New York -- In response to the pope's Jan. 1 message, advocates for peace-making said nonviolent campaigns are becoming increasingly successful and common, violent insurgencies increasingly rare and unsuccessful.
The Colombian government and rebel leaders reached a peace accord to officially end a war. After 52 years of conflict with 200,000 lives lost and 7 million people displaced, the Catholic bishops of Colombia continue to use the church's influence in the country to focus on reconciliation.
Congo's bishops are urgently seeking to rescue a government-opposition peace accord, reached in the final minutes of 2016.
"Our latest meeting should have covered the question of governance - but contacts between the political actors are, unfortunately, not yet realized," the bishops' conference said Jan. 24. "We have retired to consider what next, after concluding there was no real will to tackle the problems quickly."
The deletion of a paragraph about command responsibility affects Colombian prosecutors' ongoing investigations of generals in the "false positives" scandal in which the military is accused murdering civilians.
Peace talks in Congo: Catholic leaders in Congo said they hope for lasting peace, after the bishops' conference helped mediate a government-opposition accord. "We're all saluting this great step, the fruit of a dialogue arranged by the church," said Msgr. Leonard Santedi Kinkupu, rector of Kinshasa's Catholic University and former of secretary-general of the bishops' conference.
Special feature: Colman McCarthy has used various forums to push the notion that peace and violence are learned behaviors — and that we should focus on teaching peace.
Mediation efforts in Congo: Congolese President Joseph Kabila expressed support for Catholic bishops' efforts to mediate a constitutional crisis after he extended his term in office.
Viewpoint: The church must do more to build a comprehensive theory on the evils of gun violence, in much the way that the U.S. bishops built a theory on the evils of nuclear weapons.
Special feature: James Gillcrist followed his family's tradition of military service, but time in Iraq led him on a path to academia, pondering the ethics of war.
We say: The process in Colombia is a sober reminder that achieving peace more often than not involves a long and difficult slog out of the horrors of war.