In the early 4th century, Christianity went from being a persecuted fringe religion within the Roman Empire to being the state religion of the Empire. Among other things this led to the downplaying of Jesus’ teachings on (and practice of) non-violence – specifically, that we should love rather than kill our enemies.
This led to the development of a “Just War” theory which had no basis in the New Testament (NT). This soon became a ‘fig leaf’ justification of war whenever the government, king or revolutionary group decided to. Since then the vast majority of wars (and the subsequent killing therein) have not passed this standard – e.g. World War I, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq.
Here in Ireland we have recently commemorated (and indeed celebrated!) the 1916 Revolution as if Jesus’ teachings on non-violence never existed. A related article on this can be viewed at this link: https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=E43A86B816831CB5!841&authkey=!ANjNZamyPY9v0Ac&ithint=file%2cpdf When nationalism is involved, Jesus and the New Testament can’t compete and are quickly forgotten.
Recently however there was a Vatican conference on re-evaluating this whole subject. Here is the beginning of an article on the conference. If you want to read the entire article, click on the link at the end.
VATICAN CITY — The participants of a first-of-its-kind Vatican conference have bluntly rejected the Catholic church’s long-held teachings on just war theory, saying they have too often been used to justify violent conflicts and the global church must reconsider Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence.
Members of a three-day event co-hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the international Catholic peace organization Pax Christi have also strongly called on Pope Francis to consider writing an encyclical letter, or some other “major teaching document,” reorienting the church’s teachings on violence.
“There is no ‘just war,’ ” the some 80 participants of the conference state in an appeal they released Thursday morning.
“Too often the ‘just war theory’ has been used to endorse rather than prevent or limit war,” they continue. “Suggesting that a ‘just war’ is possible also undermines the moral imperative to develop tools and capacities for nonviolent transformation of conflict.”
“We need a new framework that is consistent with Gospel nonviolence,” say the participants, noting that Francis and his four predecessors have all spoken out against war often. “We propose that the Catholic Church develop and consider shifting to a Just Peace approach based on Gospel nonviolence.”
To view the entire article, visit http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/landmark-vatican-conference-rejects-just-war-theory-asks-encyclical-nonviolence