PAX CHRISTI USA:  Working for peace with justice

NOVEMBER 2013 -- GReen Mail

The Pax Christi USA Global Restoration Committee would like to share this information with you, our GReen mail activists.   We invite you to pray, study and act with us across the miles recognizing that a sustainable, healthy world is a more peaceful world for all creation.



Giving thanks and sharing an international perspective on sustainability from Pax Christi International.



Teach us to live in peace,

to educate ourselves for peace. 

Inspire us to act justly,

to revere all God has made.

Root peace firmly in our hearts and in our world.

In Sincere Thanksgiving - Amen





Ecological Economy Promotes Sustainable Peace


Hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, tsunamis, floods, droughts ... No doubt, the frequency and severity of storms and other "natural" disasters is beginning to claim our attention. Five Days at Memorial, the recently published account of New Orleans' encounter with Hurricane Katrina is a grim reminder of that disaster, which is now far from alone on the list of monster storms that have devastated so many communities, from New York to the Philippines, India and beyond.


The frequency of these terrifying storms, food insecurity, rising sea levels, warming temperatures, and the accelerated extinction of species are harbingers of natural systems and patterns spinning out of control, with potentially dire consequences for humans and for all species.  At the same time, connections between the ecological crisis and violent conflict over land, water, oil and minerals are increasingly evident.  Noting this, the Faith, Economic, Ecology Working Group in "A Call to Integrate Faith, Ecology and the Global Economysays, "It is urgent that we develop an entirely new sense of our own location as members of a larger earth community with which our future is inextricably linked."


Pax Christi International, as part of the process leading to last year's Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development, joined other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in submitting a statement that noted the "growing inequality ... between the wealthy and those who are impoverished by the lack of access to adequate food, water, energy, land, education and health services ... [which] is recognized as one of the root causes of conflict and violence worldwide."
(To read more on this CLICK HERE)


For over 35 years, theologians, scientists, economists and others have pointed to this inevitable collision between an economy focused on the unbounded creation and accumulation of wealth and the limited resources and carrying capacity of our planet. The controversial 1972 Club of Rome report, Limits to Growth, made headlines as oil prices soared, but a deep belief that new discoveries and inventions would keep opening up new possibilities for growth enabled politicians to postpone unpopular decisions. 


Decades of emphasis on unfettered, open free market economies promoted around the world by the international financial institutions; reinvigorated by the end of the Cold War; and institutionalized by free trade agreements saw the rapid spread of what ecological economist Herman Daly calls "uneconomic growth." The pursuit of markets encouraged wasteful consumption and financial innovation took the place of a real economy. Growth, used universally as the measure of a "healthy" economy, had little to do with real "development" and a commitment to the common good and social justice was lost in the quest for maximum personal wealth.


In the statement cited above, Pax Christi International and other NGOs also wrote:

"We firmly advocate a shift from an ethic of exploitation to an ethic of right relationship -an ethic based on the rights of humans and of Earth as essential for individuals, society and ecosystems to flourish. The concept of the rights of nature is also emerging, with the growing awareness of Earth as a living system of interconnected components.This concept highlights the importance of human beings living in a more balanced and harmonious relationship with nature, as opposed to the prevailing relationship of domination. This planetary vision can lead to a just and sustainable peace."



The pursuit of quantitative economic growth that depends on the expanded exploitation of limited natural resources and results in the continued destruction of eco-systems is neither sustainable, nor does it lead toward a peaceful future.  Rather, economies that produce measurable improvements in the real quality of life - especially for marginalized and impoverished people - and protect the integrity of creation will do more to end war and quell terrorism than any amount of military spending.


In another statement submitted to the Rio+20 process, Pax Christi International, with the International Peace Bureau and other NGOs highlighted even more clearly the links between disarmament, development and sustainability.

We wrote: "...unlimited financial resources seem to be available for military jets, tanks, ships, bombs, missiles, landmines and nuclear weapons. The technological developments in the armaments field are becoming more and more sophisticated and murderous. How to reverse this process is the challenge of today....The signatories of this Appeal demand that the governments of the world seriously address this neglected issue, and agree on a global plan for disarmament at the Rio Summit in June 2012.The freed-up funds should be used for social, economic and ecological programs in all countries. ...Without disarmament, there will be no adequate development; without development, there will be no justice, equality and peace. We must give sustainability a chance."

(For more on this statement CLICK HERE)


The outcome document of the Rio+20 conference, entitled: The Future We Want, mandated the establishment of an inclusive intergovernmental process to prepare a set of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The United Nations High-Level Panel, which was given the task of facilitating an inclusive process to develop these goals presented its final report, "A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development," on May 30, 2013. 


Pax Christi was happy to see that the report includes reference to "freedom from fear, conflict and violence" as "the most fundamental human right, and the essential foundation for building peaceful and prosperous societies." 


Many government interventions during the September 2013 high level meetings in New York, stressed the importance of establishing post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals that include attention to the destructive impact of violent conflict and war, of sustainability and human well-being.


The Rio+20 outcome document also established a High Level Political Forum as the guardian and catalyst of this developing agenda, taking over the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development.  Pax Christi representatives at the United Nations in New York will follow this complex but important process.



Marie Dennis

Co-President, Pax Christi International



  1. To learn more, see:


    The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (MOGC), a Pax Christi International Member Organization, has done excellent work on the related areas of sustainability, economic justice and peace. 
  2. See MOGC projects on "Faith, Economy and Ecology" by CLICKING HERE and "Sustainable Pathways to Peace and Inclusive Security" by CLICKING HERE

  3. Revisit Pax Christi USA's Praying Pacem in Terris - this amazing document suggests ways to move towards a more just and sustainable world - CLICK HERE

In Christ's peace,


Pax Christi USA's Global Restoration/Care for Creation Committee expresses our gratitude to Marie Dennis, Co-President of Pax Christi International for sharing their ministry and this article with us.

Fostering a reverence for all creation

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