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The future of Catholic peacebuilding


Among the most pressing of the challenges posed by modernity is violent conflict: bloody struggles between peoples, inside and across borders, over scarce resources as well as a sense of threatened identities. How is it possible to build peace and new, sustainable forms of community in the face of this challenge?

The heads of several of the international Catholic organizations most deeply involved in peacebuilding joined scholars in Rome on June 30 for a conference on “The Future of Peacebuilding: Contributions from Catholic Theology, Ethics, Praxis.” The Contending Modernities blog asked the organizer of the conference as well as a key participant—Gerard Powers and Maryann Cusimano Love, respectively—to share their thoughts on Catholic peacebuilding, based on reflections they presented at the conference.

Held at the Christian Brothers’ Casa La Salle in Rome, the meeting was organized by the Catholic Peacebuilding Network (CPN), based at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and co-sponsored by nine other academic institutes, development agencies, and peace organizations affiliated with the CPN: the Bernardin Center for Theology and Ministry, Catholic Theological Union; Caritas Internationalis; Catholic Relief Services; the Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College; the Institute for Policy Research, The Catholic University of America; the Institute for Theology and Peace, Germany; the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego; the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame; the Order of Friars Minor; and Pax Christi International.

With an audience of diplomats, aid workers, peacebuilding practitioners and academics, the conference focused on three questions: What constitutes effective and authentically Catholic peacebuilding? How can Catholic peacebuilding practices inform and be informed by Catholic theology? And what are future challenges for Catholic peacebuilding?

The text of the talks and video of the conference are available at http://cpn.nd.edu/.  For a fuller treatment of these questions, see Peacebuilding: Catholic Theology, Ethics, and Praxis, edited by R. Schreiter, S. Appleby, and G. Powers (Orbis 2010).

Timothy Samuel Shah is Editor of the Contending Modernities Blog. He is Associate Director and Scholar in Residence of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and Adjunct Research Professor with Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute. With Monica Duffy Toft and Daniel Philpott, he is co-author of God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics.

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