Vatican conference urges end to doctrine of 'just wars'

Participants at a Vatican conference have called for the Catholic Church to renounce its "just war" theory and for Pope Francis to write an encyclical on nonviolence and "just peace."

Church teaching has long allowed for "just wars" — the use of force to stop an unjust aggression — as long as certain conditions are met.

But participants at a conference sponsored by the Vatican's justice and peace office and Pax Cristi, the Catholic peace movement, said in a final communique Thursday that too often the doctrine had been used to justify and endorse military action rather than prevent it.

They called for the church instead to develop a new peacemaking framework "consistent with Gospel nonviolence," and for Francis to articulate it all in a new encyclical.