France: Pax Christi France, Pax Christi International mourn the loss of Msgr. René Coste, former president of Pax Christi France
[NOTE: Pax Christi International mourns the passing of Msgr. René Coste, former president of Pax Christi France. We give thanks for his life, his witness to peace, and his teachings on the theology of peace which so influenced our movement and inspired peace practitioners all over the world.]
by Bishop Marc Stenger, Pax Christi France
1/5/18 - Sulpician priest and theologian, Msgr. René Coste was the general delegate and president of Pax Christi France from 1980 to 1997. He died in Paris on April 18, aged 96.
Msgr. Coste’s numerous academic writings and his life were all completely inspired by the Scripture-based conviction that peace forms the heart of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. This is why peace also plays a key role in ethics and spirituality. The peace that comes to us from God through Christ must have an impact on every aspect of social life. Most of all, Christians need to consider peace as the very content of salvation. They need to look on it as the synthesis of the Good News of God’s revelation to humankind or as God’s proposition for human happiness. Based on this theological fundamental, Msgr. Coste’s thinking developed as an affirmation of an ethical and spiritual requirement of nonviolence in the collective dimensions of social life that applied both to interpersonal and ecclesial links. In the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount, traditional Christian “just war” theology therefore needed to be replaced by the development of a non-violent Christian practice of conflict resolution. And once these new conceptions penetrate the Christian conscience, we can expect extraordinarily positive consequences for the future of peace.
As Cardinal Roger Marie Élie Etchegaray has written, the biblical concept of peace is “the most appealing concept in the Bible, the only one able to fill humankind with joy since it takes the whole person, body and soul, and makes him or her complete, intact, integral, in harmony with God, with other people, with himself, with the whole of creation. ”None of this, however, prevented the theology of peace -- for which it provided the basis -- from shriveling over the course of centuries and historical evolution down to the theology of the 'just war,'” as Msgr. Coste wrote. In his book, Théologie de la Paix (Theology of Peace), he examined the development of the concept to the beginning of the 20th century...