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Friday, March 28, 2003

Is "Just War" doctrine headed for a "developmental" tune-up?

As in developing into pacifism? If you listen to Archbishop Renato "America is Pharaoh" Martino, the answer is a disturbing "Yes." According to the WSJ's William McGurn:

Of far more concern, at least to papal admirers such as yours truly, is that the war statements appear to reflect not simply a disagreement over Iraq but a strain in John Paul's thinking that sits uncomfortably with 1,500 years of Catholic teaching on the legitimate use to force--a teaching, moreover, that asks not when authorities have the "right" to use force but when they have the obligation.

John Paul's unease over the state's use of force was perhaps first evident in his earlier treatment of the death penalty: that while it may be acceptable in principle, the state now has alternatives that make it all but impossible to justify in practice.

The linkage is not only mine. In recent interviews, Archbishop Renato Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, explicitly says that classic just-war teaching may now be headed the way of the death penalty. When the National Catholic Register asked the archbishop if he meant by this that "there is no such thing as a just war anymore," his answer was unequivocal: "Absolutely."
The pope has not gone this far. But neither has he repudiated the more fantastic claims by Vatican officials.

What's next? "Developments" regarding the [former] right/obligation to defense of self, family and others?

After all, there is no real logical distinction. It's at times like these I am haunted by the words of C.S. Lewis:

In this essay, “Christian Reunion” (Christian Reunion and Other Essays, ed. Walter Hooper, London: Collins, 1990 p.17 at p.19) Lewis stated that:

"The real reason why I cannot be in communion with you [Roman Catholics] is not my disagreement with this or that Roman doctrine, but that to accept your Church means, not to accept a given body of doctrine, but to accept in advance any doctrine your Church hereafter produces. It is like being asked to agree not only to what a man has said but also to what he is going to say."

[Link via Amy Welborn.]

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