The following is an excerpt from a Commencement address given in May 2014 at Thomas Aquinas College, a Catholic college in California, by Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, a former Catholic military chaplain and the former Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of the US Military for ten years before being named a Cardinal.
Is it really okay, if you can’t find a story from the New Testament to support what you do, to just make one up?
“One of my greatest challenges and responsibilities was persuading 19-year-old Catholics, who instinctively feel that there is some conflict between the Catholic faith and bearing arms, that they need not feel that way. I use the example of the Good Samaritan. The story is of a fellow who is beaten half to death, left dying. Two pass by, and they are big shots in the religious organizations of the time, and the third is a stranger, a Samaritan, who stops and pours oil on and bandages the wounded man. We all know the story well. Well, I say, ‘What would have happened a half hour before, if that Samaritan saw that this man was being pummeled half to death’? Would he have a right to step back and say, ‘I will become a Samaritan about a half hour after this is over,’ or would he not have a right and obligation to step in and do what he had to do—and only what had to be done—to bring about justice there? That is what the military is.
Military service is a Christian vocation, if only our people were conscious of the potential to adopt it as a Christian vocation. That is the role of the Church, to remind them that there need be no conflict, and that the Church considers—and always has considered—military service to be a lofty call: an act of love. Christ defined Himself as one who came to serve and not to be served. ‘No greater love than this, to give one’s life for a friend.’ Our kids are giving their lives for perfect strangers. Peace I leave you.”
Perspicacious. “That is not the story of the Good Samaritan…” I like it. I wonder if the Archdiocese for War ought to be obliged to have a Catholic Conscientious Objector on staff to counsel the young and inquisitive.
I did meet an officer who became a conscientious objector as he first stepped on a nuclear sub. he said the evil overwhelmed him, and he resigned his commission, but not without some stress. In essence, he was told to keep his reason absolutely secret or he would go to prison. They would accommodate his separation, for as an officer he can resign, but they will not permit him to say way as long as he was in the navy. He is a priest now, but loves the navy, has disparaging things to say about pacifists. Claimed they were suffering under a under-informed ethic. Called him on it, he backed off.
Yes, it is actually extremely hard to get real information on the number of CO’s in these current wars, because if a soldier wants to file for CO status, the military will let them go under some other kind of discharge. They will make up some reason — bad eyesight or whatever — anything to not have CO on the books.
Is there any way you can put me in touch with this priest or tell me who he is? I would totally write to him!