recently heard a panel discussion in which the conversation turned to the sorry
state of American political discourse, which too often descends into
sloganeering--assertions about "smaller government," "equal rights," "personal
responsibility" or "liberty," as if that ends the discussion.
Though some of his admirers may find it difficult to believe now,
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was not widely known in the years immediately
following World War II, save perhaps as one of a band of courageous
pastors and theologians in Germany who resisted the Nazi regime of Adolf
A three-day Vatican conference last month called on the Catholic Church to rethink its commitment to just war theory. The theory too often provides a justification for war, the conference’s final document says, arguing that the just war approach gets in the way of exploring nonviolent resolutions. “We propose that the Catholic Church develop and consider shifting to a Just Peace approach based on Gospel nonviolence,” the document says. Conferees said that the destructiveness of modern warfare and the effectiveness of nonviolent means of peaceful resolution have made the theory, which goes back to Augustine and Aquinas, outdated. “Jesus is our inspiration and model,” they state. “Neither passive nor weak, Jesus’ nonviolence was the power of love in action” (National Catholic Reporter, April 14).