Bruce Kent, Vice President of Pax Christi and CND summarises the key elements of current Catholic teaching on war and peace

The Church’s social teaching views peace as much more than simply the absence of war.  Peace making is viewed as a positive activity: “the fruit of anxious daily care for justice” (Pope Paul VI). Church teachings represent a challenge to many contemporary attitudes and assumptions.

The Church’s line is clear – “War is not inevitable and should, apart from the immediate right of self defence within strict  ‘just war limits, have no place in the resolution of conflict today. We should work through the United Nations and use all the other nonviolent methods available to resolve conflicts. The rights of conscientious objectors must be respected.”

On the most destructive of all weapons the Church declares that the actual use of nuclear weapons would be ‘a crime against God and man’ – though deterrence may on a temporary basis be tolerated while active steps are taken to eliminate all such weapons of mass destruction.

The Church describes the arms trade as ‘a serious disorder’ highlighting the disparity between global military expenditure and the real needs of the poor as a scandal.

The Church calls us all to be peacemakers, building a culture of peace based on justice, which is central to the message of the Gospel.


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