The following essay was written by Dr. Terrence Rynne, who was one of the attendees of the April 2016 Nonviolence & Just Peace conference in Rome.
That Pope Francis consciously chose “nonviolence” as the theme of his message to the world on New Year ’s Day 2017, is in itself a powerful fact. The pope unabashedly pointed out that “nonviolence” is what Jesus taught and modeled and said, “To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence.”i The pope is signaling a true return to the sources for the Catholic Church: Sacred Scripture and the traditions of the early Church. Just as the return to the sources (ressourcement) by theologians such as Henri de Lubac, Yves Congar and Karl Rahner fueled the renaissance of Catholic theology and the magnificent documents of the Second Vatican Council so also today the pope is returning in a fresh way to the sources.
First, he is reading the Gospels attentively and finds his inspiration there. He says for example: “Jesus himself lived in violent times…But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach. He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their enemies and to turn the other cheek. When he stopped her accusers from stoning the woman caught in adultery and when, on the night before he died, he told Peter to put away his sword, Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence. He walked that path to the very end, to the cross.”ii Pope Francis is not using natural law theory as the basis of the Church’s teaching on war and violence, he is going straight to the Gospels. Continue reading Why Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message is such a breakthrough