Monday, October 02, 2006

Catholic Republican Endorses Torture

The Carpetbagger Report claims that, while addressing a Values Voter Summit last weekend, William Bennett (the gambling addict in favor of moral values for other people) declared:
"If waterboarding will save American lives, then I'm for waterboarding,"
Apparently, the response of the "Christians" was wild cheering. Let's think about this for a minute. This is end-justifies-the-means consequentialism, pure and simple, and it stands squarely against Catholic teaching. As noted by the Catechism (1759):
"An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention" (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec. 6). The end does not justify the means."
This is pretty fundamental. It underlies the Church's opposition to abortion and "assisted suicide" and yet the likes of Bennett will embrace these teachings gleefully. So why the obvious inconsistency? I think part of it is the legacy of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an act of pure consequentialism (kill millions of Japanese civilians today to save untoward American lives tomorrow). Despite Elizabeth Anscombe branding him a war criminal, Truman is still revered in the United States, and this has also seeped into the Catholic imagination. Another issue, which I addressed recently, is that Catholics have been seduced by the alliance with right-wing evangelicals, whose theology is underpinned by notions of American exceptionalism and predestination, and who don't get too bothered by little inconveniences like waterboarding.

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