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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

The Narrow Path: From Just War to Nonviolence

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

photo of Pope praying over Vatican Square with a crowd

Drew Christiansen, S.J.
Boston College

Date: Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Time: 12:00-1:15pm
Location: Boston College, Boisi Center


Abstract: Thirty Years ago the U.S. Catholic bishops’ peace pastoral The Challenge of Peace educated the American public in the principles of the Just War. Less than a decade later, Pope John Paul II endorsed the example of the nonviolent resistance that overthrew Communist rule in Eastern Europe in both domestic and international affairs. Fr. Christiansen’s talk will explore how this transformation took place, what its ramifications have been on Catholic social teaching and engagement in world affairs, and its appropriation by the Catholic community.

headshot of Drew Christiansen

Drew Christiansen, S.J., is a visiting scholar in the Boston College Theology Department. In 2012 he retired as editor in chief of the national Catholic weekly America. From 1991–1998, he was director of the Office of International Justice and Peace of the United States Catholic Conference and continued to serve as counselor in International Affairs through 2004. He was the principal adviser on the U.S. bishops’ post–Cold War policy articulated in The Harvest of Justice Is Sown in Peace, as well as on their ecological programs, beginning with the environmental pastoral letter Renewing the Earth. He has taught ethics and peace studies at the Jesuit School of Theology and Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, and the University of Notre Dame. In January 2014 he will assume his new position as distinguished professor of Ethics and Human Development at Georgetown University. He is co-author of Forgiveness in Politics: An Alternative Road to Peace (USCCB, 2004) and more recently co-editor of Michel Sabbah Faithful Witness: On Peace and Reconciliation in the Holy Land (Holy Land Ecumenical Foundation, 2009). He has authored hundreds of articles and been published in more than a dozen foreign journals. He received his undergraduate degree from the seminary at Fordham University and his M.Div. and S.T.M. from Woodstock College before obtaining his master’s of philosophy and doctorate from Yale.

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In The News

Earlier this year, Bishop Robert McElroy spoke at Boston College about modern challenges to Catholic teachings on war and peace. Looking at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through a Catholic pacifist lens, Bishop McElroy warns that drones and preemptive wars are not defeating evil, but confirming it. On November 6 at the Boisi Center, Drew Christiansen, S.J., continued this conversation with a talk on the transition of Catholic teaching from just war to nonviolence.