Vatican II’s Teaching on Peace and War: A Contribution to Conciliar Hermeneutics
At the same time that Don Lorenzo Milani was most active and outspoken as an advocate for the poor and the marginalized, the Roman Catholic Church was undergoing its most significant transformation in four hundred years—one that would eventually renew the Church in its teaching, life and worship. It is noteworthy (to say the least), and perhaps prophetic, that Fr. Milani would publish his first book, Pastoral Experiences, in spring 1958,1 and that the newly elected Pope John XXIII would announce his intention to hold a worldwide “pastoral” council of the Roman Catholic Church only nine months later.2 Further, considering the substance of the Council’s teaching now, almost 50 years after its closing, it is striking that this advocate for peace who died in 1967 at the young age of only 44 was put on trial in 1965 for advocating “conscientious objection.” 3 That same year Pope John XXIII’s council would promulgate one of its most important documents, the “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” (Gaudium et Spes), wherein the legitimacy of conscientious objection was recognized.
KeywordsNuclear Weapon Conscientious Objection Pastoral Constitution Vatican Council Church Teaching
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