Theology of Peacebuilding
Many have called for a theology of peace that is comparable in sophistication to the Church’s teaching on war. CPN stimulates further reflection on peacebuilding as a conceptually coherent, theologically accurate, spiritually enlivening, and practically effective contribution to the Church’s broader teaching on justice and peace. This effort helps to deepen the religious dimension of the practice of peacebuilding, discover and articulate theological resources to support peacebuilding, and make the language and idea of peace more prominent in the mainstream life of the Church.
The 2010 publication of Peacebuilding: Catholic Theology, Ethics, and Practice, edited by Robert J. Schreiter, R. Scott Appleby, and Gerard F. Powers (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis), represents a concrete contribution to this area. The book attempts to integrate the practice of peacebuilding with different dimensions of Catholic theological tradition, such as sacraments and liturgy (Robert J. Schreiter, “The Catholic Social Imaginary and Peacebuilding: Ritual, Sacrament, and Spirituality”), Catholic Social Teaching (Kenneth R. Himes, OFM, “Peacebuilding and Catholic Social Teaching”), and systematic theology (Lisa Sowle Cahill, “A Theology for Peacebuilding”). Given the Church’s prominent role in areas torn by intractable conflict and violence, the effort to further develop a theology of peacebuilding represents an attempt to give these areas of faith life their due space in Catholic theology.
CPN continues to support reflection on the theology, ethics and praxis of peacebuilding in other ways. One is through participation in and sponsorship of academic conferences on peacebuilding. Another is by partnering with Catholic Relief Services on a fellowship program whereby CRS peacebuilders are welcomed at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies to complete academic projects, such as the 2014 publication of John Ashworth's The Voice of the Voiceless: the Role of the Church in the Sudanese Civil War (Nairobi, Kenya: Paulines Africa). This book details from the grassroots perspective the role the Church played in supporting victims during the violence of the Sudanese Civil War. CPN is also currently working on a research project on applying the lens of the Catholic theology of peacebuilding to issues of natural resource extraction and helping to renew Catholic theological engagement on nuclear disarmament. In addition, through its work with the Catholic Research Resources Alliance on the Catholic Portal project and its efforts to make available academic resources on peacebuilding on this website, CPN works to encourage the ongoing development of a theology of peacebuilding.