Concluding reflection – Called to be Peacemakers

There are technological shifts in the way that people fight and kill one another but the principles of Catholic social teaching remain consistent.

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Our world has changed significantly since Pope Benedict XV denounced the massacres of the First World War, a conflict characterised by rapid developments in military technology, including the first widespread use of tanks, aerial warfare and poison gas.

So too has it changed since Pope Pius XII condemned the use of nuclear weapons to destroy whole cities at the end of the Second World War. In the coming years, we will inevitably continue to witness further shifts in the way that people fight and kill one another.

Nevertheless, the principles of our faith remain consistent, and the Catholic social teaching set out here provides an important guide as we navigate these developments. Pope Francis explains that while Jesus himself lived in violent times, he offered a radically countercultural approach: “He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their enemies (Matthew 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39). When he stopped her accusers from stoning the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), and when, on the night before he died, he told Peter to put away his sword (Matthew 26:52), Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence. He walked that path to the very end, to the cross, whereby he became our peace and put an end to hostility (Ephesians 2:14-16).”100

Catholic contributions to public life are an important aspect of what Pope Pius XI called “social charity”.101 More recently, in his encyclical on social friendship, Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis called for a “better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good” and for a “renewed appreciation of politics as a ‘lofty vocation’”.102 All people of goodwill can respond to the call of Pope Francis, in a way appropriate to their situation, and thus make their contribution to making the world a safer place.

We therefore have an obligation to promote nuclear disarmament, to challenge the arms trade, and to encourage restrictions on the creation of ever more destructive military technology. Of course, Jesus’ call for us to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9) goes far beyond such issues and we must also remain conscious of the impact that weaponry has on wider questions of peacebuilding and international relations.

There are many practical ways that Catholics throughout England and Wales advance this mission: joining organisations working for justice and peace, engaging our political representatives to ensure that they are held to account, bringing these conversations into our parishes and schools, or taking part in public displays of support for peace. We hope that this document will inform and inspire people to build upon the rich history of Catholics working towards peace and disarmament.

Let us be inspired in all these endeavours by the prayer of Pope Francis:

“Lord, God of Abraham, God of the Prophets, God of Love, you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters.

“Keep alive within us the flame of hope, so that with patience and perseverance we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. In this way may peace triumph at last, and may the words ‘division’, ‘hatred’ and ‘war’ be banished from the heart of every man and woman.

“Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands. Renew our hearts and minds, so that the word which always brings us together will be ‘brother’, and our way of life will always be that of: Shalom, Peace, Salaam! Amen.”103


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100 Pope Francis, Message for the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2017.

101 Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno [88; 126], 1931.

102 Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti [154; 180], 2020.

103 Pope Francis, Invocation for Peace, 8 June 2014.