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 Phases I-II of its strategic plan and is now implementing Phase III.
PHASE I (2004-2008)
The CPN’s first phase focused on deepening engagement and understanding best practices through a series of five major international conferences: at Notre Dame (USA) in 2004, the Philippines in 2005, Burundi in 2006, Colombia in 2007, and at Notre Dame in 2008 (see cpn.nd.edu). Each conference brought together 100-300 Church leaders, scholars, and peacebuilding specialists from about two dozen countries, most torn by conflict. In 2008, insights from these conferences were presented at the UN at a forum sponsored by the Holy See Mission.
Phase I also included an intensive research project and the publication of Peacebuilding: Catholic Theology, Ethics, and Praxis, ed. Schreiter, Appleby, Powers (Orbis 2010).
PHASES II AND III (2009-2018)
The second and third phases address a need identified in Phase I: capacity building. The CPN works with existing peacebuilding programs to systematically and consistently respond to requests from the Church in conflict areas for training and strategic advising. The focus is on three areas with long-standing 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 building has three components: peacebuilding teams for each area, convenings, and scholarly and educational resources.
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.
1. PEACEBUILDING TEAMS
In collaboration with the local episcopal conferences and existing Catholic peacebuilding programs, teams of scholars and practitioners work together for a minimum of five years.
Early in its tenure, the Philippines Team was involved in a series of training and strategy sessions. A two-day session with seventy bishops in 2009 was followed (over the next three years) by a series of four sets of workshops for bishops, priests and diocesan staff of dioceses in Mindanao. In addition, the CPN sponsored faculty from three Catholic universities to attend an institute on peace studies sponsored by Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute in 2010. The second phase of the Team’s work is focusing on the bishops’ engagement with the revived peace process and other peacebuilding issues in Mindanao. The CPN provides strategic advice and other forms of support to the Church as it moves forward on a major educational and advocacy campaign on the peace agreement, the still-to-be-determined transitional justice mechanisms, and other aspects of the crucial implementation phase.
In 2011, the CPN presented research on the Church’s approach to land restitution and peace processes at the bishops’ triennial Congreso de la Reconciliación in Bogota. In August 2012, the CPN hosted a session for seventeen Colombian bishops, including the current and past leadership of the conference, who are involved in the peace process (now resumed). The CPN co-sponsored a major biennial Congress on Reconciliation held in Colombia in October 2013. In April 2014, Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gómez gave an address at Notre Dame on the Church and the Peace Process. In August 2014, the CPN participated in the launch of the National Catholic Network of Reconciliation (Red católica nacional de reconciliación), which followed on the establishment of a secretariat of peacebuilding within the Colombian Episcopal Conference. The CPN will continue to be a resource on reconciliation.
The Great Lakes Region
In part in response to the 2006 CPN conference in Burundi, the CPN served as a consultant and helped fund a strategic planning process of the episcopal conferences of the Great Lakes region. After three years of preparatory work, 125 Church leaders from six national and two regional episcopal conferences met in October 2010 in Burundi to approve a plan for regional peacebuilding. The plan has now been approved by each national conference and planning for the implementation phase has begun.
CPN faculty have done seminars for bishops and staff in Burundi and for the Cardinal Martino Pan African Institute in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including a week-long workshop for diocesan peace and justice staff from around the country in June 2013. The CPN also helps with strategic planning and other current needs for the new peace institute established at the Catholic University of Bukavu under the auspices of ACEAC, the regional episcopal conference covering the D. R. Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda.
In June 2012, CPN faculty conducted a two-day program on peace studies and Catholic social teaching for the Association of Catholic Universities/Institutes of Africa and Madagascar. As a follow up, the Association has approved a major proposal, submitted by an association committee with support from CRS and the CPN, on strengthening and/or establishing peace studies programs. As part of that proposal, the CPN will help convene an institute on peace studies for faculty from the region in summer 2016.
Working with the Catholic University of South Sudan, the CPN is helping to establish the South Sudan Documentation, Electronic Library, and Information Center (DELIC). This center will collect written and oral documentation on the role of love and forgiveness in faith-based peacebuilding in South Sudan. The CPN convenes an advisory group to assist with research design, training, and implementation.
In November 2013, the CPN and CRS co-sponsored and provided resource persons for a major meeting on reconciliation for Ugandan bishops and national- and diocesan-level peace and justice staff. In Spring 2015, the director of the Justice, Peace, and Caritas office of the Ugandan Bishops was the Kroc-CRS Fellow. During his fellowship, he developed the National Reconciliation Plan for Uganda, which was approved by the Ugandan Bishops in June 2015. The CPN will continue to provide advice as needed and support its implementation.
Conflicts involving natural resources
In 2014, the CPN began to address an issue common to each of these areas: conflicts involving natural resources. The CPN focuses on the following aspects of the issue:
• Mapping Catholic engagement
• Grounding Catholic action in Catholic social ethics
• Bringing a peacebuilding lens to these issues
• Facilitating the sharing of “best practices” among practitioners within each region
• Convening scholars, church leaders, and peacebuilding professionals
Following a 2011 colloquium on Catholic peacebuilding in Rome, in May 2012, the CPN co-sponsored a seminar in preparation for the fiftieth anniversary of Pacem in terris with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Caritas Internationalis, and seven other institutions. Forty-five scholars and Church leaders attended from two dozen countries.
In April 2013, the CPN commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of Pacem in terris with a major conference that brought 300 people to the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. A conference for graduate students preceded the main conference.
3. SCHOLARLY AND EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
Authentic and effective Catholic peacebuilding is rooted in faith. As a follow up to Peacebuilding: Catholic Theology, Ethics, and Praxis, the CPN has commissioned a book that will explore the vocation of peacebuilding as lived by different types of Catholic peacebuilders.
The CPN is a clearinghouse for information on Catholic peacebuilding through its monthly newsletter and website (cpn.nd.edu). Working with the Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA), a consortium of three dozen Catholic libraries, the CPN is digitizing documents in Catholic peacebuilding to be accessible via the Catholic Portal (www.catholicresearch.net).
Peacebuilding Resources on the Catholic Portal
The Catholic Portal enables easy, effective and global discovery of Catholic research resources. It includes resources related to Catholic peacebuilding worldwide.
To find research resources, search the Catholic Portal here or go to catholicresearch.net.