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TRANSCENDING JUSTICE: Pope John Paul II and Just War

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Pope John Paul II's opposition to the Iraq War was not that it failed to meet the conditions of Just War Theory. Indeed, we cannot tell from what he publicly said whether he thought it met those conditions or not, for he would have opposed it in any case. His thinking was rather that even just and necessary wars always come, as it were, too late, and are never able to solve the problems that made wars just and necessary. He was not trying therefore to enter into the details of Just War Theory. He wanted to subsume the principles of war into the principles of peace and to do so, not by denying justice, but by transcending it with charity. This article shows how this thinking is to be understood and the many means the Pope devised for putting this thinking into practice.

Keywords: Iraq War; Just War Theory; charity; war and peace

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Publication date: June 1, 2011


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