“May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life.”

– Pope Francis, World Day of Peace Message 2017

PEACE AND NONVIOLENCE.

We (can) see how our simple actions (can) have far reaching effects. Our institutions and ministries are noted for their efforts to be places of peace and nonviolence. We create places of respect, practice honesty, promote justice and nurture wholesome relationships.

Statements from the JPIC Office

We Grieve the Shooting in Colorado Springs

The Wheaton Franciscan Community joins the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in expressing our grief over the shooting in Colorado Springs. Our hearts and prayers go out to those family members, friends, and members of the LGBTQ+ community as they grieve the loss of those killed and injured in the Colorado Springs shooting on Saturday, November 19.

As people of the Gospel, we stand in opposition to all forms of exclusion and violence committed against any member of the human family. There can be no tolerance for hate. We pledge ourselves to work for the change of structures and systems that promote messages and actions of violence, particularly those directed towards persons who lack freedom and are denied human dignity. Our faith requires something more from us. We are called to be instruments of peace.

Creator God, Holy one, Maker of love and source of joy: we give you thanks for the

infinite variety of your creation. We bless you that we are wonderfully made and

that we are your beloved rainbow tribe. Grant us the courage to love our neighbors, to work for the end of violence and discrimination, and to share your grace with a world aching for healing. We pray because of Jesus, who shows us the way. Amen.

LCWR statement>>>

By S Beatrice Hernandez


Today is a special day of reflection, not only on the events that happened on this day 20 years ago, but on the devastating actions and reactions that have happened since then and how these choices have changed our world.  We recall that for a brief time after the violent attacks of 9/11, the world was united in solidarity and empathy for the victims and for our country.  But the United States chose to respond with retaliation and revenge, which led to more violence and to wars that claimed thousands of innocent victims.  On this day, let us seriously consider how our history and the history of our world could have been different had we chosen to build on the sense of global solidarity, empathy and the desire for truth and real justice.   In his most recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti (FT), Pope Frances reminds us in paragraph 251 and 252:

Those who truly forgive do not forget.  Instead, they choose not to yield to the same destructive force that caused them so much suffering.  They break the vicious circle; they halt the advance of the forces of destruction.

…Forgiveness is precisely what enables us to pursue justice without falling into a spiral of revenge or the injustice of forgetting.

On this day, let us resolve to actively engage in dialogue, bridge building, and open-hearted remembering, so that we can learn from the lessons of history.  Let us once and for all reject war as a method of resolving differences and as an instrument of “seeking justice”.  For many centuries, war has been neither.  Let us remember that violence and war “do not solve problems, …but instead introduce new elements of destruction into the fabric of national and global society.” (FT # 255)   We cannot address violence with violence—this only begets more violence.  Let us commit ourselves to building a global culture of encounter, through sharing, listening, remembering and reconciliation.

The latest UISG/USG e-newsletter from Sr. Sheila shares Laudato Si’ Action Platform and 2022 Season of Creation resources and initiatives, as well as Prayer Intentions from around the world. Visit JPIC Roma for these entries and more.


Please continue to hold in prayers all those suffering around the world from violence, war, hunger, and natural disasters made worse by ongoing climate change. 

August 2022

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As people of faith committed to building a peaceful and just world, we come together to unite our voices on this occasion of the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which coincides with the solemn anniversaries of the days atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. We are honored that survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki continue to guide our activism. Today, as we find ourselves faced with deep concerns about a potential escalation of nuclear war, we renew our determination to carry on their legacy and do our part as faith communities to keep working toward a future without nuclear weapons.

The NPT is a landmark international treaty on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, and its wide adherence is a testament to the Treaty’s significance. We believe the NPT’s objectives are more relevant in today’s security environment than ever.

However, as the 2020 joint civil society statement to the States Parties of the NPT indicates, the Treaty is only as strong as its implementation. The escalating tensions and uncertain global security environment are the very reasons we need decisive and timely action for nuclear disarmament, not increased investment in and modernization of such catastrophic weapons. It is urgent that we take such concrete action toward full implementation now, because our survival depends on it.

As people of faith, we are here to remind you, delegates of the NPT Review Conference, of our shared humanity. Despite national interests and objectives that seemingly contradict each other at times, we share the fundamental goal of preserving our planet, our countries, communities and families, without which we cannot pursue our prosperity, well-being or happiness. We know that nuclear weapons, whether used by design or accident, will destroy the world as we know it and cause tremendous suffering of many people, as testified by the hibakusha and those from affected communities. Nuclear weapons are incompatible with our fundamental values of respect for human dignity; their continued role in so-called national security should not be tolerated.

All of us, as leaders, delegates, civil society, and faith communities, share the moral and ethical responsibility of realizing a world without nuclear weapons, knowing that the possibility lies in our hands. It is up to each of us to enact this mission, and history will surely show that we took the right course. We say this, as we are encouraged by the commitment and leadership demonstrated by the States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), as seen in their bold commitments produced at the first Meeting of States Parties.

As we embark on the negotiations at the Review Conference, based on the shared recognition that the horrors of nuclear weapons must never be visited upon any country, or any persons, we urge each delegation to the NPT to consider the following:

  1. Heed the voices of hibakusha and those of affected communities, and recognize nuclear weapons for what they are— weapons of mass destruction capable of killing millions of people with long-lasting, devastating humanitarian consequences;
  2. Affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, and commit to concrete actions to prevent any possibility of escalation toward a nuclear war;
  3. Fulfill commitments and obligations for nuclear disarmament under Article VI of the NPT, and also support other international instruments that complement such obligations, including the TPNW and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Our diverse faith traditions remind us that we are not prisoners of our current reality. Each of us are creative, resilient, and capable of creating a world we desire. We trust that you will act in accordance with your moral conscience, and we pray for a fruitful Review Conference, one which future generations will take inspiration from.

Endorsing Organizations

All Africa Conference of Churches

Anglican Pacifist Fellowship

Baltimore Nonviolence Center

Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA)

Beati i costruttori di pace (Blessed Are The Peacemakers)

Buddhist Council of New York

Buddhist Council of NSW

Catholic Religious Australia

CCFD-Terre Solidaire

Centro de Estudios Ecuménicos, A.C.

Christian Alliance For Peace

Christian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Christian Conference of Asia (CCA)

Christians for Peace Newcastle Australia

Church and Peace – European Ecumenical Peace Network

Church Council of Greater Seattle

Community of Christ – British Isles

Community Pope John XXIII- APG23

Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul USA

Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids

Dominican Sisters of Houston

Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, DC

Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Gandhi Development Trust in association with Phoenix Settlement Trust

GREEN HOPE FOUNDATION

Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart

Heiwa Peace and Reconciliation Foundation of New York

Hindus for Human Rights

Iglesia Anabautista menonita

Interfaith Council of Sonoma County

Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada

International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR)

International Peace Research Association

Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)

Justice and Peace of Spain

Justice and Peace Scotland

Justice For All

Kairos Foundation of Nigeria

Loretto at the UN

Martha Justice Ministry, Sisters of St. Martha, Antigonish, Canada

Medical Mission Sisters – Justice Office

Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church Inc.

MI Gesu Detroit Peace and Justice Team

Missionary Society of St Columban (International)

National Council of Churches USA

Newman Hall NonViolent Peacemaking Group

Norfolk Catholic Worker

North Carolina Council of Churches

Office of Peace, Justice, and Ecological Integrity/Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth

Ohne Ruestung Leben

One Billion Youth for Peace

Pax Christi Aotearoa New Zealand

Pax Christi Beverly, MA

Pax Christi England and Wales

Pax Christi France

Pax Christi Germany

Pax Christi Illinois

Pax Christi International

Pax Christi Lansing

Pax Christi MA

Pax Christi Michigan

Pax Christi New York State

Pax Christi Scotland

Pax Christi USA

Pax Christi Western Massachusetts

PeaceHost.net

Pittsburgh Area Pax Christi

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Presbyterian Church of the Roses

Quakers in Britain

Religieuses Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur

Religions for Peace Australia

Saint Junia United Methodist Church

Shepparton Interfaith Network

Sisters of Charity Federation

Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation

Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Congregational Leadership

Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Western Province Leadership

Sisters of Charity of New York

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team

Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, PA

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, LA

Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Province of Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand

Soka Gakkai International

  1. Francis and Therese Catholic Worker

St. Susanna Pax Christi

The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus

The Swedish Society of Friends

The United Church of Canada

Unitarian Universalist Association

United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries

Uniting Church in Australia Assembly

Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons, of URI

Wellspring Community INC.

WHEATON FRANCISCANS JPIC Office

Won Buddhism UN/Interfaith

World Council of Churches

World Yoga Community

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The Wheaton Franciscans and our International Congregation, Franciscan Sisters, Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary are among the 140 organization who endorsed this statement.

Read the Statement

From Sr. Bea Hernandez, Wheaton Franciscan JPIC Coordinator:In a message read at the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Pope Francis renews his call for an end to war and to the causes of conflict, and reaffirms that the use, and even possession, of nuclear weapons is immoral.

For Further Details, CLICK HERE

Dear Sisters, Covenant Companions and Friends,

The most recent school shooting in Texas has caused untold grief to so many families—of both victims, witnesses, survivors and first responders.  It is time to act now to urge all of our US congressional representatives and senators to enact common sense gun laws and requirements for responsible gun ownership.  We are now well beyond the time for action—further delays cannot be tolerated.  The time is NOW!

Let us build a culture of peace, empathy, compassion, humility, respect and love.  These are the values that will make us safe. Guns and other weapons only promote violence and death.  Let us reject such senseless violence and begin to rebuild our faith in and dedication to peace and non-violence.

Peace and blessings,

Sister Bea

On 5-24-2022 in Uvalde, Texas, the community was rocked by the deaths of 19 grade schoolers and 2 adults at the hands of an 18-year-old boy.  This tragedy at Robb Elementary School is the latest among school shootings that have resulted in mass casualties.  Again, a semi-automatic rifle was used to kill as many people as possible.  The shooter was wearing “body armor” to make it harder for police or security officers to stop him.  We hold all those families who have been traumatized by this event in our hearts and prayers as they mourn the deaths and injuries and seek to heal the spirits of survivors, witnesses, and first responders.  We also call for urgent action to make our schools, streets, businesses, parks, and homes safer.  Expanding access to mental health services and working to remove the stigma of seeking therapy is essential.  However, this is not enough.  A ban on sales to civilians of all types of assault weapons must be restored nationwide immediately.  A ban on the sale of ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds would also help to decrease deaths.  Most important of all, mandatory background checks and licensing of all gun owners prior to allowing gun purchases are essential—without gun-show or private sales exceptions.  Also, the sale of body armor should be regulated and these items sold only to law enforcement officers and active duty military service persons. These are all common sense gun safety measures that can help to lessen mass shootings and resultant casualties.

Now is the time to give up our obsession with guns and gun culture and instead work tirelessly to protect the lives of our children, law enforcement, innocent bystanders, and society in general by promoting a culture of non-violence.  Guns do not make us more secure, safer, more caring, more compassionate, or more loving.  The values that we want to promote here and around the world are mercy, hope, wisdom, truth telling, honesty, empathy, respect, and love.  These are the values that will demystify guns and reveal them for what they really are: instruments of death and destruction, oppression, and sorrow. Actively promoting these values is the only thing that will ultimately lead to a society that rejects the use of force and “power over” as its modus operandi. Promoting these values is what will heal our grief, bind us together, and bring us peace in our homes, on our streets, in our cities and towns, and in our nation.

Dear Friends,

Click here to read the official statement from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the US (LCWR) about the recent racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo NY. 

We, the Wheaton Franciscans, join LCWR in condemning white supremacy ideology and violent, racially motivated acts of hatred which have plagued our nation throughout its history.  The US is still, unfortunately, “a house divided.”  Until we face the reality of personal and systemic racism that pervades our daily lives and pubic policies, we cannot even hope to heal the suffering it causes to all of us.  The first step is an honest study of our own history.  Let us begin to see, listen, and reflect on this history so that we can become one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all—equally.  May we come to celebrate our diversity and be strengthened by one another.

Peace and blessings,

Sister Beatrice Hernandez, OSF—Wheaton Franciscan JPIC Coordinator

“CAN NONVIOLENT CIVIL RESISTANCE STOP PUTIN?”  This article by Isak Svensson and guest contributor Sebastian van Baalen was published in Political Violence at a Glance on March 11, 2022. Indeed, history has demonstrated over and over again that lasting peace with justice can truly be achieved through non-violent, non-collaboration, and non-cooperation with unjust oppressors. 

Read the article: CAN NONVIOLENT CIVIL RESISTANCE STOP PUTIN?

Daniel Hunter’s article linked below is very inspirational and shows how brave, unarmed resistance is being used in the Ukraine to resist the Russian invasion and stop the brutality of war.  It shows the power of civil non-cooperation and resistance to “disarm” an invading army by appealing to their shared humanity.  This stance of non-violent resistance is not without risk and many may die in this effort to bring peace, but it is a way to resist without contributing to the violence of war.  War cannot bring about lasting peace.  Only recognition of our shared humanity has the power to do that.

Ukraine’s secret weapon may prove to be civilian resistance by Daniel Hunter

Click here to read the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) statement released on February 3, 2022 condemning the racism and resultant threats to Historically Black Colleges that have escalated in recent days and months.

As members of LCWR, the Wheaton Franciscans stand with other women religious in the USA in calling for our nation to begin a dialogue about the racism that affects us all, and asking all of us to begin facing our history of racism honestly, so that healing can begin.  No healing is possible until we are willing to face our own history through truth-telling and until we begin to explore realistic restorative justice.

Another Lethal Virus Ravages the United States
By Beatrice Hernandez, OSF—Wheaton Franciscan JPIC Coordinator

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we in the United States are facing an even more deadly virus that threatens all of us—the insidious and lethal virus of racism.

As of June 1, 2020, COVID-19 has already claimed 107,000 lives in the US, with over 1.8 million confirmed cases country-wide.  Black, brown, and native American communities have been the hardest hit due to racial disparities in dangerous work environments, access to adequate housing, nutrition and healthcare.   These disparities are not accidental but are the result of over 400 years of racism against these very same communities of color.  The COVID-19 crisis brought to the consciousness of every American just how costly, in terms of human life, racism can be.  It was during this devastating pandemic that violence in the United States erupted again in an all too familiar way.

On May 24, 2020, at a little after 8 PM, George Perry Floyd was arrested after being accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a market in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Mr. Floyd, while handcuffed and face down on the cement pavement of the street, was murdered by Minneapolis police officers, one of whom pinned Mr. Floyd down with his knee against Floyd’s neck while another officer held down his legs and another compressed his back.  While Mr. Floyd pleaded for them to stop, saying “I can’t breathe,” witnesses standing nearby also yelled for the police to stop, saying, “You’re going to kill this man!!”  Still, Officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, including 2 minutes and 53 seconds after Mr. Floyd became unresponsive.  A young girl bystander had the courage to film the entire incident with her cell phone in order to document the injustice she was witnessing.  This graphic and disturbing video has been shown over and over again on TV and social media, causing untold anguish and pain to all who see it—another black man murdered in broad daylight, before many witnesses by the police.  Indeed, the officer at one point looks directly into the camera, his left hand in his pocket, seemingly without a care in the world, while his knee is killing a human being.  And he has reason not to fear repercussions for his actions.  There have been innumerable episodes of police brutality and extrajudicial police killings of unarmed black men and women in their custody, without convictions, and often without charges even being filed against the perpetrators.  Even when video recordings have been used to document these crimes, convictions almost never happen!  Not only killings of black men by police, but also by white civilians almost never result in convictions.   The shooting of unarmed Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012, simply walking home from a store through a neighborhood where he was visiting relatives, resulted in a not guilty verdict after Zimmerman claimed “self-defense.”  More recently, three white men cornered and the shot a black man, Ahmaud Arbery on February 23, 2020, while he was out for a jog near his home.  The men claimed they “mistook him” for a suspect in some recent neighborhood break-ins.  These men were not even arrested until May and have not yet come to trial.  The video of Floyd’s death brings to mind a litany of innocent black lives taken with impunity by police or white civilians:  Amadou Diallo, Manuel Loggins Jr, Ronald Madison, Endra James, Sean Bell, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Samuel DuBose, Freddie Gray, Natasha McKenna, Walter Scott, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Yvette Smith, Rekia Boyd, Kendra James, LaTanya Haggerty, Atatiana Koquice Jefferson ….  It seems the list never ends. 

When I saw the video of Floyd’s death, my heart broke and my stomach lurched!  This man, immobilized and helpless on the ground was having his life taken by police officers who are sworn to serve and protect.  Civilian witnesses pleaded for them to stop—pleaded for his life—to no avail.  George Floyd repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe,” reminiscent of Eric Garner’s last words, to no avail.  Most heart wrenching of all was George Floyd’s calling out to his Mother, who died over 10 years ago.  Why call on her at that moment—because a mother is the one who protects us when fear overwhelms us; a mother soothes and comforts us when we suffer; a mother loves us when hatred seems to engulf us.  But in this case, I couldn’t help but think that George called out to his mother because he knew he was dying.  He called out to her to help him face his own death and to welcome him into her loving arms as he crossed the threshold between death and new life.  Sadness, anger, and frustration washed over me as I saw human life and breath taken from a black man by the knee of a police officer on his neck.  The scene, all too poignantly, has come to symbolize the yolk of racism that black Americans have borne for the last four centuries. 

While I am somewhat heartened by the multiracial makeup of the peaceful protesters that have marched across the country demanding justice for George Floyd and an end to racism and the acceptance of white privilege that allows these tragedies to continue, I am also outraged that violence and looting have hijacked the righteous indignation of so many of us and turned the media’s attention to reinforcing the stereotype of black people as lawless, threatening vandals (even though some of those destroying and looting were white).  It is time for all of us to examine how we personally benefit from white privilege.  Do we hesitate to call the police when we need help?  Do we worry about the safety of our loved ones every time they leave home?  When driving, do our stomachs knot with fear when being pulled over for a traffic violation?  If an officer asks us for our driver’s license, are we afraid to reach into our purse to retrieve it—for fear the officer will mistake our wallet for a gun?  When walking or jogging, do we fear being stopped and questioned about a recent crime in the area?  When looking to buy a home, do we consider our race before we decide where we might be able to purchase a home, or is our first concern the price and whether we can afford it?  There are so many ways that white privilege benefits us in everyday life.  Until we are ready to insist that black lives really do matter and that black men and women deserve to be treated as equals of white Americans, nothing will change.  Until we come to love and accept the equal dignity of all human beings, nothing will change, and we will continue to experience the ugly power that racism continues to exert in our society.  We need to reflect on our own lives and do the hard work necessary to change our hearts.  Actions proceed from the values that we hold.  The values that influence our everyday choices will only change with honest introspection.  Structural societal change will only come when we are able to see injustice, speak out against it, and work to build “a more perfect union.”  We must be willing to stand together and shout from the highest rooftops:  BLACK LIVES MATTER!   

June 3, 2020

We consider all the conditions necessary to accept the basic dignity of the human person and provide a non-threatening and safe place.  We are conscious of welcoming people and offering basic courtesies. We are mindful of the ways we can build-up or help destroy a person’s self-worth by our actions. As Mother Clara has requested of us: love is the queen in our lives. We seek to find ways to resolve our conflicts early.

We desire to know the truth. By our study, reflection and engaging in conversations, we seek to become persons of wisdom. We honor the importance of honest and timely communications. We seek out ways for people to truly come to know themselves and to realize what they have to offer others. Our helpfulness is not imposed but intended to encourage the ability of the person to accept and to respond to their situations. We enrich our understandings as we prepare educational and spiritual programs.

Our actions for justice are imbued with peace. To create the common good, we negotiate in fairness. We look to honor both the challenges of responsible actions and freedom of options.

In our efforts to establish wholesome relationships, we seek to provide adequate resources so that a job can be done well. Resources can include equipment, time, skill training and mentoring. We call attention to the ways that trust, and support is being demonstrated. In especially difficult and tense situations, trust and support has to be developed and monitored.