It turns out that the Church actually prefers peace to war

It turns out that the Church actually prefers peace to war January 23, 2013

In fact, it turns out that before you ever get to the bit of the Catechism that deals with Just War doctrine (which, funny thing, says that war is to be an absolute last resort, not the first thing you start fantasizing about if you lose an election or somebody suggests that not all is well with American gun culture after a roomful of six year olds is slaughtered) the Church has a whole lot to say about laboring for peace.

No.  Really.  A *lot*:



2302 By recalling the commandment, “You shall not kill,”94our Lord asked for peace of heart and denounced murderous anger and hatred as immoral.

Anger is a desire for revenge. “To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit,” but it is praiseworthy to impose restitution “to correct vices and maintain justice.”95 If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. The Lord says, “Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.”96

2303 Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity. Hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil. Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm. “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”97

2304 Respect for and development of human life require peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war, and it is not limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is “the tranquillity of order.”98 Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity.99

2305 Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic “Prince of Peace.”100 By the blood of his Cross, “in his own person he killed the hostility,”101 he reconciled men with God and made his Church the sacrament of the unity of the human race and of its union with God. “He is our peace.”102 He has declared: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”103

2306 Those who renounce violence and bloodshed and, in order to safeguard human rights, make use of those means of defense available to the weakest, bear witness to evangelical charity, provided they do so without harming the rights and obligations of other men and societies. They bear legitimate witness to the gravity of the physical and moral risks of recourse to violence, with all its destruction and death.104

Avoiding war

2307 The fifth commandment forbids the intentional destruction of human life. Because of the evils and injustices that accompany all war, the Church insistently urges everyone to prayer and to action so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war.105

2308All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.

However, “as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed.”106

It’s only at CCC 2309 you finally arrive at just war doctrine.  And again, funny thing, the Church regards war not as something you *get* to do if you can only cook up the right excuses for it, but as something you might–God forbid–have to do: like amputating your own leg without  anesthesia.

And then, after reluctantly giving some guidelines about what to do if a civilization finds itself in the wretched position of having to saw off its own leg with a rusty butcher knife and stick to bite on for pain relief, it then immediately returns to discussing ways to keep that from happening too often:

2315 The accumulation of arms strikes many as a paradoxically suitable way of deterring potential adversaries from war. They see it as the most effective means of ensuring peace among nations. This method of deterrence gives rise to strong moral reservations. The arms race does not ensure peace. Far from eliminating the causes of war, it risks aggravating them. Spending enormous sums to produce ever new types of weapons impedes efforts to aid needy populations;111 it thwarts the development of peoples. Over-armamentmultiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of escalation.

2316 The production and the sale of armsaffect the common good of nations and of the international community. Hence public authorities have the right and duty to regulate them. The short-term pursuit of private or collective interests cannot legitimate undertakings that promote violence and conflict among nations and compromise the international juridical order.

2317Injustice, excessive economic or social inequalities, envy, distrust, and pride raging among men and nations constantly threaten peace and cause wars. Everything done to overcome these disorders contributes to building up peace and avoiding war:

Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them and will so continue until Christ comes again; but insofar as they can vanquish sin by coming together in charity, violence itself will be vanquished and these words will be fulfilled: “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Some of my secessionist nutjob readers have written to remonstrate with me because I put the teaching of the Church concerning peace first, and not the libertarian fantasies of some Catholics who leap, with unseemly alacrity, to fantasizing about a Glorious War of Secession.  Some think I am very mean for saying that all–absolutely all–talk of secession is, in this gun soaked culture of death, violent fantasizing that is searching for a justification for war.  These are the same people who have been telling me that we all need to make sure there is no change in our gun laws since we will all need guns when the day comes where we have to do battle with the approaching column of tanks sent by HITLERSTALINMAOBAMA to trample our freedom and take away our right to secede.  So yeah: secession crazy talk is violent fantasy crazy talk.  It’s the same sort of mental rehearsal for violence that Ticking Time Bomb crazy talk was.  And as Chief Tyrant and Censor of This Here Blog, I will not have it, just as I will not have people searching for hypothetical situations that might justify abortion on demand or searching for fantasies that might excuse nuking civilian populations or any of the other beloved fetishes of the Culture of Death.  Try using your noggins to imagine ways in which violence might actually be the last, rather than the first resort you think of.

And if you cannot be restrained from indulging your fantasies about bloody insurrection (which is what “secession” would mean in the real world of the American culture), then do it elsewhere.  I asked people to respect this wish yesterday and a number of them ignored me.  Now, they find themselves unable to post here.  Don’t try me on this, or you will discover the same thing as people who want to make my blog a platform for abortion apologetics, war crimes, and other forms of forms of murder: because that is what armed insurrection (aka “secession”) would inevitably mean.

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  • Elmwood

    Big surprise–our catholic faith is one that strives for peace among men and not war. Sounds obvious but I don’t think it’s well thought out among many GOP catholics. When we spend more then top 13 defense spending nations combined while we constantly live in fear of a nuclear Iran or a hidden threat of terror from countries with important historical Christian communities, we are a nation of war. Last time I checked, we are the only nation to use nuclear weapons on civilian centers and most of the GOP think it was a good thing we nuked em’.

    Being pro-life, pro-environment, pro-small business, pro-small military (legitimate self defense), pro-natural law, pro-gun restrictions and pro-small government will not sell well in our overly politicized and dumbed down culture where reason and logic get trampled by mindless party cheerleading.

  • ivan_the_mad

    This further evidences that too many are only nominally Catholic. Twenty minutes of effort with the index of the Catechism should be enough to disabuse many of the toxic notions peddled under the mantle of conservatism (or progressivism or whatnot, yes, but I’m right of center and so is most of the audience here). I’m going to assume that either the idea to discover the Church teaching on a matter never occurs to many, or they simply ignore it in favor of political ideology.

    Follow Cardinal Arinze’s advice. Read the Catechism. Two pages a day will get you through it in a year. It’s effort far better spent than all the time with Fox or NR or Hannity, because unlike fidelity to those organizations, only fidelity to the Truth of which the Church is the custodian will save you soul.

  • Tim in Cleveland
    • ivan_the_mad

      Ha! That’s hilarious, thanks.

  • I’m still looking for Church teaching on defensive use of intimidation and threat which is what I interpret most of the secession talk to be about. A lot of warfare in the real world is puffing up and scaring the other side into behaving as you wish them to with actual physical violence being a last resort. This is a large part of the uniforms and the traditions that make up the martial culture.

    You really have to get down into the weeds and work the details to figure out the difference between posturing that tends to reduce actual violence and a real threat which is a prelude to real violence.

  • KM

    “2317…..[and] distrust… raging among men and nations constantly threaten peace and cause wars.”

    This is why the amped-up fear-mongering on the talk shows and websites is especially disturbing. It is anti-peace.

    As I noted on a different thread here, fear leads to distrust of our neighbor and to separation/isolation from our neighbor which can lead to hate. MLK also warned about that: “Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.” Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story (1958)

    More importantly Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

    It’s irritating and sad that Hannity uses the “let not your heart be troubled” line all the time on his show while he helps whip up the fear. He Himself has said to let not our heart be troubled or afraid.

  • Steven Cass

    The really stupid thing about these secessionists is that they absolutely refuse to see that violence will lead to exactly what they fear. If Sandy Hook is merely an excuse to take away our gun rights, as they claim (some wackos even going so far as claiming it was a false flag operation) then how do they think the government and media would react to MORE violence?
    The only way to protect our freedoms is through non-violent actions. If the government is as far gone as claimed, non-violence will force them to use force, which will in turn start to wake up other Americans to their government.
    There can be absolutely no violence from any defenders of liberty if they truly want to preserve the United States as a free nation.

  • KM

    Maybe part of the problem on the Catholic Right is that some are hoping for sainthood, thinking they’ll be the next St. Joan of Arc. I wonder if this is what’s driving the call to (civilian) arms among some on the Catholic Right.

  • TheConductor

    Violence and war should always be the last resort.

    The first resort should be Hawaii, or perhaps Miami Beach.

    (Sorry for the groaner, but I thought this conversation could use some levity.)

    • Mark Shea

      Oh dear. Waikiki did you have to tell that awful pun?

  • Tamara Horsburgh

    hey well done, conductor!

    and thanks for posting this Mark – its always a good reminder to go to the catechism.