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: 4/1/2003 7:11:10 PM
Name or Pseudonym: Daniel
Subject: God gives us no right but to follow Jesus

I appreciate your well thought out message but I disagree with your basic idea that God can ever give us the right to use violence. Even within the Catholic framework of just war, I don’t believe that we can say that we do any violence or mete punishment to fellow man in the name of God or Jesus or with God’s blessing.

At the very best, all we can hope for is that God will merely take a tolerant view of how we respond to the necessities of the practical world, i.e. we must render unto Caesar what is Caesars but we should never expect praise or divine right in doing so.

In Matthew, Jesus specifically singles out peacemakers as being specially blesses as well as those who suffer for His name. I think the idea there is that God favors those who practice peace even unto their own persecution and death. While that may not be practical or appealing to you, it is unquestionably what God counsels.

If we can define it narrowly into two options - one is to behave according to the dictates of the practical world, to defend one’s life and one’s worldly interests, to judge and punish those who behave wrongly in the world. In my opinion, this is according to the direct words of Jesus, at best merely to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Jesus might not condemn one for doing so, yet also one would not be praised or blessed for it either.

Option 2 is to embrace peace wholeheartedly, even actually to allow oneself to be persecuted due to one’s total faith in Jesus’ word. While this is clearly unwise from a worldly perspective, it is this choice which will be the blessed and praisworthy one.

While it may be the "right" choice to attack the country of Iraq from a worldly perspective (I personally do not believe this is the right choice, even from a worldly perspective but that is a separate issue) I do not think we should delude ourselves into thinking that Jesus would find these actions to be worthy of His praise.

I do not believe that US soldiers are bad people. I think they are brave and well-intentioned. But I also think that merely by deciding to bear arms under allegiance to a flag of an Earthly nation, they entertain a conflict to their loyalty to Jesus.

I know that these are very idealistic viewpoints, yet it is one of the mysteries of Jesus that he counseled the most idealistic faith and love of God in the face of worldly distress. His world too was one of violence and strife. I find it unlikely that there is any aspect of modern politics or history which would be so foreign to him that he would change his mind and suddenly preach pre-emptive war or self-defensive violence. I have faith that his living message today is the same as it was 2000 years ago.

I do not believe that Jesus will distinguish between the victors of war or the defeated, nor between the attackers or the defenders, he will judge only between the innocently fallen and those who chose violence against their fellow man, between those who counseled peace and those who supported violence, no matter how well-grounded their worldly rationale.


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