Voices for Peace | National Catholic Reporter

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Voices for Peace | National Catholic Reporter

May 14

“Toronto Conference Explores
Christian Tradition of Peacemaking”

by Cassidy Hall | National Catholic Reporter

Over 100 veterans and newcomers to the peace movement gathered April 28 in Toronto for a daylong conference covered in prayer, music, poetry, readings and speakers. “Voices For Peace” began with a film about the International Indigenous Youth Council at Standing Rock and then offered a deep-dive into the Christian tradition of non-violence, resistance and peacemaking.

The event included sessions exploring contemplation and action, dreaming, nuclear disarmament, nonviolent action, the economy of weapons and numerous other topics related to peacemaking. It was bookended by a seemingly unlikely pair: 76-year-old author and peace activist Jim Forest and 35-year-old, Juno award-winning, hip-hop artist Shad K.

The conference was sponsored by Toronto’s Church of the Redeemer, The Henri Nouwen Society, Citizens for Public Justice and The Basilian Center for Peace and Justice.

“What brought us here today?” Forest asked in his opening lecture, “In my own case, I’ve been thinking about war and peace since I was 8 or 9 years old. I’m now 76. How surprising it is to have reached such an age. In my twenties, I thought it very unlikely that I’d live to be 30.”

The audience laughed until Forest interrupted.  

“Anticipated cause of death: nuclear war,” he said. “By the skin of our teeth we have lived with nuclear weapons without their being used in war since 1945 — 73 years.”

Forest is best known by way of his friends: Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Dan Berrigan, Thich Nhat Hanh, Henri Nouwen and many more. He told participants that he went to the university of Dorothy Day and recounted numerous stories and times with all of these well-known friends who have been so central to his peacemaking work. He is the former editor of the Catholic Worker, co-founder of the Catholic Peace Fellowship and the author of more than 10 books.

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