This week, demonstrate what we stand for
Saturday, January 16, 2021
Greetings of peace!

For me as a Catholic, the image below – taken by a photojournalist at the rally at the White House just prior to the mob violence at the U.S. Capitol – was perhaps the most disturbing. (Note especially the "Stop the Steal" button worn by the sister in the middle.)
What is so disturbing is that I know what a role many in our Church bishops and priests, influential lay leaders, Catholic organizations, Catholic media outlets, blogs, and others played in setting the table for what happened on January 6th at the U.S. Capitol. Too many within our Church were responsible for enabling this president, either by looking the other way and excusing his behavior or actively cultivating the lies, misogyny, racism, and division to benefit their own agendas. And the violence of January 6th was the all-too-predictable result.

In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis wrote, "… We are called to love everyone, without exception; at the same time, loving an oppressor does not mean allowing him to keep oppressing us, or letting him think that what he does is acceptable. On the contrary, true love for an oppressor means seeking ways to make him cease his oppression; it means stripping him of a power that he does not know how to use, and that diminishes his own humanity and that of others.”

As we approach the inauguration this week, all of us – Catholics in every capacity within our Church, people of faith throughout our movement – need to unequivocally speak out and rebuke the lies about election fraud or any other claim that suggests the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris was illicit in any way. Too many people, too many Catholics, embraced Trump’s lie. Violence aimed at dismantling the will of the people as determined through a fair and free election is unconscionable. Such violence undermines the most basic rights deriving from our common humanity and demanded by respect for human dignity – and sadly, predictably, led to loss of life – five people dead. The way that the crowd on January 6 was allowed to easily enter and swarm the U.S. Capitol was a blatant, grotesque demonstration of the power of white privilege. Furthermore, it drove home the point that Fr. Bryan Massingale made in his reflection on the day of the riot: that many in our country would rather live under a white dictatorship than in a multiracial democracy.

Again in Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis states that “no family, no group of neighbours, no ethnic group, much less a nation, has a future if the force that unites them, brings them together and resolves their differences is vengeance and hatred.” 

Let this moment be the moment our Church unmistakably demonstrates that the gospel has no tolerance for the hatred, racism and lies which led to the violence at the U.S. Capitol and is being threatened throughout the land this week. Let us not be afraid to dig at the roots of the violence and division we are experiencing today roots which extend back not 4 years but centuries deep into our history. And let this week be the moment when we, as a community of disciples to Jesus, motivated by his redemptive love, claim our vocation as truth-tellers, healers, reconcilers, and peacemakers.

With the resources cited below, we invite you to move intentionally through this week, in prayer, study and action, as we approach the inauguration and, with hope, a new chapter in our nation's history.
In peace,

Johnny Zokovitch
Pax Christi USA Executive Director
Every day at noon (ET) through Inauguration Day, January 20, Pax Christi USA members have been praying the Peace Prayer of St. Francis, as initially called for from the leadership of Pax Christi Florida. Find the words to this prayer at this link and join with sisters and brothers across the United States in reciting this prayer to root us in the peace exemplified by St. Francis as this week unfolds. Violence ends where love begins.

As members of the DC Catholic Coalition, we invite you to join us tomorrow, Sunday, January 17 at 7pm ET for a special prayer service asking God "to touch the strained chords of our common life and strengthen our bonds" as we "lament the recent pain and alarm fomented by the worst demons of our nation – the hate, racism, anti-Semitism, white supremacy and white terror – that have shaken us to our core." Register to participate at this link or watch it on Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns’ YouTube channel. You can find a link to the text of the prayer service here.
> Join Pax Christi USA at the National Interfaith Service of Love, Light and Leadership sponsored by the Poor People’s Campaign Monday, at 1pm ET on Monday, January 18.
> Sojourners will host a virtual prayer service from 7-8:30 pm ET on Tuesday, January 19. Ecumenical church leaders will offer their prayers for #PeaceWithJustice in our nation on the eve of the inauguration. RSVP at this link.
by Maria J. Stephan for Waging Nonviolence
Following the Jan. 6 insurrectionary attack on the U.S. Capitol and on the country, the FBI has warned of violent actions being planned in all 50 states and D.C. nationwide next week. Last week’s assault, which was incited by Donald Trump, enabled by GOP officials and members of Congress, planned on social media, and buoyed by deeply entrenched white supremacy and Christian nationalism at the heart of our democratic dysfunctionality, were not attacks on any political party or ideology — they were attacks on all of us. The entire country has to be involved in responding to what could become a protracted violent conflict or, quite possibly, an insurgency. At the same time, this crisis, happening in the midst of a devastating pandemic, presents an opportunity to come together and build a country where liberty and justice are enjoyed by all Americans, without exception. It is an opportunity we should seize...

From NCR with Pax Christi USA's Bishop-President, Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv
Watch the video below with NCR opinion editor Olga Segura and Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, as they discuss NCR's Building a Common Future series, in which NCR asked Catholic politicians, activists and scholars to offer advice to President-elect Joe Biden.
For more study:

> Jan. 19 Webinar, from the Meta Peace Team, Nonviolent Tools for Healing After the Election
> Jesuitical Podcast: The Capitol Hill rioters co-opted Jesus. How should Catholics respond? An interview with Fr. Bryan Massingale
> The racist attack on our nation's capitol, by Rev. Bryan Massingale
1) Throughout this week, share these social media memes/graphics on your social media platforms. Click on the image at left to see some of the memes developed by the DC Catholic Coalition.

2) Get trained in active nonviolence:

3) Send a letter to your state legislators calling on them to denounce white supremacist attacks and hold any colleagues in government accountable for empowering anti-democractic violence. (From Faith in Public Life; also see the excellent resource "Preparing for Violence Ahead of the Inauguration").