6.14 Is it at all possible to have peace everywhere? Can I contribute? How should we react to genocide, dictatorship, annexation or arms trade?
Peace is more than just a balance of power between enemies: it is an enterprise of justice that involves all humanity. Humanly it may seem impossible that one day there will be peace in all the world. But the God of peace wants to be with us at this moment (Rom 15:33). Jesus wants to bring us his peace (Jn 14:27). We can indeed contribute to peace in the world, in the first place by spreading peace around us (Mt 5:9).
The defence of the weak, poor and marginalised is an essential Christian duty. So if standing up against genocide, dictatorship, annexation or arms trade can be seen this way, it is our duty to do so. We can even use an appropriate measure of violence. The main question is what means are acceptable: when is war justified, you could say? As war is always a defeat of humanity, we are all called to strive for a just peace[>M.1].
Why is legitimate defense not opposed to the respect for life?
Because in choosing to legitimately defend oneself one is respecting the right to life (either one’s own right to life or that of another) and not choosing to kill. Indeed, for someone responsible for the life of another, legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty, provided only that disproportionate force is not used [CCCC 467].
What is peace in this world?
Peace in this world, which is required for the respect and development of human life, is not simply the absence of war or a balance of power between adversaries. It is “the tranquility of order” (Saint Augustine), “the work of justice” (Isaiah 32:17) and the effect of charity. Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ [CCCC 481].
What is required for earthly peace?
Earthly peace requires the equal distribution and safeguarding of the goods of persons, free communication among human beings, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of justice and fraternity [CCCC 482].
The arms race wastes precious resources that could be better used to benefit the integral development of peoples and to protect the natural environment. In a world where millions of children and families live in inhumane conditions, the money that is squandered and the fortunes made through the manufacture, upgrading, maintenance and sale of ever more destructive weapons, are an affront crying out to heaven. A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere [Pope Francis, On nuclear weapons, 24 Nov. 2019].