Drew Christiansen

A Tribute to Drew Christiansen's Legacy

The Berkley Center and greater Georgetown community mourn the loss of scholar, colleague, and friend Rev. Andrew (Drew) Christiansen, S.J., who passed away on Wednesday, April 6, 2022.

Christiansen was a senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and the Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Human Development in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. A dedicated Jesuit priest, scholar, advocate, and community member, he devoted his life to applying the rich tradition of Catholic social teaching to issues of human rights, interreligious dialogue, nuclear disarmament, and peace.

Across his decades of service, scholarship, and advocacy, Christiansen inspired and touched the lives of so many individuals and communities. He leaves behind an exceptional legacy. Here is a collection of tributes, memories, and other kind words from across his networks of colleagues and friends.

Colleagues at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs

Drew Christiansen discusses the Catholic Church and the world in the twenty-first century
Drew Christiansen discusses the Catholic Church and the world in the twenty-first century

Drew was a remarkable Berkley Center colleague, always cheerful and supportive. We are extremely grateful for his tremendous contributions to the Georgetown community and for his generous service to the Church and the world. He will be sorely missed.

- Thomas Banchoff (Berkley Center Director)

Drew Christiansen and I have been friends for over 50 years. As fellow Jesuits, we studied together at the Jesuit seminary, Woodstock College, and then we were together again in graduate studies at Yale. Through all these years, Drew was deeply committed to advancing the Catholic Church’s contributions to the peace of our world and to the advancement of justice for those facing oppression. His commitment was strongly evident in his work as director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace, in his editorship at the weekly magazine America, and in his ongoing collaboration with the Holy See in the effort to overcome the threat posed by nuclear weapons. He and I have been engaged in conversation, collaboration, and sometimes argument about these issues for a long time. I will miss him very much.

- Rev. David Hollenbach, S.J. (Berkley Center Senior Fellow)

I had the opportunity to work closely with Drew at the Berkley Center. His knowledge of the religious intricacies of the Middle East gained through his position in the U.S. bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace was deep. It was an honor to write an article with him on Islam in Qatar in 2017 for La Civiltà Cattolica. We had fascinating conversations on just war and the Islamic concept of war. Over the last year, we started a project together on religion and the governance of global issues in which he brought together his vast knowledge as a moral theologian and a philosopher. He was a superb scholar and a gentle and compassionate soul. I will always remember his insatiable intellectual curiosity and the little light in his eyes when addressing a topic close to his heart. He combined intellectual rigor with high moral standards, as shown in his groundbreaking work on the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, a key international area in which his legacy will endure.

I will miss you Drew. May you rest in peace.

- Jocelyne Cesari (Berkley Center Senior Fellow)

Drew was a generous and caring mentor from the moment I met him. He drew me, a non-Catholic, into the Church's work on the enduring nuclear threat, which illuminated for me the crucial role that religious groups play in shaping political will. Drew's masterful dialogues with former secretaries and ambassadors about reducing the nuclear threat is part of his tremendous legacy.

- Michael Kessler (Berkley Center Executive Director)

I had the honor of being present for what turned out to be Father Christiansen’s final classroom teaching session at Georgetown. As he walked into the classroom on the final day of the fall 2021 semester, the students in his War, Nonviolence, and Peacebuilding course gave him an extended ovation, a spontaneous expression of their appreciation for his scholarship, his teaching, and his life’s work of promoting peace and justice. It was a little snapshot of the impact he has had in the lives of so many Georgetown students. I join those students in applauding Father Christiansen’s many decades of faithful service to the Church and to the cause of peace.

- Judd Birdsall (Berkley Center Senior Research Fellow)

Drew was beloved by his students; he made each and every student feel like they had something to contribute to his courses. He was always eager to hear about a student's interests,  and he invested countless hours in providing thoughtful and constructive feedback to his students. He will be missed in the classroom.

- Ryann Craig (Berkley Center Director of Student Programs)

The Georgetown University Community

To me, Fr. Drew could unscramble any egg when pondering the most muddled issues, from the nuances of peace in the Middle East to the intricacies of nuclear policy. We made quite a pair of bookish editors—two nerds in a pod!—and I was honored to take on projects from his endlessly interesting docket. How he managed to get me an actual thumbs-up from Pope Francis for anti-nuke Catholic sisters at the Vatican in 2017 I'll never know, but he pulled it off. He was the brains of the outfit, while I brought the color commentary with a sprinkle of pizzaz. Together we got so much done, including two beautiful books with the Holy See and Georgetown University Press (A World Free from Nuclear Weapons: The Vatican Conference on Disarmament in 2020, and Forbidden: Receiving Pope Francis' Condemnation of Nuclear Weapons in 2023). I'll love and miss him forever and ever.

- Carole Sargent (Director, Scholarly Publications at Georgetown University)

I had the honor of working closely with Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J., when he led the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace in the 1990s. His great knowledge, relationships, and skills helped the conference lead on issues of war and peace, care for God's creation, and the search for justice and peace in the Holy Land. He was a caring priest, committed Jesuit, and good friend. At his passing, we are comforted by the promise in the Beatitudes, “blessed are the peacemakers,” for that was his vocation.

- John Carr (Founder & Co-Director, Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life)

Drew was an extremely kind and thoughtful colleague, generous with his time and dedicated to his scholarship. I learned something from him every time we spoke, and will miss our conversations and our work together.

- Kim Daniels (Co-Director, Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life)

Drew Christiansen speaks on a panel discussing the moral criteria and human consequences of humanitarian intervention
Drew Christiansen speaks on a panel discussing the moral criteria and human consequences of humanitarian intervention

We collaborated, often on Drew's initiative, while he directed the Office of International Justice and Peace at the United States Catholic Conference and I directed interreligious relations and staffed Orthodox-Catholic relations for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, because Drew believed that the religious dimension, and especially the ecumenical and interreligious aspects of peace and justice issues, needed to be understood in discussions of international relations.

We were the best of colleagues, holding consultations with Muslim leaders and our ecumenical partners simply to listen to their perspectives. A Muslim once asked if we had ever heard of the Michigan Militia, six months before the Oklahoma City bombing. Another time, when Drew was instructed to pull back from an ongoing public discussion, he alerted me that I might be hearing from the White House. I did. Vice President Gore called me at my desk the next day with a few questions. That move opened up a wider, more constructive discussion. As editor of America, during the jubilee of Vatican II, he made room for me to reflect in the pages of the magazine on two of my favorite themes: the council's revolutionary changes for the Church in ecumenism and interreligious relations.

Needless to say, I was delighted when I learned that he would join us at Georgetown, and we enjoyed several more wonderful years of close collaboration. We trusted one another and could count on each other when we needed help, learning from each other as we went along.

The rector of the Jesuit community informed me of his passing early on April 6, soon after he had informed the community. I immediately shared the news with a group of former conference colleagues.

Several mentioned in their replies that Drew was a "great scholar," "mentor," "great friend," "pastor and spiritual guide," "a wonderful person who was always helpful," "a critic of militaristic curricula,'' "among the most talented, kind and congenial of colleagues." One described Drew’s nature as a priest: "the ideal, loving, prayerful, generous to a fault, forgiving, always welcoming. . . and that you could see his complete absorption in the Eucharist, anticipating thereby the next life and its justice which he had worked so hard to secure for others in this life." As Fr. Jim Martin mentioned in his tribute in America, several spoke of how he not only encouraged them to go to the Holy Land, but also accompanied them by email, and was eager to be in touch on their return. Several spoke of his life of humble service to the Church and the cause of peace and the tragic loss of his voice on several key issues where so much work was left undone. I think some of us are taking inventories of our work yet undone and weighing our options.

- John Borelli (Special Assistant to the President of Georgetown University)

Catholic Peacebuilding and Nuclear Disarmament Networks

Fr. Drew Christiansen had the mind of a scholar and the heart and walking shoes of a Jesuit.

Whether we were at the United Nations, advocating for the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons with the Holy See Mission, engaged in interfaith dialogue at the Vatican, or teaching students about the perils facing endangered Christian communities in the Middle East, Drew advanced strong arguments with a gentle and engaging demeanor. He moved the peacebuilding field forward in theory and practice into the twenty-first century and was key in the creation of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network. He traveled the world to build peace, and he encouraged student participation at every step, following the example of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the very first Jesuits. Drew loved walking and hiking, and even when his pandemic walks were restricted to Georgetown University, he always found "God in all things" and found joy and consolation in the first daffodils and cherry blossoms of spring. His scholarship detailed the move from just war toward the just peace tradition. Both his books and his life marked the trails for all of us, showing how, from Bosnia to the Middle East, empathy, truth-telling, forbearance, and a commitment to building stronger relationships are paths to peace.

- Maryann Cusimano Love (Advisory Board Member, Catholic Peacebuilding Network)

Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J., was one of the most devoted and widely respected leaders of the cause of a world without nuclear weapons. I came to know and admire him and his work while serving with the late Secretary of State George P. Shultz at Stanford University. Fr. Drew honored us by joining a group of advisers at Stanford University's Hoover Institution at a time when Secretary Shultz was working with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, and former Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Senator Sam Nunn to urge that top-level attention be given to the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. One of his first activities with us at Stanford was a round table on the ethical dimension of dependence on nuclear weapons. He worked closely and creatively for years with our group of advisers to Secretary Shultz. His wisdom and experience made him exceptionally effective. At the same time, Pope Francis was declaring the moral necessity of eliminating nuclear weapons. The Vatican's thinking and those of the four American Cold War veterans were closely aligned, as could be seen from a series of articles they wrote for the Wall Street Journal on the vital importance of global nuclear disarmament. Fr. Drew’s voice was heard in both camps.

His was a voice that spoke up for the ethical and moral case for eliminating nuclear weapons and his voice carried the weight of someone who also understood the diplomatic and technical issues. His legacy will continue to inspire us as we carry on his work. The world will be indebted to him for what he did during his lifetime.

- Ambassador James Goodby (Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Stanford University’s Hoover Institution)

The world has lost a leading Catholic peacebuilder. Rev. Drew Christiansen, S.J., died on April 6, 2022, at the age of 77.

A Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Human Development in Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and a senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Drew served on the Steering Committee of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network since its founding almost two decades ago. While a theology professor at Notre Dame in the 1980s, he was deeply involved in the early development of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, which hosts and funds the Catholic Peacebuilding Network’s secretariat.

A Jesuit through-and-through, Drew personified what it means to be a Catholic peacebuilder.

I am just one of many who considered him their best—and most demanding!—teacher. I have spent two decades as a professor trying to be for my students what Drew was for me. He was a student’s teacher. He cherished his students and challenged us to do and be our best. He inspired me and a generation of young people at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University in Berkeley, the University of Notre Dame, and Georgetown University to embrace our Christian vocation to transform the social order in light of the Gospel.

A renowned Catholic social ethicist and prolific writer, he made significant contributions to Catholic thought on the Church’s role in international affairs; the ethics of nuclear weapons, war, and peacebuilding; and environmental ethics. The breadth of his contributions are evident in just a few of his recent publications:

He was not content to be just an excellent teacher and scholar, however. He also dedicated his life to contributing to policy debates on pressing issues of justice and peace.

In recent years, much of his time was devoted to nuclear disarmament. He helped lead CPN’s Project on Revitalizing Catholic Engagement on Nuclear Disarmament. He addressed the Vatican conference on disarmament in 2017 and co-edited the publication of the proceedings of that conference as well as a forthcoming book, Forbidden: Receiving Pope Francis' Condemnation of Nuclear Weapons, on the moral, pastoral, and policy implications of Pope Francis’ condemnation of nuclear deterrence. He hosted numerous other events on nuclear disarmament. An advisor to the Holy See on nuclear weapons issues, he was especially proud to serve on the Holy See’s delegation during the negotiations of the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

He served as director of the U.S. bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace and later as their advisor on Middle East issues. He helped draft The Harvest of Justice Is Sown in Peace (1993), a major statement on the post-Cold War order. He often highlighted the document’s treatment of the growing role of nonviolence, specifically its concluding question: “One must ask, in light of recent history, whether nonviolence should be restricted to personal commitments or whether it also should have a place in the public order with the tradition of justified and limited war.” As a follow-up to that document, he co-edited Peacemaking (1994), a book on religion, ethics, and the post-Cold War order.

Among his many accomplishments while at the bishops’ conference, he was responsible for the especially delicate work on Israel-Palestine relations. At the behest of the Holy See, he initiated and led efforts to coordinate and deepen Catholic solidarity with the Church in the Holy Land, efforts that continue to this day.

Also while at the USCCB, he helped develop the bishops’ first ecology pastoral, Renewing the Earth (1991), helped initiate their Environmental Justice Program in 1993, and co-edited the book, And God Saw That It Was Good: Catholic Theology and the Environment (1996).

As editor-in-chief of the Jesuit publication, America, he played a critical role in saving and reviving that influential journal when its future was in doubt. He died on America’s one hundred thirteenth anniversary.

These and many other contributions can be summed up in a phrase: peacebuilding was his vocation.

Those of us who were fortunate to be his students will miss his life-long mentorship. Those of us who were fortunate to be his colleagues will miss his generous collaboration on endless initiatives. Those of us who were fortunate to benefit from his pastoral guidance will miss his sense of lived Christian spirituality. And those of us who were fortunate to count him as a friend will miss his kindness and faithfulness.

Thank you, Drew, for all you have done for us, for the Church, and for the world. May you rest in eternal peace, a hint of which you devoted your life to building!

- Gerard Powers (Coordinator, CPN, and Director of Catholic Peacebuilding Studies, Kroc Institute, Keough School of Global Affairs, University of Notre Dame)

Drew Christiansen moderates a panel during a religion and climate change symposium
Drew Christiansen moderates a panel during a religion and climate change symposium

NTI has been deeply appreciative of our partnership with Drew Christiansen and valued his role in the effort to revitalize Catholic engagement on nuclear disarmament. He developed an extensive scholarship in the long history and leadership of the Church in pursuing a world without nuclear weapons and was persistent in working toward this goal. We will miss his friendship and generosity, as he brought students and experts together to envision how to create this better world. Our deep condolences go to his family and the Georgetown community.

- Carmen MacDougall (Senior Vice President, Nuclear Threat Initiative)

Drew Christiansen was an example of a man whose heart responded to God’s love by living it in his service to both inner and outer peace, intellectual integrity, and the values of friendship, dignity, and respect. His conduct was exemplary in so many ways. He had faith strong enough to be consistent in kindness. He was moved by the power of compassion and thus his time was spent addressing the needs of others. He was a witness to the living teaching of Jesus Christ, striving to love others as He loves all of us. All of us who had the privilege of walking with him will miss him. May God’s blessings upon him be of infinite grace and may God bring us comfort. May we learn from his good example and honor him in our actions. Amen.

- Jonathan Granoff (President, Global Security Initiative)

I have such strong and fond memories of Father Drew. It is not only the Catholic or Christian world that is bidding farewell, but many people around the world. May we learn to continue the work for just peace with unconditional love. Rest in real peace until we all meet in the hope of the resurrection.

- Nora Carmi (Member, CPN Steering Committee)

Father Drew Christiansen was an esteemed, hugely engaging, brilliant, kind, generous, hard-working Jesuit priest. He taught at Notre Dame and Georgetown Universities and also gave lectures at countless other institutions of learning, always around matters we seek to consider this evening: peace, justice, race, religion, rights, rituals, the UN, and more. He taught what he knew and believed, passing on to women and men everywhere what he knew to be true, to be right. Although short in physical stature, Drew was a Catholic giant, leading, advocating, searching, peacebuilding, plus plus plus... The extents to which he would go were tree-tall, stretching expectations to consistently go well beyond any status quo. With academic and spiritual disciplines, he devised pragmatic practices for deliberate diplomatic dialogues anywhere. Bringing his faith, hopes, and smart charity together, he boldly accompanied people and places needing peace and justice. Drew was a man of nature. He loved being outdoors and enjoyed camping alone or with friends. He was a man of books, writing many, editing others, reading, and recommending so many more—a living library himself. He was a thoroughly authentic friend and peace-seeking colleague with roots in New York like me.

My friend, Drew: A resilient renaissance man rooted in urban frankness, emboldened by steadfast Jesuit discernment so that greater goods might constantly be pursued if not immediately achieved; a resourceful gentleman priest ready to share the witnessing with all who truly believed being blessed by God carries common responsibilities as opportunities. From New York City to Washington, DC, from Bethlehem to Baghdad, Drew walked the walk and talked the necessary talk to leaders and students, as if bringing unskilled musicians into a harmonious symphony of fresh melodies for peacebuilding rooted in Jesus Christ. Whether camping in the Catskills or texting at Rome's Tiber River, Drew always knew why he was where he was!


Swift as any unexpected mission
Journey fast into beyond already
Good man gone into God's will
Ready as ever though most not
Too soon too fast too much too
Knew well how it always goes
Drew’s so sudden stunning exit.

Long wintry ways sent spring home
Camping out olde logistics still planning
Cardiac care clarified wizened cautions
Local global messaging telling nonstop
Time-Life ticking heartbeat pulses
Ready as ever though most not so
Letting go no time to catch up...later.

Just a Man
Just a Jesuit
Just a New Yorker (Staten Island origins)
Just a Teacher
Just a Preacher
But a priest, a canon, a scholar, mentor, advocate, editor...
A son, a brother, an uncle, godfather, confrere, true friend.

Blazing welcoming renewing sunshining as he left
Today blazing sustaining lights week's mourning...
Whether or not: ready pilgrim walk next mile leading
Never officious briefcase shouldering knapsack
Full force multiplying good wise careful reasonable
Making the case: statements spilling truths-telling
Accompanying while being belonging accompanied.

Times past visited sacred spaces & desperate places
Crossed busy bridges climbing hills turned mountains
Taking right steps strong with or without walking stick
Talked about so many articles even wrote few together
Spoke about arts singing paint orchestrating sculpting...
Time out for the more: looking into great & living icons
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God-with-us!

Breaking bread midtown Ignatius' America 56 St legacies
Breaking bread pita hummus precious Old City hometown
Breaking bread Georgetown rights between DC's all in all
Breaking bread family Phil holidays on New England trails
Cathedrals to green campgrounds, concerts to conferences
Summiting options, challenges, opportunities, crisis talks
Mapping campus-times ND to UN, Holy See to USCCB...

Before rushing emails texts recalling 'ancient' faxing times
Tweaked our adjectives & adverbs to get it right nonfictions
Boldly respectfully disturbing the(status quo) peace...no war
Bothering people authorities: facts, faces, deep justice details
Begging prayerfully too somewhere somehow every state-step
Whether Rabin, Peres, Schultz, Bush, Albright, Sabbah, plus
Listening long: strong women, men, elders, children of God. 

Sometimes saw his quiet tears beyond the steadfast smiles
Sometimes saw his sacrifice, exhaustions, too quiet suffering
So many times we climbed up to Jerusalem even when here
Stopping often like Emmaus to recognize others on that way
Sent Francis' Assisi cross to me saying thanks: Do Good More
Yes: repair, reform, renew, revise, reflect, reach out, remember
Be sure to call home: remember Mom, students, press, interns, all.

Drew was Church and faith
Drew was Home and family
Drew was Country and freedom
Drew took the jets, the donkeys, and the camels where they led.
Boated like early Andrew apostle fishing unique lifegiving shores
Feeding multitudes: networking peacebuilding paths everywhere
Indeed, The Master had need of Drew - then, now, forever - Amen.

- Joseph Cornelius Donnelly (Permanent Delegate to the United Nations, Caritas Internationalis)

Drew Christiansen and Joseph Cornelius Donnelly stand outside Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv after a week of dialogue and peacebuilding meetings throughout the Holy Land in 1997.

Fellow Scholars and Practitioners of Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue

Fr. Drew was attached to the Holy Places, to Jerusalem first. This attachment made him work wholeheartedly for justice and peace in the Holy Land, always in coordination with the secretariat of state of the Holy See and the bishops’ conference in the United States.

He was a live connection between the action of the Latin Patriarchate, in the domain of justice and peace, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops–the only bishops’ conference, due to him, that accompanied us on our hard road towards justice and peace.

He was present and active in an international symposium held in Jerusalem, in the Latin Patriarchate, on the status of Jerusalem, organized in collaboration with the secretariat of state, to which all presidents of bishops' conferences in the world were invited. It lasted a week, and all churches of Jerusalem—Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant—participated in it.

After this symposium, he was among those who organized a yearly international bishops’ meeting in Jerusalem to travel to the Church of Jerusalem. The organization was then known as the Coordination of Bishops for the Holy Land.

He worked with the Church of Jerusalem, especially with the Latin Patriarchate. As a simple sign of gratitude, I named him Canon of the Holy Sepulcher.

I found in him always a true support, a priest who understood the situation, the challenges we were facing, and the daily difficulties of life.

- H.B. Michel Sabbah (Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Emeritus)

The world has lost a leading Catholic peacebuilder. Rev. Drew Christiansen, S.J., died on April 6 at the age of 77.

His accomplishments and efforts were as numerous as his friends and admirers, and his commitment to the Holy See will be sorely missed. In his longtime collaboration with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, he published several books (including Forbidden: Receiving Pope Francis' Condemnation of Nuclear Weapons, a forthcoming volume) and also forged a path for the Holy See in the international realm in the nuclear disarmament field.

His academic aptitude, deep wisdom, and lived spirituality benefited the Holy See immensely. His scholarship served to animate the negotiations on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which came into force thanks in part to the contributions of the Holy See. He also was a key partner and organizer of the Vatican conference on disarmament in November 2017, and he co-edited the publication of the proceedings of that conference, which was itself a landmark event in which Pope Francis declared the immorality of the doctrine of deterrence. Following this conference, Drew continued to develop and promote the position of the Church on this issue. His presence will be so missed in Vatican diplomacy, especially this year, marked by the conferences of the States Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and of the above-mentioned Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. But Fr. Drew Christiansen’s contributions and wisdom will be especially missed at this turning point in history, because of his commitment to peace and his attention to the situation in Ukraine.

In his role as director of the U.S. bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace and later as their advisor on Middle East issues, he led the Holy See’s efforts to coordinate and deepen Catholic solidarity with the Church in the Holy Land. The outward turn of the Holy See to its brothers and sisters was deeply needed and continues to bear great fruit, thanks to Drew.

It is impossible to list the breadth and depth of Fr. Drew Christiansen’s accomplishments, whether academic, diplomatic, or otherwise, but it is also worth highlighting that Drew was endlessly kind and faithful, a patient teacher and a generous servant and friend. In my years of collaboration and friendship with him, I saw his pastoral wisdom, strong Jesuit spirituality, and deep faith in God guide all of his work in an integral fashion. Although his absence is keenly palpable, his service to the Church and the world will not soon be forgotten.

Finally, I wish to emphasize that, in his tireless activity to build a more peaceful world, Drew was motivated by compassion for those adversely affected by others with greater power and by his abiding concern for people. He was a living example of the core message of the Catholic social doctrine, for which integral development is the new name of peace. As many friends are saying, this dimension complimented his clear-headed thinking and “toughness.” In this sense, he was firm about things because he saw, better than many, the direct impact of political decisions on the less powerful and therefore, as a matter of ethics, would not stand idly by.

Thank you, Drew, for all you have done for us, the Church, and the world. May the Lord continue to bless you, and inspire us by your example! Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God! May you rest in eternal peace.

- Cardinal Silvano Tomasi

A personal story about Drew the peacemaker:

The last time I saw Drew was at his Jesuit residence in Georgetown in the summer of 2016. I went to speak with him about the ongoing challenges related to the search for peace in a region where the three Abrahamic traditions co-exist, collide, and, on rare occasions, find limited ways to cooperate. I had recently returned from meetings with the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, one of my many visits to the region while serving as the Minister General and Servant of the Franciscan (OFM) Order. I asked Drew for his thoughts regarding the conditions and possibilities for the realization of a sustainable peace. This question was asked of me on different occasions by Franciscans living and working in Israel and Palestine. Some were less than optimistic that peace would ever be achieved given the painful memories and entrenched attitudes of many players directly involved, as well as the conflicting interests and negative actions of players from outside. Drew looked at me with a sparkle in his eye and a slight smile and said, “Peace is a gift from God.” He quickly added, “But God never acts alone! It all depends on what each of the parties is willing to sacrifice in order for there to be any hope for peace.” He talked about the need to clarify what is meant when speaking about peace in the context of the Middle East. He was quick to add that in whatever form this process takes, it will be long, arduous, and demanding. One of the main challenges to moving any meaningful peace process forward was, according to Drew, the asymmetric nature of power at play, and the complex historical baggage that made progress difficult.

He reminded me that as people of faith, we must never stop believing that peace is possible, “even if it does not respect our timetable.”

Drew talked about the important contributions of the Holy See, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and numerous other religious and non-religious actors from outside and also from within the region. He also thanked me for the tremendous work of the Franciscans in caring for pilgrims visiting the holy places. But more than this, he wanted to thank the Franciscans for their contributions to peace through education, health care, and other charitable works that allowed Christians and Muslims to encounter and serve one another in meaningful ways. He believed that these daily efforts, which do not always capture the attention of the media, were making a positive contribution towards the formation of future generations of Muslims and Christians who might play a key role in forging a new path towards a brighter future.

Thank you, Drew, for your untiring efforts to promote an outpouring of peace and healing in the Middle East. May you enjoy the fruits of the gift of eternal peace with God. And may the memory of your life’s commitment to peace inspire and encourage all of us to remain faithful ambassadors of peace and reconciliation.

- Fr. Michael Perry, OFM (Former Minister General of the Franciscans worldwide; on the staff of the USCCB's Office of International Justice and Peace when Drew was an advisor to that office on the Middle East)

It was in the fall of the year 2000 when Drew joined our Catholic-Mennonite Dialogue, already in progress since 1998. We realized by then that any dialogue of Mennonites with Catholics would require resource persons around the table, the kind represented by Drew Christiansen. Drew came with in-depth knowledge of peacemaking in the Catholic tradition. He also had a warm appreciation for conversation with Mennonites and for their perspectives on nonviolence. Drew proved to be a "good fit." His contribution is evident at many points in our concluding report: "Called Together to be Peacemakers.”

- Rev. Dr. Helmut Harder (Professor Emeritus, Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, Canada; Co-chair, International Catholic-Mennonite Dialogue, 1998-2003)

Drew Christiansen discusses human dignity in contemporary international affairs
Drew Christiansen discusses human dignity in contemporary international affairs

On behalf of the Mennonite World Conference, I write to express our condolences upon the death of Rev. Dr. Andrew Christiansen, S.J. to his family, colleagues, and fellow Jesuits. As an expert in social ethics, Fr. Christiansen’s work on matters of peace both on academic and practical levels regularly brought him into contact and conversation with Mennonite scholars. Fr. Christiansen was an enthusiastic supporter of Mennonite-Catholic dialogue at many levels. His participation in the International Dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Mennonite World Conference from 1998 to 2003, and at a follow-up meeting in Rome in 2007, was especially crucial.

Christiansen also participated in Bridgefolk, a grassroots movement for dialogue and unity between Mennonites and Catholics, attending and speaking at various Bridgefolk events. In a 2003 article entitled “An Exchange of Gifts,” he summarized various streams of that dialogue and recounted the influence of Mennonites on his own theological reflection, expressing confidence that “Catholics and Mennonites have begun to become sources of renewal for one another” through this unexpected but holy exchange.

The Anabaptist-Mennonite world communion will miss his peacebuilding witness and constant work of reconciliation in the body of Christ.

- César García (General Secretary, Mennonite World Conference)


Rev. Christiansen speaking at “Pope Francis’ Vision of Peace” in January 2020.

October 31, 2022

This two-day conference on November 14-15, 2022, will gather influential scholars and practitioners—many of whom worked for decades with Fr. Christiansen—who will honor his contributions and explore current and future challenges related to Catholic social teaching, environmental justice, just war, and peacebuilding.