US priests’ group seeks commitment to ‘Gospel non-violence’

By agency reporter
March 2, 2017

A national priests' group has cited the words of Pope Francis: "Let us make non-violence our way of life," as they pledged support and offered assistance to US bishops regarding international justice and peace.

The 1,200 member Association of US Catholic Priests (AUSCP) sent a letter on 30 January 2017 to Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, who is the chairman-elect of the American bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace.

.Writing for the AUSCP, Father Bernard Bonnot said the association "promises to support you, Archbishop, and your committee, when you publicly advocate for active nonviolence, when you address the justice issues of racism, xenophobia, sexism, Islamophobia, and vast economic inequality in order to relieve terrifying suffering in the international community."

The AUSCP says the contents of the letter are being released for all Catholics to consider the path of Gospel non-violence at the beginning of Lent. The letter offers to assist bishops "in integrating 'Gospel nonviolence' into the many dimensions of Catholic life and institutions, in a way that speaks to the hearts of all, including military personnel."

.In collaboration with Pax Christi and other organisations,  the AUSCP asks to accompany the bishops' committee members, "to study and promote the practice of active nonviolence, and to engage people of goodwill in supporting active nonviolent activities worldwide."

.The letter offers some specific actions for the bishops' committee to consider:

  •  to advocate abolishing war and nuclear weapons
  •  to discontinue the teaching of the Just War theory and to articulate an ethic of Just Peace
  • to call for the elimination of funding for weaponised drones, "whose use outside of declared war constitutes a form of state terrorism"

.The letter seeks to promote "active non-violence" as the way to "avoid becoming what we are against." The AUSCP suggests that Catholic leaders draw attention "to the noble resistance" of Ben Salmon, a Denver Catholic who refused to participate in World War I and accepted years of imprisonment, solitary confinement and the possibility of the death penalty.

.The bishops have announced the canonisation cause for a Vietnam chaplain and recipient of the Medal of Honor, Father Vincent Capodanno. The priests suggest the cause of Ben Salmon to be equally worthy.

.The priests ask the bishops to consider April 6, the one hundredth anniversary of the US entry into World War I as a day to draw attention to the life and non-violent commitment of Ben Salmon, and to be an opportunity to advocate Gospel non-violence as a way of life.

* More about Ben Salmond here

* AUSCP http://www.uscatholicpriests.org/

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