Cardinal Turkson: 'We do not stop war by starting another war'
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by Joshua McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
Pope Francis is giving "very strong recognition" to a landmark conference held at the Vatican last spring that called on the global Catholic church to reject its long-held teachings on just war theory, Cardinal Peter Turkson has said.
Turkson, the head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said the pontiff's decision to focus his message for World Peace Day in 2017 on nonviolent strategies to prevent and stop global violence was partly caused by the discussions at the conference.
"He's adopted this topic … as the message of peace for next year," said Turkson, referring to Francis. "We are giving a very strong recognition to the conference and to the things that were discussed and said there."
The cardinal was speaking in an NCR interview Monday in response to a question about the April event, which was co-hosted by his council and the Catholic peace group Pax Christi International.
Turkson said the participants of the conference asked the church to re-examine the concept of just war, first enunciated by fourth-century bishop St. Augustine, and "slightly begin to move away from that."
He said that while just war teachings were first developed to make wars difficult or impossible to justify, they are now used more as conditions that allow violence to be used.
"My understanding is that it was initially meant to make it difficult to wage war because you needed to justify it," said the cardinal. "This now has been interpreted these days as a war is just when it is exercised in self-defense … or to put off an aggressor or to protect innocent people."
Turkson continued: "In that case, Pope Francis would say: 'You don't stop an aggression by being an aggressor. You don't stop a conflict by inciting another conflict. You don't stop a war by starting another war.'"...
For more on the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, a project of Pax Christi International, click here.