of halting the nuclear arms build-up.

The U.S. bishops address issues of peace in a number of ways: with pastoral letters and public statements, with visits of solidarity to churches in troubled areas of the world, with representations to U.S. and foreign governments, and with advocacy on executive and legislative policy proposals. The U.S. Catholic Conference's Department of Social Development and World Peace, which includes the Office of International Justice and Peace, also tries to build a constituency for issues in the Catholic community, providing training for diocesan and parish social ministry workers and educational programs for the Catholic faithful.

3. Bishop conciliators and mediators. This brief review of official Catholic peacemaking cannot be concluded without some note of the role individual bishops have played in the difficult task of peacemaking. Frequently, an individual bishop is thrust into a distinctive leadership role. Such was the case with El Salvador's martyred Archbishop Romero or Congo's Archbishop Monswengo, for many years the official conciliator in Congo (Zaire). Others include Don Samuel Ruiz from Chiapas, Mexico; the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah; and Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo (Bishop Belo as he is known in the United States), the Nobel laureate from East Timor. By the early 1990s, an estimated 35 bishops had served as national conciliators in their countries' civil conflicts.

Bishop Ruiz, now the retired bishop of San Bartolomeo de las Casas, represents an atypical success, in assembling a remarkable set of resources for defending human rights and advancing the cause of peace. A defender of indigenous rights in Chiapas state, he was later named mediator between the government and the Zapatista rebels. Ruiz had a high profile outside of Mexico, a great deal of international support, including volunteer personnel, and a highly organized human rights and peace organization, including the Centro Bartolomeo de las Casas, a human rights monitoring group. His human rights work led naturally to Ruiz's role as a peacemaker.

In Chiapas, where evangelical Protestants and Catholics are frequently in competition for membership and at odds over who provides local leadership, Ruiz was a father figure for all. His wide credibility by a reason of his defense of indigenous rights can be understood by recalling a simple incident. At one point, when his cathedral and residence were under siege by local landowners, evangelical Indians rushed down from the hills to protect him. "We have come," the evangelicals announced, "to protect our bishop."

Ruiz also had a natural talent for orchestrating his work. Once he dispatched a visiting U.S. delegation to celebrate Mass in a parish where a U.S. priest had just been expelled, without explaining that the Americans would be met by 6,000 peasants demonstrating for the return of their pastor, an apolitical man deported largely to put pressure on the church to back off its vigorous defense of indigenous peoples. After dinner, on the delegation's return, Ruiz announced to his American visitors, "Now we are having a press conference. You," he told the delegation, "can go first." No wonder the Mexican government feared and respected him.

More typical is Bishop Belo of East Timor, a largely isolated figure, with little immediate social support or infrastructure to sustain him, and with sympathetic but relatively weak support internationally. In the years' prior to East Timor's 1999 independence vote, he walked a narrow line, defending human rights, espousing the cause of independence, all the while pleading for non-violence. Without support from the Indonesian bishops' conference, under pressure from the papal nuncio and U.S. diplomats, criticized by Vatican curialists, he was supported only by Pope John Paul II. The destruction of his homeland following United Nations-run elections in 1999 by marauding Indonesian militias broke his spirit. Not even a Nobel Peace Prize could compensate for the pillaging of his island and the dispossession of its people.

In the middle range, in terms of resources for witnessing to peace, is Jerusalem's Latin or Roman Catholic patriarch Michel Sabbah. He is a Palestinian, born near Nazareth, and his appointment at the outbreak of the first intifada made him a natural leader for Christian Palestinians. He has overseen a diocesan synod, revitalizing and updating local church life. He has formed a justice and peace commission and a legal aid agency, the Society of Saint Yves. His most notable achievement has been overcoming centuries of rivalry among Jerusalem's historic Christian churches to form a common front with the two other patriarchs and ten other heads of churches on issues of justice, peace, and human rights. A 1998 peace catechism from the Latin Patriarchate, drafted under his supervision, laid out in some detail a Palestinian Catholic perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the relation of justice to peace, and the place of non-violence in the Palestinians' struggle for a homeland of their own. He has also developed notable ties of solidarity with U.S. Catholic bishops, the bishops of England and Wales, and episcopal conferences in Europe, not to mention the Vatican. Despite all this, his support systems are still fragile and Patriarch Sabbah must rely very much on himself and his faith in God.

The work of Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Bishop Belo, and Archbishop Monswengo illustrate the ways in which the church's teaching on human rights and human dignity has changed the role of bishops, thrusting them into conflict and conflict resolution, without a comparable change in training and church organization, especially in sharply divided underdeveloped societies. When bishops speak out on human rights issues and as a result are thrust into the role of spokesperson for their people, they lack a trained cadre of people or institutions to assist him.

The church's role in building peace has grown enormously in the last half-century. Father Christiansen argues that in the next decade, the larger church (the Vatican, the major episcopal conferences, the major Catholic donor agencies like Catholic Relief Services) will need to implement programs to provide the training, staffing, and infrastructure for bishops on the frontlines to contribute more substantially to peacemaking efforts. In 1994, the U.S. Catholic Conference in conjunction with Catholic Relief Services and Duquesne University sponsored a workshop for African bishops who had been peacemakers in their own countries. This and other conferences mark the beginning of a process that needs to grow. The Catholic vision of peace as a way of life worthy of human dignity has put bishops on the frontlines. They have shown generosity, great persistence, and sometimes inventiveness in meeting their challenges with very few resources. The time has come to share resources for peacemaking with them.

The work of justice and peace is essential to the life of the Catholic Church today. Bishops bear a special responsibility for teaching the gospel as it relates to justice, peace, and human rights. The work of transforming the world, however, belongs appropriately to lay people. Bishops, alone or together, are forced into leadership roles in divided societies for many reasons: the weakness of civil institutions, the autonomy and moral authority of the church, the credibility gained by the church's service to the oppressed, the freedom offered by a celibate life. While necessary, such leadership is the exception. Lay people should rightly take the lead. Hopefully as Catholic social teaching becomes more widely known and appropriated, there will be many more Catholic lay leaders involved in peacemaking.

Finally, Father Christiansen already noted that Catholic teaching and practice of peacemaking was strong on peacebuilding and weaker on conflict-related tasks. The latter is an area where Catholics can learn from others, such as the Mennonites. If life in God is an exchange of gifts, then it is appropriate that just as Miguel Higueras has learned from the peace witness of the bishops' conference in Guatemala, so the Catholic Church in many places can learn techniques of active non-violence and conflict resolution from trainers in the Mennonite tradition.

Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the international relief and development arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and undertakes international peace work on behalf of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church. Father William Headley, CSSp, who is deputy executive director of CRS, made a presentation on its peace work.

While CRS has provided international relief and development aid since 1943, peacemaking did not become a high priority until recently. No single recent event has affected the direction of CRS so deeply as the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. CRS had years of experience in Rwanda and was highly regarded, but was totally unprepared for the genocide and had not devoted resources and energy to forestalling this slaughter. The aftershock of the Rwanda genocide led CRS to apply a social analysis inspired by justice principles to every future activity of CRS. Every program is now assessed in terms of its potential impact on justice and peace.

CRS currently has 61 peacebuilding projects. These activities take place in many parts of the globe and emphasize South-South collaboration. Programs exist at all stages of a conflict's life cycle, from prevention through trauma healing.

  • In Morocco, CRS is engaged in preventing violent conflict by incorporating conflict resolution alongside its justice focus in all programming areas.
  • CRS/Philippines is supporting dialogue between religious leaders in the conflicted southern region of Mindanao. The Bishops-Ulama Dialogue Forum provides inter-religious bridge building and reinforces the more formal political process of negotiation sponsored by the Office of the Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process.
  • CRS staff in Croatia works on post-conflict trauma healing. CRS developed basic and advanced curricula for trauma awareness and continues to provide training for medical personnel, social workers, doctors, teachers, and attorneys in trauma awareness and response.

Other projects promote capacity building in peacebuilding skills for sister churches in war-torn countries.

  • In East Timor, CRS works with two Peace and Justice Commissions of the Catholic Church on the East Timor Peace, Reconciliation and Dialogue initiative. Jointly, they strengthened the capacity of 12 local organizations to work on peacebuilding and reconciliation over this past year.
  • Working with Peace and Justice Commissions of four dioceses in Chad, CRS has helped support local efforts at peacebuilding and conflict resolution. One project supported local mediation efforts between herders and farmers in southern Chad. Another translated peacebuilding materials into French for local use.
  • CRS/Kosovo initiated a Justice and Peace program to develop local capacity for peacebuilding.

Many of CRS's peacebuilding initiatives are integrated into ongoing relief and development efforts.

  • The Myriamville community bakery project in Mindanao, Philippines exemplifies how peacebuilding can be integrated into micro-enterprise development projects. In June 1997, a bakery was established to strengthen community relations, provide opportunities for employment, and allow Muslims and Christians to work side-by-side. The bakery is a financial success and has fostered joint participation in religious celebrations.
  • Programs in Bosnia-Herzegovina also engage representatives from different religious communities in micro-enterprise projects, as well as in identifying development and reconstruction projects and potential recipients. This structure has fostered working relationships among Bosnian Serb, Muslim, and Croat leaders in numerous communities.

CRS is organizing an increasing number of training workshops. These are conducted both for CRS staff and for local leaders.

  • CRS has supported peacebuilding and conflict resolution workshops in Colombia, El Salvador, Kosovo, Peru, the Philippines, and Rwanda. The project in Rwanda focuses particularly on youth from four dioceses, bringing together 500 youth in solidarity camps and providing education on peace, justice, reconciliation, Rwandan history, and conflict resolution.
  • In the summer of 2000, CRS and the Conflict Transformation Program of Eastern Mennonite University co-sponsored a Mindanao Summer Peace Institute. CRS is planning to organize several similar regional peace institutes in the future in various parts of the world. Finally, CRS and Notre Dame University's Kroc Institute are planning a two-week summer course that combines CRS's development work with Catholic approaches to peace and peacebuilding.

In August 2000, an "Intercontinental Meeting: Africa/Latin America" was held in Maputo, Mozambique to enable a South-South dialogue on peacemaking. Two Catholic bodies with a global reach jointly shared sponsorship for this event: Caritas Internationalis and the Vatican's Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace. CRS's regional staff in Latin America was among the initial architects for this program.

Caritas Internationalis, a federation of 154 national Catholic Caritas organizations worldwide that promote development and social justice, made work on reconciliation a priority for its 1995-99 mandate. This led to the production of Working for Reconciliation: A Caritas Handbook. CRS provided staff and financial support for this important resource for Catholic peacebuilding throughout the world. CRS is helping popularize this text by preparing lesson plans and training manuals.


The Community of Sant'Egidio is an international Catholic organization, recognized by the Holy See as a lay public association. It was founded in 1968 by an 18-year-old high school student in Rome. There are presently communities of Sant'Egidio in more than 40 countries; membership totals 30,000. Even though Sant'Egidio is recognized by the Holy See and has many elements of a religious organization, its members are lay people who do not take any vows and who hold normal secular jobs as their means of support. The community was instrumental in the peaceful resolution of the civil war in Mozambique and has facilitated peace dialogues in Albania, Algeria, Burundi, Guatemala, Kosovo, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The community's work and philosophy were presented at the workshop by Dr. Andrea Bartoli, a vice president of the community and a faculty member at Columbia University in New York.

Bartoli explained that the philosophy and work of the community are best captured by four Latin words--communio, traditio, romanitas, and pietas. As a communio, Sant'Egidio recognizes itself as part of a large family that stretches around the world. In practical terms the skills most valued by the community are careful listening, prompt response, a commitment to relationships, a preparedness to stop and change pace, and hospitality. The reality of community grows out of the three disciplines of prayer (both personal and collective), service to the poor, and friendship. The peacemaking of the community is a direct expression of these three disciplines.

While the community sees itself as an integral component of Catholic tradition (traditio), it also views itself as one of the latest expressions of Catholic plasticity--a Catholic ability to adapt, respond, and incorporate change, which was so effectively reflected in the Second Vatican Council. Vatican II transformed the role not only of the laity but also of the bishops and the Holy See.

Although the community's membership and activities are spread throughout much of the world, it is headquartered in Rome (romanitas) and cherishes its location in the same sacred space where the Catholic Church is headquartered.

It is piety (pietas) and love of the poor that is central to the community's commitment to peacemaking. The poor are the ones who suffer most from war and to serve the poor therefore means to be a peacemaker. The members of the community have a strong sense of responsibility to those in pain and suffering. The caring attitude toward those in need around the world opens the community to seek out person-to-person contact, which is central to its peacemaking philosophy. Beyond this commitment to personal relationships lies its conviction that peace comes through dialogue and understanding. The community also has a deep appreciation of its own weakness, and is always ready to seek assistance from other organizations in its peacemaking efforts. It is also prepared to risk failure in pursuit of peace.


Even though this report only covers the peacemaking activities of a limited sample of Catholic organizations, some conclusions can nevertheless be drawn about Catholic peacemaking. It is evident from this report that Catholic organizations adopt diverse approaches to peacemaking, ranging from the efforts of Pope John Paul II to end communism in Eastern Europe to the program of CRS to promote Christian-Muslim dialogue in the Philippines. Despite this diversity, the emphasis of Catholic peacemaking is more likely to be on high-level mediation. This is true even of Sant'Egidio, which emphasizes modest, person-to-person aid to the poor but focuses its peacemaking on high-level official peace agreements. This approach contrasts sharply, for instance, with the Mennonite focus on peacebuilding at lower and middle levels of society.

In general, the central guiding authority of the Vatican and its theological framework for peacemaking provide greater coherence and consistency to Catholic peacemaking efforts than is true of other faiths with less theological consistency. The very close linkage forged between peace, on the one hand, and justice and human rights on the other, makes peace with justice a basic tenet of Catholic peacemaking. Peace for the sake of peace is not worthy of pursuit unless peace can be founded on principles of justice and adherence to basic norms of human rights. The priority accorded to non-violence is relatively recent and can be dated to the Second Vatican Council. While the peace with justice tradition has a long history within Catholicism, attention to conflict resolution and the skills required to promote the peaceful resolution of conflict have only gained importance recently. In many cases the training opportunities and the institutional support for these activities are only now being developed.

About the Report

The United States Institute of Peace launched its Religion and Peacemaking Initiative in July 2000, building on experience gained from an earlier Institute program entitled Religion, Ethics, and Human Rights. This new initiative endeavors to aid American religious organizations in being more active and more effective as international peacemakers.

One component of this initiative has been the organization of a series of workshops on the peacemaking activities of various American religious communities. A workshop on Mennonite peacemaking was held in November. In December a workshop explored the sources of conflict resolution in Judaism. On February 5 the initiative organized a workshop on Catholic peacemaking. The purpose was to explore the peacemaking activities of key Catholic organizations and to explicate the distinctively Catholic nature of peacemaking by these and other Catholic organizations. The discussion focused on the Vatican, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services, and the lay organization Sant'Egidio.

This Special Report summarizes the presentations at that workshop. It has been prepared by David Smock, director of the Religion and Peacemaking Initiative.

The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Institute of Peace, which does not advocate specific policies.

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