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Webinar: “Promoting Civil Resistance as Part of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative”

September 5 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

 This is a featured post on PCDN.

In its Appeal to the Catholic Church to Re-commit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence, the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative states its goal to help promote the skills of effective “nonviolent resistance, restorative justice, trauma healing, unarmed civilian protection, conflict transformation, and peacebuilding” throughout the worldwide Catholic Church. This statement was issued at the conclusion of the Vatican-approved “Nonviolence and Just Peace” conference held in Rome on April 11-13, 2016. The conference, co-sponsored by Pax Christi International and the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, included more than eighty scholars, theologians, priests, bishops, lay leaders, and congregational members from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania. The conference discussions have now been made widely available in the book Choosing Peace published this year by Orbis Books.

In this webinar, we will hear from a scholar and two members of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative as they describe CNI’s efforts to deepen the Catholic Church’s understanding of and commitment to “active nonviolence” with a particular focus on civil resistance as a key tool in promoting social justice. Marie Dennis will introduce the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative and its engagement through two major conferences with the Vatican. Sharon Nepstad will give more context on the historical role of Catholics in civil resistance movements. Eli McCarthy will share about what the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative is doing now to increase the understandings and skills of nonviolent resistance among Catholics. The live webinar viewers will then have a chance to ask questions about this faith-based initiative to promote nonviolent tools, including popular civil resistance as a means to win rights, freedom, and justice.



Marie Dennis serves on the executive committee of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, a project of Pax Christi International. She was on the Board of Pax Christi International for 20 years and served as co-president from 2007 to 2019. She is a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace. Marie was director for 15 years of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. She is author or co-author of seven books and editor of the award-winning Orbis Book, Choosing Peace: The Catholic Church Returns to Gospel Nonviolence. Marie was named person of the year by the National Catholic Reporter in 2016 and received honorary doctorates from Trinity Washington University and Alvernia University.


Sharon Erickson Nepstad is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of New Mexico. At UNM, she has served as both Chair of Sociology and as Director of Religious Studies. She has been a visiting fellow at Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Religion and at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. She is the author of five books: Catholic Social Activism: Progressive Movements in the United States (2019, New York University Press), Nonviolent Struggle: Theories, Strategies, and Dynamics (2015, Oxford University Press), Nonviolent Revolutions: Civil Resistance in the Late 20th Century (2011, Oxford University Press), Religion and War Resistance in the Plowshares Movement (2008, Cambridge University Press), and Convictions of the Soul: Religion, Culture, and Agency in the Central America Solidarity Movement (2004, Oxford University Press).

Eli McCarthy teaches at Georgetown University in Washington DC in Justice and Peace Studies.  Eli has published a book called “Becoming Nonviolent Peacemakers: A Virtue Ethic for Catholic Social Teaching and U.S. Policy,” (2012) and has a forthcoming book “A Just Peace Ethic Primer: Breaking Cycles of Violence and Building Sustainable Peace (2020). He has published numerous journal articles and published online in The Hill, Huffington Post, National Catholic Reporter, and America Magazine. He also serves as the Director of Justice and Peace for the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, which is the leadership conference of all the U.S. Catholic men’s religious orders. This enables him direct advocacy experience on influencing U.S. policy and organizing collective actions of strategic nonviolent resistance. He serves on the global steering committee of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative and also chairs the CNI educational committee.


September 5
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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International Center on Nonviolent Conflict
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