The Bishop of the Forces, Bishop Richard Moth, recently attended the general assembly of the Apostolat Militaire International in Berlin.
AMI is a European Catholic Association serving the interests and transmitting the views of Catholic members of the Armed Forces to their contemporaries, to the general public and to higher authorities in order that Christian ethics might influence policy making and subsequent action in local, national and international affairs.
Delegations from 13 nations attended the assembly, which considered issues concerning modern military service and the role of the Christian soldier in the service of just peace.
Following intense discussion between the delegates and some leading ethicists, military and Church thinkers, the Assembly ratified the AMI Declaration of Berlin.
The recommendations can be summarised as follows: protection of the moral restraints of our defining principles for engaging in conflict and their rigorous application where hostilities seem to be a possibility, when engaged in conflict and in its aftermath; engagement in a diligent dialogue to improve and make more relevant the just peace criteria in our contemporary situation; a recognition that the seeds of hostility are in us all and lie dormant even in the noblest soul; a willingness to understand and accommodate other perspectives and an avoidance of negative typecasting in unfamiliar cultures; intelligence led, UN-authorised mediation or intervention to pacify unstable situations with the role of military forces extending beyond conventional national defence and alliances. Military intervention must be properly supported and quickly followed by a just settlement in which the indigenous people are the greatest shareholders.
Other recommendations include: appropriate training and familiarisation for deploying forces in the cultural conditions prevailing in a possible theatre of operations, and focused operational preparation with loyalty to and support for those constrained to make operational choices, especially those which may have tragic outcomes.
Speaking after the assembly, Bishop Moth said: “I sincerely hope that the findings and report of the General Assembly may help shape the self-perception of modern Christian servicemen and women and offer some waypoints to illuminate their path as they make their contribution to a just peace wherever their duty takes them.”