Monthly Archives: July 2016

Chilcot Report Shocks World! (Not)

You won’t believe this, but it turns out that the Iraq War was an illegal war of choice, not a last resort, based on fabricated evidence, propaganda and lies, with no just cause, and all peaceful means of resolution had not been exhausted. Also, the consequences of this war were severely underestimated and the plans for Iraq in the aftermath were “wholly inadequate.”

This is shocking — shocking! Does this suggest that world political leaders do not pay attention to or take seriously the precious “Just War Theory” tradition of Christianity when it comes to making the decision to go to war and their means of carrying it out?

Catholics respond: This proves we need Just War Theory more than ever! I suppose so, because on a realistic and practical level, JWT acts as an excuse and a loophole for Christians to go to war whenever their government tells them to; then in the aftermath, it tells them how very evil it all was.

Convenient. You can have your wars and your veneer of a moral standard, too.

Remember in 2003:

Vatican to Bush: Iraq war would be ‘disaster

White House: ‘Disarmed Iraq would leave the world safer’

When will we learn?


Response to a Priest

Today I came across some sentiments posted by a priest on Facebook. I have copied and pasted his words here along with my response. I absolutely hate political discussions on Facebook, and comment thread “flame wars” in general, and my intent was not to stir up something like that. However, these issues do need to be addressed and sometimes you just feel a responsibility to say something. I don’t know if posting my response was the best thing to do, but I couldn’t just let it go without offering a different perspective and, yes, a bit of a challenge.

I have removed identifying information from the priest’s post and have informed him hat I am posting his words here, and I will remove this blog post if he asks me to.

Anyone who read the thread on Facebook is most welcome to comment here and add some food for thought. I will read anyone’s comments with great consideration. Please be respectful. We are all in this mess of a world together, and we all want what is best for ourselves, our families, our friends, our Church, our nation, and humankind. God bless.

***The Priest’s Post***

Happy Fourth of July everyone! This year I am spending a few days while recovering from Cancer, with my Brother … who is serving in the Navy as a Lieutenant. … is a helicopter pilot. I also have a nephew, …, who is an officer in the Air Force, and a niece …, who is serving in the Army. I also have a niece …, who is in the Army reserves.. I am very proud of my family who is serving in the Military, and I am eternally grateful that they are protecting our Freedom as Americans.

Sometime we take for granted what it means to be Free! We often confuse Freedom with License to do whatever we choose. As Abraham Lincoln once stated, “True Freedom is not license to do whatever we want to do, True Freedom is making the choice to do what we OUGHT to do!” We have politicians today who distort the true meaning of Freedom. In fact, in my opinion our current President, and many others do not truly understand what freedom is. They continually infringe on our religious freedom and they rob the unborn of the freedom to be safe in the womb with the false and distorted reasoning that Killing the unborn protects a woman’s freedom. This is such a travesty. The rhetoric of Freedom of Choice is actually an assault on human dignity, the dignity of women and reproductive freedom! To justify abortion in the name of freedom is truly a political end run, robbing every one of us of true freedom. Killing a child is not Freedom! It is murder. No one is ever truly free, if everyone is not safe…Including an unborn child. Freedom can not be true freedom, if another person threatens my life and dignity..I also find it very frightening that there are many people who cannot tolerate this belief. In fact, if you want to be truly POLITICALLY INCORRECT, attempt to tell a pro-choice person that you are appalled by abortion, because you truly believe an unborn child is an innocent, human being. Somehow those who hold a pro-choice position find this believe incomprehensible and irresponsible. But in all honesty, it makes far more sense then the distorted reasoning that people like our president, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, among many, and even some of our Supreme Court Justices, attempt to suggest to the American people.

I desperately try to understand the reasoning behind their argument that this is reproductive Freedom. It always ends the same for me.. .There is no Freedom when we place ourselves in a position of superiority over another human being… Freedom belongs to every human being equally, in spite of age, politics, gender, ability, beauty, money or whatever a person claims as their own place in the world.. Freedom is a God Given Human right…Every Human being has a divine right to Freedom, and my freedom ends the moment, I infringe on yours… A women’s freedom ends when it destroys the life of a child… a man’s freedom ends, when he denies the dignity of a women, and my freedom ends when I decide my choice is superior to yours… Logically that means I must respect the beliefs of others. I understand that… except I don’t truly believe that any person who decides to terminate a pregnancy, truly believes the fetus is not human, and alive. I suppose if someone could convince me that the unborn are just blobs of tissue, with no potential for life, and are not alive, I could understand their belief that abortion is like removing a piece of tissue, like they did when they removed my Cancer.. But does any rational, education and intelligent person truly believe that tiny fetus is just like a cancerous tumor? If so then are we sure they have the brains to lead our country, protect our rights, and uphold our dignity.. I am not sure I want someone that stupid protecting my freedom. When will they decide I am not human? When I am black, when I am cripple, when I am poor… Oh yeah, that is the story of the history of the human race…Freedom dies, when we deny the humanity of any one different then ourselves… including the unborn…
Finally, I seldom address politics on Facebook..But this weekend, as I give gratitude to God for my life, my family and my freedom. I also question what is wrong with us as people when we deny the TRUTH to protect our politics… I wish someone was running for president who truly understood FREEDOM, and was able to articulate clearly and honestly the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, who understood Freedom so well and risked so much to protect it… for all of us… Where is he when we need him…

This fourth of July lets pray together, first for protection for our Freedom. Secondly for the men and women fighting to protect us. Third for the unborn who have a right to the life we enjoy.. .And finally for our politicians that they will stop lying to us about Freedom, and start protecting it…

****My response****

Dear Father _____,

I have utmost respect for you and wish you well in your recovery. I don’t really know you, but I attended your Mission talk on Mercy in … around Christmas. It was the highlight of my Christmas season, and for that I thank you. Your posts show up occasionally in my Facebook feed, and I always enjoy them. You mentioned that no one was willing to post with a different point of view. Well, I’ll take you up on that. I have ventured into Facebook comment waters before, only to experience a tidal wave of emotional vitriol and reactionary backlash, even, if not especially, among Catholics. However, I do believe the issues you raise are important, and I will try my best to say what I have to say in a calm and respectful manner, though I care deeply about these issues and it is as difficult for me as it is for the next person to control my passion.

I am a Catholic, and I don’t wish to challenge anybody’s pro-life position. I am pro-life. What I want to challenge is the apparently highly selective and restrictive nature of the your “pro life” definition… and some of the underlying assumptions that are built into your post. I agree with you that serious moral problems arise when we — as you so astutely point out — justify the immoral and reprehensible act of killing by wrapping it with the practically meaningless word of “freedom.” I say “apparent” because I hope that if I have the wrong impression of your views, you will correct me. I don’t want to miscategorize your attitudes and beliefs, but I only have a couple hundred words of yours to work with here, so I am going with what I have.

When I read your post, I experienced some of the same emotions of befuddlement and frustration that you described when hearing the explanations of other people’s “pro-choice” positions. I have two brothers who were Marines and have some other former military personnel in my family. Both of my brothers were Marines at the time of 9/11. I worked across from the World Trade Center at that time and was there that day. Both of my brothers were in Iraq at the start of the war. While I love them and admire them in so many ways, I do not believe their mission in Iraq ever had, and certainly does not currently have (thirteen years later), anything to do with fighting for Americans’ freedom here at home. I do not believe I am betraying them by saying that; one of my brothers completely agrees with me. If you look at the Bill of Rights as a gauge for political freedom, and the developments that have happened since 9/11 with the Patriot Act, the behemoth Department of Homeland Security, the NSA, the NDAA, the militarization of local police, the endless machinations of our secret police (FBI, CIA, etc.), it is hard to imagine that we in this country are headed for anything but a totalitarian nightmare of truly historic — and maybe global — proportions. We are not more free as a result of these wars. We are less free. These wars do not make us safe. They make us less secure. These wars do not prove our moral superiority as Americans; they are evidence of our moral degradation.

Perhaps you are thinking, “I was writing about abortion, not foreign policy, and regardless of what you think of these wars, we still need to support the troops.”

I disagree. I believe the issues abortion and war are interlaced, morally, spiritually, politically, and intellectually. They are both pro-life issues, though the American Catholic hierarchy never seems to want us to think of it that way. The Republicans are the Party of War, and they pretend to be against abortion. The Democrats are the Party of Abortion, and they pretend to be against war. But it’s all pretend. The Republicans had complete control of the White House and the Congress for over four years when Bush was the president. Why did the Republicans fund Planned Parenthood during this time? And why did conservatives not criticize them then for doing so? The idea that the Republicans are a “pro life” party that actually wants to end abortion…why do Catholics continue to be so hoodwinked after so many decades?

By forcing us to choose “the lesser of two evils” (abortion or war), it’s all leading us down the Primrose Path of a Satanic Culture of Death. The ugly truth is: It all involves the justification of the act of killing with the the facile term “freedom.” As Orwell said, the world of politics uses meaningless words and euphemisms to make “lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and… give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” We need to stop equating abortion with “choice” and the American policy of endless war with “freedom.”

I highly recommend the article “Christians and the Pro-Life Ploy” by G.C. Dilsaver.

“In traditional Christian morality a good end never justifies an evil means, and even if it did an evil means never procures a good end that lasts. A strikingly relevant case in point was the Fascist government in Italy. Mussolini’s state banned abortion, birth control, and homosexuality activity. As a Catholic I hold these things as intrinsically evil and their curtailment good. However, supporters of Italian fascism, even those who supported it primarily for the advancement of these moral issues, are responsible for facilitating a cataclysmic evil. This evil culminated in Catholics sheepishly submitting to national conscription and participation in an unjust and horrifying war. In addition, it led to the subsequent weakening of Catholic culture, morals, and faith in Italy and to the final eradication of European Christendom. The result now being a de-Christianized Italy that fully accepts those very moral issues some sought to address by compromising with the fascist regime. If even a fraction of the effort and sacrifice that was squandered by Italian and other Catholics in World War II had instead been brought to missionary efforts the world would be looking at the rebirth of Christendom rather than its demise. Moral decadence always comes in the wake of war…”

Abraham Lincoln once stated, “True Freedom is not license to do whatever we want to do, True Freedom is making the choice to do what we ought to do!”

Pope Benedict XVI said unequivocally in response to the American invasion of Iraq, “There is no allowance for preemptive war in the Catechism.” He called the Just War Theory “a problem,” and said, “we OUGHT to be asking ourselves if it is licit to even suggest the existence of a just war in this day and age.”

In 2003, John Paul II said in his message to American military chaplains: “By now it should be clear to all that the use of war as a means of resolving disputes between States was rejected, even before the UN Charter, by the consciences of the majority of humanity, except in the case of legitimate defense against an aggressor.”

It should be, but it’s not.

I wish someone was running for President who understood the meaning of “pro-life” beyond the abortion issue.

You asked: “When will they decide I am not human?”

I’d like to venture an answer.

“They” will decide you are not human, and thus not deserving of life, human dignity, protection and safety, let alone love and mercy, when “they” decide you are an enemy, like so many human beings who happened to be Iraqi, Afghani, Pakistani, Somali, Libyan, Syrian, Vietnamese, Japanese, etc. We’ve killed so many, and it matters so little to us as a nation, that our military leaders even admit now: “We don’t do body counts.” I have an honest question. Have you ever led a prayer for the victims of war in the Middle East in your church, victims who were not Christian but still innocent? It has been my experience that in church we only pray for American soldiers or Christians. Do we ever pray for our enemies in church? In what sense can we, as Christians, say that we love them?

An enemy is anyone who threatens you. A mother who is pregnant with an unwanted child sees that child as a threat, and feels justified to destroy “it.” The government sees people as threats, too, and they feel justified in destroying them. That is just the way of the world. It should not surprise us. It is not the way of Jesus, of course. But two millennium after his death, we, Christians, are still, unfortunately, not getting that. This should surprise us. When will we listen?

Over 1 million Iraqis perished as a result of the war (5% of the population), and 3 million refugees were created. 200,000 Afghanis dead, 80,000 Pakistanis. And that’s not counting the havoc we’ve wreaked in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, etc. Millions of people have died, lost family members, lost limbs, been burned, bombed, maimed, and slain in the name of “American freedom” (as I said, I’m not buying it) meanwhile less than 5,000 U.S. service members were killed in Iraq, less than 3,000 in Afghanistan. How can we call this proportional. How can we call this just. How can I reconcile this 13-year slaughter with your talk on mercy during Advent? More American veterans of the Vietnam War died from committing suicide than died in the actual war. It will be the same for the War on Terror. What does this tell us about the truth and nobility of our modern day “wars” (if you can even call them that)? Why do pro-life Catholics keep cheerleading this madness? To borrow your words: We deny the truth (and the way and the life) to protect our politics. That goes for those who support war as much as it goes for those who support abortion. That is my feeling and opinion, with all due respect, and I thank you for reading.

Merton on East and West

From the essay “Beyond East and West” by Thomas Merton:

“We are no longer living in a Christian world. The ages which we are pleased to call the ‘ages of Faith’ are certainly not ages of earthly paradise. But at least our forefathers officially recognized the favored the Christian ethic of love. They fought some very bloody and unChristian wars, and in doing so, they also committed great crimes which remain in history as a permanent scandal. However, certain definite limits were recognized. Today a non-Christian world still retains a few vestiges of Christian morality, a few formulas and cliches, which serve on appropriate occasions to adorn indignant editorials and speeches. But otherwise we witness deliberate campaigns to oppose and eliminate all education in Christian truth and morality. Not only non-Christians but even Christians themselves tend to dismiss the Gospel ethic on nonviolence and love as ‘sentimental’. As a matter of fact, the mere suggestion that Christ counseled nonviolent resistance to evil is enough to invite scathing ridicule. One Catholic writer declares in so many words that he will stick to natural law and abandon the Sermon on the Mount to ‘Protestant ministers and Jewish Rabbis.’ It is therefore a serious error to imagine that because the West was once largely Christian, the cause of the Western nations is now to be identified, without further qualification, with the cause of God.


July 1, 1916 – Hell on Earth

Today is the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. The British Army suffered over 50,000 casualties on the first day. By November more than one million men had been killed or wounded on all sides. Laurence Vance has an excellent article to commemorate this horrendous and tragic event:

How to End War Once and for All

In addition, in following a link in Mr. Vance’s article, I came across this discussion of what was known as “shell shock” during WWI. In this the Year of Mercy, let us never forget that in time of war the scale is always tipped dramatically in favor of the merciless and the powerful.

from Driven Mad by the Horror of War by Tony Rennell:

“Every soldier lost to a diagnosis of shell shock was viewed not as a casualty but as ‘wastage’ — a reduction in the manpower needed to defeat the Germans. Compassion was now regarded as weakness. ‘Man up’ was the message from on high to those on the ground.

One recourse was to deny mercy to traumatised men who fled the battlefield. Death sentences for desertion and cowardice soared: 100 British soldiers were executed in the two years before the Battle of the Somme, and nearly 250 in the two years during and after.

Shattered nerves were no excuse. Rejecting a plea for mercy, Field Marshal Douglas Haig, the commander-in-chief, confirmed the sentence on one particular Somme soldier with an exasperated: ‘How can we ever win if this plea is allowed?’

Another general said of a private who went to pieces during a gas attack: ‘Cowards of this sort are a serious danger. The death penalty is instituted to make such men fear running away more than they fear the enemy.’

The deranged private was tied to a stake and shot at dawn.”

All of which made me think of this great antiwar classic: