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December 14, 2004

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S.F.

"But it seems to me that there's an implication here of the opposite supposition...that somehow we're supposed to infer that if the Pope didn't explicitly condemn the Bush administration's choices in specific terms...he was supportive."

I don't read it that way. I haven't seen anyone make that argument.

The trouble I have with those who falsely claim that the Pope has condemned the war, is that they use this supposed teaching of the Pope to end the discussion. (The same people, of course, don't generally care about what the Pope says about women's ordination, contraception, etc.).

Christopher Rake

I think you have asked and answered the question, Amy. There must be tens of thousands of claims in mainstream media and the blogosphere that the pope condemned the U.S. decision to go to war, and there will be tens of thousands more despite the evidence referred to above. I am not aware of any inference by the figures you reference that this means he favored the war--though there may be such attempts; I just haven't seen them.

Much of the rise of alternative media, from National Review to talk radio, is based on correcting the false claims of the left. (A current example in our Catholic context would be the claim that forces on the right oppose stem cell research. Today's example is in a Richard Cohen [rr] column. How hard is it to perceive the unsubtle difference between embryonic and adult stem cells?).

How many people who opposed the Iraq war, and followed the Vatican's emanations on the subject, are aware that somebody has "run down every statement made by every Vatican official and the Holy Father in the run-up to the war and afterwards?" How many know that survey failed to find an explicit condemnation by John Paul II?

The facts of the case matter, as in all cases.

Dudley

What is "an explicit condemnation"? In diplomatic language, and the Pope is a diplomat as well as the Vicar of Christ, he was clear that any action should be in total agreement with the UN and that the inspections should play out. If he had made an "explicit condemnation", he would have been attacked as a medieval potentate with delusions of influence.
Besides, in his remarks in June 2004, he references private communications that he said were explicit, and the implication is, in their opposition.

Rich Leonardi

Amy,

I think you captured that Holy Father's mindset rather well: that he was focused on something entirely different from most of the supporters or opponents of the conflict.

So it didn't lend itself to the issuance of statements of outright condemnation or approval. But, as S.F. indicates, opponents of this war treat it as conventional wisdom that of course the Holy Father condemned it. Hence, Robinson's and Sweeney's challenge.

Neil

I am rather confused about the claim that is being made. To be sure, the Pope did not condemn the war in Iraq in the sense of declaring it to be objectively grave evil. If he were to do so, he would need to take the obvious step of declaring of the war, as did the Romanian Catholic Bishop John Botean, that -

" ... any killing associated with it is unjustified and, in consequence, unequivocally murder. Direct participation in this war is the moral equivalent of direct participation in an abortion. For the Catholics of the Eparchy of St. George, I hereby authoritatively state that such direct participation is intrinsically and gravely evil and therefore absolutely forbidden. ... To this end our Church is wholeheartedly committed to the support of any of our members in the military or government service who may be confronted with situations of legal jeopardy due to their need to be conscientious objectors to this war."

Even if one disagrees with Bishop Botean, one must concede that he is consistent. If the Pope were to condemn the war, he would be declaring that participation in it would be equivalent to murder. Military personnel would be called upon to disobey orders. Catholics would be called upon to encourage selective conscientious objection, even if their actions were illegal. Anything less in such a situation would really be hypocritical. Without such explicit declarations (or anything approximating them), it is difficult to suggest that the Pope has condemned the war.

Nevertheless, the tone of the Pope's statements does suggest a development in just war theory towards a clear presumption against violence. We can ask what sort of accountability to this presumption should be expressed by Catholic intellectuals and politicians.

Thank you.

Neil

marianne

"But, as S.F. indicates, opponents of this war treat it as conventional wisdom that of course the Holy Father condemned it."

Actually, I was guided by statements from the Vatican - implicit, explicit and by silence - during the build up to the attack on Iraq. They shaped my attitude; my attitude didn't shape my reception of them, as it has with Sweeney et al.
As someone else observed, the Pope doesn't "condemn" foreign policy matters; he counsels...and his counsel was caution and a need to comply with international law.

Joe McFaul

I think the challenge went beyond any so called conventional wisdom. As Amy notes the wisdon was correct. The Pope opposed the war. No, he didn't specifically condemn the Iraq war but his thoughts on it were pretty clear. He did condemn all war, which I would guess includes the Iraq war.

The Pope doesn't specifically condemn a lot of things. That doesn't make them right because there's a number of Church teachings on those subject that provide general guidance. Furthermore, frankly, he delegates some Church discussions to other Vatican officials. Also I suspect he has a long range outlook on war and "thiswar" so improtant to us, is not that important in the long range scheme of things fromthe Church's position.

No, those who want a specific condemnation are seeking to justify their own positions which were at odds with the Pope's. And, as long as there was no "specific" (according to their own personal definition of that word)condemnation then they claim to be justified in their disagreement. The Pope's condemnations of war in general are overlooked as not magisterial, or worse, the mumblings of an old man out of touch with realpolitik.

This is exactly the same argument made by thsoe who argue that there has been no ex cathedra papal declaration on birth control. That's true, but we know what the Pope has said on the subject.

Those who make that argument (whether on the Iraq war or birht control)are simply rationalizing their disagreement with Church teaching. They are generally not suggesting that the Church teaching is unknown.

Rich Leonardi

Nevertheless, the tone of the Pope's statements does suggest a development in just war theory towards a clear presumption against violence.

Neil,

Great post, as usual. If there is indeed a movement away from the Augustinian presumption for order (tranquillitas ordinis) toward one that is against "violence", then it ought to be the subject of an encyclical or another document of the ordinary magisterium. Catholics shouldn't be left to sift through curial press releases.

I'm going to withdraw from further comment. This 'ain't my blog and I've said my bit.

Rich Leonardi

This is exactly the same argument made by thsoe who argue that there has been no ex cathedra papal declaration on birth control.

The conflation continues. (And now the sparks will fly.) This time I'm really 'outta here.

Zhou De-Ming

For a little breadth and comparison, here are some references to the other living religious leader that in some parts of the US has greater influence than the Pope:

January 16, 2003 War on Iraq will disturb world peace: Dalai Lama
March 11, 2003 Dalai Lama holds prayer session in view of threat of war in Iraq.
September 10, 2003 Pres. Bush and Dalai Lama holding hands at the White House
September 15, 2003 Dali Lama: Iraq War May Be Justified [after meeting with Pres. Bush et alia]
October 12, 2003 What Would Buddha Do? Why Won't the Dalai Lama Pick a Fight? [the author, Adrian Zupp, seems upset that the Dalai Lama, who met with Pres. Bush and Sec. Powell, would not explicitly condemn the war...]
September 20, 2004 13,000 hear Dalai Lama decry war as ‘out of date’

I don't think the Dalai Lama ever explicitly condemned the war in Iraq. Perhaps it is the job of great religious leaders to preach peace, to encourage peace, to discourage violence and war in general terms.


Carrie

It surely can be said that the Pope condemned war in general. All war. And thus we are left with no ground to stand a pro-war claim on. Yet self-defense is never condemned. We are morally allowed to defend ourselves, and I presume those over whom we have charge, such as our children.

The pre-war statements of the Pope must be read and interpreted in the context of an assumption, later proven untrue, that WMDs were the issue, making the war one of self-defense.

Mark Shea

All the ridicule that was focused at the Pope, the comparison of him to a hysterical old woman, the contempt heaped on his prayer gatherings for peace in early 2002 ("Kumbaya" was, I believe, a favorite phrase of the Faithful Conservative Catholic[TM] at this time), the fine political thought expressed in places like the Jerusalem Post, Novak's trip to Rome to (vainly) argue that the war met Just War criteria... all these took place because JPII is actually supportive of the war in Iraq.

Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

c matt

It all depends upon what is your definition of condemn. If condemn means official statment that the war was/is unjust as a matter of infallible teaching, then, no, he never condemned it. If condemn means he stated personal approbation as to the use of war to solve the Iraq issue, then yes, he sure did condemn it.

Sydney Carton

"...his counsel was caution and a need to comply with international law."

I'm confused by this. If the Pope wanted compliance with international law, then wouldn't that necessarily require some sort of authority or consequence to violating so-called international law? And wasn't Iraq in violation for 12 years?

I'd consider this a very basic point of discussion. Law without force is meaningless. If there are no consequences for failing to obey, there is no law. It's a mere suggestion, that can be disregarded at will. So if international law truly exists, there must be a force to assert its power. Where does that force reside? If there is no force, then there is no law.

Unless one takes the view that America was acting as an agent of enforcing international law by initiating the "serious consequences" that the UN Security counsel imposed on Iraq, I don't see where the agent for international law resides. I'd think that the tone of the comments from the Vatican suggest that they were against the war. But then what to make of their claim for upholding international law? It's entirely inconsistent, in my view. How else can international law be upheld? Are we supposed to roll our eyes sanctimoniously at Saddam Hussein while he butchers another 300,00 Kurds and makes another missile that may-or-may-not be in violation of the Gulf War Ceasefire?

The desire to uphold and enforce international requires the application of violence. Most basic political philosophies view the organization of the state as the delegation of an individual's state-of-nature authority to use violence to the state in order so that it may uphold and protect liberty, or whatever. Thus, the state is seen as the default actor in the legitimite use of violence, in police forces, in IRS agents, and in the military. Where is this analogy in the international realm?

This stance by the Vatican has always confused me, and is why I really cannot take seriously a claim to uphold international law while at the same time they denounce any application of force to impose the consequences of violating that law.

amy

I should have had this in my original post, but I'll throw it in here - I think that a quote from the cited Italian article up there gets it right, even if the phraseaology is still ambiguous "opposed but not condemned."

And, as usual, Neil clarifies things.

Jason

CHALLENGE TO PATRICK SWEENEY AND PETER ROBINSON:
Please cite specific examples of JP2 encouraging the Coalition to attack Iraq, blessing the attack once it began, thanking and praising Bush and the Coalition for launching the attack and announcing that an attack contrary to international law was the right thing to do under those circumstances. Please cite examples of the Pope exhorting his flock to pray for the violent overthrow of Hussein and thanking the Coalition for doing it.

Mark Windsor

What always amazed me most about the insistance that the Pope had condemned the war is the invasion of Iraq is the fact that it goes vaguely against the Catachism. The responsibility for war is always in the hands of the civil authority, not in the Vatican or in the hands of people like us.

The Pope might condemn war in general but would let the responsibility for a specific conflict rest where it must - in this case with the US government.

An interesting thing will be Al's response to this.

al

As someone who argued against the war, even before the Pope and the Vatican (and yes, despite all the extra scorn heaped on curial official--incidentally probably the very same ones neoconservative Catholic would probably be beating more traditionally minded Catholics about the head and neck with, curial officials speaking in respect of their office do carry some weight) evidently remonstrated against it, I can recall the shock and dismay of the Catholic Just War crowd, and then the subsequent dissimulation, when the crescendo of Vatican rebukes reached its apogee with Cardinal Ratzinger's "There is no preventative war in the catechism" And the Pope's January 13, 2003 "No to War."

Frankly, the hypocrisy on the issue is stifling. Again the neoconservatives, who would, for example, in discussing the Church's "reconciliation" with Political Liberalism (ie. Separation of Church and State, repudiation of the anathemas heaped on Enlightenment liberalism--political and economic) would bring up every aside, and idle reflection of a Sodano, or a Ratzinger, constantly tripping over each other to demonstrate how anything short of an ex Cathedra statement is meaningless.

Buttiglione is an interesting figure in this regard, since his assessment of the Pope's thought is definitely on the side of asserting that even slight changes in tone are indicative of a Change which all must obey, on Free Market Economics, on a Reapprochement with Kantian Ethics. Are Buttiglione's ardent proponents now so interested in discerning what we can learn from the Vatican's obvious opposition to Iraq, in the Person of Pio Laghi, and his missive, for example, or the development of the doctrine indicating less, not more opportunities for "moral clarity" exist in the modern world through the avenue of War??

If not, I think we can treat the outrage, scepticism and temporization regarding this issue from the Catholic proponents of the war with the disdain they deserve.

Sydney Carton

"If not, I think we can treat the outrage, scepticism and temporization regarding this issue from the Catholic proponents of the war with the disdain they deserve."

Oh sure. Because we all know that the Pope wants us to disdain people.

Sydney Carton

Al, one question since you're against the war: do you care to answer the seeming inconsistency between a desire to uphold international law and the rejection of the very force needed to do such a thing?

George Lee

Talk about rewriting history...

Far from opposing all war, the Pope and virtually all Vatican officials approved the Afghan war in 2001.

Far from requiring U.N. approval to justify a war, the Pope and virtually all Vatican officials approved--urged, in their diplomatic fashion--the war in Kosovo against the Serbs. This quite without U.N. approval or U.N. involvement of any kind. Though ostensibly a NATO operation, in truth the defense of the Kosovars was almost entirely a U.S. military operation.

I am a bit hazier on the Pope's exact words in 1990/1991 on the first Persian Gulf War, but I seem to recall that they were an explicit denunciation, one that has never been retracted or even modified.

It is true that in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war, the Pope made statements that seemed to condemn all war. It was those statements that seemed so jarring, even outrageous, given recent Vatican nods to Afghanistan and Kosovo.

Worse than jarring and outrageous were statements that were phantasmagoric (that the world would end) or frivolous. The Pope actually said, " War is an adventure from which nobody returns." This sounds like something extracted from a Chinese fortune cookie. For what it is worth, peace is an adventure from which nobody returns, as is today, as was yesterday, as tomorrow will be. You might as well say that marriage is an adventure from which nobody returns, or parenthood or dozens of other things.

He now supports the continued presence of Coalition forces in Iraq though, of course, that presence requires fighting, and he has praised the valor of the Italian contingent of the Coalition in heartfelt terms.

Compounding the irritating frauds of 2003, the end of communism was often depicted as a triumph of pacificism. It was as though Rumanian dictator Ceacescu hadn't been shot by a firing squad, as though 50 years of American (and allied) military efforts were forgotten, all that sacrifice of years from millions of young lives, not to mention huge taxpayer expense, were unimportant, as was the determination to shed our blood if the Warsaw Pact nations had ever moved west in an assualt that outnumbered our forces 4 to 1.

Oh, there were reasons galore to be bewildered, exasperated, and disappointed in the Pope and many in the Vatican vis a vis the 2003 Iraq war. In late May of that year Cardinal Ratzinger said that the Vatican had also believed that Saddam had WMD and would use them and the Americans would respond in kind, sending humanity across a line better left uncrossed. That was an arguable position that the Pope never voiced. Prudential analysts might well have disagreed with that line of thought and reasoned that, as dangerous as the new status quo would be, it was even more dangerous to leave Saddam in possession of WMD, especially for the USA. That, too, would have been a reasonable position.

Unfortunately, what came out of the Vatican was a lot of guff about the USA desiring to steal Iraqi oil and all sorts of other unjust and vicious fantasies about US perfidy. The Pope's own emissary to Saddam returned proclaiming that Saddam was a man of peace. The truth is that President Bush is infinitely more a man of peace than Saddam, but nobody could have gotten that truth from the Pope or most Vatican officials during the winter/early spring of 2003.

President Bush maintained that his duty as the American President was to protect his people. I believe he tried to fullfill that duty to the best of his ability. Though no WMD have been found, I have no reason to believe differently.

I hope future Popes, if they desire to influence US policy makers, will do so insightfully and coherently.

Maclin Horton

Amy,

I think you're exactly right in stressing the pope's deep and heartfelt dismay at the prospect of war. Surely it's beyond argument to say that the pope did not want the war to happen. To what extent this should be taken as "condemnation" is nicely summed up by c matt above.

To attempt to suborn the absence of a specific "thou shalt not" as anything remotely resembling approval seems to me dishonest. And I say this as someone who described and still describes himself as an uneasy supporter of the war.

Al,

In spite of our disagreement about the war, I think most of your post, particularly your sentence beginning "Again the neoconservatives...", is dead on.

Mark Shea

Sydney:

Not too complicated from the Vatican's point of view: If you are going to appeal to UN Resolution 1441 for your authority, then you are bound to abide by the UN when it says "Don't go to war to enforce 1441". We essentially said that Saddam was bound by the UN, but we aren't since the UN is a bunch of corrupt Euroweenies who can't tell us what to do. We can't have it both ways.

Oh, and al said nothing about disdaining *people*. He specifically spoke of disdaining ideas (such as the suggestion that because the Pope did not issue a statement condemning the war, we should infer he supported it). And if that's *not* what Robinson is trying to suggest, then why is he obsessing over a technicality? Clearly, when JPII says things like "Never Again War!" you are not getting a ringing endorsement of Bush policy. Yet Robinson talks as though he's scored some big point by showing that JPII never said, "Simon Says".

Mark Shea

George:

Ah, there's that good old contempt for JPII's opposition to the Iraq war! I was afraid that it would all go down the memory hole when he was suddenly remade in the image and likeness of the editorial staff of NRO. Thanks for reminding us of the typical treatment he has actually received from apologists for American policy.

Christopher Rake

No, those who want a specific condemnation are seeking to justify their own positions which were at odds with the Pope's. And, as long as there was no "specific" (according to their own personal definition of that word)condemnation then they claim to be justified in their disagreement.

Two issues. First, those who want a specific condemnation are, instead, asking whether there was a specific condemnation. Facts matter. The evidence lacks the explict papal condemnaton wished for by opponents of the war; can we at least agree on that? Perhaps not. It appears to me that he did not say what opponents of the war wished he had said.

As far as "being justified" in disagreement about the war is concerned, just-war doctrine rather specifically considers the prudential judgment exercised by civilians. Perhaps the key question is whether Catholics were commanded by either the Vatican or the pope to condemn the war as unjust. They did not. I don't know enough about the doctrine to declare whether they could not.

Mark Shea

It appears to me that he did not say what opponents of the war wished he had said.

At the time, both proponents and opponents of the war perceived the words "NO MORE WAR! NEVER AGAIN WAR!" as having a distinct tilt against Bush Administration policy. Yes, it's true he did not say, "Simon says, Don't attack Iraq because thousands of innocent people are going to get killed and the merits of this war on the basis of just war criteria are highly dubious. We declare, pronounce and define this." But still the message was loud and clear. And this perception wasn't just wishful thinking on the part of war opponents. It was also nasty "Gee, John Paul is a kumbaya idiot" proponents of the war who got the message loud and clear.

Sydney Carton

Mark,

No offense, but your response makes no sense at all to me. Appealing to the UN as an authority only makes sense if there is a belief that violations of that authority will be prosecuted. The origins of authority necessarily require a monopolization or the ordered direction of the use of power. If we state as a premise that "law" as a concept should exist in the sphere of international relations, then it becomes necessary to initiate the necessary consequences in an international sphere for the violation of that "law."

This question of mine really has little to do with the Iraq War, which might be a tangential example of America acting as the prosecutor of "serious consequences" for UN's resolution 1441. This question really has to do with the contradictions of appealing to "international law" without force. It seems like a faithless appeal. Unless "international law" is merely another word for "suggestion," then I have to at least consider that American action in Iraq was consistent with international law because it could be deemed the prosecutor of "serious consequences" imposed by 1441. Far from having it both ways, I think that from this perspective the Administration was following international law exactly as it should be.

Does the Vatican really view international law as existing without force? If so, what does this portend for application of "law" in other situations outside the international sphere? If the law has no force, it seems to me that law has no meaning. I consider this apparrent contradiction a very disturbing appeal to disorder, which perhaps the Vatican might be unaware of.

Mike Petrik

Mark,
Are Catholics not allowed to disagree with the Vatican or the Pope on matters outside the Magisterium? I think George raises fair points that warrant a response other than accusing him of contempt for JPII's stated positions. Don't you?

TSO

The Pope wasn't supportive of the Gulf War in '91 - which was done with U.N. approval - so 1441 was pretty meaningless where the Pope is concerned. Papal biographer George Weigel on the Pope's position on the Gulf War (written pre-Iraq War):

The Holy Father's thoughts about the war were almost "apocalyptic"..."the imminence of an armed confrontation with unforeseeable but certainly disastrous consequences".

John Paul did not believe that the Pope's role in such a crisis was to conduct a public review of the classic criteria legitimating a just war; and then give a pontifical blessing to the use of armed force if those criteria had been met. The Church's mission in world politics was to teach the relevant moral principles that ought to guide international statecraft. Beyond that, it was the responsibility of the statesman to make prudential judgements on the question of when nonviolent means of resolving a conflict and restoring order had been exhausted. Just-war reasoning involves rigorous empirical analysis, which was sometimes lacking in the Holy See's approach to the Gulf crisis.The assumption that more dialogue could coax Saddam Hussein into withdrawing from Kuwait and making restitution for the wreckage he had caused was never very persuasive, given what was already known...Nor did Holy See proposals for negotiation seem to take sufficient account of the likelihood that delays in military action heightened the chance that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction."

S.F.

Wow.

Lets see. We still have many here "arguing" that the Pope didn't support the war. That's a pretty easy one to win, guys, since no one else is arguing the other side.

Some are trying "the Pope is a pacifist" trick, so *certainly* he opposed this war. There was no need for him to state it explicitly, duh. This ignores the Pope's attitude towards NATO's war against Kosovo, and the Coalition's war against the Taliban. I'm not aware of any condemnation, opposition, etc. from this "pacificst" Pope on those two.

The canard that those who may disagree with the Pope's conclusions have simply dismissed him as a frail old kook never do work. Especially in relationship to Peter Robinson. Judge him all you want, but I think the fellow is sincere, faithful, and would never summarily ignore the teachings and/or opinions of the Pope. Go out of your way on Google to search for hysterics who have disrespected the Pope on this issue. But don't lump Robinson in with them. Shame, shame.

Lastly, very little discussion about what weight the faithful are to give curial press releases and dipolomatic speak from the Vatican. Lets assume somewhere between total disregard and the same weight as an ecumenical council.

I'm afraid that hoping for rational discussion of that point is hoping too much. First one to call me a neoconservative, some type of [TM]'d Catholic, or a cafeteria Catholic gets ten points.

al

Christopher,
Frankly, you've shown yourself either unwilling or incapable of intepreting prudential judgement, and the magisterium's role in forming the faculty which accounts for prudential judgement on this and other issues, so I think people should take your assurances that they are at complete lattitude with respect to what the Papacy says with a grain of salt.


But your comment raises an interesting point: for those intent upon parsing away the Vatican opposition to the war--why does it matter what the pope said (in the missive and mission which Pio Laghi explicitly described) if he's just expressing a private misgiving, understandable for someone of his experience and "profession"?

Or why does it matter with what Authority the Pope spoke, and in what capacity (ie. clarifying the Just War Doctrine, to indicate that the arguments advanced for Iraq didn't meet that doctrine, sometimes even acknowledged by Bush Administration figures like Condoleeza Rice), if he didn't say anything which was against the war?

Its either/or, and if you deploy both arguments, as many pro war Catholics do, why would someone take the argument seriously, since they are mutually exclusive?

al

S.F.,
Please. You know I've discussed the issue with you at length and provided countless citations. In fact so many times have I provided links to Papal, Magisterial, and Doctrinal elucidation on this issue for people on this thread, I've resolved not to do it anymore, since they're practically never responded to.

On the Pope's opposition--Pio Laghi described it when he delivered the missive to the Pope. Look it up.

TSO

By the way, see review here of Derek S. Jeffreys' Defending Human Dignity: John Paul II and Political Realism. Jeffreys aims to explain the Holy Father's vision of international politics. Also, S.F. is a neocon! Just kidding S.F., your post made eminent good sense to me.

Mark Shea

Appealing to the UN as an authority only makes sense if there is a belief that violations of that authority will be prosecuted.

Then we should not have appealed to the UN as an authority (as we repeatedly did when we appealed to 1441 as the justification for war). But we did. And so we invoked international law and the authority of the UN. Rome can hardly be faulted for asking us to be consistent.

Are Catholics not allowed to disagree with the Vatican or the Pope on matters outside the Magisterium?

Yes. But when it's done with the tone of contempt that suffuses the typical inhabitant of the blogosphere Combox Star Chamber, one gets the distinct impression that there's something of a disconnect between the suggestion Robinson is trying to make (i.e., "People who say the Pope condemned the war are engaged in wishful thinking and hype.") and the blindingly obvious fact that pro-war Catholics like Mr. Lee are perfectly aware of the fact that Robinson is simply playing with semantics.

The Pope issued no formal condemnation of the war. So what? As far as I know, the Pope issued no formal condemnation of the Soviet Union either. But he was steadily and sturdily opposed to both. This weird attempt to suggest that a lack of formal condemnation *means* something positive for the pro-war types (and let face it, that *is* what is being fished for here) is moonshine. Chris Rake's attempt to say that it is somehow a manifestation of "wishful thinking" on the part of Iraq war opponents to discern in the Pope's rhetoric a strong opposition to the war is absurd. George Lee seems to discern the same opposition (and to regard the Pope as a fool).

For myself, I have no problem with arguing with the Pope on prudential matters. I do however, find it problematic when the Star Chamber of the Blogosphere easily, continually and routinely speaks of the Holy Father as a fool. And that, make no mistake, is habitual, particularly when he troubles the interests of Faithful Conservative Catholics[TM] who theological purity is unimpeachable and who can therefore only treat him with contempt out of their unquestionable fidelity to the True Faith.

S.F.

Al,

I have no clue what you are talking about. You must have me confused with somone else. I ask that you retract your comments.

Christopher Rake

Mark, without a doubt harsh language was used. Unfortunately, sometimes there were good reasons for it as shown in George Lee's recap above. Not all of it was justified, but describing Saddam as a man of peace is surely one of the more inane comments of the period. To put it kindly. Ridiculing a statement like that isn't merely permitted, it's pretty much required.

Now, no one can deny the anti-war sentiments of the Vatican. But I think it matters that John Paul did not go as far as his bureaucracy did. Supposedly this is a man who knows how to draw lines. I cannot favor abortion. I can favor the war.

This reminds me of claims that the Bush Administration stated Saddam was behind 9/11. When I point out this is untrue, I am told it doesn't matter. I am astonished--there is something nice about still being capable of that emotion--I am astonished there, as here, to learn that the facts of the case are irrelevant.

Desert Chatter

Don't forget that the Pope participates in the charade that the Vatican is also a sovereign nation. [Washington, DC has a better claim to some form of sovereignty than the Vatican, but that's another story.] As such, the Vatican engages in the niceties of diplo-speak, in which it is usually impermissible to state something directly and unequivocally. When you're working in the gray area between nuanced diplomacy and moral theology, you shouldn't be surprised by the mixed signals.

Someday the papacy will give up its last pretenses of civil authority and the Pope's role as a moral leader will be unleashed. We've come a long way in the last 150 years and I'm sure it won't be much longer.

al

Sydney,
That's a fallacious argument. Either UN enactments do have the force of international law or they don't. Its that simple. If they don't, in virtue of some inherent deficiency in the institution, then the US is not bound by the treaty obligations it imposed on itself by signing the charter, namely those which indicate when a country can invoke its unilateral right of self defense.

But if the institution is deficient, then one can certainly not claim justification from the unilaterial interpretation and enforcement of the violation of a resolution which was never even subjected to a final "whip count."

Glenn Juday

I recommend that we attempt to understand what the pope and Vatican officials were saying as THEY intended it and in relationship to the whole teaching of the Faith through its long history, and not as WE find it convenient to cite for one purpose or another today.

Personally, I find the somewhat bitter attempt to disparage fellow Catholics who made a reasoned judgment by arguing from Catholic principles on a contingent issue of the day, completely unworthy and harmful to proper witness.

It is simply a fact that various actors in the political and media-driven world have hypocritically embraced a fiction about the pope's stated position by exagerating it into explicit condemnation (it could still change) as a convenient vessel to gain partisan or political ground. To that degree a clarification is useful. As well, this clarification hardly makes a case for the pope's endorsement of a given contingent decision for a nation to go to war, and indisputably the pope's personal judgment on the prudence of this course was negative. Finally, any such discussion of the Church's position on this issue cannot be accurate without reference to statements of Church spokesmen subsequent to the first stage of the war (major combat). In some of these statements there have been frank admissions of exagerated pre-war estimates of the likely harm to innocents as real factors in their judgments. These misjudgments were based on an underappreciation of the striking power of U.S. and coalition forces, of advances in their ability to discriminate targets, and of their adoption of a strategy of deliberately sacrificing our soldiers lives to minimize the harm to innocents. I hope people don't look to the Vatican as a source of expertise on the first two points. The third, however, is a legitimate issue to ask for something better than some comments from Vatican officials. One would expect that its spokesmen would have a well developed sensitivity for self-sacrifice, and an ability to make judgments without being unduly swayed by the dominant political view of the region where it is located.

God put us in a complicated world. He gave us the Church to illuminate his grace, provide a means to salvation, and teach true moral principles. As Catholic lay men and women we have the unavoidable responsibility to exercise our vocations to and in the world and deal with the complexities of events in complete integrity with Catholic teaching. We must be careful not to put ourselves in a position where we argue in a way that amounts to a case for abdicating this responsibility.

Joe McFaul

Rich Leonardi asks for magisterial guidance on this subject, yet there has been substantial guidance from several encyclicals Paccem in Terris in 1961, through the Catechism section 2309. What's missing from all those documents is any approval of "just war."

In light of papal statements from Paccem in Terrris through Centesimus Annus and comments by Pope Paul VI (No more war! Never again war! If you wish to be brothers, drop your weapons.) and Pope John Paul II (War is not always inevitable,It is always a defeat for humanity" spoken with reference to Iraq), how do you reconcile the complete absence of any "just war" qualifiers on the papal statements condeming war without exception?

Since 1961, no Pope has called for the end of unjust wars--they have always called for the end of all war.

The concept of "just war" as an approved doctrine is missing from the Church's vocabulary in papal speeches, in encyclicals and finally in the catechism--and that aversion appears intentional. These omisions are not accidents.

A sure sign of those having trouble with this teaching is an overreliance on St Thomas Aquinas, and an "misreading" of the Catechism section 2309. Often Catholic Just War supporters don't even mention the catechism, perhaps on the assumption that it is, or must be, the same as a good quote from St. Thomas Aquinas. This fails to allow for whatever you want to call a "development of doctrine" which became clear beginning in 1961. Neil has highlighted this developement well.

al

SF,
I'm sorry, your right, I thought you were someone else who regularly posts under that moniker.

Desert Chatter,
"Someday the papacy will give up its last pretenses of civil authority and the Pope's role as a moral leader will be unleashed. We've come a long way in the last 150 years and I'm sure it won't be much longer"

This is heretical, so I doubt there's any chance of it happening. That the Papacy can wield temporal authority, and do so without impairing its spiritual authority is well established.

al

Joe,
If you look at my website, I think I've demonstrated St. Thomas would have been against the war as well.

S.F.

al,

No one else posts under my moniker, that I know of. Sheesh!!

al

S.F.,
There's another S.F. who posts here and at Mark's Blog (or used to) who I've provided numerous citations for on this subject.

Mark Shea

Chris:

Why was harsh language used if, as Robinson is now preposterously trying to claim, the Pope was really not opposed to the war?

Let's stay on topic: Robinson is trying to claim that there is something *positive* for war supporters in the fact that the Pope did not issue a formal condemnation of the war. So are you, for that matter.

Let me be blunt: There isn't *anything* that helps prowar types in what the Pope has done. He's made his opposition crystal clear. The fact that he opts not to use formal or political channels to do it means.... that he opts to use other means. The Polish Communists can tell you all about the Pope's creative uses of "other means" to attack state policies he opposes.

Robinson is attempting--vainly--to co-opt the Pope and make him into some sort of covert war supporter. It's not going to work. Amy was perfectly right to discern that agenda because that's what he trying to do. Nobody spends that much energy if they don't think that it somehow benefits them. He's trying to make the suggestion that really, anyway, the Pope was kind of in favor of the war.

Lame.

Sydney Carton

Mark, I said that your initial response did not make sense. You're repeating exactly what you said earlier. I am really trying to understand how an appeal to "law" can be made without appealing to any force backing up that law.

"Then we should not have appealed to the UN as an authority (as we repeatedly did when we appealed to 1441 as the justification for war). But we did. And so we invoked international law and the authority of the UN. Rome can hardly be faulted for asking us to be consistent."

I don't see any inconsistency involved at all. Don't forget, the UN never said that the actions by the American administration were a violation of anything, unlike what 1441 said, which was that Iraq was in violation of its obligations for over 12 years. 1441 was invoked as a justification for the war by the Administration because it promised "serious consequences." In the eyes of the Administration, since it believes in "international law" which is backed by the application of force, it was acting with the power to prosecute those serious consequences. Perhaps you assume that the Administration does not believe in the idea of "international law", but on the contrary their actions very much suggest that they believe in it and respect it very much, because they were willing to finally give it legitimacy by applying force to years of meaningless words.

As I see it, it was Bush that was upholding international law.

Thus, I ask, how can the Vatican appeal to "law" without any appeal of force backing up that law. It's like saying you'd better respect the law, but then they congratulate a person who fails to pay his income tax for 12 years.

Mike Petrik

Mark,
I agree with much of what you say, but George's post expressed confusion and frustration, not contempt. I wish someone would actually take the time to respond to his specific points.

S.F.

Al,

That S.F. is me, and no you didn't. Look, you might be able to convince me the Pope said something he didn't (I doubt it) but I assure you that you can't convince me that I participated in some conversation with you in which I didn't.

al

Sydney,
Laws obtain whether or not any "force" is used to back them up.

The US departure from legality was to claim it was enforcing 1441 when it hadn't been decided, 1) what the nature of the violation was and 2) how to enforce it.

The US under UN Charter--there's an article in the Charter describing the action-- and International Law is perfectly capable of asserting an independent right of self defense, even preemptive self defense against an imminent threat (that's the standard for self defense), but it manifestly did not do so.

Loudon is a Fool

Neil,

I'm not sure that a presumption against war as the first diplomatic tool out of the bag is strictly a presumption against violence. But maybe it is.

But a bigger part of the equation, I think, are issues of proper authority for waging a just war that is not properly defensive with respect to the country waging war. Al and others have touched on this issue above and in the past. It seems the Vatican looks to the UN to fill this role, despite that body's corruption, secularism, and general predilection to support dirty-nastiness. Perhaps the question for Catholic politicians and scholars is whether the UN can be salvaged as an international body Catholics can support, or whether a body representing international interests necessarily requires the consent of the nations represented. Probably it's best if we just re-establish Christendom. Within a decade, no doubt, Europe will agree.

Christopher Rake

Chris Rake's attempt to say that it is somehow a manifestation of "wishful thinking" on the part of Iraq war opponents to discern in the Pope's rhetoric a strong opposition to the war is absurd.

I don't mean to get lost in a fog of nuance, but that is not exactly what I intended to say. It's clear to me that John Paul had a strong inclination against war. What he did not do is define it as a violation of just-war doctrine or condemn Bush or his administration for launching it. As I said above, the man can draw a line.

I simply don't believe that such distinctions are irrelevant.

One would expect and hope that Christ's vicar on earth would do everything he could to avert war. I understand that even though the Vatican bureaucracy and to some extent John Paul are embedded in some of the more hopeless tendencies of Europa.

Robinson's challenge was simple and clear: I asked if readers of this happy Corner could provide me with as much as a single instance in which the Pontiff has denounced the war.

Apparently no such instance has been cited.

As blogger Sean Gleeson said: But look: everybody except possibly Saddam Hussein can be said to have opposed the war in Iraq in some sense. Even the president gave Iraq over a year to comply with the inspections before reluctantly invading. That's why I made my criterion an opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, not just a regret that war broke out. Who doesn't believe war is a "failure of humanity"? Who wouldn't agree that the people of Iraq should not have been forced to endure such an upheaval?

Sydney Carton

"Laws obtain whether or not any "force" is used to back them up."

Is a word missing in this statement? I don't understand what you're trying to say here.

"The US departure from legality was to claim it was enforcing 1441 when it hadn't been decided, 1) what the nature of the violation was and 2) how to enforce it."

Al, no offense intended, but that statement is absurd on its face since it is inherently circular. How can there be a departure from legality by failing to decide upon what the nature of another departure from legality is, and how to enforce that other departure from legality? In effect, you're saying that it's a violation of "law" to fail to determine extent of and consequences to violating the law. But that begs the question all over again, how would anyone know the United States "departed from legality" (violated the law) unless there was some kind of determination that the US violated a law and the consequences of that violation?

Let me put this in context:
1> Iraq fails to uphold its ceasefire obligations: not a violation of the law until it's determined the "nature of the violation" and "how to enforce it."

2> The United States attacks Iraq for among other things failing to uphold its ceasefire obligations. This, for some strange reason, is automatically declared a violation of the "law" without determining the "nature of the violation" or "how to enforce it."

Strange.

S.F.

Well, this conversation is over. Now we know what Peter Robinson *really* meant to say. And, of course, it was nefarious.

I hope that I will never understand the need to impute to those I disagree with some evil intent.

Mark Shea

Sydney:

Here's how law works. If you shoot my dog, I have the right to appeal to the law and call the cops. The state has the right to arrest you and put you in jail. I do not have the right to arrest you and lock you in my woodshed while claiming that I am "upholding the law". There's that little detail about it being the job of the competent authority, not my job.

Bush, in effect, appealed to the UN as the "competent authority" when he repeatedly made 1441 the justification for the war. Then, when the competent authority said, "Let stick with inspections" we took the law into our own hands. That's not "upholding" anything. That doing whatever is convenient and making it stick because we are a superpower.

If we appealed to the UN's authority, we should have abided by the UN. If we did not want to abide by the UN, we should not have appealed to its authority.

al

Sydney,
The process for deciding on the force and enforcement of UN resolution appears in the UN charter and no where else.

As I said, no policemen needs to be around to witness me running a red light. It's still against the law.

As for the No Fly Zone conflicts, those were not imminent threats to US territorial soveriegnty.

Mark Shea

Robinson's challenge was simple and clear: I asked if readers of this happy Corner could provide me with as much as a single instance in which the Pontiff has denounced the war.

Apparently no such instance has been cited.

So what? The Pope never offered a "denunciation" (whatever that means) or a formal condemnation. Yet, as is crystal clear, he thought the war a very bad idea and *everybody* in the world knows it. So what exactly is Robinson trying to argue? It still sounds a great deal like he's trying to say, "The Pope never said "Simon says" so it doesn't count. And anybody who says it does is "wishful" to enlist the Pope as a *real* opponent of the war." He seems to me to be making a silly and trivial note in order to re-inforce a flatly dishonest point.

Christopher Rake

Why was harsh language used if, as Robinson is now preposterously trying to claim, the Pope was really not opposed to the war?

There are cases where harsh language was used because people made inane statements, including that Saddam is a man of peace. In other cases harsh language was not justified. Such is life.

Let's stay on topic: Robinson is trying to claim that there is something *positive* for war supporters in the fact that the Pope did not issue a formal condemnation of the war. So are you, for that matter.

There is something positive for war supporters: It confirms the idea that Bush (and those who supported him) exercised their prudential judgment to support the war, and were free to do so without condemnation.

It's not as if the pope never condemns anything.

Pope Condemns Euthanasia

Pope Condemns Torture

Pope Condemns Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Pope Condemns Cuban Executions

Pope Condemns Embryonic Cloning

Pope Condemns Church Abuse

Now, you can also find Pope Condemns Iraq War, but if you read the accompanying story, you find what Robinson was talking about: Pope John Paul II has expressed renewed opposition to the possibility of war in Iraq, saying the use of military force had to be the "very last option".... "War is never just another means that one can choose to employ for settling differences between nations," he said.... "War cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option and in accordance with very strict conditions," Pope John Paul said.... In other words, the pope is pushing to find every avenue to avoid war, but much of what he says is a review of Catholic just war doctrine. Specific "condemnation of Iraq war" under any circumstances is from the BBC, in this case.

Contrast that with the other stories linked above, where the condemnations are clear:

At a busy Sunday audience on June 27, Pope John Paul II asked for prayers for Christian unity, condemned any use of torture, and welcomed efforts to bring reconciliation to the Holy Land....The Pope has made his strongest condemnation yet of sexual abuse by priests. He told American cardinals there was no place in the Roman Catholic Church for priests who sexually abused children.... The Pope insisted that patients who are terminally ill should not be deprived of food and water-- even when these must be provided by artificial means...In a November 9 message from Pope John Paul II to the president of the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors, the Pope condemned euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research. "There are no lives that are not worth living; there is no suffering, no matter how grave, that can justify killing a life; there are no reasons, no matter how noble, that make plausible the creation of human beings, destined to be used and destroyed," said the Pope....

It seems to me the guy knows how to condemneth.

Peggy

Wow! This topic brings Mark Shea out of his self-imposed sabbatical. Welcome! HOpe your book is going well.

On to our topic. It seems to me, as it seems to Mark (so I understand) that attempting to prove that the Pope did not explicitly condemn the war in Iraq is a silly exercise & a trivial technicality. It has been quite clear that he has opposed the war, regardless of the reasons he may have given or not. One could argue that opposition and some of his words could be interpreted as a condemnation of the war. So, what? What's the point of this exercise?

It does seem to be an exercise in self-justification by the right which favored or did not oppose the war (which includes me), but also seek to twist history (does not include me) and the words and opinions of another man to make them something they (=the words) are not in order to claim support from the Vatican, which never came.

The US pro-Iraq war (or not opposed to Iraq war) folks cannot claim Vatican support no matter how they try. It matters little whether the Pope specifically "condemned" the war or simply "opposed" it.

Finally: international law, schminternational law. There is no binding authority among nations except through honor. The UN (dominated by 3rd world dictators and anti-American sentiment) can be trampled on and disregarded as Saddam Hussein and the US (not to mention France which sought no approval to send her own troops to the Ivory Coast (if I remember the former colony at issue correctly) have shown. I sure would not want any earthly international authority. God's good enough for me.

Maclin Horton

Mark Shea says: Robinson is attempting--vainly--to co-opt the Pope and make him into some sort of covert war supporter.

For what it's worth, I did not take that to be Robinson's aim. I took his effort as being directed against the assertion or implication that one could not be a faithful Catholic and support the war. Or, to put it another way, that a faithful Catholic could legitimately reach a different conclusion about the war.

Changing the focus from the pope himself to the Vatican as a whole, I must say that in general, I don't see that opponents of the war and of the Bush administration have anything much to comfort them in the Vatican's see-no-evil approach to various nasty dictators of the Middle East. Spectacles such as the repeated embrace of Arafat over the years helped build an impression that the Vatican diplomats were playing some sort of unsavory game and not necessarily speaking from principle.

Sydney Carton

"If you shoot my dog, I have the right to appeal to the law and call the cops. The state has the right to arrest you and put you in jail. I do not have the right to arrest you and lock you in my woodshed while claiming that I am "upholding the law". There's that little detail about it being the job of the competent authority, not my job."

What if you ARE a police officer and someone shoots your dog? Do you have to call someone else or can you arrest him on your own? I'd think you can go ahead and arrest him on your own. And that's what I think the American position was. It's frankly stunning that the Vatican never considered this circumstance, especially given the various debates at the time and in general over the ineffectual nature of international law and how it seems to lack consequences.

al: "The process for deciding on the force and enforcement of UN resolution appears in the UN charter and no where else."

Well, I'm not familiar with the intricate details of UN bureaucracy, so I can't say if your statement is true or not. But if America violated the PROCESS, that's probably a different category than engaging in egregious provocations for war, which Iraq did.

Liam

OK, will this hit 100 comments before sundown, EST?

Or will people have the sense to declare a cease-fire?

Sydney Carton

Liam,

If someone declares a cease-fire, it can be violated at will without consequence. :) At least, until the Bush Administation liberates this blog. :)

Todd

"I don't see that opponents of the war and of the Bush administration have anything much to comfort them in the Vatican's see-no-evil approach to various nasty dictators of the Middle East. Spectacles such as the repeated embrace of Arafat ..."

A few things. First, as a pacifist and an adult Catholic, I don't need a pope's or bishop's conference to condemn a war I thought was immoral in 1991 and remained so through this decade's execution of it. I can exercise prudential judgment and come to my own conclusions, thanks very much.

For an American to allude to see-no-evil Vatican approaches to seamy dictators, I can only think of three words as a prelude: pot, kettle, black, followed by a nice laundry list of countries we've supported when it's suited us to overlook such inconvenient items as murder: Chile, Iraq, Iran, S Vietnam, or even the USSR during WWII.

I don't know that Vatican diplomats are intent on rubbing it in American neocon faces they can rub shoulders with whomever they wish. As a pacifist, I would refuse to cooperate with such persons as a matter of principle, but then again, I'll never be appointed to an ambassadorship Vatican, American or otherwise. Maybe the Vatican can keep talking to those who are considered American enemies, but not enemies of Rome. Is it vital for Vatican diplomacy to lock-step with ours? Or is that just wishful thinking?

jason

I notice no one has been able to find a quotation to respond to:
"Please cite specific examples of JP2 encouraging the Coalition to attack Iraq, blessing the attack once it began, thanking and praising Bush and the Coalition for launching the attack and announcing that an attack contrary to international law was the right thing to do under those circumstances. Please cite examples of the Pope exhorting his flock to pray for the violent overthrow of Hussein and thanking the Coalition for doing it. "

Mike Petrik

jason,
For two reasons: (i) there is no such quote and (ii) it is irrelevant. Nobody has accused those opposing the war in Iraq of immorality; but those who support the war have been so accused.

Zippy

"It seems to me the guy knows how to condemneth."

In general terms, to be sure. It is exceedingly rare for a Pope - any Pope - to condemn particular actions by particular people (see Kerry, John, heresy suit debacle). What Pope's more generally do is teach us what categories of actions are condemned, and how to identify them: adultery, contraception, sodomy, and preemptive war, for example.

Zhou De-Ming

The Pope does indeed condemn, or at least that is what gets to the Web. Google reports:
Results ... of about 8,440 over the past 3 months for "pope condemns".
Results ... of about 10,100 for "pope condemns"

I'm a little concerned, however, that many of the "Pope condemns ..." stories are not so much about the Pope condemning something as about the fascination with him as a moral leader and our love, from an early age, of the word "No!"--both being able to say it to someone else (perhaps trying to borrow authority from the Pope), and also our realization that when we hear "No!" we know that there is something interesting, tempting and exciting there.

Some of the most recent:
Pope condemns US church sex abuse
Pope condemns Cuban executions
Pope condemns human embryo cloning
Pope condemns any war on Iraq

Hey. What's that? Some details:

"No to war! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity," the 82-year-old pontiff said.
"And what are we to say of the threat of a war which could strike Iraq, the land of the Prophets, a people already sorely tried by more than 12 years of embargo?," he said.
"War is never just another means that one can choose to employ for settling differences between nations."
He said international law and diplomacy were the only worthy means to resolve differences.
John Paul in his Christmas message three weeks ago urged world leaders not to go to war over Iraq, a theme he repeated on New Year's Day.

A general condemnation of war, and some concern about the people of Iraq.

Back to the Google results:

Pope condemns euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research
Pope condemns toture
Pope condemns gay marriage in Canada
Pope condemns promotion of homosexuality in the media
Pope condemns non-traditional families
Pope condemns Western lifestyles
Pope condemns using religion for violence
Pope condemns Bush over death penalty
Pope condemns traffickers who abandon migrants at sea
Pope condemns anti-Semitism
Pope condemns vile attack on Italian forces in Iraq
Pope condemns modern sports

some older "Pope condemns..."
Pope condemns Israel
Pope condemns US embargo of Cuba
Pope condemns gays
Pope condemns Easter

Now wait a minute. What is that about?
Oh. Its a joke.

Just for fun, I wondered what the Pope praises, according to Google:
Results ... of about 803 over the past 3 months for "pope praises"
Results ... of about 1,520 for "pope praises"
There seem to be 10 times as many Google links to "Pope condemns" than to "Pope praises."

Pope praises continued effort to eliminate land mines.
Pope praises Brazil's decision to forgive debt
Pope praises US bishops for handing of scandal
Pope praises Portugal for preserving Christian heritage
Pope praises Moscow's new ecumenical center
Pope praises deep Christian roots of Spanish people
Pope praises Neocatechumenal Way's formation work
Pope praises women's "strength"
Pope praises Gibson's "Passion"
Pope praises "sensitive" women
Pope praises once-condemned findings of Copernicus
Pope praises Bush on anti-abortion efforts
Pope praises Islam
Pope praises Priests for Life

That's fun. What about "Pope worries?"

Pope worries about "soulless" life in America [many, many Google links]
Pope worries about drop is US vocations

Searching for "Pope enjoys" returns very little.

Mark Shea

Zhou:

Google "Vatican crackdown" sometime. A favorite media trope.

Peggy:

You've pretty much summed up what I had to say. So now I will return to the book. Thanks!

Desert Chatter

al wrote:
"Desert Chatter,
'Someday the papacy will give up its last pretenses of civil authority and the Pope's role as a moral leader will be unleashed. We've come a long way in the last 150 years and I'm sure it won't be much longer'

This is heretical, so I doubt there's any chance of it happening. That the Papacy can wield temporal authority, and do so without impairing its spiritual authority is well established."

I don't question that the Papacy can and has wielded temporal authority. I just think it would be better off if it chose not to. I don't believe it is required to, so you ought to get a better handle on the use of the word "heretical."

Patrick Sweeney

There is a debate and it will continue until Amy is exhausted with reading and policing the comments precisely because the Pope has not condemned the conduct of the United States in the war in Iraq.

The Pope has used the language of condemnation in other conflicts. The Pope while hoping for peace, said that external military force is/was necessary in Kosovo, Liberia and Darfur. Peace is the tranquillity of order.

al

DC,
The proposition that's its spiritual authority is impaired by its temporal is a protestant one, and has been condemned.

al

Patrick,
The Pope, as described by Pio Laghi, as said other avenues were available, which means it was not last resort

Rich Leonardi

What Pope's more generally do is teach us what categories of actions are condemned, and how to identify them: adultery, contraception, sodomy, and preemptive war, for example.

Regarding your list of particulars: Yes, yes, yes, and no. The only thing close to a Magisterial pronouncement on this matter was Cardinal Ratzinger's memo, which specifically excluded war from those categories and was written while the debate on war and "pre-emptive war" was taking place.

Maclin Horton

Todd,

My point is that the Vatican very often does not seem to be articulating disinterested moral principles, but rather getting down into the mire of realpolitick with the U.S. government and every other worldly power. This naturally compromises the utility of Vatican statements against the war in making an appeal to Catholic conscience against it. The comparison to U.S. support for South Vietnam or anyone else is accurate enough and precisely the problem: if the Vatican is no more than another political player it deserves no more (and no less) deference to its positions.

Of course you "can exercise prudential judgment and come to [your] own conclusions" on this matter. That's what I did in deciding to go on record as supporting the war. I did not do this casually or without feeling the force of the pope's anguish. The miscellaneous pronouncements of other Vatican officials, however, had almost no impact on my stance.

I really like the sentence in what appears to be an email from a Dr. Nathan Schlueter
quoted above: "I am convinced that there's enough grey matter to make absolute denunciations here inappropriate and counterproductive." My sentiments exactly. I believe a Catholic could in good conscience go either way on the war.

Neil

Dear Loudon is a Fool,

You addressed a message to me above which said: "the question for Catholic politicians and scholars is whether the UN can be salvaged as an international body Catholics can support, or whether a body representing international interests necessarily requires the consent of the nations represented."

Thank you for your reply, but I really hadn't mentioned the UN in my original post at all and I am a more than a bit reluctant to bring up yet another topic on this thread. I suppose that in response I will quote from a very interesting article by Joseph Capizzi from the Summer 2004 issue of Communio:

"... the moral universe of the just-war theory extends to the entire human family. Despite the existence of states and people, it is a conviction of the just-war theory that there exists a real universal human family transcending these real differences. Yes, unfortunately, the family is divided and sometimes divided in such a way that military force is an appropriate means of moving towards (but never fully achieving) reunification. Nevertheless, common membership in the family sets critical moral limits on any particular political community and its pursuit of its aims. Those moral limits find partial expression in the ius gentium and positive international law. As Alberico Gentili already noted in 1588, the law of nations depends upon the natural kinship of all humankind."

And we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "The common good of the whole human family calls for an organization of society on the international level" (1927). I believe that all of this means that we can certainly retain a healthy skepticism towards the UN, but we must recognize that:

1. There must be some international organization that represents the ius gentium and positive international law.
2. This international organization must be able to place "critical moral limits on any particular political community and its pursuit of its aims" in the name of a universal common good.

The UN is certainly imperfect - it baffles me that Kofi Annan could even become Secretary General in the first place after having been in charge of peacekeeping operations during the Rwandan and Bosnian tragedies. But is there any alternative?

Thank you again for your generous reply.

Neil

Mark Windsor

Liam - these are usually take no prisoners affairs, so there will likely be no cease fires. It's easier to get Hamas to stop shooting than these guys.

That said, Al, wouldn't the competent authority have the final say as to when all other means were exhausted? And no, I don't want to get into whether or not the US or the UN was the competent authority with Iraq.

Mark Shea

What if you ARE a police officer and someone shoots your dog? Do you have to call someone else or can you arrest him on your own? I'd think you can go ahead and arrest him on your own. And that's what I think the American position was.

The problem is, what you think doesn't matter. It's what the UN thought that mattered. And the UN did not say "Let's stick with inspections, but if the US wants to go to war, that's okay with us." They said, "Let's stick with inspections. Do not attack Iraq." In the same way, if the judge lets the dog-shooter off with a fine, you do not, even if you are a cop, magically acquire the right to lock the guy up in your woodshed.

It's only complicated if you want it to be, Sydney. We invoke the UN as competent authority when it suited us and we ignored the UN as competent authority when it suited us. Rome was being quite consistent when it took us at our word that the UN was a competent authority. Personally, I have my doubts about the UN as a competent authority, but since we appealed to it, we obliged ourselves to respect that authority, even when it inconvenienced us.

Mark Windsor

Neil,

There are always alternatives. There was a time before the UN. There will be a time after the UN as well. All we have to do is dream up the next variation and assign it a new set of letters. (Maybe we could call it the League of Nations.)

Reality is that all such organizations may well be unworkable. We in the US forget just how corrupt the world can get (and rely on the UN to be incorruptable too). ANd if we cede more power to the UN then we encounter the old problem: absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Sydney Carton

"And the UN did not say "Let's stick with inspections, but if the US wants to go to war, that's okay with us." They said, "Let's stick with inspections. Do not attack Iraq.""

I don't recall the UN ever saying that. As far as I know, the UN did nothing. Certain European countries and bureaucrats hired by the UN had voiced their own opinions on the matter, but it was not the official voice of the UN, and carried just as much weight as your or my opinion. I think you're reading too much into the opposition to the war. There was no statement from the UN saying "continue inspections" and there was no statement from the UN saying "do not attack Iraq." This simply did not happen.

But in any event, the next time that the Vatican appeals to "international law," it'd be nice to know if they mean international law backed by force, or the international law of endless bureaucracy and discussion which accomplishes nothing and thus is impotent.

al

Certainly the competent authority is charged with that determination.

However that determination is objective, not subjective, and the Pope reminded us of that.

Tom

I wonder whether there are any meaningful parallels between Pope John Paul II's statements before and during the Iraq War and Pope Pius XII's statements before and during World War II.

Peggy

A further point, if we all really believe that our views on this war are a matter of prudential judgement then the pope's statements on the war only mean so much to us. That is, as Catholics we must sincerely take to heart the pope's views on such matters, as he is Christ's vicar on earth and the leader of our Church. However, we might arrive at a different conclusion than the pope. We do not need to engage in historical revision and hairsplitting of the pope's and Vatican's statements in order to feel better about our views. Either prudential judgment allows us to conclude differently, and, thus, we need not confess such a sin; or it does not, and we cannot twist the pope's proclamations to justify ourselves in lieu of confessing what we might sense inside is a sin. It seems that the latter may be what is occurring here, in my view. It is difficult on the conscience, to those who care about such things, to be in disagreement with the pope and our Church. Splitting hairs is the pro-abortion, pro-women priests (for example) way to solve it. The right should not go down that road and lose credibility in the long run.

Phil

Peggy, you are right. God knows I'm a bad (and uninformed) Catholic, but when I disagree with the Pope's pronouncements I try not to be disingenuous about it. It is clear that the Pope opposed this particular war. Let us not be Clintonian (it depends on what the meaning of "is" is...) on this.

Rich Leonardi

The relevant issue isn't whether he "opposed" the war. He can oppose it, I can oppose it, and it's still possible we're both good Catholics.

It's whether that opposition was a "condemnation" tantamount to a verdict that the war is "unjust"--which some of the war's opponents claim--that's relevant. For if it's "objectively" unjust (per al), then the war's supporters need absolution.

That's a non-Clintonian distinction with a difference, no?

And, Peggy, FWIW, issues like women's ordination and abortion don't permit distinctions.

Rich Leonardi

Above should read: "He can oppose it, I can support it ....."

Chris Sullivan

Rich, you don't need absolution because your support for the war is clearly sincere, being based on a misunderstanding of Catholic teaching, not a rejection of it.

The war was unjust because it didn't meet the CCC2309 criteria which Cardinal Ratzinger, in his capacity as the head of the SCDF, the very body charged with authentic interpretation of doctrine, clearly stated.

God Bless

Christopher Rake

Either prudential judgment allows us to conclude differently, and, thus, we need not confess such a sin; or it does not, and we cannot twist the pope's proclamations to justify ourselves in lieu of confessing what we might sense inside is a sin. It seems that the latter may be what is occurring here, in my view. It is difficult on the conscience, to those who care about such things, to be in disagreement with the pope and our Church. Splitting hairs is the pro-abortion, pro-women priests (for example) way to solve it. The right should not go down that road and lose credibility in the long run.

Peggy, there is simply no evidence that the Church has bound our consciences regarding Iraq in the way that it has for abortion. Not even close.

Zippy

For if it's "objectively" unjust (per al), then the war's supporters need absolution.

That is not necessarily the case. The war either is or is not just, objectively. If it is unjust, then supporting it is materially evil. Supporting it may not be formally evil, though, until one comes to understand that it is unjust. Once one understands that it is unjust then continuing to support it at that point would be formal (culpable) evil.

But one can always avoid the transition from material evil to formal evil by recanting. Sin requires the knowing assent of the will to evil. If I were sinning every time I happened to be wrong about something there would be no point in telling me to "go and sin no more".

Rich Leonardi

Rich, you don't need absolution because your support for the war is clearly sincere, being based on a misunderstanding of Catholic teaching, not a rejection of it.

Gee thanks. A guy who (unlike Todd) attempts to impose his pacificism onto the Magisterium is telling me I have a "misunderstanding of Catholic teaching"?

At the end of the day, the reason this is the subject ~90 posts is, as Patrick Sweeney said, precisely because the Holy Father hasn't condemned the conflict in terms folks like Mr. Sullivan and others suggest.

Joe McFaul

"At the end of the day, the reason this is the subject ~90 posts is, as Patrick Sweeney said, precisely because the Holy Father hasn't condemned the conflict in terms folks like Mr. Sullivan and others suggest"

And others seem to struggle with what he did say about war, what the Catechism says about war and and what the ramifications would be for THIS war when fairly applying the Church's teachings.

Rich Leonardi

Joe,

You, like Mr. Sullivan, deny there even is a just war teaching (a term you surround with ironic quotes) in that very catechism. Why bother with the pretense of applying Church teachings to THIS war when you have a one-size-fits-all solution?

Chris Sullivan

Rich,

Don't you think Cardinal Ratzinger knows how to properly apply CCC2309 to the invasion of Iraq ?

God Bless

Joe McFaul

Rich,

You are so wrong...and so angry you can't even carry on a decent conversation. The reason I surround the term "just war" with quotations is that THE CATECHISM itself DOES SO!! Go ahead, look it up, and you'll see those quotes around the term.

Now, Rich, why do you think the catechism put it in quotes? Could it be that the church indeed has problems with the very term? Could it be that the term does not accurately describe in shorthand the Church's real teaching? That teaching does authorize the use of mlitary force under certain circumstances. That's very clear.

You clearly subcribe beliefes to me I do not hold. I am not a pacifist, in fact, I'm a retired miltary officer. I do, however, actaully read the Catechism before forming a conclusion and I listen to the Popes and read various encyclicals to put the text of the catechism in context.

The circumstances outlined in CCC2309 don't exist in Iraq, but I think they did in Afganistan--which shows how wrong you are about both my thinking and that of the Catechism.

Zhou De-Ming

As Joe McFaul mentioned, "just war" appears in shudder quote, and it appears only once, in the Catechism:

2309 The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. the gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
- there must be serious prospects of success;
- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. the power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the "just war" doctrine.
The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

Phil

Rich,

I certainly believe that reasonable and well meaning people can disagree on the Iraq War issue. I also know that the Pope opposed this war. You seem to say that the Pope opposed the war but did not condemn it. I'm certainly not qualified to talk about Catholic doctrine or anything of the sort, so let us just say that you disagree with the Pope on this particular issue. I disagree with him in other issues. My impression, though, was that some pro-war folks use the Pope's lack of clear condemnatory language as an implicit endorsement. If that's what they are driving at then that's disingineous. By saying that, I'm not stating that you are one of them.

Incidentally, I'm not a pacifist. I'm a former infantry grunt. I supported the Afghanistan operation and although I had plenty of misgivings initially I supported the Iraq War. In not too long, however, I changed my mind, and yes, I do feel duped by this administration with respect to Iraq. We ridiculed him, but it turns out that Hans Blix was an honest broker. He didn't find WMD because there weren't any. And the Pope was right, too. My opinion.

Chris Sullivan

Not only is the term "Just War" quoted in the Catechism, but it's also in small print.

CCC20 explains that "The use of small print in certain passages indicates observations of an historical or apologetic nature, or supplementary doctrinal explanations."

If there was a "Just War" teaching then the Catechism would make this very clear. It's very good at making the teaching clear, because it has to be.

Cardinal Ratzinger, the man responsible for writing the Catechism, said "To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a "just war."" Cardinal Ratzinger on the Abridged Version of Catechism

Those who still think that the Church teaches "Just War" need to go argue it with the Magisterium. In the meantime those of us who are with the Magisterium would be grateful if people stopped implying that we are out of step with the Magisterium.

God Bless

Joseph R. Wilson

Temporal leaders, soldiers, or Popes, should hate war. I'm sure that our President saw no reasonable alternative to combat for removing a ruthless dictator who hated our guts and would just as soon rather have seen us all dead. I'm glad that he had the courage to defend our national security. It is easy to criticize President Bush using the retrospect-o-scope. Thank God for our wise Holy Father, who counseled against war; and thank God for President Bush, who appears to have tried to reserve the use of war as a last resort.

Joseph R. Wilson

"We invoke the UN as competent authority when it suited us and we ignored the UN as competent authority when it suited us."--Mark Shea

I'm possibly way off here, but I believe that this is the exact position that our president has sworn to uphold. The allegiance is to the UN only when it coincides with our national interest. Now, fire at will.

Sydney Carton

I'm going to regret talking to a fanatic on this issue, but here goes:

"Don't you think Cardinal Ratzinger knows how to properly apply CCC2309 to the invasion of Iraq ?"

Presumed in this statement is that one person alone can make a decision on this issue for others. That is false. The very nature of the doctrine vests the decision with competent authorites, among which include the President. Ipso facto, irrespective of what Ratzinger or the Pope say, the decision was for Bush to make.

I must say I find the quote about questioning the very existince of just war disturbing, even if it came from Ratzinger. It necessarily implies that defense of yourself or others is impossible. That is a road that the Church should not go down, since evil men would use it as a way of extorting from the good. I think that a lot of these "war is obsolete" arguments frankly are made in academic or philosophical settings that unfortunately have little to do with reality. I'm a fan of Ratzinger and of course I respect the Pope. But if saying that nothing can ever support the defense of people in the Sudan, or the Kurds, or the Jews in the Holocaust, or if America were attacked it could not defend itself - that is madness.

Victor Morton

Whoo-hoo ... I get to make the 100th post. Though it's after sundown in the Eastern Time Zone.

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