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The Vatican will be hosting a first of its kind conference next week to reexamine the Catholic church’s long-held teachings on just war theory, bringing some 80 experts engaged in global nonviolent struggles to Rome with the aim of developing a new moral framework that rejects ethical justifications for war. Participants say the conference — to be cohosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the global Catholic peace network Pax Christi International April 11-13 — may recommend displacing the centuries-old just war theory as the main Catholic response to violence. They also express hope that Pope Francis might take up their conversations by deciding to focus his next encyclical letter, the highest form of teaching for a pontiff, on issues of Catholic peacemaking. Terrence Rynne, a U.S. theologian who will be attending the event, said he considers it “phenomenally important.” “Coming out of it, Pope Francis might see his way clear to articulate a fresh vision of peacemaking to the church,” said Rynne, who helped found Marquette University’s Center for Peacemaking. “That would be wonderful.” Just war theory is a tradition that uses a series of criteria to evaluate whether use of violence can be considered morally justifiable. First referred to by fourth century bishop St. Augustine of Hippo, it was later articulated in depth by 13th century theologian St. Thomas Aquinas and is today outlined by four conditions in the formal Catechism of the Catholic Church. …The Catechism currently outlines as one criteria for moral justification of war that “the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated” and notes that “the power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.”