Monday, July 27, 2009

Caritas in Veritate - Love in Truth

I found the Pope's new encyclical on the "social doctrine" of the Catholic Church to be pretty good. He hits most of the big economic issues. There is an ever-present reminder that profit cannot be the primary or exclusive motive for businesses. Greater care needs to be taken that intellectual property and health care are not only for rich countries (e.g. withholding HIV-AIDS medicine from the African continent).

I do think he is wrong about concluding that the economic crisis could have been largely avoided if the birth rate had not dropped significantly in 1st world countries. Though the birth rate has decreased in the U.S., immigration (legal and illegal) has made up for it.

Benedict also stresses that reason needs faith and faith needs reason. This along, with the need for "wealth redistribution" is almost a mantra within this encyclical. He even refers to the need for redistribution on a global scale (42). Societies like the U.S. are also called to lower their energy consumption. We must be aware our climate and not squander our natural resources on projects such as war.

Those are the areas that particularly hit me as cutting edge.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dan Maguire Statement about ROTC

Daniel Maguire, a Catholic moral theologian at Marquette University
recently released a statement concerning Marquette's Reserve
Officer Training Corp. Program (ROTC). As the local Catholic
press will probably choose not to cover it. I will repeat
his statement here:

Marquette University Peace Action: Marquette’s Lonely Prophets

Statement of Daniel Maguire, Professor of Moral Theology

Marquette University Peace Action (MUPA) has been a lonely
witness to the peace-making tradition that began in the
Hebrew scriptures and continued in the Christian scriptures
and early Christian communities. Their critique has centered
on Marquette’s being a center of ROTC training for 14 local
colleges. MUPA accepts the unfortunate fact that ROTC is
here. The military are firmly embedded at Marquette, and
money is a major factor in their being here. The university
and the ROTC students get financial support. MUPA recognizes
realistically that ROTC will not be easily dislodged because
of that. In my almost 40 years at Marquette, I have told ROTC
students: “Take the money from the military but don’t give
them your soul.” Of course, it is their souls and minds that
the military are targeting, and that is precisely the
educational issue that MUPA has been heroically engaging.

MUPA quotes The Army Field Manual:”Your personal values may
and probably do extend beyond the Army values, to include
such things as political, cultural, or religious beliefs.
However, if you’re to be an Army leader and a person of
integrity, these values must reinforces not contradict,
Army values.”

Give the Army credit for candor. That could not be clearer.
Religious values are trumped by Army values and valuations.
That is a bold challenge to this religiously grounded
university. Why has the university mounted no curricular
response? That is the question that MUPA has been
insistently pressing, like a voice crying in the wilderness.

Pope John Paul II spoke for fundamental religious values
when he said: “We can enrich our common heritage with a
very simple discovery that is within our reach, namely that
war is the most barbarous and least effective way of
resolving conflicts.”

Pope John XXIII said that “it no longer makes sense to
maintain that war is a fit instrument with which to repair
the violation of justice.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu says: “In the wars of the 1990′s,
civilian deaths constituted between 75 and 90 percent of
all war deaths…Some two million children have died in
dozens of wars during the past decade….This is more than
three times the number of battlefield deaths of American
soldiers in all their wars since 1776.”

War is, by definition, state sponsored violence and it is
more brutal than it ever was in history. It is so horrible
that after Second World War the nations of the world
decided it could only be used as a police action,
collectively, in response to an attack, coordinated by the
United Nations.

Professor Richard Falk writes: “World War II ended with
the historic understanding that recourse to war between
states could no longer be treated as a matter of national
discretion, but must be regulated to the extent possible
through rules administered by international institutions.
The basic legal framework was embodied in the UN Charter,
a multilateral treaty largely crafted by American diplomats
and legal advisers. Its essential feature was to entrust
the Security Council with administering a prohibition of
recourse to international force (Article 2, Section 4)
by states except in circumstances of self-defense, which
itself was restricted to responses to a prior ‘armed
attack’ (Article 51), and only then until the Security
Council had the chance to review the claim”


ROTC is teaching our students a different gospel. ROTC
dissents from the popes by teaching that war is” a fit
instrument with which to repair the violation of justice.”
It teaches that war is not the “least effective way of
resolving conflicts.” In fact it is preparing our
students to participate in the three wars now ongoing—not
one of which was declared according to Article One Section
8 of our Constitution---wars against Iraq, Afghanistan,
and Pakistan, with threats of war in the air against Iran.
None of those wars meet the six criteria of “the Catholic
Just War Theory.” Not one of them meet those criteria.
None of the, in other words, satisfy Catholic teaching on
war-making. War that is not justified is collective murder
and our students are right now being trained to join in.

The challenge to Marquette is educational. The military
work on the assumption that war is a continuation of
national policy by different means. It works on the
assumption of the normalcy and inevitability of war. And
it is teaching our students that contrary to the teaching
of the two popes just mentioned, and contrary to the
biblical peace tradition, war is “a fit instrument with
which to repair the violation of justice.” It teaches
that “war is not the least effective way of resolving

If ROTC were teaching the normalcy of abortion, Marquette
would respond with vigor. Why is war taken less seriously?
After all, war is abortifacient. Many of the hundreds of
thousands killed in the Iraq war were pregnant women and
we inflicted “shock and awe” on them and their fetuses.
Our students are being trained to do more of the same.

Solution: every ROTC student at Marquette should be
required to take two courses in the peace-making
traditions of the world religions, especially Judaism and
Christianity, with special training in the Catholic just
war theory. They should also be taught the obligations the
United States assumed by treaty to observe the United
Nations restraints on vigilante war, something we are not
now doing.

MUPA is no more radical than the popes. They are prophets
calling attention to Marquette’s failure to live up to its
avowed moral and religious commitments. They are not
calling for the ouster of ROTC. They are not trying to
take away ROTC money from Marquette or from Marquette
students. They are defending religious values and saying
those sacred values should not be trumped by military
values as the army insists. They are taking values they
were taught in their schools and churches and begging us
to live by them. To the shame of all of us, they have
been ignored for too long.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bishops are to be loving shepherds...

The pope recently spoke these words to newly installed archbishops visiting Rome. Although these are good words in and of themselves, maybe the situation of Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho is in the background. Sobrinho was the archbishop of Recife and Olinda Brazil. He was sent there in 1979 to replace Dom Helder Camara and his witness of loving compassion as well as his support of liberation theology.

Sobrinho has been in the news because he publically reminded a 9 year old, who had been repeatedly rapedy by her step-father for years, that the abortion she had meant that she was excommunicated per canon law. There was an uproar in Brazil for Sobrinho's callous response to the situation and even Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the head of the Pontifical Acadamy for Life stated that the church's first reaction should have been to minister to the girl.

Pope Benedict offically accepted Sobrinho's resignation on July 1st
. Sobrinho is now 76. His resignation could have been accepted a year ago, when he turned 75. Bishops who are in the pope's favor often do not have their resignation accepted for years after turning 75. I'm guessing that Sobrinho's conduct did not please the pope. It is also a reminder that perhaps Archbishop Burke, formerly of St. Louis was really demoted when he received his Vatican post. I view this all as good news: callous bishops that were popular with JPII are perhaps not popular with Benedict.

A Faithful Catholic