Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 2:
The Catholic Church takes the view that if the soldier knew quite well that the cause of his own country was unjust, he would be guilty of murder, unless he were acting solely in individual self-defense against some individual soldier of the enemy forces. If, however, he did not have certain knowledge that his own country's cause was unjust, he would be free from personal guilt in obeying his officers and fighting for victory, even though it meant his killing enemy soldiers.
Had He been an ordinary human being, and not the Son of God come into this world for the salvation of souls, and had He been a soldier in the employ of His country, He would not have been incapable of fulfilling the duties of a soldier, even if it meant killing enemy soldiers in actual warfare. But you must notice the two suppositions. In reality Christ, who was the Son of God, and the Eternal King with a Kingdom not of this world, cannot be made the standard of such a comparison with an ordinary soldier, who is obviously the subject of a Kingdom which is of this world, and to which he has duties in the natural order, besides his duties to Christ in the spiritual order. You will notice in the Gospels that Christ met several military men, yet never once did He condemn their occupation; nor did He ever condemn war. He abstracted from the temporal concerns of this world, and preached the Kingdom of God, bidding men to attend to the spiritual welfare of their souls, and to make sure of securing their eternal welfare, whatever might be their success or disasters in this life. So, for example, in a somewhat similar way, He refused to interfere in the litigation of two brothers over a legacy from their parents. One of them said to Him, "Speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me." But our Lord replied, "Who hath appointed Me judge, or divider, over you?" And He simply took the occasion to say, "Beware of covetous-ness, for a man's life doth not consist in the abundance of things he possesseth." Lk. XII., 14. In other words, Christ refused to decide who was right and who was wrong in this dispute over interests concerned with this world. He left that to be solved by the ordinary human administration of justice. From the contentions of nations He also abstracted, and condemned neither the military profession, nor its employment, when deemed necessary by the countries concerned in actual warfare.
I cannot. But why? Is it because all war is necessarily wrong? No. If you had no weapon but a bayonet, and you could not stop an unjust aggressor from killing you save by running the bayonet through him, you would not be guilty of any crime before God by doing so. You are not obliged to sacrifice your innocent life for the sake of sparing his guilty life. And the same principle can be extended to nations. Nor did Jesus ever condemn war in a just cause. His condemnation of all injustice would, of course, exclude an unjust war.But, even though it could be lawful to engage in war, why cannot I imagine Jesus engaged in such strife? For the simple reason that, whilst fighting for one's temporal well-being can be lawful, Jesus came for our eternal rather than our temporal welfare. He came to teach us detachment from earthly concerns, and to set an example of that detachment. He never condemned a moderate and necessary interest in earthly concerns, but He Himself was not interested in them, and bade us to seek first the Kingdom of God. He abstracted from the material bodily pursuits of men, and concentrated on spiritual welfare of their souls. I can no morel imagine Him wielding a bayonet than I can imagine Him frequenting the Stock Exchange in order to try to amass an earthly fortune. His Kingdom might be in this world, but it was not to be of this world. And it is impossible to imagine Him absorbed by any of the affairs of this world.
It is not a fact. Though temporal, political, and national matters were outside the scope of His mission, He did not condemn them. His mission was to teach men spiritual truths for the good of their souls, and to redeem them from sin. Without any condemnation of earthly warfare, He even chose analogies from it in order to illustrate His higher teachings. And He treated war as quite a normal event, incidental to the imperfections of this worldly existence given over to the administration of men. Thus in Lk. XIV., 31, He says, "What king, about to make war upon another king, does not first think whether he be able with 10,000 to meet him that, with 20,000, cometh against him?" Accepting this as human prudence, He warns us to use similar prudence with God.
There is no need to do so.
Since Christ is God, I would pray to Him no matter what He might choose to do, or not to do. But as my conception of Christ does not happen to include your fanciful hypothesis, I am not called upon to pray to Him under such conditions.
Since, by His Person, He is and ever was the Eternal Son of God, and by nature identical with the merciful God, all talk of His being admitted to the sonship of God is absurd. One is admitted to what he was not previously. The only sensible way to put your question would be, "Could Jesus, as the Son of God, be conceived of under such circumstances?" In reality, no. The Jews made the vast mistake of thinking that the Messiah would be a kind of temporal military king to deliver them from oppression. Jesus effectively showed that the Son of God would not come into this world for so paltry an object. Worldly campaigns and leadership were nothing to Him. He came for other and far more lofty interests.
I can picture a citizen of one country, who happens to be a follower of Jesus, fulfilling military duties in his country's cause, against the soldiers of another opposing country, even though those soldiers also happen to profess the Christian religion. A man engages in war, not precisely as a follower of Jesus, but as a citizen of his own country; and his intention is in no way to kill fellow Christians. His intention is to put the soldiers of enemy forces out of action. If he wanted to kill fellow Christians, he would have to interrogate every enemy he met regarding his religion on the score that he was looking for fellow Christians in order to exterminate them. Your introduction of the Christian religion in such a way is quite irrelevant, and a violation of reason.
I am glad to notice your acceptance of the historical value of the Gospels on this matter at least.
That incident occurred. Christ forbade Peter to defend Him by means of the sword.
That question is inconsequent. The fact that Christ forbade Peter to use his sword in the particular circumstances mentioned affords no basis for any conclusion concerning the morality of war. For Christ did not forbid Peter to use his sword on the score that violent defense against unjust aggressors was wrong in itself. He forbade Peter to use the sword on this particular occasion for several reasons. Firstly, Christ knew that the time had come according to God's Will when He should enter upon His passion, and it was not right to seek to escape it. Secondly, and in any case, Peter and the Apostles were utterly unequal to the armed throng which had come to secure Him, and thought for them urged Christ to advise the prudent course. Thirdly, their defense of Christ was really unnecessary, for He told them that, if He really wanted to escape He could easily do so, if only by commanding "12 legions of Angels" to defend Him. It should be obvious to you that Christ was not attacking the right of armed self-defense in general.
What I have said.
He would not solve the question regardless of the reasons alleged. Certainly He would say that a nation which had tried all possible means to preserve peace, yet despite that had war forced upon it by an unscrupulous enemy, would be justified in taking up arms and engaging in international war rather than go out of existence as a nation.
Nowhere in the Gospels will you find a single passage in which Christ denied that war could ever be lawful; nor, though He met with many soldiers, and wrought miracles for some of them, will you find one word of His condemning military profession.
All who are in the grace of Christ are sons of God by a spiritual regeneration on a spiritual plane which far transcends any earthly relationships. This does not emancipate us from earthly duties arising from our natural condition whilst in this world.
That does not follow. For our supernatural sonship of God through Christ is by grace in the spiritual and supernatural order. That does not interfere with man's civil duties to his earthly country and ruler. Christ Himself taught this when He said, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God, things that are God's." Matt. XXII., 21. He would not admit that our duties to God superseded all duties to our country and nation. And the lawful authority of different rulers in the temporal sphere cannot but result in different civil allegiances. Since men go to war, not because they are sons of God in Christ, but because they are citizens of different earthly countries, all wars are not civil wars.
It is not a fact. Thousands of Roman soldiers became Christians and remained Roman soldiers.
Every word of that could be true, and not one word I have said on this subject would be affected. Take this case: If one nation attacked another suddenly, and without any provocation, merely through national pride, commercial greed, and blood lust, would the victim be justified in engaging in a war of self-defense or not? And, if she were, would the justice of her cause be affected by victory or defeat? Or by the debts incurred? You know it would not. You may say that the war as a whole would be unjust. I grant that. You may say that, in such a case, the aggressor would be guilty of a very wicked thing in the absence of any provocation. I grant that. But how far does that get you? I merely maintain that it is not always unlawful to engage in war, and that a soldier is justified in taking up arms to defend his country. If he kills the invader, it is the invader's fault, and the defender is not guilty of murder. Will you say that he violates the commandment "Thou shalt not kill," and that he should rather allow himself to be shot, and the women and children of his native land to be gassed and poisoned? It is no use saying, "There could not have been any right to commence such a war." I agree. And I agree that if the aggressor did not commence it there would be no war. But my supposition is that he does villainously launch his attack. Is it lawful for the victim to take up the gauntlet or not? Is the defending soldier who takes up arms justified, or is he a murderer? If he is justified, then it is no use saying that it is never lawful to engage in war, and that all killing, without any qualification, is forbidden by the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." If you wish, let us even suppose that the International Moneymonger, whom you call the enemy of all nations, is merely using the aggressor as a cat's-paw—that the big financiers have poured money into the country, and inspired the offensive, would the invaded country then be obliged to say, "War is evil." "Thou shalt not kill." "Our duty is to be slaughtered." I leave it to your own common sense.
War is not a justifiable business. Whenever it occurs, it supposes injustice on somebody's part, and even as that injustice is evil, so war is evil. Don't imagine that, because I protest against your violations of logic and reason, I do not protest against violations of peace and harmony between nations. I protest against war, and vehemently. But if warfare is unjustly forced upon a peaceful people, then that people is justified in defending itself by force of arms if necessary.At the same time, whilst ordinary citizens are justified in the violent repulsion of violent aggressors, the Church forbids priests to engage in an occupation involving unavoidable bloodshed.Even apart from war there are many occupations quite lawful in themselves, and to other people, which would be most incongruous for priests. For example, it is not sinful to be a bartender, but it would be most unbecoming for a priest to engage in such a duty. The Church forbids priests to engage in many forms of ordinary commercial and industrial activity normal to others. And above all, when war breaks out, and citizens enlist for the armed support of their country's cause, priests should abstain from active violence. By his very vocation the priest stands for unworldly ideals. Heart and soul he must labor for the eternal and spiritual rather than the temporal and material welfare of men. He is concerned with a heavenly rather than with an earthly Kingdom. He represents Christ and the claims of Christ rather than the demands of an earthly allegiance. And as, when men's worldly careers come to an end, they must turn their thoughts to another and higher realm altogether, so the priest must be one whom they have regarded as apart from worldly interests, and dissociated from their own earthly concerns. As they are ceasing to belong to the world about them, they find help in one who has already ceased to belong to this world in spirit and profession. Again, the priest represents the love of God, the peace of Christ, and the mercy of a Master who would far rather be crucified than crucify. And he should abstain from that active fighting in which ferocity and hatred are so easily enkindled as opposed to love; in which peace is destroyed by a storm of conflicting emotions; and in which man is the agent of death rather than of life. For even when a nation is justly at war, these sad consequences cannot but arise. Let the priest shed his blood, if necessary, for Christ and for souls; but let him not shed blood. The Church even goes so far as to forbid priests to engage in surgery. He must abstain from all unbecoming duties; be in the world, but not of it; fulfill his personal spiritual duties, destroying his enemy, sin, inculcating virtue, devoting himself to prayer and the worship of God; and be ready to assist any men, friends or enemies, who need his ministrations.