Catholics and peacemaking

To mark the passing of Pope John Paul II, I want to pay tribute to the work much of the Catholic church did under his leadership in the field of peacemaking.
During Washington’s ever-more-ominous preparations to launch the fateful March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Pope spoke out repeatedly against the madness of war. See, e.g., here and here.
That latter link is to the text of an address the Pope made on January 13, 2003 to the diplomatic corps in the Vatican. In it, he said:

    “NO TO WAR”! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity. International law, honest dialogue, solidarity between States, the noble exercise of diplomacy: these are methods worthy of individuals and nations in resolving their differences. I say this as I think of those who still place their trust in nuclear weapons and of the all-too-numerous conflicts which continue to hold hostage our brothers and sisters in humanity. At Christmas, Bethlehem reminded us of the unresolved crisis in the Middle East, where two peoples, Israeli and Palestinian, are called to live side-by-side, equally free and sovereign, in mutual respect… And what are we to say of the threat of a war which could strike the people of Iraq, the land of the Prophets, a people already sorely tried by more than twelve years of embargo? War is never just another means that one can choose to employ for settling differences between nations. As the Charter of the United Nations Organization and international law itself remind us, war cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option and in accordance with very strict conditions, without ignoring the consequences for the civilian population both during and after the military operations.

I believe that John Paul’s firm stance that war “is always a defeat for humanity” was strongly informed by his own personal biography, since in his own younger years his own hmeland was ravaged by foreign armies and the wars between them. He knew whereof he talked.
(Unlike too many people in the United States today, who have no real idea of what war does to a homeland… This is both because the US has not known war in its own homeland since the civil war of the mid-19th century, and because too many Americans seem to lack the moral imagination to even try to think of what it’s like to live–as most Iraqis are nowadays forced to– without public security and with interruptions in vital services that pose a constant threat to public health and to the survival of many of the country’s physically weaker souls.)
Anyway, since I’ve been working all this week on the portion of my current book project that deals with Mozambique, I also wanted to share a little portion of the book that describes the signal role that the Rome-based Catholic lay organization Sant’ Egidio played in shepherding the 1992 General Peace Agreement which brought an end to 15 years of horrendous, extremely atrocious civil war inside that country.
(I have such deep admiration for our friends of Sant’ Egidio! I wish we Quakers were one-tenth as committed and as effective in our peacemaking! Oh well, we can all try to do our best, I guess.)
The following excerpt comes from Chapter 8, “Mozambique from war to peacemaking”:

    (quotation starts)
    How the conflict was ended
    As described above, the General Peace Agreement (GPA) of October 1992 was the fruit of a lengthy interaction between the two fighting parties that had been launched, though only very tentatively, with the peace feelers of 1988. A number of aspects of this negotiation were significant, including the following:

11 thoughts on “Catholics and peacemaking”

  1. I think I will follow Chris Hitchins lead on this pope;
    Violence comes in many forms besides the ‘government’ type. And much of it is hidden within code words that just perpetuate authority and wealth.
    Violence against a child in your care and protection is the worst form of betrayal. Those that do it, and the ones who knowingly protect them for ‘political’ reasons deserve neither mercy nor veneration. One (or two or three) good deed does not negate one (or two or three) crime.

  2. Helena: Raza, I am not “censoring” or “eliminating” you. You’re quite free to go start your own blog and post your thoughts into cyberspace from there.
    This one is my bandwidth. I have no clue what motivates you to keep coming back to JWN with your hostile, ad-feminam slurs and your hate-inciting Islamophobia, and I have zero interest in speculating about your motivations or your circumstances.
    Are you saying that my comments are unwanted because you don’t like them and can’t deal with them?
    If I raise the misogyny of Islam and Mohammad, how does that become ad-feminam?
    You keep on repeating your charges and name calling of “hatred, violent, ad feminam, etc.” without providing a shred of evidence. Could you not just say what you disliked, in your Saddam-like “eliminative” so-called just world? Or just like Saddam, you strike to instill eliminative fear and terror?
    And the obvious reason I post on your comment board is because of the falsehoods (such as Iraqis are “prevented” from forming a government) and other such contrafactual commentary that I see (e.g. Allawi to be damned, even though he is appointed by the elected parliament of Iraq). This blog is an insult to each and every middle easterner, myself being one, and a slap in the face of any free thinking and open minded person that values an unbiased, empirical and rational approach to complex issues.
    So if you wish to continue playing “eliminative discourse from a position of power” and continue to be intolerant – blacklisting and censoring those who you don’t like – then this is certainly not my place or the place of any freedom loving middle easterner.
    And I challenge you to explain to your readers what is wrong with blasting that decrepit religion Islam, or Islamism, as long as the rights of its indoctrinated followers are respected and guaranteed. So stop the nonsensical “Islamophobia” name calling and get on with the issue.
    Note: My IP address has been blacklisted by Helena (“just world” LOL) 2 times so far.

  3. Hmmmm,
    “open minded person that values an unbiased, empirical and rational approach to complex issues.” and you use the phrase ‘that decrepit religion Islam’.
    nothing like using your own words to prove you are NOT an ‘”open minded person that values an unbiased, empirical and rational approach to complex issues.”

  4. Oops, Yusuf, Freudian slip… wrong Pope… I’ll correct it a.s.a.p. Thanks for pointing that out!

  5. Helena, they just want you to close the Comments part. Please, don’t. We love your work, the work of a sensible but fact based soul; this is too uncommon to be lost.
    Btw, Everyone, please read those Hitchins usual half trues, you should notice the difference in magnitude.

  6. Note to the reader – running statistic – 3 times my IP address has been blacklisted without due explanation, 9 posts have been censored because Helena disagreed with the contents, and 4 posts have been allowed. This post is a repeat of deleted material.
    Tony – This has got to be the funniest, most eager nonsense I’ve read since Juan Cole’s famous “transcendent nationalism” in reference to Muqtada’s ill-fated and ill-conceived campaign back in 2003 (see his remarkably silly Le Monde Diplomatique piece at the time). You’ve just repeated that laughable line. Please get over yourself and your ideological premises (and all the [arab] nationalist mixed with Third Worldist undertones). It’s quite the silly spectacle.
    Beautifully said Tony.
    The problem that the nihilists and leftist-fascists have in their analysis of Iraq is that they deny that Iraqis (and by extension human beings) have aspirations besides power grabbing, ideological and opportunistic ruling on others, and cheap false nationalism (nationalism is better described as social egotism).
    For Helena, Iraqis or the socially conscious layers of their society have no desire to bring about civil society and inter-sectarian justice. History is simplisticially reduced down to grab for oil, cheap nationalism, anti-Americanism, and 3rd worldism.
    The progress the Iraqis are making in bringing about civil society must be condemened by the Cole-Cobban axis, as it eats away right at their ideological upbringing and biases, and also livelihoods and Entitle VIs. If there are no blood conflicts in Iraq, then who needs these “scholars”?
    For them, a thug carrying an AK-47 is a far more romantic and vivid expression of social justice, than all the liberties, elections, parliaments, constitutions, laws and institutions that an Iraqi civil society may ever achieve or require.
    Unlike what the piece implies, inter-sectarian political rivalries, in a civil setting, is the only way for Iraqis to reckon with their identity. This sad piece reflects – as us middle easterners like to say – “the camel who dreams of cotton seeds”. A lot of wishful thinking about religious, fascist, and opportunistic thugs to come together and rule over the civil and conscious segments of Iraqi society.
    Iraqis have made a conscious choice through their participation in the election that they prefer construction of a civil society over cheap cries of “gut independence”.
    Posted by Razavipour3 at 10. apr

  7. So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell
    Blue skies from pain
    Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
    A smile from a veil?
    Do you think you can tell?
    And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
    Hot ashes for trees?
    Hot air for a cool breeze?
    Cold comfort for change?
    And did you exchange a walk on part in the war
    for a lead role in a cage?

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