Posted by: L. E. Barnes | March 11, 2010

Pax Christi

Today’s reading in The Little Black Book introduces an organization named Pax Christi (Latin for “Peace of Christ”). Founded by Marthe Dortel-Claudot in 1945 to promote peace and reconciliation between French and German Catholics, Pax Christi has spread to other countries and continues as a peace activist non-governmental organization. The American branch’s website cites the following as their goals:

Spirituality of Nonviolence and Peacemaking:
 Pax Christi USA promotes Christian nonviolence on the personal, communal, national and international levels. Believing in the gospel call to conversion as found in the Beatitudes, Pax Christi USA denounces and resists the evils of violence while striving to reflect the Peace of Christ.
Disarmament, Demilitarization and Reconciliation with Justice
Pax Christi USA members promote nuclear, conventional and domestic disarmament, an end to the international arms trade, economic conversion to a non-military economy, conscientious objection, and nonviolent alternatives to war. Pax Christi USA promotes the just reconciliation of enemies through the United Nations and other channels.
Economic and Interracial Justice in the United States
Pax Christi USA joins the struggle against economic injustice, militarism, and environmental destruction which are particularly harmful to those who are poor, minorities, children, and women. Pax Christi USA works toward eliminating racist structures in the Catholic Church and the country, working toward equality of all people.
Human Rights and Global Restoration
Pax Christi USA promotes universal human rights, both at home and abroad, through solidarity with oppressed and marginalized people struggling for dignity. Pax Christi USA rejects every form of political and economic domination over others and fosters a reverence for all creation.

An example of their efforts is this public service announcement condemning the invasion of Iraq.
These all sound like noble goals, and I agree that as Christians we should be concerned with fostering peace and justice. After all, the Old Testament prophets castigated the Israelites not only for forsaking the Lord with their idolatry, but for their society’s corruption and indifference toward the poor and vulnerable. And our Lord said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
Yet I find myself having mixed feelings toward groups such as Pax Christi. For one thing, some of their goals sound like pie-in-the-sky idealism, especially their call for military disarmament and reliance on organizations such as the United Nations to effect reconciliation among countries. Let’s face it: There are and always have been extremely evil people in the world, people who not listen to the voices of reason and righteousness. So not all conflicts can be resolved by peaceful means. Also, it seems that these kinds of movements often end up swinging to the far left (e.g., liberation theology). Furthermore, I’m concerned that we can get so focused on worldly issues, no matter how worthwhile, that we forget what’s most important: the salvation of people’s souls. Jesus didn’t die and rise again to found a giant political action committee.
Am I being too suspicious of Pax Christi and other such groups? Your thoughts, anyone?




  1. I agree with you that “not all conflicts can be resolved by peaceful means.” I don’t think you’re being too suspicious at all.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment! It’s good to see other comments about “The Little Black Book”!

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Yes, the “Little Black Book” is an enjoyable devotional. I’m glad our parish is using it.

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