Making a commitment to ‘active nonviolence’

  • Written by Mary Louise Van Dyke
  • Published in Local
Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, advocates ‘active nonviolence’ as a path for resolving issues such as war, crime and climate change. Photo: CNS/Nancy Phelan Wiechec Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, advocates ‘active nonviolence’ as a path for resolving issues such as war, crime and climate change. Photo: CNS/Nancy Phelan Wiechec

BURIEN – Some 200 people will make a public commitment to nonviolence during a Sept. 24 conference featuring Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International.

Dennis, the keynote speaker, will offer highlights from the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference she attended in Rome last April. That conference — the inspiration for Saturday’s event at St. Francis of Assisi Parish’s Unity Place — gathered clergy, theologians and lay leaders from all around the globe.

A question still being asked, Dennis said, is whether there’s “another path for the human community to take that will lead us beyond perpetual violence and war.”

People in Western Washington can still register for Saturday’s 9 a.m. conference, “Becoming Peacemakers: A Gospel Response to Violence,” and participate in the 12:45 p.m. public witness. Each person will make a commitment to pursue nonviolent action and strategies to resolve issues such as juvenile crime, climate change and war.

Marie Dennis with Pope Francis
Marie Dennis met Pope Francis at April’s Nonviolence and Just Peace conference in Rome. Photo: Courtesy Pax Christi International

Dennis advocates “active nonviolence,” a process of developing nonviolent responses to turmoil that she said has been effective in past decades. Compared with pacifism, nonviolence is more a way of being — involving a set of tools that can help people respond to situations and explore possibilities for new ways to act, she said.

The conference is sponsored by the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center, JustFaith Ministries, Maryknoll, Pax Christi and the archdiocesan Missions Office.

Attendees will also hear a presentation about “peacemaking circles” from Joe Cotton, the archdiocese’s assistant director of Pastoral Care and Outreach. These circles involve members of the community meeting with people charged with crimes. 

The Pastoral Care Office, which oversees the archdiocese’s criminal justice ministry, is partnering with King County Juvenile Court to pilot the circles as an alternative sentencing process for certain juvenile cases. 

These circles will “revolutionize the way justice happens,” Cotton said. “Ultimately it is the Gospel coming to life here in our back yard.” 

Attend the conference

“Becoming Peacemakers: A Gospel Response to Violence,” begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, at St. Francis of Assisi Parish’s Unity Place, 15216 21st Ave. S.W., Burien.

Presentations will be followed by reflection and discussion. At 12:45 p.m., participants will gather for a public commitment to nonviolence.

To register, call Vince Herberholt of JustFaith Ministries, 206-491-4486. 

An excerpt from the commitment to nonviolence: 

As People of Faith committed to a more just and peaceful world and as participants in today’s peacemaking event, we make a public, prayerful witness to affirm our call to be peacemakers and to pledge our lives in support of active nonviolence and Just Peace – in our world, our country, our communities and our families.

The “Becoming Peacemakers: A Gospel Response to Violence” conference took place at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in...

Posted by Northwest Catholic on Wednesday, September 28, 2016