Choose a topic from Vol 4:

Religion - Yes or No

Necessity of Religion
Reality of Religious Experience
Religion and life
Religious statistics
Nature of religion
Necessity of worship
Neglect of religion
Religion and history
Conversion of mankind

The Christian Church

Nature of the Church
Necessity of the Church
Visible organisation
Hierarchical constitution
Papal supremacy
Perpetuity of the Church

"This Shall Be the Sign"

Notes of identification
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolic succession
"Roman" but not "Roman Catholic"

Dogmatic Authority of the Church

Authority in religion
Catholic Church infallible
The Pope infallible
Papal definitions
Dogmatic spirit of the Catholic Church
"Religion of the spirit"
Individual freedom
Re-stating Christianity
Athanasian Creed
Meaning of faith
Faith and reason
Faith and science
Religion and education
Religion and morals
Catholic countries backward
Universities and religion
Natural Moral Law
Christian principles of morality
Catholicism versus the world

The Power-Complex Illusion

Legislative power of the Catholic Church
Coercive power of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church and political ambitions
Divided allegiance of Catholics
Rome and totalitarianism
Aim of the Catholic Church in America
Catholic Action
Political freedom of Catholics
Catholic infiltration of civic life
Catholicism anti-democatic
Rival totalitarianisms, Rome and Moscow
Catholic attitude to Protestants
Spanish Inquisition
Church and State
Federal Union or "One World State"

Life-Or-Death Social Problems

Social reform necessary
Trade unions
Protestant Churches and Communism
Social apathy of Churches
Catholic social teaching
Family life
Primary purpose of marriage
Religion and marriage
Form of marriage
Mixed marriages
Birth control
"Catholic birth control"
Divorce and re-marriage
Catholics and civil divorce
Nullity decrees
Therapeutic abortion
Euthansia or mercy-killing

Those Exclusive Claims

Divided Christendom
Do divisions matter?
The "Only True Church" claims
Cause of sectarian bigotry
Reunion Movement
Catholic non-cooperation

Religious Liberty

Religious freedom
Catholic intolerance
Protestants and the principles of religious liberty
Rome and the "Four Freedoms"
Heresy and heretics
Religious rights of Protestants
Religious persecution
"Rome's historical record"
Protestant missionaries in Spain
In Italy
In South America
Conditions in Colombia

Are Only Catholics Saved

"Outside the Catholic Church no salvation"
Beliefs of Catholics
Salvation of Pagans
Salvation of Protestants
Why become a Catholic?
Duty of inquiry
Salvation of apostate Catholics
Test at the Last Judgment
Obstacles to conversion
Truth of Catholicism


1299. Do you not think it most inconsistent for your Church to condemn killing unborn children by abortion and the incurably sick by euthanasia, yet not the killing of enemy soldiers in war?

There is no real inconsistency in the Catholic position, for the killing of soldiers in the service of nations at war cannot be ranked as the unauthorized taking of innocent human life which God's commandment forbids.

1300. What authority has the Catholic Church to permit Catholics to go to war to settle differences by fighting?

The Catholic Church has been authorized by Christ, her divine Founder, to be the guide of mankind in matters of faith and morals. But it is not a right idea of the position to say that the Catholic Church permits Catholics "to go to war to settle differences by fighting." The Catholic Church merely says that it is not wrong for the responsible authorities in charge of a given nation to resort to war, if there is no other way of preserving its existence or its rights against unjust aggression. If the responsible authorities decide that war is unavoidable, then Catholic citizens are justified in fulfilling necessary military duties.

1301. God says clearly: "Thou shalt not kill."

The sense of that commandment is better conveyed by: "Thou shalt not commit murder." Murder is defined as the unauthorized taking of innocent human life. There are cases where killing of a kind which cannot be brought under that definition is permissible, as in capital punishment inflicted on guilty criminals by the State, or in a war declared necessary by a lawfully-constituted government.

1302. I do not find in those words what the Catholic Church maintains.

There are very few laws anywhere which do not need authentic interpretation by a duly qualified authority. Even where civil law is concerned men do a long course of legal studies at a University to qualify as lawye 1| so that they may explain to untrained minds the real significance of tl: or that law, and to what particular cases it would apply. It should not a matter of surprise, therefore, if the true interpretation of divine at ecclesiastical laws is not at once evident to everyone who happens to me with them

1303. Despite God's commandments, the Catholic Church does not forbid participation in wars.

Not all wars are unjust and forbidden by the moral law. In the Old Testament God Himself quite often commanded wars to be undertaken. In the New Testament you will find no prohibition of war as necessarily wicked. When soldiers came to St. John the Baptist asking: "What shall we do?," he told them: "Be content with your pay." Lk.,III,14. He did not tell them that they must give up being soldiers. When the Jews asked Jesus to cure the centurion's servant because the centurion, although a pagan, had built them a synagogue, Jesus did so without making the slightest suggestion that he should abandon his military career as an evil thing. As a matter of fact, Jesus took war for granted as incidental to this imperfect world, and predicted that there would be wars and rumors of war till the end of time. He drew illustrations from the prudence of kings who, contemplating war, first considered well whether with fewer soldiers they had any real prospects of success against those with a greater number of soldiers (Lk.,XIV,31).

1304. Did not the law of Christ abrogate the warlike commands given by God in the Old Testament?

As positive commands to engage in war, yes. But not in such a way as to declare all wars henceforth unlawful. The Jewish people were in the time of Moses a Theocracy; that is, under the direct rule of God in both spiritual and temporal affairs. Therefore even warfare with neighboring hostile peoples was, when necessary, commanded by God. But Christ did not claim temporal authority. He said expressly: "My kingdom is not of this world." Jn.,XVIII,36. On one occasion, in the temporal concerns of an individual, He simply ignored the issue and drew the attention of listeners to their higher eternal interests. A man said to Him: "Master! speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me." But Jesus replied: "Man, who hath appointed me judge or divider over you?" Lk. XII, 13-14. He did not say that the man's claim was unjust. He merely declared the matter outside the scope of His mission, and one to be settled by other and ordinary human means. So, too, He left the temporal administration of earthly kingdoms to earthly rulers. But although He Himself does not command wars, nowhere did He forbid earthly rulers to engage in wars which they deemed necessary for their country's good.

1305. He commanded us to love our enemies

The military duties given to a soldier are not the personal responsibility of the soldier, provided he keeps within the normal rules of legitimate warfare. But in his personal dispositions, the Christian must make sure that he is actuated by no hatred or vindictiveness; and he must so love the persons of enemy soldiers that he will treat them with charity once they become non-combatants; and will, above all, desire their spiritual and eternal good, making what provision he can for it. Again and again, on the battlefield, opportunities present themselves for sublime acts of Christian charity towards enemy soldiers; and the record of such actions proves that soldiers who are Christians have not forgotten their duty to love their enemies.

1306. Christ told us: "Resist not evil."

He there condemned personal dispositions of vindictiveness and revenge. But that a Christian should bear patiently evil done to himself does not mean that he should not resist evil being done to others. If you saw a man flogging a little child into a state of unconsciousness, would you just say: "Resist not evil," shrug your shoulders and turn away, doing nothing to stop it? In the same way, when the State is involved in war, taking up arms to defend its citizens from slaughter and rape and ruin at the hands of an aggressor, the Christian cannot exempt himself from military duties by the axiom of personal and individual ethics which you have quoted.

1307. Even when attacked, can a Christian retaliate yet observe Christ's injunction to "turn the other cheek"?

That injunction concerns our personal dispositions. In external practice it does not always oblige. Christ frequently strove to impress general principles on His listeners, without going into detailed explanations and applications. Here, opposing the teaching of the Pharisees that it is always right to exact an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, He gives in a vivid axiomatic way the opposite teaching that our dispositions should be to endure wrongs patiently and even gladly. But, however mild our interior dispositions, we are not dispensed from prudence in practice. We are certainly not bound to observe the injunction literally if doing so would bring contempt upon God, or do harm to another person by encouraging him in his wickedness, or cause evils to society itself. When struck by the servant of the High Priest during His trial, Jesus Himself did not obey the injunction of turning the other cheek. He rebuked His striker. (Jn.,XVIII,23). St. Paul, also, when Ananias, the High Priest, commanded that he should be struck on the mouth, did not "turn the other cheek," but said to Ananias: "God shall strike thee, thou whited wall." Acts,XXIII,3. St. Paul, of course, was there concerned with vindicating God's honor rather" than his own personal dignity. But it is clear that the axiom you have quoted does not always apply in external practice.

1308. If God is just, why does He allow wars to happen?

Because He is just. He has given mankind freewill, and He will not take back that gift even though men abuse it. And He justly permits men to reap the consequences of their own folly and malice. There is no nation in the world which has been so faithful to God and to the moral law as to deserve immunity from suffering. Our right attitude in the presence of world-tragedies is not one of anger against God and of protests of injured innocence, but one of honest admission of our sins, repentance of them, and the resolve to amend our lives.

1309. Why does He permit innocent women and children to be killed?

I cannot give you an entirely satisfactory answer to that; for this problem not only perplexes the mind, but weighs heavily upon the heart as well. We need an answer which not only appeals to the mind, but one which consoles us in our distress; and whilst hearts are human they will not find consolation in this world. I can, however, suggest two thoughts which may be of some help. Firstly, national disasters and punishments cannot but fall upon the innocent as well as the guilty. That is in accordance with the law of social solidarity. If God permits a civilization which despises His laws to destroy itself, suffering will come upon the individuals who make up that civilizaton without discrimination. Taking the members of civilization, not as units of society, but as individuals with an individual destiny, there is no explanation of their suffering that fits in with the justice of God if this life be all. But this life is not all, and in eternity there will be room for compensations not possible in this world. That aspect provides us with some consolation, although it does not free us from present tragedies. In the end, of course, we have to admit that there is a just God, and that there are sufferings. If we cannot reconcile these things to our own satisfaction, the only thing to do is to admit our own limitations. It isreasonable to admit that the human mind cannot know all. It is reasonable to be content not to understand all, leaving the final solution of things to God. But it is not reasonable to deny either God's justice or the reality of suffering. We can but try to alleviate suffering and endure bravely what we cannot alleviate. And that we should do without complaint, with resignation to God's will, and in a spirit of penance for our many sins.

1310. Is war inevitable? Ps. 46, 9, says: "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth". Will not that prophecy come to pass some day?

The words you quote were not primarily intended as a prophecy. They are part of a hymn of victory and of gratitude to God for the defeat of an attack upon Jerusalem by Sennacherib, about 700 B.C. The psalmist declares God's power to deliver His people from their enemies at all times, and that there is every reason to place our trust in Him. Whilst, however' the psalm is not primarily prophetic, secondarily there runs through it a Messianic significance, in keeping with the general Jewish expectation of, a Messiah. This means that God will abolish all wars and establish absolute and permanent peace in the eternal Messianic kingdom when this world's history has come to a close. But there will never be a time before the end of the world when wars and similar disturbances will be completely eliminated.

1311. The military leaders in all the nations have been a curse to the world, and there seems no way of getting rid of them.

Not the military leaders are the curse of the world, but the conditions of mankind which make them necessary. The right of nations to defend themselves against unjust attack includes the right to be ready to do so; and that means the right to have military organizations. The real problem is: Why should any nation fear an unjust attack? The answer to that will indicate the real curse of this world. The nations are fearful of one another because of the moral corruption of mankind, with the consequent impossibility of trusting one another. A minority only obey the injunction of Christ to "seek first the kingdom of God and of His justice." Matt., VI, 33. But those belonging to this minority, so long as they are in this world, cannot hope to escape the turmoil around them. They can but purify their motives, fulfil their duty as they see it, and endure their trials for the love of God.

1312. In time of war, newspapers put a halo of glory around war, and stir up hatred. They do this in the name of patriotism.

Genuine patriotism is good, but it does not cry out: "My country, right or wrong." That is an excess. Genuine patriotism is the conscientious service of one's country in what one believes to be a just cause regardless of the self-sacrifice involved. As for the press, whilst the stirring up of hatred is wrong, it is not wrong to appeal to just indignation by describing truthfully actual atrocities which make us determined to prevent their recurrence as far as we can. We must try to keep a calm and balanced judgment, difficult as it is in times of anxiety and stress. I admit, of course, that some newspapers do not even try to give truthful accounts. This is due to malice, deliberate suppression and deliberate invention being used to suit their own purposes. Such excesses can only be condemned, wherever they occur.

1313. War, which is merely mass-murder, since it is the negation of reason, cannot solve any problem or right any wrong.

War is not necessarily the negation of reason. If one nation begins to indulge in violent aggression and refuses to stop until compelled to do so, then reason itself dictates violent restraint of such injustice. War necessarily results. Nor are those who are trying to prevent the triumph of the aggressors guilty of mass-murder. That is a tendentious tag or catch-cry not dictated by reason. Again, it is not true to say that war cannot solve any problem, or right any wrong. It has solved many problems and righted many wrongs before today. Do not think that I am trying to glorify war. I am not. It is a very painful thing and I would that it did not exist. But to engage in war is not necessarily opposed to reason, nor is it always morally wrong to do so.

1314. Eminent Catholic theologians have asserted that those who die in battle are certain of saving their souls.

No Catholic theologians, eminent or otherwise, have made such an assertion. All without exception teach that one must be in a state of grace at the moment of death in order to save one's soul. And no Catholic theologian has ever taught that if a man is in a state of serious and unrepented mortal sin, death in battle would automatically put him into a state of grace. Death in battle is not, of itself, a means to salvation.

1315. I believe that, modern war being what it is, participation in it can never be justified.

That belief is wrong and unjustified. It is sound reasoning to say that a given war is not justified if the resultant evils will outweigh any good to be attained. And with modern weapons of warfare, the fearful destruction of life and property, and the legacy of poverty, misery and suffering to so many millions of people, certainly give grounds for the belief that war is criminal conduct. Whatever may be the grievances, the only lawful solution of them is by way of negotiation and arbitration. It is not lawful to seek redress by war. But that means only that no one is justified in plunging the world into war. If, unjustly, one nation does embark on such a criminal enterprise, the nation or nations attacked are not obliged to refrain from defending themselves against the aggressor. It is lawful for the threatened nations to engage in a war which it was unlawful for the aggressor to commence.

1316. If a Catholic has this conscientious conviction and is an absolute pacifist, would he he justified in refusing to take up arms in defense of his country?

If a Catholic sincerely and conscientiously believes it to be wrong and sinful for him to take up arms, he should obey his conscience and refuse to do so. But when he discovers his conscientious conviction to be mistaken, he should abandon it. And he has every reason to doubt his own judgment in the matter. For that such a conscience is abnormal in a Catholic is evident from the fact that it differs from the conscientious convictions of the vast majority of well-instructed and good Catholics. The isolated Catholic conscientious objector is much more likely to be wrong in his application of principles than practically the whole body of Catholics.

1317. Why is it that the majority of well-instructed Catholics are not pacifists?

Because they are well-instructed. They do not confuse the question of the objective justice or injustice of a war with the question of their own subjective position. Aware of their own inability to decide complicated national and international issues, and aware of their duty to their country unless they know for certain that their own country's cause is unjust, they conscientiously fulfil the present and clear duty. They know that to declare participation in any war at all unjust, without allowance for causes or provocations, is to fly in the face of the unanimous testimony of Catholic tradition. They realize that modern weapons of devastation affect the form of war, not its essential character; and that conscientious objection to any kind of war would allow Might always to triumph over Right, and deliver men up to a far more serious disaster and widespread disorder throughout the world. For these reasons it is not normal to find conscientious objectors amongst Catholics. And one inclined to such a position should suspect the soundness of his judgment when he finds it opposed to that of the vast majority of well-instructed Catholics.

1318. When the angels sang: "Peace on earth to men of goodwill" did not that mean that the teachings of the "Prince of Peace" would put an end to all war and discord among men and nations?

No. Christ Himself, the Prince of Peace, declared that there would be war and strife till the end of time. But He promised interior spiritual peace to those of goodwill who would accept and practise His teachings, despite their still having to live in this troubled world. He Himself said to His disciples: "Not as the world giveth peace do I give unto you." Jn., XIV,27. Those words are a sufficient indication that He was not promising worldly peace.

1319. Did not Pius XII, the Pope of Peace, recognize that when he called upon the warring nations to make peace?

No. He recognized that war is a very great temporal evil resulting in fearful suffering, and that it is a Christian duty, his above all, to promote the cause of peace. But he did not thereby acknowledge any promise in Scripture that at any time on this earth such goodwill would prevail amongst all men that all would be willing to apply the teachings of Christ, or that as a matter of fact an end to all war and discord in this world would be a reality.

1320. If Jesus commands us to be united with Him in spirit and in truth, how can we rightly pray to Him when war and blood is our argument?

War and blood is not the argument of any individual soldier. The dee| l cision to resort to arms is not his, but that of the national administration. • Nor does the colossal tragedy in which they are involved hinder individual j soldiers from union with Jesus in spirit and in truth. Jesus Himself cont| ft eluded His discourse to His disciples after the Last Supper by saying: "In the world you shall have distress." John, XVI, 33.

1321. The Churches have actually at times prayed for the victory of Christian armies opposed to each other

That is not an accurate statement. Christians, belonging to one and the same Catholic Church but to different nations opposed to one another in war, have prayed for the success of their own cause. And there is nothing wrong with their doing so.

1322. Yet, in fact, they have been trying to annihilate each other!

That is not their purpose. Each of the contending nations is trying to vindicate what it believes to be its rights and forcibly prevent forcible violation of them. It may be that casualties will unhappily result. But they no more go to war for the sheer joy of causing casualties than a surgeon, trying to prevent the greater evil of a man's death, amputates a patient's leg for the sheer joy of cutting off his leg.

1323. Opposite sides could not both be in the right and fighting a just war.

Whether a war in itself is justified is one question. Whether the contending parties believe their own cause to be just or not is quite another. Even were a war decided upon by some given government unjust, it is quite possible that government officials themselves might be mistaken and in quite good faith. Still more is this true of the nation at large. In utter sincerity such people could pray to God in their anxiety for victory in what they believed to be their just cause. On the other side prayers could likewise be offered in all sincerity to God. God knows which side is in the right; but it is quite possible that neither of the contending parties has a clear knowledge of that. In answer to their prayers God will at least give to the individuals praying those graces which are necessary for their spiritual welfare in the midst of whatever temporal difficulties the war may bring upon them. To these problems we must bring, not limited and partial views, but that broad and comprehensive outlook which takes in all aspects of the subject.

1324. I hold that World War II was unjust,

All war presupposes injustice of some kind. Either the nation that declares war does so with a just reason, in which case the nation giving the provocation, if it is conscious of guilt in the matter, is to blame for not offering to remedy the evil; or else the nation that declares war has no just reason and is itself guilty if it is aware of the injustice. World War II was due to injustice somewhere. But it does not follow that every nation participating in that war had no just cause for doing so; and still less does it follow that individual soldiers doing the actual fighting were guilty of injustice by doing so.

1325. The evil brought about by the war was far greater than any good achieved.

It may seem like that after the event. But things were not so simple before the event. Take the case of Poland. Invaded from one side by the Germans and from the other by the Russians, it had the option of actively resisting, or of passively going out of existence as a nation. But the Polish people believed that going out of existence as a nation and enduring slavery was worse than any other temporal evils that could come upon then They did not believe that the suffering their armed resistance would bring upon them would be greater than any good to be achieved, even if the good were merely the vindication of their right to independent nations existence despite a temporary defeat. They would deny, therefore, that your argument applied to them. But once they decided to resist aggression other nations pledged to their support were also involved; and it is doubtful whether any of them foresaw how widespread the destruction and carnage would become.

1326. Pope Pius XII, broadcasting on air-raids, condemned aerial warfare "that knows no law or limits". That proves I am right it saying that the war was unjust.

Occasional injustice in particular acts of war would not necessarily make the cause itself unjust. In condemning unrestricted aerial warfare, the Pope was but stressing the principle that even a good end does not justify the use of morally unlawful means; and that it is evil to indulge in an aerial warfare which is not limited to military objectives and which results in wanton destruction of civilian lives and property. Nor did his utterance imply that those on both sides might not be sincerely convinced of the justice of the cause in which they were fighting.

1327. Would you say that there was no evidence available through the ordinary channels of information to justify my assertion that World War II was unjust on both sides?

Without any hesitation at all I would certainly say that. The application of general moral principles to particular cases is notoriously difficult. Above all this is true in an international tangle in which so much is withheld from the general public. No evidence available through ordinary channels of information would have enabled you to form any certain judgment in the matter, or justified you in declaring to be certainly wrong those who differed from you.

1328. Though a Protestant, I say that the Catholic Church failed the Allies in World War II, and thereby failed mankind.

You are apparently one of those many people who do not believe in the Catholic Church, but who are quick to cry out that that Church has failed humanity whenever it fails to do whatever that section of humanity to which they belong happens to want it to do for the time being. But that cry can come only from those who themselves have failed to understand the Catholic religion. The Catholic religion is not "man-centered," putting God at man's disposal, but "God-centered," putting man at God's disposal. It is primarily spiritual, supernatural, eternal and concerned with individual souls, not concerned primarily with national, material, earthly and bodily interests. Your worries, therefore, are due to your own misconception of things. If you doubt whether the Catholic Church is the true Church or not, you have given no reason for such a doubt. If you are worried because the Catholic Church did not oblige all Catholics in the world to fight for an Allied victory no matter what their national allegiance, you are worrying because the Catholic Church did not do what she could not rightly be expected to do. And there is only one cure for such a self-made worry—stop it. If you are worried lest the Catholic Church should fail to continue to exist, be at peace. She will not, and indeed cannot die. Christ Himself has guaranteed that.

1329. Why did the Pope, in World War II, subordinate himself and his Church to the various warring nations?

He did not. They went to war, and did not ask him to adjudicate between them. He had no choice but to urge both sides to conclude a just peace as soon as possible, for the good of all concerned.

1330. Why did he allow Catholics and other Christians to desecrate their spiritual unity in violence and bloodshed?

The violence and bloodshed of war do not affect the spiritual unity of Christians, if indeed they are Christians. But that is a matter for each Christian. As for preventing Catholics or any other Christians from becoming involved in war, the Pope has no power to do that. The governments which decide upon wars are not subject to his control; nor would the Pope have even the moral right to forbid Catholics to obey their respective governments unless those Catholics themselves clearly knew the war they were called upon to wage to be unjust. And the average citizen has not enough information on the subject to form a sufficiently reliable judgment on that matter.

1331. Did the Pope at any time during World War II declare the Allied cause to be the just one?

You objected a moment ago to the Pope subordinating himself and his Church to the various warring nations. Were you sincere in that? Or is it quite all right, provided the Pope favors our particular side and subordinates himself to our interests? Both sides in World War II expressly rejected all ideas of accepting any intervention by the Pope; and he refrained from expressing a verdict one way or the other. Either you agree that the Pope has the right to judge the nations on moral matters, or you do not. If you do not admit his right, you cannot blame him for not passing judgment upon them. If you do admit his right, why do you limit his right to judgments which suits your own purposes, condemning only those whom you wish him to condemn? Were the Pope to condemn all international immoralities, what would you say when it was for our own nation to be charged with perfidy and treachery? Or are we paragons of perfection who have never been guilty of violating the natural moral law, whether national or international?

1332. If the Pope remained neutral in World War II, did not at least the bishops and clergy in Italy and Germany tell their Catholic people in those two countries that they were fighting in a just war?

I cannot answer for all, nor does my defense of the Catholic religion the one true religion require me to do so. But in general your suggestion is certainly not true. There was a most marked contrast between the utterances of the Catholic bishops in the Allied Nations, and those of the bishops of Italy and Germany. Before World War II broke out, Pope Pius XI denounced all threats of hostility, saying that it was incredible that any nation could be so "monstrously murderous" as to plunge the world into a new war. The political leaders of Germany and Russia, Hitler and Stalin, did so when, after their Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 23, 1939, they invaded Poland. Later, Mussolini threw in his lot with Germany. To Poland, and subsequently to Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, as each of these countries was invaded, Pope Pius XII sent messages of sympathy, openly declaring that they had certainly been the victims of unjust aggression. In England, Cardinal Hinsley said in a world broadcast: "This war, which has been forced upon us, is a struggle to save the souls of all free peoples. The Nazis aim at enslaving the nations they have invaded. . . Their God is not the God of Christianity, but an idol, the false god of German blood and soil—"Germanity." No comparable statement was issued by any bishop in Italy or in Germany to declare the Axis cause just and that of the Allies unjust. Catholic bishops in Italy and Germany had their hands full in resisting the suppression of the religious rights and liberties of the faithful in their own countries, and refrained from commending the war-policy of those in political control. They certainly advised their Catholic people that they were free to obey compulsory military demands, leaving the moral responsibility to the political authorities. That was sound advice in difficult circumstances, since the average citizen, with not all the facts before him, and many misrepresentations he was not in a position to check, was not able to decide for himself the rights and wrongs of the international situation. But such advice was very far indeed from declaring the Axis cause to be indeed just, as Catholic bishops amongst the Allied Nations had declared their cause to be just.

1333. Did not Catholics kill their fellow Catholics on the battlefields in World War II?

No. Naturally, they killed enemy soldiers; but at the time they had not the slightest idea as to whether those enemy soldiers were Catholics or not. If Catholics had been out to kill their fellow Catholics, it would have been necessary to ask each enemy soldier whether he was a fellow Catholic or not, before deciding whether to kill him or not!

1334. Do not all Catholics, by the mere fact of being Catholics, claim to be members of the body of Christ?

They do. And that spiritual unity remains quite unaffected by the earthly hostilities between the particular nations to which they belong.

1335. If all Catholics are brothers in Christ, what is the position of a Catholic who kills a fellow Catholic in the opposing forces?

He has not violated God's law. A Catholic regards all his fellow Catholics as his spiritual brothers. But by being a Catholic, he does not cease to be a citizen of this world, with all the duties of a citizen towards the country to which he belongs. It may be, when two countries are at war, that Catholics on both sides will believe themselves in duty bound to serve their respective countries. If one Catholic kills another, it would not be because that other was a Catholic. The one who did the killing acted as a soldier authorized to defend his country; the one who died gave his life out of a sense of duty to his own nation. But neither life nor death could interfere with the spiritual relationship each of those Catholics had with Christ and consequently with each other.

1336. Was the killing of Catholics by each other an example of the boasted unity of your universal Catholic religion during World War II?

No. It was an example of the sad lack of national and political unity of the different countries in this world. The unity of Catholics is religious and spiritual, however diverse the countries to which they owe patriotic allegiance; and that Catholics are to be found in opposing armies is due, not to their religion, but to the political leaders of various countries. And certainly the leaders of the nations engaged in World War II were not actuated by the Catholic religion in the decisions they made. They thought in terms of political expediency, and of what they believed to be the temporal welfare of their respective nations. That the religious unity of Catholics need not necessarily be impaired by the fact that they are fighting on opposite sides may be illustrated by an incident on the European battlefield, told me by an Australian Catholic chaplain. He was working in one of the front trenches, attending to a long row of wounded men, when an Australian soldier came to him, with his right hand blown off at the wrist, his arm ligatured with a leather strap. The soldier, who was a Catholic, said that he had bayonetted a German some 400 yards out in no-man's-land, that the rosary beads around the man's neck and his identity disc showed that he too was a Catholic, and that he hoped the priest would be able to go out to him to give him the Last Sacraments before he died. The priest said that he could not leave all those he had to attend to, some of whom would probably be dead before he got to them, for the sake of anyone elsewhere. The Australian soldier turned sadly away, and the priest went on with his duties, unable to give further thought to the soldier's request. But the soldier himself was not able to dismiss further thought about the matter, and when the priest had arrived at the end of the long row of wounded he found the Australian soldier back again, this time carrying the wounded German on his shoulders. That soldier had gone out again through the bursting shrapnel, somehow or other had managed with his left arm only to get the wounded enemy onto his back, and had brought him to the priest that he might not die without the Sacraments of his Catholic religion. The wounded man was obviously dying, but was still conscious; and his eyes lit up with happiness at the sight of the priest kneeling beside him to give him absolution and the last rites of the Church. I think you will admit that that Australian Catholic soldier was well aware that that German Catholic was his spiritual brother in Christ, divided as they were in national and earthly loyalties.

1337. During World War II, the Right Rev. Dr. L. S. Kempthorne, Anglican Bishop of Polynesia, said that a native chief put the question to him: "Is it not strange that while all Europe is at war, you come to us to preach the gospel of love one another." The Bishop declared that he was at a complete loss for a reply.

As a condemnation of the behavior of professing Christians in Europe the incident is effective to some extent. But it is not true that a satisfactory reply could not have been given to the native chief, even if it be true that the Anglican Bishop could not think of it - which, personally, I doubt.

1338. What would be your answer, in similar circumstances?

Firstly, I would point out that I had come to preach, among other things, the Christian doctrine of charity; namely, that all human beings as fellow children of God should love one another. And I would make it clear that I had not come to preach that the European nations were models of Christian virtue. Secondly, I would explain that all the fighting in Europe was due to the decisions of governments which did not even pretend to be guided by Christian principles; but that there are, nevertheless, millions of good Christians who do practice Christian charity despite political events beyond their control. Thirdly, I would tell the native chief that, even if nobody else practised the golden rule of "Love one another," that would be no reason why he and his people should not do so, and experience its blessings. If it is right that we should love one another, we cannot dispense ourselves from doing so by pointing to others who do not do it. Fourthly, I would explain that Christ commanded us to preach the gospel to the whole world, even to the uttermost parts of the earth. Christ did not make the condition that we were to continue teaching His doctrine only provided the European nations observed the golden rule of charity towards one another during the years of the Second World War, from 1939 to 1945. And I would tell him that I had come to do my part toward fulfilling a command of Christ which I had no choice but to obey. Then I would ask him to listen to a teaching which would have prevented the carnage in Europe had it been put into practice by the nations as well as individuals there. The more shocked he was by the disastrous catastrophe in Europe, the more eager he should be to hear what would have prevented it. And I would assure him, of course, that full and complete Christianity is to be found only in the Catholic religion.



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