Pope reiterates classic Just War teaching. Everybody wonders what he might possibly mean by it

Come with me, gentle reader, as we attempt to unravel the web of secrecy and mystery that surround the inmost workings of that impregnable Citadel of the Incomprehensible: the Vatican!

The Catholic Faith has, among its other points of Just War theory, always taught that for a war to be legitimate: “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 modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.* …..The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.” (CCC 2309)

In a baffling move, our innovative modernist Pope has once again broken with Catholic tradition (and, more importantly, with conservative agendas) by essentially reiterating these age old points and emphasizing (in view of the apparent imminence of conflict) the point I have highlighted. Who can penetrate his mysterious mind? Where does he get these outlandish ideas from?

Now the clause that really throws things into a cocked hat in this case is the one I have asterisked. People of good faith can evaluate the impact of WMDs in entirely different ways. Our fear is, of course, that if we don’t act, then there’s a nuke in our future. I think that’s pretty reasonable, given 9/11. His fear is that there may well be famine and nukes in some other innocent populations future, given the region’s instability, also a reasonable fear.

Practical agenda for somebody with my clout in deciding the course of history? Pray, pray, pray. Here is a classic case where the Pope’s teaching is intended to inform the conscience and intellect, not impose a course of action or set policy. The Church does *not* operate on the idea that all which is not forbidden is compulsory.