Peacebuilding and COVID-19

"The Peace Dimension of the COVID-19 Pandemic"

In an article in the February, 2021 issue of the Journal of Social Encounters, CPN Assistant Director Caesar A. Montevecchio explains some of the complex ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted issues of conflict and peace.

Pope Francis Addresses the UN General Assembly

In a September 25 address to the UN General Assembly, Pope Francis called the pandemic a time to "separate what is necessary from what is not." He went on to urge renewed global co-responsibility and solidarity not only for pandemic recovery, but for increased justice and peace that can blossom from the transformations brought about by the pandemic.

We never emerge from a crisis just as we were.  We come out either better or worse.  This is why, at this critical juncture, it is our duty to rethink the future of our common home and our common project.

Podcast: The Peace Process and the Pandemic in South Sudan

This episode of the Kroc Cast Podcast was organized by CPN as part of a series examining the mutual impacts between the COVID-19 pandemic and Catholic peacebuilding. It focuses on the way the pandemic is affecting the peace process in the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan, and the role of the Catholic community in that process, and features Former Ambassador Susan Page, first US Ambassador to South Sudan Fr. James Oyet Latansio, from the South Sudan Council of Churches, and Andrea Bartoli, President of the Sant'Egidion Foundation for Peace and Dialogue.

"Can Catholic peacebuilders survive the pandemic?"

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In a post for the Dignity and Development blog series from the University of Notre Dame's Keough School of Global Affairs, Gerard Powers reflects on how COVID-19 is presenting new challenges and opportunities for peacebuilders. The essay focuses on three main areas: conflict-sensitive aid, the impact of the pandemic on peace processes, and offering a new vision of global security rooted in integral human development, solidarity, and cooperation.

(Photo: Ismail Ferdous/CRS) 

Peacebuilding Post-Pandemic: Special Reflection Series from CPN

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The Catholic Peacebuilding Network has asked several of our network partners to offer their thoughts about how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact peacebuilding and the Catholic community. Contributors were asked to respond to the following: 

Under a mandate from Pope Francis, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has set up a commission to prepare for the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Holy Father has directed the Commission to approach the pandemic as a moment of major change and is stressing creativity about how the Church can face the social and economic challenges that will follow it. In your view, what should or could the Catholic community be doing to begin to address the long-term challenges and opportunities for peacebuilding post-pandemic?

Part 1: featuring Joseph Jeyaseelan, Coordinator, Claretian Peacebuilding Initiatives-Sri Lanka; Marie Dennis, Senior Advisor to the Secretary General, Pax Christi International; and Andrea Bartoli, President, Sant'Egidio Foundation for Peace and Dialogue

Part 2: featuring John Ashworth, advisor to the South Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference; Robert Groelsma, Lucy Steinitz, Don Rogers, and Nell Bolton from Catholic Relief Services; and Francois Mabille, Secretary General, International Federation of Catholic Universities

Part 3: featuring Anne Celestine Achieng Oyier Ondigo, FSJ, Lecturer, Centre for Social Justice and Ethics, Catholic University of Eastern Africa; Joseph Cornelius Donnelly, Permanent Delegate to the UN, Caritas Internationalis; Lisa Sowle Cahill, J. Donald Monan Professor of Theology, Boston College; William Headley, CSSp, Adjunct Professional Faculty, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame

"Between COVID-19 and Extractivist Policies"


Through the project Latin America, between Violence and Hope, Pax Christi International has accompanied communities and organisations resisting extractivist practices in seven countries (Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Paraguay, Chile and El Salvador). The project aims to: a) strengthen the capacity of communities for the nonviolent transformation of conflicts caused by extractivism; b) design and implement local, national, and global advocacy plans; and c) strengthen networking in the region in order to act in a coordinated, informed, and supportive way to defend the territories, communities, and the land itself. The full publication is in Spanish, and executive summaries in English and Spanish are also available.

Interview with Fr. Augusto Zampini, coordinator of Vatican's COVID-19 Commission

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In an interview with La Croix, adjunct secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and coordinator of the Vatican's COVID-19 Commission, describes the approach the Vatican has taken to responding to COVID-19. He notes how elements of the current crisis were foreseen in Laudato Si' and also describes how the encyclical is shaping the Commission's current work.

Myanmar bishops' statement on COVID-19 and peace


On June 26, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar issued a statement calling for a cessation of hostilities after seeing conflict regression in several states. The statement focuses in particular on the tension-filled Rakhine state, as well as the plight of country's nearly 250,000 internally displaced persons.

CBCM statement on COVID-19 and peace

Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference on gender-based violence during COVID-19

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In South Africa, the bishops conference issued a June 15 statement expressing grave concern about an increase in gender-based violence during the COVID-19 crisis. According to the statement, lessons from COVID-19 response, especially approaches of holistic social mobilization against a threat to well-being, could be used to improve efforts for eliminating worsening gender-based violence. The statement also offered an apology from the Church for times when it has remained silent and not addressed the issue effectively enough: "Our work must be to educate and to prevent gender-based violence. We as Church have contributed to this scourge through our denial, our silence, our resistance and our lack of preparation. Forgive us."

Conversation with Drew Christiansen on Catholic peacebuilding and COVID-19


The Berkley Center Forum published an interview with Drew Christiansen, SJ, about peacebuilding, international security, and nuclear disarmament in the age of COVID-19. Christiansen also reflects on his work with CPN) and addresses how the Catholic Church is responding to the pandemic through efforts including the Vatican COVID-19 Commission.

Peacebuilding in Mindanao during COVID-19


The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs published an essay from Myla Leguro of Catholic Relief Services and the Mindanao Peaceweavers on the shape of peacebuiding in Mindanao during COVID-19. The essay is part of the Berkley Center's Forum for Religious Action on COVID-19, and is taken from a June 5 webinar presentation organized by the Network of Religious and Traditional Peacemakers and the UN Mediation Support Unit.

SECAM Statement on COVID-19 in Africa


The Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar issued a statement on May 31 on the COVID-19 crisis in Africa. The statement includes an assessment of the social and economic consequences facing African nations; a theological reflection on the pandemic, Pentecost, and the importance of solidarity; and a set of concrete calls for action. Among the calls for action are statements directed at multilateral and bilateral organizations, calling for a focus on debt-relief and aid for health infrastructure to deal with long-term challenges resulting from COVID-19, and calls upon multinational companies and businesses that profit off of resources from Africa to avoid exploiting the situation of the pandemic and to do more to support the communities where they operate. The statement also asks the African Union to accelerate cooperation on economic and health challenges and all church institutions to "remain steadfast and to work with other non-Church institutions in the promotion of good heath for all people of Africa and Madagascar."

Editorial from heads of Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences


In a new issue of Science, Joachim von Braun, Stefano Zamagni, and Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, leaders of the Pontifical Academies for Sciences and Social Sciences, share and editorial titled “The moment to see the poor." The essay discusses the disproportianate health and security impacts that COVID-19 has had on the poor and argues that the pandemic should be a moment to adjust priorities to create a more equitable society better able to face global threats like climate change and disease.

A “Biosocial Ethics of Global Solidarity for Health”

Published for the Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church network, Sta Chu Ilo offers thoughts in developing a better system of health security for the poor. He writes:

The biosocial ethical approach to global health is grounded on the principles of social justice. This is because it seeks to answer the question of why diseases and outbreaks like Covid-19, Zika, Ebola, and HIV/AIDS have a ‘preferential option for the poor’ in the Global South and among minority groups in the Global North.

Vatican Press Conference: “COVID-19, Food crisis and integral ecology: the action of the Church”

On May 16, the Vatican held a press conference to discuss the Holy See’s action on COVID-19. Recording of the event is available.

New website for the Holy See’s COVID-19 Commission


Pope Francis has directed the formation of a special commission through the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development for preparing the Church for the social and economic aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission’s new website is now live. It includes information from the commission’s task forces on security, economy, and ecology, as well as other news and updates on the Holy See’s response to COVID-19.

Podcast: “The Pandemic and Peacebuilding: Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa"

On a new episode of The Kroc Cast: Peace Studies Conversations, Kroc Institute Associate Professor of the Practice of Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding David Anderson Hooker, talks with Catholic Peacebuilding Network partners Jean-Baptiste Talla, Nell Bolton, and Fr. Rigobert Minani about the current coronavirus pandemic and its impact on peacebuilding in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Catholic Bishops of Burundi call for peace ahead of elections

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In Burundi, a new presidential election is scheduled for May 20, and the country has forged ahead with campaigns despite disagreement about the extent of the spread of COVID-19 and whether the sitting government is suppressing reporting to maintain political advantage. In the midst of this, the Burundian bishops have issued two statements urging the country to be diligent about following guidelines for coronavirus prevention, to vote conscientiously, and to remain peaceful through the voting process and the eventual announcement of results. The statements are dated from April 11 and May 14.

South Sudan Council of Churches COVID-19 Pastoral

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The South Sudan Council of Churches has released a new pastoral statement affirming the formation of a COVID-19 task force by the country’s transitional government, announcing its own complementary COVID-19 task force, and urging all citizens to follow health and prevention guidelines. The statement also expresses deep concern about the status of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, worrying that continued delays in the implementation process due to COVID-19 may threaten the fragile peace the agreement has begun.

SSCC Pastoral Statement On COVID-19

Catholic Relief Services Guidance Recommendations for COVID-19 and Justice and Peacebuilding


Catholic Relief Services has published its EQUIP guidelines for its country programs and partners with recommendations for considering social cohesion, peacebuilding, social justice, gender and youth inclusivity, and support for marginalized peoples during COVID-19.

“Global Dimensions of the Coronavirus Crisis: Responsibility and Solidarity, Policy and Priorities”

This webinar from Georgetown University’s Initiative for Catholic Social Thought in Public Life examined “the global dimensions of the coronavirus crisis that are so often neglected in our focus on the pandemic’s impact on the United States. How is COVID-19—with its deadly health consequences and awful economic costs—affecting the rest of the world? What are U.S. responsibilities to the poorest places and people as the pandemic moves across the globe? The Initiative is bringing together Pope Francis’ designated leader on the crisis, the longtime leader of Bread for the World, and a leader on the front lines in Africa to explore the human and moral dimensions of the crisis as it spreads to even more of the poor and vulnerable around the world.” In included: Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect for the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development; David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World; Haydee Diaz, CRS Uganda Program Director; and John Carr, Director of Georgetown University’s Initiative for Catholic Social Thought in Public Life.

“The Papacy Confronts Coronavirus”

Co-sponsored by Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and the Initiative for Catholic Social Thought in Public Life, this conversation featured Berkley Center Senior Fellow Paul Elie with papal biographer Austen Ivereigh and Kim Daniels, Associate Director of the Initiative for Catholic Social Thought in Public Life. They discussed Pope Francis’s approach to COVID-19.

CINEP/PPP dialogue on the end of the ELN ceasefire

CINEP/PPP, a Jesuit run research center in Bogotá, hosted an online dialogue on April 30 to examine the impact and prospects of the end of the ELN’s humanitarian ceasefire during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church examines COVID-19


The Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church network has several items examining COVID-19 through the lens of theological ethics. It is building a list of publications and resources; it has an upcoming Virtual Table on "Ethical African Leadership: Beyond the COVID-19 Global Health Crisis" (contact the organizers by May 20 to participate); and its online Forum has published reflections and analyses on COVID-19 from multiple global perspectives.

Catholic Relief Services’ COVID-19 resources


Catholic Relief Services has published its COVID-19 emergency response guide. According to the publication description: “This emergency strategy provides an overview of CRS’ response to the pandemic that threatens the health and survival of people around the globe, as well as our economies and societies. CRS teams and our local and national partners across the world are working to expand and adapt programming to prevent the spread and reduce the risk of COVID‑19 in some of the most vulnerable communities.”

In addition, through its Institute for Capacity Strengthening, CRS has developed a website with guidance resources for its partners. The resources are meant to help CRS partner institutions adapt established best practices for disaster relief and conflict sensitivity in their COVID-19 response strategies.


COVID-19, Extractivism, and Climate Change-Voices from the South

Last week, The People’s Dialogue hosted a webinar on COVID-19 and extractivism, featuring speakers from South Africa, the Philippines, and Brazil. The presentations and discussion examined the situations of extractive industries, human rights, and ecology, including the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating old problems and presenting new ones.

CINEP/PPP: Peace implementation in the time of pandemic

The Bogotá-based Center for Popular Education and Research/Program for Peace, hosted a video conversation on the status of the Colombian peace accord implementation during the coronavirus pandemic. The CINEP/PPP website also was a written summary of the discussion.

Berkley Center Webinar: The COVID-19 Crisis and Challenges to the Common Good

On April 8, the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University hosted a webinar examining theological ethics and the coronavirus pandemic. According to the event site, “Leading ethicists from within the Christian theological tradition convened to discuss how religious conceptions of the common good challenge individualism and the centrality of economic standards of value during the COVID-19 pandemic. They considered how solidarity is created and sustained, what cultivates and sustains solidarity, and how religious communities and theological ethics can help shape national and trans-national understandings of a global common good in a time of crisis.”

Colombian Bishops Launch Microsite

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The Episcopal Conference of Colombia has launched a new website dedicated to the Colombian Church’s response to coronavirus issues. The site includes updates from the Holy See, national and regional reports and statements from Colombia, and pastoral resources. 

COVID-19 Crisis: Taking Stock of Religious Responses

A webinar organized by Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs took place yesterday featuring Katherine Marshall, Olivia Wilkinson, David Robinson, and Mohamed Magid. 

COVID-19 Research Guides

Research guides for materials related to COVID-19 and global religious responses:

Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities, World Faiths Development Dialogue
Faith and COVID-19 Resource Repository

University of Dayton, Roesch Library
The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Common Good Research Guide

CRS Response Factsheet


Catholic Relief Services has published an emergency response factsheet. The sheet provides an outline of CRS’s coronavirus response strategy and details country-specific efforts across the spectrum of CRS’s operations.

“Forging a Global Policy to Resist the Threat of COVID-19 in Africa”

A brief from Toussaint Kafarhire Murhula, SJ. Kafarhire argues that the pandemic in this age of globalization requires new thinking and approaches. He focuses on four areas that he claims must be integrated into the policy response to pandemic: moral leadership, reliable information sharing, global cooperation, and structured coordination between stakeholders.

Perspectives on Coronavirus and Nonviolence

Some recent writing reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic and nonviolence:

Marie Dennis, Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, "COVID-19: Toward Authentic Security Rooted in Nonviolence"

Ken Butigan, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service, "Love in the Time of Coronavirus"

Jonathan Pinckney and Miranda Rivers, USIP, "Nonviolent Action in the Time of Coronavirus"

CINEP/PPP, Caritas Colombiana, and others demand peace amid pandemic

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A group of organizations in Colombia, including the Jesuit-run CINEP/Programa Por la Paz and Cáritas Colombiana, have issued a call demanding armed groups observe a ceasefire amid the coronavirus pandemic. The statement lists 15 assassinations of social leaders during March, and describes how the ongoing violence creates greater risk for communities already compromised because they lack the resources or means to socially isolate to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

ICAN: Nuclear Spending vs. COVID-19 medical supplies


The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has provided a breakdown showing how much the annual nuclear weapon expenditures in France, the UK, and the US could provide in needed medical supplies to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Caritas Internationalis ongoing response to COVID-19


Caritas Internationalis is mobilizing in multiple ways to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their website is providing ongoing updates on areas where Caritas is working as well as maintaining a clearinghouse of social media updates.

USIP Podcast: Impact of Coronavirus in Fragile States

In a new episode of the “On Peace” podcast from the United States Institute for Peace, Nancy Lindborg talks about opportunities for peace amid the humanitarian and security risks posed by the COVID-19 outbreak, as cases appear in the Middle East and Africa. “The hope is that everyone uses this opportunity to put down their arms and think differently about conflict,” says Lindborg.

“Our response to the coronavirus pandemic reveals who we truly are”

In America magazine, John Carr reflects on the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of Catholic social tradition.

Georgetown Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life hosting online discussion on Catholic Social Thought and coronavirus

Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life hosted an online discussion via Facebook Live on March 26, from 4-5:30PM EDT (8-9:30PM UTC). According to the event description: “The coronavirus pandemic is a moral crisis, raising fundamental questions about who we are, what we believe, and how we should act to protect human life and dignity and promote the common good in a time of fear, danger, and loss. We face not only a global health calamity, but unprecedented economic, governmental, political, and moral challenges as well. This online dialogue will explore how faith and Catholic social thought can offer moral principles for hard choices, ethical criteria for public action, and hope in a time of fear. In particular, Catholic social thought offers principles to guide our choices as individuals and families, as a nation, and as a global community.”

Berkley Center and JLI launch platform for religious responses to COVID-19


Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI), and World Faiths and Development Dialogue (WFDD) are launching an online platform to gather and communicate information about religious responses to the pandemic. “The aim is to organize information so that it can be quickly found and used by development policymakers and practitioners as well as religious actors who seek to work together in the COVID-19 response.” This follows a consultation hosted by the Berkley Center on March 11 to discuss faith dimensions of the pandemic.

Sign up for daily updates:

And visit the online resource platform:

Mining in Peru continues despite coronavirus


The Peru unit of Iglesias y Minería, the Latin American church network for justice in mining, has released a statement critiquing the government of Peru for allowing mining operations to continue despite national shutdowns due to COVID-19. It states, “This puts the life and health of the workers at risk, as well as that of the rural communities and local populations where these operations are carried out. The risk is high and we must adhere to the established quarantine. The argument that these activities would be protected by being in remote or confined places, as President Vizcarra has pointed out, is not supported.”