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Letter #8, 2018: War and Peace: An Appeal

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Catholic Teaching on "Just War" and an Appeal for Peace

The Catholic teaching on "Just War" may no longer, in our "post-Christian" age, be considered a relevant factor in the decision-making of governments.

Perhaps we truly "beyond" justice and injustice.

Perhaps we are no longer concerned about what is "right" or "wrong" in the matter of war, only about what is expedient — perhaps we are concerned only about power, and the use and imposition of that power.

So it may seem naive, even foolish, to appeal to Catholic teaching on "Just War" now, at a time when the outbreak of a wider war in Syria seems imminent.

May it still be avoided...

The Catholic teaching on this matter is, arguably, of great interest to all reasonable human minds — not only to Catholic minds, but also to the minds, and hearts, of all men and women of good will.

Because humans, in the profound depth of their being, do not wish to settle questions purely by force — which can never prove who is "right" and who is "wrong" — but by the higher power of reason, by determining what is right, and what is just.

Hence, the need, as so often in the past, to appeal to the teaching of "Just War."

The teaching is balanced, persuasive, realistic, and very ancient, dating back nearly 1,700 years to St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.), who lived at a time when the city of Rome was sacked and burned by Alaric the Goth (410 A.D.) — so Augustine knew war, and its bitter fruits...

Because of the great antiquity and dignity of this "Just War" teaching, it seems never a useless thing to recall this venerable teaching to our leaders: men and women whom we, in our democracy, have chosen to represent us to seek the highest common good for all through the use of judgment and reason, not though the use of superficial emotion, or in Twitter-expressed whims...

In the final analysis, adherence to this teaching would keep our national, societal actions in harmony with what the greatest minds, the greatest saints, the most noble political leaders in our tradition have held to be the just way of acting, in this fallen world, when situations of conflict seem to be on the verge of descending into open war.

(In what follows, I draw on the following link on the EWTN website. The underlinings are my own.)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraphs 2302-2317, authoritatively teaches what constitutes the just defense of a nation against an aggressor.

Called the Just War Doctrine, it was first enunciated by St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD).

Over the centuries it was taught by Doctors of the Church, such as St. Thomas Aquinas, and formally embraced by the Magisterium, which has also adapted it to the situation of modern warfare...

Just War (2307-17)

All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.

Despite this admonition of the Church, it sometimes becomes necessary to use force to obtain the end of justice.

This is the right, and the duty, of those who have responsibilities for others, such as civil leaders and police forces.

While individuals may renounce all violence those who must preserve justice may not do so, though it should be the last resort, "once all peace efforts have failed." [Cf. Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 79, 4]

As with all moral acts the use of force to obtain justice must comply with three conditions to be morally good.

First, the act must be good in itself. The use of force to obtain justice is morally licit in itself.

Second, it must be done with a good intention, which as noted earlier must be to correct vice, to restore justice or to restrain evil, and not to inflict evil for its own sake.

Thirdly, it must be appropriate in the circumstances. An act which may otherwise be good and well motivated can be sinful by reason of imprudent judgment and execution.

In this regard Just War doctrine gives certain conditions for the legitimate exercise of force, all of which must be met:

"1. the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

2. all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

3. there must be serious prospects of success;

4. the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition" [CCC 2309].

The responsibility for determining whether these conditions are met belongs to "the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good."

The Church's role consists in enunciating clearly the principles, in forming the consciences of men and in insisting on the moral exercise of just war...

The Church has no illusions that true justice and peace can be attained before the Coming of the Lord.

It is the duty of men of good will to work towards it, nonetheless.

In the words of the spiritual dictum, we should work as if everything depended upon our efforts, and pray as if everything depended upon God.

[End of "Just War" material from EWTN]

In this context, in a desire to adhere to the Catholic teaching on "Just War," a small group of Catholics has proposed the following declaration in the hope of avoiding a wider war in Syria which risks bringing about a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia, the world's two greatest nuclear powers.

Here is the text of that declaration:

Declaration Against the Expansion of the Syrian War

April 11, 2018

We, the undersigned, hereby make public our resistance against President Donald Trump's announcement that he will, within the next hours or days, retaliate militarily against the sovereign state of Syria, with the argument that the Syrian government is guilty of the the use of chemical weapons against civilians in the Ghouta region on 8 April.

Such a military retaliation is unjust because the purported gas attack has not yet even been sufficiently and carefully investigated by a neutral investigatory expert body.

Since the facts are not yet even clear about who committed such a possible crime, how could we then already punish Syria?

Such a military retaliation would also provoke a military response from Russia which has a military presence in Syria upon request from Syria itself in order to help the country free itself from ISIS and other rebel groups.

Thus, a military intervention on the side of President Trump and his allies might very well provoke a war with Russia which could lead to a widening war involving Europe – to include Turkey – and other regions in the world.

Following Just War Doctrine, we insist upon a fair investigation of the facts before entering a war.

We remind President Trump of the principle of self-defense, which means that a country may only use military force against another sovereign country when it has been attacked by it.

We insist upon prudence and truth.

We refer our readers to an excellent statement written on 10 April by Patrick Buchanan. (For those who do not want to click on the link, I have included the entire text below.)

We ask the world leaders to do everything in their power to stop this cycle of civil and imperial wars.

Sursa: www.InsideTheVatican.com

Contor Accesări: 40, Ultimul acces: 2018-12-17 18:57:35