Today the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has decided that it is time for the United Statest to leave Iraq. The bishops have called, “serious and civil national dialogue to help our nation chart a way forward”. This is an interesting development. The concept of preventive war was debated prior to the onset of hostilities. There were some who thought and I suppose continue to think that there is such a position as a “just war”. The “just war” position was originally articulated by St. Augustine at a time when Christianity had become a state religion and the state at that time needed a way to limit the scope of these conflicts. Now, nearly 20 centuries later, leaders invoked “just war” as though it was part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they used it as a way to justify warfare not to limit it.
I think the concept of “just war” is dung. Where in the gospel is there any concept of proportional violence mentioned in the teachings of Jesus? “Blessed are the peacemakers”, “Love your enemies” come to mind. Preventive war and just war produce death, destruction, resentment and are only metaphors for a justification for nationalism and conquest. The Iraq war clearly would never have happened had there been no oil under their sand. Nominally “Christian” nations looking for a justification for this conflict used a “red herring” to justify attacking an inferior country. The cause of peace and stability for all nations and the advancement of the dignity of the human person is at stake. Catholic social teaching clearly articulates the sacred nature of all life and the dignity of the human person. This principle is grounded in the idea that the person is made in the image of God.
I believe that there is no way war can be justified. Killing anyone whether an unborn child or a soldier from another country is still killing. I find it difficult to kill little animals that manage to find their way into our home from time to time. I frequently pray to them and ask them to leave and most of the time it works.
A couple of months ago a little mouse made its way onto our enclosed porch and my wife set traps to get rid of it. I “talked” to the mouse and begged the mouse to leave. I prayed that the mouse would leave but unfortunately, the little rascal didn’t leave and it found it’s way into a trap. Somehow the mouse managed to survive and with tears in my eyes I carried the mouse to the edge of our woods and released it, begging it to never return. It did return, the trap worked in a more fatal fashion this time and the poor little rascal was killed. It broke my heart. I love animals. I don’t like snakes, rats and even cats but I can’t bring myself to hurt one. They are all made by the Creator. Even rocks and trees bear the image of the Most High.
When I served my country during the Vietnam era I did so as a US Navy Hospital Corpsman because then as now I saw killing as un-necessary and counter to all that I believe. Love your enemies. Peace.