NS: Since Augustine, Catholic tradition has upheld just war theory. Does Sant’Egidio see itself, like the Catholic Worker movement in the United States, as a challenge to that tradition? Or does its approach to peacebuilding fit within the just war framework?
AB: Augustine discusses peace about 2,500 times and war a couple of dozen. Everybody discusses what Augustine said about just war, but they usually fail to recognize that he speaks about just peace much more. Sant’Egidio focuses on the parts of Augustine that focus on peace. War is a possibility. War is a human choice. But from our perspective, the Christian position cannot be but a peaceful one, both in terms of being peaceful ourselves and in terms of being peacemakers. We don’t begin with theories. We work for peace because, to the poor, war is the worst of all conditions—Andrea Riccardi called it “the mother of all poverty.” Rather than holding a theoretical argument in favor of, or against, war, we need to be bound to practice. We’re more concerned with orthopraxis than orthodoxy. We want to be orthodox, but we have an even greater desire to actually practice the gospel.
I love that last line!