The CRS Faculty Learning Commons (FLC) is an online learning community and curricular resource that highlights the latest strategies for global relief and development with special emphasis on the application of CRS’ justice lens and opportunities for building global solidarity. This fall, the CRS Faculty Learning Commons will offer four distinct academic modules under the theme of Peacebuilding.
For ease of use, the material is broken down into four interrelated modules, described below. The resources can be used by a variety of disciplines, and you are free to select from the modules to support your specific course needs. You will find videos, short articles, book excerpts, discussion guides, and course learning objectives. To access and use the material, however, CRS asks that you simply sign up.
Fall 2016 Peacebuilding Modules:
Age-old debates over just war and pacifism are well known. What is less well known and understood is the Church’s role in conflict prevention, conflict mitigation and post-violence reconciliation. From Colombia to South Sudan, the Catholic community, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), is working with other religious actors and the wider civil society to promote peace amidst some of the world’s most intractable conflicts. This session provides an overview of the Church’s role, considering it in the context of Catholic social teaching and a strategic approach to peacebuilding, with special attention to the peacebuilding work of CRS.
Since the end of the Cold War, there has been a growing appreciation of the critical role of civil society actors in people-to-people peacebuilding, and in directly and indirectly supporting formal and informal peace processes. Increasingly, active engagement by civil society actors (Track 2 and Track 3 diplomacy) is considered an important factor in addressing the fact that half of peace settlements fail within five years. In many countries embroiled in conflict, the Catholic Church is a leading civil society actor. In South Sudan and Colombia, the churches often play an indirect role, organizing local, regional and national peace processes for civil society that complement official peace processes.
When wars end, some of the most difficult challenges of peacebuilding begin. The Church has played a role in formal Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in South Africa, South Sudan, Guatemala, Burundi, and other places. These formal processes often involve painful moral dilemmas, pitting legitimate demands for justice and accountability against the practical demands for amnesties and calls for forgiveness. While governments often speak of reconciliation, defined narrowly as political accommodation, the Church promotes a much deeper and fuller understanding of political, communal, and personal reconciliation. Moreover, reconciliation is not just or mostly a matter of formal post-war processes; it is an integral component of preventing and mitigating violent conflicts.
Inter-religious dialogue and peacebuilding are often seen, by religious and secular actors, as the natural antidote to religious violence or identity conflicts with a religious dimension. Interreligious peacebuilding can also be indispensable in conflicts where religious differences are not at issue in the conflict, as with the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda. The goals of interreligious peacebuilding depend on the nature of the conflict and one’s theory of change. They range from (1) repairing and/or deepening relationships, (2) improving mutual understanding, (3) finding common ground on beliefs and issues, (4) promoting common action, and/or (4) encouraging complementary action for peace and justice. In some cases, the most effective work of inter-religious peacebuilding is done alone within one’s own faith community.