Merton’s Perspective: Social justice teachings on war and peace
90 Minute Workshops ~ Saturday, August 20, 2022 – 9:45am – 11:15am
Workshop Level: Beginner*
NACC Certification Competencies: PIC3, PIC3.1, PIC3.2, OL4.1, OL5
Pamela Proietti MA, PhD/ABD, BA, BCC
Staff Chaplain, St. Paul Elder Services
About this workshop
More than four decades after he had written the manuscript for “Peace in the Post-Christian Era,” Merton’s prophetic Christian witness to the pacifist Christian tradition was finally published. Merton’s book had originally been banned from publication by the Roman Catholic Church authorities, in the belief that a monk should not be engaging in political discourse around controversial issues. Merton was extremely frustrated that his book about war and peace had been banned, while at the same time the writings of Machiavelli had not been denounced by church authorities.
Chaplaincy work is one small part of an all-encompassing duty as a human being and citizen to seek to promote the common good, both in our workplace and in our larger communities. Citizen liberty and personal freedom is often straightforward and easy to understand; understanding citizen duties requires a much deeper level of understanding. We see large numbers of adults, who believe that caring for themselves (exclusively) and their more immediate family members (sometimes) is their only duty to their local, national, and world-wide community. Likewise, many citizens similarly fail to understand their duties around government decisions concerning war and peace—and the use of destructive weapons of warfare. As chaplains, we have a moral obligation to our larger (perhaps even our global) community, as well as to our families, our employers, and all the people with whom we work. This workshop will examine those citizen and community duties regarding social justice, as understood by Thomas Merton and also by others within the Church.
As a result of this workshop, participants will:
- Describe the Catholic Church’s social justice teachings on war and peace.
- Illustrate the historical development of Catholic teaching, from the earlier “just war” theory of St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas to the modern debate around modern technological war–using far more destructive weapons, nuclear weapons in particular.
- Explain why Merton embraced a pacifist position on war and peace.
(recommended books, articles, or websites for participants to review prior to the workshop)
Merton, Thomas, Peace in the Post-Christian Era, edited with an introduction by Patricia Burton.
Just War Principles and Cases by Richard J. Regan
Thomas Merton: Prophet of Hope and Peace for the “Post-Christian Era” by Pamela Proietti
(items to be brought to the workshop and/or presentation materials)
August 20 NACC Conference Workshop Plan (agenda)
Thomas Merton On Hope And Peace
Just Conduct In War, Ch. 6 Of Just War Principles And Cases, By Richard J. Regan
War Ethics And Russia Invasion Of Ukraine