Enhancing the Study and Practice of Catholic Peacebuilding
The Catholic Peacebuilding Network (CPN) is comprised of individuals who seek to increase knowledge of and understanding about the unique role of the Catholic Church in being a force of justice and peace in our troubled world. Network members need not be Catholic, but are expected to have an interest in and appreciation for the institutional, doctrinal, and transformational spirituality of the Church related to justice and peace, including its relations and interactions with those of other faith traditions.
CPN was formed in 2004 after two years of wide consultations. It is a network of academics and practitioners who seek to enhance the study and practice of Catholic peacebuilding at a time when religion is widely seen as a source of conflict and division, not a resource for peace and reconciliation. CPN was established to address four needs: (1) deepening engagement among scholars and practitioners, (2) improving understanding of best practices in peacebuilding, (3) developing a theology and ethics of peace, and (4) enhancing the peacebuilding capacity of the Church in conflict areas.
CPN has completed Phase I of its strategic plan and is now implementing Phase II.
PHASE I (2004–2008)
The first phase focused on deepening engagement and understanding best practices through a series of five major international conferences—at Notre Dame in 2004, in the Philippines in 2005, in Burundi in 2006, in Colombia in 2007, and at Notre Dame in 2008. In addition, Phase I contributed to the development of a systematic theology and ethics of Catholic peacebuilding through an intensive research project that included 20 scholars and practitioners working together over a three-year period. A groundbreaking volume of essays based on this collaboration titled Peacebuilding: Catholic Theology, Ethics, and Praxis was published in 2010. Finally, through its website and e-newsletter, CPN has served as a clearinghouse for information on Catholic peacebuilding activities and research.
PHASE II (2009–2014)
The second phase addresses a major priority identified during Phase I: capacity building. CPN will complement existing peacebuilding programs with a new, coordinated, and adequately resourced effort to respond in a systematic and sustained way to requests from the Church in conflict areas for training and strategic advising. This capacity building will be interdisciplinary and will integrate theory and practice in ways that enrich both. The focus will be on three areas with longstanding conflicts where the Church is a key agent for peace: the Great Lakes region of Africa, the Philippines, and Colombia.
This plan for advancing distinctively Catholic capacity has four main components: (1) forming peacebuilding teams that can provide a platform for responding to the Church’s peacebuilding needs; (2) offering training to develop and strengthen peace studies programs at Catholic universities; (3) developing educational materials on the theology, ethics, and practice of Catholic peacebuilding; and (4) expanding access to resources on Catholic peacebuilding.