Disciples of the Prince of Peace?
Christian Resources for Peace Building
R. Scott Appleby, Ph.D.

(this is a transcript of a presentation made at the "Beyond Violence" conference at the University of Southern California on May 5, 2003)

I will argue that a momentum has been developing, both within Christian theology and praxis, toward nonviolence as the heart of the Christian ethic, to the point where today it is seen by significant numbers of Roman Catholics and mainline Protestants, as well, of course, as by members of the historic peace churches, not merely as an option but as the non-negotiable dimension of Christian discipleship.


  • Foundations within Christianity for a Christian presumption against violence:"The founder" (and ancient apostolic practice in his name).

Does it—should it—make a difference for Christians that Jesus of Nazareth, whom they proclaim to be the Word of God made human— "God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, one in Being with the Father, and through whom all things were made," as the Nicene creed has it—was, in his earthly existence, one who rejected violence and refused to resist his executors? Does it make a difference to the lived tradition that he forgave his tormentors at the hour of his death and prayed for their redemption? If God does not retaliate, how are we justified in doing so?

How, in short, could Christians, so consistently throughout history, reject nonviolence and embrace—even sanctify—war? In rejecting nonviolence, forgiveness and peace building as a way of life, have they not also rejected
imitatio Christi—the imitation of Christ—an otherwise hallowed path to holiness and a model of Christian soteriology?

To those early Christians who refused to serve in the Roman army and who adopted nonviolence as a way of life; to the Anabaptists of the Radical Reformation—including the Society of Friends—who embraced pacifism; and to modern Christian pacifists Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton; to disciples of nonviolent resistance such as Martin Luther King, Jr., or the Monks of Tibhirine, martyred for their faith in Algeria, or the women of Silsilah practicing nonviolence and dialogue in the Philippines—the Christian rejectionists (of nonviolence and pacifism) have offered several specious arguments

  1. Jesus was exceptional, indeed unique—not a model of emulation. He redeemed humankind by his sacrificial death on the cross, not by pursuing a social agenda. The meaning of Christ's death is theological, not ethical; a one-and-for-all atonement, not imitatio. It is a forensic act, justifying others. We experience it today through sacrament and Word, not through ethics.
  2. He offered his disciples PEACE only in the upper room, after his resurrection; it is unrealizable in historical time and space.
  3. Jesus mistakenly believed that the Apocalypse was nigh, and so did not worry himself or his disciples about the complexities of ethical decision-making in a world where evil men threaten the innocent, for such a world was about to vanish.
  4. Jews were a minority unable to take up arms to throw off the oppressor, so Jesus’ refusal to fight was pragmatic; later Christians were obligated to answer questions which Jesus did not face; the individual Christian, or Christians together, must accept responsibilities that were inconceivable in Jesus' situation.
  5. His message was ahistorical by definition: he dealt with spiritual, not social matters, with the inwardness of faith.
  6. But we must uphold his truth and values in a fallen world, where might rules and Christendom is not an option but an imperative. Through this version of will-to-power, Just War theory has been applied to serve unjust ends.
Yet these arguments are being refuted by an ecumenical theological "school" of nonviolence that has been gaining ascendancy within Christianity since the world wars of the twentieth century. This theological/ethical trajectory is gaining strength within Christian faith traditions. Historical theologians can chart a course from, among many others, the Roman Catholics Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Daniel Berrigan, through Mennonite John Howard Yoder, Methodist Stanley Hauerwas, and Lutheran Jürgen Moltmann to Croatian Lutheran Miroslav Volf.  Volf summarizes the trajectory by quoting Yoder:
  • "Only at one point, only on one subject, but then consistently, universally—is Jesus our example: in his cross."  (The Politics of Jesus 1974/1994)
and Moltmann: "The sufferings of Christ on the cross are not just his sufferings; they are the sufferings of the poor and weak, which Jesus shares in his own body and in his own soul, in solidarity with them." (The Spirit of Life 1992)

The following points of consensus emerge:
  1. What becomes of the meaning of incarnation if Jesus is not normatively human? If he is human but not normative, this is the ancient Ebionite heresy. If he is authoritative but not in his humanity, this is gnosticism or docetism.
  2. According to the biblical witness, Jesus is a model of radical political action. As a result of consensus in scholarship of the Christian scriptures, it is no longer possible to maintain, as mainstream Christianity has for centuries, that the ethic of Jesus was an ethic for an "interim" that Jesus thought would be very brief. No longer possible, that is, to hold that Jesus' rejection of violence, of self-defense, and of accumulating wealth for the sake of security are not permanent and generalizable attitudes toward social values.
  3. Moltmann, Volf and others add the Trinitarian/cosmological theme of divine self-donation for the sake of the other, and the reception of enemies into the eternal communion of God. Volf:  "Like solidarity with the victims, the atonement for the perpetrators issues from the heart of the triune God, whose very being is Love." Moltmann: "On the cross of Christ, this love [i.e., the love of God] is there for the others, for sinners—the recalcitrant—enemies. The reciprocal self-surrender to one another within the Trinity is manifested in Christ's self-surrender in a world which is in contradiction to God; and this self-giving draws all those who believe in him into the eternal life of the divine love." ELABORATE.
Let us note with gratitude what I shall call the "Realpolitik" dimension to this new theology of nonviolence and embrace of the other, including the enemy. Hauerwas, Volf, et al, agree that "the ultimate scandal of the cross is the all too frequent failure of self-donation to bear positive fruit: you give yourself for the other—and the violence does not stop but destroys you; you sacrifice your life—and stabilize the power of the perpetrator. Though self-donation often issues in the joy of reciprocity, it must reckon with the pain of failure and violence. When violence strikes, the very act of self-donation becomes a cry before the dark face of God. This dark face confronting the act of self-donation IS a scandal."

This acceptance of the scandal, in my view, marks a maturity in the Christian theology of peace and nonviolence; and offers an important corrective or balance to the somewhat and sometimes facile celebrations of "the victory of nonviolent revolutions" in the twentieth century. That is, peace activists and scholars (myself included) point almost triumphally to Gandhi's campaign of nonviolence which drove the British out of India, and to the nonviolent revolutions in Eastern Europe (Poland and Czech Republic in particular) and in the Philippines, as indicators that, as Jonathan Schell argues in his latest book,
The Unconquerable World, nonviolence is now clearly the wave of the future, war is obsolete.

Hardly. The recent disaster in Iraq aside, this claim is contested from within the peace camp. For example, historian Judith Brown entitled her critically acclaimed biography of the Mahatma, "Gandhi, Prisoner of Hope" to reflect the thesis that Gandhi's religious worldview and ardent commitment to nonviolence ultimately undermined progress toward concrete political goals that might have led India closer to an actual experience of communal nonviolence. Brown also argues that the British would have withdrawn from India in any case, as they realized after the wars that they were hopeless overextended; Gandhi's nonviolent campaign was less a trigger than the lore has it. Similarly the
New York Times journalist Chris Hedges, among others, has argued recently, that the Christian peacemakers in East Germany were feckless, at best.

My point here is not to dismiss the political effectiveness of nonviolence, merely to note that it can be of limited efficacy and that the Christian commitment to it does not promise empirically specifiable results or an absence of sacrifice and often brutal suffering on the part of the practitioners. Hence Volf and company add an important element of realism to the emerging theology of nonviolent peacemaking.

{I will summarize this section rather than read it.}

  • The twentieth century evolution within Roman Catholicism, from theocracy to pluralist civil society and democracy; from absolutism and dogmatism to human rights grounded in "fundamental right" to religious freedom.

The idea that religions evolve and re-interpret their mission takes on special significance in an era of globalization. The extension and improvement of cross cultural communications and transportation; the continual migration of peoples, no longer impeded by vast spaces to traverse, across regions and continents; and the resulting acceleration of the process by which religious actors absorb and integrate exogenous cultural and ideological elements—all this has led to a religious polycentrism unmatched in previous eras. Particularly within the great traditions unregulated by a centralized government or lacking a hierarchy with comprehensive executive, juridical, or legislative powers—but not only in these religions—one sees a proliferation of para-ecclesial movements, groups, and spokespersons claiming the authority of the great tradition for their special form of advocacy and activism. To some observers the intensity of this disengaging and re-engaging process means that religions are fragmenting and squandering the power that comes with purity and uniformity. To others, however, the proliferation of sub-traditions, intentional religious communities, and religious NGOs represents an enormous opportunity to mobilize the resources of the religious traditions for peace building.

These contradictory attitudes are found within most modern religious communities, not least in Roman Catholicism, whose 1.4 billion members make it Christianity's largest church body. By the end of the twentieth century, the Catholic Church had repositioned itself vis-à-vis the state and civil society, retreating from entangling alliances with the former to assume a constructive and sometimes prophetic role within the latter. At the same time and as a result, the church has produced significant lay and clerical religious movements and NGOs that display great promise as religious peace builders. The vibrant internal pluralism of the Christian tradition made this transformation possible.

In a striking twentieth century reversal, the Catholic church abandoned its previous claims to political privilege, renounced the theocratic model of political order, and became a powerful proponent of religious liberty and universal human rights. This "development of doctrine," ratified in 1965 during the final session of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), was a dramatic example of internal religious pluralism turned to the advantage of ecumenism, tolerance, human rights and peace.

The retrieval and official endorsement of a liberal doctrine of religious freedom was a decisive moment in the evolution of modern Roman Catholic social doctrine, a body of teachings on the social order inaugurated by Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical,
Rerum Novarum (The Condition of Labor), the first in a long line of papal, episcopal, and conciliar documents that established and refined the basic tenets of the Catholic social tradition. These tenets came to include:

  1. the common good, the notion that Catholics ought to pursue policies and programs that best serve the interests of the public at large rather than a particular sub-group within society (including Roman Catholics);
  2. solidarity, the affirmation that all people—and all religions—at every level of society should participate together in building a just society;
  3. subsidiarity, the dictum that greater and higher associations or governing bodies ought not to do what lesser and lower (more local) associations can do themselves (a sort of Catholic federalism);
  4. a preferential option for the poor, a principle with concrete implications for politicians, governments, development economists, corporate executives, and policymakers;
  5. the priority and inviolability of human rights, especially the cornerstone right to life, but also political and economic rights, including the right to own private property, the right to work for a just wage, and (some progressives would argue) the right to adequate medical care; and
  6. a preferential option for the family as the basic social unit.
These and other tenets of Catholic social teaching form the foundation of contemporary Roman Catholic political philosophy; they constitute the official frame of reference for Catholics exercising their rights and responsibilities in the public order. Moreover, they articulate a religious duty of Catholics: The documents of the Second Vatican Council—especially Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World—and the social encyclicals of Pope John XXIII (1958-'63 as pope), Pope Paul VI (1963-'78) and Pope John Paul II (1978-  ), place Catholic social teaching at the center of Roman Catholic self-understanding, ecclesiology and pastoral practice.

It is difficult to overstate the depth and scope of the ecclesial transformation that occurred over the course of the twentieth century. Until 1965 Roman Catholicism had legitimated the denial of civil and other human rights to non-Catholics by teaching, in effect, that "theological error has no rights" in a properly governed (i.e., Roman Catholic) state. The second quarter of the nineteenth century was a defining moment in the initial phase of Catholicism's "internal argument" over the proper role of religion in the modern state. Faced with a popular uprising in Rome and the Papal States, the newly elected Pope Gregory XVI (1831-'46 as pope) stood firmly against calls for elected assemblies and lay-dominated councils of state. In the encyclical
Mirari vos (1832), he denounced the concepts of freedom of conscience, freedom of the press, and separation of church and state, the liberal ideas associated with the French priest Félicité de Lamennais and his newspaper L'Avenir. Lamennais also held that the common consent of all humanity was a norm of truth. Gregory XVI, by contrast, accepted the basic assumptions of neo-scholastic ecclesiology that the clericalized, monarchical structures of the church were divinely mandated, and he believed that they were to be duplicated in the temporal order. Accordingly, Gregory supported monarchical regimes against the new democratic movements sweeping across Europe, and he declared that the divine origin of the papacy was the basis of the pope's temporal sovereignty over the Papal States.

Subsequent popes followed Gregory's lead. In
Quanta cura (1864)Pius IX repeated Gregory XVI's attack on "the madness that freedom of conscience and of worship is the proper right of every human being and ought to be proclaimed by law and maintained in every rightly-constituted society." In 1885 Pope Leo XIII reaffirmed the rejection of religious liberty in Immortale Dei, an encyclical explicitly focused upon "the Christian constitution of States." Notwithstanding what might seem the contrary implications of Leo XIII's own Rerum Novarum and Pope Pius XI's Quadragesimo Anno (1934), the Catholic Church had little patience with the human rights reforms and democratic regimes of the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It acquiesced in the authoritative regimes and policies that governed the European, Latin American, and African nations where Catholicism was strong. In liberal democracies, anti-Catholics had little trouble turning the church's own political philosophy against it. As recently as the 1950s, Protestant and secular elites in the United States, for example, were once again joining forces to oppose "an organization that is not only a church but a state within a state, and a state above a state."

On the question of religious liberty in particular, it may be said that the Catholic Church caught up with the eighteenth century only in the middle of the twentieth. In 1948 John Courtney Murray, a Jesuit professor of theology at Woodstock seminary in Maryland, presented a paper at a gathering of Catholic theologians entitled "Governmental Repression of Heresy," in which he contended that it was
not the duty of a good Catholic state to repress heresy even when it was practicable to do so. Thus the internal argument was revived, though at first it was not a fair fight. The majority of Catholic authorities, following the papal teachings, opposed Murray; his adversaries included French, German, Italian, and Spanish theologians of his own religious order. In the United States the leading expert on Catholic political philosophy had been Monsignor John A. Ryan, known as "the Right Reverend New Dealer" for his support of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's economic policies. Having studied Mirari vos, Ryan had concluded in 1941 that protection and promotion of Roman Catholicism "[is] one of the most obvious and fundamental duties of the State."

Murray's opponents had a certain logic to their position, which David Hollenbach, S.J., one of Murray's intellectual heirs, summarizes as follows:
  • The Roman Catholic faith is the true religion. It is good for people to believe what is true. The state is obliged to promote Catholic belief, and wherever possible to establish Catholicism as the religion of the state. Advocates of religious freedom are denying one of the cardinal premises of Roman Catholicism: they are rejecting the absolute truth of Catholic Christianity.
Though he was unambiguously committed to Catholic doctrine, properly interpreted, Murray argued that the received Catholic teaching on religious liberty, because it was not complete, was neither permanent nor irreformable. While consistent with the Catholic teaching since St. Augustine on the coercion of heretics, the official position ignored both apostolic and sub-apostolic writings on the priority of conscience, as well as St. Thomas Aquinas' teachings on the duty to follow conscience. Armed with these insights, Murray set about to challenge the dominant, semi-theocratic versions of church-state theory, beginning with that propounded by St. Robert Bellarmine. The young Jesuit also retrieved the notion of "the indirect power of the Church" first elaborated by the fourteenth-century theologian Jean Quidort; and he insisted that the nineteenth-century encyclicals be read in their proper context, namely, as polemics against the anti-clericalism and irreligious rationalism infecting European intellectual life at the time. The American concept of church-state separation, Murray contended, was vastly more congenial to Catholic principles.

In challenging Catholic theologians to learn from the secular world and to reconsider the received doctrine in light of that learning, Murray spoke of "the growing end" of the tradition. By this he meant the contested cutting edge of the ongoing debate about what constitutes authentic Catholic teaching, the place and moment where the internal pluralism of the great tradition crystallizes into a new and profoundly transformative insight into the tradition itself. "The theological task is to trace the stages of growth of the tradition as it makes its way through history . . . to discern the elements of the tradition that are embedded in some historically conditioned synthesis that, as a synthesis, has become archaistic," Murray wrote. "The further task is to discern the 'growing end' of the tradition; it is normally indicated by the new question that is taking shape under the impact of the historical moment."

The "new question" that had confronted the Catholic Church for over a century was the relationship between "true religion" and the modern liberal state. Murray's argument against the received teaching on this question, Hollenbach notes, was theological, political, and juridical-ethical in nature. It was theological in holding that human existence has an end and value beyond the temporal and earthly. The spiritual dimension of human life is the concern of the church, not the government, Murray insisted, but the government must ensure that the church is free to pursue its mission. Murray also drew a political distinction between society and the state, defining the former as made up of many diverse communities and forms of association (e.g., families, businesses, labor unions, and churches). State absolutism and totalitarianism occurred, he believed, when the state attempted to control society rather than serve it, as constitutional government requires. Ethically and juridically, Murray distinguished between the common good of society, which all persons and communities are morally bound to pursue, and the narrower juridical notion of public order, which is the proper concern of government.

In the fifties, even before these arguments were fully developed, Murray fell into disfavor with Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, prefect of the Holy Office, the department of the Roman curia charged with protecting Catholic doctrine. In 1954 Murray was effectively silenced when a Jesuit censor in Rome declared that his article, "Leo XIII and Pius XII: Government and the Order of Religion," could not be published. But other developments pointed to a change in the theological climate. In 1953 the Holy Office excommunicated Leonard Feeney, a Jesuit chaplain at Harvard, for insisting on the narrowest possible interpretation of the ancient patristic phrase,
extra ecclesiam nulla salus est—"outside the Church there is no salvation." The Feeney affair reflected a growing reluctance among Catholic officials to denounce non-Catholics, as well as a more inclusive attitude regarding membership in "the Church." It also demonstrated, writes John T. Noonan, Jr., "that the literal reading of a hallowed formula could be mistaken, that theological terms are capable of expansion, that the development of Christian doctrine required spiritual discernment."

European Catholics, having suffered under fascism and communism, were also rethinking the relationship of Christian truth to human rights. Pope Pius XI, in the 1937 encyclical
Mit brennender Sorge, addressed to the bishops of Germany, confirmed the "fundamental fact" that every person "possesses rights given by God, which must remain safe against every attempt by the community to deny them, to abolish them, or to prevent their exercise." During World War II, Pius XII invoked "the dignity with which God at the beginning endowed the human person." Totalitarianism had left Europeans suspicious of the state, the pope observed, and yearning for government that was "more compatible with the dignity and freedom of citizens." The United Nations' adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Man reflected this attitude, the church noted, as did the new postwar nations whose constitutions protected human rights, including the right of religious freedom.

In reading these signs of the times, the popes and bishops also drew upon a theory of Christian personalism, elements of which could be found in Christian tradition. In this they were guided by the French philosopher Jacques Maritain whose writings on the state developed themes similar to Murray's (and who in fact cited the American Jesuit). In its care for the material welfare of the community the state is superior to any individual, Maritain wrote, but in its service to the spiritual welfare the state has limits set by the transcendence of the person. This ordination beyond any material need is the basis of human freedom. The state may not intervene to coerce a person in the person's search for the truth, he held, for it is the nature of a person to seek the truth freely. Maritain spoke to and for proponents of the idea of a Christian democracy in France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands; his writings were also cited by Catholics in Latin America who sought to eliminate military dictatorships.

The debate over religious liberty took a dramatic turn on January 25, 1959, when Pope John XXIII convoked an ecumenical, or worldwide, council of the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, and solicited suggestions as to what the council should consider. In light of the fact that "controversies have arisen about the relation of the Church to the modern State," as one bishop wrote to Rome, there was a need to "supply a new conception of this relation, as the old concepts in force are rooted in political matters no longer in force." In 1960 a papal commission, led by bishops from Switzerland and Belgium, drafted a preliminary document on church-state relations that stressed tolerance as a virtue and discarded the ideal of a Catholic state as the enforcer of orthodoxy.

Pope John's own social encyclicals, especially
Pacem in Terris  (1963), proclaimed "the universal, inviolable, inalienable rights and duties" of the human person, and presented a moral framework within which socio-economic rights were woven together with political and civil rights. "In endorsing this spectrum of rights, including rights which are immunities and those which are empowerments, the pope took the Catholic church into the heart of the United Nations human rights debates," notes J. Bryan Hehir. "For Pacem in Terris, the foundation and purpose of all rights is the dignity of the human person. The scope of the rights to be endorsed as legitimate moral claims is determined by the specific needs—material and spiritual—each person has to guarantee human dignity."

Murray was rehabilitated and joined the deliberations of the Second Vatican Council at a crucial juncture; he was instrumental in convincing the assembled bishops that religious liberty, as proposed in the draft text under discussion, did not endorse "indifferentism," the notion that it makes no difference what one believes. Nor would the bishops' endorsement of religious freedom exempt the individual from the obligation to seek the truth about God, which could be found in its fullness, Catholics continued to believe, only in the Roman Catholic church. Rather, the proposed text affirmed the right of the person to the free exercise of religion according to the dictate of the person's conscience, and guaranteed the person immunity from all external coercion in such matters.

Murray and his allies carried the day:
Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Freedom), promulgated on December 7, 1965, ratified the post-war development of Roman Catholic doctrine on the inviolable rights of the human person and on the constitutional order of society. Endorsing the approach of Maritain as well as Murray, the council declared that human beings, directed as they are to God, "transcend by their nature the terrestrial and temporal order of things." The civil power "exceeded its limits" when it presumed to direct or impede this relationship to God. Significantly, the council declared that the right to freedom belonged to groups as well as individuals, because both human nature and religion have a social dimension.

Pacem in Terris maintained a natural law framework, Dignitatis Humanae engaged the Enlightenment constitutional tradition of rights and liberties which affirmed the right of religious freedom. By endorsing constitutional limits on the state and by joining religious freedom with other human rights, the church embraced the full range of freedoms needed in the political order for the defense of human dignity. It did not forsake natural law, but situated it within an argument that embraced constitutional ideas previously tolerated but not accepted by the church. This development opened the way for subsequent transformations in Catholic political philosophy and social practice. By identifying innate human dignity, rather than theological orthodoxy and church membership, as the authentic source of civil rights and political self-determination, Dignitatis Humanae made connivance with authoritarian (albeit pro-Catholic) regimes untenable. By proclaiming that the great tradition's understanding of the freedom of the church and the limits of the state was compatible with democratic political institutions, it aligned the modern church with democratic polities and against all forms of totalitarianism.

The council's pastoral constitution,
Gaudium et Spes, internalized the argument, so to speak, by locating the church's commitment to social justice and the promotion of human rights solidly within the ambit of its religious ministry. In this way Vatican II provided both the theological legitimation and the religious foundation for Catholic involvement in the struggle for human rights.

Vatican II was a dazzling display of the internal dynamism of a religious tradition. Theologically, the council applied a method of
ressourcement, or retrieval, of Christian precepts and principles that could be developed in such a way to enrich Catholicism's dialogue with the contemporary world. Indeed, the council fathers had announced their intent "to develop the doctrine of recent popes on the inviolable rights of the human person and on the constitutional order of society." The Declaration on Religious Freedom acknowledged an increasing consciousness "in our day" of the dignity of the human person. In response, the council had reviewed the sacred tradition of the church "from which it draws the new always in congruence with the old." By retrieving and "updating" elements of its ancient and medieval teachings on the sanctity of human nature, the council was able to embrace religious freedom, thereby adopting, in Murray's words, "a principle accepted by the common consciousness of men and civilized nations." In its own way, the church acknowledged that it had learned from human experience.

Precisely when the international community was considering the place of human rights and the role of transnational institutions in articulating and defending them, the Catholic Church was reshaping the perspective and structure of one of the most experienced transnational networks in history. "Substantively, Vatican II both legitimated a more activist Catholicism and provided resources for directing it," writes the legal scholar John Witte, Jr. "Structurally, the council's policy of decentralization both created new transnational networks in the church and urged initiatives adapted to the local level of the church's life. The combined effect of these conciliar actions was to impel Catholicism into human rights struggles throughout the international system well into the next century."

The evolution of twentieth century Catholic social teaching, and its incorporation into the heart of the church's religious message, provided legitimation for social activism and also expanded the scope of what counted as social activism. In 1968 the Latin American bishops meeting at Medellín, Colombia lamented the massive poverty of the continent, and focused attention on the social and political factors responsible for the oppression of the poor. Citing Vatican II, the bishops denounced what they saw as the "institutionalized violence" of Latin American society, and demanded "urgent and profoundly renovating transformations" in the social structures of their countries. The bishops urged each episcopal conference to present the church as "a catalyst in the temporal realm in an authentic attitude of service," and to support grassroots organizations for the "redress and consolidation of the rights [of the poor] and the search for justice." Catholics worldwide were urged to adopt a "preferential option for the poor" in fulfilling their political and religious responsibilities.

Justice in the World, the 1971 synodal statement of Catholic bishops meeting in Rome to reflect on the legacy of the council, proclaimed a principle embraced by a generation of Catholic activists and educators: "Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the proclamation of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church's mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation."

Such proclamations initiated a postconciliar debate on the appropriate ways and means of liberating people "from every oppressive situation." By revealing and celebrating the internal pluralism of the great tradition, Vatican II had unlocked a treasury of riches—or, depending on one's perspective, a Pandora's box—filled with possibilities for innovation (via
ressourcement) in the church's thinking on conflict and peacemaking. Catholicism is historically associated with efforts to limit violence by managing it. The just war tradition, grounded in an Augustinian theological anthropology that locates the responsibility for violence equally in the sinful nature of man, the state, and the world itself, holds that war is both the result of, and remedy for, sin. Coercive violence, according to this argument, may have a moral role in certain circumstances. A second Catholic approach to the question emerged from political theory. In response to Weberian-style affirmations about the state as the entity which holds a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, Catholics argued that religion provides a different—that is, divinely ordained—authority for the use or rejection of violence. Thus the church sought either to tame the state, as in the medieval era, turning it to religious purposes and transforming it into a kind of theocracy; or it has, as in recent decades, asserted itself as a transnational alternative to and competitor with the nation-state as the ultimate arbiter of political morality.

The latter concept—the church as moral judge of the nation-state— provided the premise for Catholic advocacy of human rights in concrete political settings. On this question Vatican II opened a path of practical theological reflection pursued, with different results, by Catholics across an ideological spectrum from John Paul II to Latin American liberationists. For over a decade after the council the church was less centralized and more socially active. Local bishops and clergy enjoyed greater autonomy in local and national affairs, and used it to bring the renewed emphasis on human rights to bear on political and cultural affairs. Roman Catholicism, once an accomplice to authoritarian regimes, thus emerged as a powerful advocate of democracy and human rights reform in Brazil, Chile, Central America, the Philippines, South Korea, and elsewhere. Under John Paul II, who became pope in 1978, Rome reasserted its prerogatives over the bishops, but the attempted re-centralization did not attenuate the commitment to social justice, as demonstrated by the 1986 People's Power revolution in the Philippines, the revolution against communist rule in eastern Europe in 1989, and other nonviolent, Catholic-led revolutions against repressive governments.

Concrete applications of Catholic social principles differed significantly one from another, however. Liberation theology, inspired by the ideas of Gustavo Gutiérrez, Jon Sobrino, and other Latin American theologians, wed social scientific (and, in some cases, "Christian Marxist") analyses of political and social structures to a re-visioning of the New Testament which portrayed Jesus as a radical revolutionary ("Christ the Liberator"). Organizations such as Pax Christi dedicated themselves to nonviolent activism, while missionary orders such as the Maryknoll Society became more actively involved in community development among the peoples they served. Heightened awareness of options within the church's teaching on war and peace led the bishops of the United States to include—and endorse, with qualifications—both pacifist and just war traditions in their 1983 pastoral letter on the nuclear arms race.

In the decades following Vatican II, in short, the church has been alive to the possibilities presented by its complex, multi-national history. In the 1980s and 1990s some national and regional Catholic leaders, responding to a central theme of the pontificate of Pope John Paul ­II, began to emphasize the local church's obligation to devise means of protecting and promoting human rights, especially in social settings where systemic injustices and deadly conflict feed on one another. Certain Catholic bishops, as well as lay officials of Catholic NGOs, proposed that relief and development workers adopt a more inclusive notion of community building that would require some of them to develop expertise in the growing field of inter-communal reconciliation and conflict resolution. Initiatives following from such proposals are, at this writing, young and fragile; they may not demonstrate staying power. Catholic Relief Services' recent effort to educate its worldwide staff in the principles of Catholic social doctrine nonetheless suggests how a religious tradition's social presences might evolve in the direction of active peace building.

Institutional Response:
Catholic Relief Services: Exploring Peace building through the "Justice Lens"

With relief and development programs in eighty-three countries and 1,600 professional staff residing in forty-four of them, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is one of the world's largest international private voluntary organizations. In 1995 CRS reached over fourteen million people in need, including two million recipients of emergency food service. Among hundreds of other initiatives it provided women in refugee camps with professional trauma counseling; planned agricultural projects in sites as far removed as Bolivia and Liberia; implemented a soldier demobilization process in Sierra Leone to resettle and educate combatants and their dependents; promoted small-scale enterprise development (e.g., village banks) in Cambodia and Vietnam; repaired refugee centers and school buildings in Macedonia; provided relief to the victims of the civil war in the Sudan; and created a Cultural Youth Club in Sarajevo to help teenagers cope with the deprivations of the Balkans war. During the course of the year CRS workers came under fire in Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Haiti, and Cambodia; in Burundi, a staff member, Dimitri Lascaris, was assassinated.

CRS depends on funding from the United States government, which accounted for 25 percent of its budget in 1995, with the Catholic Church and individual contributors accounting for the remainder. The partnership between the U.S. government and CRS began with the organization's founding in 1943 by the U.S. Catholic bishops as an outgrowth of the church's international charitable work on behalf on refugees and workers displaced by the Second World War. In the mid-1940s CRS offices opened in Paris, Rome and Berlin, with assistance from the local Catholic hierarchy and contributions of resources and personnel from Catholic religious orders such as the Daughters of Charity in France. The U.S. government, recognizing the need to rehabilitate Europe from the ground up, entered into alliances with local Catholic, Lutheran, and other churches, which became conduits for American public assistance. During its fifty-five year history CRS has helped coordinate U.S. private and government efforts to address international need, while lobbying the U.S. government on public policy matters affecting international relief and the status and funding of private voluntary organizations. Governmental support for CRS has been falling steadily, however, since the end of the cold war.

The relationship of CRS fieldworkers to the local churches and to their secular counterparts in relief and development varied over time and in different settings. The first CRS chairman, Edward Cardinal Mooney of Detroit, and the first Executive Director, Monsignor Bryan McEntegart, devised and instituted the operational strategy of maintaining a CRS field presence in CRS projects, beginning with the wartime effort to assist Polish refugees in Mexico and on the border of Iran and Turkmenistan. Over the decades CRS attempted to maintain a policy of coordination and cooperation with local church and secular counterpart organizations, though the policy was apparently applied inconsistently.

Inconsistency, it may be said, also characterized CRS' expression of its religious identity or sponsorship. Administered by a board of bishops selected by the National Council of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), CRS is staffed, its mission statement proclaims, "by men and women committed to the Catholic Church's apostolate of helping those in need." Approximately half of the international professional staff is not Roman Catholic, however, and during the 1970s and 1980s, when CRS was bolstering its reputation as a top-level professional relief agency, even the Catholics downplayed the confessional basis of the organization. "Staffers would mumble the word 'Catholic' when asked what relief agency they worked for," as one CRS official put it, "in deference to the prevailing opinion that 'religious' meant second-rate."

For much of CRS's history, the "apostolate of helping those in need" translated into traditional charitable works such as responding to victims of natural and man-made disasters and providing assistance to the poor and to victims of conflict to alleviate their immediate needs. CRS always emphasized the connection between development, peace and justice, and it occasionally invoked Catholic social teaching, but until recently its worldwide staff tended to think of themselves as members of a voluntary and professionalized social service agency working under religious auspices, rather than as religious or humanitarian actors educated in the social teaching of the Catholic church and trained to mediate conflict and build peaceful relations in local communities.

In this regard the experience of CRS workers in Rwanda may have been a turning point. The agency had placed field workers there since the 1960s, yet few had developed a sophisticated understanding of the social dynamics that led to the genocide of 1994. "We were taken by surprise by the violence and its terrible intensity," one CRS official admitted. "And we asked ourselves how this could have happened, and what we needed to do to integrate ourselves into the whole life of the communities we served." The Rwanda debacle occurred just as CRS was reviewing and beginning to reconceptualize its mission.

Organizational needs and gospel imperatives converged in the U.S. Catholic bishops' response to the changed circumstances of international development agencies after the cold war. Recognizing the desirability, on financial as well as religious grounds, of developing CRS's natural Catholic constituency, the bishops acted to bring the organization more closely in line with Roman Catholicism's renewed emphasis on human rights and community building. By way of preparing CRS for new methods of serving communities divided by deadly conflict, CRS executive director Ken Hackett and his associates, under the bishops' direction, prepared a program for educating CRS professionals in the church's teaching on human rights and social justice. "By the end of 1998 the principles of Catholic Social Teaching will have transformed Catholic Relief Services," declared a 1996 internal memo touting a new five-year strategic plan. "[In the post cold war world] we see that the Church will be called to play a significant role; as defender of the rights of the poor, as a voice of the oppressed, as a witness to good amidst corruption, torment, self-indulgent struggle and exploitation, as a force for love when there is hatred, as a force for moderation where there is fanaticism. We must stand in solidarity with the Church as it carries out its new evangelization." The rationale behind the new "justice lens" program went out to more than 1,600 social workers and development professionals employed as CRS fieldworkers:

  • We cannot be truly effective until we have found practical ways to incorporate the tenets of Catholic social teaching in our management, our operations and our outlook. . . . We realize that we must work towards a fuller sense of our mission by making the promotion of social and economic justice central in our actions. We see CRS actions as part of a transformation taking place among individuals, institutions, and structures so as to assure all people a fuller human existence and dignity. . . By placing justice as central in our operations, we expand our work of charity, open new approaches to alleviating suffering, to promoting human dignity, to building peace and respect while encouraging the participation of people in their own development. Shaping our operations more explicitly by this important element of Catholic Social Teaching, Catholic Relief Services can more explicitly affirm our Catholic identity and distinguish our work from that of other U.S. private voluntary organizations.
The new orientation meant, in practice, the hiring or appointing of a small number of educators responsible for conducting two- and three-day seminars in Catholic social teaching to staff around the world. The "justice lens" seminars conveyed the church's awareness that the causes of violence in Bosnia, Rwanda, Haiti and other conflicted areas "stem from underlying tensions found within these societies and cannot be attributed merely to a lack of social and economic development." CRS officials explained the need for the program by arguing that violent ethnic and religious conflict will become increasingly common unless right relationships are established across local religious, ethnic, economic, and political divisions. The need for professional re-tooling—for "conversion" to the justice lens approach on the part of Catholic as well as non-Catholic—was thus presented as a principled as well as a pragmatic move. "Our staff face structural injustice routinely as they carry out their mission and they naturally become involved in activities to address the situation," explained Michael Wiest, Deputy Executive Director for Overseas Operations, in 1997. "The new 'justice lens' based in Catholic social teaching will not so much alter their basic commitments as help them think more clearly in peace building terms and avoid errors in their responses to social injustices. They are more vulnerable without such training."

The seminars attempted to reinforce successful peace building initiatives undertaken at various sites in the early nineties. In 1994, for example, CRS staffers identified and supported local peacemakers in Zaire, Rwanda, and Burundi. In Rwanda following the genocide, all agency programming—in agricultural rehabilitation, housing, reconstruction, and support to vulnerable groups—included a component of peace building and reconciliation. In Burundi CRS supported the work of the Catholic bishops who, led by Bishops Bernard Bududira and Simon Ntamwana, facilitated peace talks between parties following the April 1994 assassination of the presidents of Burundi and Rwanda.

In other settings CRS involved all ethnic groups in the rebuilding of homes and community centers that took place in the aftermath of armed conflict. In Macedonia CRS promoted inter-ethnic dialogue between Albanian Muslims and Macedonian Orthodoxy. In El Salvador, based on its record of promoting reconciliation during twelve years of civil war and providing humanitarian assistance without partisan religious or political discrimination, CRS was asked by both former adversaries to play an active role in national reconstruction; staffers worked in the former conflict zones to re-integrate ex-combatants and to rebuild civil society through the media of agricultural production, microenterprise and health projects.

The five-year justice strategy called first for the education of staff and partners in the principles of Catholic social teaching, followed by the building of partnership within each country between local leaders and international workers dedicated to the promotion of justice. Furthermore, the " justice lens" was to be institutionalized in management systems, domestic operations, evaluation mechanisms, and approaches to sustained learning by CRS staff and local partners—as well as by American Catholic parishioners and diocesan officials. CRS officials also anticipated the possibility of training CRS staffers in conflict resolution techniques as part of this new mission. In short, the "justice lens" plan, in the full extent of its ambition, proposed to transform CRS into a significant transnational advocate of social justice and community building.



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•Evolution within mission Christianity. Religious Human Rights: Mission, Persecution and Tolerance.

Religious human rights, many would argue, must be at the core of any viable cross-cultural rights regime. The right to religious freedom, the oldest of the internationally recognized human rights, was a cornerstone of the Peace of Westphalia (1648). Over the next 150 years a number of path breaking statutes in North America and Europe enshrined religious liberty, and after World War II the right found its way into most of the world's constitutions. Nonetheless, religious human rights became the "neglected grandparent" of the human rights movement, vulnerable to several variables on the ground: the history of relations between the religion and the state, the stability of the political regime, the degree of religious pluralism at the local level, and the attitudes and political influence of the dominant religion or religions.

Christianity contributed to a climate of religious discrimination in the former Soviet Union and in parts of Europe—often by supporting or advocating the repression of other Christians. In the nineties the Russian Orthodox Church pressed the post-communist Russian state to discriminate against religious minorities and to prevent foreign churches and other religious organizations from attempting to attract converts. Russia's 1997 law protecting the religious freedom of the Russian Orthodox Church, at the expense of all other forms of belief, was a case in point of domestic policy compromising universal human rights norms. Similarly, the established religious bodies of Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East focused their ire on the explosion of the so-called "sects" vying for converts in their native lands—a variety of religious groups including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), the Church of Scientology, Jehovah's Witnesses and independent evangelical Christian movements. Belgium, France, Germany and Austria, in response to reports of supposed "cult-like" activity, established commissions of inquiry on sects; in Germany, the Enquette Commission subjected members of the Church of Scientology and a Christian charismatic community to intense scrutiny, leading in some cases to harassment, discrimination and threats of violence against these "sects." The Austrian parliament in 1997 passed a law restricting religious minorities according to the government's judgment regarding their level of patriotism and commitment to democracy.

In short, the liberties which established religions demanded for themselves, they frequently attempted to deny to other "sects."

The religious human rights record of states, religions, and religious NGOs was by no means uniformly negative, however, and there were signs that the issue had attracted the attention and energies of progressive activists in each of these spheres. Mexico repealed anti-clerical provisions in the Mexican Constitution that date back to 1917. The United States Congress debated the provisions of the "Freedom from Religious Persecution Act" (commonly known as the "Wolf-Specter Bill") and other proposed legislation to impose sanctions on countries that deny their citizens religious rights, restrict worship and otherwise persecute believers. The Orthodox Christian churches of Eastern Europe held several national and international ecumenical conferences dedicated to the themes of nonviolent conflict transformation, religious human rights and religious peace building. Roman Catholic and Protestant mission boards and relief-and-development NGOs devoted resources to community development and cross-cultural understanding.

Perhaps the most important positive development, however, has been the increasing importance of the international human rights documents—the evolving human rights canon—in providing a framework for local and national measures to strengthen protection of religious human rights. These documents define freedom of religion as including the right to "change of religion"—a tendency being recognized increasingly by national law and international usage. Although missionary faiths have argued that the act of preaching to non-believers is constitutive of their religious identity, the more compelling rationale for proselytism—compelling to secular states, at least—places it under the canopy of free speech. Thus Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) protects proselytism as the freedom to "impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers."

In 1993 the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which supervises the application of the ICCPR, issued an important "General Comment" on the question of conversion and proselytism. The Committee observed that the freedom to "have or to adopt" a religion or belief "necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including,
inter alia, the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views, as well as the right to retain one's religion or belief." Article 18(2) of the ICCPR bars coercion that would impair the right to have, to adopt—or to reject—a religion or belief. Impermissible impairment, the Committee noted, includes the use (or threat) of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or nonbelievers to adhere to their current religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief, or to convert. The Committee also identified and condemned some particular policies and practices, such as those that restrict access to education, medical care, employment, or the rights to vote or participate in the conduct of public affairs guaranteed in the ICCPR.

Such practices are usually state-sponsored, as they are in the Sudan and Iran; but relief agencies with a missionizing purpose may also employ a subtler form of religious discrimination by withholding services or showing favor to members of and converts to the faith of the relief agency in question. The clarity of the ICCPR definitions notwithstanding, certain states and the dominant religious communities within them continued to press the issue of proselytism. What kinds of acts, they asked, are legitimate in the attempt to convince or induce other persons to change their religion or beliefs? How is a "right to proselytize" be balanced with the right to privacy and with other religious rights equally deserving of protection, such as the right to educate, worship and practice one's beliefs and precepts? In some cases, opponents of proselytism argued, the right to practice one's religion entails the obligation to avoid or openly reject other belief systems. Such rights are impaired, they maintain, by coercion or by preaching or propaganda designed to erode traditional religious beliefs. Is it not therefore appropriate for states in which one religion prevails to grant the members of that religion certain privileges and advantages—including limitations on the proselytizing rights of other religions?

The articulation and defense of religious human rights is clearly at the growing end of the internal religious arguments about human rights. The conversation is only beginning. Despite signs of both formal agreement and practical action to define and protect religious rights, substantial variation exists in the way that "church-state" relationships are institutionalized and religious freedom is observed around the world. At the threshold of a new millennium," Natan Lerner writes, "tolerance and pluralism are far from a reality in many parts of the world. Defining the exact meaning and limitations of the right to change one's religion and to proselytize is critical to the achievement of greater toleration and pluralism."

"The Great Commission" and Christianity's Internal Rights Debate

Christianity thus finds itself embroiled in an internal debate over religious human rights and responsibilities as they are to be understood within the context of its historic commitment to fulfill the Great Commission given by Christ to his apostles: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28: 19). The spectre of religious persecution of Christians raises the fundamental question of religious rights, including the question of a whether there is a right to proselytize and a corresponding right to protection from proselytism. Interpreting the Great Commission from a variety of cultural perspectives and social locations around the world, it is not surprising that Christians differ among themselves regarding its meaning and fulfillment.

The developments within Roman Catholicism during the human rights era enabled the church to sharpen its understanding of the distinction between society and the state, and to align itself more closely with the diverse communities, forms of association and voluntary agencies of the former. A corresponding shift occurred in the church's attitude toward non-Catholics. Prior to the 1960s Catholics of North America and Europe portrayed mission life unambiguously, as a special and distinct vocation bound up in "saving souls" in foreign lands where the unbaptized dwelled in their "invincible ignorance" of Christ's redeeming death and resurrection. One thus needed to "go away" to be a missionary. Moreover, the missionary was celebrated as a spiritual militant prepared to face imprisonment, torture or death in hostile territory. The figurative language American Catholics employed in mission magazines, letters, catechisms and sermons during and after the World Wars and the Korean War made liberal use of military images and vividly portrayed the poverty, famines, bandits and possible martyrdom that awaited the missionary. From these sources, notes historian Angelyn Dries, O.S.F., one learned far more about the missionaries themselves than about the people they served.

In the sixties, however, signs appeared of a shift in missionaries' perceptions of themselves and their vocation. Missionaries came to realize, Dries writes, "that some of the assumptions from which they worked were actually antithetical to the formation of a Christian community." Franciscan, Maryknoll and other Catholic missionaries—priests, brothers, sisters and, increasingly, lay people—began to see "mission" as something larger than baptizing indigenous peoples, planting churches, and tabulating convert and communicant numbers; these measures alone had not guaranteed vibrant parish communities. Among some field workers emphasis shifted from traditional institutional works such as staffing schools and hospitals to forming small local Christian communities around the New Testament. As missionaries—or missioners, as some preferred to be called—developed a more profound respect for the integrity of indigenous cultures, their supporters back home in North America and Europe began to hear more about the people the missioners encountered—their cultures, social life, economic activity, and so on.

The new generation of missioners was influenced by the Catholic theologies of the mid-twentieth century that were preparing the way for the inclusive "People of God" ecclesiology of Vatican II and, eventually, for a focus on inculturation of the gospel. Rev. Eugene Hillman, CSSp, an American missionary to the Masai of Tanzania, was one of several missionaries who adapted the new theological outlook to his field of expertise and helped to change the universal church's outlook on missions. As assistant to the secretary of the East African Bishops, Hillman contributed to the discussion of the Second Vatican Council's preparatory documents on mission. He also convinced the influential Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner that European theologians needed to broaden their experiential base and consider the testimony and experiences of missionaries themselves; Rahner subsequently wrote on this theme and developed the framing concept of "anonymous Christianity"—the idea that people need not embrace explicitly Christian doctrines, symbols and rituals in order to embody the self-giving spirit of Christ. In his own writing, finally, Hillman called upon the church to rethink its relationship to indigenous religions.

The Second Vatican Council, while reaffirming the necessity of Christian baptism for salvation, acknowledged that people lead a moral life without knowing the Christian God.
Ad Gentes, the Council's decree on missionary activity, declared that "the Church on earth is by its very nature missionary," but presented a positive evaluation of other religions and spoke of a "secret presence of God" among people of other religious traditions. As the spotlight shifted from the missionary to the work of God among all peoples, the language of conversion was gradually replaced in official documents with a call to respectful dialogue with adherents of other religions. Articles in Worldmission, the journal of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, called missionaries themselves to conversion, emphasized the importance of actions over words, and underscored the need for humility and the ability to listen to others of different beliefs. "Mission zeal, so often concentrated on action, work, and the salvation of 'souls,' now seemed misplaced," Dries writes. "Mission standards began to emphasize 'incarnating' rather than 'implanting,' 'being with' rather than 'doing for,' a 'reign of God' rather than 'church' discourse."

In the seventies and eighties, the impact of the new orientation issued in several specific reforms. The words
apostolate and missions were dropped in favor of mission. Greater sensitivity to gender equality, lay missioners and local customs led to a review of the respective duties, responsibilities and privileges of priests, women religious and laity; new or updated programs of language training and lay formation programs were among the results. Collaboration increased dramatically among North American, European, Latin American, Asian and African theologians and congregations of religious. Cultural anthropology was integrated into mission studies, and non-Western theologians and theologies, promoted and published by Orbis Books (founded in 1970 by the Maryknoll missioners in response to the new emphasis on globalization), became required reading in Catholic mission courses.

Theologies of redemption have dramatic social consequences. Does the Christian minister pour energies and resources into facilitating reconciliation between peoples, or does he "save souls" by preaching acceptance of the atoning death of Christ on the cross? Both options are plausible within a Christian worldview, but they bespeak different interpretations of the divine will and different orientations to the world. While they are not mutually exclusive, these two basic Christian orientations to the world promote different pastoral goals and methods of dealing with conflict. They yield at least three basic approaches to conflict transformation, each the expression of a lived religious witness, each likely to produce its own distinct political or social consequences.

spiritualist approach sees the commitment to conflict transformation as a self-authenticating gospel mandate, an end-in-itself. It is rooted in the progressive or "ecumenical" trends that emerged in mainline Protestantism beginning in the 1920s and in Roman Catholicism beginning in the 1960s. Fostering dialogue among peoples is the Christian way of life in conflict settings for groups of this mentality. One example is Silsilah, a small network of primarily Roman Catholic sisters and lay women living in the southern Philippines island of Mindanao who dedicated themselves to reconciliation with Muslims during the late eighties and nineties, a time when religious extremism gained a foothold in the region. Such groups view reconciliation as a spirituality, not a strategy, still less a technical or professional process. While conversant in the literature and some of the techniques of conflict resolution, these groups tend to be loosely organized and low-maintenance, their members often living an apostolic lifestyle of poverty or modest means. Although spiritualists leave concrete outcomes to the Holy Spirit, the relationships they promote between erstwhile or potential antagonists can contribute to the stabilization of societies plagued by economic inequalities and communal tension.

In recent years, some Christian peace building communities have moved away from an exclusive reliance on this outlook, although it remains powerfully appealing in its purity of intent and spiritual expression. The historic Christian peace churches, for example—the Society of Friends (Quakers), the Mennonites, and the Church of the Brethren—attempt to retain the ethos and piety of this outlook even as they have moved decisively in the direction of ends-oriented, world-transforming modes.

By contrast to the spiritualists,
the conversionist model seeks to bring the world more closely into conformity with the reign of God in Jesus Christ, primarily by spreading the good news of salvation and, where possible, converting people to Christianity. The fundamentalist, Pentecostal and conservative evangelical missions of the cold war era (and after) exemplified this worldview, as do indigenous evangelical movements such as El Shaadai, the so-called "Catholic fundamentalists" of the Philippines. Church organizations, NGOs and Para church groups in this mode tend to be highly organized, well funded, and politically sophisticated. Their theology of conflict differs from that of the spiritualists, who tend to be pacifists or disciplined practitioners of nonviolent resistance. For the conversionists, conflict may be inevitable in a world divided between children of darkness and children of light; "spiritual warfare" is a common theme.

Christians of this persuasion are those who argue that the act of proclaiming one's faith in the public forum is a fundamental human right, and they appeal to Western human rights traditions and enforcement instruments to make the mission field safe for their divinely ordained labors. In their view "conflict transformation" is not irrelevant, but it assumes a distinctive purpose, i.e., removing impediments to the "free market of ideas" and freedom of assembly, speech and religion. Those Roman Catholics, evangelical Protestants, Mormons, Seven Day Adventists and others who continue to seek to make converts, continue to risk their lives in doing so.

Although adherents to
the liberationist model also endeavor to change the world, they seek to usher in a non-sectarian, inclusive order of social and economic justice, which they believe to be the sine qua non of lasting peace.  Progressive and "liberationist" Roman Catholics, socially liberal evangelicals and mainline Protestants work toward this end.  Advocates of structural change on behalf of the poor and marginalized, they often serve local communities, non-Christian as well as Christian, as educators and, increasingly, as trainers in conflict prevention and mediation.  The cutting edge for liberationists is "holistic community development," an approach which entails paying close attention to social relations among community members of different religious, ethnic or tribal backgrounds, to their spiritual and psychological needs and cultural trends, as well as to their material needs. It is in this context that conflict resolution is emerging as an invaluable service and skill offered by religious NGOs and liberationist-minded missioners.

These Christian actors are considered to be the most promising agents of peacemaking.  They promote religion's civic, tolerant, nonviolent presences; they articulate and defend religious and other human rights.  The ruling or dominant political and military powers tend to perceive conflict mediators of this sort as partisan; indeed, the liberationists are inclined to take the side of the disenfranchised and disempowered, and they seek to restructure the conflictual relationship in such a way as to redress the imbalance. Ecumenical and inter-religious as a matter of theological principle and moral conviction, the progressives/ liberationists include some evangelical Protestant churches, most mainline Protestant churches, the United States Catholic Conference, NGOs such as the World Council of Churches, Pax Christi, Catholic Relief Services, and the International Conciliation Services of the Mennonite Central Committee.

The variety of attitudes toward human rights, proselytism and conflict found in contemporary Catholicism and Protestantism has its counterparts in Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism. Indeed, Robert Traer writes, the support for human rights among religious leaders is "global, cutting across cultures as well as systems of belief and practice. . . . Clearly, something new is occurring when women and men of different faith traditions join with those of no religious tradition to champion human rights." None of these religious traditions speaks unequivocally about human rights; none earned an exemplary human rights record over the centuries. Their sacred texts and canons devote much more attention to commandments and obligations than to rights and freedoms. Paradoxically, their prelates, supreme guides, theologians and jurists have cultivated human rights norms while resisting their consistent application to the religious body itself.

The challenge of the next phase of the human rights era will be for religious leaders from these different traditions and sub-traditions to identify and enlarge the common ground they share.

The hope-filled dimension of secularization—its underlying Christianity.

(R. Scott Appleby, Ph.D. is professor of History & John M. Regan Jr. Director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana)