Remember the words of the Pledge of Allegiance?
When we pledge allegiance, we say to ourselves and to the world that ours is a nation “under God.”
Because of this, we hold ourselves to thehighest standard of all. International treaties and law, or concerns about creating recruitment tools for terrorists are important. But they are notthe ultimate measure.
High moral standards matter. And the dignity of every human person is paramount.
Today we have been reviewing the report released by the Senate intelligencecommittee detailing interrogation practices used in the past by the CIA in the war on terror. The report contains some truly disturbing findings,including details on practices that were truly inexcusable and inhumane.
The truth is some members of our CIA engaged in activities intended to protect America that have noplace in any civil society — and we unequivocally oppose and condemn these actions by our government.
Writer Jim Manzi wrote years ago that“a decent society needs to defend itself from armed aggression without becoming a society not worth defending. This is never simple toaccomplish.”
Saint John Paul the Great described torture as an ‘intrinsically evil’ act. In such acts he explained “a good intention orparticular circumstances can diminish their evil, but they cannot remove it. They remain ‘irremediably evil acts; per se and inthemselves they are not capable of being ordered to God and to the good of the person.’”
Part of the greatness of America is that we DO hold ourselves to suchhigh standards. We are right to subject our government and its leaders to heavy scrutiny.And when our government fails the universal test of human dignity, wedemand justice. And rightly so.
Some people have pointed out that the timing of the release of this report was political. The preparation of the report has beenclouded in controversy. But that doesn’t change the facts. Based on confirmed reports, the CIA has acknowledged that it made mistakes and thepolitical fallout has only just begun.
We readily admit that there are some difficult questions involved in interrogations. What constitutes torture can at times bedifficult to define.
Butwhat is not up for debate is that there have been cases where government officials have crossed the line. As one example, regardless of whether youbelieve waterboarding is torture, surely subjecting a person to the practice 183 times is indefensible. Or practices that brought our owninterrogators to tears.
Torture is a violation of the dignity of the human person. Every human is made in the image and likeness of God.
The actions by those who engaged in torture,however well intended, or whether helpful intelligence was garnered in the process, does not excuse their actions.
Those who have fought to defend America have done so withboth valor, and at times, with moral restraint. Their service remains worthy of our deepest esteem.
The greatness of America lies in holding ourselves to the highest ofstandards. “Under God” must mean something. This same standard allowed us to condemn and overcome slavery. And in time, by the grace ofGod, will allow us to end the evil of abortion too.
In the words of St. Thomas More, we are indeed called to be the ‘King’s good servant.’
But always God’s first.
P.S. In condemning the use of torture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church specifically calls on us to “pray for the victims and theirtormentors.” CCC 2298. We join you in doing so today.
CatholicCulture.org also weighs in with the only sane response.