What does Jesus think about nonviolence?
Jesus places a high value on nonviolent action. He commands his disciples: “Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Mt 5:39). He rebukes Peter, who wants to defend him with force: “Put your sword into its sheath” (Jn 18:11). Jesus does not call his disciples to take up weapons. He remains silent before Pilate. His way is to take the part of the victims, to go to the Cross, to redeem the world through love, and to call the peacemakers blessed. Therefore the Church, too, respects people who for reasons of conscience refuse to be part of the armed services but place themselves at the service of society in some other way.
Must Christians be pacifists?
The Church strives for peace but does not preach radical pacifism. Indeed, no one can deny either the individual citizen or particular governments and al- liances the fundamental right of armed self-defense. War is morally justifiable only as a last resort. The Church unmistakably says No to war. Christians should do everything possible to avoid war before it starts: They oppose the stockpiling of arms and trafficking in weapons; they fight against racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination; they work to put an end to economic and social injustice and thus promote peace.