Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




For more than 1700 years in Christian theology, there has been a chasm between just war thinking and pacifism. Advocates of these two ideological positions have attempted to bridge this divide in a number of ways through the centuries. Some, such as Glen Stassen, have brought together thinkers on both sides of the divide to propose a just peacemaking theory. Others, such as Michael Schuck, Mark Allman, and Tobias Winright, have added new stages to just war thinking in order to make that existing tradition more robust. Some groups may identify as contingent pacifists. These would generally accept the criteria of the just war theory, but would not ever acknowledge violent force to be justified under certain conditions. This dissertation argues that, while it may not be possible to overcome the impasse between pacifists and adherents to just war thinking, it is possible for the two factions to work together for peace. One of the main areas in which this goal may be advanced is through common care and respect for the natural environment. In this study, the author examines the development of the Catholic social tradition on the topics of peace and ecology, including a careful reading of Pope Francis’s social encyclical, Laudato si’. The dissertation introduces a new type of contingent pacifism: ecological pacifism. Ecological pacifism argues against any type of violent intervention that will harm the earth, on the basis of earth’s sacredness as God’s creation. The dissertation maintains that both pacifism and just war thinking in Catholic social thought will be enhanced by this addition.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.