Evangelii Nuntiandi 37: Violence Rejected

A careful aside in Paul VI’s narrative, which seems to go without saying:

37. The Church cannot accept violence, especially the force of arms- which is uncontrollable once it is let loose- and indiscriminate death as the path to liberation, because she knows that violence always provokes violence and irresistibly engenders new forms of oppression and enslavement which are often harder to bear than those from which they claimed to bring freedom. We said this clearly during our journey in Colombia: “We exhort you not to place your trust in violence and revolution: that is contrary to the Christian spirit, and it can also delay instead of advancing that social uplifting to which you lawfully aspire.”[ Paul VI Address to the Campesinos of Colombia (23 August 1968): AAS 60 (1968), p. 623] “We must say and reaffirm that violence is not in accord with the Gospel, that it is not Christian; and that sudden or violent changes of structures would be deceitful, ineffective of themselves, and certainly not in conformity with the dignity of the people.”[ Paul VI, Address for the Day of Development at Bogota (23 August 1968): AAS 60 (1968), p. 627; Cf. Saint Augustine, Epistola 229, 2: PL 33, 1020]

I confess I’m at a loss as to the inclusion of this. Not that I disagree with the pope’s assessment of violence as an uncontrollable and fruitless tool for change. Perhaps the Church needs to burnish its opposition to anarchy. Anarchy itself, detached from violence, may not be as much of a problematic tool as one might think.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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