Letters to the Editor

Two Letters to the Editor of Boston Pilot on the Robert Barron article

Mark Scibilia-Carver • 15 days ago

Actually, it was 1700 years ago that “something broke in the Christian culture” and Bishop Barron himself is evidence of a Christian who has not recovered from the allure of Christian Just War Theory. (CJWT) After the “1917” film reminded him of the evils of WWI, he assures us he is not so unnerved as to advocate pacifism (or Gospel Nonviolence) but he applies an “in bellum principle” of CJWT. However, to be just, a war has to first meet all the “ad bellum” criteria. CJWT has no basis in Jesus or the Gospel and has never been taught with the authority of an encyclical or church council. It is accepted with, perhaps the lowest level of certainty and authority. It is a critical mistake to give it such precedence over the Gospel.
Most US CO’s in WWI were from the historic peace churches which had never accepted CJWT. The witness of one of the 10 or so Catholic CO’s should be of particular interest. Benjamin Jospeh Salmon wrote a 235 page treatise while fasting in prison and concluded, “There is no such animal as a just war”.
Bishop Barron seems to place much responsibility on the combatants for not understanding the significance of their baptism. We should note that the US bishops first organized themselves as the National Catholic War Council to support and encourage Catholic participation in WWI. Even after witnessing the scandal of Christians killing each other by the millions in Europe they pledged their patriotism and support for the president. They considered the CO’s to be traitors.
Cardinal Gibbons wrote, “This war offers us, indeed, the greatest opportunity in all history of inspiring our men with religion.” (!)
Will Bishop Barron’s New Evangelization take account?

-Mark Carver

I’m not sure what point the bishop wishes to make here, Europeans had been slaughtering each other relentlessly for centuries prior to world war I. World war 1 was particularly awful because of obsolete military tactics contending with advances in military technology. Probably the longest, most brutal and totally pointless war in history, with an estimated 5-10 million dead, raged between the two pseudo-christian powers of England and France for more than 500 years. Oh, and all these wars have been championed by the major pseudo-christian churches of Europe both Catholic and Protestant.

-JP Fitz

I Need A Favor

Here is the comment that I left on Bishop Barron’s talk on YouTube: “1917, War, and Faith.” If you have a second, please go to the video and click “like” on my comment. Hopefully that way, the comment will be more visible and more people will see it. It’s terrible that Bishop Barron isn’t sharing this sad truth with his listeners. (I wonder why.)

___________________________________________________________________________

Bishop Barron seems mystified as to how Christians could have gone and slaughtered each other in World War I. The answer is easy: Their religious leaders told them to. The U.S. Bishops of the time supported and endorsed the war, publicly. In April of 1917, Cardinal Gibbons wrote a letter to Woodrow Wilson, signed by all of the Archbishops of the United States:

“…now that war has been declared, WE BOW IN OBEDIENCE to the summons to do our part…Inspired by the holiest sentiments of truest patriotic fervor and zeal, we stand ready, we and all the flock committed to our keeping, TO COOPERATE IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE WITH OUR PRESIDENT AND OUR NATIONAL GOVERNMENT…” In November of that year, he wrote to Wilson: “Guided as we are by the sublime teachings of Christianity we have no other course open to us but that of OBEDIENCE and devotion to our country….we wish for our people to see, and WE ARE STRIVING TO HELP THEM TO REALIZE, that they OWE UNSWERVING LOYALTY to the rulers whom they have elected to office, and that in doing so they are not acting in a slavish manner, for obedience is not an act of servility we pay to man but AN ACT OF HOMAGE WE PAY TO GOD…”

I find it very hard to believe that Bishop Barron would not know this history and the complicity of the Catholic Church leadership in war. At least the American Bishops don’t encourage Christians to go slaughter people in war anymore. Instead, they coyly condone the country’s wars through 17 years of straight, complete and utter silence.

LETTER OF OUR ARCHBISHOP TO PRESIDENT WILSON http://www.bensalmon.org/uploads/8/2/5/7/82576010/archbishopsletter.pdf

LETTER WRITTEN TO PRESIDENT WILSON BY CARDINAL GIBBONS https://books.google.com/books?id=OpMwAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA9-PA5&lpg=RA9-PA5&dq=archbishop+gibbons+letter+president+wilson&source=bl&ots=wIhsc8_PiY&sig=ACfU3U0ZEbXjJJrYNswiCDa3mCrvexgR6A&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjH1-PvlK_nAhWPVs0KHbx5D5UQ6AEwD3oECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=archbishop%20gibbons%20letter%20president%20wilson&f=false

___________________________________________________________________________

Wars of the Papal State

In this week’s podcast, Episode 25, Fr. McCarthy and I discuss the article published a few weeks ago in America magazine called: “The Teaching of the Catholic Church is Clear: We Are Against War.”

Um, really?

There is much to say about that, but for starters, here is a list of wars waged by the papal state from 1563 – 1871.

Wars of the Papal State, until 1563 
Go to narrative history of the Papal State: 1447-1471 . 1471-1503 . 1503-1534 . 1534-1566 

1482-1484 War of Ferrara 
1485-1486  Florentine War of Pope Sixtus IV. 
1494-1495  Neapolitan War 1494-1495 
1499-1504 Franco-Aragonese War over Naples 
1508-1509 War of the League of Cambrai 
1510-1516 War of the Holy League 
1527 Sacco di Roma 
1556-1557  Carafa War, 1556-1557 

Wars of the Papal State 1563-1808 
Go to narrative history of the Papal State 1566-1590 . 1590-1618 . 1618-1660 . 1660-1700 . 1700-1730 . 1730-1758 . 1758-1789 . 1789-1799 . 1799-1809 

1571  Naval Battle of Lepanto (fending off the Ottoman Threat) 
1641-1644 War over Parma 
1660-1664 Franco-Papal War 
1707-1709 Austro-Papal War (War of Spanish Succession 1701-1714
1791  French occupation of Avignon and the Venaissin 
1792-1797  First War of the Coalition, parts of Papal State occupied by the French 
1797-1798 Revolution and French Occupation 
1798 Neapolitan Invasion of the Papal State 
1799-1802 Second War of the Coalition 
1808-1809  Franco-Italian annexation of the Papal State 

Wars of the Papal State 1808-1870 

Go to narrative history of the Papal State 1809-1815 . 1815-1830 . 1830-1849 . 1849-1860 . 1860-1871.

1831 Revolution 
1832-1839 Austrian Occupation of Bologna, French Occupation of Ancona 
Rebellion of Savigno/Imola (Legione Italica) 
1843 Austrian Occupation of Bologna, French Occupation of Ancona 
Rebellion of Savigno/Imola (Legione Italica) 
1845 Revolt of Rimini 
1848-1849 Revolution 
1860-1861 Garibaldi’s Expedition against Sicily 
1867 Invasion of Italian patriots 
1870-1871  Franco-German War 























Swords into Plowshares, and tea caddies

Until Lew Rockwell posted Ellen’s interview with Andrew Bacevich, whom I have long deeply admired, I knew nothing about CAM. I also knew nothing about Kings Bay Plowshares. I am working through that ignorance, and gained further insight listening to Episode 15 of these podcasts. Coincidentally, I am reading “Pacific” by Simon Winchester. I came across this paragraph of actually turning swords into ploughshares in immediate post-World War II Japan.

“Factories that had been weeks before making war materials switched their production lines to start making items needed not by generals and admirals, but the bone-tired civilians and by the ragged menfolk returning from the battlefields. So bomb casings became charcoal burners, sitting nearly upright on their tail fins and helping households get through that first bitter winter. Large-caliber brass shell cases were modified as rice containers, while tea caddies were fashioned from their smaller shiny cousins.”

Searchlight mirrors were “beaten” into Tokyo windows, and a fighter plane engine factory started making water pumps. What could the United States do if we beat the nukes at Kings Bay into productive use? Hopefully, at the least, the Kings Bay 7 beat their rap.

We Are Family

Why are some people so opposed to refugees coming into our country? Why do some see them as a threat and believe that it is acceptable to treat them as somehow less than fully human?

These questions point to a source of major suffering in our world now.

There is something of a mythology associated with the perceived threat posed by frightened, desperate people entering our country.

The deeper problem, though, is that we are clinging to a far too limited and frankly obsolete understanding of what a family is. It is this narrow vision of what makes a family that is keeping us stuck in fear of whoever we perceive as “different” and conflating “different” with dangerous.

We need to radically expand what we mean by the word “family.” Our definition of what makes a family has been far too narrow for far too long. There has been a strong tendency to think of family in terms of those who are our blood relatives as well as those who we are related to through marriages. This has been our means of determining who “we” are and who “they” are.

Although a traditional extended family is more expansive and inclusive than the traditional nuclear family of biological parents and their children, it still leaves us with a perspective that invites us to see everyone else as non-family. In others words: not one of us. As soon as we recognize someone as “one of us” or “not one of us” we quickly decide how we will treat that person based on which category we place them in. We human beings have a long history of social programming that predisposes us to give preferential treatment to those we see as “one of us” and a heightened sense of suspicion toward everyone else.

There are, of course, additional dimensions of the “one of us” family paradigm. We may identify with our professional colleagues as our “work family.” We can also attribute a family-like affiliation to various other kinds of groups that we have at some time been a part of: schools, sports teams, the military, political parties, clubs, fraternities, sororities, etc.

So there are some added circles of inclusion with respect to who we regard as family but even so, there are always those “others” who are outside those circles who do not get included in any way as part of “us.”

Have we reached the limit of expanding our definition of family or is there still somewhere else to go with it?

Although it may seem that we have reached a dead end with respect to how we understand the meaning of family, we have actually come to a closed door rather than a solid wall. This door can be opened and we can step through it and enter what lies beyond it.

Stepping through this door requires the proverbial leap of faith. This step is the acceptance of the idea that everyone and everything is our family. There is no one and nothing that isn’t a family member. There is no human being anywhere on this planet that isn’t your brother or sister. There is no animal or plant that isn’t a relative. The land, the water, and the air are members of the same family to which we all belong.

This is actually quite realistic and practical when we remember that a central truth common to all families is that every family shares a common point of origin. They all start somewhere at a particular time. Maybe this is why lovers reminisce about where and when they first met. It matters.

Human beings all share a common point of origin on our little blue planet. We have been referring to her as Mother Earth for a very long time. This is where we all started. We human beings all share 99.9% of the same DNA. That’s how much we are all more alike than different from each other. If we allow our vision to be a bit more expansive, our home planet and our home solar system all originated from the same recycled stardust. On a cosmic level we all come from the same raw material.

So much changes when we realize that we are all part of the same family.

We realize that “othering” a family member just doesn’t work. We cannot escape our relatedness. Competing with and defeating a family member just doesn’t feel right. Competition somehow becomes less interesting while cooperation becomes very interesting.

We realize that generosity and compassion are sensible and natural. Giving something good to a family member becomes an act of giving to oneself. Receiving from a family member is a gift back to the giver.

We have no need to be afraid of refugees. It is they who come to us afraid and needing our help. They are our brothers and sisters.

We are all children of the Ultimate Mystery. We are all members of the same family.

“it’s the Americans who started it”

This is on page 10 of Levinson Wood’s 2018 book “An Arabian Journey”. Wood, a former British paratrooper and now travel writer, has just met Bassam, an Arab computer science student who left Raqqa to get away from ISIS and headed to this Kurdish, and largely Christian town (with a mosque peacefully next door to the church), in northeast Syria. Bassam wanted to make sure Wood was not an American, and he stated the headline. He further stated: “They [the people of Syria] know [the Americans started] it. The revolution was a joke. This whole war is just a game between the big countries. Iran, Israel, America, Russia and Saudi Arabia. They just come and screw around with things until they get what they want.” We can assume what “they” want is not the salvation of souls. The next person Wood meets, Yasim, checks him into his hotel. Wood notices Yasim has a tattoo on his biceps of the face of the Prince of Peace and some hands praying, surrounded by a rosary. Bomb ’em all, and let God sort ’em out?

Email from a reader

I love your website and all that you do. 
If you like the following anecdote, please feel free to put it on your blog.

Yesterday, a good friend and devote Catholic was talking about how President Trump had Iranian General Soleimani killed. She praised the president and lamented that non-Catholics oppose Catholicism and President Trump. This woman is very knowledgeable and devout and an all-around great person. But even among the greatest of Catholics, militarism and patriotism override their Catholicism. I see no Catholics anywhere, in magazines or speaking from the altar, condemning this as an act of murder for which the president shows no signs of remorse. Not even the most skilled sophists could rationalize this as “just war theory” in any possible way. I understand that Donald Trump has appointed some pro-life Supreme Court justices, but that is no reason to turn our backs on calling out grave mortal sin for what it is. Do we need to be reminded not to trust in princes (Psalm 146:3)?    

Thank you so much, Steve W., for sharing your thoughts.