A Just Peace Ethic Primer

Building Sustainable Peace and Breaking Cycles of Violence

Eli S. McCarthy, Editor

"It is a book that deserves to be read, and when and where possible discussed by peacemaking groups here in the U.S. and around the world."
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The just peace movement offers a critical shift in focus and imagination. Recognizing that all life is sacred and seeking peace through violence is unsustainable, the just peace approach turns our attention to rehumanization, participatory processes, nonviolent resistance, restorative justice, reconciliation, racial justice, and creative strategies of active nonviolence to build sustainable peace, transform conflict, and end cycles of violence. A Just Peace Ethic Primer illuminates a moral framework behind this praxis and proves its versatility in global contexts.

With essays by a diverse group of scholars, A Just Peace Ethic Primer outlines the ethical, theological, and activist underpinnings of a just peace ethic.These essays also demonstrate and revise the norms of a just peace ethic through conflict cases involving US immigration, racial and environmental justice, and the death penalty, as well as gang violence in El Salvador, civil war in South Sudan, ISIS in Iraq, gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, women-led activism in the Philippines, and ethnic violence in Kenya.

A Just Peace Ethic Primer exemplifies the ecumenical, interfaith, and multicultural aspects of a nonviolent approach to preventing and transforming violent conflict. Scholars, advocates, and activists working in politics, history, international law, philosophy, theology, and conflict resolution will find this resource vital for providing a fruitful framework and implementing a creative vision of sustainable peace.

Table of Contents

A Fertile Moment: Context and Scope
Eli S. McCarthy

Part I. Framing Essays

1. A "Manual" for Escaping Our Vicious Cycles: Practical Guidance from the Sermon on the Mount for a Just Peace Ethic
Gerald W. Schlabach

2. Catholic Tradition on Peace, War, and Just Peace
Lisa Sowle Cahill

3. Just Peace Ethic: A Virtue-Based Approach
Eli S. McCarthy

Part II. US Domestic Cases

4. Just Peace, Just Sanctuary: Immigration and Ecclesial Nonviolence
Leo Guardado

5. Environmental Justice: May Justice and Peace Flow Like a River
Nancy M. Rourke

6. Becoming Authentically Catholic and Truly Black: On the Condition of the Possibility of a Just Peace Approach to Anti-Black Violence
Alex Mikulich

7. Ending the Death Penalty in the United States: One Step toward a Just Peace
Daniel Cosacchi

Part III. International Cases

8. Making Just Peace Possible: How the Church Can Bridge People Power and Peace Building
Maria J. Stephan

9. Living Just Peace in South Sudan: Protecting People Nonviolently in the Midst of War
Mel Duncan and John Ashworth

10. Addressing Gang Violence in El Salvador: Envisioning a Just Peace Approach
José Henríquez Leiva

11. ISIS and Ezidis: Using Just Peace Approaches
Peggy Faw Gish

12. Making Just Peace a Reality in Kenya: A New "Flavor" to Peacebuilding
Teresia Wamũyũ Wachira

13. Virtue-Based Just Peace Approach and the Challenges of Rape as a Weapon of War: The Case of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Léocadie Lushombo

14. Women Count for Peace: Women's Engagement in Track II Diplomacy of the Mindanao Peace Process
Jasmin Nario-Galace

Conclusion and Next Steps
Eli S. McCarthy

About the Contributors



"It is a book that deserves to be read, and when and where possible discussed by peacemaking groups here in the U.S. and around the world."—The Englewood Review of Books

"This wonderful collection of many young but already recognized international authors is yet another indication of Eli McCarthy's clear leadership in spreading the news of a just peace. McCarthy courageously and wisely helps us to teach this lesson with this genuinely engaging primer, perfect for course adoption."—James F. Keenan, SJ, Canisius Professor and director of the Jesuit Institute, Theology Department, Boston College

"Students often say that nonviolent peacemaking is unrealistic. I will now assign McCarthy’s stellar volume to test their doubts. These essays demonstrate convincingly that active nonviolence is a practical response to the conflicts roiling our communities. I’m confident that my students will end-up reconsidering their skepticism."—Ki Joo Choi, Associate Professor of Theological Ethics and Chair, Department of Religion, Seton Hall University

"Using actual case studies, these authors write from their own lived experience and outline concrete spiritual and ethical practices that have been proven in some of the world’s most horrific contexts to bring about peace, joy, and harmonious living. This is a 'must read' for serious Christians, and all people of good will who long for deep peace. This 'gem' would make an ideal textbook for college, university, seminary, and graduate theology courses, as well as adult formation groups."—Dawn M. Nothwehr, OSF, The Erica and Harry John Family Endowed Chair in Catholic Theological Ethics, Catholic Theological Union

"The authors contribute skillfully to ancient debates concerning the relationship between peace, violence, and war in Christian theological ethics while addressing crucial issues influencing the prospects for a just peace in the twenty-first century: migration, ecology, anti-blackness, and sexual violence. Attentive to the striving for a just peace among communities worldwide today, this volume will inspire readers to imagine a new agenda for subverting systems of violence both in the United States and around the world."—Nichole M. Flores, assistant professor of practical ethics, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

"For too long, Christian arguments over war and peace have been locked into stalemates which depend on stereotypes, yielding much heat but little light. In the essays of this volume, we find in just peace a robust, theologically-grounded, and empirically-nuanced account of peacemaking which invites Christians everywhere to take the Gospel peace of Jesus seriously."—Myles Werntz, T.B. Maston Chair of Christian Ethics, Logsdon Seminary, Hardin-Simmons University

"This book is a timely initiative in our world that is dominated by a militarized approach to peace and conflict, whether in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, or the Middle East. Conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Israeli-Palestine, South Sudan and many others demonstrate to us that violence begets more violence. The authors in this book provide an in-depth understanding of the nonviolence tradition from biblical, social, cultural and moral perspectives with the intention of developing a theology and ethics of nonviolence. For persons interested in exploring the persuasive power of nonviolence grounded on the law of love, tolerance, understanding, forgiveness, and reconciliation this book will provide a good working framework."—Elias O. Opongo, SJ, director of the Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR)

"An in-depth guide blending creative strategies and riveting experiences to chart an effective way to lasting peace. This long-awaited opus has enkindled a new paradigm of thinking and acting and will go down in history as a valuable toolkit for academics and practitioners alike."—Fr. Barthelemy Bazemo, M.Afr., Provincial Delegate for the Society of Missionaries of Africa and Policy Analyst at the Africa Faith and Justice Network

"My students learned so much from this book and as an educator, I'm grateful for the way it rigorously yet accessibly combines theory and praxis, including both domestically and globally. This is a hopeful resource for my students as we explore alternatives to a status quo marked by distrust, hegemonic power structures, and violence. I am excited to see what this text will spark for my students and other readers in the future."—Marcus Mescher, Xavier University


John Ashworth Lisa Sowle Cahill Daniel Cosacchi Mel Duncan Peggy Faw Gish Leo Guardado José Henríquez Leiva Léocadie Lushombo Eli S. McCarthy Alex Mikulich Jasmin Nario-Galace Nancy M. Rourke Gerald W. Schlabach Maria J. Stephan Teresia Wamũyũ Wachira

Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Eli S. McCarthy teaches justice and peace studies at Georgetown University and coordinates the DC Peace Team. He is the author of Becoming Nonviolent Peacemakers: A Virtue Ethic for Catholic Social Teaching and U.S. Policy and regularly engages in strategic advocacy for federal policy as the Director of Justice and Peace for the Conference of Major Superiors of Men.

288 pp., 6 x 9
1 color phot, 5 figures
ISBN: 978-1-62616-755-1
May 2020

288 pp., 6 x 9
1 color phot, 5 figures
ISBN: 978-1-62616-756-8
May 2020

288 pp.
1 color phot, 5 figures
ISBN: 978-1-62616-757-5
May 2020

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