“I appeal forcefully to all those who sow violence and death by force of arms: in the person you today see simply as an enemy to be beaten, discover rather your brother or sister, and hold back your hand! Give up the way of arms and go out to meet the other in dialogue, pardon and reconciliation, in order to rebuild justice, trust, and hope around you!”—Pope Francis (World Day of Peace, 2014)
Our faith tradition offers an invaluable impetus to embody and risk peacemaking efforts even in the most violent situations. In Scripture, Jesus called us to love not only our friends but also those who seriously sin and who might be called enemies. His words should ring in our ears: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Pope Francis echoes these sentiments: “peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare.”
Our world continues to struggle with large-scale conflict in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Libya, Palestine and Israel, among other nations. Our nation cannot and must not ignore the suffering and violence in these nations. Yet instead of searching first for a military response amidst these conflicts, our nation should first attempt to find peaceful interventions. We’re not naive: we know our nation has a moral obligation to act in the face of violence. But we too know that peaceful intervention and diplomacy must always be the first step forward. The evidence is clear: peacemaking interventions work. Poignant examples include women play a vital role in peacemaking efforts amidst genocide and human trafficking in Liberia and South Sudan.
We echo the words of Blessed Pope Paul VI: “war never again! Never again war!” With war, people living in poverty suffer the most in terms of death, displacement, and disease. Pope Francis said “war is the negation of all rights and a dramatic assault on the environment;” and “justice can never be wrought by killing a human being.”
As Catholics who follow the way of Jesus, we are called to love our enemies–not to excuse injustice or violence–but to see them as children of God with dignity, value, and fraternity. As Francis tells us “the true force of the Christian is the force of truth and of love, which means rejecting all violence. Faith and violence are incompatible!”
Thus we support a robust commitment and strategy of creative, multi-level, and sustained diplomacy at all stages of conflict. We support increasing investment not only in poverty-focused development aid, but also in innovative, effective peacemaking programs, both domestically and abroad. We call for the United States to take steps to end our nuclear weapons program, to decrease military spending, and instead become a global leader in peacemaking and transformative justice.
Questions to Consider When Reading About or Listening to Candidates:
- What is each candidate’s approach to conflicts in other parts of the world? Does she or he talk about lessons learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
- How does each candidate talk about the role of diplomacy and peacebuilding in preventing conflicts? Do she or he promote investing in peacemaking programs?