The USCCB writes about the Torture Report

The USCCB writes about the Torture Report December 9, 2014

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:

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.”

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  • Matthew

    Rick. San. Torum.

    Hero to Conservative Catholics. The antithesis of Biden and Pelosi.

    Torture defender.

    • Rachel

      I’m going to guess that Ted Cruz is in that camp too.

      • antigon

        Save for Paul, we may be confident they all are. In fact, if I might re-post:
        Despite his public support for torture during the Bush II presidency, President Obama chose Fordham graduate & presumably Catholic John Brennan first as his chief counterterrorism advisor where he was a big drone man who lied, claiming none, about the resultant civilian deaths from them; & then to his present position as CIA Director. It was this nomination that provoked Senator Rand Paul’s famous filibuster, but despite all the above Brennan was confirmed 63-34, with the support of 50 Dems, 12 R’s (including McCain), & 1 independent. Two Dems, one I & 31 R’s opposed it.
        As of yesterday when the remarks below were made, Brennan seems disinclined, Mr. Shea, to embrace your salutary admonition & advice:
        ‘Our review,’ he announced, ‘indicates that interrogations of detainees on whom EITs [Enhanced Interrogation, the euphemism for the rectal rape, murder, & other practices exposed in the Torture Report] were used did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives. The intelligence gained from the program was critical to our understanding of al-Qa’ida and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day.’
        Another lie one may be confident, yet utterly foul even were it not, as Mr. Shea has kindly continued to remind us.
        And soon to return as a sequel! With the very distant possibility only of Paul, under Hillary or whichever other Republican gets elected, there is every reason to believe The Torture Report will prove but Chapter One of an ongoing saga.
        No federal law prevented nor has punished, nor will, those responsible for what the Torture Report reveals. And as one David Kurtz among others has noticed, ‘what now stands in the way of reviving such a program is a mere executive order…On torture and all the legal, political, and moral ramifications associated with it, we remain at the edge…unrepentant and undaunted.’

    • IRVCath

      When you are convinced this is like the Tenth Crusade, it is rather tempting to endkrse this barbarism.

  • CCC 2297 & 2298

    Before jumping on the qualifier of ‘innocent’ at the end of 2297, we should be sure to read the entirety of 2298, which concludes:

    “In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition.”

  • Na

    We waterboarded three people, seven years ago, get over it. And we still waterboard …sorry…I meant torture….our navy seals every day.

    Wait a minute…I am sure that the CIA contractors did not intend to commit evil..that means they were just following their conscience..which the Pope just said that is all we have to do. Or does that only apply to democratic sins.

    Your Holiness, you wrote that in
    your letter to me. The conscience is autonomous, you said, and everyone
    must obey his conscience. I think that’s one of the most courageous
    steps taken by a Pope.
    “And I repeat it here. Everyone has
    his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and
    fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a
    better place.”

  • John

    Why arent all of them from president on down prosecuted for war crimes? Ok for us but not for the nazis?

    • Marthe Lépine

      I may be wrong, but it seems to me that, several years ago (maybe even the 80’s), when discussions took place about some kind of international court of justice, the US refused to participate, because they were afraid that such a court could be used against them for “political” aims. Therefore nobody from the US could be prosecuted for war crimes… But it was a long time ago and my memory may not be completely faithful, for the simple reason that I was not paying that much attention to that matter at the time.

  • antigon

    Dear Mr. Shea:
    Sorry to get cranky again, but was just thinking that if the folks who made these wicked & preposterous arguments were able to get hold of Cardinal Kasper, perhaps they could put a Synod together in order to look into a pastoral means of helping John Brennan to, you know, do a little penance for his sin before sending him back at it. While not forgetting the torturers’ positive contributions. Not actually to endorse torture or anything, but perhaps not something we need to talk about all the time. After all, ours is a God of surprises, & isn’t evangelization the thing that really matters?
    Lots of Catholics were involved with the actual crimes here you know, not to mention all those banging the drums for it. Rather than your fundamentalist not to say reactionary approach of just telling these people to repent, shouldn’t we say with His Holiness that if they accept the Lord and have goodwill, are we actually in any position to make judgments about them?
    Actually, perhaps your approach has more to be said for it. But if so, as surely so, then wouldn’t it follow that…