Week 1: Active non-violence
Non-violence calls for a life of action; assertive, imaginative, systemic, pre-emptive action. This action is aimed at uprooting injustice and eventually bringing about reconciliation. Non-violence is not something you don’t do; rather, it is a whole program of assertive actions to which you dedicate your life….
…My own awakening to non-violence was gradual. It came first from a gut feeling that no matter how clear the arguments in favour of killing they did not seem to sit easily with my understanding of Jesus Christ and his willingness to die for those who were killing him. Would he have killed in just self-defence? In fact, the case did arise. He was offered swords to defend himself and he chided those who offered them and prayed for his executioners (Lk.22:49-51; Matt.26:51-54)
Niall O’Brien (Philippines)
Reflect: How could you be more proactive tackling violence locally and in the world?
Week 2: Appreciating the natural world
I am more and more convinced that both human beings and other members of the Earth community have reached a critical point. We can no longer take the natural world for granted as if it will always be there unchanged. The first thing we must do is to recognise the damage that our profit-oriented approach to the world has already caused and begin to care actively for the dynamic stability and regenerative powers of the Earth.
Famine in Africa gives us a glimpse of what life might be like for countless millions in the future if the fertility of the Earth is impaired. While the long drought is the immediate cause of the famine, over-grazing or inappropriate agriculture has eroded topsoil and turned once-fertile land into desert. In every region of the world human beings need to discover a new, less exploitative relationship with the natural world. In our efforts to seek this new relationship, religion must play a significant role.
Sean McDonagh in To care for the Earth (Philippines, Ireland)
Reflect: Think of examples from the life of Jesus where he demonstrated his respect for the natural world and his choice of living simply.
Week 3: Civilisation of Love
When seemingly faced with a one world system and the globalisation of the economy, we need to reject a ‘theology of the inevitable’ and a ‘culture of desperation’ and the idea that there is no way out. We have to develop a theology of solidarity, both in word and deed. We need to network around the world, putting Christian communities in contact with each other, so that we can transform the ‘ONE WORLD, ONE MARKET’ mentality to ‘ONE WORLD, ONE FAMILY’ and bring about a civilisation of love.
I like Leonardo Boff’s understanding of the ‘Good News’ offered by Jesus: “What makes it good news is not simply the fact that the gospel is preached , but its capacity to transform a situation that is bad, inhuman and oppressive into one which is liberated, human and good. When this occurs, there is evangelisation, and the message of Jesus is alive in the way people act.”
Ed O’Connell (Peru, Britain)
Reflect: How far do you agree with Leonardo Boff’s understanding of the ‘Good News’ offered by Jesus?
Week 4: Nuclear nightmare
People today are still suffering hugely as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Children who were exposed to massive radiation continue to suffer ill health. Now this is an ethical issue and it is a life issue. The Church has no problem speaking out on life issues when it involves sexuality, but we should be equally involved in speaking out on life issues when it involves the use of a kind of power that could create this horrible hell on Earth.
There are multiple other ways of meeting the energy needs of the earth into the future.
We should not give our support in any form to nuclear power. There is a nuclear plant that helps us hugely here on earth. It is called our Sun and it is 93,000,000 miles away and that’s where all nuclear power should be.
Sean McDonagh, speaking on the 20th anniversary of the April 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster (Philippines, Ireland)