Conversation Corner
St. Francis of Assisi, Patron of Peace

Does the military action the U.S. is contemplating against Iraq meet the standards of a just war?


Date: 3/14/2003 1:45:47 PM
Name or Pseudonym: TRR
Subject: Legitmate papal authority

Dr. John:

You are the one who does not understand. I think John Paul II understands the world we are living in better than our own political leaders. First of all, with respect to the broader issue of the Church’s moral teachings, it is not the practice of the teaching office of the Church to issue ex cathedra statements on moral issues. There is no ex cathedra statement concerning abortion, but the teaching is binding as part of the ordinary magisterium. So, dissent from papal teaching on the grounds that it is not ex cathedra is a canard used by dissenters on both the right and left to justify their opposition. The Holy Father DOES have the authority to develop the ordinary magisterium of the church. So, your previous dissenting remarks about the death penalty are simply false. Read Evangelium Vitae, and the subsequent papal teaching, and you will find NO support for your claim that the death penalty, used as a means of punishing offenders, is in fact Catholic teaching. If you think the Holy father needs to make an ex cathedra statement, you are simply announcing your theoogical ignorance.

Moving on to war, I invite you and anyone interested to inform your conscience by reading what John Paul II has to say about war in Centesimus Annus, #s 51-52, arguably the strongest rejection of war to come from the papal magisterium. The key development in papal teaching here is the pope’s repudiation of the logic that leads to war, that is, "the idea that the effort to destroy the enemy, confrontation, and war itself are factors of progress and historical development." As a matter of interpretation of what the Pope is doing here, I think the Pope rightfully sees that modern warfare is not in fact solving our long-term problems, that the claim that we are going to war today to have peace tomorrow is demonstrably false - rather war today prepares the new list of people who feel humiliated and destroyed, preparing the way for the next war. Moreover, the Pope is right that the combination of contemporary weapons of mass destruction make it "very difficult or practically impossible to limit the consequences of a conflict."

The Bush Doctrine of "preventive war" has the logic of creating world war. It authorizes an individual nation’s leader to make judgments about the likelihood of future attacks, and on that basis to launch a war today to prevent those attacks. Using that same logic, any number of nations could easily feel justified in bombing their neighbors. This is a madness without basis in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Ratzinger has stated clearly that this doctrine is simply not compatible with Catholic teaching.

Catholics should follow the clear logic of the catechism and papal teaching, and rally around the Holy Father. Shame on those who put the flag above the cross and their faith.

I find it in exceedingly bad faith that you demand evidence of the Pope to back up his teaching on the death penalty (when the issue of data is not central to the moral teaching being presented), but uncritically accept the claims of our government’s propaganda machine.

Let us ignore the voices of dissenting, right-wing cafeteria Catholics. The Holy Father’s leadership on this issue has been nothing less than an inspiration!

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