Source: Fellowship of Reconciliation
The true message of Christianity is nonviolence towards all humans, animals and the Earth, according to renowned American priest and peace activist John Dear.
Speaking at the conference Reclaiming Gospel Nonviolence, held at St Mary’s Monastery in Kinnoull, Perth on 14-16 July, Dear looked over the life of Jesus and the lives of the early Christians to draw inspiration for the idea that practising peace is the core duty of all Christians and people of faith. “As a society we are addicted to death”, he said, from the wars that have been continually fought for the last seventy-plus years to the dead and fossilised animals we burn as coal, oil and natural gas.
Also addressing the 40-strong audience was Lucas Johnson, International Coordinator of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation. Johnson highlighted examples of practical peacemaking around the world, including the Black Lives Matter campaign in the USA and the international observers physically standing with Colombian communities to protect them from attacks by paramilitaries and the army. There was concern to support peace work in South Sudan. He asked of the situation there: “Fellowship of Reconciliation member the Organisation for Nonviolence and Development does something remarkable in creating cooperation across communities, but how long can that last in a situation with no education, insufficient food and poor healthcare?”
The conference also heard about efforts to shift Catholic teaching from supporting ‘Just War’ to promoting nonviolence, and considered ways of strengthening peace activism in Scotland.
“Change happens when good people break bad laws and face the consequences”, said Dear. This can be seen in the life of Jesus, whom Dear described as “a one-man crime wave” for actions such as overturning the tables in the temple and healing the sick on the Sabbath. He urged participants to be witnesses for peace in their communities, through their actions and their lives, adding: “We are called to be faithful, not to be successful”.
The conference was organised by the Fellowship of Reconciliation (England and Scotland) and Pax Christi. Participants came from groups including the Scottish Episcopalian Church, Quakers, Methodists, Church of Scotland, Catholic Church in Scotland, the Scottish Justice and Peace Network and the Conforti Institute.
Video of John Dear speaking at the Scottish conference on nonviolence
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