Monday, May 1, 2017

U.S. Catholics: Write your bishop to encourage his support of active nonviolence

“Instruments of reconciliation” is a new national campaign to amplify active nonviolence in the U.S. Catholic Church. Catholics in other parts of the world might adapt the information for their local situations.

Catholics in the United States are asked to choose one of three dates during May to share their hope for greater teaching and commitment to active nonviolence with their bishop and to invite him to affirm active nonviolence as the “nucleus of the Christian revolution” by 1) sharing and speaking about Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message broadly within their diocese, seminaries, and other ministries and 2) concretely committing to an initiative to scale-up practices of active nonviolence.

As Pope Benedict wrote, “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behavior 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.’”

In a time when violence continues to dominate our families, our neighborhoods, and our cities – and violence is increasingly becoming the way our country deals with conflict – we want our bishops to know there are voices for active nonviolence within his diocese. We want to encourage them to embrace Pope Francis’ call to active nonviolence. We want to support our bishops in their efforts, like Pope Francis, who pledged the assistance of the church in “every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence.” Some dioceses – such as the Archdiocese of Chicago – are already experimenting with a commitment to a culture of nonviolence and practical steps to greater active nonviolence to address tensions and crime within the diocese. Pope Francis wrote them a letter of encouragement.

We believe a concerted effort during the month of May will have a positive impact on our bishops and U.S. church. May is traditionally “Mary’s month” and Mary is the “Queen of Peace.” The bishops themselves will be meeting over the summer.  In May we expect the bishops of the United States of America to receive more than 10,000 letters encouraging them to bold teaching and practice of active nonviolence—and committing ourselves to do the same.  Here are some suggested significant dates in May to contact your bishop:
  •     May 3 is the anniversary of “The challenge of peace: God’s promise and our response” (1983), the U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter.
  •            May 9 is the birthday of Daniel Berrigan (b. 1921) and Sophie Scholl (b. 1921).
  •      May 21 is the feast of Austrian conscientious objector and martyr Franz Jägerstätter who was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.
    See here for more detailssample letter, and to report your action.

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