"This is the Charity of God, That We Keep His Commandments"
Thomas A. Droleskey
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. And every one that loveth him who begot, loveth him also who is born of him. In this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the charity of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not heavy. (1 John 5: 1-3)
The Fifth Commandment admits of no exceptions to the inviolability of innocent human life. An innocent human being may never be targeted for any kind of direct, intentional attack.
As a result of Adam's fall, however, men are disordered in themselves and produce disorder in their own lives and in the lives of other men. All too frequently, as we know, this disorder takes the form of one men or a group of men threatening the bodily integrity and even the lives of other men. The Fifth Commandment does not prohibit us from using force to defend our own lives and that of others, especially our family members. The Fifth Commandment does not prohibit the civil state from putting one adjudged guilty of a heinous crime (or crimes) after the exhaustion of due process of law to death. The Fifth Commandment does not prohibit a nation (or a group of nations) from defending itself against a real, imminent threat from the aggressive designs of another nation (or group of nations). Indeed, the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law may very well require us or the civil state to use some degree of force to repel the threats posed by aggressors.
The exercise of personal self-defense is founded in the fact that we have the right to preserve our lives and those of others. Thus it is that we have the right to use a level of force that is commensurate to and proportionate with the level of the threat being posed against us or others. The intent in using force to defend oneself is not to kill the aggressor. The intent in using force to defend oneself is to render the aggressor incapable of continuing his attack. Our use of force might result in the death of the aggressor. That might be the only thing that stops him for continuing his attack. The death of the aggressor, however, is not directly willed; it is the unintentional but possibly foreseen consequence of taking the necessary measures to defend one's own life (and property) and the lives of others. If, however, there is any possibility that we can use our wits about us, praying to our Guardian Angel to speak to the aggressor's Guardian Angel, then we must try to talk an aggressor out of his aggression before he strikes at us. Saint John Bosco, who was targeted by the Masons for assassination any number of times, frequently turned his potential attackers into members of his Oratory of Saint Francis de Sales.
A Catholic must be careful about keeping his soul in a state of sanctifying grace. Although not a guarantee of right judgment in times of personal peril, being in a state of sanctifying grace will equip one with more of an ability to assess a situation quickly and to act in accord with the dictates of right reason as founded in the Divine positive law and the natural law. The spontaneity of a given moment may prompt from us unexpected, instinctive responses. We must hope and pray that our responses are commensurate to the true nature of a particular situation and that we remain, as far as is possible in cooperation with the graces that Our Lady sends to us, in possession of a sense of measured right judgment.
There are countless examples of how various saints and non-canonized martyrs gave up their lives rather than to resist the attacks upon them. Saint Meinrad, a Benedictine monk of the Ninth Century, was given to know during his offering of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition on January 21, 861, the Feast of Saint Agnes, that he would be accosted by demonically-inspired robbers and murdered by them. He did not resist. The men who attacked and killed him were pursued by two ravens who had become Saint Meinrad's companions. Saint Meinrad doubtlessly prayed for the souls of his attackers, pardoning them as he was being murdered. There are many other such examples in the history of the Church.
It is nevertheless true, however, that there are times when we are obliged to defend ourselves and/or come to the assistance of another who cannot defend himself adequately. A husband and father has the obligation to provide for the spiritual and temporal needs of his family. He has a positive obligation to defend himself for the sake of his family, especially if his own family's personal safety is also at risk. One may also have an obligation to repel the attack of an aggressor for the sake of the common good. Letting an aggressor escape when one has the physical ability to resist him might make be placing other people in mortal jeopardy, especially in instances where the aggressor is unknown to the victim and is engaged in act of random violence. This is the case, obviously, with most street crimes.
One who is unable to physically come to the assistance of others (age, disability, lack of strength) has an obligation to try, as far as is possible under the circumstances, to secure assistance to defend people who are under attack. Miss Catherine Genovese was murdered in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York, on the evening of March 13, 1964. Thirty-eight people heard or saw something of what was happening as she was being attacked by her murderer, Winston Moseley, although none saw the entirety of the attack or were even aware, as subsequent investigations revealed once the sensationalism of the moment passed, that Miss Genovese was screaming for her life. Only one witness did see her being stabbed. He had, therefore, a moral obligation to call the police to render her assistance. However, the others who heard or saw something might have disturbed their sleep for long enough to ask the police to investigate the disturbance. That few did so is an indicator of the selfishness extant in our society, that we do indeed have the obligation under the Fifth Commandment to get assistance for those who are under attack.
The question of baby-killing under cover of law has prompted a great deal of controversy among Catholics as to whether it is ever permissible to attack a baby-killer. The only condition under which one might legitimately use force upon a baby-killer is if one is inside of an abortuary and is in the killing chamber itself, about to execute an innocent human being. After all attempts at persuasion have failed, then and only then could one use whatever level of force was necessary to save the child's life. This is, though, a purely hypothetical circumstance in which the principles of the use of force under the Fifth Commandment would come into play. Abortuaries have security guards to deal with these situations. It would be most likely in the practical order of things that a defender of an innocent child's life in an abortuary would be overcome by the security guards and the baby-killer (or a replacement) would continue the act of execution.
An example of the impermissible use of force is what James Kopp confessed to doing on October 23, 1998, shooting to wound baby-killer Barnett Slepian while he, the baby-killer, was inside of his home. Kopp said that he only intended to wound, not kill, Slepian. Whether Kopp's intent was to wound or to kill, he had no right in the Fifth Commandment to seek to injure Slepian while he was at home. Slepian posed no immediate threat to any human being, born or preborn, at that time. Kopp had no authority to take the administration of justice into his own hands. The shooting that resulted in the death of Barnett Slepian was not justified. This was not an instance of the legitimate exercise of force in the defense of oneself or another.
Unintentional or Accidental Deaths
Catholic moral theology recognizes that there are instances when moral actions seeking a legitimate end might involve foreseen but unintended evil consequences. This is called the principle of the double-fold effect.
One of the prototypical examples of the principle of the double-fold effect that one would find in standard moral theology texts before the Second Vatican Council is the case of a pregnant woman who is diagnosed with a cancerous uterus. It is morally licit to save the life of the mother by removing her uterus. Her child may die as a result of the operation to remove the cancerous uterus. The death of the child, however, is the unintentional but foreseen evil consequence of the first intention of the procedure, which is to remove a diseased organ of the mother. No direct attack upon the child is undertaken. The child dies as a secondary effect of the justified act of removing his mother's uterus. While a mother might choose to forego such a procedure, as Saint Gianna Mollo did in her own pregnancy in 1961, to forfeit her own life for the sake of her child's, this act of extraordinary heroism is not required by the natural law.
In actual point of fact, however, advances in medical technology have more or less mooted instances in which women must make the choices faced by Saint Gianna Mollo. It is now possible for expectant mothers suffering from cancer or some other life-threatening ailment to be treated in such a way so as to do no harm to their preborn children, who can be brought to birth via a Caesarian section at the point of viability, at which point the mothers can be treated more aggressively by a course of treatment that her physicians believe can best address their particular conditions. One of the few instances where the principle of the double-fold effect would still have relevancy during pregnancy are instances of ectopic pregnancies.
Another example of the double-fold effect would be military actions undertaken the course of a just war. The Just War Theory states that it is an obligation of the moral law to indemnify, as far as is humanly possible, noncombatants from the effects of military actions. It is never morally permissible to target civilian population centers in warfare (which includes not only the activities of the Nazis in World War II but those of the Allies in the fire-bombing of Dresden and the atomic bombings of, Hiroshima and Nagasaki). The ends never justify the means. Civilian population centers may never be targeted legitimately. Innocents might die in warfare as a result of what is called today "collateral damage," that is, the result of stray bombs and human error. An innocent bystander might die from a stray bullet fired by a law enforcement official. Such deaths are not directly intended and are the result of the carefully planned efforts to indemnify them from harm in the prosecution of a just war.
What is impermissible in the case of a pregnant mother, though, is to take any action that directly and intentionally causes the death of a preborn human being. It is impermissible for a physician to target a preborn child for execution because his mother has a weakened heart. All efforts must be made to treat the mother without harming the child. It is never permissible to target any innocent human being at any point in his life--from the moment of fertilization to the moment at which he draws his last breath naturally--for a direct attack on his life.
There will also be times when accidents occur. Construction cranes collapse and fall to the ground, killing innocent bystanders. Accidents involving motor vehicles take over 50,000 lives a year in this country alone. Physicians and surgeons make mistakes during the course of treatment and/or while performing surgery. Gasoline tanks and boilers explode. Coal miners get trapped deep underground in mines and die. Absent cases of deliberate negligence, however, these deaths are not morally imputable to any one individual. They are accidents. I know two people who were involved in non-negligent fatal automobile accidents early in their lives. These things occur. God permits them so that good may be brought out of them, the chief of which being the prayers offered by survivors for the souls of those they have unintentionally killed. While we must take care to avoid accidents, unexpected tragedies are part of the fallen estate of man and must be offered up to God through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Death Penalty
Despite all of the protestations of the late Pope John Paul II and the American bishops in the recent past, no one, including a pope, can say legitimately that the civil state does not have the authority to put criminals adjudged guilty after the exhaustion of the means of due process of law to death. Innocent human life is inviolable. Life adjudged guilty of a crime is not inviolable. The imposition of the death penalty by the civil state is not an exercise in vengeance. It is an exercise in the administration of justice, that is, the imposition of a just penalty upon one who has grievously wounded the common good. The death penalty, if administered in a civil state that was confessionally Catholic and thus subordinate to the Social Reign of Christ the King and Mary our Immaculate Queen, would also be viewed an exercise of spiritual mercy upon the doomed felon. One who knows that he is going to die at certain time on a certain date is far more likely to make a good Confession of his sins and to be a companion in eternity of Saint Dismas, the Good Thief, than he would be if languished in a prison for the rest of his life, dying a bad, sacramentally-unprovided-for death from a sudden heart attack after thirty years of incarceration.
One of the supreme ironies of our time is that many Catholics who are vocal about their opposition to the death penalty are equally vocal about their support for baby-killing under cover of law. Those who have committed grievous crimes are showered with admiration. Those who have committed no crime are reviled as "burdens" to be eliminated from existence.
Furthermore, no Catholic trained in Thomistic thought and who understands, therefore, the different principles at work in the Fifth Commandment is permitted to equate the taking of innocent human life in the womb, either by chemical or surgical means, with the justified execution of an actual criminal who has had a fair trial and has been sentenced to death for his crime or crimes. The Catechism of the Council of Trent notes the following about this matter:
Another kind of lawful slaying belongs to civil authorities, to whom is entrusted power of life and death, by the legal and judicious exercise of which they punish the guilty and protect the innocent. The just use of this power, far from involving the crime or murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this Commandment which prohibits murder. The end of the Commandment is the preservation and security of human life. Now the punishments inflicted by the civil authority, which is the legitimate avenger of crime, naturally tend to this end, since they give security to life by repressing outrage and violence. Hence these words of David: In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land, that I might cut off all the workers of iniquity from the city of the Lord.
Whether the death penalty should be imposed on any particular person is a judgment that must be made by the civil authorities. Some persons might well be deserving of clemency. Others might not be. However, the simple Catholic truth is this: the civil state has the authority to put malefactors to death and no one, including the Vicar of Christ, has any more authority to say that it does not than he has to say that there are eight persons in the Divine Godhead. Once again, we see the triumph of the sentimentality and irrationality of Modernism over simple Catholic truth.
The Just War
We live at a time when policy-makers believe that the way to secure their nations is to engage in what they call "preventive wars." Well, the "preventive" war is absolutely and completely forbidden by the Theory of the Just War, which has been explicated by many Catholic moral theologians and philosophers, including Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas. There are times when war is justified. There are times when it is not.
What follows below was contained in an issue of Christ or Chaos in late-2002. It was also published on the Daily Catholic website on its November 15-17, 2002, edition. The principles outlined are derived from principles outlined by Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas. They are bedrock Catholic principles. No statesman is exempt from considering them in the course of statecraft. However, the application of those principles in the material below represents judgments I made in 2002 about the nature of the then-pending American invasion of Iraq. My application of those principles might have been erroneous. Subsequent events, I believe, have, most sadly, ratified those judgments. Not one word has been changed from the text that ran in Christ or Chaos or is still available at the Daily Catholic site:
War between the United States of America and Iraq appears imminent, probably within days. As I indicated in "A Simpleton's Gospel," published in Christ or Chaos, President George W. Bush might view himself as a twenty-first century version of President Thomas Woodrow Wilson, crusading for the cause of American "democracy" and "freedom" abroad, if, that is, he knew much about Wilson's regrettable presidency. Alas, Bush believes that the cause of the American Gospel of Democracy and Freedom, which he takes for granted as being beyond question, provides him with the moral legitimacy to make war upon foreign despots who pose no real or immediate threat to the national security of the United States of America. This is a needless, morally unjustified war that will put Americans more directly in danger than if Saddam Hussein were allowed to die from a natural death in the years ahead.
As one who was born in 1951 at the height of the Korean War and the Cold War, it took quite a long time to unlearn the nationalistic lies that part of the fabric of our popular culture. Although the effort to contain the spread of Communism was indeed justified, not all of the methods we used to do so were moral. Some of them were quite repugnant. As a Catholic, I had to come to understand that the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law apply in all of the circumstances of life, including warfare. "All's fair in love and war" is an application of Machiavellianism, not Catholicism, to the events of life and the world.
The Cold War and our efforts to defend ourselves against Japanese aggression during World War II aside, a Catholic has to understand that almost every war the United States has fought since the inception of the Constitution falls short of justification by means of the Just War Theory explicated by both Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas. This includes the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the so-called Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and American involvement in the European theater of World War II (even a United States Senator named Harry Truman noted in 1941 that it was wrong to provide assistance to the Soviet Union, saying that it would likely be the case that the forces of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin would decimate each other without suffering the loss of a single American life). The Vietnam War involved a noble effort to defend the South Vietnamese people from the Communist North Vietnamese, but was planned by social scientists in the Pentagon who had convinced themselves that use of quantitative analysis and computer program models could guide American troops in the jungles of Southeast Asia. To note this is to detract not one whit from the valor exhibited by those who have served in our armed forces in those wars. Not at all. It is only to point out that they were sent to fight needlessly in wars that did nothing to provide true security for this nation.
The War between the States enlarged unjustly the powers of the Federal government, denied the principle of the sovereignty of the states and the revocable nature of the Union, and engendered cultural hostilities in the South-and elsewhere--that are not yet fully resolved (and have led to the politics of "victimology" on the part of black leaders). The Spanish-American War was waged on false premises to involve the United States on the global scene, winding up with the irony that a former colony of the United Kingdom became a colonizer of other peoples, imposing upon them various forms of Protestantism and Masonry designed to supplant the "superstition" of Catholicism. The administration of Woodrow Wilson provided overt and covert aid to the Masonic revolutionaries in Mexico, knowing full well that thousands of Catholics were being tortured and executed. Indeed, The New York Times condemned him on December 6, 1914, for his support of the bloodthirsty Mexican revolutionaries. And it was Wilson's hatred of Catholicism and his zeal in promoting the American Gospel of Freedom and Democracy racy that prompted him to get the United States involved in World War I. That war, dubbed "The Great War" or "The World War" in its time, was not being fought in Europe for the cause of democracy. Wilson made it such so as to overcome the natural and justified resistance of Americans to become involved needlessly in foreign wars. Indeed, it was Wilson's grand plan for the reordering of Europe, a veritable New World Order, that paved the way for the triumphs of Hitler and Stalin on September 1 and 15, 1939, respectively.
Obviously, the last war to have been constitutionally declared as such was World War II. Every conflict since that time has involved something short of an actual declaration of war, a little nicety required by Section 8 of Article I of the United States Constitution. President Bush believes that a Congressional resolution passed last year after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon the United States authorizes him to root out terrorism wherever he finds it, including Iraq. The Joint Resolution adopted recently by Congress is not, obviously, an actual declaration of war.
Although some Catholic neoconservatives, such as George Weigel, have concluded that the conditions outlined in the Just War Theory have been met in the instanced of the impending war with Iraq, others of us, who dearly love our country, disagree. My own review of the Just War Theory follows in two parts. The first three points today, and the last three points in part two tomorrow.
1) There must be a real and imminent threat posed by an aggressor to a nation's security (or to the security of a neighboring nation unable to defend itself). No such threat exists from Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The Bush administration has provided zero evidence about the stockpile of chemical weapons Hussein is said to have. Even if he is trying to build nuclear weapons, he has no way of delivering them to the continental United States. Communist China and North Korea provide a more imminent and realistic threat against the security of the United States than Saddam Hussein. Saudi Arabia and Yemen are proven breeding grounds for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda networks. The Saudi government has never cooperated with the United States to track down those who bombed a residence housing American military personnel in 1996. Why is there no talk of attacking Saudi Arabia or Yemen?
There is only the slimmest, anecdotal evidence linking Hussein to Osama bin Laden and the other al-Qaeda terrorists. It is wishful thinking on the part of Bush and his advisers to want to project such a link onto global public opinion as being so when it is not. President Bush's October 7, 2002, address did not answer these questions. The continued assertion that something is so does not make it so, no matter whether the public has been convinced to believe in such positivistic assertions.
A retired Marine lieutenant general tells me that I am wrong, that he has seen information he cannot divulge that proves Hussein is a real and imminent threat to this country. If the threat has been so imminent throughout the course of the last few months, however, why has the administration waited until after the midterm Congressional elections and until after the resolution adopted by the Security Council of the United Nations to take action. I don't get it. If a threat is truly real and imminent, then it requires an imminent response.
Doesn't Hussein pose a threat to his own people? Maybe. However, as will be demonstrated in my review of the condition of proportionality, the level of the threat Hussein poses to his own people does not justify the sort of military response under consideration by the United States. Indeed, it is possible we will kill, inadvertently, you understand, more innocent people in our crusade to oust Hussein that he has killed since he assumed power in 1969. And it is not at all clear that there is anyone in Iraq poised to succeed him without a real power struggle. How is "democracy" imposed on a country which has no experience of the wonders provided by such modern enlightenment? See Wilson, W., above.
Insofar as weapons of mass destruction are concerned, we should be more concerned about the weapons of mass destruction found in our own nation: the scissors, the scalpel, the suction machine, the saline solution bottle, the interuterine device, the birth control pill, the abortion pill, the morning after pill, and the hands of so-called physicians, trained to "murder mankind in the womb," as the pagan playwright Juvenal noted in the second century A.D. We kill far more people every year by means of abortion, both chemical and surgical than Saddam Hussein has killed in all of the thirty-three years of his repressive rule in Iraq. We are more of a threat to innocent life than Saddam Hussein will ever be.
2) All peaceful means to avoid armed hostilities must be exhausted. Yes, Saddam Hussein has not lived up to the terms of the post-Gulf War United Nations resolutions. He has not permitted arms inspectors to have full and unfettered access to places where nuclear and/or chemical weapons are being manufactured and warehoused. Is the next step from this to be all out war, though? There are means to deal with Hussein, including an occasional well-placed military strike upon targets that have been proven beyond question to contain weapons of mass destruction, short of full-scale war. To jump from the failure of a foreign leader, who poses no direct and immediate threat to the security of the United States, to permit weapons inspections to full-scale war is to make a jump over reason itself. If Hussein is a threat to regional peace in the Middle East, he is Israel's problem to deal with ,not ours. How long must the United States serve, as Patrick J. Buchanan noted so ably over a decade ago, the "Amen" corner for Israel, putting members of our armed forces needlessly at risk to do Israel's bidding?
3) The goals must be well-defined and have a reasonable chance of being realized. In other words, there must be a reasonable chance for success in the pursuit of narrowly defined goals. Goals are to be defined narrowly so as to limit the harm caused by a needlessly protracted war, yes, even when a nation is prosecuting a just cause.
If President Bush believes that one of the goals of a war against Iraq is to make the United States "more secure," then anyone with a modicum of common sense would have to come to the conclusion that George W. Bush is badly misled. However, even if the United States can remove Saddam Hussein from power after destroying, once again, the infrastructure of Iraq and killing thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqis, this will do nothing to make the United States more secure. Indeed, scores of suicide bombers will be motivated to avenge our military action. American military action against Iraq at this time makes this country far less secure-and gives the Federal government the excuse it desires to put further restrictions on speech and movement within our own borders.
It is not clear what specific levels of military force will be necessary to remove Hussein from power. He has bunkers throughout the country. He has more doubles than the late Francisco Franco. Yes, the United States has the brute force to bomb Iraq into the stone age, as the late Air Force General Curtis LeMay said what we should do to North Vietnam when he was introduced as George Wallace's Vice Presidential running-mate on the American Independent Party ticket in 1968. (Lest Howard Phillips pick me apart on that one, I do know that Wallace had at least one other running-mate listed in some states. The rules for ballot access required him to list a candidate in some states before LeMay agreed to run with him. Howard will know the name.) If the use of said force does force the removal of Hussein, either by death or exile, then Iraq will be dependent upon the largesse of American taxpayers for decades so that it can be rebuilt. And there is no guarantee that someone worse than Hussein might rise to the surface in a few years to topple an American puppet regime, mobilizing a virtual guerilla jihad against American forces stationed there for years on end. What kind of success is that?
4) The good end being sought must not be outweighed by the foreseen evil to be done. This is known as the Catholic principle of proportionality, which states that a good end can be rendered unjust to pursue if a judgment is made that the amount of the foreseen evil to be done in the prosecution of a just war will cause greater evils than the one the war is being waged to eradicate. This is different than the heresy of proportionalism (heretics use Catholic sounding phrases so as to connect themselves in the minds of Catholics as understanding Catholic principles), which asserts that a preponderance of "good intentions" and of the "relative exigencies of the moment" can make a moral act that is naturally evil capable of being pursued justly on the part of one who believes the weight of the evidence in his case justifies a subjective violation of an objective moral law to do good. Thus, proportionalism, which has been propounded by Father Richard McCormick, S.J. (not to be confused with the priest from the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, who foments dissent at the University of Notre Dame and in his nationally syndicated columns, Father Richard McBrien), can be used by a woman to justify the killing of her preborn child. After all, more good will be done in her life by killing the child than if she permitted him to interfere unduly with her life's goals.
The principle of proportionality contained in the Just War Theory requires a very careful and prayerful prudential judgment to be made by a policy-maker prior to the advent of war. This is not a matter of infallibly received truth. This is a judgment that has got to be based on a clear-headed and most realistic assessment of the harm that will be caused by the onset of armed hostilities. The impending war with Iraq will cause far more harm than good, as I outlined in my previous section. Rather than making us more secure, we will be less secure. We will contribute to the furtherance of anti-American sentiment around the world, and will contribute to deteriorating, not improving, the situation within Iraq itself. How many truly innocent Iraqis must die to liberate their country of a man who is far less of a threat to them on a daily basis than American "freedom" is to unborn children every day in this country?
Mind you, I am an American. I love my country. However, as I have noted over and over again, love is an act of the will. To love another is to will his good. We must love others as God loves us. God's love for us is an act of His Divine Will to provide us with all of the supernatural helps we need to save our souls so that we will be with Him for all eternity in Heaven. Our love for others is premised upon doing or saying nothing that will in any way interfere with the salvation of their immortal souls. And our love of our nation must seek her good, the ultimate expression of which is her subordination to the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ as it is exercised by Holy Mother Church. Pope Pius XI noted this very clearly in Quas Primas in 1925. This is Catholic doctrine from which no one can dissent legitimately (including popes themselves, as this is the constant teaching of the Church which is beyond the ability of any pope to change).
There is enough, though, of nationalism left in my bones to say, "Ah, forget the Just War Theory. Saddam Hussein is a despot. The Iraqis are all infidels. Let's just blast 'em. They deserve it." However, that is not a sentiment in concert with the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. Anyone, infidel or not, guilty of crimes against innocent human life must be brought to justice. A nation is not justified to engage in the use of massive military force to remove one person in a crusade for the imposition of "ideals" that themselves undermine the binding precepts of God's laws and His sovereignty over men and their nations. And it is worth noting that Iraq is a fairly secular nation in the Islamic world, and there are more than a handful of Catholics living in Iraq who trace their Catholic ancestry back to the Apostolic era. Hussein might be a despot. An application of the principle of proportionality to our imminent war with Iraq reveals once again that said war is not justified.
There is also the real possibility that war with Iraq could escalate rather quickly in the Middle East. This is not a possibility that it is out of the question.
5) As far as is possible, noncombatants must never be deliberately targeted in warfare. The United States has a mixed record when it comes to the realization of this part of the Just War Theory. Our military forces have tried to use remarkable restraint in many instances. Other times, however, they have not. William Tecumseh Sherman used raw terrorism against civilian population centers as he cut a swath of fiery destruction from the Atlantic Ocean to Atlanta during the War between the States. As noted earlier, we aided bloodthirsty revolutionaries in Mexico. Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki (the latter two of which were known to contain the highest concentrations of Catholics in Japan) were bombed during World War II. Something less than laser precision caused thousands of civilian casualties during the Gulf War and during our continued bombing in Afghanistan, which commenced on October 7, 2001. It is unclear what steps would be taken to protect noncombatants in a war with Iraq, especially in light of the fact that Hussein is not above placing forcibly his own citizens in military areas to use them as a shield against bombing. Presuming that best efforts would be made by the United States military, the injustice of the cause itself, though, renders the inadvertent bombing of civilians in a war with Iraq beyond the pale.
6) A just cessation to hostilities must be realized as soon as possible. Once again, the record of the United States in this regard is very mixed. The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was done so as to force an unconditional surrender from Japan, something that the Soviets insisted on in the Potsdam Conference as their condition for entering the war against Japan (so that they could recover claims lost in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05.) Japan was willing to surrender conditionally. Those who are convinced of their absolute moral and racial superiority over others, though, cannot consider ending hostilities even if it is possible to conclude a peace that is just without having humiliated one's enemies. Not even considering in this reflection that war with Iraq could escalate regionally and globally quite quickly, the United States would likely continue hostilities until Saddam Hussein's body is found (and proved to be his by means of DNA testing) or he surrenders and is brought to a show trial in the United States. Once again, the United States might prolong a war by seeking an unconditional surrender.
President George W. Bush lives, as so many people have noted, in a Manichean world. The United States is "good." Her enemies are "bad." We are the embodiment of virtue and truth and goodness and freedom and democracy. Others are the embodiment of all that is evil. The President has the temerity to say that we value "precious life" while castigating those foreign leaders who do not. What he doesn't realize is if we lived in a Catholic world, an alliance of Catholic leaders would be asking themselves if the conditions existed to invade the United States and to overthrow a regime that permits the killing of innocent human beings under cover of law, permits the manufacture, sale, and exportation of contraceptives both domestically and internationally, exports all manner of pornographic entertainment around the world to make corporate executives (who donate mightily to both Democrat and Republican campaign war chests), and which undermines the stability of families by funding sterilization abroad and promoting special rights for sodomites at home. This nation has put to death over 40 million innocent unborn children under cover of law by surgical abortion alone in the past thirty years. The government of this nation poses a far more imminent threat to its own citizens than Saddam Hussein does to his, and we do so sanctimoniously under the guise our being a peaceful and just and freedom-loving nation.
No, I am not calling for any nation to invade the United States. Even if an alliance of Catholic nations did exist in the world today, which it does not, the just cause of seeking to end violence sanctioned by the American government upon innocent life would not be accomplished by military action from those nations or from a revolt of American citizens. The sheer force of the American regime would make a successful prosecution of such an enterprise next to impossible in human terms, thereby failing to fulfill condition three The goal must be well-defined and have a reasonable chance of being realized listed in Part One in this Just War Theory essay.
What I am pointing out, however, is that we are the embodiments of virtue no more than Iraq under its present leadership is the embodiment of Bush's "axis of evil." No causus belli exists for the United States to commence hostilities with Iraq at this time. Oh, the war might make Americans feel good for a time. But it will not make us more secure. Others will disagree with this assessment. However, history is not on their side.
As citizens, we have the obligation at all times for the safety and well-being of our troops. If war does break out, then we will pray for their mission to be successful and for the war to be short-lived. It is a fundamental requirement of the natural law to pray for the safety of those charged with the protection of a country's borders. We want every single one of our service personnel to come back home safely to their families, and we want innocent civilians kept from harm's way in Iraq. I will shed no tears if Saddam Hussein is deposed. The deposing of Saddam Hussein, however, will not make this country or the world one bit more secure than it was before. And it will not produce regional peace and security in the Middle East.
What is my alternative to making the United States more secure apart from ending baby-killing under cover of law? Well, that "apart" is a big part of making us more secure. Additionally, however, we can follow the advice of Patrick Buchanan, who has been telling us for some time how we have made ourselves less secure by our lax, politically motivated immigration laws - and by the failure of presidential administrations, both Republican and Democrat, to enforce the deportation of those persons who are here illegally and who pose a real and serious threat to the security of the citizens of this nation within our very boundaries. President Bush lacks the political will to do this as it is not popular, especially with Islamic pressure groups. The plain fact of the matter is, however, that most of the September 11 terrorists would not have been able to execute their schemes of mass murder as easily as they did if they had been denied student visas and/or deported for coming from countries hostile to the interests of the United States of America. Islam of its nature is not, as President Bush as simplistically and positivistically asserted, a "religion of peace." Its adherents should not be permitted to enter this country as anything other than temporary visitors whose deportation is immediate if they should overstay their visas. It is as though we have learned nothing from the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 and from the Battle at the Gates of Vienna in 1683. There are slews of Mohammedan sleeper agents in this country precisely because one presidential administration after another has played politics with the security of our nation by not seeking to buck the forces of political correctness. A firmly enforced immigration policy will make us far more secure than all of the bombs dropped on either Afghanistan or Iraq.
War is sometimes justified. Sometimes it is not. However, even a just war can never be truly successful unless we realize the root of all wars is found in a wounded human nature caused by Original Sin and our own actual sins. As long as people and their nations make war upon God and His Holy Church by means of their unrepentant sins, then all use of armed hostilities, no matter the justice of the cause at issue, will fail to provide any true security for any nation or for the world.
The United States of America can never be made secure as long as she permits the American holocaust to continue. Her claims to be an instrument of justice in the world are eroded entirely when she will not take even basic steps to stop the shedding of innocent blood in her midst.
As nasty a man as Saddam Hussein might be, as important as it is to bring those who are directly tied to al Qaeda to justice, we have to understand that the real enemies of American security are within our own borders. They are the people, both citizens and office holders, who support the destruction of innocent human life and who make war upon the rights of Christ's true Church to direct matters of fundamental justice for the realization of the common good here and the fullest measure of happiness imaginable in eternity.
There are many, if not most, Americans who will disagree with this analysis. There are some who might even put my patriotism into question, thinking that I am giving aid and comfort to the likes of former Vice President Albert Arnold Gore and Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle and Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and the scores of professional leftists who want to do nothing domestically or internationally to secure the safety of American citizens. I am not. As a Catholic, I am simply making a non-infallible prudential application of the standards of the Just War Theory, especially in light of how we are one of the most terroristic nations on earth.
Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary is the weapon we must use to make ourselves secure personally - and thus to make our nation a true beacon of fundamental justice founded in the splendor of Truth Incarnate. As an indispensable part of total consecration to Her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary has the power to convert ourselves and our enemies. As the late John Cardinal Carberry, the long-time Archbishop of Saint Louis, Missouri, until his retirement in 1979, noted at a meeting of the then-called National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1982 (at a time the bishops were considering their infamous "The Challenge of Peace" pastoral letter), "Gentlemen, it seems to me you have forgotten something in your considerations. Our Lady's Fatima Peace Plan. That is the only way to bring the peace of her Divine Son to this fallen, fractured world."
Anger and Forgiveness
The disorder produced in our sins by Original Sin and our own Actual Sins inclines us to get unjustifiably angry about petty annoyances that we must simply accept and offer up to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart without complaint. Believe me, I know, that is much, much easier said than done. Even though I no longer live in my native state, I am a New Yorker, which means my particular nature is to be impatient. My late mother said that she never saw two people who were as impatient with each other as her husband-to-be, my late father, and his mother, my paternal grandmother were with each other when she, my mother, was dating my father. I am afraid, as candor compels me to admit, that the apple has not fallen far from the tree at all. While there has been some improvement over the years, my dear wife is doing much of her Purgatory right here while being married to me as I attempt to hurry things along in a "New York minute."
Most of the things that we get annoyed about and might express anger over are miniscule and inconsequential. As Father Arthur Meloche, a priest of the Diocese of London, Ontario, Canada, noted in a parish mission at Epiphany Church in Normal, Illinois, in September of 1978, "You are as big as the problems that upset you." Indeed. Most of us get upset about petty things that are to be helps for our sanctification and our salvation, not for selfish, narcissistic displays of peevishness that demonstrate how really "little" we are.
Yes, there are times when we will be justifiably angry. Our Lord drove the money-changers of out of the Temple.
And he found in the temple them that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting. And when he had made, as it were, a scourge of little cords, he drove them all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen, and the money of the changers he poured out, and the tables he overthrew. (Jn. 2: 14-15)
Our Lord spoke in very strong terms against the Pharisees on a number of occasions:
Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you are like to whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all filthiness (Mt. 23:27)
You serpents, generation of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of hell? (Mt. 23:33)
Our Lord is true God and true Man. He was in perfect control of his emotions. The justifiable anger He expressed and showed during His Public Ministry was exactly what the moment facing Him called Him to say and to do.
We, though, are fallen creatures who let our lower natures get the better of us, even when we are justifiably angry. We must handle moments when we are justifiably angry by supernaturalizing them. We express what we need to express and then let the matter subside. We do this with our children. We must do this now and again with merchants and representatives of corporations who are intent on cheating us. We must do and say those things that are consonant with the demands of the moment, keeping in mind that the person to whom we are speaking bears within his immortal soul the Divine impress and that we must pray for that person's good. And then we let it go. If recourse is to be had to some measure of administrative or civil justice (in the case of fraud or malpractice) this is done without any spirit of vengeance and to see to it that strict justice--and not one bit more than what strict justice requires according to the specific circumstances--is done.
For instance, there are many times when relatives of the victim of some violent crime appear at the sentencing for their relative's murderer and spew out the most vile invectives against the criminal, wishing him in some instances to be sent to Hell. This is not of God. This is a sin against the Fifth Commandment. While it is just to seek that justice is done in a particular case, we must seek the spiritual good of the person who has caused us pain, meaning that we want him to make a good Confession of his sins and thus be reading to die in a state of sanctifying grace. Like Saint Stephen with Saul of Tarsus, we wish to be united with our former enemies and persecutors for all eternity in Heaven. Our Lord really did mean it in the Sermon on the Mount when He said:
You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thy enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.
For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this? Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt. 5:43-47)
The antidote to the misuse of unjustified anger--and the antidote to all acts of injustice or impatience visited upon us by anyone and everyone--is forgiveness, as I noted last week in To Forgive as We are Forgiven (2006). The Fifth Commandment obliges us to be charitable to our neighbors, to forgive them the wrongs that they have committed against us. Most crimes of passion that are committed each day in the world are the result of the unwillingness of people to forgive others as Our Lord has forgiven them on the gibbet of the Holy Cross. Most of the situations that lead to war are the result of prideful, angry people believing that the only solution to human problems is to kill innocent human beings, hating them for this or that offense, whether real or imagined. There will never, for example, be "peace" in the Middle East between the Mohammedan Arabs and the Zionists who run Israel as each and every one of them is steeped in the blindness of Original Sin, which incline them to hate and to kill each other all the more, until and unless they convert to the Catholic Faith.
Similarly, though we must defend the Faith with firmness and to point out and to resist the errors of conciliarism that infect the minds of so many, including our Holy Father, we must never cease in our prayers for Pope Benedict XVI and all of our cardinals and bishops and priests. A firm defense of the Faith must never be mistaken for "bitter zeal." No one I know who has come to the conclusion that we must resist errors and point them out publicly has any personal animus for any other human being, including our Holy Father, who is our spiritual father for whom we must pray first and foremost every day of our lives.
Some people write or ask me how I can consider Pope Benedict XVI to be the pope. Well, he is presented to us as such. I lack the competency to declare him to be anything other than the pope. Might some future council or pope make a declaration that formal heresy has been committed in the past forty years? Possibly. I lack the competency, the authority, to make that determination. Thus, I pray for the Holy Father and bear him not the slightest ill will as I petition him, as a son of the Church and his subject, to do justice by us in restoring the fullness of the Mass of Tradition without delay and in rejecting the harmful novelties of conciliarism. My calls for His Holiness to consecrate Russia to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart are founded in a son's desire to see our spiritual father fulfill our Heavenly Mother's Fatima Message, the path to true peace, that of her Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, that has been given to her by Him for these our troubled days.
Charity is a positive obligation of the Fifth Commandment. We must will the spiritual and temporal good of every person. Charity is not an obligation of the civil state. It is an obligation that starts in the family and then extends to the parish and from there to a diocese. It is an obligation of the Catholic Faith. We must perform the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy so as to provide some of the soothing balm of God's healing love to a fallen, fractured world:
The Spiritual Works of Mercy are:
1) To admonish sinners.
2) To instruct the ignorant.
3) To counsel the doubtful.
4) To comfort the sorrowful.
5) To bear wrongs patiently.
6) To forgive all injuries.
7) To pray for the living and the dead.
The Corporal Works of Mercy are:
1) To feed the hungry.
2) To give drink to the thirsty.
3) To clothe the naked.
4) To visit and ransom the captives.
5) To shelter the homeless.
6) To visit the sick.
7) To bury the dead.
There is no governmental or social program or policy to end violence in the world. The way for the Fifth Commandment to be observed in this vale of tears is for each man and woman and child on this planet to be Catholics and to be enfolded into the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mercy came to us from the Cross of the Divine Redeemer and from the tears of His Most Sorrowful Mother, who is the Mother of Mercy. The more we conform ourselves to Our Lady is the more that we will image the Mercy of her Divine Son, seeking the good of all men as we keep company with her at the foot of her Divine Son's Holy Cross in every Mass at which we are privileged to assist until our deaths.
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. And every one that loveth him who begot, loveth him also who is born of him. In this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the charity of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not heavy. (1 John 5: 1-3)
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, pray for us.
Saint Peter Damien, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Mary Magdalene, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Saint Lucy, pray for us.
Saint Agnes, pray for us.
Saint Agatha, pray for us.
Saint Bridget of Sweden, pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Sweden, pray for us.
Saint John of the Cross, pray for us.
Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us.
Saint Therese Lisieux, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette Soubirous, pray for us.
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, pray for us.
Blessed Francisco, pray for us.
Blessed Jacinta, pray for us.
Sister Lucia, pray for us.