Drop the Just War Theory


Laity and religious meeting in Rome appeal to Pope Francis to share with the world an encyclical on nonviolence and just peace and for the church to no longer use or teach ‘Just War theory’

It was a joy for me to join eighty people from around the world meeting in Rome 11-12th April, 2016, to contribute to the important discussion ‘Nonviolence and Just Peace 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 continue advocating for the abolition of war and nuclear weapons’.

The statement of Appeal to the Pope also said:

‘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, priests and bishops from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania and the welcoming address was given by Cardinal Turkson of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who read a Statement from Pope Francis.

The Final Statement entitled ‘An Appeal to the Catholic Church to re-commit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence offers the visions and concrete proposals.

This was indeed a historic gathering and the participants made a brave and history-making call to Pope Francis and the Church. It calls upon Pope Francis to give strong spiritual Leadership to the world’s Christians and reject war for peace and nonviolence.

We are all conscious of the growing militarization of our societies and countries and the myth being perpetrated that militarism, nuclear weapons and war, are acceptable.

I hope that Pope Francis calls Catholics not to join the military and so reminds them that killing cannot be with Christ.

I believe the misguided age of ‘blessing wars, militarism and killing’ must become abolished and the responsibility lies with Pope Francis and religious/spiritual leaders to be true shepherds of Peace and Nonkilling/nonviolence following the command of Jesus to love our enemies and not kill each other.

I hope also that Pope Francis will unambiguously proclaim that ‘Violence is always wrong, it is not the way of Jesus’ and reject militarism thereby calling upon Catholics not to join armies and take up arms to kill people, thus becoming a true peace church.

The Appeal is now in the hands of Pope Francis, and we can now work, fast, pray, for an Nonkilling/Nonviolence Encyclical – and hope that Pope Francis will continue to show courage, be brave and bold, a true Prophet, a loving Shepherd and a bright light in these dark days for all the human family, which he has so rightly describes as ‘this unique and terrible world war in instalments’.

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Mairead Maguire is a Nobel Peace Laureate and a co-founder Peace People.

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