A reader writes:
I urge you to consider carefully these two press releases from Communion and Liberation (available at www.clonline.org). They help us to understand that the Pope is motivated not by a naive pacifism, nor a dispassionate academic just-war analysis, but by a profoundly Christian sense of hope.
THE POPE’S WAR
Milan, 16th January 2003 “Never as at the start of this millennium has man perceived how precarious is the world he has shaped. I am struck by the feeling of fear often dwelling in our contemporaries.” This is what the Pope said in his address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. He then made a long list of situations of injustice, of war, of poverty that characterise our world.
“But everything can change. It depends on each one of us”. And here John Paul II listed what are the positive “imperatives” (yes to life; respect for law; the duty of solidarity; no to death, to selfishness, to war) that sustain man’s life and his need for happiness: the prosecution of these imperatives is the factor for building the peace the Pope wants so much, with Christian passion for the destiny of peoples, because in this is realised the destiny of the individual concrete person.
The Pope is for peace, he is not a pacifist. We feel reminded by him of the fact that peace is not the result of political strategies that win over others (even Bush says he is going to war so as to make peace); peace is the dramatic outcome of the search for Truth and for God, who alone can defeat what seems to be an inevitable enmity between men. From this point of view the Pope, in fighting for peace, is more at war than others “peace is not the virtue of the unwarlike”, as Mounier said, and we are with John Paul II, because he untiringly offers his faith and his witness before a world in which the majority do not want war, but do not work for peace, because they do not know what to want and what to do. Meanwhile, in this confusion, men go on fighting and spreading that death and that incapacity to hope that are the true objects of the Pope’s attack.
NO TO WAR, YES TO AMERICA
No, President George W. Bush does not convince us, just as his father, President George H.W. Bush, did not. We cannot understand why Saddam is the most wicked of them all, why he is the most dangerous, why his overthrow is so indispensable to the fight against terrorism. As a matter of fact, Saddam’s tyranny seems “moderate” when compared with other regimes. Christian churches should be shown tolerance everywhere; in Iraq they exist, but not in certain other countries. We are against this war. We are on the side of the Pope, who sees this war as being out of all proportion, both in method and in aim, and is resorting to all licit means to avoid it, to spare the poor Iraqis not only human and political oppression, but exposure to the far more lethal aerial bombardments, and to spare all of us the consequences of a useless conflict.
We are on the Pope’s side not only against the war, but above all in support of his work of peace-building. The Pope does not de-legitimize America. He does not label it the den of all the vices of the opulent West. He does not anathematize or excommunicate the Catholic soldiers who have left for Iraq, but invites everyone to join him in prayer (“Only an intervention from on High can make us hope
in a less gloomy future. I invite everyone to pick up the Rosary and beg the intercession of the Blessed Virgin.” – The Angelus, February 9th, 2003) and in the search for a more adequate way to combat the violence that is threatening us.
We see an inalienable aspect of this more adequate way. It is the safeguard of freedom: freedom to believe, freedom of expression, freedom to work for a better future, the freedom of the Church and the freedom of the State, freedom of institutions and freedom of democracy. America is an example of this, such a clear example that it seems almost a dream, most of all for the more underprivileged. So even if the American government is wrong on this present issue, we shall not disown America, because, amongst other things, in America you can be against America?s war. In too many countries they do not even dream of this kind of freedom. We will not disrespect the American flag. We will not follow the utopia of a society so perfect that no one needs to be good. We do not feel righteous because we make declarations approved by the majority.
We feel responsibility, bitterness and pain for the contradictions that cannot be solved; for the impotence of international organizations; for the conditionings that inevitably bind relationships between States. We know that our freedom must be used for changing things through toil, determination and civilized choices.
The true peace movement is a movement of education. It affirms, as the people’s conscience, the choice that evil “fearfully present in each one of us, and not only in the enemy outside (which changes according to which part we side with)” shall not prevail over good. In this way every judgment and action might be factors of peace, justice and civility.