The Peace Ethics of Luigi Taparelli d’Azeglio

In the past, one of the Institute’s cen­tral rese­arch points has been the explo­ra­ti­on of the peace ethics tra­di­ti­on. The theo­lo­gi­cal and phi­lo­so­phi­cal tra­di­ti­on on peace and war is, like wes­tern thin­king in gene­ral, roo­ted in anti­qui­ty. Sin­ce then, every era – from the Midd­le Ages and the “modern age” up until today – has wrest­led with the ques­ti­on of how war, peace and jus­ti­ce should stand in rela­ti­on to one ano­t­her. An issue of cen­tral impor­t­an­ce con­cerns whe­ther it is ethi­cal­ly right or even ethi­cal­ly impe­ra­ti­ve to use mili­ta­ry force in order to achie­ve peace and, if so, under which con­di­ti­ons. The aim of this rese­arch is to iden­ti­fy the con­clu­si­ons emer­ging out of this intel­lec­tu­al pro­cess and the histo­ry of their impact. By doing so, we lay bare the roots of our con­tem­pora­ry thin­king and use the­se his­to­ri­cal insights to expand our cur­rent per­spec­tive. A pro­found know­ledge of the past, with a view towards con­tem­pora­ry pro­blems, opens the hori­zon for future solu­ti­ons.

For over 30 years, the Insti­tu­te for Theo­lo­gy and Peace has been iden­ti­fy­ing key mile­stones in peace ethics: from Cice­ro to Augus­ti­ne, Tho­mas Aqui­nas, Fran­cis­co de Vito­ria, Baro­lo­mé de Las Casas, Dom­in­go de Soto, Fran­cis­co Suá­rez up until the tea­chings of the 20th cen­tu­ry. Our work has sub­se­quent­ly grown into a renow­ned libra­ry of the peace ethics tra­di­ti­on which is unpar­al­leled.

From Spring 2016 until Spring 2018, we com­ple­ted a part-time pro­ject about Lui­gi Tapa­rel­li d’Azeglio, a Jesu­it from a noble Pied­mon­te­se fami­ly (1793-1862). Through his magnum opus1 as well as his jour­na­listic work as a foun­ding edi­tor of the cul­tu­ral maga­zi­ne La Civil­tà Cat­to­li­ca, Taparelli’s natu­ral law approach stron­gly influ­en­ced the thin­king of Leo XIII and sub­se­quent popes.

Wit­hin his expan­si­ve wri­tings, our pro­ject focu­sed on Taparelli’s per­spec­tives on the ethics of peace and war, espe­ci­al­ly on the coor­di­na­ti­on and accep­tan­ce of respon­si­bi­li­ty on the inter­na­tio­nal and supra­na­tio­nal level. At the same time, we found it important to empha­si­ze that the­se par­ti­cu­lar aspec­ts can only be unders­tood when roo­ted wit­hin the con­text of Taparelli’s gene­ral under­stan­ding of natu­ral law.

In this scope, the over­all con­cept of Taparelli’s ethics of peace and war, inclu­ding the anti­ci­pa­ted gra­du­al deve­lop­ment of a uni­on of nati­ons – in his words, an ‘ethnar­chy’ – is found to be con­gru­ent with the con­tem­pora­ry catho­lic peace ethics. In his pos­tu­la­ti­on of an ‘ethnar­chy’, Tapa­rel­li con­si­ders, among others, the union’s abi­li­ty to inter­vene in cases of extre­me breaches of jus­ti­ce wit­hin the ter­ri­to­ries of mem­ber sta­tes. Tapa­rel­li makes a clear dis­tinc­tion bet­ween the scope of the ‘ethnarchy’s’ aut­ho­ri­ty, that of third-parties to the con­flict, and that of the popu­la­ti­on of the affec­ted sta­te.

The above­men­tio­ned pro­ject was con­clu­ded for the time being with a con­fe­rence lec­tu­re in Sep­tem­ber 2017 and the publi­ca­ti­on of writ­ten con­tri­bu­ti­ons: “Lui­gi Tapa­rel­lis natur­recht­li­cher Ent­wurf einer welt­wei­ten Frie­dens­ord­nung”. Theo­lo­gie und Phi­lo­so­phie 94 (2019), p. 367-402 and “Lui­gi Tapa­rel­li als Vor­den­ker der Frie­dens­ethik Leos XIII. und Bene­dikts XV.”. In: Bir­git Asch­mann, Heinz-Gerhard Jus­ten­ho­ven [Ed.]. Dès le début. Die Frie­dens­no­te Papst Bene­dikts XV. von 1917. Pader­born 2019, p. 49-68.

The pro­ject allo­wed the Insti­tu­te to con­tri­bu­te yet ano­t­her valu­able pie­ce to the mosaic of mile­stones that con­sti­tu­te the Chris­ti­an peace ethics tra­di­ti­on.


¹ Sag­gio teo­re­ti­co di diritto natu­ra­le appog­gia­to sul fat­to, 1st edi­ti­on, Paler­mo 1840-43.


Project Supervisor

Dr. Mar­co Schrage