8 December 2020Comment

Pat Gaffney reviews the new biopic of Franz Jägerstätter

It is not often that we see our peace heroes on the big screen. It can be a source of great joy or a complete disaster. So it was with some anxiety that I watched A Hidden Life, written and directed by Terrence Malick, telling the story of Franz Jägerstätter and his wife Franziska (‘Frani’).

The name may be familiar to readers. Franz was an Austrian conscientious objector who refused to serve in Hitler’s army and who was executed in Brandenburg an der Havel in 1943.

1 October 2018Feature

In 2016, 80 Catholics from 35 countries gathered in Rome to discuss peace & nonviolence. Pat Gaffney explains what happened next.

Peace News readers will be familiar with the names of Gene Sharp, Jean Paul Ledarch, George Lakey, Martin Luther King and Gandhi, as among those who have lived, taught and supported nonviolent peacemaking through the decades. For some of those named, the Christian Gospels and the life and witness of Jesus will have been a source of motivation and inspired their thinking and practice of nonviolence.

In 2016, Catholic peace practitioners, academics, theologians and members…

1 October 2018Review

Orbis Books, 2018; 272pp; $25

This collection, expertly edited by Marie Dennis, guides us through the complex discussions that took place at the 2016 Rome conference ‘Nonviolence and Just Peace’ organised by a host of Catholic organisations including Pax Christi International. Its delegates wrote a statement, appealing to the Catholic Church to ‘re-commit to the centrality of gospel nonviolence’.

Most inspiring are the testimonies of those working on the ground in conflict zones. We learn of their efforts to…

1 October 2018Feature

Faith-based campaigners from around the world share stories of effective action

Building on the 2016 gathering in Rome (see article), Pax Christi International created the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, invited by the pope to ‘revitalise the tools of nonviolence, and active nonviolence in particular.’ The project has been organised around five international round tables, to pull together and document experiences of the theory, thinking, theology and practice of…

1 June 2018Letter

I was heartened to read Nick Megoran’s article on how far the Christian church can become a movement for nonviolence.

Nonviolence is rooted in the life and teaching of Jesus.

But after the emperor Constantine stopped the persecution of Christians in the fourth century and paved the way for Christianity to become the established religion of the Roman empire, Jesus’s teaching on violence became a problem.

However the witness to Gospel nonviolence is always…

1 June 2018Letter

Nick Megoran is to be commended for revealing the message of nonviolence at the core of Christianity. Indeed, as a Peace Museum exhibition currently touring cathedrals shows well, there are peace traditions at the heart not only of Christianity, but of Judaism and Islam too. Religious people can be allies for peace, but, as the image of Constantine showed, any peace philosophy mixed with power is liable to corruption.

Where Christian nonviolence goes beyond concepts of traditional…

1 April 2018Feature

The Christian church is well-placed to be a movement for nonviolence

Bronze statue of Roman emperor Constantine I, York Minster. Constantine’s version of Christianity was a violent, imperial religion. Photo: York Minster CC-BY-SA-2.0

In February 2003, 15 years ago, millions of people marched in the UK and across the world opposing US president George Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair over their planned invasion of Iraq. Any pride at the strength and vitality of that anti-war mobilisation is overshadowed by the obvious truth that we failed to…

1 December 2017Feature

Gabriel Carlyle reports on Pax Christi's recent speaking tour

Riders in a London Bikestormz event, July 2017. Photo: Huck Magazine

2 October is the official UN International Day of Non-Violence (no, I didn’t know either). So what better way to spend it than in London with the folk from Pax Christi, the international Catholic movement for peace, at the first of their four ‘Nonviolence Works!’ seminars? (The other events took place in Leeds, Birmingham and Liverpool.)

Arriving, I bumped into PN contributor Henrietta…

1 February 2017Letter

Amid all the gung-ho jingoism of mid-November, few seem to have noticed the irony that 11 November is the feast of St Martin of Tours. St Martin was a fourth-century bishop, most famous for sharing his cloak with a beggar.

Of greater interest, however, to readers of Peace News is that St Martin was one of the first conscientious objectors. He resigned his commission in the Roman army with the immortal words: ‘I am a soldier of Christ. I cannot fight.’

Further irony is…

1 October 2016News

Church called to invest human and financial resources in promoting active nonviolence

In mid-September, Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi was invited to Scotland to share her experience of a conference in Rome in April which called the Christian church to recommit to the centrality of gospel nonviolence. Pat’s visit to Glasgow and Edinburgh was organised by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Scottish Christians against Nuclear Arms and the Scottish Justice and Peace Commission.

The Rome conference looked at all the ways in which Jesus proclaimed nonviolence. In words, he…

1 October 2015Review

Green Books, 2015; 224pp; £19.99

Essentially a handbook for those wanting to explore the potential of a spiritual approach to nonviolent direct action, this is a profoundly important, as well timely, book

Many people are now realising the need for a sense of spirit, a reclaiming of the sacred in their lives. And this embrace of spiritual beliefs can also be a taking back of power; a way of connecting, and taking responsibility.

Though working from within, spiritual activism – or ‘subtle activism’, as I…

1 October 2015Review

New Internationalist Publications, 2015; 120pp; £9.99

Believers sometimes claim that atheism is ‘just another form of religion’. This is untrue: the failure to believe in the existence of something for which there is no evidence is not in itself another form of irrational faith.

However, when atheists start evangelising for their position, attempting to convert people to atheism, and arguing that world peace and the future of civilisation depend upon their efforts, then the parallels with religion are all too clear.

1 June 2015Review

Verso 2015; 416pp; £16.99

In 1936, the Indian scholar BR Ambedkar was invited to give a speech to the Jat-Pat Todak Mandal (Forum for Break-up of Caste), a group of high-caste Hindus. The controversial speech was never delivered, and the conference was cancelled, but Ambedkar published the speech himself, together with the letters and records of the ensuing debate.

In her book-length introduction, ‘The Doctor and the Saint’, Arundhati Roy draws out the significance of this speech (‘Annihilation of Caste’)…

31 March 2015Review

Lutterworth Press, 2014; 312pp; £20

An Anglican priest, former chair of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship and chair of the Peace Museum in Bradford, Clive Barrett is ideally placed to document Anglican resistance to the First World War.

I was hooked from the opening chapter which shows how militarism was embedded in the 39 ‘articles of religion’ to which all Anglican clergy must assent. Article 37 – ‘It is lawful for Christian Men, at the command of the magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in wars’ – clarified…

1 September 2013Review

Quaker Books, 2011; 144pp; £8

This accessible book – exploring what it means to make a commitment to peace in a violent world – could appeal equally to someone with an interest in peace who may be wishing to find ways of putting this into action, as to a seasoned activist. As much to an agnostic as a person of faith. Wherever you are internally, that is where it takes hold and shakes you.

I even lost my copy, preferring perhaps to drift in the ‘pale blue window’ dividing the ‘over there’ of violence from the ‘here…