George Neumayr notes the bizarreness of those who spend all their time wringing their hands over Pius XII (who saved 80,000 Jews) while simultaneously actively supporting the virulently anti-semitic Radical Islamists all around them. It’s why it’s so hard to take them seriously.
Here’s another reason they are so hard to take seriously.
But Mark! JPII opposes war too! Yes. So has every Pope opposed every war of the 20th Century. It’s been a while since a Pope has shouted “God wills it!” to a crowd of people and sent them marching off to a Holy War (and that had dubious results). The Pope is, I think, a principled pacifist in the tradition of the very early church (which once forbade Christians from serving as soldiers). Principled Pacifism (unlike the vulgar pacifism of ANSWER or Sheryl Crow is, like Just War, part of the Tradition. And like so many aspects of the Tradition, it creates a tension and demands that we deal with both poles of the tension rather than just getting rid of one to make life easy. You can see this again and again: Is God sovereign or is man free? Is God one or three? Is Jesus divine or human? Are we saved by faith or works? Again and again, the Church says, “Yes!” So here.
I’m grateful for the witness of JPII here, even though I think we must have this war. Some Christians seem to think we would be best-served by a Pope who was a cheerleader for war and wrath. They often appeal to the wrathful Jesus of the New Testament (and he’s quite real) and demand that the Church be just as wrathful and full of judgment as he under the doltish slogan “What would Jesus Do?”. Personally, I think this is a quick ticket to hell for a lot of Christians due to the small but important fact that he is God and we are not. The question is “What would Jesus have me do?” Jesus has the right to judge and declare who is damned and who is not. We do not. War is, I think, necessary. But let us not pretend it is a Holy War. It is a human war, waged by fallible people who are every bit as under judgment as the rest of the human race. For the Church to become a cheerleader for this is loony. The Church’s task is to work for peace, mercy and love. I’m reminded of Chesterton in The Everlasting Man:
We have all heard people say a hundred times over, for they seem never to tire of saying it, that the Jesus of the New Testament is indeed a most merciful and humane lover of humanity, but that the Church has bidden this human character in repellent dogmas and stiffened it with ecclesiastical terrors till it has taken on an inhuman character. This is, I venture to repeat, very nearly the reverse of the truth. The truth is that it is the image of Christ in the churches that is almost entirely mild and merciful. It is the image of Christ in the Gospels that is a good many other things as well. The figure in the Gospels does indeed utter in words of almost heartbreaking beauty his pity for our broken hearts. But they are very far from being the only sort of words that he utters. Nevertheless they are almost the only kind of words that the Church in its popular imagery ever represents him as uttering. That popular imagery is inspired by a perfectly sound popular instinct. T he mass of the poor are broken, and the mass of the people are poor, and for the mass of mankind the main thing is to carry the conviction of the incredible compassion of God. But nobody with his eyes open can doubt that it is chiefly this idea of compassion that the popular machinery of the Church does seek to carry. The popular imagery carries a great deal to excess the sentiment of ‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild.’ It is the first thing that the outsider feels and criticizes in a Pieta or a shrine of the Sacred Heart.
As I say, while the art may be insufficient, I am not sure that the instinct is unsound. In any case there is something appalling, something at makes the blood run cold, in the idea of having a statue Christ in wrath. There is something insupportable even to imagination in the idea of turning the comer of a street ‘coming out into the spaces of a market-place, to meet petrifying petrifaction of that figure as it turned upon a generation of vipers, or that face as it looked at the face of a hypocrite. The Church can reasonably be justified therefore if she turns the most merciful face or aspect towards men; it is certainly the most merciful aspect that she does turn.
Okay. Let the brickbats fly.