Institute on Religion and Democracy Press Release
April 14, 2016
Contact: Jeff Walton office: 202-682-4131, cell: 202-413-5639, e-mail: jwalton@TheIRD.org
“However likely to fail, Providence takes seriously such efforts to undermine a Christian intellectual tradition that has helped maintain the Church’s witness to justice, order, and peace.”
-Marc LiVecche, Managing Editor of Providence: A Journal of Christianity and American Foreign Policy
Washington, DC—Roman Catholic groups are participating in a conference underway in Rome, Italy this week that is being described by some participants as an opportunity to overturn the Catholic church’s long-held view of the just war tradition as established teaching.
Co-sponsored by Pax Christi International, the Catholic Peacebuilding Network, and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the conference is themed “Nonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence”. Evangelical Left group Sojourners is also a participant.
Providence: A Journal of Christianity & American Foreign Policy posted the first of an expected series of responses to the conference.
Early indications suggest some participants’ aspirations are overreaching. Addresses delivered to the conference by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and by Pope Francis himself, cohere to familiar just war sentiments and leave no suggestion that fidelity to the tradition is an open question. Indeed, such efforts against the just war tradition are nothing new. The distinguished just war historian James Turner Johnson, a Providence contributing editor, suggests “this is just the latest event in an effort that has been going on for quite some time.”
In his post on providencemag.com, Johnson touches on the deep history of the efforts of a “loud and persistent minority faction who wants to dump [just war] as the official doctrine and replace it with something else that is essentially anti-war.”
The Rome conference, following a line already taken in Mainline Protestantism, serves to underline the importance of Providence’s editorial commitments. As Johnson notes, “getting both just war and Niebuhrian realism back on the table for American Protestantism would be an important aim for any discussion that might take place in Providence.”
Marc LiVecche, Providence Managing Editor commented:
“However likely to fail, Providence takes seriously such efforts to undermine a Christian intellectual tradition that has helped maintain the Church’s witness to justice, order, and peace – vital goods of the political community without which no other goods, such as freedom and life, can long endure. The just war tradition, in avoiding the cynical and sentimental errors of realism and pacifism respectively, aims at just such a biblically-grounded conception of human flourishing, neighbor-love, and political responsibility.”