Another Example of the Divide in Catholic Moral Theology

Between those who ask, “How can we do the right thing with as little violence as possible?” and those who seek to know “When do we *get* to inflict violence?” courtesy of George Weigel, who pushed for the Iraq War while all the bishops of the world and two popes (wisely) pushed against it since “preventive war is not in the Catechism” as Benedict pointed out. Nothing daunted, he writes:

But perhaps the greatest damage to the deepening of the just-war way of thinking in our time has come from the notion, effectively propagated by the Catholic bishops of the United States in their 1983 pastoral letter “The Challenge of Peace,” that the just-war analysis of world politics begins with a “presumption against war.” . . . the classic just-war tradition began, not with a presumption against war, but with a passion for justice.

No. The classic just war tradition begins with the fifth commandment prohibiting murder and recognizing that in this fallen world the appetite for slaughter is so great that a series of barriers had to be erected to make it as hard as possible to go to war since our ability to rationalize our appetite for slaughter is epic.

So yes, the Tradition has a very strong presumption against war because war means people get killed and we don’t want to kill even the guilty, much less the millions of innocents who die in war, without extremely good reason.

In short, Weigel’s entire animus is *against* the question “How do we do the right thing with as little violence as necessary?” and in favor of looking at Just war doctrine through the lens of “When do we *get* to inflict violence?” The practical outcome of this disastrous approach can be seen in the catastrophe of the Iraq War.

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