The Catholic Church Moves Towards Nonviolence? Just Peace Just War In Dialogue

USD Conference

October 6-7, 2017

In April 2016 a conference on “Just Peace and Nonviolence” held in Rome and sponsored by Pax Christi International and the Pontifical Institute for Justice and Peace, took a hard look at Catholic teaching on nonviolence, peace, and war. The conference’s final “Appeal” called for creative engagement with nonviolent methods in resolving world conflicts and suggested a possible abandonment of the just war theory.

Critical discussions are underway within the Catholic Church, encouraged by Pope Francis, that suggest the Catholic Church is considering a major change in endorsing Nonviolence and Just Peace. Pope Francis’ New Year’s Peace message was seen by many as a breakthrough in this regard, and was hoped to be a precursor to an encyclical on the topic.

The main intent of the conference, The Catholic Church Moves Towards Nonviolence? Just Peace Just War In Dialogue, is to engage peace activists and theorists in dialogue with military theorists and educators on this important topic. Our basic assumption is that both groups are committed to peace, but ask, is there any common ground? Common language? We hope both sides will challenge one another with their concerns and visions, resulting in a deeper understanding of one another’s vision and method. Can nonviolence work? Is armed conflict the only solution to world conflicts? What is the best way to peace? Is the just war theory still of value?  If a major paradigm shift occurs in the Catholic Church’s understanding of Just War, we hope this exchange will help refine the argument.  

Conference Attendees:

  • Cardinal Peter Turkson, Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development
  • Bishop Robert McElroy, Diocese of San Diego
  • Col. David Barnes, U.S. Military Academy, West Point
  • Col. Edward Barrett, USAFR (Ret.), US Naval Academy, Stockdale Center
  • Andrew Blum, Institute for Peace and Justice, Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego 
  • Ken Butigan, DePaul University, Pace e Bene 
  • Stephen Colecchi, USCCB 
  • Col. James L. Cook, United States Air Force Academy
  • Father John Dear, Peace Activist, Diocese of Monterey 
  • Marie Dennis, Pax Christi International 
  • Maj. Gen. Charles Dunlap, Jr., USAF (Ret.), Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, Duke Law School 
  • Father William Headley, Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego
  • Maryann Cusimano Love, Catholic University of America 
  • Richard A. Love, U.S. Army War College
  • Eli S. McCarthy, Conference of Superiors of Men, Georgetown University
  • Terrence Rynne, Marquette University 
  • Lt. Col. Renee Salzmann, United States Air Force Academy
  • Gerald Schlabach, University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) 
  • Maria Stephan, Program on Nonviolent Action, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Mark Woods, Department of Philosophy, University of San Diego

If you are a USD Faculty that wishes to participate as a Faculty Observer, please visit the registration page to reserve your spot.

Although this conference is open to invited participants only, the following lectures will be free and open to the public:


Maria Stephan - "The Nonviolent Option: The Power of Active Nonviolence"

Friday, October 6, 2017

7:30 p.m.

Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice Theatre

All are welcome to hear Maria Stephan, Program on Nonviolent Action, U.S. Institute of Peace, speak on "The Nonviolent Option: The Power of Active Nonviolence." Perspectives will also be provided by Maryann Cusimano Love.

Reception to follow. 

To RSVP, please visit the registration page.

About Maria Stephan 
Dr. Maria J. Stephan directs the Program on Nonviolent Action at the U.S. Institute of Peace, which focuses on applied research, training and education and informing policies and practice related to civil resistance, nonviolent action and their roles in transforming violent conflict and advancing just peace.


Cardinal Peter Turkson - "Christian Nonviolence and Just Peace"

Saturday, October 7, 2017

7:00 p.m.

Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice Theatre

All are welcome to hear Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect, Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, speak on "Christian Nonviolence and Just Peace." Cardinal Turkson is a close advisor to Pope Francis. 

Cardinal Turkson will be introduced by Most Reverend Robert McElroy, bishop of San Diego.

Reception to follow. 

Space will be limited. To RSVP, please visit the registration page.

About Cardinal Peter Turkson
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Archbishop emeritus of Cape Coast (Ghana), has been the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace since 2009. Pope Francis named him the first prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, which began operations on January 1, 2017.

All events are co-sponsored by the Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture, the Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice.