Is this a turning point in history?
Recently Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church was given a clear message by Catholic peace leaders who came to a Rome Conference from around the world that ‘We believe there is no “just war”.’
My ancestors the Doukhobors essentially said the same thing in 1895 when they burnt their guns in Tsarist Russia. Nonkilling is the way of a civilized world.
Author and American Catholic priest nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, Ft. John Dear, in PeaceVoice, wrote recently:
For its first three centuries, Christianity required the practice of active nonviolence as taught by Jesus. The early Christians refused to serve the Roman Empire or kill in its wars, and so they were routinely arrested and killed. All that changed in the year 313 when Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity. He baptized his troops and established Christianity as the official religion of the Empire. Christians could now serve in the Roman military and kill Rome’s enemies. In effect, he threw out the Sermon on the Mount and the commandment to love one’s enemies, and turned to the pagan Cicero to justify Christian violence, sowing the seeds for the so-called “Just War theory.” Over time, justified warfare became the norm, Christians everywhere waged war and everyone forgot that Jesus was nonviolent.
For the last 1700 years, as we all know, Christians have waged war, led crusades, burned women at the stake, systematically persecuted Jews and Muslims, kept millions of people as slaves, ran concentration camps, blessed conquest, prayed for successful bombing raids, and built and used nuclear weapons. Throughout Catholic history, Jesus’ teachings of nonviolence were rarely discussed, much less implemented.
Until last week, [when] 80 of us from 25 nations were invited to the Vatican last week for the first ever conference to discuss formally abandoning the so-called “just war” theory and formally returning the Church to the nonviolence of Jesus. This was the first ever gathering of its kind in history!Nobel Prize winner Mairead Maguire was joyous in joining 80 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’:
I hope that Pope Francis will call upon Catholics not to join the military and remind them that killing cannot be with Christ. I believe the misguided age of “blessing wars, militarism and killing” must end. The responsibility lies with Pope Francis and all religious/spiritual leaders to be true shepherds of peace, nonviolence and nonkilling, to help us follow the command of Jesus to love our enemies and not kill each other.Recall that in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: 'Blessed are the peacemakers, they are the sons and daughters of God. You have heard it said, thou shalt not kill. I say unto you, do not even get angry. Be reconciled. You have heard it said, an eye for eye, but I say to you, offer no violent resistance to one who does evil....Love your enemies.' Here is no just war theory, no exceptions. We follow the path of nonkilling.
I also hope that Pope Francis will unambiguously proclaim that violence is always wrong that violence is not the way of Jesus, that Catholics cannot take up arms to kill people, and that we are called to become a true peace church.
As a peace activist, Tolstoyan and Doukhobor, I hope that all concerned peoples everywhere will urge their leaders to teach the gospel of nonviolence and love and start a path toward a new world of peace. The way to peace is peace, not war!
- Ft. John Dear. ‘The Church’s Turn Toward Nonviolence’. Peace Voice, April 20, 2016.
- Erica Chenoweth, Peace Force. ‘Did the Vatican Just Throw Out Its Just War Doctrine?’ Political Violence at a Glance, April 19, 2016.
- Mairead Maguire. ‘The Rome Conference on Nonviolence: A Turning Point in History’. Common Dreams, April 20, 2016.
- McElwee, Joshua J. 'Landmark Vatican conference rejects just war theory, asks for encyclical on nonviolence,' National Catholic Reporter, April 14, 2016.
- Koozma J. Tarasoff. ‘Historic 1895 Burning of Guns: descriptions, selections and translations’. Updated May 1, 2015.
- Koozma J. Tarasoff. ‘Tolstoy and the Doukhobors’. Presented at the First Global Leadership Forum on Nonkilling, Hawaii, November 1-4, 2007.
- Books about ‘Just War’.