Evangelizing as a People of Peace: Paul’s Clue, John Paul’s Globalism, Francis’s Principles
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Evangelizing as a People of Peace Paul’s Clue, John Paul’s Globalism, Francis’s Principles Gerald W. Schlabach University of St. Thomas
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To judge from some of its wildest critics and enthusiasts alike, Gaudium et spes and its friendly engagement with the modern world would almost seem to have made the Church as a body superfluous. Grateful for the Council’s mandate to partner with people of good will in social movements struggling to build a more humane world, enthusiasts have rightly noted that the Church is called to serve a purpose larger than itself in history -- the coming fullness of the Kingdom of God.1 In turn, though, they have sometimes given critics reason to worry that social movements and liberation struggles may come to displace the Church itself both in theological accounts of God’s work in history, and in the practical priorities of Christians.2 The Council fathers certainly did call for partnership with all people of good will and gave fresh recognition to the vocations of the laity in secular spheres. But the English title for the document has always been “The Pastoral Constitution for the Church in the Modern World,” not merely for “people of good will” in the modern world or even “Catholics” in the modern world. Admittedly, it can be a challenge to envision the Church acting as a body at work for the common good without evoking either a pre-conciliar confusion of “the Church” with the hierarchy alone, or a contemporary specter of faithful Catholics as triumphalistic culture warriors.
2 Fortunately, Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, and Francis have together projected a more winsome though perhaps more difficult vision of the Church moving together as a global people of peace in the modern world. Buried in Pope Paul’s Evangelii nuntiandi is a critical clue to the social posture of churches as communities of witness. Central to John Paul’s vision of a civilization of love is a communitarian political theory that coordinates respect for local identities with networks of global solidarity. Francis’s Evangeli Gaudium pulls these threads together with four key principles for peacemaking, which make clear: Not only are evangelization and social engagement integral to one another, they find their unity in the tasks of building up a people whose very presence in the world is a peacemaking witness among the nations. Indeed, for Francis, peace-building is people-building, and vice versa. The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once wrote in his journal: “Don't get involved in partial problems, but always take flight to where there is a free view over the whole single great problem, even if this view is still not a clear one.” At least for a Christian social ethicist, I would argue, that big-picture question is this: What is the people called Church supposed to be in the world? For some reason, the God we meet both in the Bible and in church history -- who is also the God who “so loved the world” -- refuses to give up on the Church, even when Christians are clueless at best and unfaithful at worst. The presence of such a people in the world must be crucial for God’s entire social strategy for the healing of the nations. So what is that strategy? If indeed such a strategy is discernible, we ought to be able to see its imprint from the very beginnings of salvation history. And indeed, the big picture, the long story, the biblical drama, the abiding strategy has had a consistent shape from the beginning, when God called Abraham promising to bless him and his people but always with the larger purpose of blessing all the families of the earth. “Abrahamic community.” The pattern and the paradox that the call of Abraham in Genesis 12 sets up is this: Abraham and his progeny have an identity to celebrate and preserve. Yet what a strange identity. Whenever God’s people hoard God’s blessing or protect it with a siege mentality that excludes others from God’s blessing, they actually lose it. Already in Abraham, therefore, God’s people have a cruciform identity -- in other words, an
3 identity that bears the imprint of the cross. For this is an identity and a life we lose by trying to save it, yet gain by risking it through service to the common good and vulnerability to the needs of others. Admittedly, a twofold paradoxical identity such as this can be a little hard to get our minds around. Yet once we learn to think two thoughts simultaneously -- blessed ... to be a blessing -- the social posture of “Abrahamic community” offers us elegant guidance for making peace amid our culture wars, for calling us to love our enemies even in real wars, and for generally navigating the perils of a fast globalizing world that promises interconnected solidarity among diverse communities but often steamrolls vulnerable cultures instead. Having long used this Abrahamic framework to think through social issues and the posture of the Church, it was a transcendent experience to read Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel soon after its release a year ago. It is not that Francis said all of this in so many words, of course, but something far more interesting. Pope Francis’s reputation is that of a generous pastor, more than that of a rigorous scholar. Yet his four peacemaking principles lay out nothing short of a philosophical “natural law” basis for the fundamental worldview we need in order to situate ourselves as a pilgrim people of peace in the world. Which is to say, as an Abrahamic community. Which is to say, as a transnational nation with an identity that stretches catholic-ly across many borders while seeking the common good of every nation in which Christians find themselves. Which is to say, a people that is not afraid to embrace life in Diaspora. But that no doubt requires further explanation. So on the way to Pope Francis, let me turn for background to Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.
A Clue from Pope Paul VI
Pope Paul VI would seem to have left us something of an “Easter egg.” For computer programmers, film makers, and their aficionados, an Easter egg has come to refer to a hidden
4 message or feature, the promise of which entices dedicated users to go deep into a game, or viewers to pay keen attention. The papal puzzle is this: As Paul VI penned an apostolic exhortation in 1975 to guide the church’s evangelization and mission work, his thoughts turned “especially” to immigrant Christian communities and their special responsibilities. Why? The occasion for Pope Paul’s Evangelii Nuntiandi -- or in English, Evangelization in the Modern World -- provides certain clues. Significantly, the release date for the apostolic exhortation was December 8, 1975, a decade to the day after the close of the Second Vatican Council -- that momentous gathering of bishops from around the world that had sought to guide the Roman Catholic Church into a new relationship with the modern world. Vatican II had indeed opened up the church in various ways, but after ten years of changes both invigorating and disorienting for Catholics, it was time for some clarifications. The council’s declaration committing the church to interreligious dialogue, Nostra aetate, had assured people of other faiths that it recognized all that was true in their religious traditions, and affirmed that those faiths can aid anyone who authentically seeks a saving relationship with God.3 So then, did Catholics still need to proclaim the gospel, but if so how to so in a respectful manner? Likewise, the council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes, had promised to accompany humankind “unreservedly” in a spirit of solidarity amid the exciting discoveries and troubling perplexities of modern life.4 But didn’t friendly accompaniment and a willingness to affirm all that was life-giving about the exciting discoveries of modern culture sometimes require the church to counter modern culture too? The twentieth century had shown that technological achievement could “recoil” against humanity, as Gaudium et spes section 4 put it, and accelerate ancient patterns of violence and exploitation.5 In these and many other cases the challenge for Christians was simultaneously to challenge and to affirm -- to somehow be both counter-cultural and pro-cultural at the same time. Paul VI left other clues in Evangelli nuntiandi as to why he may have been thinking “especially” of immigrant Christians communities as a preeminent model for all Christian witness. The only footnote in the section where he left us his Easter egg of a remark takes us
5 back to challenges facing Christian communities in the centuries before they gained official acceptance from the Roman emperor Constantine. The early Christian apologists such as Tertullian and Minucius Felix, to whom the footnote referred, had needed to explain the faith and practice of fledgling Christian communities in the face of questions both curious and scandalized. Likewise, according to Pope Paul, the ways that a Christian community embodies its faith and mutual love today through acts of solidarity, both within churches and within the larger society that hosts them, should continue to provide occasions for verbalizing and explaining the Christian faith. To make that point, however, Pope Paul was mining near a deep vein in early Christian thought, in which some of the most influential of the “Church Fathers” had explicitly thought of themselves as a people living as though in exile, spread through many nations, yet all the more loyal to the one commonwealth of humanity as a whole.6 And so -- whether deliberately or inadvertently or through the mysterious inspiration of the Holy Spirit -- Pope Paul VI had diaspora on his mind. Appropriating words of Jesus, Christians have often spoken of themselves as called to be “in the world but not of the world.”7 An appropriate aphorism for all Christians, this in-but-not-of experience is daily, concrete, and existential for any new immigrant community, Christian or otherwise, at least when it continues to identify with a homeland elsewhere. This is what diaspora is. Derived from the Greek word for “dispersal,” diaspora is the social pattern by which members of a community, ethnic group, or even a nation that is separated from or that never has had a nation-state of its own, now lives scattered among many nations, yet seeks to maintain some kind of group cohesion.8 Unless its members are trying to assimilate and melt into another society as quickly as they can, their challenge is to structure their common life in hundreds of ways, small and large, according to the primary allegiance of one identity, while respecting and winning the respect of a host society that has its own laws, customs, and expectations. Sometimes this means conflict. Sometimes this means service. Always it requires faithful narration of the community’s story, and careful navigation of competing demands. Could this be a clue? Indeed it is -- a clue for how all Christian communities, not just
6 immigrant communities, are to be a living witness to the gospel, a people of peace that serves the world in justice, a people that knows how to explain itself to itself and to others, a people with a supple and coherent social ethic, a people that knows and celebrates its primary identity as a community of redeemed disciples of Jesus Christ, a people nonetheless aware that to follow a crucified Lord means that the faithful can only preserve such an identity by putting it at risk on behalf of others as they travel through the many times and cultures of history. A pilgrim people.
A Global Vision from Pope John Paul II
To be sure, any suggestion that Christians should not just accept -- reluctantly -- the relatively disempowered status that comes with being a minority in some times, places, and societies, but should positively embrace life in Diaspora, may quickly prompt anxieties about “sectarianism.”9 Conservative Catholics risk the charge when they warn of secular encroachments on their institutions or speculate that we might have to get used to being a smaller but more faithful Church. Progressive Catholics risk the charge when they question the nationalist loyalties and imperialistic assumptions that pressure Christians to rally ‘round the flag in times of war. These anxieties, however, are like the “partial problems” from which the philosopher Wittgenstein warned himself to take flight. To gain perspective and allay such anxieties, Catholic social teaching likewise needs what he urged himself to seek -- “a free view over the whole single great problem, even if this view is still not a clear one.” Pope John Paul II speaking before the General Assembly of the United Nations on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary in 1995 can hardly be accused of sectarian withdrawal from world-sized challenges. Indeed, the task that he took upon himself was to project nothing short of his global vision for a “civilization of love” and solidarity among the family of nations. Such a setting was not the place for the pope to take up the topic of ecclesiology or to dwell on the social ministries that are integral to what the Church understands as evangelization. Yet the
7 principles that emerge in his speech inevitably reflect a Catholic Christian vision of how nations ought to relate with and among one another. Note that I am summarizing him in a very deliberate way: “Nations” more than nation-states. “Among,” not just with or between. In a globalized world, every people in some sense lives in Diaspora, mixed among other peoples. The challenge of living justly and peaceably in a globalized world is the challenge that every tribe and nation and people faces -- not just the people called Church but including the people called Church. It is to maintain particular identities while contributing to the universal common good of all humanity. A number of principles are discernible in John Paul II’s 1995 address to the United Nations General Assembly. Many of course are recognizable as standard commitments of Catholic social teaching. Christian concern seeks and embraces the good of all human beings. The accelerated global quest for freedom that distinguishes our time reflects universal human rights that we must recognize as grounded in the nature and dignity of the human person. Truly human freedom is found, however, neither in libertarian license nor through imperialistic imposition, but through active nonviolence and social solidarity. For social solidarity to be concrete, the quest for freedom and universal rights must translate into just economic relationships. Yet John Paul also extended Catholic social teaching in ways that help navigate the shoals and puzzles of globalization. Crucial to John Paul’s vision of a civilization of love and to his approach to globalization is a principle that moderns in the West may not necessarily contest yet have trouble appropriating: Human communities, not simply individuals, enjoy rights. Addressing the United Nations in 1995, just a few years after the 1989 Revolution that brought down the Soviet empire and ended the Cold War, John Paul II celebrated victory of the world’s growing respect for human rights. Yet his message was not quite a cheerleading session for Western-style democracy and free enterprise. In the modern world we are so in the habit of framing our debates and choices around the relative claims, rights, and responsibilities of individuals on the one hand, and national governments or nation-states on the other hand, that we
8 have trouble hearing proposals or imagining models that focus elsewhere.10 Yet the freedom, liberty, and liberation that John Paul was celebrating resides in communities that inhabit social spaces in between the individual and the nation-state, yet face both directions. It would thus enable the individual persons who constitute those communities to thrive, while serving the common good of other communities who together constitute “society” and civilization. Such a vision is neither anti-government in the name of libertarian individualism, nor large-government in the name of total solutions. It is communitarian. This principle and this vision leads to another. For John Paul II, nation-states and the international system represented by the United Nations have a role to play in building a civilization of love, but are not the key. We may miss the crucial communitarian point as it surfaces in John Paul’s address to the United Nations, unless we also notice how he used the word “nation.” No sooner had he celebrated the global quest for freedom in the twentieth century, and those who take risks for it, than the pontiff paused to remind his listeners that this quest “has engaged not only individuals but nations as well.” After all, the violations that had first provoked World War II and then prompted the founding of the United Nations itself in the hope of avoiding future wars had been “violations of the rights of nations.”11 In other words, “Many of those nations suffered grievously for no other reason than that they were deemed ‘other’. Terrible crimes were committed in the name of lethal doctrines which taught the ‘inferiority’ of some nations and cultures” precisely as groups.12 So pause to notice, said the pope: The United Nations had “spoke[n] eloquently of the rights of persons “ but no similar international agreement has yet adequately addressed the rights of nations. This situation must be carefully pondered, for it raises urgent questions about justice and freedom in the world today.”13 Key to what needed pondering, however, were the issues of identity amid globalization that require us to rethink the very definition of those nations whose communal rights deserve recognition, John Paul II pointed out. In previous centuries, ethicists, jurists, and statesmen had defended the rights of vulnerable nations to exist as independent nation-states, from Central
9 Europe to the so-called New World. But globalization and the blurring of borders now presented new challenges to nationalities seeking to preserve their communal identities: Today the problem of nationalities forms part of a new world horizon marked by a great “mobility” which has blurred the ethnic and cultural frontiers of the different peoples, as a result of a variety of processes such as migrations, mass-media and the globalization of the economy. And yet, precisely against this horizon of universality we see the powerful re-emergence of a certain ethnic and cultural consciousness, as it were an explosive need for identity and survival, a sort of counterweight to the tendency toward uniformity. The impulse to preserve communal identity “must not be underestimated or regarded as a simple left-over of the past.” Far from reflecting some kind of primal or retrograde tribalism that the modern world would eventually get over -- the pope seemed to be saying -- this phenomenon “demands serious interpretation, and a closer examination on the levels of anthropology, ethics and law.”14 Intrinsic to the human condition, after all, is a “tension between the particular and the universal.” Sharing the same human nature, “people automatically feel that they are members of one great family” and indeed they are. But as historical creatures, our shared humanity always takes concrete historical shape, so that human beings “are necessarily bound in a more intense way to particular human groups, beginning with the family and going on to the various groups to which they belong and up to the whole of their ethnic and cultural group, which is called, not by accident, a ‘nation’, from the Latin word ‘nasci’: ‘to be born’.” Any adequate anthropology or understanding of the human condition must hold the two poles of universality and particularity in a “vital” and “inevitable” tension, and any social ethic or global politics must embrace that tension as a fruitful one if we are live it out “in a calm and balanced way.” Exactly how the claims of individuals, nations, and nation-states are to be synchronized may be difficult and require serious study. But what should be clear from this anthropological foundation is that upon it rests “the ‘rights of nations’, which are nothing but ‘human rights’ fostered at the specific level
10 of community life.”15 In any case, key both to John Paul’s argument here, and to the continuing study he called for, is the recognition that nations are not the same as nation-states. Indeed they often exist independently of nation-states and are never simply coterminous with them. John Paul’s native Poland, after all, had survived as a nation despite losing statehood and disappearing from maps for over a century. What complicates any study of “the rights of nations,” admitted the pope, is “the difficulty of defining the very concept of ‘nation.” But this much was clear, he insisted: it “cannot be identified a priori and necessarily with the State.” Every nation has a right to exist -he insisted emphatically -- and none can deprive another of that right for any reason. But this “fundamental right to existence does not necessarily call for sovereignty as a state.” We should speak instead of a “kind of fundamental spiritual ‘sovereignty’” by which every nation “enjoys the right to its own language and culture.” And thus, so long as it does not abuse basic human rights or oppress other minorities, “[e]very nation therefore has also the right to shape its life according to its own traditions.”16 Globalization must not mean homogenization, therefore. Here then is the puzzle that we will find Pope Francis continuing to address. How are we to build a just and peaceful social order extending around the world that avoids decimating vulnerable peoples, economies, and cultures through its very spread and unintended consequences? Globalization often proceeds in the name of noble goals of freedom and prosperity but ends up favoring the strong, while corroding the cultural identities of the weak, as it alternately requires and seduces them into smoothing out their differences and trivializing their traditions in order to participate in global systems. It is no accident that John Paul II addressed the United Nations General Assembly not as “the people of the world” but as a “family of peoples.”17 By speaking not of an undifferentiated mass of people, but of a “family of peoples,” John Paul evoked a more complex diversity-withinuniversality. The very nature of a family, reflected the pope, is that of “a community based on mutual trust, mutual support and sincere respect. In an authentic family the strong do not
11 dominate; instead, the weaker members, because of their very weakness, are all the more welcomed and served.”18 Christianity itself had a crucial role to play precisely here. “Unhappily, the world has yet to learn how to live with diversity... The fact of ‘difference’, and the reality of ‘the other’, can sometimes be felt as a burden, or even as a threat,” leading to “a denial of the very humanity of ‘the other’: with the result that people fall into a cycle of violence in which no one is spared, not even the children.”19 Respect for diverse cultures must begin with the recognition that no culture is merely a culture, for at a profound level, each is an effort to ponder the mystery of the world and in particular of the human person: it is a way of giving expression to the transcendent dimension of human life. The heart of every culture is its approach to the greatest of all mysteries: the mystery of God.... Thus the ‘difference’ which some find so threatening can, through respectful dialogue, become the source of a deeper understanding of the mystery of human existence.20 This prompted the pontiff to underscore generally “the fundamental right to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, as one of the cornerstones in the structure of human rights and the foundation of every truly free society.”21 But the particularity of faith in Jesus Christ must lead the Church itself still farther away from intolerance and toward respectful dialogue.22 So even though an address before the United Nations was not the place to address matters of ecclesiology internal to Christianity itself, the very way that the Church itself embodies diversity-within-unity would have to be among its greatest contributions to respectful globalization, insofar as the Church “passes the peace” among formerly estranged peoples when it allows the gospel to take distinctive shape within many cultures. Any Christian social ethic or Catholic peace theology that hopes to rise to the challenges of globalization will need to attend to the Vatican II mandate to welcome appropriate models of “inculturation” that invite Christians to become a truly catholic global Church. But only by risking strategies of active nonviolence will we build a civilization of love.
12 John Paul’s overarching hope as he looked ahead to the year 2000, was that “a century of violent coercion [would] be succeeded by a century of persuasion.”23 Learning to engage in dialogue between cultures and nations based on recognition of universal human rights was of course essential to such a transition. But his repeated references to the 1989 Revolution serve to remind us that one may not always be able to move from violent coercion to persuasion through talk alone. Social struggle is often necessary. Power may be required in order to persuade the powerful to come to the table. So what kind of power maintains respect for adversaries and their freedom too, their dignity too, their humanity and human rights too, even amid social struggle? Only a form of struggle and an exercise of power that depends upon rather than tatters the webs of human solidarity. The 1989 Revolution in Central Europe that had toppled Soviet totalitarianism was John Paul’s model for many reasons, but this one was crucial. It was not just that he himself had been a player in that global event. It was not just that as a Pole and a Polish bishop he had experienced the devastations and degradations of Soviet rule first-hand. No, the pontiff’s focus was not on himself or his own experiences but on “the commitment of brave men and women inspired by a different, and ultimately more profound and powerful, vision” Here the pontiff underscored the nonviolent character of the revolutions that had transformed Europe in 1989, along with “the experience of social solidarity” that is essential to active nonviolence.24 Indeed, the moral structure shaping nonviolent social movements from below must continue being institutionalized at national and global levels. By implication, John Paul II was recognizing active nonviolence as essential for building a civilization of love. This, after all, was his heartfelt appeal: Inspired by the example of all those who have taken the risk of freedom, can we not recommit ourselves also to taking the risk of solidarity — and thus the risk of peace? And that means all of us.
13 Peacebuilding Principles from Pope Francis25
For decades now, popes and episcopal conferences have been insisting that to work for peace is the vocation of all Christians. Too often, however, peacemaking seems the domain of special vocations or technical specialists. This is certainly not the Church’s hope. As Pope John Paul II proclaimed in his World Day of Peace message at the opening of Jubilee Year 2000, “The Church vividly remembers her Lord and intends to confirm her vocation and mission to be in Christ a ‘sacrament’ or sign and instrument of peace in the world and for the world. For the Church, to carry out her evangelizing mission means to work for peace. For the Catholic faithful, the commitment to build peace and justice is not secondary but essential.” Yet peace often seems an activity for those who are “into that sort of thing.” Many associate peacemaking mainly with protesting war and injustice. If they know a little more they may think policymaking. If they know even more, they may think of on-the-ground practitioners in the developing field of peacebuilding. But even if all these associations are positive, peacemaking can still seem like other people’s business. Protest requires a certain disposition. Policymaking requires expertise. Peacebuilding practitioners need training in techniques like conflict resolution. Pope Francis would change this by widening our focus in a way that places every vocation, technique or tactic in the wider context of God’s overarching strategy in history. For Francis, after all, peacebuilding means building a people of peace -- peoplebuilding. In his recent exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, he spoke repeatedly of all work for peace and the common good as building or becoming a people. This followed his portrayal of evangelization as the work of the entire Church, which is “first and foremost a people advancing on its pilgrim way towards God,” opening out as “a people for everyone” and “a people of many faces.” Which people does he mean? we may ask. But that would be the wrong question. Picture a set of nested Russian dolls. Once we recognize the work of peacebuilding as peoplebuilding, we start to notice: God’s own peacemaking strategy always places creative people as change
14 agents within communities, within peoples, within peoples. That World Day of Peace 2000 message from John Paul II, for example, worked on multiple layers at once. As a sacrament of peace, the Church is to be both a sign (being) and instrument (doing) of a saving reality beyond itself. But even as the nesting pattern moves outward into the world, it also calls inward to an “essential” role for each of the Catholic faithful. The pattern is really the oldest and most basic in salvation history. In Genesis, even as God called Abraham, promising the blessing of descendents who would become a great people, God’s strategic purpose for them was that they be a blessing to all other families or peoples of the earth. The elegant paradox of an Abrahamic community is that it can only be true to its vocation as a people if it is ready to risk that very identity by blessing and living for other peoples. Francis draws instinctively on this Abrahamic pattern. The Church must live its life on the streets, he insisted as he began his papacy, preferring the risk of getting wounded out there to the prospect of stagnating health from living behind closed doors. In The Joy of the Gospel he demonstrated the theological heft that sustains his pastoral practice. Turning midway to a natural-law mode of reflection, he laid out four principles. Together they aim to transform the social conflict and cultural diversity that are an inevitable part of human life into “a genuine path to peace within each nation and in the entire world.” In writing his first apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis reiterated many core lessons of Catholic social teaching. But to summarize his vision, Francis ultimately turned to a fresh and suggestive image -- that of a polyhedron. Both a sphere and a polyhedron can serve as metaphors for human equality, but the first is individualistic and the second is communal. While a sphere seems to offer perfect equidistance from the center, the egalitarian justice of a sphere is deceptive, for its cost is the globalized smoothing out of all cultural differences. A polyhedron, in contrast, offers the image of a richer justice of equality through participation in local cultures that have not lost their distinctiveness. Accordingly, the work of peacebuilding must be the very task of becoming a people of
15 peace whose social posture in the world serves the respective cultures and common good of all other peoples. My contention then is this: Only by living out the pattern of social life that I am identifying as “Abrahamic community” can the Catholic Church be a catholic peace church that integrates and embodies Francis’s four principles of peacebuilding in its very life: 1. “Time is greater than space.”26 However urgently we sense the world’s needs, our first and most basic task as Christians is not to seize power in our desperation but to generate processes of people-building -- not to hold territory but to be patient with history: “One of the faults which we occasionally observe in sociopolitical activity is that spaces and power are preferred to time and processes,” Francis observed. “Giving priority to space means madly attempting to keep everything together in the present, trying to possess all the spaces of power and of self-assertion.” To instead give priority to time puts spaces (and by implication the material resources that exist within spaces) in their proper perspective. “What we need, then, is to give priority to actions which generate new processes in society and engage other persons and groups who can develop them to the point where they bear fruit in significant historical events. Without anxiety, but with clear convictions and tenacity.”27 The Christian horizon of action, after all, is not geographical but eschatological; the most important location we live within is not a space we can pretend to possess but a time given to us as a gift. This is the time between the already of God’s promised future that Francis called “the final cause which draws us to itself” and the not yet of our limited human condition. To be sure, life in this in-between time presents a “constant tension.” But recognizing that “time is greater than space” gives us “a first principle for progress in building a people.” We can live in that “constant tension [that] exists between fullness and limitation” and “work slowly but surely, without being obsessed with immediate results.” By implication, one may add, here in the principle that time is greater than space we find solid philosophical grounding for a social ethic of diaspora: The constant that orients our lives
16 and defines our peoplehood is a journey through time and history. Such a pilgrimage must also journey through geographical space and territory. But this is secondary, for no one space defines the pilgrimage and in fact to identify with one territory or nation-state is to abort the pilgrimage. The pilgrim people of God must travel through many spaces, dwelling lightly in many territories, but settling permanently in none. As a first principle of peoplebuilding, the priority of time over space should thus blunt the constant besetting temptation to put nationalist loyalties above solidarity with other peoples around the globe -- to say nothing of the global Christian peoplehood living in diaspora amid many nations. Robert George of Princeton University has warned that in the face of secular animosity toward Catholic teachings, “The days of acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past.”28 One need not share all of George’s alarm or exactly his agenda to share his presupposition: The demands of Christian faith and Catholic identity are not coterminous with the moral climate and borders of the United States or any other nation-state. As William Cavanaugh and Michael Baxter wrote recently in America magazine, all Catholics should embrace the mestizaje that immigrant Latino Catholics model as they contribute to their land of residence yet maintain an identity that crosses its borders.29 (Pope Paul’s “Easter egg,” again.) 2. “Unity prevails over conflict.”30 In introducing his four peacebuilding principles, Francis had joined with earlier popes and the Second Vatican Council itself in reminding us that peace is not the mere absence of violence or warfare. That is especially true whenever what has wrought a false and “transient peace for a contented minority” is in fact the domination of the affluent in a way that silences the poor and suppresses their rights and dignity in the name of a false “consensus on paper”31 The implication as Francis moved from his first to his second principle was that conflict can in fact be a “link in the chain of a new process” of people-building, but only if it is “faced” rather than “ignored or concealed.”
17 Facing conflict frankly, with a willingness to work for resolution “head on,” in fact makes it “possible to build communion amid disagreement,” according to Francis. Such honest confrontation opens a “third way” between callous evasion of conflictual realities and resentful entrapment within conflicts. To instead enter conflict frankly but nonviolently first requires a living hope that beyond our differences and underneath our conflicts lies a more profound unity that allows us to build friendship in society and act in solidarity. After all, the peace toward which the gospel of Jesus Christ calls us is neither the syncretism of an easy but superficial tolerance nor the homogenization that absorbs one into the other, nor even a mere “negotiated settlement.” Rather it is a “‘reconciled diversity’” within a “life-giving unity.” Surely such practices and hope must take shape within the Church’s own communion if it is to be a “sign and instrument of peace in and for the world.” Writing in America magazine, my colleague Massimo Faggioli recently called for rebooting Cardinal Joseph Bernadin’s Catholic Common Ground Initiative in order to facilitate dialogue and consensus-building across all levels of the U.S. church.32 Widely practiced, the value of such a project would not just come from inviting Catholics to transcend their own culture wars. For the very effort would mean that Catholics across thousands of parishes receive training in the same skills of conflict transformation that the Catholic Peacebuilding Network has been developing around the world. 3. “Realities are more important than ideas.”33 Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio S.J. had only been Pope Francis for a few weeks when -- to the consternation of some and the comforting of many -- he began to signal his intention to realign the priorities of the Roman Catholic Church. Too many Catholics had been obsessing over abortion, contraception, and homosexuality in a disjointed way to the exclusion of other issues, he would soon explain; the Church’s doctrine and moral teaching can only be intelligible within a context where people know that ministers of the gospel are accompanying them with mercy, healing, and clear recognition of their dignity as persons.34 Francis’s third peacebuilding principle no doubt reflected this emphasis. But here in his
18 apostolic exhortation he spoke explicitly not only of faith and but of politics. And in the context of peacebuilding that carries additional lessons. Coming from Latin America, Pope Francis obviously knows the cultural self-recognition that Cervantes captured in the figure of Don Quixote. In his flights of idealism, Quixote needed the realistic Sancho Panza as companion. Long before Jorge Bergoglio became Pope Francis, he undoubtedly knew many Latin American intellectuals advocating political ideologies that needed a dose of realism. Whether coming from reformers or fundamentalists, Francis noted, ideas that are “detached from realities” and “dwell in the realm of words alone, of images and rhetoric” are “dangerous.” Though he did not connect his point with his larger theme of “building a people” explicitly just here, surely this was for him the very reason why peacebuilding is first of all about people-building. One of Mahatma Gandhi’s most famous aphorisms, we might recall, was to “be the change you seek in the world.” Likewise, Francis insisted that Christian peacebuilding must be incarnate. What we propose to the world cannot be mere policy proposals, it must be embodied in the life of the people called Church. To collaborate for peace among all the families and peoples of the world, the Church itself must become a people of peace. Learning to talk constructively in our parishes about effective responses to poverty, about what will really discourage abortions, about how to welcome immigrants, about when to resist unjust wars, and for that matter about how to negotiate our liturgy wars -- all of this contributes to world peace as surely as Vatican diplomacy. In the context of a discussion earlier in the document concerning war, violence, individualism, and divisive conflict, Francis had thus made a point of lamenting and then requesting: “How many wars take place within the people of God and in our different communities! ... I especially ask Christians in communities throughout the world to offer a radiant and attractive witness of fraternal communion.”35
19 4. “The whole is greater than the part.”36 Pope Francis now turned to the “innate tension” that “exists between globalization and localization. We need to pay attention to the global so as to avoid narrowness and banality,” he urged. “Yet we also need to look to the local, which keeps our feet on the ground.” Inversely, we should neither allow the glitter of global culture to seduce us, nor to encase local cultures unchangeably in museums of folklore. No, the relationship between the local and the global, the particular and the universal, is too dynamic for that: “The whole is greater than the part, but it is also greater than the sum of its parts.” Our challenge is to broaden our horizons even while putting deep roots down into our native places. Again, to work right where we are for strong families, vibrant but hospitable neighborhoods, and racial justice across urban/suburban divides is as crucial to peoplebuilding and thus peacebuilding as international diplomacy, policymaking in national capitals, or mediation in war zones. “We can work on a small scale, in our own neighbourhood,” he noted, “but with a larger perspective.... The global need not stifle, nor the particular prove barren.” Here then is where Francis presented his many-faced “polyhedron” as a model of global reconciled unity, not a smoothly undifferentiated sphere. According to such a model, “There is a place for the poor and their culture, their aspirations and their potential.” Even those whom we are tempted to dismiss as “dubious on account of their errors have something to offer” that we dare not overlook. The whole that Francis envisioned as a polyhedron, therefore, “is the convergence of peoples who, within the universal order, maintain their own individuality; it is the sum total of persons within a society which pursues the common good, which truly has a place for everyone.” To be sure, some “principle of totality” must be intrinsic to the very gospel that Christians proclaim, since the scope of that gospel surely embraces all people universally. But the gospel does so in a way that affirms every personal vocation and channels the cultural genius of every people, leaving no lost sheep behind. “Pastoral and political activity alike seek to gather in this polyhedron the best of each.”
20 *** As the first pontiff from the Global South, Pope Francis has personally experienced the globalizing forces that buffet the peoples of the world. Amid the cultural corrosions and economic exploitations that modern life accelerates, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio is telling us not to take peoplehood itself for granted. But if it is the vocation of the Church as a whole to be a people-for-all-peoples, the Church can only build itself up as a people through the diverse vocations of all the faithful. Entities like the Catholic Peacebuilding Network -- together with the academic peace studies departments, peacebuilding agencies and episcopal social justice offices it brings together around the globe -- represent growing expertise. An ecumenical Just Peacemaking initiative led by the late Glen Stassen has documented proven peacebuilding strategies. Knowing what to do for peace is less and less of our problem. Our shortage is of people practiced in the skills and virtues of peacebuilding. Doing requires doers, after all. Peacebuilding requires peacebuilders. Peacebuilders require formation through participation in a people of peace. Methodist theologian Stanley Hauerwas is famous for insisting that the Church doesn’t have a social ethic, the Church is a social ethic. Likewise: the Catholic Church cannot be content to have Catholic social teaching; it must constitute Catholic social teaching in its very life together, church-wide and parish-deep, as a people of peace.
21 Notes 1. See Gaudium et spes, [Pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world] (1965), §45 for the document’s own teleology of the relationship of Church to Kingdom. 2. Having lived and worked in Sandinista Nicaragua in the 1980s, where Comandante Daniel Ortega tried in vain to convince a visiting skeptical Pope John Paul II in 1983 that the Sandinista revolution was an expression of Catholic social teaching, I became enamored with the music of the revolutionary folk singer Carlos Mejía Godoy. In both its music and its zestful use of colloquial Nicaraguan Spanish, Mejía Godoy’s Misa Campesina (Peasant Mass) has been a particular favorite of many. And yet as a Catholic theologian I cannot help but be troubled when I note what happens in the mass’s “Credo” to the third section on the Holy Spirit. The work of the Spirit becomes wholly associated with revolutionary struggle, and the Church -- holy, catholic, apostolic or otherwise -- disappears entirely. This may be an extreme example of the tendency I am naming here, and not so different from the many ways in which more status-quo Christians have come to see states and empires through the centuries as the bearer of God’s saving work in history. But it is no less telling an example. 3. See also Second Vatican Council, Lumen gentium, [Dogmatic constitution on the Church] (1964), §16. 4. Vatican Council, Gaudium et spes, §§1–3. 5. Vatican Council, Gaudium et spes, §§4–9 The word “recoil” appears in §4. 6. The lone footnote in Evangelli nuntiandi §21 cites chapter 39 of Tertullian’s Apologeticum, which follows directly upon two chapters in which Tertullian had justified early Christian refusal to participate in affairs of state that involved military bloodshed and violent spectacle, in part because “We acknowledge one all-embracing commonwealth-the world.” 7. John 17:11 paired with John 15:19. 8. This, at least, is my own working definition. For a survey of some of the problems and
22 debates surrounding the definition of diaspora as a social scientific term see James Clifford, “Diasporas,” Cultural Anthropology 9, no. 3 (August 1994): 302–38. The very etymology of the term readily and appropriately takes on normative theological import, however. As the Oxford English Dictionary explains, the Greek term, “from diaspeirein 'disperse', from dia 'across'+ speirein 'scatter' ... originated in the Septuagint [Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures] (Deuteronomy 28:25) in the phrase esē diaspora en pasais basileias tēs gēs 'thou shalt be a dispersion in all kingdoms of the earth'.” 9. Historic peace churches have long drawn this charge because their pacifism can seem to require it. Catholic peace activists and others who challenge nationalist assumptions in time of war also draw this charge. But from opposite sides of our standard political spectrum, other Catholics also warn that secular social policies are encroaching on the Church’s ministries and forcing Catholics to choose between their loyalties to the point where we may have to accept life as a smaller, unpopular, maybe even persecuted Church -- all of which “progressive” Catholics then see as “sectarian.” 10. While arguing fiercely for the rights and dignity of every individual human person from conception to natural death, Catholic social teaching does not exactly endorse individualism. And while it certainly expects national governments and international bodies such as the United Nations to play crucial roles in service to the common good of humanity even as they especially protect “the weakest and the suffering,” Catholic social teaching resists overbearingly nationalistic claims too. Its vision is certainly not totalitarian, but neither is it that of liberalism in either its economic or social forms. 11. “Address of His Holiness John Paul II,” October 5, Fiftieth General Assembly of the United Nations Organization (New York, 1995), §5, emphasis sic. 12. “Address of His Holiness John Paul II,” §5. 13. “Address of His Holiness John Paul II,” §6, emphasis sic. 14. “Address of His Holiness John Paul II,” §7.
23 15. “Address of His Holiness John Paul II,” §7–8. 16. “Address of His Holiness John Paul II,” §8. 17. “Address of His Holiness John Paul II,” §1 and §14. 18. “Address of His Holiness John Paul II,” §14. 19. “Address of His Holiness John Paul II,” §9. 20. “Address of His Holiness John Paul II,” §§9–10, emphasis sic. 21. “Address of His Holiness John Paul II,” §10, emphasis sic. 22. “Address of His Holiness John Paul II,” §17. 23. “Address of His Holiness John Paul II,” §3. 24. “Address of His Holiness John Paul II,” §4. 25. A version of this section of the paper first appeared in print as “Signs of That Peace: Peacemaking is Everybody’s Business,” America 211, no. 19 (22–29 December 2014): 20–24. 26. Pope Francis, Evangelii gaudium [The Joy of the Gospel], Apostolic Exhortation (2013), §§222–25. 27. Also see Evangelii gaudium, §24, where Francis stress the importance of patience: “An evangelizing community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be. It is familiar with patient expectation and apostolic endurance. Evangelization consists mostly of patience and disregard for constraints of time.” 28. Peter Jesserer Smith, “National Catholic Prayer Breakfast: Era of Comfortable Catholicism is Over,” National Catholic Register, 14 May 2015, Http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/national-catholic-prayer-breakfast-era-of-comfortablecatholicism-is-over. 29. Michael Baxter and William Cavanaugh, “More Deeply Into the World,” America 210, no. 14 (21 April 2014): 8. 30. Francis, Evangelii gaudium, §§226–30.
24 31. Francis, Evangelii gaudium, §§ 218–19. Francis cited Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio [On the Development of Peoples], encyclical letter (1967), §76, in particular. See also Vatican Council, Gaudium et spes, §78. 32. Massimo Faggioli, “A View from Abroad,” America 210, no. 6 (24 February 2014): 23. 33. Francis, Evangelii gaudium, §§ 231–33. 34. Antonio Spadaro, “A Big Heart Open to God,” The exclusive interview with Pope Francis, America 209, no. 8 (30 September 2013): 26. 35. Francis, Evangelii gaudium, §§98–99. 36. Francis, Evangelii gaudium, §§ 234–37.
26 Bibliography Baxter, Michael, and William Cavanaugh. “More Deeply Into the World.” America 210, no. 14 (21 April 2014): 8. Clifford, James. “Diasporas.” Cultural Anthropology 9, no. 3 (August 1994): 302–38. Faggioli, Massimo. “A View from Abroad.” America 210, no. 6 (24 February 2014): 20–23. Francis, Pope. Evangelii gaudium [The Joy of the Gospel]. Apostolic Exhortation, 2013. John Paul II, Pope. “Address of His Holiness John Paul II.” October 5. Fiftieth General Assembly of the United Nations Organization. New York, 1995. Paul VI, Pope. Populorum Progressio [On the Development of Peoples]. Encyclical letter, 1967. Schlabach, Gerald W. “Signs of That Peace: Peacemaking is Everybody’s Business.” America 211, no. 19 (22–29 December 2014): 20–24. Smith, Peter Jesserer. “National Catholic Prayer Breakfast: Era of Comfortable Catholicism is Over.” National Catholic Register, 14 May 2015. Http://www.ncregister.com/dailynews/national-catholic-prayer-breakfast-era-of-comfortable-catholicism-is-over. Spadaro, Antonio. “A Big Heart Open to God.” The exclusive interview with Pope Francis. America 209, no. 8 (30 September 2013): 14–38. Vatican Council, Second. Gaudium et spes. [Pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world], 1965. ------. Lumen gentium. [Dogmatic constitution on the Church], 1964.