Mennonites and Catholics can agree that God, “who from one man has created the whole human race and made them live all over the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26) has destined humanity for one and the same goal, namely, communion with God’s own self. Likewise, created in the image and likeness of God, human beings are called to unity with one another, through reciprocal self-giving (cf. Gen 1:26; Jn 17:21f.). Redemption, moreover, has restored to creation the peace lost by sin (Gen 9:1-17; Col 1:19f.; Rev 21:5). As God’s new creation, Christians are called to live a new life in peace with one another and with all humankind (2 Cor 13:11; Rom 12:18).
We also agree that the biblical vision of peace as shalom entails protecting the integrity of creation (Gen 1:26-31; 2:5-15; 9:7-17; Ps 104). The Church is called to witness, in the spirit of stewardship, that people may live as caretakers and not exploiters of the earth.
The peace witness of both Mennonites and Catholics is rooted in Jesus Christ “who is our peace, who has made us both one… making peace that he might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross” (Eph 2:14-16). We understand peace through the teachings, life and death of Jesus Christ. In his mission of reconciliation he remained faithful unto death on the cross, and his fidelity was confirmed in the resurrection. The cross is the sign of God’s love of enemies.
The Church is called to be a peace church, a peacemaking church. This is based on a conviction that we hold in common. We hold that the Church, founded by Christ, is called to be a living sign and an effective instrument of peace, overcoming every form of enmity and reconciling all peoples in the peace of Christ (Eph 4:1-3). We affirm that Christ, in his Church, through baptism, overcomes the differences between peoples (Gal 3:28). By virtue of their baptism into Christ, all Christians are called to be peacemakers. All forms of ethnic and inter-religious hatred and violence are incompatible with the gospel, and the Church has a special role in overcoming ethnic and religious differences and in building international peace. Furthermore, we agree that it is a tragedy when Christians kill one another.
Catholics and Mennonites share an appreciation of the Church as different from simply human organizations, and together we stand for religious freedom and the independence of the Church. The freedom of the Church from state intervention enables her to offer witness to the wider society. In virtue of their dignity as children of God, moreover, all men and women possess the right to freedom of religion and conscience. No one should be forced to act contrary to conscience, particularly in matters of religion.
We affirm together that peace, in the sense of the biblical word shalom, consists of well being, wholeness, the harmony and rightness of relationships. As inheritors of this biblical tradition, we believe that justice, understood as right relationships, is the inseparable companion of peace. As the prophets testify, “the effect of justice will be peace and the result of righteousness quietness and trust forever” (Is 32:17; cf. Ps 85:10, 13).
We agree that the Gospel’s vision of peace includes active non-violence for the defence of human life and human rights, for the promotion of economic justice for the poor, and in the interest of fostering solidarity among peoples. Likewise, peace is the realization of the fundamental right to live a life in dignity, and so have access to all means to accomplish this: land, work, health, and education. For this reason, the Church is called to stand in solidarity with the poor and to be an advocate for the oppressed. A peace built on oppression is a false peace.
— Called Together to be Peacemakers, Report of the International Dialogue between the Catholic Church and Mennonite World Conference 1998-2003
God’s Presence among us: A Call to Peace. (Psalm 46).Scripture
1 Kings 19: 1-13a. The sound of sheer silence.
Psalm 46, The Lord is with us.
Acts 10: 9-48, God shows no partiality.
Luke 10: 25-37, Who is my neighbor?
As we reflect on the biblical texts which speak of the presence of God among us, we are aware of substantial challenges on our ecumenical journeying. As in Elijah’s time, it is no use looking for God in a hurricane or an earthquake. Rather, his peaceful and comforting presence is to be found in the whisper of a gentle breeze or even in sheer silence. We must make the psalmist’s conviction our own: God is our only strength. Following the example of a God who destroys bows and breaks spears, we are invited to bring all conflict to an end. The episode recorded in the Acts of the Apostles invites us to meditate on the spirit of the Risen Christ at work throughout the world. In the image of an impartial God, we must learn to go beyond all too human frontiers. The parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us that we cannot look away when we come across a brother or sister in need. How can we not feel concerned when another ecclesial community is in difficulty?
Gathered in the name of Christ Jesus, Father, we pray, make us attentive to your presence in this world and help us discern the ways along which you want to lead us in our ecumenical pilgrimage. All honor and glory be to you, for ever and ever. Amen.