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