Mark Your Calendar
Peacemaking Through the Arts
Save Sunday, January 29th, from 2:30 to 4:30 PM for The Cornelius Eady Trio: An Afternoon of Jazz, Blues, and Poetry. Mr. Eady is a renowned poet and musician who co-founded Cave Canem, a nonprofit organization that supports emerging African-American poets and their works on themes of family life, violence, race and class. Location: Most Holy Redeemer Church, 173 E. Third Street, Manhattan. Proceeds from this performance benefit the work of Pax Christi Metro New York. Registration information now available at the PCMNY office and the NY Charities website.
Good Friday Way of the Cross
40-Day Fast for Christian Nonviolence
Human Rights Day/Holy
Human Rights Day/Holy
Peacemaking Through the Arts
Ash Wednesday Leafleting
Ash Wednesday Leafleting
Our tradition on Ash
Wednesday is to offer a Lenten Reflection to the
faithful outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Our tradition on Ash Wednesday is to offer a Lenten Reflection to the faithful outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Each year PCMNY organizes a weekend retreat, usually during Lent, facilitated by a noted spiritual leader to challenge and nurture participants in their commitment to Christian nonviolence.
Featured Recent Event
by M. Doretta Cornell, RDC
This year’s Pax Christi Metro New York (PCMNY) Fall Assembly was held on Saturday, October 22nd, at Manhattan College in the Bronx. The room had a large picture window that looked out on a mass of trees with their leaves turning an array of Fall colors. It gave a pastoral view despite being within the borders of New York City. The morning period included a very informative presentation by Beth Begley of Pax Christi Maryknoll and the Pax Christi International (PCI) NGO Team at the UN on two of the latest initiatives coming from PCI: the promotion of a Just Peace Theory to take precedence over the Just War Theory and a series of webinars on the abolition of nuclear weapons. Other reports covered PCMNY’s financial status, development strategies, and member passions leading to action.
After a delicious lunch provided by Manhattan College’s food service, our number grew from PCMNY regulars to include several students and faculty of the College. Over 40 of us filled the space.
The Keynote Speaker for the afternoon was Dr. Kevin Ahern, assistant professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College. Dr. Ahern has also served as the President of the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS-Pax Romana)and is active on the boards of several national and international networks, including the Catholic Common Ground Initiative and of America Press. His publications include The Radical Bible (as editor), Visions of Hope: Emerging Theologians and the Future of the Church, and Structures of Grace: Catholic Organizations Serving the Global Common Good, all available from Orbis Books.
Dr. Ahern began his presentation by soliciting the participants’ view of changes in war and peace today.Some of the changes mentioned: We have moved from defense to preemptive war, from fighting over territory to fighting because we are different. The media saturation changes our perceived involvement, while a smaller percentage of the country (mostly poorer and people of color) are physically involved; changes in technology make the killing more impersonal; the aims seem more corporate than country-based; the fighting is no longer a country’s military against another’s, but against non-state, less-centralized groups engaging in guerilla warfare. Victims of war are now far more often civilians than military personnel, and warfare has expanded to include financial- and cyber-attacks.
After 9/11/2001, the terminology changed from “war” to “fighting terrorism,” and the perception of a war having a foreseen endchanged to war without end, from a specific enemy to an amorphous body of people known as terrorists. The children born in 2001 are now freshmen in high school; they have never known a time without this conflict. Another change has spread beyond the military to the militarizing of our police forces, as many veterans became cops and bring their militaristic mindset to police work. Pope Francis summed this up when he said, “We are in the midst of a world war in installments.”
Pope Francis has expanded on Pope John Paul II’s identification of sins of relationship, Dr. Ahern pointed out; Pope Francis identifies four Structures of Sin in which we live:
1. We are experiencing
the Globalization of Indifference, becoming less
connected as people, even as technology creates a
sense of being more connected.
Dr. Ahern then proposed
that Catholic Peace Movements have the
transformative power necessary to stimulate the
necessary changes away from these sinful structures
through God’s grace. He cited John Paul Lederach’s
pyramid of building peace, which identifiesdiverse
types of participants – National/Government level,
Middle level, and Grassroots, refugee camps, etc.
Dr. Ahern compares this to a web-model, with organizations mediating between local groups, such as Dominicans in the US interacting with Dominicans in Iraq, or NGOs giving and receiving information locally and with the UN. As Catholics, we can mediate with our national government and the Vatican and the grassroots organizations of which we are part, and between people and religious leaders, religious groups and secular groups. All must work together to produce lasting results. This means working across our differences; the “web” cannot be limited to those who think as we do.
Then Dr. Ahern laid out four structures that we as Catholic Peacemakers can mediate for peace, responding to Pope Francis’ Structures of Sin:
1. We need Global
Governance Reform, a system that works for the world
as a whole, recognizing that we are one family.
Dr. Ahern ended his presentation by challenging us to be a “Structure of Grace” to counter the structures of sin.
General Discussion followed, ranging across such topics as the magnitude of military manufacturing as a factor in US employment and education (e.g., ROTC even on Catholic campuses)to confusion over civic and religious loyalties (flags in churches), etc. A challenge: How can we undermine the profit of weapons making and sales? This is not unforeseeable – mines and cluster bombs are no longer profitable, so no longer produced in US.
Dr. Ahern reminded us that we need to propose strategic changes, as well as being prophetic, for example: Propose jobs that promote peace, rather than just railing against the war industries. Challenge our elected leaders to think in terms of ending war. Consider the overlap with environmental challenges (jobs can play a role here, too). Educate more on building peace, not just the “non” in nonviolent, but active conflict resolution, for instance.
Dr. Ahern invited the students present to share their concerns and interests. They mentioned that they were much more locally focused on discrimination by race, LGBT issues, and building a more inclusive society to promote peace.
Current concerns of all included: what to do about the rising polarization, once the elections are decided; how to refocus discussions and decisions based on facts (and how to recognize and determine these); and how to redefine peace and make it clearer how money devoted to war is taken from more important goals. The discussion ended with a suggestion that Pax Christi might hold a conference on just peace and humanitarian intervention.
Attendees expressed great satisfaction with the day, especially Dr. Ahern’s informed, passionate, and hopeful presentation and the interaction across generations thanks to the presence of Dr. Ahern’s students. It is now our turn to be “Structures of Grace” moving forward.
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