The Madness of War and the Weapons of the Spirit: The Catholic Church and Peace for Ukraine

Andrea Pin is Associate Professor of Comparative Public Law, University of Padua, and Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University.

The media that have been covering the Catholic Church’s handling of the war raging in Ukraine have often focused on two details. On the one hand, the Pope went to visit the Russian Ambassador to the Holy See in Rome a few days before tanks invaded Ukraine—a very unusual move for a Pontiff. On the other hand, the Church has so far avoided blaming Russia explicitly for the destruction of cities and the thousands of deaths in Ukraine. This silence, the story goes, would fit with the Catholic agenda. After the epochal meeting between the Moscow Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis that took place in Cuba in early 2016, the Vatican would try to avoid any attrition with the Russian Orthodox Church’s leader, who seems to support Putin’s invasion. Actually, there is more than what meets the eye.

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Dignitatis Humanae 2.0: Religious Freedom for the Good of All

In 2019, the International Theological Commission of the Catholic Church released the Declaration “Religious Freedom for the Good of All: Theological Approaches and Contemporary Challenges.” The Declaration studied the theme of religious freedom in the contemporary (more liberal, secular, pluralistic, and relativistic) world and offers an updated Catholic doctrine of this fundamental right developed in the 1965 Declaration Dignitatis Humanae.

This series offers a set of essays written from various perspectives—Catholic, Orthodox, and secular—and with different outcomes—more positive and supportive (Pin, Gas Aixendri, Künkler,and Stein), and more critical (Antonov and Patrick)—concerning both ideas and approaches articulated in the 2019 Declaration and its political implications.

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The Place of Religion in the Public Sphere: Speaking the Unspeakable

Andrea Pin is Associate Professor of Comparative Public Law, University of Padua,and Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law & Religion Emory University

[S]ecular societies …, when confronted by the tragedies related to the mortal condition of human life, open public spaces for religious celebrations and the symbolic expression of truths. In the face of disasters that wound the civil community, the steadfastness of religious resistance to the nihilism of death appears to all as a fortress protecting the irreplaceable nature of humanity. Those affected in families and communities where justice seems inaccessible and human resources impotent do not lose hope. It is a hope that can only be assured by the justice and the love of the Creator. In such cases, the theme of man’s final destiny becomes also a public question.

Above is an excerpt from paragraph 47 of Religious Freedom for the Good of All – Theological Approaches and Contemporary Challenges, a document issued by the International Theological Commission of the Catholic Church in April 2019. It gets as close to prophesy as anything can.

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