Thursday, 11 May 2017

A precious gift to the People of God

My dear brothers and sisters, may this message find you well.

As all of you know by now, we are once again experiencing a time of particular tension in our beautiful country South Sudan; let us not be caught by negative feeling, let us raise up our spirit and once again let us shake the heavens with our prayers.

As we all agreed during the General Assembly I simply remind you and strongly recommend that in each and all our communities prayer for peace and reconciliation and nonviolent solutions shall be celebrated every month. Let’s not pass a single day in which we do not intercede for our brothers and sisters of South Sudan “for through you we beat down our foes, in your name we trampled our aggressors. For it was not in my bow I trusted nor yet was I saved by my sword: it was you who saved us […] All day long our boast was in God and we praised your name without ceasing” (psalm 44).
As religious we are called to “stay with him” and to be sent into the world.

Let us contemplate God to better and more deeply understand this country; let us pray for our enemies, and for the ones who persecute us and our brothers and sisters.

Let us begin this love in our own communities because even if a small match cannot illumine a whole forest, yet it can bright the countenance of our brother and sister living with us.

We all share the responsibility of being at the heart of the Church:
In effect, the consecrated life is at the very heart of the Church as a decisive element for her mission, since it "manifests the inner nature of the Christian calling" and the striving of the whole Church as Bride towards union with her one Spouse. […] the consecrated life has not only proved a help and support for the Church in the past, but is also a precious and necessary gift for the present and future of the People of God, since it is an intimate part of her life, her holiness and her mission. (Vita Consecrata n°3)

This is the trust that God has on each and all of us. Let us not be trapped into worldly allures; we are rooted into our own orders, congregations or institutions in virtue of our profession and rule of life each one of us has been called to follow. God wants our happiness and our well-being and there is nothing in this world able to stop this desire of God.

Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.

Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.

The Lord will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.

Righteousness goes before him

and prepares the way for his steps

Fr. Federico

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Interesting article on NONVIOLENCE

An appeal to the Catholic Church
to re-commit to the centrality of Gospel nonviolence

As Christians committed to a more just and peaceful world we are called to take a clear stand for creative and active nonviolence and against all forms of violence. With this conviction, and in recognition of the Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis, people from many countries gathered at the Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International on April 11-13, 2016 in Rome.

Our assembly, people of God from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania included lay people, theologians, members of religious congregations, priests, and bishops. Many of us live in communities experiencing violence and oppression. All of us are practitioners of justice and peace. We are grateful for the message to our conference from Pope Francis: "your thoughts on revitalizing the tools of nonviolence, and of active nonviolence in particular, will be a needed and positive contribution".

Looking at our world today

We live in a time of tremendous suffering, widespread trauma and fear linked to militarization, economic injustice, climate change, and a myriad of other specific forms of violence. In this context of normalized and systemic violence, those of us who stand in the Christian tradition are called to recognize the centrality of active nonviolence to the vision and message of Jesus; to the life and practice of the Catholic Church; and to our long- term vocation of healing and reconciling both people and the planet.

We rejoice in the rich concrete experiences of people engaged in work for peace around the world, many of whose stories we heard during this conference. Participants shared their experiences of courageous negotiations with armed actors in Uganda and Colombia; working to protect the Article 9, the peace clause in the Japanese Constitution; accompaniment in Palestine; and countrywide peace education in the Philippines. They illuminate the creativity and power of nonviolent practices in many different situations of potential or actual violent conflict. Recent academic research, in fact, has confirmed that nonviolent resistance strategies are twice as effective as violent ones.

The time has come for our Church to be a living witness and to invest far greater human and financial resources in promoting a spirituality and practice of active nonviolence and in forming and training our Catholic communities in effective nonviolent practices. In all of this, Jesus is our inspiration and model.

Jesus and nonviolence

In his own times, rife with structural violence, Jesus proclaimed a new, nonviolent order rooted in the unconditional love of God. Jesus called his disciples to love their enemies (Matthew 5: 44), which includes respecting the image of God in all persons; to offer no violent resistance to one who does evil (Matthew 5: 39); to become peacemakers; to forgive and repent; and to be abundantly merciful (Matthew 5-7). Jesus embodied nonviolence by actively resisting systemic dehumanization, as when he defied the Sabbath laws to heal the man with the withered hand (Mark 3: 1-6); when he confronted the powerful at the Temple and purified it (John 2: 13- 22); when he peacefully but determinedly challenged the men accusing a woman of adultery (John 8: 1-11); when on the night before he died he asked Peter to put down his sword (Matthew 26: 52).

Neither passive nor weak, Jesus' nonviolence was the power of love in action. In vision and deed, he is the revelation and embodiment of the Nonviolent God, a truth especially illuminated in the Cross and Resurrection. He calls us to develop the virtue of nonviolent peacemaking.

Clearly, the Word of God, the witness of Jesus, should never be used to justify violence, injustice or war. We confess that the people of God have betrayed this central message of the Gospel many times, participating in wars, persecution, oppression, exploitation, and discrimination.

We believe that there is no "just war". Too often the "just war theory" has been used to endorse rather than prevent or limit war. Suggesting that a "just war" is possible also undermines the moral imperative to develop tools and capacities for nonviolent transformation of conflict.

We need a new framework that is consistent with Gospel nonviolence. A different path is clearly unfolding in recent Catholic social teaching. Pope John XXIII wrote that war is not a suitable way to restore rights; Pope Paul VI linked peace and development, and told the UN "no more war"; Pope John Paul II said that "war belongs to the tragic past, to history"; Pope Benedict XVI said that "loving the enemy is the nucleus of the Christian revolution"; and Pope Francis said "the true strength of the Christian is the power of truth and love, which leads to the renunciation of all violence. Faith and violence are incompatible". He has also urged the "abolition of war".

We propose that the Catholic Church develop and consider shifting to a Just Peace approach based on Gospel nonviolence. A Just Peace approach offers a vision and an ethic to build peace as well as to prevent, defuse, and to heal the damage of violent conflict. This ethic includes a commitment to human dignity and thriving relationships, with specific criteria, virtues, and practices to guide our actions. We recognize that peace requires justice and justice requires peacemaking.

Living Gospel Nonviolence and Just Peace

In that spirit we commit ourselves to furthering Catholic understanding and practice of active nonviolence on the road to just peace. As would-be disciples of Jesus, challenged and inspired by stories of hope and courage in these days, we call on the Church we love to:

  • continue developing Catholic social teaching on nonviolence. In particular, we call on Pope Francis to share with the world an encyclical on nonviolence and Just Peace;

  • integrate Gospel nonviolence explicitly into the life, including the sacramental life, and work of the Church through dioceses, parishes, agencies, schools, universities, seminaries, religious orders, voluntary associations, and others;

  • promote nonviolent practices and strategies (e.g., nonviolent resistance, restorative justice, trauma healing, unarmed civilian protection, conflict transformation, and peacebuilding strategies);

  • initiate a global conversation on nonviolence within the Church, with people of other faiths, and with the larger world to respond to the monumental crises of our time with the vision and strategies of nonviolence and Just Peace;

  • no longer use or teach "just war theory"; continue advocating for the abolition of war and nuclear weapons;

  • lift up the prophetic voice of the church to challenge unjust world powers and to support and defend those

    nonviolent activists whose work for peace and justice put their lives at risk.

    In every age, the Holy Spirit graces the Church with the wisdom to respond to the challenges of its time. In response to what is a global epidemic of violence, which Pope Francis has labeled a "world war in installments", we are being called to invoke, pray over, teach and take decisive action. With our communities and organizations, we look forward to continue collaborating with the Holy See and the global Church to advance Gospel nonviolence.

Pax Christi International, Rue du Progr├Ęs, 323, 1030 Brussels, Belgium. Phone: ++32 (0)2 502.55.50 www.nonviolencejustp 

Monday, 1 May 2017

Pope says: "Religious Leader MUST unmask violence and hatred"

Pope at Al-Azhar; religious leaders must 'unmask' violence and hatred

Pope Francis and Sheik Al-Tayeb at the International Peace Conference in Al-Azhar University on Friday - RV

Calling for respectful interreligious dialogue, Pope Francis said the only alternative to a culture of civilized encounter is "the incivility of conflict". Recalling the visit of St Francis to the Sultan in Egypt eight centuries ago, he called for dialogue based on sincerity and the courage to accept differences.
Speaking of the covenant which God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai, the Pope said that religion cannot simply be relegated to the private sphere but, at the same time, religion must not be confused with the political sphere or tempted by worldly powers that seek to exploit it.
Faith and violence are incompatible
At the heart of the law given to Moses, the Pope continued, is the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill'. Violence, he stressed, "is the negation of every authentic religious expression" and religious leaders are called to "unmask" violence and selfishness masquerading as sanctity. Together, he insisted, "Let us affirm the incompatibility of violence and faith, belief and hatred", upholding instead "the sacredness of every human life".
Weapons 'feed the cancer of war'
Echoing the words of Sheik Al-Tayeb, Pope Francis also reiterated his appeal for an end to the arms trade, saying that if weapons are produced and sold, "soon or later they will be used". Only by bringing to light "the murky manoeuvrings  that feed the cancer of war can its real causes be prevented", he said.
Peacemakers, not populism
Finally the Pope stressed the importance of working to eliminate poverty and to combat the current rise of populism that does not promote stability and peace. Every unilateral action that does not promote constructive and shared solutions, he warned, is "a gift to the proponents of radicalism and violence". What our world needs, he said, is peacemakers, not fomenters of conflict; firefighters, not arsonists; preachers of reconciliation, not instigators of destruction".
Please find below the full address of Pope Francis at the International Conference for Peace in Cairo's Al-Azhar Conference Centre
As-salamu alaykum!    Peace be with you!
I consider it a great gift to be able to begin my Visit to Egypt here, and to address you in the context of this International Peace Conference.  I thank the Grand Imam for having planned and organized this Conference, and for kindly inviting me to take part.  I would like to offer you a few thoughts, drawing on the glorious history of this land, which over the ages has appeared to the world as a land of civilizations and a land of covenants.
A land of civilizations 
From ancient times, the culture that arose along the banks of the Nile was synonymous with civilization.  Egypt lifted the lamp of knowledge, giving birth to an inestimable cultural heritage, made up of wisdom and ingenuity, mathematical and astronomical discoveries, and remarkable forms of architecture and figurative art.  The quest for knowledge and the value placed on education were the result of conscious decisions on the part of the ancient inhabitants of this land, and were to bear much fruit for the future.  Similar decisions are needed for our own future, decisions of peace and for peace, for there will be no peace without the proper education of coming generations.  Nor can young people today be properly educated unless the training they receive corresponds to the nature of man as an open and relational being.
Education indeed becomes wisdom for life if it is capable of "drawing out" of men and women the very best of themselves, in contact with the One who transcends them and with the world around them, fostering a sense of identity that is open and not self-enclosed.  Wisdom seeks the other, overcoming temptations to rigidity and closed-mindedness; it is open and in motion, at once humble and inquisitive; it is able to value the past and set it in dialogue with the present, while employing a suitable hermeneutics.  Wisdom prepares a future in which people do not attempt to push their own agenda but rather to include others as an integral part of themselves.  Wisdom tirelessly seeks, even now, to identify opportunities for encounter and sharing; from the past, it learns that evil only gives rise to more evil, and violence to more violence, in a spiral that ends by imprisoning everyone.  Wisdom, in rejecting the dishonesty and the abuse of power, is centred on human dignity, a dignity which is precious in God's eyes, and on an ethics worthy of man, one that is unafraid of others and fearlessly employs those means of knowledge bestowed on us by the Creator. 
Precisely in the field of dialogue, particularly interreligious dialogue, we are constantly called to walk together, in the conviction that the future also depends on the encounter of religions and cultures.  In this regard, the work of the Mixed Committee for Dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Committee of Al-Azhar for Dialogue offers us a concrete and encouraging example.  Three basic areas, if properly linked to one another, can assist in this dialogue: the duty to respect one's own identity and that of others, the courage to accept differences, and sincerity of intentions.
The duty to respect one's own identity and that of others, because true dialogue cannot be built on ambiguity or a willingness to sacrifice some good for the sake of pleasing others.  The courage to accept differences, because those who are different, either culturally or religiously, should not be seen or treated as enemies, but rather welcomed as fellow-travellers, in the genuine conviction that the good of each resides in the good of all.  Sincerity of intentions, because dialogue, as an authentic expression of our humanity, is not a strategy for achieving specific goals, but rather a path to truth, one that deserves to be undertaken patiently, in order to transform competition into cooperation.
An education in respectful openness and sincere dialogue with others, recognizing their rights and basic freedoms, particularly religious freedom, represents the best way to build the future together, to be builders of civility.  For the only alternative to the civility of encounter is the incivility of conflict.  To counter effectively the barbarity of those who foment hatred and violence, we need to accompany young people, helping them on the path to maturity and teaching them to respond to the incendiary logic of evil by patiently working for the growth of goodness.  In this way, young people, like well-planted trees, can be firmly rooted in the soil of history, and, growing heavenward in one another's company, can daily turn the polluted air of hatred into the oxygen of fraternity.
In facing this great cultural challenge, one that is both urgent and exciting, we, Christians, Muslims and all believers, are called to offer our specific contribution: "We live under the sun of the one merciful God…  Thus, in a true sense, we can call one another brothers and sisters… since without God the life of man would be like the heavens without the sun".   May the sun of a renewed fraternity in the name of God rise in this sun-drenched land, to be the dawn of a civilization of peace and encounter.  May Saint Francis of Assisi, who eight centuries ago came to Egypt and met Sultan Malik al Kamil, intercede for this intention.
A land of covenants 
In Egypt, not only did the sun of wisdom rise, but also the variegated light of the religions shone in this land.  Here, down the centuries, differences of religion constituted "a form of mutual enrichment in the service of the one national community".   Different faiths met and a variety of cultures blended without being confused, while acknowledging the importance of working together for the common good.  Such "covenants" are urgently needed today.  Here I would take as a symbol the "Mount of the Covenant" which rises up in this land.  Sinai reminds us above all that authentic covenants on earth cannot ignore heaven, that human beings cannot attempt to encounter one another in peace by eliminating God from the horizon, nor can they climb the mountain to appropriate God for themselves (cf. Ex 19:12).
This is a timely reminder in the face of a dangerous paradox of the present moment.  On the one hand, religion tends to be relegated to the private sphere, as if it were not an essential dimension of the human person and society.  At the same time, the religious and political spheres are confused and not properly distinguished.  Religion risks being absorbed into the administration of temporal affairs and tempted by the allure of worldly powers that in fact exploit it.  Our world has seen the globalization of many useful technical instruments, but also a globalization of indifference and negligence, and it moves at a frenetic pace that is difficult to sustain.  As a result, there is renewed interest in the great questions about the meaning of life.  These are the questions that the religions bring to the fore, reminding us of our origins and ultimate calling.  We are not meant to spend all our energies on the uncertain and shifting affairs of this world, but to journey towards the Absolute that is our goal.  For all these reasons, especially today, religion is not a problem but a part of the solution: against the temptation to settle into a banal and uninspired life, where everything begins and ends here below, religion reminds us of the need to lift our hearts to the Most High in order to learn how to build the city of man.
To return to the image of Mount Sinai, I would like to mention the commandments that were promulgated there, even before they were sculpted on tablets of stone.   At the centre of this "decalogue", there resounds, addressed to each individual and to people of all ages, the commandment: "Thou shalt not kill" (Ex 20:13).  God, the lover of life, never ceases to love man, and so he exhorts us to reject the way of violence as the necessary condition for every earthly "covenant".  Above all and especially in our day, the religions are called to respect this imperative, since, for all our need of the Absolute, it is essential that we reject any "absolutizing" that would justify violence.  For violence is the negation of every authentic religious expression.
As religious leaders, we are called, therefore, to unmask the violence that masquerades as purported sanctity and is based more on the "absolutizing" of selfishness than on authentic openness to the Absolute.  We have an obligation to denounce violations of human dignity and human rights, to expose attempts to justify every form of hatred in the name of religion, and to condemn these attempts as idolatrous caricatures of God: Holy is his name, he is the God of peace, God salaam.   Peace alone, therefore, is holy and no act of violence can be perpetrated in the name of God, for it would profane his Name.
            Together, in the land where heaven and earth meet, this land of covenants between peoples and believers, let us say once more a firm and clear "No!" to every form of violence, vengeance and hatred carried out in the name of religion or in the name of God.  Together let us affirm the incompatibility of violence and faith, belief and hatred.  Together let us declare the sacredness of every human life against every form of violence, whether physical, social, educational or psychological.  Unless it is born of a sincere heart and authentic love towards the Merciful God, faith is no more than a conventional or social construct that does not liberate man, but crushes him.  Let us say together: the more we grow in the love of God, the more we grow in the love of our neighbour. 
            Religion, however, is not meant only to unmask evil; it has an intrinsic vocation to promote peace, today perhaps more than ever.   Without giving in to forms of facile syncretism,  our task is that of praying for one another, imploring from God the gift of peace, encountering one another, engaging in dialogue and promoting harmony in the spirit of cooperation and friendship.  For our part, as Christians, "we cannot truly pray to God the Father of all if we treat any people as other than brothers and sisters, for all are created in God's image".   Moreover, we know that, engaged in a constant battle against the evil that threatens a world which is no longer "a place of genuine fraternity", God assures all those who trust in his love that "the way of love lies open to men and that the effort to establish universal brotherhood is not vain".   Rather, that effort is essential: it is of little or no use to raise our voices and run about to find weapons for our protection: what is needed today are peacemakers, not fomenters of conflict; firefighters and not arsonists; preachers of reconciliation and not instigators of destruction.
            It is disconcerting to note that, as the concrete realities of people's lives are increasingly ignored in favour of obscure machinations, demagogic forms of populism are on the rise.  These certainly do not help to consolidate peace and stability: no incitement to violence will guarantee peace, and every unilateral action that does not promote constructive and shared processes is in reality a gift to the proponents of radicalism and violence.
            In order to prevent conflicts and build peace, it is essential that we spare no effort in eliminating situations of poverty and exploitation where extremism more easily takes root, and in blocking the flow of money and weapons destined to those who provoke violence.  Even more radically, an end must be put to the proliferation of arms; if they are produced and sold, sooner or later they will be used.  Only by bringing into the light of day the murky manoeuvrings that feed the cancer of war can its real causes be prevented.  National leaders, institutions and the media are obliged to undertake this urgent and grave task.  So too are all of us who play a leading role in culture; each in his or her own area, we are charged by God, by history and by the future to initiate processes of peace, seeking to lay a solid basis for agreements between peoples and states.  It is my hope that this noble and beloved land of Egypt, with God's help, may continue to respond to the calling it has received to be a land of civilization and covenant, and thus to contribute to the development of processes of peace for its beloved people and for the entire region of the Middle East.
    As-salamu alaykum!  Peace be with you!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Active Nonviolence - Letter from RSASS Annual meeting



A message of Nonviolence from Consecrated Life to our Religious communities, the Churches and the People of South Sudan, to our Friends and Supporters and all People of Good Will


We, members of the Religious Superiors' Association of South Sudan (RSASS), who came together for a workshop on Consecrated Life and the RSASS Annual General Assembly 2017 at the Good Shepherd Peace Centre, in Kit (Juba), from 24th - 29th April 2017, have reflected on active nonviolence and on Pope Francis' letter 'Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace' in the hope to contribute with a positive response to the challenges of South Sudan today. Faithful to our call by God and to the Charism of our Congregations, we wish to send out this message of nonviolence at the conclusion of our meeting to our brothers and sisters in our Religious communities, to the Churches and the people of South Sudan, to our friends and supporters and all people of good will.



"It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard".

(Acts of the Apostles 4:20)


We have heard from our brothers and sisters some shocking and disturbing news. The country is immerged in violence and in a deep economic crisis. There have been so many killings, raping, burning of houses and looting. Innocent people, including children, have been brutally killed. The rights and dignity of people have been grossly violated. Hundreds of thousands are internally displaced or refugees. Famine is a sad reality and the economic crisis increases hunger. Hatred, bitterness and divisions have also increased. People feel traumatised and helpless. We are concerned that often church personnel have been harassed, intimidated, detained, and some have been killed. This civil war that keeps on revolving is evil and has claimed the lives of too many brothers and sisters and inflicted endless suffering on our people. What have we done to our humanness and the sacredness of life?


Despite all this, we have seen signs of life and hope. There are many good people in South Sudan who, together with many others, are giving a positive response and making a difference in this challenging situation. We have also heard from our brothers and sisters about the insistence, persistence and resilience of the people of South Sudan, that the Church is continuously praying and fasting for peace and reconciliation, has issued messages and pastoral letters to denounce violence and encourage people, got actively involved in the peace talks and is providing shelter, food, education and health care for many people. We have heard also that Church personnel have become a presence of solidarity, peace and hope among communities in war-affected areas, protection of civilians sites (POCs) and refugee camps, that South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) has invited his Holiness Pope Francis to visit South Sudan this year. We have testified that the Religious Superiors' Association of South Sudan (RSASS) has opened the 'Good Shepherd Peace Centre' in Kit to offer trauma healing and peacebuilding programmes and other human and spiritual formation and is fully operating in a peaceful environment.


We cannot forget our dear Sister Veronika Rackova of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS). She was one of our members and a doctor who was gunned down by soldiers while driving an ambulance on the night of 16th May 2016 in Yei. Her mission was to save lives and her 'sacrifice' an action of active nonviolence. She did not die in vain. We offer our solidarity to her community and Congregation and at the same time we demand that justice may be done.



"For Christ is our peace, he who has made the two peoples one, destroying in his own flesh the wall – the hatred – which separated us (...) He destroyed hatred and reconciled us both to God through the cross".

(Ephesians 2:14-16)


We have looked at the Word of God and at the Teaching of the Church. Both shed light and hope on South Sudan. We have seen that nonviolence is at the heart of the Gospel and that Jesus of Nazareth himself lived in violent times, but his message offers a radically positive approach. Jesus Christ has come into the world to save it from sin and death, to fight against violence and to destroy it with the nonviolence of his Kingdom. On the way of the cross, his painful journey to Calvary, Jesus Christ, a nonviolent person, carried on himself the violence of the enemy for the sake of many. He died on the cross because of the kind of life he lived, a life of nonviolence and inclusive compassion. He died because of the options he made.  


Jesus challenged the unjust and violent legal system and the political and religious establishments of his time, the institutions and structures that produced social exclusion and inflicted much suffering on people. He challenged violence and those who profited from it. He was willing to risk suffering. The only weapon Jesus used was love and compassion. He resisted with all his might the temptation to be drawn into violence and retaliation. We have understood in our reflections and prayers that Jesus Christ is not calling to passivity, but rather to a creative nonviolent response and calls us to cultivate a virtue of nonviolent peacemaking. Indeed, Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and Lord, and our model of peacemaker.  


His Holiness Pope Francis has issued a message on 1st January 2017 for the celebration of the fiftieth World Day of Peace under the title 'Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace'. We have been encouraged by his message. Pope Francis reminds us that "to be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence, (...) as a person's way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God's love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone" (Pope Francis' message for the fiftieth World Day of Peace, 1 January 2017).


We became aware that the Church has been involved in nonviolent peacebuilding strategies in many countries and Pope Francis teaches us that "to act in this way means to choose solidarity as a way of making history and building friendship in society. Active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict" (Pope Francis' message for the fiftieth World Day of Peace, 1 January 2017). We have understood, however, that nonviolence entails self-sacrifice and are convinced that active nonviolence is a good way to build a just and lasting peace in South Sudan. So, we reaffirm our commitment to make all effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence.   



"Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the merciful and the peacemakers, those who are pure in heart, and those who hunger and thirst for justice".

(Matthew 5:3-10)


The Gospel and Pope Francis invite us to "dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home" (Pope Francis' message for the fiftieth World Day of Peace, 1 January 2017).



-          We offer our prayers and solidarity to the victims of violence in South Sudan.
-          We want to take a clear stand for creative and active nonviolence and against all forms of violence and threats to life and human dignity.  
-          We have made an Action Plan to raise active nonviolence awareness through civic education, media/radio, workshops for mixed groups, games and sports, women groups/desks and the strengthening of family unity.
-          We are committed to promote active nonviolence through the celebrations of the Eucharist, unity in diversity and other prayers.
-          We encourage our Religious brothers and sisters in our communities to make all effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence.
-          We invite our religious leaders to lift up the vision of nonviolence in their preaching and teaching ministry.
-          We urge our political leaders to end the war in South Sudan, to respect human rights and to promote a culture of peace and active nonviolence.
-          We continue our prayers that justice, reconciliation and lasting peace may prevail in South Sudan.

Given in Kit (Juba), South Sudan, on 28th April 2017


The participants of the workshop on Consecrated Life and the RSASS Annual General Assembly 2017

Religious Superiors' Association of South Sudan (RSASS)

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Pope message for peace 2017


1 JANUARY 2017

Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace

1. At the beginning of this New Year, I offer heartfelt wishes of
peace to the world's peoples and nations, to heads of state and
government, and to religious, civic and community leaders. I wish
peace to every man, woman and child, and I pray that the image and
likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one
another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity. Especially in
situations of conflict, let us respect this, our "deepest dignity",[1]
and make active nonviolence our way of life.

This is the fiftieth Message for the World Day of Peace. In the first,
Blessed Pope Paul VI addressed all peoples, not simply Catholics, with
utter clarity. "Peace is the only true direction of human progress –
and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests
by violence, nor repressions which serve as mainstay for a false civil
order". He warned of "the danger of believing that international
controversies cannot be resolved by the ways of reason, that is, by
negotiations founded on law, justice, and equity, but only by means of
deterrent and murderous forces." Instead, citing the encyclicalPacem
in Terris of his predecessor Saint John XXIII, he extolled "the sense
and love of peace founded upon truth, justice, freedom and love". [2]
In the intervening fifty years, these words have lost none of their
significance or urgency.

On this occasion, I would like to reflect on nonviolence as a style of
politics for peace. I ask God to help all of us to cultivate
nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values. May charity and
nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within
society and in international life. When victims of violence are able
to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible
promotors of nonviolent peacemaking. In the most local and ordinary
situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the
hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and
indeed of political life in all its forms.

A broken world

2. While the last century knew the devastation of two deadly World
Wars, the threat of nuclear war and a great number of other conflicts,
today, sadly, we find ourselves engaged in a horrifying world war
fought piecemeal. It is not easy to know if our world is presently
more or less violent than in the past, or to know whether modern means
of communications and greater mobility have made us more aware of
violence, or, on the other hand, increasingly inured to it.

In any case, we know that this "piecemeal" violence, of different
kinds and levels, causes great suffering: wars in different countries
and continents; terrorism, organized crime and unforeseen acts of
violence; the abuses suffered by migrants and victims of human
trafficking; and the devastation of the environment. Where does this
lead? Can violence achieve any goal of lasting value? Or does it
merely lead to retaliation and a cycle of deadly conflicts that
benefit only a few "warlords"?

Violence is not the cure for our broken world. Countering violence
with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous
suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military
ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families
experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority
of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical
and spiritual, of many people, if not of all.

The Good News

3. Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true
battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for
"it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come"
(Mk7:21). But Christ's message in this regard offers a radically
positive approach. He unfailingly preached God's unconditional love,
which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their
enemies (cf. Mt 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (cf. Mt 5:39). When
he stopped her accusers from stoning the woman caught in adultery (cf.
Jn 8:1-11), and when, on the night before he died, he told Peter to
put away his sword (cf. Mt 26:52), Jesus marked out the path of
nonviolence. He walked that path to the very end, to the cross,
whereby he became our peace and put an end to hostility (cf. Eph
2:14-16). Whoever accepts the Good News of Jesus is able to
acknowledge the violence within and be healed by God's mercy, becoming
in turn an instrument of reconciliation. In the words of Saint Francis
of Assisi: "As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you
have greater peace in your hearts".[3]

To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his
teaching about nonviolence. As my predecessor Benedict XVI observed,
that teaching "is realistic because it takes into account that in the
world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and therefore
that this situation cannot be overcome except by countering it with
more love, with more goodness. This 'more' comes from God".[4] He went
on to stress that: "For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical
behaviour but a person's way of being, the attitude of one who is so
convinced of God's love and power that he or she is not afraid to
tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one's
enemy constitutes the nucleus of the 'Christian revolution'".[5] The
Gospel command to love your enemies (cf. Lk 6:27) "is rightly
considered the magna carta of Christian nonviolence. It does not
consist in succumbing to evil…, but in responding to evil with good
(cf. Rom 12:17-21), and thereby breaking the chain of injustice".[6]

More powerful than violence

4. Nonviolence is sometimes taken to mean surrender, lack of
involvement and passivity, but this is not the case. When Mother
Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she clearly stated her
own message of active nonviolence: "We in our family don't need bombs
and guns, to destroy to bring peace – just get together, love one
another… And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the
world".[7] For the force of arms is deceptive. "While weapons
traffickers do their work, there are poor peacemakers who give their
lives to help one person, then another and another and another"; for
such peacemakers, Mother Teresa is "a symbol, an icon of our
times".[8] Last September, I had the great joy of proclaiming her a
Saint. I praised her readiness to make herself available for everyone
"through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those
abandoned and discarded… She bowed down before those who were spent,
left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given
dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so
that they might recognize their guilt for the crimes – the crimes! –
of poverty they created".[9] In response, her mission – and she stands
for thousands, even millions of persons – was to reach out to the
suffering, with generous dedication, touching and binding up every
wounded body, healing every broken life.

The decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence has produced
impressive results. The achievements of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul
Ghaffar Khan in the liberation of India, and of Dr Martin Luther King
Jr in combating racial discrimination will never be forgotten. Women
in particular are often leaders of nonviolence, as for example, was
Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who organized
pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace
talks to end the second civil war in Liberia.

Nor can we forget the eventful decade that ended with the fall of
Communist regimes in Europe. The Christian communities made their own
contribution by their insistent prayer and courageous action.
Particularly influential were the ministry and teaching of Saint John
Paul II. Reflecting on the events of 1989 in his 1991 Encyclical
Centesimus Annus, my predecessor highlighted the fact that momentous
change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about "by
means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and
justice".[10] This peaceful political transition was made possible in
part "by the non-violent commitment of people who, while always
refusing to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in
finding effective ways of bearing witness to the truth". Pope John
Paul went on to say: "May people learn to fight for justice without
violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes and war
in international ones".[11]

The Church has been involved in nonviolent peacebuilding strategies in
many countries, engaging even the most violent parties in efforts to
build a just and lasting peace.

Such efforts on behalf of the victims of injustice and violence are
not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone, but are typical of many
religious traditions, for which "compassion and nonviolence are
essential elements pointing to the way of life".[12] I emphatically
reaffirm that "no religion is terrorist".[13]Violence profanes the
name of God.[14] Let us never tire of repeating: "The name of God
cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone
is holy, not war!"[15]

The domestic roots of a politics of nonviolence

5. If violence has its source in the human heart, then it is
fundamental that nonviolence be practised before all else within
families. This is part of that joy of love which I described last
March in my Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in the wake of two years of
reflection by the Church on marriage and the family. The family is the
indispensable crucible in which spouses, parents and children,
brothers and sisters, learn to communicate and to show generous
concern for one another, and in which frictions and even conflicts
have to be resolved not by force but by dialogue, respect, concern for
the good of the other, mercy and forgiveness.[16] From within
families, the joy of love spills out into the world and radiates to
the whole of society.[17] An ethics of fraternity and peaceful
coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on
the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on
responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue. Hence, I plead for
disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons:
nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are
incapable of grounding such an ethics.[18] I plead with equal urgency
for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and

The Jubilee of Mercy that ended in November encouraged each one of us
to look deeply within and to allow God's mercy to enter there. The
Jubilee taught us to realize how many and diverse are the individuals
and social groups treated with indifference and subjected to injustice
and violence. They too are part of our "family"; they too are our
brothers and sisters. The politics of nonviolence have to begin in the
home and then spread to the entire human family. "Saint Therese of
Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out
on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and
friendship. An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily
gestures that break with the logic of violence, exploitation and

My invitation

6. Peacebuilding through active nonviolence is the natural and
necessary complement to the Church's continuing efforts to limit the
use of force by the application of moral norms; she does so by her
participation in the work of international institutions and through
the competent contribution made by so many Christians to the drafting
of legislation at all levels. Jesus himself offers a "manual" for this
strategy of peacemaking in the Sermon on the Mount. The eight
Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-10) provide a portrait of the person we could
describe as blessed, good and authentic. Blessed are the meek, Jesus
tells us, the merciful and the peacemakers, those who are pure in
heart, and those who hunger and thirst for justice.

This is also a programme and a challenge for political and religious
leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and
media executives: to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their
respective responsibilities. It is a challenge to build up society,
communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show
mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to
win at any cost. To do so requires "the willingness to face conflict
head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new
process".[20] To act in this way means to choose solidarity as a way
of making history and building friendship in society. Active
nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and
more fruitful than conflict. Everything in the world is
inter-connected.[21]Certainly differences can cause frictions. But let
us face them constructively and non-violently, so that "tensions and
oppositions can achieve a diversified and life-giving unity,"
preserving "what is valid and useful on both sides".[22]

I pledge the assistance of the Church in every effort to build peace
through active and creative nonviolence. On 1 January 2017, the new
Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will begin its
work. It will help the Church to promote in an ever more effective way
"the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation"
and concern for "migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and
marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of
armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and
torture".[23] Every such response, however modest, helps to build a
world free of violence, the first step towards justice and peace.

In conclusion

7. As is traditional, I am signing this Message on 8 December, the
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mary is the Queen of Peace. At the birth of her Son, the angels gave
glory to God and wished peace on earth to men and women of good will
(cf. Luke 2:14). Let us pray for her guidance.

"All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small
gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere
in their efforts to be peacemakers".[24] In 2017, may we dedicate
ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our
hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to
building nonviolent communities that care for our common home.
"Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an
artisan of peace".[25]

From the Vatican, 8 December 2016



[1] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 228.

[2] PAUL VI, Message for the First World Day of Peace, 1 January 1968.

[3] "The Legend of the Three Companions", Fonti Francescane, No. 1469.

[4] BENEDICT XVI, Angelus, 18 February 2007.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] MOTHER TERESA, Nobel Lecture, 11 December 1979.

[8] Meditation, "The Road of Peace", Chapel of the Domus Sanctae
Marthae, 19 November 2015.

[9] Homily for the Canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 4 September 2016.

[10] No. 23.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Address to Representatives of Different Religions, 3 November 2016.

[13] Address to the Third World Meeting of Popular Movements, 5 November 2016.

[14] Cf. Address at the Interreligious Meeting with the Sheikh of the
Muslims of the Caucasus and Representatives of Different Religious
Communities, Baku, 2 October 2016.

[15]Address in Assisi, 20 October 2016.

[16] Cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, 90-130.

[17] Cf. ibid., 133, 194, 234.

[18] Cf. Message for the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of
Nuclear Weapons, 7 December 2014.

[19] Encyclical Laudato Si', 230.

[20] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 227.

[21] Cf. Encyclical Laudato Si', 16, 117, 138.

[22] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 228.

[23] Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio instituting the Dicastery
for Promoting Integral Human Development, 17 August 2016.

[24] Regina Coeli, Bethlehem, 25 May 2014.

[25]Appeal, Assisi, 20 September 2016.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Official opening of Good Shepherd Peace Center!!

Dearest brothers and sisters,


Finally we made, our efforts and miracles from God we managed to officially open our 


First of all we thank the Lord for the gift of such an important event and for all the goods that will follow for the people of S:pith Sudan; we are all here to serve the people of God and together bring the Kingdom of God.

Many people attended the celebration and the atmosphere was one of the most joyous we have experienced here in South Sudan; everything was telling us that peace is possible if we all pray and work together.

May the Lord bless the community who will run the centre and sustain them with His care and love.

RSASS Executive Body

Sunday, 11 September 2016


fr. Federico Gandolfi OFM