Pope Francis is giving "very strong recognition" to a landmark conference at the Vatican that called on the Church to reject its long-held teachings on just war theory, according to Cardinal Peter Turkson.
"He's adopted this topic . . . as the message of peace for next year," said the Cardinal. "We are giving a very strong recognition to the conference and to the things that were discussed and said there."
The Cardinal was speaking in an NCR interview on Monday in response to a question about the April event, which was co-hosted by his council and the peace group Pax Christi International.
Cardinal Turkson said the participants of the conference asked the Church to re-examine the concept of just war, first enunciated by fourth-century bishop St Augustine, and "slightly begin to move away from that."
He said that while just war teachings were first developed to make wars difficult or impossible to justify, they are now used more as conditions that allow violence to be used.
"My understanding is that it was initially meant to make it difficult to wage war because you needed to justify it," said the Cardinal. "This now has been interpreted these days as a war is just when it is exercised in self-defence . . . or to put off an aggressor or to protect innocent people."
The Cardinal continued: "In that case, Pope Francis would say: 'You don't stop an aggression by being an aggressor. You don't stop a conflict by inciting another conflict. You don't stop a war by starting another war'."