Pacem In Terris 126-129: Signs of the Times

Do you think there was really a sense in the early 1960’s that diplomacy offered more in the settling of disputes than weapons of war?:

126. (People) nowadays are becoming more and more convinced that any disputes which may arise between nations must be resolved by negotiation and agreement, and not by recourse to arms.

It would be interesting to see how this may or may not have shifted over the past twelve years.

127. We acknowledge that this conviction owes its origin chiefly to the terrifying destructive force of modern weapons. It arises from fear of the ghastly and catastrophic consequences of their use. Thus, in this age which boasts of its atomic power, it no longer makes sense to maintain that war is a fit instrument with which to repair the violation of justice.

128. And yet, unhappily, we often find the law of fear reigning supreme among nations and causing them to spend enormous sums on armaments. Their object is not aggression, so they say—and there is no reason for disbelieving them—but to deter others from aggression.

129. Nevertheless, We are hopeful that, by establishing contact with one another and by a policy of negotiation, nations will come to a better recognition of the natural ties that bind them together as men. We are hopeful, too, that they will come to a fairer realization of one of the cardinal duties deriving from our common nature: namely, that love, not fear, must dominate the relationships between individuals and between nations. It is principally characteristic of love that it draws men together in all sorts of ways, sincerely united in the bonds of mind and matter; and this is a union from which countless blessings can flow.

It was this sort of optimism that colored the attitude of the bishops in the Vatican II documents. This optimism petered out by the end of the 60’s, perhaps just as the counterculture was also reaching its grim moment.

Another question to ponder in light of this: does an innate optimistic approach improve or sink our chances at a desired result? In other words, is talking and thinking tough needed? I suppose that when things go south, we can rest easier knowing low expectations have been met. On this point, it would be interesting to see what either of our 21st century popes would have written in terms of a follow-up to this document. What do you think?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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