Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 2:
No one could write those words save one who has little or no knowledge of the attitude of the Catholic Church towards the problem of peace.
The Catholic Church could be in a wonderful position to do so, if only the nations would accept her advice and submit to her rulings. Don't forget that, at the beginning of the last war, the nations realized that the influence of the Catholic Church would be for peace, and that France, Russia, and England agreed with Italy to exclude any overtures for peace to be made by the Vatican, and to exclude the Vatican from any say in the terms of settlement after the war. If the nations won't have peace, they won't. But you cannot blame the Catholic Church to which they refused to listen.
You are wrong. Civil rulers exceed the limits of their lawful authority when they violate the known law of God by their legislation. And in such cases, obedience is no longer due to them.Where war is concerned, the Catholic Church says that no government has any right to declare war without just cause; and if a nation does so, those citizens who are aware of the injustice are guilty before God if they volunteer their services.
You must not make me say what I do not say. I have just said that if a country is not justified in engaging in war, then citizens are not justified in volunteering their services if they are clearly aware that the cause is not just. If it be just to take up arms, then citizens have a duty to obey lawful authority and assist in the war. For example, if some other nation, without any just cause at all, were to invade our country, the government here would have the right to organize armed resistance. And the duty of defense would fall on all citizens according to their capacity, and in their proper spheres of action. The trouble with you is that you have only half formulated the problem to yourself, and come to conclusions based on inadequate views.
Obstacles are not placed in the way of "any" anti-war movement. Reasonable efforts to prevent war deserve all support. I have said over and over again that war must be absolutely the last resort, and then only when very grave injustice is involved. Unfortunately, many anti-war speakers manifest such ignorance and fanaticism that no reasonable man could support them. They spoil their own case. Often, too, the anti-war demonstrations are blended with Communistic propaganda which vitiates them by their very association with such destructive principles.You say that, meantime, the authorities give the greatest freedom to warmongers, and that I hold that we must submit. Now, firstly, if the authorities are guilty in allowing munition factories without restriction, then State authorities are to blame for that; and I have not undertaken to defend the legislation of human governments. Nor do I say that we must submit to this particular phase of their policy. Citizens who disapprove such a policy are quite free to vote against such a government and if possible to vote it out of office.
She does not. If another nation unjustly decides to annex our country, we are free to allow ourselves to be annexed without firing a shot, if we are content to pass under an alien rule. We are not obliged, as a nation, to defend ourselves. But the Church says that it is certainly lawful for an attacked nation to defend itself; and that, if it be the national will to do so, then citizens have the national duty of patriotism to do all in their power to secure the welfare of their country.
The still, small voice was apparently loud enough to reach you, despite the fact that you were not sufficiently interested and attentive to perceive the significance of its utterances. The Church says that no nation is justified in declaring an offensive war prompted by lust of conquest and expansion. If the authorities do declare war, however, then individual citizens are free to volunteer or not according to their individual knowledge of the justice or injustice of the cause.
Such a question is born of ignorance and folly. The Church must declare the moral law, and she does so without fear or thought of popular reactions to the law; and that, whether nations, or individuals are concerned. Where other Churches give way on such questions as birth control and divorce, the Catholic Church promulgates the demands of morality whether her decisions are popular or not. So, too, she lays down the principles governing the question of war. But when you come to the order of facts and of actual national disputes, you leave the question of moral principles, and come to the question of their application in a concrete case. Now here the attitude of the Church to nations is much the same as that of a priest to individuals. As a priest I may preach that injustice is wrong. But if a Catholic enters into litigation with a non-Catholic, and neither asks me to judge in actual fact as to who is guilty of injustice, it is not my business to decide the question of fact. I am not obliged to say to all-comers that the Catholic is right, and the non-Catholic guilty of injustice. Nor am I obliged to say that the non-Catholic is right, and the Catholic guilty of injustice. At most I can say, "If one is right, the other is wrong." But I have not the duty to judge which is right, and which wrong. If they come to me, and submit the facts to my decision, then it will be time to pass judgment. But to scatter denunciations of this one or that without having even been asked to decide the case would be absurd. Now transfer this to the Catholic Church, Italy, and Abyssinia. Call Italy the Catholic Nation, and Abyssinia the non-Catholic Nation. The Catholic Church said that the nation which unjustly commences a war is guilty of injustice. That is the principle. Italy accused Abyssinia of injustice sufficient to warrant war; Abyssinia accused Italy of similar injustice. Here was a question, not of principles, but of fact. Neither nation offered to submit the case for adjudication to the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Church was not called upon to decide it, and apportion the blame. You must seek a judgment in each actual case from that court to which the case has been submitted, and which has been provided with the evidence by the parties concerned.
Religion is a virtue which impels us to offer God due acknowledgment in religious worship for what God is. Now God is God independently of your opinion as to whether war between men can ever be justified or not. Even if you condemn all war, the fact that you thought men were not behaving well towards each other would not justify your refusal to behave well towards God yourself. You owe to God the debt of religious acknowledgment. Pay that debt, and then give your attention to the problem of war, trying to understand the ethics of the question.
Correct. And he would do so, were he consulted and did he have the facts submitted to him by the contending parties.
Where is the nation today which would answer to the description of a Catholic nation? There are nations the bulk of whose members profess the Catholic Faith. But that does not mean that the State as such professes the Catholic religion as an integral part of national administration. Even in the countries where Catholicism is not only granted liberty but also State protection and privileges, government policyabstracts from religion in its own deliberations concerning internal and foreign affairs. But were there a State today not infected by indifferentism towards religion, its failure to practice the principles it accepted would be accounted for just as one would account for the moral lapse of any individual—through weakness, or through malice on the part of those in charge of the nation's destinies.
They did not fight against each other as Catholics. There happened to be Catholics amongst the various nations at war. But as members of their respective nations, they had the duty as citizens to defend the interests of their respective countries. But the political leaders of the countries themselves were not religiously united under the authority of the Pope. Protestants had the power in Germany. France was under an irreligious and Masonic government. Those in control of England's destinies were entirely Protestant in their outlook. The Czar of Russia owed no spiriitual allegiance to the Pope. The Italian government of the day simply ignored the Pope. In the face of this, the religious unity of such members of these nations as were Catholics could not prevent their being drawn into war as citizens.
The authority of the Pope remains, whether men submit to it or not. Millions of Catholics throughout the world, of course, both acknowledge the authority of the Pope and submit to it. When we turn from individuals to nations, there are no Catholic nations in the full sense of the word. They do not, therefore, submit their policies involving moral issues to the guidance of the Church as they should.
Because men who are not sensitive to their moral obligations will be moved only by physical compulsion. And it is not part of the Pope's commission to rule by physical force. After all, though God Himself has given the ten commandments, men still break them. You might just as well ask why God does not do something about it. But even God will not compel men by physical violence to observe His law. He will, of course, "do something about it" in due course. Men already endure many penalties at least as a consequence of their lapses; and they will endure more later on when they meet God in judgment. And we can certainly say that the nations which ignore the Pope as supreme moral arbiter are not a very happy lot. Their independence of him is their punishment.
The Popes protested again and again against the European war of 1914-18 as a violation of fraternal charity. Before the war commenced, Pope Pius X. circularized the heads of the nations, imploring them to avoid such a war, and foretelling all the miseries it would bring in its train. The nations would not listen. When Benedict XV. acceded to the Holy See, his first act was to try to bring about a cessation of hostilities. And again the national leaders would not listen. Yet the Pope continued his efforts until the Armistice in 1918.At the same time the Pope could not say that no sincere individual Christian was not justified in defending the cause of his country, nor that such a Christian would be violating the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." For neither of such statements would be right. A sincere Christian may take up his country's cause when it is in danger. And the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill" does not forbid one's undertaking the duties of a soldier.
It does not. The chaplain's presence serves to secure the spiritual welfare of such unfortunate men as are wounded or dying, whether the souls appealing to him for help are friends or enemies from the military point of view.
Soldiers are subject to the demands of military obedience, but that very obedience is their reasonable choice, and their actions are very much subject to the control of their own conscience. Many soldiers are the most conscientious of men in the fulfillment of duties allotted to them by their military superiors.
The chaplain would violate his own duties if he advised the men to neglect their obligations of obedience to lawful commands. But his presence is not for the purpose of securing military discipline. The officers attend to that. Granted that the country is at war, the least the country can do is to provide chaplains for the spiritual needs of those men who lay down their lives for their country's welfare. And the fact that chaplains are provided for this purpose does not identify them with the decisions of military authorities in the conducting of the war, nor does it commit them to all situations which arise. The effort to transfer the responsibility to chaplains is as foolish as it would be to blame the Ambulance Association for all the street accidents that occur. The chaplain goes on a spiritual mission of mercy to men in grave danger just as the Ambulance Officer goes on a temporal mission of mercy to any people injured, however they may be injured. And the chaplain is no more cause of the war necessitating his services than the Ambulance Officer is cause of the accident demanding his attendance.
There is not a single thing which can be of use to man in the cause of justice and right which cannot be the object of a blessing. The blessing on military weapons is for the good use to be made of them insofar as they serve in the protection of one's country or in vindicating a just cause. The sad consequence to enemy countries with resultant loss of life is not the purpose of the blessing. If a man saw his mother being throttled by a murderer he could certainly ask the blessing of God on his aim as he fired a revolver that he might save his mother's life. That such a blessing would mean the death of the murderer would be an inevitable consequence, but not the primary motive of the blessing.You may say, "But there the bullet will hit the actual and guilty murderer. What of innocent men, women and children in an enemy country?" To that I must reply that, when two nations are at war, they are to be taken as collective units. Non-combatant members of these collective units must be spared as far as possible, but where that is impossible, harm to them is an unintended and inevitable consequence. The weapons were not blessed for the purpose of these unintended and inevitable consequences. Another point to notice is this: The weapons could not be intended for the killing of fellow Catholics, or those using them would have each enemy whether he was a Catholic or not before killing him, slaughtering was a Catholic, sparing him if not. It may happen that amongst the enemies some are Catholics. But it is not the Catholic Faith, but the national welfare contending parties which is at stake. All along the line you are transferring atention to aspects of the matter which are outside the real case to be considered.
Of course I can. "Thou shalt not kill" is a commandment of God forbidding all unjustified taking of another's life on one's own individual authority. And that commandment must be preached. But that does not forbid our asking God's blessing on our soldiers who fight for their country's welfare from motives of duty. They do not take life, then, on their own individual authority, but act as units of a nation engaged in self-defense. If the cause of a nation is just, its soldiers are also justified.
There can be sense in claiming that. If another nation treats us unjustly, it cannot be the will of a just God that such injustice continue. And it can be His will that we ourselves repress this injustice. What would you suggest doing, if a man entered your home and began to carve up your wife and children? Can see any sense in claiming it to be the will of a just God that you should defend family, and carve up the aggressor, if there were no other way to stop him?
Whether on the side of the Allies, or on the side of our enemies in the last war, no individual soldier who believed his cause to be just and gave his life for his people's welfare, died a degrading death. There are ideals more precious than earthly existence. And granting their good faith, and their repentance of their sins, these dying soldiers were rightly told that a just God was with them. What would you have told them? That the just God had abandoned them, despite their fidelity to what they believed to be right?
If the men were misguided, and thought they were doing their duty, they were personally right with God as far as the war was concerned. If a minister were personally convinced that the cause of his nation were just, he would be just in giving it as his opinion that God was on the side of his nation. The minister might be mistaken in his judgment, and lack sufficient information; but his good faith would save him from personal guilt. Meantime, if you say that blustering brass hats were to blame, you must confine the guilt to the blustering brass hats. And you would do a service to the world if you could tell us which of the blustering brass hats were in the right, and which in the wrong. No one has succeeded yet in apportioning the guilt in the case of the last war. War is a curse on humanity. We all know that. No one wants to advocate or defend war in itself. But that does not say that all who take part in a war for what they believe to be grave and necessary rights are guilty.
God is intensely interested in all the doings of humanity. But He has given man's management and destiny into man's own keeping, whether individually or socially. There is no more reason why God should step in miraculously to prevent one nation from attacking another nation in Europe, than that He should step in miraculously to prevent a gangster in Chicago from murdering a single victim. Both the murderer and the man he murders will be judged justly by God; and so, too, will each individual engaged in the war. And each will be judged according to his personal knowledge and responsibility. Meantime, whilst nations suffered from their own national folly, God permitted the calamity to fall on the participating nations impartially, for individual and national sins quite apart from the war were pretty evenly distributed. Which of the nations participating had been faithful to God's laws, and was without guilt before Him? Men ignore God, and mock God by their legislation; and then blame God for the just retribution which comes upon them. Let mankind succeed—great is the progress and the ability of man! God doesn't come into it then. Let mankind make a costly mistake, then comes the cry, "God is to blame for this."
I am not so foolish as to take anthropomorphic views of God, as though attributes proper to a human mind are equally proper to Him. But, in any case, there is nothing really humorous in opposed parties simultaneously asking the help of God. The superficial man might possibly confine his attention to the opposition between the objects for which they pray. But the wise man will view the convictions and the dispositions of those who offer the prayer. There is nothing humorous in opposed parties praying for what they think to be a just cause. One, or both of the parties may be mistaken. But there is nothing humorous in that.So, too, as either side wins a victory, there is nothing humorous in thanksgiving to God that His Providence did not permit a defeat instead.
The Mass is but a supreme form of prayer, and your difficulty is in no way affected by bringing in the Mass where before you mentioned prayer. The same solution avails. That two Cardinals prayed for their respective countries which were at opposition one with another was not a mockery of religion. If it were, I do not think that that would distress you greatly. For you are deliberately guilty of a mockery into which you think others to have fallen unconsciously; a thought which is erroneous, of course.
If ever a man's teachings brought reproach on the name of God, they are the teachings of Judge Rutherford. And your own thoughtless utterances also dishonor Him, when you deny His blessing and any prospect of heaven to soldiers fighting and dying in perfectly good faith for what they believe to be right. And after denying God's interest in mankind even during the great sufferings it brought on itself, you have no further right to accuse others of bringing reproach on the God they claim to serve. If you don't believe in God, you're a hypocrite whilst you plead tearfully on God's behalf. If you do believe in God, you are guilty of offering Him a greater insult than any of which you have pretended to complain, and speak of Him without a trace of reverence or respect.