Cardinal Peter Turkson Headlines USD Conference on Just Peace Just War Dialogue

Monday, October 2, 2017

Cardinal Peter Turkson is the headline speaker Oct. 7 for a USD-hosted conference for Just Peace and Just War theorists to dialogue. Turkson's talk title is Cardinal Peter Turkson is the headline speaker Oct. 7 for a USD-hosted conference for Just Peace and Just War theorists to dialogue. Turkson's talk title is "Christian Nonviolence and Just Peace."

Cardinal Peter Turkson, a close, personal advisor to Pope Francis, will be the headline speaker for an important dialogue-focused conference the University of San Diego is hosting Oct. 6-7 in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice building.

The conference, "The Catholic Church Moves Toward Nonviolence? Just Peace and Just War in Dialogue," brings together Just Peace theorists and activists with leading military and Just War theorists to discuss war, peace, nonviolence and justice in the contemporary world. While much of the conference is limited to the participants, there are two talks in the Kroc IPJ Theatre that are open to the public.

Maria Stephan, director of the Program on Nonviolent Action at the U.S. Institute of Peace, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 on "The Nonviolent Option: The Power of Active Nonviolence." A response to Stephan's talk will be given by Maryann Cusimano Love, an associate professor of international relations at the Catholic University of America.

Cardinal Turkson, archbishop emeritus of Cape Coast (Ghana) and who in January was named by Pope Francis as the first prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, will speak at 7 p.m. Saturday on "Christian Nonviolence and Just Peace." San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy will introduce Cardinal Turkson.

The conference is co-sponsored by USD’s Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture (CCTC), the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies and the Kroc School’s Institute for Peace and Justice. Jeffrey Burns, PhD, director of the CCTC and assistant professor for San Diego’s Franciscan School of Theology, said Turkson’s appearance demonstrates USD’s dedication to its Catholic mission.

“We want to set the standard for Catholic universities,” Burns says. “To me, that means you want to have the most important thinkers coming to campus, the most important theorists on Catholic thought. Cardinal Turkson is an integral player in this Papacy. He was one of the most important people in the Pope’s ‘Laudato Si’ encyclical. He's someone Pope Francis trusts a great deal and he put him in charge of the new Dicastery, so to have a person of his stature on campus is very important.”

Bringing together experts from different sides of the issues is an equally vital element.

“One of our center’s tasks is to engage the Catholic intellectual tradition, so this takes a key element of that tradition, the Just War tradition, and asks the question ‘How does that apply to the modern world? Is it still useful or does it need to be modified in some way?” Burns says. “What the Center can do is bring diverse group of people together — not just one side or the other — into dialogue. It’s also an exploration of an important part of our Catholic tradition and it’s going to make a contribution to the larger discussion that’s going on in the Catholic Church right now.”

Burns references Pope Francis’ New Year’s speech and his peace message on nonviolence and it is seen as an encouraging sign. Turkson’s inclination toward nonviolence and peace gives his participation in this weekend’s conference at USD “a way of sharpening this discussion.”

Following Friday night’s talk, the bulk of the conference takes place Saturday with presentations, discussion and small-group reflections:

• A “Personal Narratives” session features DePaul University and Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service’s Ken Butigan, Pax Christi International Co-President Marie Dennis, Retired Col. Edward Barrett who is director of research at the U.S. Naval Academy’s Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership; and Air Force Academy Assistant Professor of Law, Lt. Col. Renee Salzmann. The session will be chaired by Father William Headley, CSSp, professor and inaugural dean for USD's Kroc School of Peace Studies.

• Presentations on “The Church and Nonviolence,” will be given by Father John Dear, a peace activist from the Diocese of Monterey, Calif; Marquette University Peace Studies Professor Terrence Rynne and University of St. Thomas (Minn.) Theology Professor Gerald Schlabach. Stephen Colecchi, director of the Office of International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will chair the event.

• “The Military Understanding of Peace” will be led by Col. David Barnes, professor of philosophy at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. The presenters are: Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Dunlap, a law professor at Duke Law School and executive director of its Center on Law, Ethics and National Security; Richard Love, a professor of peace and stability operations at the U.S. Army War College; and Col. James Cook, a professor and philosophy department head for the Air Force Academy.

• “Nonviolence and Just Peace,” closes out the conference’s day-long sessions. Eli McCarthy, director of justice and peace for the Conference of Superiors of Men and a professor at Georgetown University, and DePaul’s Ken Butigan will present. The session will be chaired by USD Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice Executive Director Andrew Blum.

A cross-section of faculty members representing various subject fields at USD are expected to attend, including: Florence Gillman, PhD, STD; John Halaka, PhD; Vidya Nadkarni, PhD; Lee Ann Otto, PhD; Reyes Quezada, PhD; Emily Reimer-Barry, PhD; Karma Lekshe Tsomo, PhD; Victor Carmona, PhD; Mark Woods, PhD and Joseph Chinnici, OFM from the Franciscan School of Theology.


A closing group wrap-up of reflections and dinner precedes Cardinal Turkson’s talk, which Burns anticipates, "will put an exclamation point at the end of the conference with his reflections."

The conference is an opportunity for both peace activists and military-connected individuals “to come away with a better sense of the other side,” Burns believes. “Is nonviolence workable? What difference would that make to someone teaching at the Naval Academy if they were exposed to this kind of thinking? Would they teach differently? Perhaps the peace person comes to understand that the military is really about peace and that the military are trying to defend innocent lives. How do you defend people who are innocent and still be subjected to all sorts of atrocities? What's the response? The peace person would say ‘let’s look at nonviolent ways before we go to violent ways.’ That would be a major shift if, all of a sudden, the discussion is about what can we do before we go to war? What can we do to change the situation?”

— Ryan T. Blystone

Register now for the public talks on Friday night by Dr. Stephan and Saturday night by Cardinal Turkson.

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies


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