Choosing Peace is an edited collection of essays, reflections, and testimonies of participants at the Conference on Nonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding and Commitment to Nonviolence, held in Rome between April 11 and 13, 2016.
The overarching theme of the book is nonviolence and just peace, their relationship to the gospel of nonviolence, and usefulness in the twenty-first century. A subtheme that refuses to go away, and the backdrop to the quest for nonviolence and just peace, is just war.
These themes turn on four distinct but related views on war and peace historically associated with Christianity, and in this book, the Catholic Church, namely: Pacifism, Just War, Total War and World Community. While some of these approaches are not the central focus of this book, Choosing Peace is a rich and rewarding contribution to the current debate on just peace and just war.
Over the years, the Catholic Church has emphasized pacifism while also defending just war under the rubrics of last resort, legitimate defense, and humanitarian intervention, among others. Choosing Peace perceives just war tradition as failing to orient itself convincingly in relation to underlying causes and conspicuous effects of war and other forms of violence across the globe. This has led a number of contributors to challenge the dominance of just war tradition: to raise doubts not simply about its response to these causes and effects, to questions about its legitimacy today, but more importantly, about the very logic of just war tradition. In recent years, these doubts have extended to the idea of discipleship itself in the 21st century. In general, Choosing Peace is not convinced any violent conflict today legitimizes just war, under whichever rubric.
Consequently, the book has attempted to redirect the attention of the Catholic Church away from just war to pacifist ideals characteristic of the life and teaching of Jesus, hence a sustained attempt to reinvigorate discipleship in accordance with the gospel nonviolence. However, it remains utopic in this quest, as demands of discipleship such as turning the other cheek might be unrealistic in the contexts sustained terrorist activity, to say the least. Moreover, its claim to spiritual and moral basis further complicates things.
"Book Review: Choosing Peace: The Catholic Church Returns to Gospel Nonviolence,"
The Journal of Social Encounters:
Available at: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/social_encounters/vol4/iss1/7