In this age which boasts of its atomic power, it no longer makes sense to maintain that war is a fit instrument with which to repair the violation of justice. But the speakers found that other themes in the encyclical provided even more radical foundations for church teaching and practice today, 50 years after its issuance.
In passing, the Vatican had scheduled a major international symposium on the 50th anniversary of Pacem in Terris this March, Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told NCR April 10, but when Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation effective at the end of February, in light of the imminent conclave and election of a new pope, the council postponed that symposium until October. Both the Catholic University conference April and the Georgetown gathering April 12 sought to situate Pacem in Terris historically -- in theological terms, for example, it marked a major shift in papal teaching from reliance on classical scholastic categories of natural law to a more inductive approach based on the signs of the times.
Pope Paul would advance the approach in with his major social encyclical, Populorum Progressio. Some would argue that more recent social encyclicals like John Paul II's Laborem Exercens and Centesimus Annus or Benedict XVI's Deus Caritas Est and Caritas in Veritate have represented something of a return to more classical theological categories like natural law -- which spoke less of intrinsic human rights and more of human duties -- and have given a more conservative take on many of the Catholic social teachings raised by John XXIII and Paul VI.
Hehir noted that one of the interesting features of Pacem in Terris is its constant linkage of human rights with duties -- that even the most absolute of rights entails duties as well. His email address is jfilteau ncronline.
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Pacem in Terris
Experts: 'Pacem in Terris' had radical impact on church teaching. Apr 18, This story appeared in the April May 9, print issue under the headline: Experts say Pacem in Terris had radical impact on church teaching. Join the Conversation Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Enter your email address to receive free newsletters from NCR. Email address.
Pacem In Terris - Papal Encyclicals
Yet when one reads John XXIII's description of that ''public authority, having worldwide power and endowed with the proper means for the efficacious pursuit of its objective,'' one recognizes that today there is another claimant to the role: the United States. This claim may be unacknowledged.
It emerges less from words than from the logic of the war on terror and the promulgation of military doctrines many see as little short of global police powers. But the half-explicit, half-implicit claim of the United States to global authority has also been at the center of the recent drama. What has galvanized opinion in other parts of the world, however painful or unfair it may seem to Americans, is not just the potential threat of Iraq but also the potential threat of the United States.
John XXIII saw such a problem 40 years ago when he warned that the world authority he envisaged ''must be set up by common accord, and not imposed by force'' or assumed on the basis of military or economic superiority. Effective global power had to be exercised with ''sincere and real impartiality'' rather than as ''an instrument of one-sided interests. Underlying ''Pacem in Terris'' was another conviction pertinent to the current drama: Peacemaking was a gestalt -- a total configuration of endeavors that encompassed disarmament, human rights, economic development, sensitivity to the dignity of weaker nations and, John XXIII would doubtless add today, environmental protection and the campaigns against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
PACEM IN TERRIS (1963) – Pope John XXIII
It may have been a weakness that the pope did not rank in importance these multiple aspects of peacemaking, or address the problem of resolving conflicts among them. But in insisting that they all went together, he was presaging much of the current conflict. Religious leaders, no less than political ones, have raised this or that objection to a war in Iraq.
But in both cases, as well as in the opposition revealed in public opinion polls around the world, what seems to be driving the resistance is a gestalt much like the one ''Pacem in Terris'' emphasized 40 years ago: in this instance, the total pattern of American policy. Please upgrade your browser.
Pacem in Terris
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Plausibility of any one scenario is hardly the point; instead it is safe to say it seemed to many of the participants that the very idea of nuclear war or catastrophe is once again tangible, as it was not so long ago. We need to make sure that these nations and their leaders are brought to international dialogue, to further establish the fact that the usage of nuclear weapons should be strictly forbidden—and moreover, that we should cooperatively and collectively work to abolish their existence.
Alexei Georgievich Arbatov, a participant at the conference, suggested that civilization itself is now measured by its ability to destroy itself—harkening to the idea that technocratic weaponry is virtually our highest achievement, and something plausibly which we could lose control over. Civilization itself, and indeed the progress by which we measure it, needs to be situated around integral development.
Pacem In Terris
This includes relief from material poverty, care for our common home, and a special eye for those on the margins, including victims of war as well as migrants. The signs of his time are in fact the same in ours. Related Catholic Church and the World.