Pacifism Not a Panacea, Cautions Vatican Official

Bishop Crepaldi Addresses Conferees in Cuba

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CAMAGUEY, Cuba, NOV. 18, 2004 ( A representative of the Holy See addressed the 9th Catholic Social Week of Cuba to point up how «to build peace without utopias.»

Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, opened the working sessions of the meeting Wednesday with a talk on the «Mission of the Church in the Peaceful Solution of Conflicts in the Light of the Encyclical ‘Pacem in Terris.'»

The bishop explained the difference between being peaceful, pacifying and pacifist.

«Peace is the human richness proper to men of peace, to the ‘peaceful’ ones that Jesus talks about in the Sermon on the Mount: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,'» the Vatican aide said.

A «pacifist, on the contrary, is someone who mobilizes for peace and makes of it a social and political project. Pacifism is something good, but it can degenerate,» he cautioned.

«Pacifism without peaceful protagonists runs the risk of betraying the objective of peace. It can become an ideology, Manichean in its judgments and even intolerant,» he noted.

To illustrate his point, Bishop Crepaldi gave the example of John Paul II’s action, and mentioned a book by historian Andrea Riccardi, founder of Sant’Egidio Community, in which he wrote that «the Pope cannot be called a pacifist.»

«First of all, because he has always paid tribute to those who have given their lives for the salvation of the homeland,» the bishop explained.

«In the second place, because he has never condemned all wars in a single sense, but always and only war itself. He has often been the only one to remind humanity’s conscience of the many forgotten wars,» the prelate added.

«In the third place, because he has been one of the first to articulate hypotheses of appropriate forms of humanitarian intervention and insertion,» he pointed out.

«But above all, [John Paul II] cannot be numbered among the pacifists because of that wisdom of Christian realism, according to which, the only way to serve peace is not to seize it but to let oneself be conquered by it,» the Vatican aide told his audience.

«The wisdom of Christian realism knows very well that peace is a gift of God, rather than a human conquest,» he said. «The Church helps to surmount conflicts above all by forming peaceful and pacifying men.»

Cuba’s Catholic Social Week aims to reflect on peace and its foundations — truth, justice, love and freedom, as explained by Pope John XXIII in «Pacem in Terris.» The event ends Sunday.

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