The war of words between Iran and the United States threatens the safety and security, not only of the people of Iran and the United States, but of the world as a whole. The threat of war is real, and it appears that the Trump administration is following the bellicose disposition of John Bolton (as Bolton seems interested in justifying a new war in the Middle East). While we are not there yet, and Mike Pompeo has said that the United States does not want war, more and more indications are that plans for war exist, and actions are being taken to prepare for such war. The United States is already trying to justify its actions by making claims about Iran being a dire threat; but it is clear such claims are not just questionable, but contradicted by many of the United States’ own allies.
It’s not hard to see similarities between the build up to the Iraq War in the with the rhetoric coming out of the Trump administration today; likewise, it is not difficult to see that many of the same people who pushed for the Iraq War are behind this push today. If war comes, the result is far from predictable, though it is likely to be much worse than any war in the United States’ recent history.
With no just cause, indeed, with lies already being used to justify its warlike stand, the United States once again is on the verge of an unjust war. There is the need for Catholic leaders, lay and cleric alike, to speak up and reject the drums of war. If war comes, there will be the need for Catholic leaders to follow the example of Romanian Catholic Bishop John Botean and denounce any and all Catholic cooperation with such a war. In his pastoral letter of March 7, 2003, he said:
Therefore I, by the grace of God and the favor of the Apostolic See Bishop of the Eparchy of St. George in Canton, must declare to you, my people, for the sake of your salvation as well as my own, that any direct participation and support of this war against the people of Iraq is objectively grave evil, a matter of mortal sin. Beyond a reasonable doubt this war is morally incompatible with the Person and Way of Jesus Christ. With moral certainty I say to you it does not meet even the minimal standards of the Catholic just war theory
Thus, any killing associated with it is unjustified and, in consequence, unequivocally murder. Direct participation in this war is the moral equivalent of direct participation in an abortion. For the Catholics of the Eparchy of St. George, I here by authoritatively state that such direct participation is intrinsically and gravely evil and therefore absolutely forbidden.
My people, it is an incontestable Biblical truth that a sin left unnamed will propagate itself with lavish zeal. We must call murder by its right name: murder. God and conscience require nothing less if the face of the earth is to be renewed and if the salvation offered by Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ is to reach all people, including us. We have no choice before the face of God but to speak unambiguously to the moral situation with which we are confronted and to live according to the Will of Him who gazes at us from the Cross (Catechism 1785).
Sadly, although the official Catholic stand with the Iraq War was that it was illegal and unjust, few American bishops followed with the prophetic stand of Bishop Botean, and as a result, many Catholics recklessly promoted the war and its efforts. With the worsening situation between Iran and the United States clearly before us, Catholic Bishops, especially American Catholic Bishops, need not only to speak out against the possibility of war, but to speak with force, making it clear that Catholics must resist not only the efforts to promote such a war, but any cooperation with a war if it takes place. Perhaps they should do a fortnight for peace, orchestrate protests and marches for peace, and proclaim, like Bishop Botean, the serious sinful consequences possible for those who join in with such war efforts. Hopefully there is time to speak and stop the call for war, but if as some fear, such a war is a foregone conclusion, Catholics must be made to see the path which lies before them, one which is a dark and easy path of war, and the other is the path of Christ which stands in the way of any such criminal aggression.
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