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September 07, 2013
The Use of Force: Fasting and Prayer
Pope Francis issued a letter on September 4 addressed to President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation who is hosting the G20 that has gathered at St. Petersburg for their periodic summit. [the letter is HERE]
The Holy Father follows the efforts of his predecessors of modern times beginning with Benedict XV (who was the Roman Pontiff during the First World War) who have exhorted the pursuit of peaceful means of resolving disputes—even disputes commenced by tyrants. It is important to recognize the international juridical elements of their pleas and how these Vicars of Christ, including Francis, emphasize uniform elements in their respective requests and pleas geared to avoiding the use of force. Their counsel brings a different dimension to the so-called Just War theory.
Interestingly, Pope Francis begins with a short discussion about economic issues, but as Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have emphasized in a number of their respective annual World Day of Peace messages, economic issues have a direct role in the stabilization of peace or its disruption.
A second important element—a point emphasized by both Benedict XV and Pius XII in their respective interventions during the two world wars—is to search for and use peaceful means for resolving disputes, for they have a far better hope of maintaining a just peace than does the use of force.
A third point follows: Francis, like his predecessors, is not naïve about the use of force and its existence and practice in the contemporary age. Therefore, if force is regrettably used, all efforts must be exercised to ensure that those adversely affected by any use of force or military conflict be protected with the necessary humanitarian aid so those who are the victims of the use of this force will suffer minimally, if at all.
In the meantime, those of us who are able to do so are encouraged to fast and pray for the wisdom of God which is the most effective means of resolving disputes and of promoting a lasting reconciliation.