Written by Sherry
Wednesday, 23 January 2008 07:19
I came across a really interesting conference and resource a few days ago but haven't had the time to blog about it until now:
This April, the Catholic Peacemaking Network (headquartered at Notre Dame) will be holding an international conference:
Conference on the Future of Catholic Peacebuilding. (April 13- 15) at, naturally, Notre Dame.
Peace and conflict on an incredibly complex variety of levels is a distinctly lay responsibility - our "turf" -if you will. Bishops and clergy can give homilies and write papers on the Church's teaching on peace but they don't have the primary responsibility for it that we do.
So often, we associate peace-making with marches and protests but just as the thousands who marched for life yesterday in Washington DC were only the tip of a vast iceberg of organizations, clinics, religious communities, legal and political efforts, and small local initiatives around the country working all year round to save lives, so "peace" marches are only the surface.
In the long run, it is lay apostles who are competent insiders and have earned respect, have credibility, and decision-making power, who will shape our nation's decisions and institutions that foster peace or make war. There is so much more to actually changing the course of conflict and fostering peace than "hell, no, we won't go" as one Vietnam era anti-war slogan put it.
The CPN seems to be one intelligent effort to build upon the wisdom and synergy of many. From their website:
Why a Catholic Peacebuilding Network?
The Catholic Church is blessed with many "artisans of peace", or peacebuilders, working at all levels to prevent conflicts from breaking out, resolve conflicts once started, and reconcile and rebuild divided societies after conflicts have ended. The CPN aims to serve and complement, not supplant or duplicate, these peacebuilding efforts by responding to four needs:
Deepening Solidarity. Too often, the Church's artisans of peace feel alone. The CPN convenes and connects peacebuilders from around the world in order to build and deepen relationships of solidarity with and among peacebuilders.
Sharing Best Practices. Much of the Church's work for peace, especially at the local level, is not well known or well understood. The CPN stimulates a more systematic sharing, mapping and analysis of the "best practices" of Catholic peacebuilding around the world.
Building Capacity. Catholic peacebuilders in conflict areas too often lack skills and resources. The CPN links peacebuilders to those who can provide the training, strategic planning, or other resources that might be necessary for the Catholic community to be a more effective force for peace in conflicted areas.
Developing a Theology of a Just Peace. Church leaders and others have called for further development of a theology of a just peace that is comparable in scope and sophistication to the Church's long tradition of moral reflection on the use of military force. Building upon this rich tradition, the CPN stimulates further development of peacebuilding as a conceptually coherent, theologically accurate, spiritually enlivening and practically effective contribution to the Church's broader reflection on and action for justice and peace.
While the CPN addresses the public policy dimensions of Catholic peacebuilding, this is not its principal focus, nor does it engage in advocacy on policy issues.
Notre Dame is a big player in this network through the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies which is going to be offering a first in 2008: a PhD in Peacestudies.
Actually, Notre Dame is running a series of clever marketing videos for the University building upon her traditional nickname: "the Fighting Irish" But now her students are portrayed as fighting against the odds, for security, human dignity, and the environment. One such video features the work of a Professor of Peacebuilding, John Paul Lederach in Columbia and ends like this:
The University of Notre Dame asks "What would you fight for?"
Fighting for Peace. We are the fighting Irish.
Fighting for peace is an old image. One of the terms used by 17th century Quaker to describe both their evangelistic efforts and their commitment to non-violence was "the Lamb's War". There are many Lamb's Wars in our world. The fight for life and the fight to stop violence and resolve conflicts are too sides of the same Catholic coin although it can be hard to recognize in the midst of the polarization of our culture.
Because the Lamb Who was slain is also the Prince of Peace.