Spirituality of Active Nonviolence

Nonviolence is the way of Christ, epitomized in the Sermon on the Mount and culminating in the command to love our enemies. (Mt.5:43-48) As Christians, we are called to recognize the centrality of nonviolence to the vision and mission of Jesus. The Gospels show us that the nonviolence of Jesus is a positive force for healing, restoring community, and asserting human dignity. It challenges culture and the status quo, confronts injustice and the powerful. It accepts suffering as a consequence but doesn’t inflict suffering.

“We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace.
We need love and compassion.”

- Mother Teresa

For a more thorough examination of the nonviolent Jesus, see Jesus Christ, Peacemaker: A New Theology of Peace by Terrence J. Rynne (2014 Orbis Books)


As Franciscans, active nonviolence is living in right relationship, as sisters and brothers to all creatures.


All of the major faith traditions teach the way of nonviolence and have, at their core, respect for the other, compassion, forgiveness, and love.


Spiritual practices such as contemplation, meditation, centering prayer, and mindfulness enable us to get in touch with our Soul Force and open us to the interconnectedness of all.


Because we live in a violent culture, the path of being actively nonviolent is a lifelong journey; one of ongoing conversion.  


A movement began in 2016 to appeal to the Catholic Church to recommit to the centrality of Gospel nonviolence. Under the auspices of Pax Christi International, the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI) was launched. Gathering people from around the world, the CNI continues to reflect on, study, and explore methods of active nonviolence, as well as initiating efforts at moving beyond the just war theory to one of just peace.


“Nonviolence doesn’t mean we have to passively accept injustice.
We have to fight for our rights, we have to oppose injustice.”

- His Holiness, The Dalai Lama