Senior Editor, Sojourners magazine

Rose Marie Berger is a Catholic peace activist and poet. She has been on Sojourners staff since 1986, and worked for social justice movements for 40 years. Rose has rooted herself with Sojourners magazine and ministry. She has written hundreds of articles for Sojourners and other publications and is a sought after preacher and public speaker. After living in Washington, D.C., for 35 years, she moved to Oak View, Calif., in 2022.

Rose’s work in Christian nonviolence has taken her to conflict zones around the world. She is active in the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, a project of Pax Christi International, and served as co-editor for Advancing Nonviolence and Just Peace in the Church and the World, the fruit of a multiyear, global, participatory process to deepen Catholic understanding of and commitment to Gospel nonviolence. Her poetry has appeared in the books Watershed Discipleship: Reinhabiting a Bioregional Faith and Practice and Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice, and Life Together. She is author of Bending the Arch: Poems (2019), Drawn By God: A History of the Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries from 1967 to 1991 (with Janet Gottschalk, 2012), and Who Killed Donte Manning? The Story of an American NeighborhoodShe has also been a religion reviewer for Publishers Weekly and a Huffington Post commentator. Her work has appeared in National Catholic Reporter, Publishers Weekly, Religion News Service, Radical Grace-Oneing, The Merton Seasonal, U.S. Catholic, and elsewhere. She serves on the board of The International Thomas Merton Society.

With Sojourners, Rose has worked as an organizer on peace and environmental issues, internship program director, liturgist, community pastor, poetry editor, and, currently, as a senior editor of Sojourners magazine, where she writes a regular column on spirituality and justice. She is responsible for the Living the Word biblical reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, poetry, Bible studies, and interviews – and oversees the production of study guides and the online Bible study Preaching the Word.

Rose has a veteran history in social justice activism, including: leading the first international, inter-religious peace witness into Kyiv, Ukraine, following the outbreak of war in 2022, organizing inter-religious witness against the Keystone XL pipeline; educating and training groups in nonviolence; leading retreats in spirituality and justice; writing on topics as diverse as the “Spiritual Vision of Van Gogh, O'Keeffe, and Warhol,” the war in the Balkans, interviews with Black activists Vincent Harding and Yvonne Delk, the Love Canal's Lois Gibbs, and Mexican archbishop Ruiz, cultural commentary on the Catholic church and the peace movement, reviews of movies, books, and music.

Rose Berger has taught writing and poetry workshops for children and adults. She’s completed her MFA in poetry through the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program. Her poetry has been published in Sojourners, The Other Side, Radix and D.C. Poets Against the War.

Rose grew up in the Central Valley of California, located in the rich flood plains of the Sacramento and American rivers. Raised in radical Catholic communities heavily influenced by Franciscans and the Catholic Worker movement, she served for nine years on the pastoral team for Sojourners Community Church; five as its co-pastor. She directed Sojourners internship program from 1990-1999. She is currently a senior editor and poetry editor for Sojourners magazine. She has traveled throughout the United States, and also in Ukraine, Israel/Palestine, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosova, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and El Salvador visiting primarily with faith communities working for peace in situations of conflict.

Rose was born when atmospheric CO2 was at 319.08 ppm and now lives with her wife Heidi Thompson in Oak View, Calif., in the Ventura River watershed on traditional Chumash lands. Learn more at rosemarieberger.com.

Rose’s articles include:

Rose Marie Berger is available to speak at your next event. Please review our speaker instructions and guidelines or check out our full list of Sojourners speakers.

Speaking Topics

  • Christian nonviolence, peace, war
  • Catholic Nonviolence Initiative
  • Climate change, creation care, watershed discipleship
  • Bible study, liturgical year
  • Poetry
  • Spirituality and social justice
  • Any topic covered in Sojourners magazine
  • Catholicism

Speaking Format

  • Preference for virtual events, but willing to discuss in-person events on case-by-case basis

Posts By This Author

Artists Welcome Here

Worshippers at St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, in Glasgow, Scotland, are now sharing pews with Scotland's most avant-garde artists.

News Briefs

Silence Please. A Catholic priest in Spain has installed a state-of-the-art electronic jamming system in the church to silence the ringers on cellular phones.

Resources

Building Supplies

Sagebrush Solutions

In Colorado, ranchers and environmentalists are collaborating in a common cause—protecting water rights and sustainable land use.

Road Trippin'

by Rose Marie Berger 07-01-2002
Are we there yet?

Here are answers to some of the Frequently Asked Questions about traveling on the Jesus Road.

1. Who else will be going with us?
Well, some guy from the IRS signed up. A couple of machinists (one's even non-union). There are some middle-aged women who knew how to buy low and sell high, kicking in a little cash for the trip. A girl in the sex trade business who might bring a couple of her friends who are exotic dancers. A few 20-something anarchists who want to yank the hinge pin out of the whole damn Pax America project. A soccer mom. One guy who identifies himself as a "pretty much reformed" sex offender. A Gulf war vet. A minister or two who will hook up after their evening church meetings are done. We'll most likely pick up more folks as we go along.

2. What do I need to bring?
It's pretty much a come-as-you-are arrangement. Good walking shoes. Maybe a water bottle. We're not sure how far we're going so it's best to pack light. We can get what we need along the way.

3. What will we talk about?
What things make you happy. Who you love. Who you hate. Why cities are so tall. What to do when so many people come to the picnic that you run out of food. How to be a good person. What to do when your friends leave you high and dry. How to fight for what's right without using your fists. Who God is. How to deal with a bad boss. How to tell the difference between a phony bill of goods and the genuine article. How to mourn. How to get rid of money so it doesn't weigh you down. How to pray. How to forgive. Why people are poor. How to die. How to live.

Catholic Scandal, Ecumenical Solution

by Rose Marie Berger 07-01-2002
The whole church must combat sexual misconduct.

While much recent media hype has focused on the Catholic Church's pedophilia scandal, relatively little attention has been given to the high rate of sexual misconduct in the rest of American Christendom. This truly is a crisis that crosses all borders.

For example, research by Richard Blackmon at Fuller Theological Seminary shows that 12 percent of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner; 38 percent acknowledged other inappropriate sexualized contact. In a 1990 study by the United Methodist Church, 41.8 percent of clergy women reported unwanted sexual behavior by a colleague or pastor; 17 percent of laywomen said that their own pastors had sexually harassed them.

Obviously, this is not just a Catholic problem. And solutions must be broader and deeper than those carried out by Catholic cardinals. The whole church has a responsibility to offer decisive leadership in the area of sexual misconduct—whether it is child abuse, sexual exploitation, or sexual harassment.

Recently, churches have shown unprecedented unity on issues of poverty and welfare reform. Now it is necessary to call for a broad-based ecumenical council addressing the issue of sexual misconduct in the church. Its goal would be transparency and openness in developing stringent, forward-looking guidelines, consistent with denominational distinctions, for preventing and addressing sexual misconduct within Christian churches and church-related institutions. Such a council could include not only denominational representatives but also a majority presence from external organizations such as child protection agencies, law enforcement, psychiatric services, victims' agencies, and legal and legislative representatives.

Bread Not Bombs

International relief organizations in Kabul are employing 3,500 women bakers to ensure that more than a quarter of a million Afghan school children are fed during the school year.

A Toast to Freedom

by Rose Marie Berger 07-01-2002
Four books on power and freedom

Fierce Legion of Friends: A History of Human Rights Campaigns and Campaigners by Linda Rabben

The Fragmentation of the Church and Its Unity in Peacemaking, edited by Jeffrey Gros and John D. Rempel

Hebron Journal: Stories of Nonviolent Peacemaking by Arthur G. Gish

Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance by Beverly Bell

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There are basically three kinds of power: domination, collaboration, and satyagraha (truth force). Domination is political power that proceeds from the barrel of a gun. Collaboration promotes "united we stand, divided we fall." Truth force, or spiritual power, preaches "the truth will set you free." All three kinds of power make up the shifting riverbed of the history of social movements and campaigns.

Linda Rabben's Fierce Legion of Friends tracks the strategies of modern social campaigns, an interest that started with her work for Amnesty International in Brazil. Reading through case histories, she discovered the rich and often tragic stories of people who crusaded for freedom in every generation.

Who were the lesser-known people who pushed forward the British, American, and Brazilian anti-slavery movements? How did the famous ceramicist Josiah Wedgwood come to develop a line of Jubilee pottery to fund the abolitionist cause? What prompted lawyer Wendell Phillips to link slave rights with workers' rights? Who marched in support of Chicago's Haymarket prisoners? How did Mark Twain end up fighting against forced labor in the Belgian Congo? Rabben takes the reader through an extraordinary living history honoring organizers, letter writers, and petition signers who collaborated to transform societies for the better.

Cold Comfort

First he took off his hat and coat; then his sweater and shirt.

Do You Voodoo?

Clergy, labor, and civil rights groups protested with employees outside a Miami nursing home after the management filed objections with the National Labor Relations Board...

Down on Double Deuces

The Christian Coalition of Georgia, along with Peace State Methodist and Baptist churches, are in a pitched battle to close down the state's video poker machines.

Rose of the Year

It's the perfect Jackson & Perkins rose for fresh-cut arrangements—velvety bright true red petals on the outside, hardy and disease-resistant on the inside.

The Original "Gospel Tract" Flying Disc

The good news that's meant to be tossed! "Slip It and Flip It!" That's right!

Changing the Way Britain Does Business

The Archbishop of Canterbury, in his annual New Years speech last year, warned that his grandson would "discover a world of shocking inequality..."

Getting Rid of the Rigs

Tapping the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil—which Congress forestalled—would hardly make a dent in the 8-million-barrel-a-day foreign oil addiction of the United States.

A Script of Her Own

New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams is turning Hollywood inside out by challenging the film industry's harmful depictions of women and girls...

Fun With Facts

The waste produced by one chicken in its lifetime can supply enough electricity to run a 100-watt bulb for five hours.

Lust in Las Vegas

There has always been crossover from Saturday night to Sunday morning, but a Christian porn site?

Building Dreams

by Rose Marie Berger 05-01-2002

Architecture students at Alabama's Rural Studio raise shelters for the spirit.

Resources: Building Supplies

From a Maine potato farmer to a Hawaiian banana producer, The New American Farmer profiles farms and farmers across the United States...