Published by Religion Dispatches, March 5, 2014

John Dear“This week, with a heavy heart, I am officially leaving the Jesuits after 32 years.” This was how Fr. John Dear announced his dismissal from the Jesuit order in his NCR column in January—a “divorce” (as Joshua McElwee put it that same week) that seemed to many to have been inevitable, if deeply regrettable. Dear, a widely respected peace activist, has been arrested over 75 times for civil disobedience, but it was his “obstinate disobedience” toward the directives of his Jesuit superiors that resulted in his dismissal.

He talks here with RD about his commitment to radical nonviolence, the future of the Church—and closes by offering some strong words to the spiritual-but-not-religious cohort.

MS: You recently published The Nonviolent Life, and you describe it as the culmination of your life’s work. What is a nonviolent life and why is it so important?

JD: Nonviolence is the center of Christianity and all world religions. It is the most needed thing in the world. Mahatma Gandhi insisted it is possible, and Martin Luther King, Jr. said that if we don’t do it, we will destroy ourselves. …

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