Red Mass Liturgical Abuse

Red Mass Liturgical Abuse October 1, 2007

The annual Red Mass was celebrated yesterday at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington DC. The celebrant was Archbishop Wuerl and the homilist was Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee. In general, it was a beautiful and solemn Mass, with one major exception. At the beginning, there was a military-style procession into the Cathedral. One of the soldiers was barking orders, a harsh cacophony in a cathedral renowned for its quiet solemnity. The soldiers, stomped up toward the altar bearing flags (one was the US flag) and rifles. Yes, you read that correctly, rifles! When the barking and stomping had ceased, the choir then led the congregation in singing the anthem of the secular American state, the Star Spangled Banner. We once had a debate in Vox Nova over whether it was appropriate to sing God Bless America. This was something else entirely. In the name of God, how can one sing this song in a Church? Not only is it wholly secular, and thus no different from a Celine Dion song at a wedding– which the Church rightly forbids– but it contains phrases like “ rockets’ red glare, bombs bursting in airand lauds a purely secular military victory. While people were singing, they had their hands over the chests, a gesture that is only appropriate during Mass if one is saying mea culpa..

I like the Red Mass. It is well and good to ask the Holy Spirit to guide those charged with implementing the law, which Aquinas defined as an ordinance of reason for the common good. Plus, it has an ancient pedigree. I also have no problem with praying for the secular leadership during Mass. But we should never cross the line. The secular state should never be glorified at Mass, and that is exactly what happened yesterday. This melding if the spiritual and temporal is no different from the caesaro-papism of old, when the Byzantine emperor presided over the Divine Liturgy at the Hagia Sophia, and where there was little separation of God from Caesar (and need I point out what Christ had to say about this?). During the heyday of caesaro-papism in the east, while the Bishop of Rome remained orthodox, the patriarchate of Constantinople fell frequently into the hands of whatever heretical group had gained imperial favour at the current moment– whether it be Arian, Nestorian, Monophysite, Monothelite etc. For sure, the Catholic Church also succumbed to caesaro-papism on occasion, but it was always tempered by a clear understanding of distinction between the realm of the spiritual and the realm of the temporal. Unfortunately, many Protestants in the United States have lost sight of this crucial distinction. Their Catholic allies seem to follow suit, forgetting that this distinction us what protects the Church from corruption.

Pope St. Gregory VII, pray for us.

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  • PadreVic

    Eeek!

  • This is unfortunate – it should not have been allowed to happen.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    The star-spangled banner wholly secular?

    “O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
    Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
    Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
    Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us as a nation!
    Then conquer we must, when our cause. it is just,
    And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave! “

  • MM-

    I do not question your expertise in this area, but I think it would be helpful to provide our readers with links to the relevant canon law provisions or Church teachings that prohibit the actions noted in your post, for those the sake of those who lack such expertise (including yours truly).

    Thanks!

  • Donald – The god invoked in the Star Spangled Banner is not the Triune God.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    And you know this how Michael? The author, Francis Scott Key, was an Episcopalian. As far as I know Episcopalians worship the Triune God.

  • radicalcatholicmom

    OH. MY. GOSH! Wow! Just wow!

  • Policraticus

    The Star-Spangled Banner was written to commemorate a victory in an unjust war declared by the U.S….never belongs in the Catholic (read: universal) Liturgy. This has nothing to do with patriotism and everything to do with right faith.

  • PadreVic

    As I read this again, I just wonder if people who would have no problem with this would have a problem with this type of display in a Catholic church say in Cuba or Russia or Iraq (under Sadam)?

  • And you know this how Michael? The author, Francis Scott Key, was an Episcopalian. As far as I know Episcopalians worship the Triune God.

    It doesn’t matter what “personal” faith he held. The United States does not recognize the Triune God as the real God. The ‘god’ it recognizes officially is an empty shrine, in the (approving, I think) words of Michael Novak. The U.S. recognizes the god of “believe what you want,” so long as that god is tolerant of capitalism and killing in the name of the nation-state.

  • ben

    Policratus,

    Just to correct a minor point, The Star Spangled Banner was written to commemorate the War of 1812, which was a defensive war.

    That being said, I agree with MM on this one. This is just as abusive as liturgical dance. If we could go back to making the Proper Introit required, this would not happen.

  • PadreVic raises a good point. And now that the Church is trying to patch up its differences with the state-sponsored Church in China, how would people react if thew Chinese army marched into Mass with the red flag, and started singing the March of the Volunteers? Here’s a sample:

    “Arise! All who refuse to be slaves!
    Let our flesh and blood become our new Great Wall!
    As the Chinese nation faces its greatest peril,
    All forcefully expend their last cries.
    Arise! Arise! Arise!
    May our million hearts beat as one,
    Brave the enemy’s fire, March on!
    Brave the enemy’s fire, March on!
    March on! March on! On!”

  • Donald R. McClarey

    O.K. Michael got it. The fact that Francis Scott Key was a Christian makes no difference. When he refers to God he is actually referring to an empty shine. It is always enlightening when people commenting 193 years later know better than a writer what he meant when he used the word God.

  • Blackadder

    Morning’s Minion,

    Might the different reaction to saying the Chinese Communist anthem in a Catholic church have something to do with the different character of the Chinese Communist regime? In some European countries (e.g. Hungary), the national anthem is sung at the end of every mass. Whatever one’s opinion of that, this surely is not the same as if some Nazi or Communist anthem were being sung. By comparing singing of the U.S. national anthem to the national anthems of Communist China or Baathist Iraq, you might give off the impression that you think the U.S. government is comparable to the governments of Communist China or Baathist Iraq. That, I would humbly suggest, would be a mistake.

  • Blackadder:

    No, that is not the point. Nothing I have written is concerned with the relative legitimacy or morality of the US and Chinese governments. What matters is that civic religion has no place in a Church. We can pray for secular leaders (in both the US and China) and we can exhort those charged with the common good to implement policies based on the principles of justice and public morality, but we should not bring the trappings of secular power into the Church. Remember, many of our Christian forefathers died as martyrs because they would not submit to the Roman civic religion.

  • Blackadder

    Is it submitting to the civic religion when the national anthem of Hungary or Poland is sung during mass? If so, why is it that no one seems to care?

  • Jim Thunder

    I have long wondered about the placing of flags (Vatican and national) in our churches. I wonder what the origin of this custom is. And I wonder how geographically extensive it is.

  • Is it submitting to the civic religion when the national anthem of Hungary or Poland is sung during mass?

    Yes.

    If so, why is it that no one seems to care?

    [Raises hand] I care.

  • jh

    I really don’t see anything improper about what went on.

    Shall we get rid of the Swiss Guards that you see at Mass in the Vatican. Goodness they have SWORDS and heavens knows what else hidden. I have seen countless pictures of Secualr Military Honor Guards on Holy Thursday Around replicas of the Body of Christ in Chruches dueing Holy Week in cery Catholic Poland.

    What we are seeing is not really just an “American” thing.

  • JH – You are right; it’s not only a U.S. phenomenon. I am definitely in favor of getting rid of all militaristic garbage from our churches, no matter what nation we are talking about.

  • Policraticus

    Just to correct a minor point, The Star Spangled Banner was written to commemorate the War of 1812, which was a defensive war.

    Yes, that is war to which I was referring, and as I said, it was a unjust war declared by the United States. The U.S. declared war on Britain due to the latter’s economic sanctions and its aid of the Indians in preventing U.S. settlers from pressing west from the Colonies. The British did not attack the U.S., so it was not a defensive war.

  • jh

    I would also like to point out that the fact that people are calling this “Civic Religion” does not make it religion in itself. THis is far from the ROman Civic Religion that was practiced. THe US Senate is not declaring Bush a Livng God like Augustus.

    I used to be on a Red Mass Committee and what is described here is pretty much what we did. It is fairly common. There was no sense we were worshiping the United States. In fact just the opposite. It was a reminder of how much we needed God’s blessings and guidance

    We also sung the Star Spangle Banner and THe Battle Hymn of the Republic. I have been to Red Masses in about 5 cities. If this is improper then no one has a clue it is.

  • Irenaeus

    This is horrible! This is idolatry of the first rank! And I’m serious and I’m pissed. Philippians 3:21: “Our citizenship is IN HEAVEN, and we await a saviour from THERE.” How about the letter to Diognetus?

    “For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind by country, or by speech, or by dress. For they do not dwell in cities of their own, or use a different language, or practice a peculiar life. This knowledge of theirs has not been proclaimed by the thought and effort of restless men; they are not champions of a human doctrine, as some men are. But while they dwell in Greek or barbarian cities according as each man’s lot has been cast, and follow the customs of the land in clothing and food, and other matters of daily life, yet the condition of citizenship which they exhibit is wonderful, and admittedly strange. They live in countries of their own, but simply as sojourners. They share the life of citizens, they endure the lot of foreigners. Every foreign land is to them a fatherland, and every fatherland a foreign land. …They spend their existence upon earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, and in their own lives they surpass the laws. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown, and they are condemned. They are put to death, and they gain new life. They are poor, and make many rich. They lack everything, and in everything they abound. They are dishonoured, and their dishonour becomes their glory. They are reviled, and are justified. They are abused, and they bless. They are insulted, and repay insult with honour. They do good, and are punished as evildoers; and in their punishment they rejoice as gaining new life therein. The Jews war against them as aliens, and the Greeks persecute them; and they that hate them can state no grounds for their enmity.”

    “In a word, what the soul is in the body Christians are in the world. The soul is spread through all the members of the body, and Christians through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, but it is not of the body. Christians dwell in the world, but they are not of the world.”

    Letter to Diognetus, 5:1-17, 6:1-4

  • I have been to Red Masses in about 5 cities. If this is improper then no one has a clue it is.

    Americans are, on the whole, blind to the idolatry that exists in our churches. You are right. Few Catholics have a clue that this is, indeed, idolatrous.

  • Blakadder– yes, it’s just as wrong for the secular anthems to be sung, and for the trappings of the secular state to be displayed, in Poland and Hungary as in the US.

  • Nate Wildermuth

    I’m surprised that soldiers were allowed to process into Church with rifles.

    Those are weapons made for one purpose – firing pieces of metal into human beings, murdering the children of God. The intention to kill is always a grave sin, and these weapons have no other intention that to kill. Killing is not accidental. It is not incidental. It is essential.

    How then are these satanic weapons allowed into our Churches?

    We are so blind, so rich, so powerful, so idolatrous. We have no faith in God’s power. And after we’ve finally abandoned him, he will hand us over to our idols – to the demons and their master, Satan. And then we’ll die by the very weapons we think grant life – our rifles, our bullets, our nukes.

    What exciting times!

  • Donald R. McClarey

    Nate, quick, tell the Pope to disband the swiss guard!

    http://www.catholicpressphoto.com/servizi/2006-05-06-messa-swiss/default.htm

    Contrary to the deepest wishes of many commenters and contributors to Vox Nova the Church has 1700 years of history that is not pacifist, and hatred of one’s own country has never been a Catholic value. The Church has a long history of blessing national symbols such as flags and blessing troops going off to war. As Saint Pius V and Our Lady of Victory can also attest, masses celebrating military victories are also not uncommon in the history of the Church. Catholics simply are not Quakers.

  • Michael Joseph

    Donald,

    No one here is advocating hatred of country, and I find your comment here either blatantly disingenuous or devoid of understanding of the nuance in Michael’s and MM’s comments. Criticism of certain historical events of one’s country or decrying the nationalizing idolatry found among one’s fellow citizens is not hatred. Not even close.

    Likewise to say that the Church has “1700 years of history that is not pacifist” is likewise disingenuous. There were certain Church Fathers who indeed argued for the possibility of just wars, but they do not represent the totality of the Church of that era. Indeed, pacifism has a strong claim throughout the history of the Church. A more nuanced and responsible statement would have been: The Church has had 1900 (Tertullian!) years of parallel traditions of just war and pacifism. And to steal a card from the “prudential judgment” crowd, given that just war theory is not dogma and seems to have arisen in consistent form only after the establishment of Christendom, there is the possibility, of course, that that tradition is not only fallible but completely false!

  • Donald R. McClarey

    Michael Joseph, the idea that the Church has a pacifist tradition throughout its history is simply mistaken, unless a “tradition” can be proven through such techniques as “in 1355 a monk wrote a treatise in which he decried all war.” This of course is the technique that some Protestant apologists use to establish that a Protestant tradition was kept alive within the Church on various issues until the time of the Reformation. The tradition of the Church since the time of Constantine up until the fall of the Papal States in 1871 was overwhelmingly non-pacifist. To deny this is simply to deny Church history. Even after 1871 pacifism has never been embraced by a Pope, although I do think John Paul II came close to being a functional pacifist, although even he did not reject the just war doctrine, and he never disbanded the Swiss guard.

    As to people advocating “hatriotism” of America I will let the readers judge. Whenever the subject of America comes up on this blog one can rest assured that it is not being brought up so that the nation may be praised.

  • Jimmy Mac

    Donald: just because the Swiss Guards process in all of their (albeit puny) military accoutrements in and about St. Peter’s does not make it right! Not everything the papacy does has been, is or will be right.

    Sorry to shatter your ultramontane attachment there.

  • Personally, I’m not fond of secular hymns at Mass, but I’m also not fond of most of what passes for liturgical music these days. However, I take exception to the notion that singing a patriotic hymn is idolatry. As if people don’t have the brains or wits to make distinctions. Frankly, I don’t see the difference between that accusation and those of Protestants who accuse Catholics of idolatry because we pray before statues. By the nature of what is being done, it seems like the latter would even have a stronger case…

  • Donald R. McClarey

    Don’t worry Jimmy, my ultramontane attachment to the papacy is quite a bit more durable than that. However it is the pacifists who have the burden of proof. It is for them to explain how the Church got it all wrong in regard to war and peace for the past 17 centuries and why all Church teaching and practice to the contrary may safely be ignored as we bare our necks to the blades of the jihadists and sing Kumbaya. Lots of luck!

  • Michael Joseph, the idea that the Church has a pacifist tradition throughout its history is simply mistaken, unless a “tradition” can be proven through such techniques as “in 1355 a monk wrote a treatise in which he decried all war.”

    Amazing, this statement.

    The tradition of the Church since the time of Constantine up until the fall of the Papal States in 1871 was overwhelmingly non-pacifist. To deny this is simply to deny Church history.

    Are you suggesting we baptize the entirety of Church history, particularly an unreflective acceptance of the dominant tradition as a whole, as normative? The crusades? Colonialism?

    No, wait. Don’t answer that.

    As to people advocating “hatriotism” of America I will let the readers judge.

    Rather, why don’t you cough up some evidence to your claim that I, or MM, “hate” America? You make an irresponsible, thoughtless claim and then ask “the readers” to judge for themselves? No. Back up what you say, or your claims aren’t worth a damn.

    Whenever the subject of America comes up on this blog one can rest assured that it is not being brought up so that the nation may be praised.

    Unless it is a post by one of our clearly more patriotic contributors. In all fairness to them, let’s not lump them in with the — um, TWO — contributors here who regularly express their hatred for critical views of the dominant culture of the United States.

  • Policraticus

    Donald,

    So the “tradition” of the Church is limited to the popes as in what the pope says is the tradition? So we can ignore all the Church Fathers, medievals and saints who were pacifists as being outside “tradition”? And I suppose you will next show us that the overwhelming majority of popes held non-pacifist sentiments? I suspect your historical generalizations will go largely unsubstantiated.

  • Michael Enright

    As much as I would like to be an anti-government pacifist here, I have to say, I’m not so sure it is the right position.

    If the church really has 1900 years of parallel traditions, I would expect a plethora of voices at every age condemning war. You really don’t see this. War is not new to the Christian world. In fact, it seems like there usually is a war going on somewhere. I would expect there to be numerous holy people condemning these wars. I just don’t see that.

    As to the issue of patriotism, I unfortunately have to disagree here as well. It was not so long ago that Rome strongly promoted government and a certain philosophy of governance–namely, the duty of government to promote the “Social Reign of Christ the King” (and be very intertwined with the Church). If a state were to be so intertwined, I see no reason the Church would object to patriotism at Mass.

    However, I would predict that patriotism in Church in Catholic America has nothing to do with this. It probably arose out of a desire for Catholics to be seen by their countrymen as good faithful Americans, as was the tennor before Kennedy.

  • Policraticus

    Michael Enright,

    What is perhaps more telling is that the major proponents of just war theory are few and far between in the Church’s tradition: Augustine, Bernard, Thomas Aquinas, Suarez, Vitoria, Bellarmine… But what of the pacifist tradition of the Apostolic Fathers and the medieval Franciscans? Too often we allow only a handful of figures whom we’ve heard of in Christian history dominate our concept of tradition, which does not take breaks every few centuries.

    But I’ll let Donald speak for the alleged consistent non-pacifist teaching of the popes…of the 260+, I’ll be satisfied if he can cite 10% of them as non-pacifists.

  • If the church really has 1900 years of parallel traditions, I would expect a plethora of voices at every age condemning war. You really don’t see this.

    Who doesn’t really see this? Saints throughout the Catholic Church’s history have renounced violence. Then you have the witness of the historic peace churches which, although are not Catholic, are a consistent witness to the nonviolence of Jesus and a challenge to the mainstream churches who have, for much of its history, aligned itself with power. Not to mention the fact that history (yes, even Church history!) is written by the victors, those in power, and there are voices that are neglected throughout the tradition.

    War is not new to the Christian world. In fact, it seems like there usually is a war going on somewhere. I would expect there to be numerous holy people condemning these wars. I just don’t see that.

    Here again it is relevant to consider the extent to which the Church (and I mean the Church as a whole) simply has gone along with the dominant culture’s morality rather than seeing itself as having a distinct ethic by virtue of the the fact that it follows its Lord, the nonviolent Christ. It has been a historic tendency of the Church to side with those in power, the rich, the war-makers. Throughout its history the Church has had witnesses that rise up to remind her of her obligation to side with the victims and to refuse the sword.

    As to the issue of patriotism, I unfortunately have to disagree here as well. It was not so long ago that Rome strongly promoted government and a certain philosophy of governance–namely, the duty of government to promote the “Social Reign of Christ the King” (and be very intertwined with the Church). If a state were to be so intertwined, I see no reason the Church would object to patriotism at Mass.

    While the nonviolence tradition in the Church’s history is strong, and can be identified, you are right that the clear dominant tradition of the Church has been to uphold the role of government. Christian, and in particular, Catholic anarchism is a rare thing and truly a minority tradition. That said, what IS clear is that the Church has always promoted a healthy skepticism of the state’s pretensions toward absolutism. This is definitely clear in the tradition of the Hebrew scriptures, the teaching of Jesus and the early Jesus movement, the early Church, through the ages of the great saints like Thomas More, through the period of Nazi Germany and the promulgation of “Mit Brennender Sorge,” the papacy of JPII and Evangelium Vitae’s recognition of civil disobedience, and Benedict XVI’s denunciation of war. It’s so hard for American Catholics to maintain a critical distance from American orthodoxy because the deceptive nature of Americanism disguises the fact that it is, in many respects, its own religion that attempts to co-opt Christianity for its own ends. As an anarchist, I simply take the Church’s historic skepticism of the state, as well as its claim to the allegiance of believers, absolutely seriously and take it to its logical ends. So many of the assumptions of modernity, particularly those centering around the “secular” nation-state, seem to me to be idolatrous, plain and simple.

  • If the church really has 1900 years of parallel traditions, I would expect a plethora of voices at every age condemning war. You really don’t see this.

    Who doesn’t really see this? Saints throughout the Catholic Church’s history have renounced violence. Then you have the witness of the historic peace churches which, although are not Catholic, are a consistent witness to the nonviolence of Jesus and a challenge to the mainstream churches who have, for much of its history, aligned itself with power. Not to mention the fact that history (yes, even Church history!) is written by the victors, those in power, and there are voices that are neglected throughout the tradition.

    War is not new to the Christian world. In fact, it seems like there usually is a war going on somewhere. I would expect there to be numerous holy people condemning these wars. I just don’t see that.

    Here again it is relevant to consider the extent to which the Church (and I mean the Church as a whole) simply has gone along with the dominant culture’s morality rather than seeing itself as having a distinct ethic by virtue of the the fact that it follows its Lord, the nonviolent Christ. It has been a historic tendency of the Church to side with those in power, the rich, the war-makers. Throughout its history the Church has had witnesses that rise up to remind her of her obligation to side with the victims and to refuse the sword.

    As to the issue of patriotism, I unfortunately have to disagree here as well. It was not so long ago that Rome strongly promoted government and a certain philosophy of governance–namely, the duty of government to promote the “Social Reign of Christ the King” (and be very intertwined with the Church). If a state were to be so intertwined, I see no reason the Church would object to patriotism at Mass.

    While the nonviolence tradition in the Church’s history is strong, and can be identified, you are right that the clear dominant tradition of the Church has been to uphold the role of government. Christian, and in particular, Catholic anarchism is a rare thing and truly a minority tradition. That said, what IS clear is that the Church has always promoted a healthy skepticism of the state’s pretensions toward absolutism. This is definitely clear in the tradition of the Hebrew scriptures, the teaching of Jesus and the early Jesus movement, the early Church, through the ages of the great saints like Thomas More, through the period of Nazi Germany and the promulgation of “Mit Brennender Sorge,” the papacy of JPII and Evangelium Vitae’s recognition of civil disobedience, and Benedict XVI’s denunciation of war. It’s so hard for American Catholics to maintain a critical distance from American orthodoxy because the deceptive nature of Americanism disguises the fact that it is, in many respects, its own religion that attempts to co-opt Christianity for its own ends. As an anarchist, I simply take the Church’s historic skepticism of the state, as well as its claim to the allegiance of believers, absolutely seriously and take it to its logical ends. So many of the assumptions of modernity, particularly those centering around the “secular” nation-state, seem to me to be idolatrous, plain and simple.

    As much as I would like to be an anti-government pacifist here, I have to say, I’m not so sure it is the right position.

    Aw, c’mon, try it out just for one day! 😉

  • Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

    Would any of you find a Coronation Mass idolatrous?

  • If you mean the coronation of a political leader, yes, I find that problematic if not idolatrous.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    Sure Michael Joseph, all the popes who fought wars as rulers of the Papal states. Is that non-pacifist enough for you? Then we have all the popes who called for crusades from the eleventh century to well into the seventeenth century. No pacifists there. Then we have the popes who throughout the ages called for military intervention to assist the church. For example Pope Leo III who relied on Charlemagne to restore his rule in Rome. The examples go on and on. Gregory the Great who raised troops to defend Rome from the Lombards. Pope Alexander II who blessed the successful attempt of William the Conqueror to conquer England. Pius VI who fought against the forces of Republican France. Pius IX who fought against the Italian revolutionaries. The popes have rarely been shy about the use of military force in order to serve what they perceived to be the needs of the Church.

  • Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

    If you find the presence of uniformed military officers in the procession idolatrous then you should definitely find a Coronation Mass idolatrous. You are consistent in that, Michael. Let me just restate puzzlement that this is such a burning issue for people. Do you really think that the participants at this Mass were worshiping (or were tempted to worship) the State? Or rather, is the ‘idolatry’ language just hyperbole? May be inappropriate, but idolatrous? Are overstating things a bit?

  • Donald — Are you seriously using those citations as POSITIVE examples of the Church’s use of military force, rather than deviations? I see them as the latter.

    Hi Br. Matthew:

    Do you really think that the participants at this Mass were worshiping (or were tempted to worship) the State? Or rather, is the ‘idolatry’ language just hyperbole? May be inappropriate, but idolatrous? Are overstating things a bit?

    I don’t think people literally worship the state but in the United States many Christians have incorporated the state and its mythology (which is real) into the Christian story, and this definitely verges on idolatry. When we take time after communion to bless soldiers who are going off to fight in a war determined by the Church to be unjust, then yes, our allegiances have been confused and this is rightly called “idolatry.” When we sing songs to America in the context of the eucharistic liturgy, a moment in time in which the United States, theologically speaking, does not exist, but only the Body of Christ, then yes, this is rightly called idolatry. When our “Christian” president unites his alleged prayer life with the war making of the country that he leads, and the majority of Catholics support this with their money, their prayers, and their bodies, this is indeed idolatry. In a nation where many Christians literally believe that America is the “new Israel” and that we must “destroy Islam,” yes this is idolatry. And in a world where this nonsense continues to happen, when Christianity is continually co-opted by those pagan forces that worship war, the Roman Catholic Church needs to disentangle itself clearly and forcefully from it, even in cases that seem “harmless.” It may sound overstated, sure, but I truly am convinced that the situation we are in is more serious than most Christians realize.

  • Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

    Sorry for the typos

  • Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

    Michael,

    I see nothing wrong with blessing or praying for soldiers per se Being a soldier can be a legitamate and honorable vocation, if it is carried out in the proper way. Think of the UN peacekeepers protecting Tutsi’s during the genocide or the Allies freeing those in the German concetration camps. I think, in this case, blessing would be wrong given that this is a war which many prelates have deemed unjust. Praying for the well being of our soldiers certainly shouldn’t be frowned upon.

    Patriotic songs are another subject. They may be innappropriate, but, again, I think you are overstating your case in saying that singing them is tantamount to idolatry. The Mass is meant to benefit the temporal and secular world after all, of which the State is a necessary part- we need not rigidly separate the temporal-eternal and sacred-secular. I don’t have time to get to your other points as I have to be off. Perhaps later…

  • Policraticus

    Ah, Donald, you have confused papal actions (many of which would not be sanctioned by just war theory and would be considered sinful) with doctrine. I’m looking for papal teaching, not political acts of popes. By your same historical analysis, we would say that it is Church tradition to purchase the papal throne, to be both political and spiritual ruler, to place relatives in power positions in the Church, and to sanction executions. But these are historical acts of popes that we do not thereby consider to be part of the treasury of faith. And so, once more, rather than vague references to papal actions, I’d like actual Catholic teaching, please, along with specific names of popes who taught what you claim. After all, it was you who asserted that we have 1700 years of non-pacifist tradition!

  • Timothy Mulligan

    “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.'” Matthew 26:52.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    Michael Joseph the popes who waged wars, called for crusades, granted spiritual indulgences for crusades, sponsored military actions, called for military intervention, etc, reflected traditional Church teaching on war. One would assume that if your pacifist “tradition” had been of any concern to them they would have addressed the issue before embarking on military action. They did not because there was no need. Church teaching was clear on the subject. As I said earlier in this thread it is the pacifists who are attempting to change traditional Church teaching and have the burden of proof to establish why and how the Church was wrong for seventeen centuries. Here is your chance! What popes prior to 1958 gave any statements indicating that all wars are sinful? Please cite them and their statements.

  • Policraticus

    Calling crusades, financing military actions and waging wars reflects the Church’s teaching on just war, much less the teaching on papal power??!?!? I think you may want to be careful in your zeal to prove that the Church is non-pacifist that you are not sanctioning the sins and injustices committed by an illegitimate political papal arm. Now, I asked for Church teaching. Please provide us with this tradition that so that those of us who are pacifists will switch to your side.

  • Blackadder

    Policraticus,

    When Pope Urban called the First Crusade, he did so in a sermon, at a council, saying things like “Christ commands it.” If that doesn’t constitute teaching, then I confess I do not know what you mean by the term.

  • Matthew Kennel

    Policratus,
    Forgive me for being a bit skeptical of the support in the Church’s tradition for outright pacifism. I’m not saying the doctrinal issue is simple. It never is simple when it involves decisions as complex as this one is. You mention Augustine and Thomas Aquinas among teachers who supported just war theory. You say that these teachers are “few and far between”. Without having to point out to you that both of these teachers are of extraordinary authority, even among the Doctors of the Church, they are certainly not therefore exempt from error. I wonder, however, if you can produce a Doctor of the Church who argues that all war is wrong and that soldiering is sinful. Perhaps you can (having not read every word of every Doctor myself, you may have come across one who teaches this). I seem to recall that the early Christians could not be soldiers, but I was under the impression (perhaps erroneous?) that this was because being a soldier involved sacrificing to the Emperor. However, I think that one could, given adequate time, make a good case from both Sacred Scripture and from many of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes,and Councils, and from reason that there is such a thing as a just war, even if the exact details of Augustine’s scheme are not spelled out there. I would try to do so, but I have a dentist’s appointment in about 10 minutes, so I’d better get going 🙂

  • The Swiss guard dudes rock. That’s my prudential opinion. Much cooler than the big-capped chaps in the UK.

  • I confess being mystified at a liturgical connection between lawyers and the presence of a military honor guard. Red Masses in other places don’t include them. Were they involved here because Washington DC’s lawyers are connected in some way to the military? Was this just a patriotic stunt? Some kind of support the troops gesture? Tough as it must be for Republicans and conservatives to admit they are prone to liturgical abuse, they would be called out for it by St Blog’s non-hypocrite armchair liturgists.

  • This is why I love this site – the initial posts are usually good, but the discussion following is nearly always fascinating.

  • I see nothing wrong with blessing or praying for soldiers per se Being a soldier can be a legitamate and honorable vocation, if it is carried out in the proper way. Think of the UN peacekeepers protecting Tutsi’s during the genocide or the Allies freeing those in the German concetration camps.

    That’s a big ‘if’ in today’s world, Br. Matthew, when you look at U.S. foreign policy and the actual, concrete institutions of the U.S. military. (I noticed you didn’t cite any American examples of honorable soldiering!) There are many aspects of the U.S. military that are at odds with what we are called to be as disciples.

    Patriotic songs are another subject. They may be innappropriate, but, again, I think you are overstating your case in saying that singing them is tantamount to idolatry. The Mass is meant to benefit the temporal and secular world after all, of which the State is a necessary part- we need not rigidly separate the temporal-eternal and sacred-secular. I don’t have time to get to your other points as I have to be off. Perhaps later…

    Above all, the Mass is about worshiping the Triune God in a foretaste of the Kingdom of God in which there are no nation-states. Around the altar, the United States does not exist. All that exists is the body of Christ. This is not to separate the sacred and the secular but to acknowledge what be really believe is happening at that moment. To sing sectarian hymns in honor of a limited, temporal polity when we literally believe we are worshiping with the entire communion of saints is wrong. Indeed, it is liturgical abuse.

  • Not to butt in on this, MJ, but…

    I seem to recall that the early Christians could not be soldiers, but I was under the impression (perhaps erroneous?) that this was because being a soldier involved sacrificing to the Emperor.

    That certainly WAS one reason why Christians did not fight in the military, but it was also because they were opposed to killing. One does not exclude the other.

    While our soldiers are not asked to worship the president, the experience of the early church is still entirely comparable to the situation of the U.S. military who are sworn to take an oath of complete obedience to the president and who are commanded to kill and be killed for a temporal nation-state. As Christians, alarms should go off any time we are asked to give complete obedience to anything or anyone but Christ and his church, but our (Christian) soldiers simply hand their bodies over to the president in good conscience.

  • Policraticus

    Matthew,

    You are correct, doctrinal issues are very complex. I hope I did some justice to those complexities by suggesting that the Church clearly has traditions in both just war theory and in pacifism. I try always to distinguish between “tradition” and “doctrine,” as the latter is crystallized and tends to be official where the former subsists in the vast writings and practices of the Fathers, Doctors and saints. And so when I speak of a pacifist tradition, I am thinking of Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, the Franciscan tradition (Francis, Bonaventure, Scotus), Dorothy Day, Pope John Paul II. The writings of each of these figures belongs rightfully to the “tradition” of the Church. If we were to limit ourselves to only subscribing to bonafide doctrine, then Catholic faith would be a mere shell of its total reality, which extends well beyond neatly phrased doctrinal statements. We must bear in mind that Augustine’s outline of just war did not work its way into doctrine until the later Middle Ages, which means that the Church had parallel traditions on the issue of war and peace for a very long time. After Thomas, just war prevailed in doctrinal statementsin the West. We also must not forget that Augustine and Aquinas are great authorities in the Latin Church, but not so much among our Eastern Catholic brethern! Since 1870, popes such as Benedict XV, Pius XII and John Paul II have drawn more fully from the pacifist traditions of the Church in response to modern warfare.

    My point? The Church has a long standing tradition of pacifism and just war running through her veins, and to simplify her tradition as Donald has done, relying only on a few scattered techings, is to begin to soften and compromise what tradition really is. I personally think–and this is only my opinion–that the more one is conformed to Christ, the less and less a Catholic believes that war is ever an option. But in any case, to suggest that a good Catholic cannot be a pacifist is non-sense (you, of course, never suggested this).

  • Policraticus

    Thanks, Jonathon. I think the discussion between commentators and contributers is what keeps me blogging.

  • Policraticus

    JonathAn, that is!

  • bill bannon

    Matthew Kennel,

    I was advised at war time by a very good, old and humorous but strict priest that young men could not join the military if they had doubts about a war’s morality but they could let themselves be drafted and obey while having doubts…just as a
    Cardinal obeys the Pope in instances of doubt unless the clear immorality of a papal order is present. Once in the military, the youing soldier must obey moral orders regarding killing the enemy even if doubtful….but he is not to obey immoral orders…eg.. to shoot civilians.

    The early Fathers themselves were more pacifistic than the bulk of noted writers in the Church’s middle centuries perhaps for two rather human reasons: Romans 13:3-4 was not yet canon and was not yet literally binding as word of God by decision of Rome ….as it was after the canon was decided (393-411AD) and it reads:

    ” 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear to good conduct, but to evil. Do you wish to have no fear of authority? Then do what is good and you will receive approval from it,
    4
    for it is a servant of God for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer. ”

    It is prior to the canon that one reads very pacifistic texts by the early Christians.
    After Romans 13:4 becomes canon, those passages wane in proportion and weight of author.
    Aquinas was later to refer to Romans 13:4 both on war and on the death penalty and yes Aquinas’ influence exceeds that of most Popes just as Paul’s writings in the NT exceed in scope those of the first Pope.

    The second rather human reason perhaps is that in the earliest centuries, the Church was alienated from the empire and after it is not alienated, its pacifism wanes. …once it is connected to power…(Constantine early 4th century set that process in motion and the later canon with Romans 13:4 contained the unique NT passage on secular governments). Right now the Church is increasingly feeling alienated once again from the world governments (even Poland)on the issue of abortion and so the pacifism of these two latest Popes….as was the early Church pacifism….may be a function of alienation. John Paul’s most pacifistic comments post date his relationship with Reagan in protecting Poland. In microcosm, the John Paul of the 1980’s was the non alienated Church of the military centuries of the Church…..and the post Poland John Paul begins the default pacifism that Weigel noted of the recent Vatican….much like the early Church in its alienation from the empire.
    In Evangelium Vitae by John Paul in the 1990’s…which treats of the death penalty, Romans 13:3-4 is totally absent which is bizarre for a text dealing with the death penalty.

  • Blackadder

    If by pacifist we mean someone who thinks violence is intrinsically immoral (as opposed to someone who is personally committed to nonviolence), then Day clearly was a pacifist, while JP II clearly was not. As to the others I lack information. What is the reason for thinking, say, that Duns Scotus was a pacifist?

  • Policraticus

    I think Bill’s got some good points.

  • Phillip

    Just another cultural aside. When I was in Spain, there was an annual mass. I think it was on the feast of Our Lady of Carmel (if not this then some other Marian feast.) OLC (or other Marian) is the patron of the Spanish Navy. Huge procession of sailors and officers in full dress uniform including swords. Bugles and national anthem at the mass. Afterwards sailors in full uniform carry an image of Our Lady into the water to bless the fleet. BTW, a number of Spanish ships had chapels on board in which the Blessed Sacrament was kept. Don’t know if that is idolatrous.

    Just to point out as others have, this is not just an American custom. From what I’ve seen, its carried on far less frequently in America.

  • Philip – You are right that this is not only an American phenomenon. I don’t know that it’s less frequent in America though.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    One other point on the Red Mass. I’ve been a member of the bar for a quarter of a century. Prior to becoming an attorney I served in the US Army Reserves for three years from 75-78. Based upon my personal experience of both military life and life as an attorney, I would suggest that if God can tolerate a special Mass for attorneys, He should have no problem at all for special Masses for those in the military!

  • Chris

    The comment discussion is fascinating, but I’m wondering why no one has brought up the fact that the Church has established an Archdiocese for U.S. Military Services(http://www.milarch.org/). It seems to me that if the Church were as pacifist as some would like it to be, this ought not be, or at least this would be a problem. The Church in its wisdom acknowledges the unfortunate state of human nature that is unable to eradicate war.

    Also, given the outrage at the singing of the national anthem, I wonder why there is no outrage at Archbishop Dolan’s homily, which, full of historical quotes rather than theology, emphasizes the Christian foundations upon which the U.S. was founded, that is, the United States depends on the idea of man created in the image of God thus uniting the project of this country as part of God’s work (full text here: http://www.zenit.org/article-20639?l=english).

    As someone who was in attendance, I’ll admit it was somewhat odd, but the guard and national anthem did occur before the Mass officially began. Had it occurred during the actual Mass it would have been more worthy of some of the outrage expressed here.

  • bill bannon

    Policraticus
    I have to internalize your distinction between tradition and doctrine though …it is a very good point…..because I too tend to dismiss the one stream of non violence as faux Christian…since Christ let his men carry swords in several incidents not just Gethsemane and because I grew up in a murderous part of the NY harbor with two close friends being murdered for two entirely different reasons….by a jilted lover and by robbers respectively. By sixteen, I had to knock a man out to save my skin and I still had to worry about 7 others who were left but police stormed in then and solved the matter. A week later one of the 7 saw me coming and ducked into a store. Knocking someone out with three punches unfortunately buys a lot of safety on the streets in such areas of the world where one has to share space with such people for the duration. Theology interacts with one’s past. Neighborhood…like love to Janis Joplin…..can be a ball and chain that grabs hold of you… and betrays you.

  • The point of whether pacifists and just-war theorists should get along or not, who is right or not, etc is utterly moot to this discussion (or at least it should be).

    The red mass conflated the religious with the secular. Unless we’ve stopped believing that there is a difference I don’t see why anybody should view this as appropriate.

    A similar thing happened at my fiancee’s grandfather’s funeral. Most of his family just sort of sat there (confused?), but when his American Legion unit began their service, about him being a fallen soldier, and how God was a general etc. they were all in tears. The same thing happened after the mass when they drapped an American flag over his coffin. The truth is most American Catholics are far more moved by sentimental patriotism then by reverent religious services (maybe that’s why people are trying to create more “charismatic” masses a la LifeTeen).

  • AdamV: Bingo. Well said.

  • Matthew Kennel

    AdamV is I think right on target as well. I’m by no means a pacifist, even though I am orignally from one of the peace churches. Nor do I have any problem with praying for our troops (although, like Michael, I think we should also pray for our enemies. I think that that would put me in agreement also with someone by the name of Jesus). However, whenever I see an American flag placed in a santuary, I get a little sick to the stomach. Sure, we have some allegiance to our country, but our ultimate alligiance is with God. Growing up as a Mennonite, we had no flags in our sactuary, and I find flags to be distracting when I pray. Just yesterday, I was praying at the statues of Joseph and Mary in a church, but was quite distracted when underneath (on what I can only assume was a side alter) was a set of small flags with pictures of soldiers on it. The intention, prayer for the soldiers (who I assume were the children of people in the parish) was good, but to put it one the Lord’s alter, under a statue of the Holy Virgin, is to confuse the secular with the sacred.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    Mixing the secular and the sacred is as Catholic as the Mass. We are the Church that crowned the rulers of Europe for a millenia and a half, in imitation of the consecration of David, until monarchy fell out of fashion. We are the Church that blesses animals, houses, flags and most material things. Our God uses commonplace material items, bread and wine, and transforms them into Himself. Our saints are patrons of a galaxy of secular groups, items and concerns. A religion in which God humbles himself to live among us as one of us is a religion in which drawing lines between secular and sacred will always be problematic at best. Catholics, as opposed to some protestant sects, have rarely sought to flee the world, with the exception of certain monastic orders, but rather to bring Christ to it.

  • Tim

    I’ll second that this is an interesting post, but I’ll go one further and say it is bizarre. How is it that the “Vox-Nova Magesterium” can hold the Republicans responsible for “liturgical abuses” at the Red Mass. Wouldn’t Bishop Dolan and Bishop Wuerl be the ones to blame, if there is any blame?. Are you saying they are guilty of idolatry? Usually you lecture anyone who dares to question a bishop’s statement about being disobedient. Here you are accusing them of not only liturgical abuse but the word idolatry was even used. Oh wait a minute you were being dishonest and attempting to divert the blame to John Roberts and the “conservatives” on the Supreme Court. Did Roberts really preside over the liturgy like the Byzantine emperors of the past? I seriously doubt it. What crap. This is Morning Minion’s post though, so what would you expect. I guess he thought it was an easy way to score ideological points.

  • Blessing things does not constitute secular, Donald, at least not in its traditional meaning. Starting in the patristic era until the Early Modern Period, the secular and religious were construed as times or ages and not as civil spheres. This is why dioceseans priests in the Middle Ages were “secular” priests and the origin of “religious” to conote members of vowed orders. The idea was, when you entered the liturgy you were translated to a different time or age.

    This is reflected best, perhaps in the architecture of the Gothic cathedral. Where the outside featured hard angles and the interior was arched. This creates an optical illusion where the interior of the cathedral seems bigger than the exterior. This suggested (and still suggests) to its visitors have entered a new place. When Christians gather for the Eucharist, they have moved from one age to another. Praying for secular things, and blessing them, does not have this sacramental and eschatological baggage. That’s why its wrong in this specific place.

    Also, I will openly criticize the specific bishops at the mass for preaching about the “Christian vision” of the human person this country was founded on. Its true that it was “Christian,” but the founding fathers were almost exclusively Portestants and Deists enamored with Calvinist political theorist. Its a heretical vision of the human person.

  • Tim:

    That is the most ludicrious statement on this otherwise-fascinating thread. Who is talking about Republicans? Who is talking about John Roberts and “conservatives”? My post makes it clear that I like the idea of a Red Mass. The problem is an inappropriate melding of Christianity and the civic religion during Mass.

    I think the topic got a little diverted discussing the pacifist traditions of the Church. My point was a little narrower. National flags are inappropriate. National songs are inappropriate– for the same reason as secular love songs are inappropriate at weddings (not because they are bad per se, but because they are out of place). And military parades with rifles are especially inappropriate. On funerals, is it not the case that secular flags must be removed from the coffin before it enters the Church?

    Chris mentioned Abp. Dolan’s homily. I quite liked the homily, with one caveat: when he mentioned Reagan quoting Winthrop quoting the gospel of Matthew pertaining to the “city on a hill”, he missed the loaded history. He missed the idea that a dominant strand of American Protestantism took this to mean a divine endorsement of America, the notion that America is God’s chosen country and therefore exceptional. Clearly, that was not what Dolan was saying. What he said was that America was founded on the idea that there are principles that are superior to all positive law– in other words, the natural law, and that America needs to live up to these words. It’s similar to Benedict saying that Europe was founded on Christian values and needs to reflect this. In other words, it’s an exhortation to the secular leadership to respect the divine law.

  • bill bannon

    MM
    Benedict wanted the Euro Constitution to explicitly mention Christianity. How is that and crosses in Italian schools different from what you are opposing here?

  • Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

    Regardless of what ‘secular’ used to designate, it now (especially in the documents of Vatican II) has a fairly circumscribed meaning. It stands for the temporal world in all its varied manifestations and particularities. These temporal realities are to be ordered to God through the activity of the faithful, particularly the laity. Part of that ‘ordering’ comes in the form of taking the concerns of the world to the sacrifice of the Mass. That means that we participate in Mass with all the particularities of our culture, nation, family and social group. It is true that these temporal identities will ultimately fade in the Eschaton, but, since we are not fully there yet, these identities remain and it is good and right for us to claim them and attempt to redeem them in Christ to the extent that we can. These particularities can be incorporated in liturgical worship only to an extent and it is possible that abuses can happen, but it is just not true that in the context of Mass we suddenly lose our identity as Americans (or for that matter, our family identities or cultural identities). I think one reason people are upset here is that many Vox Novites (if that’s a word) are uneasy with the idea of the modern nation-state. Would people be upset if the procession included, for instance, a traditional Navajo dance?

  • Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

    Scratch that, I don’t mean this procession. I wouldn’t want to see Roberts and Scalia doing a Navajo dance. 😉 I mean at a Mass taking place in the context of a predominantly Navajo population.

  • Having stronger monarchist leanings, coronation masses and most other things don’t bother me. Even Celene Dion at a wedding doesn’t really bother me. I would speculate those weren’t just soliders, but an honor guard. Abp Dolan uses the girl from WYD story often, or at least this is the second time I’ve heard him use it. For those who like a folksy down to earth bishop, he is your type of guy.

  • I found Nate’s comment about rifles disagreeable:

    “Those are weapons made for one purpose – firing pieces of metal into human beings, murdering the children of God. The intention to kill is always a grave sin, and these weapons have no other intention that to kill. Killing is not accidental. It is not incidental. It is essential.

    How then are these satanic weapons allowed into our Churches?”

    1) I should preface by saying that I agree that rifles do not belong in ANY “house of worship”. In fact, this is contrary to military policy, which in days of old was sensible about the, uh, sensibilities of Christian churches. Go to the chapels of service academies, and you will see the guards of the “color guard” carry no arms (and these federal services do not sing the Star Spangled Banner – they keep that to baseball games).

    2) BUT, to say that rifles were made for the single purpose of murdering the children of God is a non sequitur. Murder and the taking of life in pursuit of a Just War are (morally) two very different acts. The weapons themselves are not satanic, any more than all servicemembers are satanic. This seems like a paranoid view. The reason weapons are not appropriate for a church is that it is a place of sanctuary. Wars, unjust or just, are to be settled on the plain of battle and not in the church.

    3) More presciently, what can be said of rifles can be said of swords of old. And Jesus told his apostles to sell their cloaks and buy a sword, maybe two.

    Peace in Christ,
    Thos.

  • Nate Wildermuth

    The Church has always taught that love of enemies is fundamental to our faith. Our Church has not always taught that killing our enemies is in violation of loving them.

    Today, we are beginning to apply our Church’s teachings with greater clarity. We are beginning to see that we cannot love our enemies by killing them. We can only love our enemies by becoming vulnerable, by offering mercy – even at the cost of our own lives.

    Rifles are not made to save our enemies. They are made to kill them. God weeps when his children are killed. Satan laughs. That, for me, is proof enough of Satan’s involvement in the creation of killing machines.

  • We can only love our enemies by becoming vulnerable, by offering mercy – even at the cost of our own lives.

    Tired of kicking a dead horse, but our own Pope Benedict — taking into account everything he has said against war — has acknowledged the use of “proportional violence” in the defense of innocents. (He used the example of a father who, when seeing his family attacked, is duty-bound to protect them). Obviously, “Only the most necessary means of defense should be used and human rights must always be respected” — but this would not preclude the duties of a policeman or a soldier, and their use of firearms if justifiable circumstances warranted.

    It boggles the mind to have to even explain this — it seems as sensible to me as Gandhi’s suggestion that the Jewish people should willingly present themselves as a sacrifice to the Holocaust, responding to the Nazi menace with “nonviolence.” Last time I checked the Catechism, being a policeman or an enlisted soldier was still a legitimate profession for a Christian.

  • Tim

    Morning’s Minion, you said in the post which was titled Red Mass Liturgical Abuse that the Red Mass in DC crossed a line into glorifying the secular state at Mass. Now someone made the comment that this procession with flags and the National Anthem was before Mass. Is that a liturgical abuse? As far as John Roberts and Republicans.

    1) I assumed your problem was with conservatives and Republicans since Democrats get off the hook here at Vox-Nova.

    2) you said “This melding of the spiritual and temporal is no different from the caesaro-papism of old when the Byzantine emperor presided over the Divine Liturgy at the Hagia Sophia and where there was little separation of God and Casesar.” If Bush was there then I guess your comments might have and should have been interpreted as refering to him. Since it was the Red Mass and Bush’s presence was in doubt on my part, I figured Roberts ,being Chief Justice, was the one who stood as Caesar in your eyes. Sorry if I made an incorrect assumption.

  • Nate Wildermuth

    Christopher, while you say that defense ought to be restricted according to ‘proportionality’ and respect for human rights – I do not see that you actually set a limit. A limit implies capacity for sacrifice – “I refuse to fight this way. I’d rather lose.” I do not see you advocating that. Rather, I see your embrace of total war, the mentality that says, “The possibility of losing this conflict makes all things proportional.”

    I fully support police or soldiers using proportional force (the phrase ‘proportional violence’ is misleading) to disarm aggressors. Yet I believe that proportional force always excludes killing, as I explain in Militant.

    When police use non-lethal means of coercion, such as grappling with a potentially lethal criminal instead of shooting him, they put their lives at risk. By refusing to kill, police become more vulnerable. And yet in refusing to kill, police become more merciful.

    “The most faithful disciples of Christ have been builders of peace, to the point of forgiving their enemies, sometimes even to the point of giving their lives for them. Their example marks the path for a new humanity no longer content with provisional compromises but instead achieving the deepest sort of brotherhood.”
    – Pope JPII (1979 Peace Message)

  • bill bannon

    Nate

    Something in life has rendered you extreme on these matters and that is fine but you must use God’s viewpoint to alter what was done to your opinion by something within your life experience. I had to do so from the opposite pole of experience….I had to make Peter’s and Moses’ journey away from violence…to a degree. Remarkably, God punished both those men for their own violence…then chose them to lead….. and then required both those men to do violence by word only when they led the people of God…Moses had to kill Dathan and Abiram with words only and Peter had to kill Ananias and Sapphira after the Incarnation…. with words only. So that both men would see that power comes from God and not from their arm.

    In the OT, God removed Saul from the kingship of Israel precisely because he did not kill Agag as he was told to do. Whereupon Samuel, the prophet of God, proceeded to kill Agag….. “And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.”1Sa 15:33.
    I’m sure there are vast tracts of the Old Testament that you do not believe are from God but from the cultural gestalt. Good luck with that… since Dei Verbum said that both testaments with all their parts have God as their author (excepting scribal and chronology problems etc.)…and Christ told Satan that man lives “by every word that cometh from the mouth of God”. You’ll notice Christ strictly was a quote man with the devil in the dessert.

    Did Christ remove killing with the Incarnation? Actually He did two things to signal us that He still approved of necessary killing. Firstly He announced to all of history wherever the gospel is preached that in His experience the Roman centurion had “more faith than I have found in all Israel”. Centurions not only carried the sword (they did not live by the sword)…they carried it….but they in effect carried one hundred swords in the 100 men that they controlled. There is no historical record of their having wrestled sword wielders to the ground at their own risk. This aspect of yours will do nothing but convince literate unbelievers that Christianity is dysfunctional.

    Secondly Christ as one Person of the Trinity authored Romans 13:4 which virtually no liberal Catholic has any respect for whtsoever….and Christ said that whoever omits part of His law and so teaches men will be least in the kingdom of God. Good luck with meriting outside those parameters.

    Life gives us a bible of the subconscious….it is our responsibility to check that bible against the real one without deducting from the real one with tricks.

  • Firstly He announced to all of history wherever the gospel is preached that in His experience the Roman centurion had “more faith than I have found in all Israel”.

    Careful — Jesus distinguished the faith of people he encountered from their sinful lives. He said to the woman caught in adultery, “Your faith has saved you; go and sin no more.” Just because Jesus acknowledges the centurion’s faith does not mean the centurion is without sin. On the other hand, some argue that Jesus would have mentioned his soldiering as sinful here if he thought it were sinful. I don’t find arguments from silence convincing. Sadly, your assertion that this episode in Jesus’ life shows that he approves of killing is nonsense.

    As for Romans 13, try reading it in context and pay attention to Romans 12. This misuse of this passage has gone on for too long. To paint Paul as pro-state, pro-violence is unthinkable considering his life story as a whole and the fact that he was executed by the state as a subversive. Your claim that Jesus “wrote” Romans is tantamount to the fundamentalist Christian bumper sticker “God said it; I believe it.” That view is mindless from a Catholic perspective which holds that the Triune God inspired the scripture writers who were limited creatures. If you truly hold that Christians should not omit anything from the scriptures and should follow it literally, then I look forward to you sharing with us the news that you have stoned your children for disobeying you. (If you have no kids, don’t worry, there is no shortage of passages we could hold you to in their literal sense.)

    If anything in Nate’s life experience has made him see the scriptures in this way, I think we would do well to call it conversion.

  • Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

    “I refuse to fight this way, I’d rather lose.”

    Thats just it, the situations which Christopher is describing are not ones in which your</i) loss is at stake. What is at stake is the loss of another. There are situations were the only alternatives are to use lethal force or to allow an innocent person to suffer or die. The use of force, up to, if necessary, lethal force, is justified because it is undertaken for the sake of somebody else. It is profoundly Christian to sacrifice your life when it is being threatened rather than to turn to violence. It is not Christian to sit by and watch an innocent person harmed or killed when you could have done something.

  • Tired of kicking a dead horse, but our own Pope Benedict — taking into account everything he has said against war — has acknowledged the use of “proportional violence” in the defense of innocents. (He used the example of a father who, when seeing his family attacked, is duty-bound to protect them).

    The example Benedict used, according to your account here, is completely different from war. It boggles the mind to have to explain that.

    Last time I checked the Catechism, being a policeman or an enlisted soldier was still a legitimate profession for a Christian.

    They are legitimate professions under certain circumstances. Let’s not go nuts and say they are ALWAYS legitimate professions. The Catechism does NOT say that.

  • Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

    Michael,

    Why not say they are always legitimate? In saying so we presupose them doing what, as nurses, they ought to do. Wouldn’t you say nursing is always a legitimate profession? Wouldn’t you find it strange if someone said, “No, nursing is not always a legitimate profession, because some nurses have intentionally killed people.”? The proper response would be: “Nursing is always a legitimate profession, those nurses were simply doing what they, as nurses, should not do and, as such, were not acting as nurses.”

  • Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

    That last comment was confusing. Sorry. The second sentence should not have “as nurses”. Jumped the gun a bit.

  • Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

    …rather, it should read, “as soldiers”.

  • Matthew Kennel

    Yes, giving oneself up as a victim to ones enemies is one thing, but giving others up is another thing altogether. In this we also follow the example of Christ, “Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he; so, if you seek me, let these men go.’ This was to fulfil the word which he had spoken, ‘Of those whom thou gavest me I lost not one.'” (Jn. 18:8-9)

    The example Benedict used, according to your account here, is completely different from war. It boggles the mind to have to explain that.

    The example he uses in analogous to war. Just as the father has a responsibility to protect his family, so the state has a responsibility to protect its citizens.

  • Br. Matthew — I don’t believe that there is some universal understanding of what a soldier ought to do, so I am not willing to say that soldiering is “always” a legitimate profession. Would you say that Nazi soldiers were engaged in a legitimate profession? Again, I point out that the Catechism itself does not say that soldiering is always a legitimate profession. There are qualifications.

    I am also not willing to say that being a doctor is always a legitimate profession. If the doctor in question is an abortionist, it’s not legitimate for example. I’m not sure what the benefit of saying doctors or soldiers are “always” legitimate professions, unless one wants to refrain from judging the actual context of the work that is being done. Ignoring the context is dangerous, yet that is exactly the tendency in Catholic moral thinking on soldiering.

  • The example he uses in analogous to war. Just as the father has a responsibility to protect his family, so the state has a responsibility to protect its citizens.

    Loosely analogous, perhaps, but when discussing ethics distinctions matter. The practice of warmaking is completely different than a parent’s duty to protect his or her child, which may or may not involve violence.

  • Christopher, while you say that defense ought to be restricted according to ‘proportionality’ and respect for human rights

    I was quoting Benedict XVI verbatim during the course of an interview.
    By no means was Benedict advocating “total war” — neither am I.

    Yet I believe that proportional force always excludes killing, as I explain in Militant.

    Fine, but I don’t think Benedict does (since we know of one occasion where, as Cardinal Ratzinger, he praised those who had participated in the Normandy invasion and the liberation of Europe under National Socialism — using, yes, guns). I think that to grasp Benedict’s teaching on nonviolence, you have to take all of his statements into account, and if you do I think at the minimum he acknowledges the use of lethal force where circumstances warrant.

    [Michael Iafrate]: I am not willing to say that soldiering is “always” a legitimate profession.

    Straw man, Michael — Brother Matthew is not arguing for a carte blanche legitimization of all soldiering. Simply turn to the catechism:

    2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor…. The one is intended, the other is not.”[65]

    2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:
    If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful…. Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.[65]

    2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. To this end, those holding legitimate authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their charge.[66]

  • Matthew Kennel

    distinctions matter

    Then please tell me what you see are the distinctions between the two situations. In both situations, the first party (the father in one, the state in the other) has a responsibility from God to protect the second party (the rest of the family in one, the citizens of the state in the other). The main distinctions that I see are the closeness of the bonds (the father is closer to his family than the state is to its citizens) and the amount of damage inflicted (the state and its enemies have more destructive capacity than a father does). This is the distinction that you give when you say that the practice of warmaking is completely different than a parent’s duty to protect his or her child, which may or may not include violence. Here is where you mess up the argument, the practice of warmaking is analogous to a violent defense of ones family, which as you correctly note is not always the means which the father would employ. However, insofar as the father might employ other strategies to repulse an aggressor (for example, talking him down, flight) those non-violent practices are analogous to diplomacy. Thus, the state too has a nonviolent means of conflict resolution.
    I believe that diplomacy is very much underutilized in today’s world. We must see our enemies, no longer as enemies, but as fellow human beings with whom we must talk and who we must come to understand and love. Our love must cause us to make sacrifices to convert our enemies and turn them into friends. It must break down dividing walls and build up a community of love. War should absolutely always be a last resort, and only done in defense when there is no other legitimate option. Furthermore, precisely because of its destructive capacities, the state should be all the more eager to use the means of diplomacy. Finally, in war, the state should be guided by the moral order, which demands restraint and civility. Total war, the sort of war that was waged in WWII, in which mass numbers of innocent civilians were killed by both the Axis and the Allied powers, must not be an option. I agree that, in practice, the state is very far from meeting this ideal. The state almost never uses adequate diplomacy, because the state is often motivated by greed and self-interest. The state almost never fights even a just war in a manner that is wholly just (with WWII, in my opinion a very just war on the part of the Allies, a prime example of that). So, in this case, a distinction (the destructive capacity of the state) between the situations does indeed matter so far as my moral reasoning is concerned, nonetheless the similarity (the moral responsibility for protection) also matters. You can’t have it only one way.

  • bill bannon

    Michael Iafrate,

    That the state misused its power in Paul’s case …does not make Romans 13:3-4 dissappear since the verses assume the best while talking of government and Paul knew he was writing it in the context of the Roman Empire which empire had killed Christ which Paul knew perfectly well. He was talking of governments while presuming they are carrying out justice. Hitler had the right to punish actual criminals; his evil was in punishing the known innocent both within and without his land.

    “God is Love”…”feed the hungry”….”love one another”….”forgive that you may be forgiven”……are never qualified by people calling for context. But let God through the human author say something politically incorrect to modern man or severe in terms of the modern weltsanshaung, and context is the first rabbit out of the box.

    Rather than allude to how context changes Romans 13:3-4…show us. Show us in detail how going a chapter prior to Romans13:3-4 moderates it in any way.
    It …verses 3-4….says that the state is an avenger …a minister of God’s wrath to execute that wrath on the evildoer with a sword (a synecdoche for every punishment up to and including death). What in the world from chapter 12 can moderate an internally complete concept.
    Christ and Aquinas frequently quoted simple concept passages without quoting context.
    Some statements are internally complete…that is why both of those figures did so.

    Others try to make Romans 13:4 disappear by saying it was a small ceremonial sword; don’t go there either…Christ uses the same word sword …for the sword of battle in several places.

    Stoning …another cliche internet argument that you surfaced…..was commanded by God and rescinded by God symbolically (and really…shortly after) when Christ deflated the anger of those in the incident of the woman caught in adultery; and if you observe its reason, you’ll know why God sent stoning and rescinded it. Man prior to sanctifying grace which Christ brought needed an extreme motivation to avoid sin since sanctifying grace only arrived with Christ:
    John 1:17 ” For the law was given by Moses, [but] grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

    OT man was sometimes just by actual grace which does not reside, hence Job was noted as “righteous in his day” as was Noah as was John the Baptist through actual grace but Christ said that ” the least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than John”…ie…a 7 year old after Baptism with sanctifying grace exceeds John in sanctifying grace’s quality of residing….he or she does not exceed John in efforts for God but in the quality of grace within…sanctifying versus actual grace.

    But in general OT man was so sin proned and weak thereby and all that while not having residing grace available, that God had to order the extreme as to physical threats to keep him from sin…..Jeremiah’s “I have sat alone because thou hast filled me with threats”…(threats for the Jewish people of that time who were sinning once again).

    Your comments on the centurion were not convincing? I never averred that the centurion was without sin. You added that. By the time you were done, you had reduced what Christ had said about him….that his faith was the greatest that Christ had found in all Israel which means that his profession as soldier was no block whatsoever to faith and since he lived with the potential of laying down his life for the commonweal which for Stoics included the “stabilitas” of the state, by means of this “severitas”… another Stoic virtue, he was more in reach of Christ’s praising those who have the greatest love of laying down their life for another. Few occupations have that potential and even the clergy does not have that potential in every country.
    The adventurer soldier who joined Blackwater security to make 6 figures in Iraq and who likes action of the extreme type is not laying his life down for others; but there are Christian soldiers who joined after 9/11 at very low pay…. …(one a millionaire football player who then lost his life)…in Afghanistan and some of whom later need 80 surgeries like one soldier from NJ ….who do fulfill Christ’s note on those who lay down their life for others.

  • Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

    Michael,

    I would argue that the Nazi soldiers were part of a legitimate profession which was being used for illegitamate and gravely immoral ends. To the extent that they were not defending the common good but actively killing innocents, they were acting as murderers and not soldiers. Same goes for doctors. Being an OBGYN is always a good and legitimate profession, but individual doctors can use their skills for terrible ends (abortion), insofar as they participate in the latter their are not doctors (they are going against their oath to preserve life, after all) but as destroyers of innocent human life.

  • Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

    Very thoughtful post, Matthew K.

  • Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

    Ditto to Christopher with the CCC citations.

  • 100th Comment! — sorry, just had to break the record. Don’t think we’ve seen this before on Vox Nova, have we? Quite a discussion.

    Ditto to Matthew K.

  • Straw man, Michael — Brother Matthew is not arguing for a carte blanche legitimization of all soldiering.

    Not a straw man at all. Br. Matthew was arguing that soldiering is always legitimate, comparing it with nursing:

    Why not say they are always legitimate?
    Wouldn’t you say nursing is always a legitimate profession?
    The proper response would be: “Nursing is always a legitimate profession…”

    Matthew K — Are you really asking me to explain the distinction between a parent protecting a child and modern warfare?

  • Br. M.A.

    Soldiering is a legitimate vocation, but I wouldn’t defend everything that passes as ‘soldiering’, just as I won’t defend everything that passes for ‘nursing’ or ‘medical care’ when said nurses assist at abortions. I defend the professions in principle, even if their names are sullied in practice.

  • Matthew Kennel

    Michael,
    No, I’m aware of the differences between modern warfare (and ancient warfare, as well) and defense of a child. Of course, there is a difference between what a modern army with modern weapons can do and what one man can do. I’m not a war hawk, and, as I said above, our society needs a transformation in the way that we look at and interact with our enemies. But I still think the analogy holds, nor do I think it a loose one. I think that I spoke truthfully about the distinction between the two situations, and the grave responsibility that this distinction places on world leaders, who must, above all, seek peace, even at a great cost to that often avaricious bogeyman, “national interest.” Nonetheless, I believe that it would be wildly irresponsible and immoral for the government not to take legitimate and proportionate measures for the defense of its citizens in the event of an attack.

  • Matthew Kennel

    On a side note, Brother Matthew Augustine, I just noticed that we almost have the same name, almost, since my confirmation name was Augustine, and I owe my conversion to the Catholic faith to his intercession 🙂

  • Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

    We do have the same name. My baptismal name is Matthew and my confirmation name is Augustine. I combined the two as my name in religion. I too attribute my conversion to St. Augustine, specifically to my first encounter with his Confessions midway through college. Sounds like we’ve got alot of the same saints looking out for us. Some other saints I have frequent recourse to are Sts. Nicholas, Therese, Dominic and Catherine of Siena. Anyway, nice to make your acquaintance.

  • But I still think the analogy holds, nor do I think it a loose one. I think that I spoke truthfully about the distinction between the two situations, and the grave responsibility that this distinction places on world leaders …

    It’s rather amusing that Cardinal Ratzinger used this very analogy in response to the question of “Q: Is there any such thing as a ‘just war’?” — He started out with the local example of a father’s duty to protect his family, and moves on to the question of a nation’s obligations toward its citizens:

    I’d say that we cannot ignore, in the great Christian tradition and in a world marked by sin, any evil aggression that threatens to destroy not only many values, many people, but the image of humanity itself.

    In this case, defending oneself and others is a duty. Let’s say for example that a father who sees his family attacked is duty-bound to defend them in every way possible — even if that means using proportional violence.

    Thus, the just war problem is defined according to these parameters:

    1) Everything must be conscientiously considered, and every alternative explored if there is even just one possibility to save human life and values;

    2) Only the most necessary means of defense should be used and human rights must always be respected; in such a war the enemy must be respected as a human being and all fundamental rights must be respected. . . .
    I think that the Christian tradition on this point has provided answers that must be updated on the basis of new methods of destruction and of new dangers. For example, there may be no way for a population to defend itself from an atomic bomb. So, these must be updated.

    But I’d say that we cannot totally exclude the need, the moral need, to suitably defend people and values against unjust aggressors. …

    If Matthew Kennel used the analogy, it seems to me he’s in good company. 😉

    As far as ‘modern warfare,’ while I’m sympathetic to Ratzinger’s concern about nuclear arms, the case can be argued that improvements in technology have made it more possible to adhere to the jus in bello criteria of the Catholic just war tradition, insofar as discriminating between attacker and civilian. One can compare the saturation bombings of World War II and even through Vietnam to the geo-targeted weapons today.

    Another point: despite our concerns about WMD’s, I think the bulk of ‘modern warfare’ is still fought on a local level. James Turner Johnson appears to challenge this ‘modern warfare is so horrible we should dispense with a notion of ethical criteria applicable to warfare altogether’ line of argument — consider:

    The problem with this conception of gross destructiveness as inherent in modern warfare, though, is that it is a contingent judgment being made to do service as a permanent truth. By contrast to the model of the two World Wars, as well as to imagined models of global nuclear holocaust, the actual face of warfare since 1945 has been that of civil wars and regional armed conflicts. Such armed conflict has indeed been bloody, sometimes genocidal, sometimes terroristic, always characterized by violence directed toward noncombatants; yet there has been no “World War III” — or rather, given the ubiquity of this kind of conflict, this is in fact the face of “World War III.” The destructiveness of these recent wars has everything to do with the choices made by those who fight them and nothing to do with any alleged inherent destructiveness of modern weaponry. In other words, the modern-war pacifists get it wrong: their contingent judgment does not describe a permanent truth about warfare in the modern age. The morality of modern war, as of all war, depends on the moral choices of those who fight it. It is not the choice to fight that is inherently wrong, as the “presumption against war” argument has it; it is the choice to fight for immoral reasons and/or by immoral means.

    (Just War As It Was and Is, First Things January 2005).

    Johnson makes a good point — and an absolute pacifism which chooses to dispense with the ‘just war tradition’ altogether, viewing it as possibly an erroneous teaching in Catholic tradition, is to me a cause for concern.

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  • Kurt

    A couple of points, none of which is meant to support or contradict any view expressed here on the grander philosophical issue, but just as information as one who was at the Red Mass. The color guard followed the entrance procession and hymn but came before the Mass opened with the “In the name of the Father…”. The color guard was not a military guard but of the Metropolitan Police Department in recognition of their role in law enforcement and the judicial process. I believe the rifles are disarmed and that church rules require such.

  • Smith

    Add all of the American flags popping up everywhere. Doesn’t this remind you of a different time and place? Perhaps Germany in the late 30s early 40s?

  • Donald R. McClarey

    Perhaps America in late 1941?

  • The Church came into the world to destroy and supplant the fourth world empire, for it was itself the sacrament of the kingdom, the true polis, the true oikos, the true imperium of kyrios iesous and struggled against that empire to the point of martyrdom, until that empire co-opted it in the east, but vanished in the west.

    Alone in the west, without a rival no longer, the church, the new and true Israel after the flesh, could exist in all its fulness, both as the mass of the baptised, and as its clerical branch (deacons, presbyters, and bishops, in communion with the bishop of Rome), and as its royal branch (the kings and the holy roman emperor), and as its prophetic branch (the religious orders pointing to the world beyond), and as its sapiential branch (the doctors of the schools, the lovers of the wisdom of the cross).

    All this the social reign of Christ the King, however imperfectly it was realised that this was the social reign of Christ the SERVANT King, and that the actions of all the baptised, of the clergy, of the crowned, of the consecrated, of the learned, were to be moulded after humility. All this was the one world of the respublica christiana, the corpus christianorum: there was no “State” as such exisitng over and against “Church”, rather the distinction between regnum and sacerdotium within the one ecclesia: just as in the Israel after the flesh there was both Solomon and Zadok, but both were part of the one people of God, the true humanity ranged against the beasts from the sea, the leviathans that conterfeit the peaceable kingdom.

    How much role the sword played WITHIN this corpus was always a matter for debate, but it was understood that mercy and compassion should be the goal, and how much that corpus could use the sword in defending itself from without was also a matter for debate.

    But there was all the difference in the world between the Roman Emperor, whose office preceded “AD”, and right down to the end in the East was understood in a largely non-religious fashion as deriving from his acclamation and not from anything that might be done to him in Hagia Sophia by the Patriarch, and the kings of the West who were exercising an ecclesial, although not clerical office, an office that was entirely the creation of the church. The Investiture Controversy was not, in origin, a dispute about “Church” and “State” as we understand those terms, but a dispute over the relationship and delineation between regnum and sacerdotium WITHIN the Church.

    It is only later, perhaps as a consequence of the arrival of the influence of Aristotle displacing the earlier apocalyptic-augustinian understanding of the political, that the former royal branch begins to secularise its own self understanding, seeking its origins not in its calling and crowning by the church, but in the pre-Christian past, and in nature, and we get its ever greater attempts to subordinate the clerical arm to itself, and the invention of the notion of “religion” which allows the intolerant state to become tolerant, once “religion” has to mean little more than “particular ritual behaviour one gets up to in ones spare time”, rather than a whole way of life that takes a social form called Church (which is why “1688” and all that still left Catholics out in the cold, since we had not yet given up and thrown in the towel: our history in the US is often one long attempt to persuade everyone else that he have now finally done just that).

    Now of course killing over doctinal disputes on, say the nature of the Eucharist, is viewed as utter barbarism, while killing in the name of flags, oil, and lines on a map, is of course, virtuous activity on the part of civilised emancipated moderns. The tragedy of the First World War (the mindless slaughter of which can never be justified by anyone, least of all by people who want to moralise endlessly about what those like Lenin and Trotsky felt driven to do to bring it to an end) was that theological consciousness had decayed to such an extent that millions of members of the corpus mysticum felt that it could still exist in a mysterious ethereal fashion hovering above a world of slaughter as members of the corpus gallorum, corpus germanorum, corpus britannicorum etc etc could butcher each other with impunity, all in the name of imperial aggrandisement. The long retreat which the Church made from Anagni onwards culminated in this, as so good and holy a Pope such as Benedict XV could only issue vain appeals for peace to the warring parties, but felt it would be trespassing out of his proper domain to excommunicate everyone involved in the slaughter until it was brought to an end (excommunications he would not have hesitated to resort to in matters of sexual morality, say). The Second International had failed to halt the war, but if the Catholic International had been mobilised, the Third International might never have come into being.

    The issue is not so much a tradition of just-war versus pacifism, for this to pose the question in far too abstract and untheological a fashion. Rather, do we work within an apocalyptic-augustinian framework, in which there is the beast and the lamb, or do we work in a thomist-natural law framework, and talk of the natural and the supernatural. Therein lies the real dichotomy.

  • I’m not sure on this one, but, just be thankful that the Holy Mass was not concelebrated by Mr. Potato Head, as it appears was done at the closing liturgy of 2008 West Coast Call To Action Conference last week… Unbelievable.

    See “Mr. Potato Head Concelebrates The Holy Mass” below.

    Click here to view the video: http://www.fratres.wordpress.com