The Austrian branch of the Catholic nonviolence movement Pax Christi has called on Churches to speak out in this time of “exaggerated nationalism, contempt for humanity and racism” and when “the danger of war increases through militarism, armaments and arms exports”.
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Pax Christi Austria released a statement September 1 to mark the 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland and the start of World War II.
An occasion, the organisation said, that decades on is still “a warning for reconciliation, peace and justice”.
In the text, entitled “In Favour of a Just Peace and Nonviolence as a Priority Option”, the Catholic group insisted that “especially in view of current threats to peace, churches and Christians must make their voices heard”.
“Commemoration of the victims of World War II must also include the self-criticism of churches and Christians for their own historical failure”, Pax Christi Austria further warned.
“At the same time, lessons must be learned from history that must lead to a fundamental rethinking of the traditional Church doctrine of ‘just war'”, the Catholic organisation continued, calling on Church leaders to instead embrace the doctrine of “just peace”.
As to what that “just peace” doctrine should look like, Pax Christi Austria said it should include, at the least, “the rejection in principle of all nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, but also a clear rejection of violence as a means to resolve inter-state and international conflicts”.
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The organisation pointed to the “Catholic Nonviolence Initiative” launched by the Vatican and Pax Christi International as part of the necessary Catholic “priority option of nonviolence” that must permeate the Church but also wider society and politics.