Saturday, March 22, 2003

Catholic American Dilemma

With Operation Iraqi Freedom now in full swing, our diocesan newspaper today contained a stern front page warning from the Vatican saying �whoever gives up on peaceful solutions would have to answer for the decision to God and history.� In the weeks preceding the War in Iraq, the Vatican has repeatedly stated that a preemptive strike on Iraq would be morally wrong. Those of us who are good Catholics and patriotic Americans have found ourselves in an awkward position. While many of us support the action by our government, we must also heed the warning of our pope when he speaks of faith and morals.

In recent years, the Vatican has found itself needing to answer critics who say Pope Pius XII did not do enough to protect Jews during the reign of Hitler. This has become a big issue in the wake of accusations made by certain authors and historians. Thousands upon thousands of Jews were murdered and some say the Pope did little to stop it.

Saddam Hussein has also been accused of murdering many thousands of innocent people. Not only has the Church done little to stop it, aside from verbal condemnations, but we are told that it is wrong for us to stop it by force. How will the history books portray the position of the Vatican during this present time? What will survivors of the brutal Iraqi regime say years down the road when historians point to the fact that the Vatican condemned preemptive armed intervention in trying to liberate the Iraqi people?

Peaceful diplomacy does not work with everybody. There must be some impetus for negotiations, and the impetus comes from some threat of adverse consequence. Unfortunately, the adverse consequence must be exercised upon occasion. This is one of those occasions. Peace will come from a show of power rather than weakness.

Nobody wants war. We should expect the church to cry out for peace. That�s what the church does. I would hope that the church would continue to do so, but I would also hope that the Vatican would choose words carefully. Speak in general terms because we don�t always know the specifics. Whether this is a just war can be debated. The opportunity exists for it to put an end to great injustice and human suffering. Should that happen and we all pray that it does, the Vatican may someday have to explain why it tried to stand in the way.

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