Experts explore, promote and defend Pope Francis' Peace Message
Peaceful movements are more successful than violent insurgencies, according to experts at a Holy See Mission event.
Responding to Pope Francis’ January 1 message for the Fiftieth World Day of Peace, experts on global peacemaking and peacebuilding called upon the international community to find creative and practical ways to resolve conflict with nonviolence at a March 2 event entitled Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace.
The event was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and sponsored by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN, together with the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Pax Christi International and the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, highlighted the key points Pope Francis made Message, in which he called upon all leaders and citizens to take an active role in building peace.
Along with pleading for disarmament, and the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons, the Holy Father “strenuously objects to the myth that international conflicts can only be resolved by deterrent and murderous forces,” Archbishop Auza said.
“Countering violence with violence leads at best to … enormous suffering” and, at worst, to the physical and spiritual death of multitudes — and might even lead to self- extinction,” the Holy Father said in his Message.
Archbishop Auza said building active peace requires facing differences constructively, addressing the roots of conflicts, and involving and integrating all affected by violence and conflict.
Gerry Lee, Director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, debunked through empirical data the myth that nonviolence is impractical in the face of the wars and terrorism that the world faces today.
“There is actually strong empirical evidence for the superiority of active nonviolence,” Lee said, citing the research of Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan who collected evidence on all major nonviolent and violent campaigns throughout the world since 1990.
The researchers found that from 1900-2016, nonviolent campaigns, including boycotts, strikes, non-cooperation, and mass rallies, were twice as likely to succeed as violent insurgencies. Research also revealed 75 percent failure rate of violent insurgencies in the time period, while the majority of nonviolent campaigns succeeded.
One reason for the higher success rate, he said, is that nonviolent campaigns can mobilize a diverse array people of all backgrounds and physical ability, including the elderly, disabled, and children, mentioning the People Power movement in the Philippines from 1983 to 1986 as an example.
“While several thousand mostly rural male youths fought Marcos for years in guerilla warfare unsuccessfully, he was able to brutally suppress them by isolating them from the Filipino population,” Lee said. “While on the other hand a mass movement of workers, urban poor, students, women’s groups, the business community, and the Catholic Church unified in opposition, they were able to mobilize over 2 million Filipinos to erode his base of support in the army and business community.”
In the cases where nonviolent campaigns failed, research shows that the reason is not the absence of arms but rather internal disunity and the inability to create a strong and cohesive network.
“A poorly managed, disunified campaign will fail whether violent or nonviolent,” Lee said.
Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, said more intellectual and financial investment is needed to develop effective nonviolent approaches to peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
“Repeatedly since 1945 the UN has been confronted with an enormous challenge, facing complex and dangerous situations with relatively underfunded or underdeveloped nonviolent strategies,” she said. “At the moment of crisis – in Aleppo or Mosel, Rwanda or the Balkans, the Philippines, Haiti or South Sudan — we have time and again opened a toolbox that is flush with military might, but woefully under-invested in the tools of active nonviolence.”
Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love, Associate Professor of International Relations at the Catholic University of America, stressed the importance of rebuilding communities after times of conflict, especially through participation, reestablishment of just relationships, restoration of order, reestablishment, reconciliation among warring parties, and sustainable solutions.
“This means repair, not just of homes and bridges but of the human infrastructure, the human heart,” Love said. “We have to remember all wars end, whether they end well or end badly depends on us and whether we build a lasting peace.”
Dr. Rima Saleh, former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, said peacekeeping is most effective when the communities it supports are empowered to be agents of change in preventing violence and restoring peace, and saw particular success through education.
“In West Africa we demobilized child soldiers and wanted to reintegrated them into society, and we had Back-to-School campaigns and programs to help them heal and reconcile with their societies.”
Fr. Francisco de Roux founded the Development and Peace Program in the Magdalena Region of Colombia, which won the Colombia National Peace Prize in 2001. Fr. de Roux shared his personal accounts of peacebuilding on the ground in Colombia, in which his group continuously engages in dialogue to mediate between paramilitaries, FARC guerillas, and the Colombian military, persuading each party to respect the value of human life, particularly of civilians.
“Nonviolent activities are not utopian” he said. But, he added, “we never get safety and security from weapons.”
To watch the event in its entirety on UN Web TV, click here.
Archbishop Auza speaks on Pope Francis' Diplomacy at Seton Hall
On March 1, Archbishop Bernardito Auza presented a lecture on “Pope Francis’ Diplomacy” at Seton Hall University. The lecture was sponsored by the Seton Hall School of Diplomacy and International Relations and the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the recently-installed Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark, led the opening prayer.
Professor Andrea Bartoli, Dean of the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, introduced Archbishop Auza, and said, “The Church has played a crucial role in the making of history, especially through diplomacy.”
Archbishop Auza addressed the history of Holy See diplomacy and said the Church adds an element of continuity in a world constantly in flux.
“The overall goal of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations has always been this,” he said, “to bring the leaven of the Gospel and the Church’s own experience of humanity to the complex reality of international relations and to the international debates about the problems facing our world.”
He noted that there have been five papal visits to the United Nations in the Holy See’s 53 years of participation. He said the Mission's main priorities this year, flowing from what he described as Pope Francis’ spiritual diplomacy and priorities, are the pursuit of peace in war torn countries, disarmament, migration, fighting human trafficking, lifting up those in extreme poverty, and the promotion of the dignity of every human person and the family.
In addition to the lecture, the School of Diplomacy and International and Holy See Mission celebrated the new John Paul II Fellowship, which will provide Seton Hall Diplomacy students with hands-on experience of the work of the Holy See in the context of the United Nations.
The full text of Archbishop Auza’s lecture can be read by clicking here.
Archbishop Auza speaks at NYU on Refugees, the Middle East, the Role of Religion in International Affairs
On Monday February 27, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, participated in a 90 minute public interview with Professor Alon Ben-Meir at New York University's Center for Global Affairs.
In the wide-ranging interview, Archbishop Auza spoke at length about Holy See’s position in the Middle East, particularly in relations with the State of Israel and the State of Palestine, describing the Holy See’s advocacy of a two-state solution and discussing in depth some of the challenges to peace in the region. Dr. Ben-Meir, who writes a weekly column for the Jerusalem Post, asked him several questions about the role of religion in the region. Archbishop Auza said that he would attribute a significant role to religion in the situation in the Middle East, not necessarily because religion is a cause of crisis but because of religion’s role in a democratic and pluralistic society. Religion cannot be conflated with national policies, he added.
With regard to the role of religion overall in international affairs, Archbishop Auza emphasized that the more religion is discredited by all its spurious forms, the more genuine religion must play its important role in the overall effort to peace and prosperity. Authentic religion, not military might and not even political settlements, is the antidote to spurious interpretations of religious beliefs or texts, he said. He also stressed that the positive role of religion to resolve conflicts has been underestimated and for the sake of peace and development, the world must restore religion in its rightful place in the conduct of international diplomacy.
Dr. Ben-Meir and Archbishop Auza also discussed the crisis of migration and refugees. After going through the staggering statistics of the number of people on the move, Archbishop Auza suggested that on of the issues today is the conflation, in public understanding, of refugees, internally displaced persons, migrants and forced migrants as the same realities. This, he said, induces fear and even hatred against refugees and other forced migrants, because of a perceived threat that the waves of migrants bring to unwilling host societies. The number one and the most dominant push factor of the refugee crisis is wars and conflicts, and therefore to address the migration and refugee crisis, we need to focus on the causes and not just the effects.
To watch a video recording of the conversation, please click here.
Archbishop Auza gives inaugural Casamarca Lecture at Fordham
On February 23, Archbishop Bernardito Auza delivered a lecture entitled, “The Holy See and the Fight Against Human Trafficking,” upon his inauguration as the Casamarca Foundation Chair in Migration and Globalization Studies at Fordham University.
Archbishop Auza, who said an estimated 36 million people are affected by some form of trafficking, including a growing number of men, noted the various ways trafficking manifests in countries around the world, including using human beings as sex slaves in prostitution and pornography, forced labor, compelled participation in illegal activities, child soldiering, forced marriages and child brides, illegal adoptions, the stealing of children from pregnant women, organ harvesting, and human sacrifice.
The issue of human trafficking has grown in significance among the international community in the past decade, he said, noting the increase of UN platforms that have drawn attention to the issue, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants and Security Council Open Debates. He said that while international attention and policies outlawing trafficking are important, more work is necessary to cut out the scourge at its root, especially for women and girls.
The text of his lecture can be found here.
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March 2: Pope Francis’ Summons to Non-Violence as a Style of Politics for Peace
3 p.m. - 5 p.m.
UN Headquarters, Conference Room 5
March 22: Economically Empowering Trafficking Victims to Stay Permanently Off the Streets
3 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
UN Headquarters, Conference Room 11
March 23: Fertility Awareness and Women's Economic Empowerment
10 a.m. - 11:15
UN Headquarters, Conference Room 11
March 23: The Distinctiveness of Woman's Work and Her Empowerment
3 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
UN Headquarters, Conference Room 11
March 28: The Perspective of the Holy See on the UN Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, leading toward their total Elimination
1:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
UN Headquarters, Conference Room 4
May 10: An Evening with Raphael: Raphael's Art and Human Dignity
6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
UN Headquarters, Conference Room 4
May 12: The Centenary of Fatima and the Enduring Relevance of Its Message of Peace
11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
UN Headquarters, Conference Room 2