Some of my Bourbon GOP Readers Are Busy Trying to Explain…

that *because* preventive war is, in the words, of then-Cardinal Ratzinger “not in the Catechism” that means that it’s AOK.

This utterly perverse and totally wrong wrong wrong claim is addressed here.

Laughing at the Devil
When Judging is a Virtue
The Benefits of Belief
A Parable of Two Sons
  • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve thought of the stage magician’s sturdy wooden box of pro-war arguments from a decade and more ago. I was a little surprised to see that they’re still being invoked. I suppose I would have expected people to be at the, “Yeah, well, what’s done is done,” stage.


    Total surrender to Evil, not even calling a man a fool. raca in Aramaic, giving up your cloak if they take your shirt are all included in the Beatitudes. No war could be justified IF we tried all the St Augustine principles first, Korea for exampled killed how many and 50 years later they are still at it. It may mean losing some worldly bragging rights and prestige and some dying. But compare the decades since WW 11 for the USA until today and are we anywhere near ahead or winning yet. The USA and UK are broke, China and Russia are strong fiscally and Germany is controlling the EU Zone fiscally.

  • Benjamin

    Someone Catholic can correct me if I am wrong, but from what I can gather the Vatican’s position seems to be that all modern warfare is unjust, as to fulfil all their requirements for just warfare is neigh-on-impossible using modern weapons technology. It’s a position that I happen to agree with on secular grounds, I just wish the Vatican was more this way when it actually had temporal power.

    • wineinthewater

      It’s not the modern warfare technology that makes it neigh-on-impossible (some might actually say that, aside from the weapons of mass destruction, modern technology makes it easier), it’s modern warfare politics that makes it neigh-on-impossible.

      • Benjamin

        Yes, there’s that too. Back when war was was waged between two monarchs who had their small, professional armies battle it out in the middle of a countryside field, and when passing from under the rule of one monarch to another made little difference in daily life just war was possible. Not so much now.

        • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

          I don’t think I’d paint that rosy of a picture of medieval warfare. I certainly wouldn’t say that passing from one monarch to another didn’t make much of a difference to an English Saxon in 1067. And that was hardly an exception.

  • Jamie R

    Look, the law was made for man and not the other way around. If you look at our liberation of the Iraqi people and all you see is a bunch of politicians violating the law, maybe you’re just a Pharisee.

    • Mark Shea

      Wow. That is some spectacular perversion right there. Pharisees nitpicking about “You shall not murder” while good Christians go ahead and murder in the life-giving Spirit of Christ. If that’s not blasphemy, I don’t know what is.

      • Jamie R

        But what if I look at the war in Iraq and all I see is a beautiful and spontaneous act of liberation? Sure, the Church has duly promulgated as a rule CCC 2309. But are these rules even things that we really need to follow? These rules are subservient to the law of love – in this case, love of casting off an evil dictator and bringing democracy and western materialism to the people of Iraq. In some communities, Just War might be proper. But our particular community includes a lot of people who don’t respect Just War Theory – to have excluded them from getting to liberate the Iraqis would have detracted our attention from them.

        Or maybe normal people just get confused when people in power send the message that it’s okay to disregard what the Church has taught. Following the law has intrinsic value, because disobeying the law lawlessness. When right-wingers foolishly say that the Church permits pre-emptive war, they’re not just wrong on the war question, they’re promoting lawlessness as such. When left wingers pretend that rubrics don’t matter and can be ignored, they’re not just getting the liturgy wrong. They’re promoting lawlessness as such. The negative effects of lawlessness might be outweighed by other considerations (as they were when Francis washed women’s feet), but that doesn’t mean there are no negative effects that need to be corrected. Chiefly, how is the average Catholic supposed to know when the Church ought and oughtn’t be obeyed?

        Maybe for you, with your principles, it’s easy. If it’s a rubric that serves no apparent purpose, is less than 60 years old, and is widely disregarded, then disregard it. If it’s a rule that is fundamental and is in some ways older than Christianity itself, then that rule should be obeyed. But what if I didn’t have a particularly well honed set of principles? Let’s say I’m a Specialist in the Army, and I’ve been assigned the job of interrogating someone. I know what the Church teaches on torture, but I also am concerned about the negative real world effects of not getting information from this guy. What do I do? Do I obey the Church? Why? Let’s say I’m a voter. I know what the Church teaches on Just War and abortion, but I’m concerned about what happens if the other guy wins. What do I do? Why? If I really believe that the consequences of following the Church’s law are worse than the consequences of obeying it – if I believe that torture is necessary to save lives, or that a vote for Obama or Romney will have better effects than a vote for a 3d party – why should I obey the law against my own poorly formed instincts?

        I’m not saying that Francis by washing the feet of women is teaching people that it’s okay to torture. I am saying that against the backdrop of contemporary Western Catholicism, where virtually no one believes the law matters, anything that undermines respect for the Church’s law needs to be corrected against. You don’t correct against it by calling everyone who cares about the law a pharisee.

        • Mark Shea

          Amazing. Murder thousands and it’s beautiful. Wash somebody’s feet in an optional rite and it’s a crime of epic proportions. A spectacular display of gnat/camel inversion ratios.

          Look, I get that you are just trying to say “The Pope should obey the rules.” But the way you argue this just makes Pharisaic Traddery look sick and bizarre.

          • Jamie R

            Sorry, that was my fault. I assumed that calling murder beautiful was so beyond the pale (especially given my clearly non-sarcastic reply below to Pathfinder’s wife) that it would immediately register as sarcasm.

            And not only the Pope should obey the rules. Everyone should. That’s what rules are for. In the rare circumstance that more primary rules point to breaking other rules, the negative effects of rule-breaking still need to be corrected for.

            • Jamie R

              But at the same time, the arguments in favor of disregarding rubrics for whatever reason, the arguments in favor of ignoring just war theory run parallel to each other, even if they use different language. Both view people who would prefer to obey the law as being ignorant of the facts on the ground, puritans, pharisees, hypocrites, etc. Those who want to ignore the Church’s teaching in any area paint themselves as realists. See, e.g., Pathfinder’s Wife below: “As for Iraq…was it a “clean” war? Pffft…no, but then none of them ever are.”

              The Church teaches what she teaches. Her law is her law. Even where it would be perfectly acceptable or even preferable to change the law (as on foot washing, but not on Just War), the law is what it was, and disobeying it breeds lawlessness.

              • ivan_the_mad

                Except we’ve established that the pope, being the supreme legislator, executor, and interpreter, didn’t break the rules; contrariwise, disregarding just war doctrine and committing a grave intrinsic evil is categorically wrong.

                There’s no equivalence here. Please distinguish different species of law. Doctrine is not rubric.

                • Jamie R

                  The substantive wrongness of the acts is beside the point. I don’t care, for purposes of this conversation, if the acts are ultimately wrong or right.

                  My point is that breaking the law is harmful. I don’t care what the law is. There’s harm in breaking good laws and dumb laws. When you break a law, you foster disrespect for the law. You tell people that laws don’t matter. (Similarly, there’s harm in enacting or not repealing dumb laws, like only allowing men’s feet to be washed, for no apparent reason). That’s a harm. That harm might be (and in Francis’ case, is) outweighed by other considerations. But it’s still a harm, and it still needs to be corrected. It’s a harm that’s worth taking into consideration. It’s a harm that needs to be talked about. It’s a harm that should be taken seriously, especially since we know how so-called progressives are going to view the act of ignoring the rubrics. Because it’s a real harm, people who talk about it shouldn’t be lazily condemned as pharisees.

                • Jamie R

                  Additionally, it’s hard to know when it’s okay to break the law. Maybe you can distinguish between species of law. You know who apparently can’t? The 98% of Catholic voters who voted for Obama (pro-war, pro-abortion) or Romney (pro-war, slightly less pro-abortion). A lot of people received a beautiful message of humility and love when Pope Francis washed women’s feet. A lot of people also received a message of lawlessness and permissiveness. Even if the first message is a great enough good to outweigh second (which it is), the second message is still bad.

                  • ivan_the_mad

                    Except, of course, the pope didn’t break a law. He didn’t disregard rubric.

        • Jon W

          bringing democracy and western materialism to the people of Iraq

          No nation, not were it ruled by a million murdering Saddam Husseins, would deserve that.

        • Marthe Lépine

          Jamie R.: I am just flabbergasted by: “But what if I look at the war in Iraq and all I see is a beautiful and spontaneous act of liberation?” What liberation? What was spontaneous about it? As a foreigner, I have access to other sources of information, and I was led to believe that “oil” also had a lot to do with Iraq… And can you clearly demonstrate to me how that “liberation” has benefited the Iraqui population? If it was a matter of getting rid of Saddam, why did the US not leave as soon as it was done? Maybe the Iraqui would have been better off without all those inter-religious battles between Sunnis and Shias being unleashed? (and this is juts an example…)

          • ivan_the_mad

            He was, apparently, trying to be clever and draw an equivalence between blindly positive consequentialism regarding Iraq and people who reacted positively to Francis’ footwashing, on the basis that both were departures from the law yet one is condemned by Mark and the other not. Of course, since in the interim since Holy Thursday it’s been established that the pope broke no law nor flouted rubric, his equivalence fails.

            • Jamie R

              So there’s no rubric specifying that men’s feet are to be washed? Why’s there even a story here?

              And it’s a parallel. Not an equivalence. I even granted that Francis was probably justified, but those who champion unjust war aren’t. It’s the blind positivity that pisses me off, together with the hostility to people pointing out the downside to publicly ignoring what had been the rubric, which the Pope has no apparent interest in obeying or officially changing (which he could).

              • ivan_the_mad

                There’s a story for the same reason as most stories: sensationalism and ignorance.

                Hostility? A bunch of polymath autodidact super genius comboxers, suddenly expert on liturgy and rubric, started a liturgical policing action against the pope and falsely accused him of disobedience, violations, etc. It turns out that they’re wrong about him being wrong, so they’ve moved the goalposts to say although he may have been right he went about it the wrong way. Are you really shocked that people reacted defensively against that horse shit? The man’s not been pope a month and suddenly a bunch of self-styled liturgical enforcers swoop in to decry his alleged infidelity. Get a grip and be thankful the instincts of many were to defend the pope. This is as it should be. I’m sure Francis knows his job better than his critics.

                Furthermore, dissenters are going to dissent regardless. Stop judging Francis’ actions by what hypothetical ills people may or may not work with it. That’s on them, not him.

                So calm down, have some faith in the new pope, have some faith in the Holy Spirit and the Petrine promise.

                • Jamie R

                  Defensive reaction: “What the Pope did was good. Of course, the Pope isn’t immune to criticism. Let’s talk about why what the Pope did here was right, and the good outweighs the bad.”

                  Lunatic idiocy: “This is beautiful and if you see anything at all wrong or questionable here, you’re a Pharisee.”

                  • Mark Shea

                    How about, “This was beautiful and if you threaten to leave the Church, or declare him anti-christ, or try to compare support for him to support for Saddam Hussein, you have taken leave of your senses.”

                    • Jamie R

                      Who’s declaring that the Pope is the anti-Christ?

                      I’m not saying that supporting the Pope is like supporting Saddam Hussein. I’m saying that supporting law-breaking is supporting law-breaking, and you shouldn’t do that without a strong, clearly articulated reason and without also reaffirming that law-breaking is bad.

                    • Mark Shea

                      People like this: http://www.romancatholicimperialist.org for one.

                      There’s such a thing a reasonable proportion in an argument. When you try to compare a legislator altering a malleable human tradition with utter disregard for the fifth commandment on a massive scale, you only make your argument look ridiculous. It’s like equating failure to tighten the lid on the mayonaisse jar with rape and murder. Nobody can take it seriously outside the bubble of liturgical obsessiveness.

                    • Jamie R

                      To put it differently,

                      All law-breaking is bad. Everything from speeding, having a beer when you’re 20, to murder are bad. However, for many laws, the good from breaking them outweighs the harm of breaking them. But that doesn’t change that law-breaking is harmful. When anyone – from an altar boy to the Pope – disregards a rubric, that’s harmful. When they do so in public in a way that’s reported in every newspaper in the world, that’s harmful. The fact that the good outweighs the harm doesn’t mean there’s no harm.

                      And calling people who want to address that harm pharisees does no one any good.

                    • Mark Shea

                      I repeat, I’m not saying anybody who expresses any concern is a Pharisee. I’m addressing people whose minds and hearts are consumed with straining at this theological equivalent of a gnat, while being absolutely oblivious to the camel of batshit crazy spite, malice and rancor they are swallowing.

                  • ivan_the_mad

                    No, lunacy is not knowing the first thing about ecclesiastic law but convening a Star Chamber to wrongly convict the pope in absentia. People who do actually know the first thing about it have concluded that the pope broke no law. What part of that do you not grasp?

    • “joe”

      “our liberation of the Iraqi people”

      words fail me

      • Jamie R

        “words fail me”


  • Pathfinder’s wife

    Perhaps it would be better if “war” was left for what it is: an issue of the state — render onto Caesar. War is a dirty business, and there never was anything “just” about any of them. They fall quite outside any morality — even the most “just” of them; perhaps the only truly just wars are those that are over quickly with the minimum amount of casualties and damage.
    It would be wonderful if they never happened again, and perhaps the Church’s place in this is to try and discourage them…but, due to human nature, the cessation of hostilities is not likely (and there are dangers in regards to the type of society one would be in if total eradication of war came into being — a planet full of peaceful drones who are never in conflict doesn’t sound so great either).
    As for Iraq…was it a “clean” war? Pffft…no, but then none of them ever are. Was it right to go in? Maybe…it certainly has opened up another can of worms, but then they all do, and I don’t much mourn the passing of Saddam Hussein, nor his regime (having direct evidence of some of the nasty stuff he did; that some of his opponents are no better is merely the way this usually works out in this world).

    • Jamie R

      No intentional human act falls outside morality. If war did fall outside of morality, why would it be wonderful if war never happened against?

      The only way for war to fall outside moral considerations would be it was just a pure force of nature. Tsunamis and hurricanes, for instance, aren’t morally good or bad. Likewise, indigestion is a force of nature – whether you get sick after eating a certain food isn’t morally good or bad. However, poisoning someone isn’t an act of nature – it’s a rational and therefore moral act, that will almost always be an evil one.

      War consists entirely of human beings making intentional, rational decisions. This means it’s subject to moral analysis. If warmongers had the rational faculties of beasts, then war would fall outside of morality, just like it isn’t immoral for a cat to kill a mouse. Unlike a cat, even Dick Cheney has a rational immortal soul.