Terry Rynne: Why is the Catholic Church moving away from just war theory?

Mural at Vatican Radio
Mural at Vatican Radio

I got home a week ago from Rome and Assisi, returning from a stupendous global meeting on Christian nonviolence. On Thursday we delivered the final statement first to Pope Francis (via Cardinal Turkson) and then went on Friday to Assisi to deliver it to St. Francis, tucking it in to the grate next to his crypt. Our work is now in good hands for moving forward.

This gathering is one that I will be unpacking for some time. I was pleased to meet Terry Rynne, founder of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking, at this meeting. Please read his essay below to get a more complete sense of the monumental nature of what this gathering has started.

Why is the Catholic Church moving away from just war theory? by Terrence Rynne:

The Catholic church’s ongoing move away from the just war theory as “settled teaching” to a more expansive call to proactive peacemaking has been made clear in a global conference scheduled for April 11-13 in Rome.

Sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International, the conference, “Nonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence,” is gathering educators and activists from all over the world, particularly from the global South. The precise purpose of the conference is to more fully develop a vision of nonviolence and just peace for the Catholic church.

Five reasons underlie this pivot to a positive vision of peace and a point of view that goes well beyond the just war theory:

  • Modern wars have made the just war theory obsolete;

    The rise of a Christology “from below”;

  • A clearer understanding of how the New Testament relates to contemporary problems;

  • A renewed appreciation of the way the early church practiced Jesus’ teachings on peace;

  • The compelling, thrilling saga of nonviolent action over the 60 years since Gandhi.

Read Rynne’s complete essay.


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