Vatican conference: there is no justification for war – prioritise work for a just peace

 

Western media – apart from the Catholic Press – appear to be in a state of shock judging from their absence from first 100 entries brought up by a Google search. The only coverage found was one Machiavellian reaction from the BBC, by implication upholding the current devastating military aggressions, regurgitating Just War doctrine and giving no indication that the Vatican conference had rejected it. Later, another rear-guard action was found in Providence, ‘a journal of Christianity and American Foreign Policy’ – its only redeeming feature being this photograph:

vatican ceiling

The participants of the conference stated that there is no ‘just war’ in a press release on Thursday morning.

Joshua J. McElwee, NCR’s Vatican correspondent reports that the Vatican’s first conference – to reevaluate just war theory, justifications for violence and re-examine the Catholic church’s long-held teachings on just war theory, was cohosted by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International on April 11-13.

The conference was organized around four themes: Experiences of Nonviolence, Jesus’ Way of Nonviolence, Nonviolence and Just Peace, and Moving Beyond Unending War, led by experts in the separate topic areas.

The eighty attenders included participants engaged in global nonviolent struggles in countries such as Chile, Japan, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya, Palestine and Burundi. They have developed a new moral framework rejecting ethical justifications for war and displacing the centuries-old just war theory as the main Catholic response to violence. Also taking part were a senior policy fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, several noted theologians, and Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire.

Just War theory uses a series of criteria to evaluate whether use of violence can be considered morally justifiable. First referred to by fourth century bishop St. Augustine of Hippo, it was later articulated in depth by 13th century theologian St.Thomas Aquinas and is today outlined by four conditions in the formal Catechism of the Catholic Church.

One criteria for the moral justification of war in the Catechism is that “the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated” and notes that “the power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.” Below: killed by widely used ‘modern means’ – the armed drone.

children drone killed

Conference organizers said in a note to participants: “After more than 1,500 years and repeated use of the just war criteria to sanction war rather than to prevent war, the Catholic Church, like many other Christian communities, is rereading the text of Jesus’ life and re-appropriating the Christian vocation of pro-active peacemaking . . . Emphasizing the need to work for a Catholic Church, the Church is moving away from the acceptability of calling war ‘just’ . . . because that language undermines the moral imperative to develop tools and capacity for nonviolent conflict.”

As part of their goals for the conference, organizers stated they sought a “new articulation of Catholic teaching on war and peace, including explicit rejection of ‘just war’ language” and “an alternative ethical framework for engaging acute conflict and atrocities by developing the themes and practices of nonviolent conflict transformation and just peace.”

The outcome

The Catholic Church’s long-held teachings on just war theory were ‘bluntly rejected’, as having too often been used to justify violent conflicts and it was stated that the global church must reconsider Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence.

The group’s final appeal states: “The time has come for our Church to be a living witness and to invest far greater human and financial resources in promoting a spirituality and practice of active non-violence . . . In all of this, Jesus is our inspiration and model, neither passive nor weak, Jesus’ nonviolence was the power of love in action.”

ugandans need peaceUgandans plead for peace: http://chrisblattman.com/projects/sway/

“I came a long distance for this conference, with a very clear mind that violence is outlived,” said Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu, Uganda. “It is out of date for our world of today. We have to sound this with a strong voice. Any war is a destruction. There is no justice in destruction . . . It is outdated.”

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