2018 State Assembly on Restorative Justice

Erin Freeborn, the executive director of Communities for Restorative Justice (C4RJ) lead this year’s annual assembly.  The assembly took place at St. Mulachy’s Parish, 99 Bedford Street, Burlington, MA on Saturday October 20th from 11am to 3:30pm.  Photographs from the day are included here.

PCUSA Statement on Militarization

“The land of the free and the home of the brave” is quickly becoming an oxymoron with the latest decision by the White House to deploy the National Guard to the Southern Border region of the US. This is another indignity aimed at our immigrant and refugee sisters and brothers who predominantly come from communities of color.  Those coming today are mostly women and children seeking request for asylum under US domestic law.  They post no security threat, nor are they the villains that the White House portrays.    In addition this administration’s suggestion to arm teachers and security guards in our schools and the continuing militarization of our city streets is a sad commentary on the moral values of this current administration.

To confront areas of tension with weapons of violence is to breed more violence.  Adding to tensions already present is to set a stage which is dangerous, ineffective and morally irresponsible.

Our Catholic Social Teaching stresses that equality and dignity are the result of human security (not border security), freedom to learn and thrive in an atmosphere of respect (not fear of being killed for holding a cell phone), and where the common good of all enacts sensible gun legislation (and not bowing to a gun lobby whose only interest is a profit motive.)

As members of Pax Christi USA we encourage us all to use our power to address the disproportionate and growing issue of militarism that is both a contradiction and an affront to our values as members of the community of peacemakers.

Pax Christi Massachusetts Spring 2018 Retreat

Witnessing the Roots of Peace in the World of Discord and Hate

Transcending the deep racism in our history and the current
worldwide anti-immigrant feeling to re-engage public
discourse and build the beloved community of
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream.

Retreat Leader: Fr. Warren Savage

Saturday, April 7, at ELMS College

Faculty Dining Room of the Mary Dooley Campus Center, 291 Springfield Street, Chicopee, MA

Registration begins at 9:30 – Program 10:00 am to 3:30 pm

View the Flyer Here

From Just War to Just Peace? Peacemaking as Gospel Vocation

The 2017 Pax Christi Massachusetts annual fall Assembly featured as keynote speaker Dr. Lisa Sowle Cahill, the J. Donald Monan professor of theology at Boston College, addressing the topic, “From Just War to Just Peace?; Peacemaking as Gospel Vocation.” The event attracted 60 or so Pax Christi members and supporters to St. Susanna Parish in Dedham on Saturday, December 2, 2017.  The author of many articles and books, including ‘Love Your Enemies: Discipleship, Pacifism, and Just War Theory (Fortress, 1994), Dr. Cahill was one of 80 worldwide participants, and the only one from New England, at the April 2016 conference “On Violence and Just Peace,” convened in Rome by Pax Christi International and the Vatican.  Rome conference participants (https://nonviolencejustpeace.net) She began with a brief summary of the background paper on Catholic social teaching and just war theory that she had been asked to prepare for the Rome conference. She noted the irony that while every modern Pope (since World War II) has unequivocally condemned war, they all “leave the door open” to the use of violence as a last resort in self-defense.  But Dr. Cahill argued that Pope Francis is trying to focus the Church on “nonviolent conflict resolution” in the form of “peacebuilding.” She described this process as the finding of common ground between conflicting parties, most often in “the global south,” who are tired of endless warfare and need to find a just and sustainable way of living together. This daily reality, she suggested, makes the academic debate about “just war” vs. “just peace” at best “distracting” and at worst “divisive.” Put another way, she said there is “no just war in practice.”  Dr. Cahill also noted that while the Rome conference produced a consensus “Appeal to the Catholic Church to re-commit to the centrality of Gospel nonviolence,” a number of other viewpoints we re-expressed in the “background papers” submitted from around the world. She saw Pope Francis’s World Day of Peace message for 2017 (“Nonviolence: A style of politics for peace”) as a direct outgrowth of the conference. She suggested that we familiarize ourselves with all these documents at the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative web site: https://nonviolencejustpeace.net/ After wryly commenting that “proof texting” is “not the Catholic way,” Dr. Cahill nevertheless pointed out the “Gospel basis of nonviolence” in several passages from Scripture, especially the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:38-44).  Dr. Lisa Cahill (bc.edu) In response to several questions following her remarks, ably solicited Oprah-style via mobile microphone by PCMA board member John Monaco, Dr. Cahill: revealed that she’s working on an updated edition of ‘Love Your Enemies’ ; and affirmed her belief in a “preferential option for pacifism” in contemporary Catholicism.  This year’s Assembly took the innovative form of beginning with a light lunch and social time at 11:00 am, followed by the keynote at 12:30 pm.  Lunch still included the full array of delicious home-made pies and other treats contributed by St. Susanna parishioners at prior Pax Christi events there. At the annual PCMA business meeting after the keynote, the 2017 peacemaker award went to Bill Toller of Springfield, whose separate profile in this issue more than establishes his bona fides.   An afternoon session facilitated by Pax Christi MA co-coordinator Fr. Rocco Puopolo, drew many thoughtful responses to three questions following up on Dr. Cahill’s presentation:

1. What is your vision of the ways and means to move forward with the “Appeal” that arose out of the Vatican conference in April 2016?

2. How can we make this information available to parishes throughout the state?

3. What “best practices” in your nonviolent peacemaking life seem to carry seeds of hope for change? A number of concrete suggestions, from local bulletin inserts, to collaborative support with other like-minded organizations for refugees, to further contacts with Pax Christi USA and our Bishops, promised that Dr. Cahill’s reminder about the power of public opinion to create change would not go unheeded.

[from the Winter-Spring 2018 Newsletter, article by Mike Moran]

One Thousand Ministers March for Justice

On Monday, August 28th in Washington DC, one thousand ministers will March from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to the Department of Justice to reaffirm that religious and community leaders are committed to being at the forefront of Social Justice and Civil Rights as Dr. King did 54 years ago.  See more details here.  #MM4J

An Update from Sister Helen Prejean

In her latest newsletter, Sister Helen speaks about the ongoing executions in Arkansas, the struggle to prevent them, and other updates on the movement to end the death penalty

2017 Spring Retreat

The Pax Christi Massachusetts Spring Retreat took place on Saturday, April 8th from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Assumption College in Worcester (La Maison Administration Building, 500 Salisbury St.).  The retreat was directed by Fr. Tom McMurray SJ with a theme of “Living Hope” and allowed those in attendance to further ground their hope in God’s promise, compassion, faithfulness and dream for us and all creation.


Annual Good Friday Stations of the Cross at Massachusetts Statehouse

From Noon to 3pm on April 14th (Good Friday) join with various peace and religious communities in the front of the Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston in a silent vigil with individual reflections on the sufferings of Christ as we see the sufferings of the world crucified by war and violence.  All are welcome


Valentine’s Day Homily on Nonviolence and Love of Enemies

Homily  Feb. 19, 2017             Loretto Motherhouse


We’ve just passed Valentine’s day, lots of little red hearts floating around, they all say I love you. But if you asked “What exactly IS this love you’re passing around?” it would be hard to explain. We’d think of Paul’s beautiful words to the Corinthians: “love is patient, love is kind…” We’d think of people who are dear to us. We’d allow that love can be a high, it can be gentle and tender, it can be sweet; or it can be “tough love”, it can be painful, difficult…well you know all of that.

Today’s readings, though, seem to put us in a different frame. I’d have liked to talk about something else, but they nearly force us to face into these words of Jesus. “Do not bear hatred in your heart,” “take no revenge and cherish no grudge,” “love your neighbor as yourself,” “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, “give to the one who asks of you,” “be perfect  as God is perfect” – (according to one writer, this means “be all-inclusive in love as God is all-inclusive.” Jesus has broadened the border from the sweetly personal  and intimate, which is where we usually like to think of love, to something way larger. Something we might call political. Something critical not just to individual, private life, but to public, corporate life.

We’re learning that what we call “the Golden Rule” – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the single most foundational ethical message that  ALL religions – including Christianity – offer to humankind. But we’re conditioned by centuries of tit-for-tat, eye-for an-eye notions of justice. Most of us would have been taught that Jesus’s examples – turning the other cheek, giving your cloak as well as your coat, going the farther mile – advise us to give in to domination, to be passive, don’t fight back. Contemporary scholars, however, tell us that Jesus is recommending clever, subtle, peaceful, non-violent ways of resisting evil when we are faced with it. Jesus as he is dying, prays “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus invites us to a largeness of heart that never gives up possibilities for change. He urges us to find creative ways of reaching out in love to enemies.

Jesus has moved Love as personal into the public, political arena. Jesus brings LOVE into the area of power. Who are our enemies? “unfriendly” nations, or, as many experience these days, our own national leaders. Does God expect me to LOVE persons whose intentions are completely incompatible with my own?

I believe Jesus would say Yes. Love them.

So maybe the hardest question we face now is: What does it mean for me to love THESE enemies?

Think how speedily – and how radically – our culture has changed in less than a year’s time. Numbing confusion, jumbling of truth and falsity, overridingf social conscience, condonng meanness and vulgarity. What we presumed was a national ethic has just sluffed off without our noticing. And as we change, we are creating the futures – personal, but also collective, evolutionary, even planetary futures.

I read that a senator recently raised a simple question: Have we become unable to talk to each other? That question is the emergence of hope. When our concern turns – not to despair but to re-pair, to healing; when we very consciously turn our hearts’ energies to love. Scientists have found that when HEARTS are aligned with each other, they generate a “coherent electromagnetic wave” in the local field that draws people together. In other words, with our love, we “feed” a field of love around us. What if we each made a real commitment to take time to ask this question: Am I, this day, open to loving the enemy? Can I find compassion in my heart that would enable me to think, perhaps,  of the background of each of those “enemies”, and imagine some intervention of love into their life that could change it, open it to peace, gentleness, love?

But might this time of confusion be destined to wake us from a cultural sleep? Some of us remember the Vietnam war, just some 50 years ago, remember the peace movement? I remember learning the word non-violence  – a word I’d heard only associated with a man in India. I remember the Berrigans, that I was shocked to learn that going to prison could be an act of courage, a prophetic act. We have come a distance. We have learned that love is a power that has political clout. Even the Vatican has begun to re-consider our allegiance to “just wars.” We know non-violence works. We know that humans hold the power of the life and death of the planet in our hands.

Maybe – just maybe – now we might be graced to love our enemies. Ethicists say that moral development depends in part on what they call a “choke reflex.” When the consequences of cultural patterns of behavior begin to be recognized as destructive, when our lifestyles are obviously damaging, we begin to “choke” on it. Now we know – I don’t need to list our country’s collective failures in areas of justice and peace. Maybe now we begin to say to one another: “I / we can’t let this continue.”

And that is the turning point: that is when HOPE begins to emerge – the moment we wake up, and turn to each other, awaken each other. When we re-member: care, acceptance, sharing. We begin to realize “we’re all in it together.” We begin to con-vert, con-verse, co-operate, col-laborate, com-municate – all the co’s.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” “You ARE the temple of God…the holy presence of God.” Isn’t that, after all, the deepest purpose of gathering this morning in community, in communion – to share this meal whose whole intention is to energize, to deepen the power of Divine Love in us together?

May it be so.


TEXTS: Lev. 19:1-2, 17-18                                                                            Elaine Prevallet SL

Cor. 3:16-23

Mt. 38-48

Pax Christi USA’s statement opposing President Trump’s Executive Orders


Pax Christi USA deplores the three executive orders President Trump has recently signed. One is in favor of resurrecting the Dakota Access pipeline, another in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline, and another for advancing the deportation of immigrants and the construction of a wall on the US southern border. The common thread of these orders is the blatant disregard for the will of the people, care of the earth, and personhood and struggles of the migrant.

Our hearts are with the Standing Rock nation and all indigenous people who have worked so hard to protect the water and the land from the Dakota Access pipeline. The will of the people was heard when it came to changing the route of this pipeline just a few months ago, and now the people are being overlooked in the interest of corporate growth. We believe in people over profit. We believe in the care of the earth over the desire for oil. Mark Charles, a Navajo man and activist said, “No matter how much money you have. No matter how powerful you are. No matter what alternative facts you quote. The truth of the matter is – You CANNOT drink oil.” In the end, travesties against the earth will affect us all – even those who make much profit off pillaging the earth.

Our hearts are with our immigrant brothers and sisters living in fear of deportation and separation from their families. No one flees their countries of origin on a whim. We honor the multiplicity of reasons people migrate to the United States, many of which are poverty, gang violence, and terror. People are not the enemy, but that is the myth we are being told by President Trump. Building a wall is the visual symbol of these political lies. We do not believe this story, and we will not support this wall.

We need a country where people feel safe, welcomed, and know the only prerequisite for their rights is being human. All human beings, regardless of skin color or country of origin, should be able to rely on having safe water, a safe family, and a clean earth. President Trump’s executive orders set us on an immoral course we cannot endorse. Pax Christi USA is committed to the vision of justice that trumps hate and builds bridges instead of walls.

Peace of Christ,

Sr. Patricia Chappell

Executive Director

Pax Christi USA