Tag Archives: Fr. Z

Second Response to Fr. Z

Fr. Z had another diatribe on his blog on Saturday regarding the National Catholic Reporter’s article, “Military archdiocese collection muddies nonviolence message, detractors say.” Catholics Against Militarism was interviewed for the article.

He referred to us as Liberals and Leftists, writing: “Liberals are the experts at division.  This is a Leftist idea and tactic.” Again, he labeled our initiative as an “attack.”

Fr. Z, in case you venture over to our neck of the woods here, we must point out: We do not consider ourselves to be “Leftists.” Both of us are libertarian-leaning and agree with you on many theological issues. One of us is a regular follower of your blog, and not even in a “What’s this loon going to say next?” kind of way. One of us follows your blog out of general respect for your views and sincere interest in your commentary. (The other of us never heard of you until this weekend.)

Fr. Z has a very 1960s mentality. The Left/Right mentality no longer applies to people, at least not in our generation. You can’t simply attribute antiwar and noninterventionist sentiment to the Left anymore. Things have changed since Vietnam.

"diablo" means "division"

“diablo” means “division”

Also, classifying people as “Right” or “Left,” based on one opinion or idea, as a way to dismiss that opinion or idea, is an example of argumentum ad hominem (attacking the traits of an opponent as a means to invalidate their arguments). In our opinion, that kind of attack is responsible for far more division in the Catholic Church than what we’re doing! How can Catholics have any kind of dialogue about important issues, if Catholics are making snap judgments about other Catholics and engaging in abusive ad hominem?

We don’t want to be derided and dismissed as “Leftists,” “liberals,” “pacifists,” “traitors,” “isolationists,” “anti-American,” or “unpatriotic,” just as we believe Fr. Z and his readers do not want to be derided and dismissed by being labeled “fascists,” “neocons,” “chickenhawks,” “warmongers,” “Constantinian Christians,” “baby killers,” or “bloodthirsty heathen idolaters.”

As Christopher Dawson wrote in his famous “Essay on War”:

“There is no subject on which rational discussion is more difficult than war and peace. In time of war, of course, rational thought is practically suspended and passion becomes a virtue, as we saw during the last war (World War I, 1914-18). Then the remotest suggestion that there was anything to be said on the other side, or that the enemy was capable of the smallest degree of human behavior, was regarded as a kind of immoral madness. Nor is this unreasonableness confined to the war-mongers. In time of peace, at any rate, the pacifist is often passionate and more irrational than the militarist, and it is usually easier to carry on rational discussion with a staff officer than with a professional pacifist. Moreover, the pacifists are far from agreed among themselves, and it is useless to argue about pacifism in the abstract when we are ignorant of the particular school of pacifism to which our opponent happens to belong.”

Believe it or not, we happen to be much more interested in dialogue and rational discussion than creating controversy and inciting comments threads wars on the Internet. To this end, we think that doing a series of podcasts with people who both do and do not agree with us might be a better way of fostering dialogue and minimizing divisiveness than almost anything else. To that end, Fr. Z, we would like to invite you to be a guest. We see eye to eye on a lot of things, but we disagree on just enough to make it interesting. If you read this and if you’re interested, let us know.

Here is our first response to Fr. Z.

Our Response to Father Z

Today the National Catholic Reporter published an article on the upcoming collection for AMS called “Bishops’ support for war underpins collection for military archdiocese.” Father Z criticized the article on his blog, calling the article an “attack” on military chaplains. It is unfortunate that any form of criticism is labeled an “attack.”

Father Z believes that the collection to support the Archdiocese for Military Services is important. We believe, along with the author of the editorial, Mark Scibilia-Carver, that the comingling of militarism and Christianity raises certain questions that, after a decade of war, must be asked and addressed. We believe this is important. We see the collection for AMS as being representative of a bigger problem, one that demands an honest conversation. Some dialogue would be healthy for our Church and for our country.

We respect Fr. Z’s view, but we found his commentary to be defensive and reactionary. We wish he would have addressed the actual points Mark Scibilia-Carver brought up, in order to foster some dialogue so desperately needed, instead of characterizing negatively any Catholic who has concerns that are related to the military. If you depict someone with an opposing point of view as silly, irrational, and out-of-touch, then I guess you don’t have to address his argument.


Note: If you express concerns about violence and war, then you must be on drugs.

three popes

Note: Then the three popes quoted in Mark Scibilia-Carver’s article must have been on drugs. The always seem to be, in the words of Fr. Z, in “virulent tree-hugging reason free flower power mode.”

Not that anyone asked us, but this is our response to Father Z, which we wrote in the comments of his blog.

The hippies have a point here: Militarism inside the Church discourages serious reflection on the moral gravity of war. Militaristic sermons reinforce the assumption that the U.S. military is a force for good. That assumption is debatable! When priests replace serious reflection about mass violence with unchecked glorification of all things military, they fail in their duties as priests. That’s not an “attack.” It’s legitimate criticism. We need to have a dialogue about the appropriateness of militarism inside the Catholic Church. Toward that end, check out our manifesto at Catholics Against Militarism.

Father Z seems to think that anyone who criticizes the military, militarism, or U.S. foreign policy is a troop-spitting, drugged-up, hippie-flowerchild. That is not true! The Founding Fathers viewed a standing army as one of the biggest threats to liberty. James Madison wrote, “Of all the enemies to public liberty war, is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.” Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler wrote, “War is a racket…It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many.” In 1961, Dwight Eisenhower warned that the military-industrial complex created the potential for “the disastrous rise of misplaced power.” Michael Scheuer, a CIA veteran who ran the Counterterrorist Center’s bin Laden station from 1996 to 1999, wrote, “The fundamental flaw in our thinking about Bin Laden is that ‘Muslims hate and attack us for what we are and think, rather than what we do’…It’s American foreign policy that enrages Osama and al-Qaeda, not American culture and society.” I am a former Marine, a veteran of the Iraq War, and a conservative/libertarian who agrees Father Z and his readers about most theological and political issues. When conservatives accuse war critics of “attacking” the troops, they’re no different than liberals who accuse welfare critics of “attacking” the poor.

P.S. There is not a single verifiable instance of antiwar protestors “spitting” on troops returning from Vietnam. That’s an urban myth used to silence war critics. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/press_box/2000/05/drooling_on_the_vietnam_vets.html

For the record, Father Z, neither of us here at CAM smokes hash or owns a bong. We do, however, like the guitar. You have to admit these are awesome. Let’s get coffee sometime.