Lobelog - Pope Francis is on a roll. He has already roiled the waters of western thinking on economics and society by touching on the dangers of western capitalism drifting into socially destructive greed. He has now turned his focus to an even grander theme— the place of warfare in human life and the hallowed concept of a “just war.”
The conclave that the Pope is hosting in Rome is of exceptional importance to the international order. He is in the process of revising long-standing Catholic doctrine on war, and in particular, on the Christian concept of “just war.” The Vatican now suggests that “just war” has become an obsolete concept; that the massive predominance of civilian casualties in modern warfare undercuts the moral ground for conceiving of almost any war as just. He also perceives the need to eliminate the underlying causes of violence and war and to reintroduce the power of nonviolent action to the world—values that emerge out of the human community itself rather than from the preferences of ruling elites.
Now, nobody expects that war as human phenomenon is going to come to end any time soon. Sadly, war may reside in the deeper recesses of the human condition; in many ways we humans glory in war. But the fact that Pope Francis speaks of the obsolescence of the idea of “just war” suggests that times are shifting at the elite level. When a major bulwark of moral philosophy like the Catholic Church begins to shift, the signal cannot be ignored.