It was a joy for me to join eighty people from around the world meeting in Rome from April 11th to the 14th at the “Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence.” Members of the three day event co-hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Catholic Peace Movement Organization, Pax Christi, strongly called on Pope Francis “to share with the world an encyclical on nonviolence and Just Peace,” and on the Church to “no longer use or teach ‘just war theory’ and to continue advocating “for the abolition of war and nuclear weapons.”
I believe the misguided age of “blessing wars, militarism and killing” must end.
The statement of appeal to the Pope said clearly: “We believe there is no ‘just war.’ Too often the ‘just war theory’ has been used to endorse rather than prevent or limit war. Suggesting that a ‘just war’ is possible also undermines the moral imperative to develop tools and capacities for nonviolent transformation of conflict.”
The gathering in Rome consisted of lay people, theologians, members of religious congregations, and priests and bishops from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania. In his opening address, Cardinal Turkson, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, read a welcoming statement from Pope Francis.
The final statement, released at the end of the conference, entitled “An Appeal to the Catholic Church to re-commit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence,” can be read at the Pax Christi International website.
This was indeed a historic gathering and the participants made a brave and history-making call to Pope Francis and the Church.