top of page

Challenging the Just War Theory

Pope Francis announces the theme for the 50th World Day of Peace (1st January 2017)

"Non-Violence: A Style of Politics for Peace"

This is the title of the Message for the 50th World Day of Peace


Violence and Peace are at the origin of two opposite ways to building society.

The proliferation of hotbeds of violence produces most serious negative social consequences.

The Holy Father sums up this situation in the expression: “A Third World War in Pieces”. Peace,

by contrast, promotes social positive consequences and it allows the achievement of real

progress. Therefore, we should act within what is possible, and negotiate ways of peace even

where they seem tortuous and impractical. Thus, non-violence can acquire a more com-

prehensive and new meaning. It will not only consist of desire, of moral rejection of violence,

barriers, destructive impulses, but also of a realistic political method that gives rise to hope.

Such a political method is based on the primacy of law. If the rights and the equal dignity of

every person are safeguarded without any discrimination and distinction, then non-violence,

understood as a political method, can constitute a realistic way to overcome arm conflicts.  In this perspective, it becomes important to increasingly recognize not the right of force but the force of right.

With this Message, Pope Francis wants to show a further step, a path of hope, appropriate to today’s historical circumstances. In this way, the settlement of disputes may be reached through negotiation without then degenerating into armed conflict. Within such a perspective the culture and identity of Peoples are respected and the opinion that some are morally superior to others is overcome. At the same time, however, it does not mean that one Nation can remain indifferent to the tragedies of another. Rather it means a recognition of the primacy of diplomacy over the noise of arms. Arms trade is so widespread that it is generally underestimated. Illegal arms trafficking supports not a few world’s conflicts. Non-violence as a political style can and must do much to stem this scourge.


The World Peace Day initiated by Paul VI is celebrated each year on the first day of January. The Holy Father's Message is sent to all Foreign Ministries of the world and it indicates the diplomatic concerns of the Holy See during the coming year.

bottom of page