Thursday, September 24, 2015


Today will be a day that I will remember as being so proud to be a Catholic completely faithful to the Holy Father, to the papal magisterium and its power to transcend the Catholic Church!

We have been woefully inadequate in handing on our faith, the complete faith and morals of the Church. A big part of the omission is the Church's social teaching that is as important as other moral teachings. Completely lacking in so many comments here, the necessary respect due the Supreme Pontiff of the Church even in non-infallible, of-the-cuff remarks. Coloring book Catholicism which means the woeful lack of a complete understanding of the Catholic Faith with its philosophical underpinnings a well as it theological underpinnings is so evident today in so many places.

The Holy Father spoke about the respect of human life from conception and until natural death and the need to rehabilitate human life that runs off the rails.  He spoke of the openness to the God who created all of us and the world that sustains us.

What a marvelous synthesis of our Catholic Faith and the seamless garment between God who alone is God, human beings created in His image and likeness and their interrelated connections and the earth that God has given us to be good stewards of it. 


Anonymous said...

Father, thank you for this post!! I felt the same way.


MR said...

Implicit references to abortion, religious freedom and "threats to marriage" are better than no references at all, but the speech was still weak overall. It wasn't the disaster I had feared, but wasn't good either. I see it as anti-climactic, which is probably the best we could have realistically hoped for, so I'll take it.

Anonymous said...

Where did he speak about life from conception? I looked but could not find.

Jusadbellum said...

We can have open borders OR a welfare state. We can't have both.

From 1776 until the Progressive Democrats gave us a welfare state in the 1920s, the US population DOUBLED every 25 years due in large part to immigration without quotas. Anyone who wasn't obviously carrying infectious diseases could and did come to the US.

And that was fine and understood as one of the glory of American Democracy.

But the moment the government begins to tax some residents in order to "help" others who don't themselves pay into the taxation system, the fuse for financial ruin is lit.

Of what benefit to the common good would it be to bankrupt a business by demanding they provide free goods and services to ANYONE who comes knocking? Sure, you might help a few hundred people but at the cost of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Of what benefit to the common good would it be to bankrupt the whole nation by demanding we fling open our borders, accept anyone who merely walks across the frontier - without VISA, without verification of their criminal or health status AND immediately sign them up for the whole raft of social welfare wealth transfers (as well as registering them to vote Democrat)?

As far as I can see it, the only benefit to open borders is a) more votes for the Democrats and b) to DEPRESS wages since a glut of workers depresses the relative value per hour of labor. Thus the RINOs get their profit margin and the Democrats get their Cloward/Piven scheme and we all cross the event horizon of financial collapse by 2034 at the latest when our debt service payments (currently 6% of the federal budget) will have ballooned to over 30% - necessarily leading to draconian cuts to Social Security, Medicare/aid, HUD, HHS, and the DOD.

Neither political party has a plan for a balanced budget so it won't be balanced. Which means we will continue to run up the federal debt....which means raising taxes or cutting other discretionary and non-discretionary items (or both hiking taxes and cuts) will be on the menu.

If 50 million immigrants are thus welcomed and immediately signed up for public assistance - there being no jobs created for them - we will hit the wall in our lifetimes and it will be ugly.

But there are alternative courses of action! We talk of invading Syria to stop ISIS. Why not "invade" Mexico to "solve" the problems down there that lead tens of millions of Mexicans and Latinos to emigrate to the US in the first place?!

What are they running from? It's not tea-party conservative republican regimes! It's not right-wing Reaganomics, not Hayek style capitalism.... the desperately poor risking life and limb to immigrate illegal are doing this on account of socialism.

So turning our country ever more into a monstrous mirror image of their homelands is no solution. Turning their homelands into little Americas would be the obvious and humane solution. But that requires the nuance and sophisticated approach that liberals claim is their monopoly but that they almost never employ.

Mark Thomas said...

Dear Father McDonald, I had read Pope Francis' addresses. I was edified by our Holy Father's speech to Congress. Pope Francis' address is 100 percent pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-family...1oo percent Culture of Life.

I came here to receive Father McDonald's opinion of the Pope's address in question.

I figure that if a Catholic priest who is far holier and a million times more intelligent than I is pleased with the Pope's address to Congress, then I am on the right track in my understanding of the address.

But...uh-oh...I then turned to several "Traditional "Catholic" blogs...Rorate Caeli has noted that they are the Blogoshpere's most-read "Traditional Catholic" blog.

Beginning with Rorate Caeli, the "Traditional" "Catholic" Blogosphere has ripped apart His Holiness Pope Francis and his address to Congress.

From having read this morning's posts on leading "Traditional" blogs, I had thought that Pope Francis was an atheist who didn't have any room for God, and was a Marxist in economic thought.

I say very sadly, in particular as I am 100 percent in favor of the TLM and Holy Tradition, that an horrific sickness has spread throughout the "Traditional" Catholic" Blogosphere.

We are dealing with people who possess a deep, deep hatred of His Holiness Pope Francis.

Even during today's 100 percent pro-life address to Congress, "Traditionalists" continue to bash Pope Francis' undeniable defense of and promotion of the Culture of Life.

Again, a massive and frightening anti-Catholic sickness has invaded the hearts and minds of certain "Traditionalists" in regard for their obsessive hatred of our Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis.

Deo gratias for Father McDonald and his accurate analysis of Pope Francis' address to Congress. Read the address yourself. Father McDonald's opinion of the address is in keeping with the facts.

Conversely, something is very, very wrong throughout the "Traditional" "Catholic" Blogosphere.


Mark Thomas

Православный физик said...

I'm trying to digest the speech, it certainly isn't the worst speech in history, but neither is it a speech that should be held as an example either....I'm doing my own analysis in more detail as I type here.

I'll send a link when I'm done writing.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

They are giving us the flip side of the ideological polarization in the Church, same mentality different extreme!

Lefebvrian said...

Mark, in all sincerity, I think you should maybe interact with some traditional Catholics (read: Catholics) in person. I've seen your comments here and on other blogs. I think you would do well to meet with a traditional priest to ask him his thoughts on the Church and the pope instead of relying on blogs, whether they are authored by priests or laymen.

I'll leave it at that since my posts are being censored.

Anonymous said...

I can't take credit for this, someone posted it elsewhere: "Poll: 40 percent of Republicsn voters believe Pope Frsncis a Muslim." :)

Jusadbellum said...

How about we actually "do" "dialogue" Mark?

The Pope calls for the abolition of the death penalty. OK. Sounds good to me. Governments kill far too many people as it is and our Justice System and especially the Prosecutor office have fewer safeguards than we might like. That's a bi-partisan issue we can all agree on. If we won't reform the system so as to guarantee as much as humanly possible that only the truly guilty are jailed... then we are morally obligated to abolish the death penalty.

On to climate change: Offer a practical idea to reduce C02. I'll start: let's agitate for Thorium salt reactors running on coal dust (source of Thorium). We have a thousand year's or more worth of coal so with 100 reactors we could power half the country's energy needs for ever... thereby reducing C02.

But we won't. Instead we'll regulate the internal combustion engine and tax anyone who breathes. Am I wrong? Is there a better way? Let's "dialogue".

Take immigration reform. CAN we have both unlimited and unregulated immigration AND all the bells and whistles of the welfare state in a financial situation of $19 trillion federal debt while running annual budget deficits of $1 trillion? Is it sustainable to do so? Might there be another way between open borders? I think so. So does everyone who wants to build a wall. No one likes the INS. No one likes the corrupt and convoluted LEGAL immigration system that is so burdensome on LEGAL immigrants. But what solution is offered?

How about a low-hanging fruit compromise and accept any CHRISTIAN refugee fleeing from the Middle East, Africa, or Asia? Make it a bi-partisan win-win and we'd get quotas increased 4 fold.

Do it, be the dialogue you want to see.

gob said...

I think Jusad may actually be Donald Trump using an assumed name...

MR said...

@Anonymous 12:21pm,

This is the implicit reference to abortion I mentioned:

"The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development."

I didn't notice it my first time reading through either, which I think demonstrates how weak the speech was.

Mark Thomas said...

Lefebvrian, I interact with "Traditional" Catholics. Although I reject the title in question as I am simply a Catholic, I am a "Traditional" Catholic.

Deo gratias, we have an FSSP-run parish in our liturgical wasteland diocese. I work constantly to promote the TLM and Holy Tradition. For decades, I have defended and promoted the Traditional Catholic Movement.

I go back to the days, long before Archbishop Lefevbre/SSPX, when Father Gommar DePauw founded the Traditional Catholic Movement and was the one man within the Church who had been most responsible for having kept the TLM alive.

For decades, I have defended Catholics attached, for example, to SSPX chapels. Many liberals and conservatives have labeled those holy Catholic men and women as "schismatics" and "heretics."

I long for the day when (I pray) that the TLM is restored as the Latin Church's primary Mass.

Lefebvrian, believe me, I interact with plenty of fine "Traditional" Catholics. But it must be noted that an horrific sickness has engulfed many "Traditional" Catholics.

Unfortunately, the frightening reality is that a decent-sized portion of the "Traditional" Catholic Blogosphere hates...I mean hates...Pope Francis. The blogs in question enjoy significant readership and are supported by more than a few "Traditional" Catholics.

They go to bizarre lengths to attack Pope Francis. Rorate Caeli, which, I believe, is the world's most-read "Traditional" Catholic blog, is the leader in that regard.

They berate everything that Pope Francis does. Pope Francis condemns abortion...not good enough, according to Rorate and additional "Traditional" blogs. Pope Francis condemns Islamic persecution of Christians...not good enough.

Pope Francis recognized the Catholic nature of the SSPX..."it's a trap. Pope Francis wishes to trick Bishop Fellay into signing an agreement with Rome. Pope Francis will then laugh and destroy the SSPX."

Pope Francis wishes to create a one-world government. Pope Francis is controlled by...take you pick...Jews, Communists, Freemasons, the United Nations, Satan...

Lefebvrian, "Traditional" "Catholic" blogs are run by "Traditionalists" and the comment boxes reflect the views of various "Traditionalists". The blogs in question are read and supported by tens of thousands of "Traditional" Catholics.
I am sorry, but something is very wrong and very sick with more than few Traditional" "Catholics".


Mark Thomas

Jusadbellum said...

gob, if I'm the Donald, it should be child's play to show the error of my ways.

Pick any suggestion I've mentioned and give us your better alternative course of action that would be superior. Maybe you'll win a convert. But at the very least you would be engaging in the world of ideas vs. put downs.

1) death penalty: it's f convicted murderers and there are about 3,000 men on death row in the USA.

In 2014 about 35 people were executed. They spent between 8 and 30 years on death row before being executed.

Meanwhile, 3,000 infants are slaughtered privately each day in the USA thanks to abortion being legal and unregulated.

Apples to apples, soul to soul, do you agitate to save 35 convicted murderers or 1 million plus infants? Which is more heinously unjust?

On the other hand, of the two, abolishing the death penalty is more 'do-able'. So he mentions it to win easy applause. It's a gimme.

It's not a crisis (other than for the 35 men in question) while abortion is a crisis.

2) Global warming: despite increased CO2 levels (which are less than 1% of the atmosphere), there has been an 18 year "pause" in net global warming. Various convoluted theories are advanced to explain away why this might be - all studiously ignoring THE SUN.

But it sure feels good to huff and puff about "doing something!" which involves increased taxation and regulation of private enterprise so as to increase the size, scope, and power of central governments everywhere while also giving elites a useful means to instill guilt in the hearts of the serfs of the middle class blamed for the "warming". So it's a win win.

But suppose we do nothing. What happens? The oceans get 1 inch deeper in the coming century and growing seasons get slightly longer. The Northwest passage opens up which will reduce shipping lanes by 4,000 miles (and thus lead to less emissions!). A warming earth produces more food - so we get less starving 3rd world people.

Do you know how quickly the world ceased using coal and switched to diesel electric locomotives? In about 10 years - and it all happened without hyperventilating ideological grandstanding. New, more efficient tech eliminated the steam locomotive the world over as everyone rushed to embrace new tech.

Without any tax or regulatory scheme, if we succeed in increasing the energy density of batteries by 50% we would eliminate most smaller internal combustion engines within a year thereby reducing C02 tremendously.

But what's the fun in that?

Now, if my analysis is all wet, have at it. Show us what you've got gob.

Calvin of Hippo said...

The Pope did not mention Christ once...not once.

Calvin of Hippo said...

BTW, Boehner is crying again...LOL!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

If people treat their spouses or parents in the same critical manner as so many are disrespectfully treating the Holy Father, I can only imagine why there is so much discord in families and divorce (and I have deleted and will continue to delete negative comments that make me wonder if anti-Catholic trolls are on my blog as well as stop printing anything these negative commentators make).

The last time I checked another name for Jesus is God and God's name was invoked quite frequently by the Holy Father!

Calvin of Hippo said...

If parents use ambiguous language, create anxiety in a child, and their behavior is inconsistent with their stated principles the child will grow to be confused, emotionally suspicious, and paranoid. It is called schizophrenogenic parenting. If a spouse does the same things, it will ruin a marriage.

Anonymous said...

I am an Evangelical/Pentecostal convert (12 years) and have grown more traditionalist year by year. I have been greatly disappointed so far with Pope Francis but we must take care to recognize and give the respect due the office. not always easy I know.

Lefebvrian said...

Is it really too much to expect the Vicar of Christ to mention Christ in such a long speech? Is it wrong for Catholics to expect the pope to talk about Christ? Is it over-critical to wonder why the pope did not mention Christ? How is it disrespectful to wonder what is happening when so many strange things are taking place with these speeches and with the upcoming Syond and the recent annulment motu proprios? Have you ever considered that some people are seriously troubled by these things? Do you think that people enjoy wondering about the pope's motives? Do you think that the faithful are happy to be so scandalized to the point where friends and family, both Catholic and non-Catholic have such misconceptions? Do you think it is good to talk to Catholic friends who are contemplating leaving the Church because this pope's actions have so undermined their faith in the Church?

Jusadbellum said...

The Holy Father raised and raises many good points and he calls for dialogue.

Dialogue is a two way street. It's not a monologue where by he makes a list of affirmations and the rest of us just nod our heads and smile. Dialogue means both parties seek to understand where the other is coming from and where he wants us to go and reply with either assent or disagreement to the former or latter.

Benedict really excelled in this by knowing the other side's arguments better than they did and not making straw men in his own arguments against or for things. And even if you disagreed with Benedict you knew he knew your position.

As I see it, the problem the blogosphere is having with Our Holy Father is that St. JP2 and Benedict created in us a template of what Popes do and how they do it. We were used to Popes making only measured, well nuanced statements couched in very careful language that was aware of the larger picture.

John Paul II and Benedict were obviously self-aware of the threat of atheistic materialist regimes in both the East and the West and so were not afraid to name names and craft arguments accordingly. To have a Pope not overtly couch his teaching in light of this persistent atheistic materialist threat but instead go after non-ideological systems in general (capitalism, global warming, immigration) as though Governments are neutral players while political or ideological blocs are the only moral subjects to deal with is jarring and scandalous to many people.

Then there are critiques not of his points but of what we fear may be the domestic political implications of his points - as valid and as agreeable as they may be:
We may all agree that the death penalty may be abolished, but disagree that it's a crisis worth mentioning in light of other things affecting far more people than 35 per year out of population of 3,000.

We may all agree that countries ought to welcome refugees but disagree as to how and in what numbers and in what conditions.

We may all agree that the planet ought to be treated with respect as our common home but disagree on how exactly we ought to proceed.

How shall we as a nation 'care for the poor' if we as a nation are running such a massive federal debt and annual deficit? I've yet to hear ANYONE explain to me how we're going to get out of the mathematical mess we're in. But I am all ears.

The Pope rightly praises private enterprise for creating wealth. He rightly encourages them to "redistribute" or share wealth. Yes, we ought to reduce the arms trade....but how - in the real world with wars and genocides raging the world over does the Holy Father propose we in the West in general the USA in particular simultaneously reduce our sales of weaponry while securing the rights and safety of the world at war?

Are North Korea and Iran such hostile regimes because they're ringed with US bases? is that the theory? That if we unilaterally disarm and evacuate from their time zones that they'll de-militarize too?

I appreciate that arms dealers have vested interest in making profits off human misery...but does the Pope and others like him appreciate that wars will be fought whether we like them to or not and so long as someone is producing arms, others will need their own to defend their lives?

So if we seek dialogue, we must show our audience that we understand the issues raised, are aware of the major arguments pro/con, and that our suggestions would - in light of common arguments, be better than the status quo.

He's our Holy Father, and we owe him prayers and obedience. But not blind obedience or silent assent.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

LEV, there was nothing wrong whatsoever or even heterodox about the pope's speech to include referring to God as God. You are critical to the nth degree and nit pick and I would leave the Church if all Catholics reacted to our Holy Father as you do. Not really, I would never leave the Catholic Church over anything since it is the true Church.

But cafeteria Catholics leave all the time when they can't have it their way, whether it be the liturgy, birth control, a pope they don't like, this, that or the other. They are people of the modern age and fail in commitments and charity!

Mark Thomas said...

Anonymous said..."I am an Evangelical/Pentecostal convert (12 years) and have grown more traditionalist year by year. I have been greatly disappointed so far with Pope Francis but we must take care to recognize and give the respect due the office. not always easy I know."

Father McDonald-permitting, please discuss as to why Pope Francis has disappointed you. Thank you.


Mark Thomas

Lefebvrian said...

Father, perhaps we just have different expectations about the pope. When the pope has the opportunity to preach Christ, I expect him to do so. He is the pope so I think that is a reasonable expectation.

For what it's worth, I really would caution you to stop calling people who disagree with you names like "cafeteria Catholics." If one rejects the Church's teaching on some points and not others, that is cafeteria Catholicism. If one believes everything the Church teaches and expects the pope to likewise hold those beliefs, that is simply Catholicism.

I am disappointed to read that you cannot take these things seriously, though, and respond with yet more name-calling. My post above is based on the reality that I and many other Catholics experience in our daily lives. For the sake of your flock, I hope you'll learn some compassion and try to understand how, even though you think everything is fine, there are people who disagree with you and are unsettled.

Jusabellum said...

I'll bite.

Pollution - environmental and human is a crisis and universally recognized by all regimes. So pushing for cleaner water, air, and soil so as to cease poisoning the poor is an entirely legit and entirely moral stance to take. Plus it stands a chance of actually producing immediate results.

But talking about man-made climate change as "definite" switches the measure of progress away from reducing poisons and moves it to an impossible to know governmental measure of global AVERAGE temps - which we acknowledge are affected by oceanic currents, volcanoes, solar cycles, and feedback systems we still don't fully understand.

You CAN easily quantify how clean a given river ecosystem is and how much poison is in the food supply.

But you can't so easily determine how much of the planet's climate can be blamed on say, India or Indiana.

So in chasing for this vague and impossible to define "climate change" utopia, the Pope puts the Church in a scientifically untenable position.

CO2 is the byproduct of plants and all carbon based life's not even a pollutant! So again, rather than say, decry GMOs or all the artificial hormones pumped into the ecosystem - something that unites ALL ideological spectrums - he joins the AGW bandwagon that is being driven towards ever more centralized command and control socio-economic systems (i.e. socialism).

Migration: the common denominator of the 3rd world is socialist regimes whose endemic corruption, gangsters, and civil wars/insurgencies drive people to flee for a better life in the Northern Hemisphere. Rather than just be for open borders, he could be urging their nations of origin to improve their own lot thereby creating the wealth and opportunity needed for people to stay put.

What sort of socio-economic factors are driving the tens of millions of Latinos to immigrate to the US even at the risk of entering illegally? Nary a peep about the US Church or government working in concert with Mexico's government and church to improve conditions in Mexico such that they won't need to immigrate.

I can't imagine there would be as heated a domestic tug of war over US helping stabilize Mexico as there is over the fight for/against Amnesty and open borders.

So it's a missed opportunity to actually solve the root cause or identifiable, quantifiable root causes that makes it galling to listen to monologues which have little to do with Catholicism and a lot to do with merely horizontal political lobbying.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

People who want to control the Church, the pope,their pastor, their spouses, their relatives and so on and on and on, are basically unhappy people who can't be happy unless they control. No one can control the pope and no one but the pope is the pope.

Kneeling Catholic said...

Sadly, Father, I agree with Hippo that Jesus' absence from the address is significant. I, as well, searched the Pope's address for the words
'Jesus', 'Christ', 'Son of God', 'abortion', 'gay marriage', 'homosexual'

I came up blank. I disagree with you, Father, that we can just take any mention of God or Allah(the Arabic for God) as equivalent to mentioning our Lord's name. I am more reminded of our Lord's words "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation...."

We might see his speech as anti-abortion, anti-same sex marriage. VP Biden probably totally did not see it that way

His Holiness' address seemed to be
written in a rohrschalk sort of way. The things which are eternally
important, he mealy-mouths. The issues du jour: death penalty, open
immigration, climate change, he trumpets.

Lefebvrian said...

. . . and more name-calling.

Jusadbellum said...

Control? Disagreement over application is controlling?

Let's say you have a homily and I critique it. Am I controlling you or attempting to INFLUENCE you?

because it's a two way street. Is the Pope trying to control our political class? No. He's trying to influence them.

Nothing wrong at all with him trying to influence us or the US or the UN. Nor is there anything wrong with us trying to influence him or the US or the UN back.

Anonymous said...

"I think that we are in a weird place in the world when the following things are considered political. Five things, I'm going to tick them off. These are the five things that were on [the pope] and our president's agenda. Caring for the marginalized and the poor. That's now political. Advancing economic opportunity for all. Political? Serving as good stewards of the environment. Protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom globally. Welcoming [and] integrating immigrants and refugees globally. And that's political?"

- Shepard Smith

Anonymous said...

Mark, coming into the church under JPII followed by B XVI there seemed to be a real understanding of the modernist problems in the Church and a steady if slow attempt toward correction. With Francis, shall we say the trumpet has an uncertain sound at times and there seems to be a general sense of confusion over what direction he is intending to take the Church. All this while it seems the crisis within and without the church increases daily.
I find some reassurance in the appointments the Pope has made to head CDF and CDL but I see no sign that bishops or priests are even aware of what they are saying and I don't hear the Pope publicly backing them up.
My 2 daughters have also converted since my wife and I entered the Church 12 years ago. They both have good catholic husbands and between them I have 9 grandchildren 7 years and under. I am very concerned for their sake about the seeming lack of direction. therefore Francis gets a C-. PS I also have a son who is a protestant minster and I don't see Pope Francis helping with his conversion. Please pray for him
Anon 2:27 PM

Anonymous said...

"Nor is there anything wrong with us trying to influence him or the US or the UN back."

But posting on this blog isn't an attempt to influence the Pope, the US Government, or the United Nations.

It is simply an exercise in venting, no matter how high-minded you may think it is.

Anonymous said...

Re God versus Christ: God is a much more generic term. Many religions have a god, so using a generic "god" will be within their frame of reference. Only in Christianity is Christ God, so referring to Christ runs the risk of alienating everyone else.

rcg said...

I am not picking on anyone, but this thread reminds me of the tax collectors and publicans asking why Christ would meet with the Pharisees. As far as mentioning Christ, I can see that actually as a very smart thing. It prevents the politicians from dismissing the arguments and statements based on religious grounds or the need to separate Church and State ala Pelosi. The fact that he is dressed in a white cassock tells everyone where he is coming from. The benefit to Catholics and all Christians is that the secularists can see for themselves that the most influential Christian in the world has the similar values.

I do think that, as a man, Pope Francis is carrying some baggage. I also think he is aware of it and struggling with it, with the apparent help of the Holy Spirit. I am not keen on the accusatory tone Papal messages can have in the media. Hard to say if they were actually said that way. But they are valid questions we should ask ourselves concerning the results of our actions.

Anonymous said...

The Pope is "controlled" by Church doctrines. For example, he cannot say abortion is OK, authorize homosexual marriage, or ordain Sister Mary Nuovo deacon or priest. He is infallible until he steps out of the boundaries as that was defined by Vatican I. If he does, many Catholics will just remain faithful to the Church and wait for better times. However, I do not expect Him to fall into schism. It is true, he has been called to be more Catholic by many. He has been easy on liberals and what most people would say communists. He fails to speak truth to power as St. John Paul or Benedict XVI did. We must accept that not every one is capable to live up the standards set by the just mentioned Holy Fathers. They were first class spiritual athletes. The current Holy Father limps a little. He is not an athlete.


Anonymous said...

"But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven."

I wouldn't risk it.

Mark Thomas said...

Anonymous September 24, 2015 at 4:52 PM said..."Mark, coming into the church under JPII followed by B XVI there seemed to be a real understanding of the modernist problems in the Church and a steady if slow attempt toward correction. With Francis, shall we say the trumpet has an uncertain sound at times and there seems to be a general sense of confusion over what direction he is intending to take the Church."

Thank you for your response. Are you familiar with Pope Francis' Wednesday General Audiences? If not, and Father McDonald-permitting, I will provide you with a link to the many addresses that Pope Francis has delivered that are 100 percent "Catholic."

I believe that many people would be amazed as to how often Pope Francis has reiterated Catholic teachings and practices.

Unfortunately, little attention has been paid to those addresses as they shatter the narrative that Pope Francis is a radical modernist.

Even Pope Francis' Encyclical Laudato si was seized by Catholic and secular special interest groups to obscure the Traditional content of the Pope's Encyclical.

For example, how many people are aware that in #237 of Laudato si, Pope Francis spoke about the need for Catholics to restore Traditional Catholics practices to Sunday?

How many Catholics are aware that in Laudato si, Pope Francis taught on the Holy Trinity, exhorted us to turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph...and develop devotions to them?

Again, when you go to the Vatican Web site to read what Pope Francis has actually said, rather than what the spin-doctors have claimed that he has said, you will find that Pope is a solid Catholic.

That doesn't mean that he hasn't had missteps. But he is a holy Catholic man/priest who loves Jesus Christ.


Mark Thomas

Joe and Ren said...

ANON, while you are right that I am venting, I think you woefully underestimate the number of people who lurk and read this blog! I wouldn't be too surprised if bishops checked in here now and again.

So venting - giving vent to things as people in the pews might do - is a useful data point. Especially if we give reasons for our affirmations rather than just grunt and snort our emotions. "Rah, rah, everything is, hiss, everything is terrible".

And note, those who criticize Pope Francis typically have specific cases, quotes, or occasions about which they suffer heart burn. Typically it's the bits picked up and broadcast by the secular media which provides most Catholics with 99% of what they learn about the Pope or the Church. So reacting to some odd ball or strange or baffling statement of the Pope with a negative angle is hardly the same as "they hate everything he does" or "they ignore all the good stuff".

I don't. I'm sure others' don't. I've defended both his encyclicals as something that we can read in a neutral fashion....unfortunately I'm a minority voice on this as the vast majority of liberals believe Laudatio Sii is a socialist manifesto and the vast majority of conservatives agree with their assessment.

Charles G said...

Meh, the references to abortion and gay marriage were so obscure as to be non-existent for all practical purposes. The words themselves were not used, and even the word "conception" was not used. Liberals and those who push the new immorality are not going to be stopped or "evangelized" by this weak tea. In fact, it just adds to suspicions that people like the Pope who say we must not talk about these things all the time really mean we must never talk about these things. Even worse, at least some who say this really support those things but can't come right out and say it because they need to fool the rubes who actually believe in Catholic moral teaching.

Lefebvrian said...

rcg, with respect, he's the pope. If his arguments could be dismissed by mentioning Christ, but not simply because he's the pope, then hasn't the office of the papacy already been detrimentally disconnected from our Lord?

John Nolan said...

The best that the BBC TV news could manage was a clip of Pope Francis talking, in broken English, about climate change. The last time he cropped up on a bulletin was when he announced changes to annulment procedures. Earlier in the year there was some coverage of Laudato Si. When the Pope defends Catholic doctrine the media are not interested - why should they be?

That the Church's social teaching condemns liberalism and socialism in addition to irresponsible capitalism is never mentioned. It is clear to anyone with an historical perspective that Paul VI was the liberal who oversaw and in many cases promoted a revolution whose results have been damaging and greatly so. Yet the media portrays Francis, who compared with Paul is a conservative, as a would-be revolutionary who is thwarted only by reactionaries in the Curia.

There was the assumption that last year's Synod was some sort of Church parliament (like the General Synod of the Church of England) and that the pope has the power to change doctrine. When the BBC wants to interview a Catholic spokesman it usually wheels out a liberal dissident. One gets the impression that Cardinal Vincent Nichols is more interested in convincing viewers and listeners that the Catholic Church is not the big bad wolf than he is in clearly explaining and defending her teaching.

Yet the BBC's coverage of the 2010 papal visit was comprehensive, impartial and informed, to the extent that many criticized it as being too deferential. That's because the corporation still prides itself on the way it handles State occasions.

Dave said...

I think at this point in history people kind of get that the Catholic Church is against abortion and gay marriage. In fact, it's what it's best known for. It's like taking time out of your speech to explain gravity.

Calvin of Hippo said...

Ah, another Um, no, many of the public and the pundits have expressed the belief that the Church is easing up on these things. Where could they possibly have gotten such an idea...

Anonymous said...

According to Jusabellum, there are fewer executions than abortions, so that's a lesser moral imperative.

The same logic would apply to murder, I suppose. Hey, I don't know anybody who's been murderered, do you?

But in the real world, wrong is wrong, whether it's one life or 1,000. And you don't have to choose -- you can agitate for more than one thing at a time (You can hardly say that the church hasn't agitated against abortion).

Lefebvrian said...

The Church does not teach that capital punishment is evil or sinful.

The Church teaches that abortion is intrinsically evil.

It is an error to equate these things.

And, yes, I do know someone who has been murdered. I also know quite a few death row inmates. Still, it is an error to say that the Church is anti-capital punishment since it is not.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

LEV, the papal magisterim and beginning with Saint Pope John Paul II, has taught against capital punishment. Pope Benedict continued that tradition and now Pope Francis has too. We pray each week that there be respect for human life from conception to natural death.

While innocent unborn life has a pride of place and is foundational it does not prevent the Holy Father was equating the sanctity of life even for the unrepentant.

I think this can be applied to pressure groups that are political that want the hide of bishops over the sex abuse scandal. Someone needs to stand up to them and say rehabilation not revenge is what is needed.

Lefebvrian said...

Father, pope's cannot change the church's teaching.

Anonymous said...

Father, your response to Lefebvrian, in addition to demonstrating a lack of understanding of how the magisterium works, also demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the Church's teaching on capital punishment. Perhaps you should study the topic in more depth...

Anonymous said...

Scanning a speech for a few buzz-words displays poor skills in critical analysis. It amounts to little more than nitpicking. Referencing great Americans like Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King, the Pope presented these shining lights as witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Anonymous said...

John Paul II: "I renew the appeal I made . . . for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary." That's a pretty good definition of "evil." If you support something the Pope calls "cruel and unnecessary" well, welcome to Lefebvrian's Cafeteria.

Lefebvrian said...

At Lefebvrian's cafeteria, we serve all the teachings of the Church and not just the one's that best whet modern man's appetite. At Lefebvrian's cafeteria, we are particularly fond of the inerrant teaching of the Church. Here's today's special, courtesy of The Roman Catechsim:

The power of life and death is permitted to certain civil magistrates because theirs is the responsibility under law to punish the guilty and protect the innocent. Far from being guilty of breaking this commandment [Thy shall not kill], such an execution of justice is precisely an act of obedience to it. For the purpose of the law is to protect and foster human life. This purpose is fulfilled when the legitimate authority of the State is exercised by taking the guilty lives of those who have taken innocent lives.

In the Psalms we find a vindication of this right: “Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all evildoers from the city of the Lord” (Ps. 101:8).

We serve that with a side of Pius XII:

Even in the case of the death penalty the State does not dispose of the individual’s right to life. Rather public authority limits itself to depriving the offender of the good of life in expiation for his guilt, after he, through his crime, deprived himself of his own right to life.

And for dessert, we have some Innocent I:

It must be remembered that power was granted by God [to the magistrates], and to avenge crime by the sword was permitted. He who carries out this vengeance is God’s minister (Rm 13:1-4). Why should we condemn a practice that all hold to be permitted by God? We uphold, therefore, what has been observed until now, in order not to alter the discipline and so that we may not appear to act contrary to God’s authority.

John Nolan said...

The Church has always maintained that the state can legitimately apply the death penalty provided that certain conditions are met. John Paul was merely stating that if there are effective alternatives then these should be used. You may think that executing convicted criminals is an absolute evil, but this is not what the Church teaches, and not what society holds to be self-evident. Most advanced countries have abolished capital punishment, but the reasons for doing so were as much pragmatic as moral, and they have not suggested that the laws allowing it were 'evil'.

I happen to believe in nuclear deterrence, and a raft of popes and bishops condemning it will not change my opinion. They are no more qualified to pronounce authoritatively on strategy as is Pope Francis to pronounce authoritatively on anthropogenic climate change. They can be wrong, and in my judgement most certainly are.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"I happen to believe in nuclear deterrence, and a raft of popes and bishops condemning it will not change my opinion. They are no more qualified to pronounce authoritatively on strategy..."

When that strategy necessarily includes the targeting and killing of non-combatants, which is the center of a nuclear deterrent strategy, the pope and bishops - our Magisterium - are eminently qualified to condemn this grave evil.

The use of nuclear weapons and, according to some moralists, even the possession of them and the threat to use them, is gravely immoral.

"Nuclear deterrence" is nothing more than a Utilitarian excuse for aiming weapons at centers of civilian population. Every act of targeting non-combatants is evil.

Anonymous said...

It is even more evil to allow your own people to be conquered or exterminated for lack of a deterrent or to allow yourself to be talked out of strong defense by pacifists, hippies, and naive Priests who know nothing about human nature despite their alleged doctrinal training.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Anonymous - Do you believe, then, that attacking non-combatants is morally defensible?

Anonymous said...

The very fact that in modern industrialized war, civilian noncombatants can and do contribute enormously to the war effort means that perhaps the simplistic notion of combatant versus noncombatant is outmoded. Is an ammunition factory a legitimate target of war or not (keeping in mind the prodigious amounts of ammunition needed in modern war compared to warfare of just a couple of centuries ago)? If the factory is a legitimate target, what about the factory workers, without which the state can't effectively defend itself?

Anonymous said...

The deaths of non-combatants is indeed morally defensible when they die in a war involving their aggressor nations. War always brings about the deaths of non-combatants. If you don't want us to kill your citizens, don't shoot at us. Life is hard...start a war, suffer the consequences. Nations get the kind of government they deserve.

Jusadbellum said...

MAD is a terrible thing Fr. K. But given original sin and all we know of human nature, what is the alternative?

We don't worry about Canada or Mexico do we? We're not concerned about the UK or France' nuclear arsenals are we?

For a while after the fall of the USSR we were no longer worried about Russian nukes... so to the degree ideological animosity is reduced so too will the perceived need for deterrence be reduced. So disarmament of weapons is an EFFECT not a CAUSE of peace.

Fortunately the Church does have a role to play and it's not in agitating for nuclear disarmament. It's in promoting the Gospel and building up the church in every major nuclear power... to the degree more and more Chinese are Catholic, and the Communist Party is infiltrated and baptized, the fears of Chinese hegemonic takeovers will lessen and so - provided the US doesn't become the new anti-religious super-power, so too will nuclear worry lessen.

If we have no political reason to fear China and they have less and less fear of the US, we will both pare back our respective arsenals.

The Church can help with this. It's called seeking first the Kingdom. what a concept!

Anonymous 2 said...


“If the factory is a legitimate target, what about the factory workers, without which the state can't effectively defend itself?

And thus we descend even further into hell.

Even accepting your questionable premise about factory workers arguendo, I assume that you will be able to distinguish those noncombatants who work in the factory from those who don’t (including the elderly and children). Or are the latter just so much unavoidable collateral damage?

Anonymous 2 said...


How come the CCC didn’t make it onto the menu?:

2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

Anonymous said...

The death penalty is good and should be applied much more frequently and quickly than it is.

Anonymous said...

People who have never been in combat and under fire simply cannot understand that the line between combatant and non-combatant is quickly and easily blurred. You simply do not know what you are talking about and are only spouting some idealistic
notion of peace and love. Priests need to just give us last rites when we are wounded and bring communion to the fire base and stop trying to tell us how to fight and who to shoot.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

People who have never been in combat know with absolute certainty that children in day care centers 500 miles from the front and the elderly in nursing homes 500 miles from the front are non-combatants. Using weapons against them, conventional or nuclear, is a grave evil and absolutely forbidden by moral law. Those who ignore this moral law are guilty of mortal sin.

A farmer 500 miles from the front, even if he is growing food for enemy troops, is a non-combatant and cannot morally be targeted for attack. So are his pre-teen children who pick and clean the vegetables, the workers who are employed in the packing shed, and the drivers who take the foods to distribution centers. They are all non-combatants and cannot morally be targeted for attack.

The concept of "total war" (kill everyone and everything on the enemy's side of the line) is opposed to Catholic moral teaching: "Response to aggression must not exceed the nature of the aggression. To destroy civilization as we know it by waging a 'total war' as today it could be waged would be a monstrously disproportionate response to aggression on the part of any nation. Moreover, the lives of innocent persons may never be taken directly, regardless of the purpose alleged for doing so. To wage truly 'total' war is by definition to take huge numbers of innocent lives. Just response to aggression must be discriminate; it must be directed against unjust aggressors, not against innocent people caught up in a war not of their making." U.S. Bishops, The Challenge of Peace (1983) 103-04.

Catholic moral theologian Germaine Grisez wrote: "This official document [United States Military Posture] and others like it constitute national policy by virtue of Congress’s reliance upon them in enacting the legislation which authorizes and funds the activities of the Department of Defense. Thus, in this and similar documents the United States issues the threat, which includes the choice, to kill persons innocent in the relevant sense [non-combatants] under conditions not in our control. Hence, our choice of this policy is morally unjustifiable. The intent—that is, the manifest will—essential to the nuclear deterrent is murderous."

He continues: "The object of our policy choice is deterrence, and the deaths of the millions of innocents are an essential part of the threatened harm. Hence, these deaths are included in what we choose; they are not merely an accepted side-effect."

He concludes: " we use the evil of our adversaries as an excuse for our own murderous intent, we continue to expand and aggravate evil, mutilating ourselves first of all. For this reason, Plato also recognized that it is better to suffer evil than to do it. Thus, the injunction to respond to evil with good is neither a mere counsel for especially holy individuals nor otherworldly advice for the private lives of Christians. The refusal to match others in evil is the only way for fallen humankind, individuals and societies alike, to stop compounding human misery and begin emerging into the light of decent human life and communion."

Unknown said...

Father K,

'Some moralists' may say that. And I would agree; however, I would also respond that I have no problems employing the tools of evil to accomplish my goals.

If my goal is to make an agressive nation think twice before using nuclear weapons, then so be it. Likewise, if mutilating and/or executing criminals causes a would-be criminal rethink his choices, then all the more reason to do so.

I see no reason to discount an idea just becaus it is 'evil' according to men living in a fantasy world where the only problem with the world is the supposedly 'dormant' love in the hearts of men.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Flav - A good end cannot justify an evil means. If you choose to employ the tools of evil, you are participating in that evil.

Utilitarianism is not a Christian moral system - it is a system of practicalities, of pragmatism. "Whatever serves my end, even if it is evil, I will use" is a dangerous pattern to follow. It is the pattern used by those who seek to justify all kinds of evil behavior.

John Nolan said...

By the last year of the Second World War it could certainly be argued that the Allied strategy of saturation bombing was hard to justify morally or strategically. Würzburg was targeted in March 1945 because it was relatively undefended and would burn easily; the nearby military-industrial facilities were deliberately overlooked. It was after this that Churchill voiced his misgivings.

At this stage strategy was directed at winning the war. By the 1950s and 1960s the destructive power of nuclear weapons, and the fact that both sides in the Cold War possessed them meant that new kinds of strategic thought were required, which meant deterring aggression without unleashing a nuclear war. 'Massive retaliation' gave way to 'assured destruction' which in turn gave way to 'mutual assured destruction' and then to 'flexible response'. It's a massively complex subject, compared with which the cut-and-dried conclusions of moral theologians, Grisez included, come across as simplistic. To say that possession of nuclear weapons is an absolute evil is one thing; to suggest how the US government might protect its citizens against aggression both conventional and nuclear (and also protect its allies in NATO) is quite another, and neither the bishops nor their theological advisers have any answers.

Germany was on the front line in the Cold War but had foresworn nuclear weapons for obvious historic reasons. Did this make Germany more moral and virtuous? Just to take the European Union, are Britain and France evil in a way the other member states are not?

There are far fewer nuclear warheads in the world now than at the height of the Cold War, but they are in far more hands, which makes the world a more dangerous place. There are threats which no-one could have foreseen thirty years ago.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The complexity of modern war does not change the principle that "It is always gravely evil to kill non-combatants."

It is not simplistic to suggest that this principle applies to wars fought at close range with bows and arrows and to wars fought intercontinentally with ballistic missiles.

Anonymous 2 said...


“People who have never been in combat and under fire simply cannot understand that the line between combatant and non-combatant is quickly and easily blurred. You simply do not know what you are talking about and are only spouting some idealistic notion of peace and love.”

Both of my parents were part of the Second World War—my father was in the British Army and my mother was a civilian German. My father’s family was bombed by the Germans, and my mother and her family were bombed by the Allies. I grew up hearing many accounts of the horrors of aerial bombing. So, sorry, but I do know what I am talking about. As Father Kavanaugh explains very well, one cannot limit the zone of noncombatant casualties to fighting on the ground. Anyway the original comment was about bombing factory workers. By the way, my mother was not working in a factory or contributing to the Nazi war effort. She was an Economics student in Cologne, until she was forced to leave. And then there was the fighter pilot who decided it would be good fun to shoot at her as she was walking in a field because she was such an obvious threat to him. So, sorry again, but I do know what I am talking about. I am very glad he missed or I would not be writing this today, just as I am glad she decided not to have an abortion even though her life was seriously imperiled by the pregnancy—because of injuries sustained during the war. So, sorry yet again, but I do know what I am talking about.

Anonymous 2 said...

Here are some relevant passages from the CCC:

2313 Non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely.

Actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out. Thus the extermination of a people, nation, or ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin. One is morally bound to resist orders that command genocide.

2314 “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.” A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons—especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons—to commit such crimes.

2315 The accumulation of arms strikes many as a paradoxically suitable way of deterring potential adversaries from war. They see it as the most effective means of ensuring peace among nations. This method of deterrence gives rise to strong moral reservations. The arms race does not ensure peace. Far from eliminating the causes of war, it risks aggravating them. Spending enormous sums to produce ever new types of weapons impedes efforts to aid needy populations; it thwarts the development of peoples. Over-armament multiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of escalation.

Anonymous said...

I know what I am talking about, too. I have been in a combat zone and under intense enemy fire on a number of occasions. Here is how it happens: your unit is sent to a ville because you are told that there is credible information there about enemy troop movements. This information comes from a young woman who works in the laundry on your base. Your unit, composed of men you have trained with, relied on, and cried with, approaches the ville and suddenly comes under heavy fire from several of the huts. Three of your buddies are down. Your entire unit opens fire with everything they have. Soon, all the huts are riddled with bullets and some are burning, and you are killing VC as fast as they can run from the huts. Your unit does not quit firing until everything in sight is dead and the huts are silent. Even the dogs are dead. You enter the huts and find women, children, and old people dead. Too bad. When you get back to your base, the South Vietnamese army officers capture the VC girl that gave you false information. I will not relate how they executed her. That is the way war is. I slept fairly well that night.

Your unit is receiving heavy rocket and mortar fire from beyond a ridge. You cannot see beyond the ridge, but you can estimate the coordinates. You call in an air strike. Shortly, two F4's fly over at @ 1,000 yards or so and drop napalm canisters. They return to strafe and fire rockets. You can smell the burning flesh even at that distance. When your unit moves in cautiously, you discover, again, that the enemy was using a village as a fire base. there are many dead so-called non-combatans, but you cannot be sure if they were really non-combatants. You have seen dead 12 year old enemy in full combat gear, you have witnessed teen age children walk up smiling and throw grenades into your troops. I think I slept well that night, too, in spite of an occasional mortar round. So, priest, tell me about the "complexity of modern war." Oh, I do not have "flash backs" or war time nightmares (except for maybe my first year back). I know some still do, but in many cases if you go to war screwed up, you come back screwed up. Now, run say a rosary.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Anonymous - You're living a flash-back by holding on to these evil, destructive notions, attempting to justify them, and seeking to propagate them.

Anonymous 2 said...


I had the impression that you were speaking from some horrific personal experience involving ground combat. That is why I sought very clearly to distinguish that type of situation from the type of situation civilians (such as my mother) experience in aerial bombardment.

I regret very much that you or anyone else had to endure such horrors as you evidently did. As Father Kavanaugh intimates, one would hope and pray for whatever healing is needed.

George said...

Principle of Double Effect

Requirements for it being morally allowable to perform an act that has at least two effects, one good and one bad.

The intended act must be good in itself. The intended act may not be morally evil.
The good effect of the act must be that which is directly intended by the one who carries out the act. e bad effect that results from the act may be foreseen by the agent but must be unintended.
The good effect must not be brought about by using morally evil means.
The good effect must be of equal or greater proportion to any evil effect which would result.
Acts that have morally negative effects are permissible only when truly necessary, i.e., when there are other means by which the good may be obtained.

Here is an example from a Catholic web site:

The commander of a submarine in wartime who torpedoes an armed merchant vessel of the enemy, although he foresees that several innocent children on board will be killed. All four required conditions are fulfilled: 1. he intends merely to lessen the power of the enemy by destroying an armed merchant ship. He does not wish to kill the innocent children; 2. his action of torpedoing the ship is not evil in itself; 3. the evil effect (the death of the children) is not the cause of the good effect (the lessening of the enemy's strength); 4. there is sufficient reason for permitting the evil effect to follow, and this reason is administering a damaging blow to those who are unjustly attacking his country.

Anonymous said...

No one is holding on to anything or trying to justify anything. At ground combat level, war is its own justification. I am certainly not seeking to propagate them. I would not want anyone to experience those things. I am thankful that neither of my sons has had to go to war. Anonymous 2 (are you a priest, too), I know what you are trying to say about aeriel bombardment and in theory, of course, it seems evil. But, again, it is never that cut and dried. The choice to bomb civilian targets in WW II was not a given. I think Roosevelt at first did not want to.But, when your enemy is bombing the Hell out of your British ally, what are you going to do? Vietnam was different. With years and time I have come to see how wrong headed it was for us to be there. But, when you are a young Marine you do not think about those things. No one is arguing that war is not evil, but we have to be matter of fact about it once the hand is dealt. We cannot just declare ourselves pacifists and let the chips fall where they will. Our civilization would die.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The principle of double effect applies only when the evil effect is unintended. When a choice is made to bomb/attack a non-combatant population, double effect isn't operative.

"I will bomb this city to shorten the war." Shortening the evil of war is a good effect. "In bombing/attacking this city, knowing that the city is full of non-combatants, I will intend their death.".

This is morally unacceptable since the secondary effect is intended.

Anonymous 2 said...


I am a lay person.

I think that what you say in your latest post comes down to “war is sometimes a necessary evil.” Granting this premise arguendo, it does not follow that this particular war (whatever it might be) is necessary. As I understand Catholic just war theory, one of the conditions that must be satisfied is that war is a last resort. Here again is the CCC on the subject:

2308 All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.

However, “as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed.”

2309 The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:

—the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
—all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
—there must be serious prospects of success;
—the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine.

The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.
Notice the need for prudential judgment. Regrettably, what I see all too often (on this Blog too) is an imprudent judgment that we should go to war or, worse yet, a complete failure even to consider and evaluate these “rigorous conditions.”

George said...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh



I believe that apriori,at least, that the Vietnam conflict met the requirements for
being a Just war as did the war in Korea . South Korea and the Christians who reside there are far better off today- What was once South Vietnam and the Christians who reside there are worse off.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2, There is a lot of hindsight when people look at past wars. We say, "Oh, well, that war or this war was unnecessary."
I don't think that is very helpful. Our culture and our Church has a lot of guidelines for going to war, and these are all good ones. Problem is, other nations and states do not share our beliefs and values. We are currently allowing large numbers of a basically savage part of the world into our country. They do not care about our laws or our guidelines. How do you think this going to turn out? I personally do not want to see fire fights in Times Square. Disney World, or my neighborhood. But, never say it cannot happen when there is no leadership and people are not paying attention. War is never going to go away. So, we had better be prepared for it.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"At ground combat level, war is its own justification." At NO level is war its own justification.

The moral principles that guide us outside war are not suspended when two soldiers from opposing sides, or two warships from opposing sides, or two nuclear missile launch officers from opposing sides face each other in combat.

War is not a justification for immoral, sub-human behavior.

That our enemies do not share our values - "...other nations and states do not share our beliefs and values..." - cannot be used as an excuse for setting aside our own core moral values. If we do that, if we adopt the evil that may be present in our "enemy," then we have descended to his level and the Prince of Darkness has won.

Anonymous, you are attempting to justify your grossly immoral behavior by suggesting that, in war, the normal moral principles, do not obtain. They do, and no circumstance or situation can alter that.

You are trying to propagate this view, desiring that others share with you the idea that, essentially, the only thing that matters in war is the complete destruction of the enemy, his families, his homes, his pets - everything. Total war is never morally acceptable and must be rejected as ungodly and evil.

Anonymous said...

We do not set aside our moral values when we defend against those who attack them. As far as sub-human behavior goes, it seems to me that, taking a look at history, war is very human behavior. We live in a world of sin, or did you forget that? The only thing that matters in war is winning and surviving. Anyone who tells you anything else is a liar. You win wars by killing the enemy, taking his land, and destroying his resources, including essential personnel. You survive by following orders, keeping your head down, and killing the enemy before he kills you. I guess no one should expect a Priest to understand that. You guys are suppose to hate violence and tell us we are naughty for killing anybody. Meanwhile, we fight and die so you can still say Mass every Sunday without dodging bombs and bullets. Have you noticed how Priests are treated in some of the non-Christian cultures around the world. Go tell the Muslims what you just told me. I'm sure they will immediately drop their weapons and thank you for enlightening them.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

CCC 2312 "The Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict. 'The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties.'"

It is always gravely evil to kill non-combatants, to attack civilian targets, to destroy property wantonly. There is no possible justification for such behavior.

If you approve of this: "Your unit does not quit firing until everything in sight is dead and the huts are silent. Even the dogs are dead. You enter the huts and find women, children, and old people dead." then you have set aside your moral values and adopted those of the Destroyer.

No one is telling you that you are "naughty" for killing "anyone." When, however, you target non-combatants and then attempt to justify this evil by saying that, "...war is its own justification," you have departed from both the moral law of God and civilized humanity.

I've been welcomed into Muslim homes and mosques precisely because I am a priest.

Jusadbellum said...

I think it's always useful to ground arguments about Jus ad bellum in facts.

Not a single modern military teaches its men to intentionally target civilians and non-combatants. Not one.

1) Because nuclear weapons are so rare and so expensive you only use them against strategic targets of immediate concern - so the vast bulk of everyone's nukes are aimed at opposing countries' missile fields and sub bases - all of which are located in the boondocks away from population centers. Every country rightly sees nukes as a doomsday weapon of last resort - which is why despite our animosity and proxy wars no nuclear power has dared uncork that bottle.

2) Modern highly accurate conventional weapons (cruise missiles, fighter-bombers, missile artillery etc.) are hugely expensive (though still not as expensive as nukes). So no one goes around casually shooting Javelin anti-tank rockets or indulging in casual carpet bombing campaigns. Given the cost, modern militaries put a lot of emphasis on accuracy - so as to use the least amount of munitions to stop some threat.

3) Besides the prohibitive cost, there are the moral and PR concerns. The Israelis actually CALLED the homes of people in Gaza to give them a warning that their apartment complex was about to be bombed...then the first bomb to drop was filled with concrete to give them more time to get out and only then were they demolished by explosives.... all to avoid civilian casualties as much as humanly possible while also eliminating the launch facilities of un-guided, indiscriminate artillery rockets aimed at general Jewish population centers.

Take a gander at Liveleak gun videos from Afghanistan. It's gun footage of drones or US helicopters shooting at Taliban. It's about as close to "seeing" the war as we can know and while it's atrocious to see someone's IR image get blown to smithereens, the point is made that launch authority is only made if the men in question have guns and are approaching a US or ANA outpost with ill intent. Until there are obvious weapons visible, no launch is made. Buildings and infrastructure and civilians are spared all the time.

4) The vast majority of civilian casualties incurred on the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq were due to ENEMY action using IEDs to target convoys and anyone in the immediate vicinity.

To imply that the US (or even the Russian) military intentionally seeks maximum civilian casualties is simply not true and hasn't been true for 20 years (Even Russia is learning that mass barrages are counter-productive).

So we always have a choice: we can have no nukes but a militarized society....or a few nukes and a few fleets. Until the kingdom comes, we're not going to get a weapon-less society.

What so many simply refuse to consider is the alternatives. I'd love to hear Fr. K just game out what would LIKELY happen should Russia, China, and the US magically give up our nukes. You think the Israelis and Iranians, the Pakistanis, Indians and Saudis would follow suit? Wouldn't they rather consider their nukes to "off set" their conventional disadvantage?

It's a genuinely thorny question. What I haven't seen is any interest in going past the nuclear freeze bumper stickers into a viable alternative course of action. If you are going to bring Catholic moral thinking to bear on a given topic, you owe it to yourself to think through the whole situation.