I know you may have seen the news about the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report, but I want to flag for you one element of this story that does not always receive significant attention – the role that the American faith community, including many prominent Catholic leaders, has played in demanding the release of this report and urging a permanent end to U.S. sponsored torture. Below is a series of statements from American faith leaders compiled as a part of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture’s ongoing work to mobilize the faith community, additional statements from faith leaders can be found here: www.nrcat.org/TortureReport-Quotes.
As Bishop Oscar Cantú chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said: “The Catholic Church firmly believes that torture is an ‘intrinsic evil’ that cannot be justified under any circumstance. The acts of torture described in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report violated the God-given human dignity inherent in all people and were unequivocally wrong.”
Here’s the thing. When it came to torture, despite the massive pretenses deployed for years and years and years by “prolife” “conservatives” saying ““Who will ascend into heaven to find out if torture is wrong?” and “Who will descend into the abyss to help us penetrate the utter mystery of what O what torture is?” the fact was *always*, “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart.” This was never ever hard. The US Bishops and the pope were super clear on this. It’s just that torture defenders were bound and determined not to listen and to fill with air with lies in justification of what they knew in their hearts to be a grave intrinsic evil.
And the way they did it in part was (among many other strategies) to blow ideological dog whistles whenever some bishop with a vaguely foreign sounding name like “Cantu” and a Pavlovian stimulus phrase like “Justice and Peace” were linked with condemnations of it. Everybody knows that’s not *real* Catholic stuff like “faithful conservative prolife Catholics” believe. So feel free to ignore it.
Even if the Church does, in fact, teach that torture is a mortal sin and that defending it is direct cooperation in that sin. Because that’s all prudential judgment stuff. And, for the Thing That Used to be Conservative Catholicism, prudential judgment does not mean “How can we best obey the Church?” but “feel free to disobey the Church if it conflicts with your politics, even if doing so means defending mortal sin.”