Contra "Gospel Nonviolence"
This article was first published under the title “Pope Francis and the Pacifist Jesus” in the 13 January 2017 edition of Crisis Magazine: A Voice for the Faithful Catholic Laity. In his message on the occasion of the 50th World Day of Peace on 1 January 2017, Pope Francis called on humanity to adopt nonviolence as a “style of politics for peace.” You can read the full article here.
Continuing a tradition inaugurated in 1968, the Holy Father began his message by painting a picture of a “broken world” in which humanity finds itself “engaged in a horrifying world war fought piecemeal” – a world torn apart by wars, terrorism, crime, violence against women and children, abuse of migrants and victims of human trafficking and environmental devastation. By way of solution, the pope suggests a politics of nonviolence. Such a politics would begin with a purification of the heart, but would also entail the abolition of nuclear weapons, an ethic of fraternity and peaceful coexistence, a willingness to “face conflict head on” and resolve it, and a commitment to active peacebuilding at the local, national and international levels. Like many of the Holy Father’s public statements, his message for the 50th World Day of Peace embodies what is perhaps best characterized as “constructive ambiguity.” On the one hand, despite the efforts of an increasingly assertive Catholic pacifist movement to persuade him otherwise, Pope Francis said nothing in his message on the issue of Catholic Just War doctrine. He neither embraced nor condemned it, choosing to remain entirely silent on the topic. On the other hand, The Holy Father has clearly embraced one of the main planks of the new pacifist platform: “Gospel nonviolence.” While falling short of a full-throated endorsement of pacifism, this turn is nevertheless highly problematic; for it rests on a set of assumptions that are ultimately invalid, but that are likely to reinforce ongoing efforts to overturn settled church doctrine regarding when and how it is licit to used armed force.
What do I mean by this?... You can read the rest here.