Solutions to Violent Conflict

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The Pope’s Appeal to Conscience

In Catholic, Israel/Palestine conflict, Middle East on September 29, 2014 at 9:43 am

Patrick Gaffney, C.S.C.

In terms of media reporting, public debate, and partisan polemics, the recent conflict in Gaza can be characterized like its predecessors as a military confrontation and diplomatic poker game between Israel and Hamas. But on a deeper level this latest tragic chapter, like the others, belongs to a larger picture that is difficult to shrink down and fit into the vocabulary of the nightly news roundup.

CONFLICT AND CONSCIENCE


In order to understand the conflict in Gaza, one must understand this larger picture. Those who speak for this other dimension, this larger picture, do not compete in the same arena as politicians, diplomats and soldiers for whom war is a matter of winning or losing. Instead, these other voices engage the same pressing issues, but in a way that expands the boundaries of discourse from the immediate strategies at hand to a concern for and recognition of their fundamental human consequences.

This other dimension goes by different names. For the sake of brevity here I will call it conscience. By this, I am pointing to the reflective awareness of a law higher than national sovereignty, a source of moral discrimination that is not justified by ethnic or religious belonging, by party loyalty, by self-interest, by dominant power, or by collective desire. Read the rest of this entry »

Ethical Challenges of Global Zero

In Catholic, Nuclear disarmament on May 28, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Gerard F. Powers

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. Catholic bishops and other religious leaders have given much greater attention to the moral imperative of nuclear disarmament. But a gap exists in the ethical analysis needed to sustain this moral imperative. The quality of reflection on the ethics of nuclear use and deterrence needs to be matched by the development of an equally sophisticated ethics of disarmament.

Three issues exemplify this nuclear ethics gap.

First, an ethics of deterrence must be married to an ethics of disarmament. In their 1983 pastoral, The Challenge of Peace, the bishops proposed an “interim ethic” whereby nuclear deterrence could be morally acceptable if it is limited to deterring the use of nuclear weapons, is not based on achieving nuclear superiority, and is used as a step toward progressive disarmament. In 2013, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican foreign minister, seemed to question this conditional moral acceptance of deterrence, saying that the “chief obstacle to starting this work [on nuclear disarmament] is continued adherence to the doctrine of nuclear deterrence.”[1] Read the rest of this entry »

Catholic Universities and the Nuclear Threat

In Catholic, Nuclear disarmament on May 28, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Dome

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

Fifty-one years ago, Pope John XXIII issued his encyclical Pacem in Terris, which declared that “the arms race should cease” and urged that “all come to an agreement on a fitting program of disarmament.”

In revitalizing the Catholic voice first raised by Pope John, Catholic universities play a special role. We have an obligation to use our scholarly abilities to research and teach on the most pressing issues of life and death — including on the catastrophic power of nuclear weapons. We also have the opportunity to work in collaboration with the Bishops of our Church, the ethicists and academics from other universities, and with national security experts who’ve held the highest positions of responsibility in the United States government. Read the rest of this entry »

Moral and Spiritual Values for Nuclear Disarmament

In Catholic, Nuclear disarmament on May 28, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Margaret Pfeil

Over the last 30 years, the Catholic Church’s teaching on the morality of nuclear deterrence has developed in response to post-Cold War conditions, appealing to a vibrant, traditional value system.

In their 1983 pastoral letter, The Challenge of Peace, the U.S. bishops judged nuclear deterrence to be morally acceptable only as an interim step toward progressive nuclear disarmament. In 1997, the Holy See’s representative at the United Nations stated: “Maintaining nuclear deterrence into the 21st Century will not aid but impede peace. Nuclear deterrence prevents genuine nuclear disarmament. It maintains an unacceptable hegemony over non-nuclear development for the poorest half of the world’s population.”[1]

More recently, in an address to the high-level U.N. meeting on nuclear disarmament on September 27, 2013, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, named the doctrine of nuclear deterrence as the main impediment to a phased and verifiable process of nuclear disarmament. Read the rest of this entry »

What Next for Catholic Peacebuilding in South Sudan?

In Catholic, Peace, Sudan on April 20, 2011 at 3:57 pm

John Katunga

Religious institutions, especially the Anglican and Catholic churches, have played a leading role in peacebuilding in Sudan for decades. Their role in the process leading to South Sudan’s independence is the most recent example.

Through a process of dialogue called Kejiko I and II, the churches helped address divisions among political and military factions in the South. As the only significant functioning civil society institution in much of the country, the Church played a powerful role in facilitating the remarkably orderly and peaceful election and referendum processes. The churches also helped garner international engagement at key times in the process.

Just one indicator of the churches’ role: Besides its crucial humanitarian and development programs, Catholic Relief Services, one of the largest development agencies in Sudan, dedicated $4 million to peacebuilding in the 18 months leading up to the referendum, by far the largest peacebuilding program the organization has ever undertaken.

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Notre Dame Stands with Sudan

In Catholic, Peace, Sudan on April 20, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Kevin Dugan and Patrick McCormick

Last fall a delegation representing the Sudan Conference of Catholic Bishops visited the University of Notre Dame to reach out to the Catholic community in the United States. They came to seek help in assuring a peaceful outcome for the scheduled January referendum on the independence of South Sudan. They also brought their appeal to high-level U.S. officials in Washington.

Following the bishops’ visit to campus, the Notre Dame student senate unanimously agreed to sponsor a community-wide Stand with Sudan Rally that included a “Playing for Peace” basketball tournament hosted by the men’s lacrosse and basketball teams. Notre Dame’s president emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., gave the keynote address at the rally, calling for international engagement to avoid further violence and armed conflict. Here’s a video of highlights from the event and a story that appeared on the front page of the Notre Dame student newspaper, The Observer.

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