I received this email today from an “R.”:
I recently read this scandalous article in the National Catholic Register. I’m just so overwhelmed I can’t even think of how to articulate good arguments. I know this is flawed many levels and doesn’t do justice to the gravity of war nor of the importance of discernment. Its flippant headline makes me want to puke.
Could you possibly post something in response to this?
Thank you for this website. There were times when I thought I was alone in this country what I believed about militarism and was so glad to see that some fellow Catholics actually put into words what I hardly dared to think for fear there was something wrong with me.
This was in part my response:
I received your email at Catholics Against Militarism. I will indeed try to write something about the sniper article. When I started this site, I felt like I was trying to catalog some of the things I was seeing in the Catholic Church creeping up more and more. But now, I feel like I see these things with such frequency, I can hardly keep up with it. There is not enough time to digest each one, and write about it, before the next one hits me, like a ton of bricks. When I saw that article, I did the exact same thing you did. I was at a loss for words so I forwarded it to someone, aghast, and said, “Will you please write something about this?” But yes, I will try to write something soon. Thank you for getting in touch.
Even though snipers are in the news, the trouble is not with snipers. The author quotes a sniper making what he believes is a telling point about snipers: “People who drive tanks, control attack drones or drop bombs, he said, kill more innocent lives than those who surgically eliminate enemies of peace.
Yes, I AM glad I have never read about a sniper single-handedly wiping out a Pakistani wedding. But the writer fails to note that the US wars are almost always unjust* and that the sniper (or pilot or tank driver) in question ought never have been there in the first place.
*Catholic just war theory may look reasonable on paper, but–in practice–the hawks can always find plenty of Catholics happy to shoehorn any scenario into a combat boot.
“Catholics happy to shoehorn any scenario into a combat boot.”
I’m definitely stealing that one! Thanks for your comment.
Your post was highlighted over at Rockwell.com, so I went to NCR and commented I am a Vietnam Era conscientious objector, Romans 13 is fine, but Paul was echoing Jesus in Matthew 23:2… obey the powers but don’t be like them. Promoting Sniping as Catholic is to be like them. 36 hours later, NCR has not approved my post. Once or twice before I commented at NCR… nothing.
I too was appalled that our Church has a Archdiocese for the Military and arranged not to be there for that collection, delighted to find the Cathedral in Seattle did not pass the basket for war. (Love the Mass, can’t stand the sacrilege of the Roman eagle-topped flag on the altar precincts.)
Offered to lead a conscientious objector group at the Church, not within the scope of the peace and justice crew there. No interest.
We have a poverty draft, so no real interest in conscientious objection. Sorry, I am going on, it’s just I have not come across any anti-war, pro-peace Catholics. You seem like the real thing.
Thank you so much for writing to us. I’m not surprised NCR is screening their comments. I recently tried to start a Catholic Peace Fellowship Reading Circle at my church and submitted a proposal. (I have not heard back. I’m not surprised.) But you may want to contact Shawn Storer over at CPF. He gave me some good tips and suggestions and he could help you get something started that deals with CO within the slightly larger context of war and peace issues, yet without becoming so broad that they try to lump you in with “peace and justice” which to most people means “social justice” which to most people means “liberal.” If you have any interest in blogging with us, shoot me an email and tell us more about yourself! Any CO is a friend of CAM’s! firstname.lastname@example.org
Catholic just war theory was developed in a time when war was fought by princes with private armies, fighting with lances, swords, and long-bows, leaving the civilian population mostly undisturbed. The latter could enjoy the scene of the battlefield from safety (arguably not the most edifying spectacle for a Christian soul). In any case, modern wars are not fought by snipers against snipers, rather the snipers target civilians-freedom fighters-terrorists-partisans (pick your ideologically charged definition).
I notice many new posts on the NCR article once LRC, this, and a priest friend (Fr. E. McCarthy) put out the word. Nice change to the tone of the comments for the article.