Gaudium Et Spes offered several denotations of peace: a peace of the heart, flowing from our relationship with God in Christ; a peace of restored harmony in the creation (the Isian vision of shalom); the peace of tranquillitas ordinis. All of these are legitimate Christian undersandings of the richly textured reality of “peace.” But the document would have been strengthened by more carefully deleating the relationship among these three meanings of “peace,” and by more stringingly considering the relationship of the “peace of Christ” and shalom to the peace of tranquillitas ordinis. That they are related is not in doubt; but the question of how is very much part and parcel of moral judgement in this time between Easter and the coming of the Kingdom in its fulness.

(George Weigel, p. 102 Tranquillitas Ordinis: The Present Failure and Future Promise of American Catholic Thought on War and Peace Oxford UP, 1987).

It’s amusing — much of the exchange between scholars at the time of the Council over this document, and its implications for just war debate, mirror the combox conversations between Catholic bloggers today. Even then, you had the same debates: James Douglass understood GeS through the lens of pacifism, hoping it would “bring down the curtain on just war doctrine” in “unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.”

Just war theorist Paul Ramsey differed in his assessment, believing the document to have “vindicated just war theory in its grandest dimensions: the effort to relate power, proportionate use of force, and political community to each other in a morally and rationally sound way.” [Weigel, p. 99].

Things never change.

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