Saturday, September 23, 2006

Benedict and Iraq

As John Allen points out in his most recent column, many of the know-nothings in the Islamic world are accusing the pope of siding with Bush on Iraq and the middle east. There is a firm belief floating around that Benedict is trying to turn back the clock on John Paul's perceived openness to Islam and his anti-war positions. Nothing could be further from this truth. On this matter, there is no discontinuity between John Paul and Benedict. During the recent Lebanon war, as Allen reports, Benedict repeatedly called for an immediate ceasefire, and lobbying by the United States and Britain for more sympathy for Israel went unheeded.

On Iraq, then-Cardinal Ratzinger was also crystal clear in his position, as the following collection of quotes makes clear:

"The United Nations is the [institution] that should make the final decision."

"It is necessary that the community of nations makes the decision, not a particular power."

"The fact that the United Nations is seeking the way to avoid war, seems to me to demonstrate with enough evidence that the damage would be greater than the values one hopes to save."

"It [the United Nations] is the instrument created after the war for the
coordination -- including moral -- of politics."

"The concept of a 'preventive war' does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church."

"The Holy Father's [John Paul's] judgment is also convincing from the rational point of view: There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a "just war."
And finally:

"In this situation, certainly not." [asked if the Iraq war could be justified.]

John Paul, Benedict, one voice. Unam sanctam catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam.

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