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Read the Notes from the May CNV Conference Call!

Posted by Erin Bechtol

On May 30th we held our monthly National Campaign Nonviolence Conference Call.  We heard from George Martin and discussed the events coming up during the Week of Actions Sept. 16-24, 2017.  If you missed the call, you can read the notes or listen to the audio below. The next call is scheduled for June 27th, mark you calendars today and RSVP here!


Campaign Nonviolence National Organizing Conference Call

May 30, 2017, 5pm Pacific/ 8pm Eastern (60 minutes)


Facilitator: Ken Butigan



  • Welcome—Ken Butigan
  • Centering—Ryan Hall
    • “Pacifism simply is not a matter of calm looking on; it is work, hard work…those lovely small apples out there…everything could be so beautiful if it were not for the insanity of war…one day, a new idea will arise and there will be an end of all wars…People will have to work hard for that new state of things, but they will achieve it.”— Kathe Kollwitz
  • Roll Call—Ryan Hall reads the list of people on the call.



  • Ken Butigan and John Dear update on the CNV national call
    • 340 events registered for September week of actions. Vatican Nonviolence Initiative is one of the most important things happening now.
    • Looking from now to the end of next year as organizing time. Planning actions in September, but consider congressional elections next year as a target to organize against the culture of violence. Check out the call to action here:
    • Work now for the week of action in September. We are farther ahead than we have been in previous years with 340+ registered actions. Please remember to register your action.
      • Organize a nonviolence training. Check out
      • Join an affinity group — local activist support group to talk about how you feel about what’s going on and what you’re going to do. Start one if there isn’t one in your area.
      • Nonviolent Cities Project — Over 50 activists in 50 cities involved, 10-15 gaining lots of traction. Long term strategy for local transformation. Bring it to your city.
      • Urging everybody everywhere to have a day or organizing or a retreat in the spring. We want something in every state to talk about where we are going with our nonviolence.
      • September 2018 we are aiming for 1500 to 2000 actions in all 50 states. Also want a national convergence in Washington DC with nonviolent direct action.
    • Grassroots action are how we make change. Please look at the website or contact Ryan Hall if you have any questions.
  • Ken introduces Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International who has been urging the Catholic church to recommit to the centrality of nonviolence.


Marie Dennis Speaks:

  • Great to see how CNV has taken a leadership role in guiding nonviolent projects across the country.
  • Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, a project of Pax Christi International, works closely with Pace e Bene and many other organization, and began 2-3 years ago. Despite all the good work in nonviolence people are doing around the world, there is still a propensity to assume that military action is the only viable response to problems. People began to talk about how they could make a difference to promote and educate people about nonviolence as a viable option. Addressed how the Catholic church has endorsed violence in several ways and encouraged the church to instead promote gospel nonviolence. Used the church’s institutional capacity to teach nonviolence. Had to explain that nonviolence is not avoiding conflict, passivity, or refusing to respond to threats in the world, but that nonviolence is about the way we respond. So she asked, what if the institutional Catholic church invested itself in encouraging Catholics around the world to study and engage in nonviolence? This could make a big, tangible impact.
  • Over a year and a half, they convinced the Vatican to cosponsor a conference with Pax Christi International about nonviolence. Had two months to organize 80 people from all over the world to discuss the practice of nonviolence in the midst of nonviolence. During the conference they covered practical nonviolence, reflected on Jesus’s story, and moved onto how the church endorses violence. The Vatican was deeply involved with this process, resulting in people who worked within the church and people who challenged the church’s stance.
  • Outcome document: An Appeal to the Catholic Church to Recommit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence. Specifically called the church to integrate nonviolence explicitly into the life of the church on every level, to promote nonviolent practices, to initiate an interfaith conversation about nonviolence, to stop teaching the “just war theory,” to advocate for abolition of nuclear weapons and war, and to challenge unjust world powers with their voice. Some people mistook the document as a statement from the Vatican rather than an appeal to the church. There was some pushback from people who could not imagine moving beyond “just war.”
  • Established the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative to have a presence in communities across the world. At the end of the conference they were invited to submit a proposal to Pope Francis for the World Day of Peace, then asked to provide the Vatican with background material to inform their speech. Since then, Pope Francis has spread the word of nonviolence many times in speaking to leaders of other faiths and even when speaking to Donald Trump.
  • Catholic Nonviolence Initiative has a three piece strategy now:
    • Build on the work of organizations like Pace e Bene, CNV, and other peacebuilding professionals to continue to engage the Vatican. Hoping for an encyclical.
    • Focus on key theologians, academics, and Catholic leaders to engage them in a discussion about what should be included in an encyclical about nonviolence. What would a new moral standard look like without “just war?”
    • Support organizations educating and promoting nonviolence. Expand our understanding of nonviolence.
    • About to launch five roundtables and four research areas to engage as many international scholars and activists as possible to
      • develop foundational theology of nonviolence
      • take a deep look at biblical foundation of nonviolence
      • Develop a new moral framework
      • What would it look like to integrate nonviolence into the church?
      • A concrete collection of the power of nonviolence
    • Also want specific studies on women in nonviolence, failures of violence, etc.
  • Still in conversation with the Vatican. Hope to bring this new information to the Vatican to get moving on the encyclical. So grateful to the gifted and talented people dedicated to nonviolence in countries all across the world.


Large Group Discussion

  • Ann Mbacke in California — Marie said there are regional conversations happening. Are those conversations in CA? How can people get involved? Or is it specifically for the Catholic church?
    • Marie says they are excited to help, support, and encourage everybody to start the conversation locally. Take pieces of the conversation that are most relevant locally (not necessarily about the Catholic church) and build from there, take it to regional groups and please share the results with Catholic Nonviolence Initiative. All of their resources are here:  Check the website for discussion questions and to get in touch to share results of meetings.
  • Mariano Jaco in California — Has there been any thought about approaching the US Catholic Conference of Bishops or focusing on North America? Loves looking at great world spiritual leaders, but are we reaching out to other spiritual leaders as well?
    • Marie says they have reached out to the US CCB and received a pretty positive response. Certain key bishops have been involved. Takes patient conversations to get passed the cobwebs and probe the potential of nonviolence. Elon McCarthy put out a call for people to write letters to their own bishops and continue to call for the development of nonviolent policies. Start locally and get people involved. The goal is not to solve the debate between pacifism and just war. The goal is to get people thinking about nonviolence, both within the church and in the local community. Tell the story of nonviolence, stir the imagination of leaders in the hierarchy, and help people see that nonviolence is the common thread across faiths and practices.
  • Andre Sheldon in Massachusetts — Motivated to connect the dots between social movements and mainstream nonviolence. The world is waiting for something bigger and now is our opportunity since all the mechanisms are in place. Suggests that leaders come out and encourage everyone to encourage in a day of nonviolence. In order to reach everyone, use the one major force that’s already working: the women’s movement. Make nonviolence not a means to an end, but the goal.
  • Mark S. — So many Catholics are strongly pro-life, but not so strong on peace issues. Hopes people make connection between both concerns.
  • Rose Lord in Pennsylvania — Is nonviolence initiative coordinating with the environmental initiative as expressed by Pope Francis’s encyclical? Will there be representatives from the Global Catholic Climate movement at the table?
    • Marie says yes, they have been in touch with environmental representatives as well. Making the connection between people who are involved in both, and including environmental concerns in nonviolence. Hopes to learn from the environmental initiative as well. Understand violence in all dimensions and are thrilled for people to make connections wherever they can, because the organization’s resources are stretched thin in moving forward with the encyclical.


Conclusion: Ken Butigan

  • Many of us hoped that Pope Francis would take a more active role in nonviolence since he has been installed, and it is heartening to hear that he has. Even over the last month, Pope Francis has been mainstreaming nonviolence. Grateful for Marie and all those participating on this call and creating a culture of nonviolence. Most exciting initiative in 30 years. Find a nonviolent training, join or create an affinity group, plan your nonviolent action for this year, and build towards September 2018 for twice as many actions.

Closing: 1 Min.


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