The Heaviness of Just War | USIH
First, as the organizers of this conference well-know, there has been a vigorous contest over interpreting and applying just war doctrine by American Catholics, from Dorothy Day and John C. Ford, S.J., in World War II, through Gordon Zahn in the early Cold War, the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference after Vietnam, and more recently Andrew Bacevich. This debate owes a debt to Pax Christi as well, for consistently advocating non-violent resolution to conflicts since 1945.
Second, the rub for changing the calculus of the just war doctrine is disentangling it from justifying rather than preventing war. Conference organizers declared: “After more than 1,500 years and repeated use of the just war criteria to sanction war rather than to prevent war, the Catholic Church, like many other Christian communities, is rereading the text of Jesus’ life and re-appropriating the Christian vocation of pro-active peacemaking.” But the prospect of upending the historical use of just war reveals the heaviness of the term.