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Vatican Social Compendium questions "preventive" wars

A major document from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has forcefully restated the Catholic Church's position that preventive wars are permissible only with "clear proof" of an imminent attack.

The position on war and peace, on legitimate defence and aggression was found in the new Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, a 330-page volume released this week by teh Council.

The chapter titled "The Promotion of Peace" makes no specific reference to Iraq, but defends the Charter of the United Nations, which prohibits a recourse to conflict to resolve disputes except in cases of legitimate defence backed by the UN Security Council.

The compendium calls terrorism "one of the most brutal forms of violence traumatising the international community today" and says people and countries have a legitimate right to defend themselves from it.

"However, this right cannot be exercised in the absence of moral and legal norms, because the struggle against terrorists must be carried out with respect for human rights...," it said.

The volume consists in an introduction and three parts: the first, made up of 4 chapters, deals with the fundamental presuppositions of social doctrine including God's plan of love for humanity and society. The second part encompasses themes of social doctrine such as the family, human work, economic life, the political community, the international community, the environment and peace. The third part, contains a series of recommendations for the use of social doctrine in the pastoral activity of the Church and in the life of Christians, above all the lay faithful.

Commission head Cardinal Renato Martino also says that the Church is putting forward the volume as an instrument to "nourish ecumenical and interreligious dialogue of Catholics with all those who sincerely want the good of mankind".

Vatican questions "preventive" wars (Reuters 25/10/04)
Social Doctrine: a guide for Catholics in today's globalized world ( 25/10/04)

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
Vatican denies electioneering with doctrine handbook (Irish Times 25/10/04)
Religious freedom at the centre of Catholic Social Doctrine ( 25/10/04)
Vatican issues handbook on church teachings; questions preventive war (Canadian Press/Associated Press 25/10/04)
Vatican questions "preventive" wars (Reuters 25/10/04)
Vatican issues volume on Church social teaching (Catholic World News 25/10/04)
Church's social doctrine must be known, lived, propagated (Vatican Information Service 25/10/04)

26 Oct 2004