Saturday, April 05, 2003
Reuters: British Find 200 Bodies, Grisly Photos Near Basra
SOUTHERN IRAQ (Reuters) - The desiccated remains of as many as 200 people were found by British soldiers on Saturday in an abandoned warehouse in southern Iraq along with catalogs of grisly photographs of what could be torture victims.I blogged this item on the moral blindness of the International Red Cross. I wonder if they will acknowledge this discovery in any way.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 5:56 PM Permalink
The 30-second version
I had this thought in the shower this morning regarding the distinction the item below makes:
At 8 P.M. in my house, the decision for my nine-year old son is a prudential decision. I will urge him to do something other than watching it. It's not as if there's nothing else that can be with the time. But as persons of good will we can disagree.
The point is that circumstances matter, even though the subject, object, intentions, etc. remain the same.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 5:36 PM Permalink
Distinctions: Teachers with teachings, teachers with opinions
The distinction between a teaching of the Church and an opinion given to influence prudential judgment is important. I write this to support Russell Shaw's article and Bill Cork's Pro Deo et Patria answering Mark of Minute Particulars
First, the common ground between Mark and myself:
Now the first disagreement is semiotic:
Dissent is the refusal to conform to the authority or doctrine of the Church. That's what the dictionary says and what I believe.
[Mark uses] dissent because disagreeing with the clear concerns the pope has expressed on any grave matter is not something that should be bandied about lightly.So I'll avoid the use of that word.
If you disagree with the pope on a prudential judgment, you are disagreeing with the Vicar of Christ on the application of principles to an event, an application the nature of which he probably understands quite well.Now that chemical weapons have been found in abundance in Iraq by the victorious American troops, it may be anachronistic to use the phrase: The Pope failed to make the case. The President succeeded in making the case -- I found the President's reasons superior. The essence of prudential judgment is the appeal to reason.
Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; 'the prudent man looks where he is going. 'Keep sane and sober for your prayers.'[1 Pet 4:7 .] Prudence is 'right reason in action,' writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle. [CCC 1806]
Prudential judgments of one person bear on others only to the extent that the sources of the moral judgment are similar: object, intention, and circumstances. For example, I might be able to afford a Catholic High School Education for my children, but a Catholic neighbor unknown to me might not be able to afford it. Our circumstances are different. With the same evidence before us, we can come to different actions consistent with morality. Prudential judgment is different from scientific judgment, artistic judgment, or legal judgment. People of good will can reach different prudential judgments looking at the same moral object.
To bring it to the situation at hand with the war in Iraq. Four human beings that I personally knew died in the World Trade Center, I work in the midst of an identified terrorist target, I've met radical Islamists who have warned us to accept Mohammed or die. My circumstances are unique, I have to suppress a desire for vengeance and see a bigger context. The Pope is helpful in that regard.
Let me touch now the third rail of the discussion of the evaluation of the conditions of the moral legitimacy which belong to the political leaders and not the Pope and the curia -- it is competence.
The decision to go to war involves the skills of spies and generals as well as moral theologians. Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, and Condelezza Rice lack the charisms of the Bishop of Rome, likewise the Bishop of Rome lacks their expertise on the evaluation how lasting, grave, and certain the threat of aggression of the Iraqi regime is. Some bishops have been immodest and asserted with unwarranted certitude the military capability and intentions of Saddam Hussein.
But this strikes me as simple-minded obfuscation. Again I ask, is anyone really claiming that bishops should take the place of generals or the commander in chief? Of course not.That's an interesting straw man to stand up and knock down but people are claiming that the weight of the Pope's authority overcomes the reasons given by President. Usually stated with the absurd "The Pope answers to a higher authority". We all will stand before God in judgment for these decisions, as President Bush acknowledges to the chagrin of the atheists.
Did you know that Cardinal Rodriguez knows the mind of President Bush? Cardinal Rodriguez of Tegucigalpa said
The true motives for this conflict are already emerging, and there are frightening economic interests involved. For example, destruction is carried out in order to have a pretext for reconstruction
Opinions like this reduce the respect that the non-Catholic public has for the Catholic Church. They predispose the reader to disregard the rest of what they have to say.
Political Power and Contingencies
Cardinal Ratzinger recently wrote the
[The] Church's magisterium does not wish to exercise political power or eliminate freedom of opinion of Catholics regarding contingent questions.
And Shaw wrote
To disagree with the pope in this manner is not dissent. It's not as if Pope John Paul II had taught a definitive moral principle (e.g., direct attacks on noncombatants are ruled out) which the disagreeing Catholics rejected. They agreed with the principle. They disagreed about something contingent and by no means certain: what the future outcome of complex, competing scenarios was likely to be.
Prudential judgements deal with contingencies: what I if do this, what I if don't. President Bush's case addressed this in a way that the statements of the Pope and curia never examined. Iraq was not at peace. It was arming itself and we now know that French, Chinese, and Russian weapons were being sold in contravention of the sanctions agreement. Iraq was funding international terrorists and allowing them to be based in the north. The consequences of leaving Iraq alone in 2003 are the same as the consequences of leaving Germany alone in 1936 after the occupation of the Rhineland in violation of the Versailles treaty.
The statement of Bishop John Michael Botean is an example of using the authority of the episcopal office:
Therefore I, by the grace of God and the favor of the Apostolic See Bishop of the Eparchy of St. George in Canton, must declare to you, my people, for the sake of your salvation as well as my own, that any direct participation and support of this war against the people of Iraq is objectively grave evil, a matter of mortal sin. Beyond a reasonable doubt this war is morally incompatible with the Person and Way of Jesus Christ. With moral certainty I say to you it does not meet even the minimal standards of the Catholic just war theory.
Plenty of good analysis on this statement in the blogs. I like Dr. Edward Peters' analysis
Render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God'sMark wrote:
The claim that bishops and the pope should butt out of these issues is an utter misunderstanding of the episcopal and papal offices.I think the bishops and the pope should follow the Catechism's own teaching and leave the evaluation of these conditions to the persons who have the responsibility for the common good.
For the good of the Church as well, I think that we need to reflect on how the moral authority of the Pope is regarded when people like Michael Moore invoke it in this way:
Any time you've got both the pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, you're not long for the White House.Cardinal Ratzinger is right to remind us that the Church does not want to substitute its judgment for that of the state as a general moral principle.
The practical ability of the bishops and the Pope to influence public policy apart the exercise of the magisterium is undermined when they claim authority which the Catechism itself gives to the state.
I don't expect to always agree with the Pope. I hope that the number of times we disagree is small. The ability of the bishops and the Pope to influence public policy is something that cannot be taken for granted and something to be cultivated not for its own sake but for the salvation of souls.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 1:27 AM Permalink
Thursday, April 03, 2003
Did I miss something?
Why does the debate continue about whether the war in Iraq is just?
The war started on Wednesday March 19, 2003. There is a war now and as I am writing this Saddam Hussein International Airport is being occupied by the United States.
Why does the debate continue about the election of November 2000?
People are getting creative adding stuff to the Catholic Just War doctrine: (CCC 2309)
It's time to move on people.
Add Japan, Germany, and India to the Security Council and change the voting rules.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:47 PM Permalink
Toronto Star: United States denies involvement of Apaches in deaths at Hilah (see article below)
The alleged attack on civilians came to light Tuesday, when Iraqi officials said U.S. Apache helicopters attacked a neighbourhood in the central Iraq city of Hillah, killing 33 people. The U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar, said it was investigating the incident but that no Apaches could have been involved.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 12:41 PM Permalink
Italian Press Agency: IRAQ: OSSERVATORE, SUFFERING OF A DEFENCELESS PEOPLE
(AGI) - Vatican City, Italy, April 2 - The Osservatore Romano has defined as shocking the report of the International Red Cross Committee following the bombing in Hillah, the city to the south of the capital, submitted to intense bombing which has caused numerous deaths among civilians. Over fifty people have died and many many others have been killed in other parts of the country in the last few days.
No mention here of the intentional killing of civilians and POW's by the Iraqi regime forces.
This worse than moral equivalency, it is moral blindness. The United States is not targeting civilians as this article implies.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 12:36 PM Permalink
Wednesday, April 02, 2003
Vatican Watch -- their calender still reads 3/19
Zenit News Service: Force of Law Must Prevail Over Law of Force, Vatican Tells U.N.
Holy See's Representative Addresses Session of Disarmament Panel
I'm charitable and not calling this the Clueless Vatican Watch, but it is a temptation. This Disarmament Commission meeting may have skipped over Iraq to name Ireland "chair". At the Official UN site you can see how serious the discussion of disarmament is.
Your excellency, Archbishop Migliore, you sound more like a sphinx or an oracle rather than a successor to the Apostles. "Force of Law" or "Law of Force"?
Saddam would be willing to negotiate until hell freezes over. Saddam, by the way, only believed in one law, namely his will.
Everyone wants to get into the act now, including the UN, to negotiate with the apparent victors in Iraq. Good has triumphed over evil. Be animated by that.
It's not nuclear weapons in themselves, but who has got them and what's their disposition to use them that counts.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 5:26 PM Permalink
Associated Press: Calif. Diocese Asks Boston to Pay Damages
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A Roman Catholic diocese in California has demanded that Boston church officials pay any damages resulting from the transfer of a priest accused of rape.
Demanded? The Catholic Church is a communion and the bishops form a college and a brotherhood.
A new legal specialization? Churches suing Churches
Hmm... If every diocese who "got" a priest accused of sexual-abuse sued the diocese from where he came, how much litigation would that be?
Update: more on this in the blog of Dr. Edward N. Peters' Canon Law In Light of the Law
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 2:17 PM Permalink
The Age (Australia): Missing journalists taken to border
Newsday editors had worked frantically to win their release, reaching out to the Vatican, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, diplomats in the region and, through an intermediary, to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
If this is true, then it is ironic that the second-most-hostile newspaper to the Catholic Church (after the Boston Globe) wanted and needed the Catholic Church, which no doubt, would have helped if it could.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 9:39 AM Permalink
Tuesday, April 01, 2003
Disinformation.com: Catholics join French and Dixie Chicks as targets of anger, hatred
I'm showing mercy to my readers. You're welcome to forward this page without the discliamer that it is an April Fool's Joke.
A wave of anti-Catholic sentiment has swept the country as the Pope continues to adamantly oppose the US-led attack on Iraq, calling it "immoral" and "unjust" while declaring: "Man cannot march into war and assume God will be at his side." The Pope has publicly prayed for an end to hostilities in Iraq, and before the war started he urged Christians to fast for peace.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 7:22 PM Permalink
Italian Press Agency: IRAQ: US JESUITS CALL WAR ARROGANT, FUTILE AND STUPID
This registers off the stupidity scale. I especially like the fact they felt compelled to put scare quotes around "bloody tyrant" as if that's a disputed point.
They echo the left's favorite line for stronger inspections, although they use the less-testosterone-filled word "robust". Where have you guys been anyway? We were all for better containment 12 years ago. 9/11 happened and we can't take those chances any more.
How many Jesuit chaplains are serving with the troops now?
Update: Full Text in America Magazine
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 7:08 PM Permalink
I don't know what's going on. If this is a blogspot screw-up or a malicious hacker.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 12:07 AM Permalink
Monday, March 31, 2003
Pro-Life Good News Dept.:
New York Times: Surprise, Mom: I'm Pro-Life
I say Surprise Me -- It's the New York Times that's printing this.
FOR her high school class in persuasive speech, Afton Dahl, 16, chose to present an argument that abortion should be illegal. She graphically described the details of various abortion techniques, including facts about fetal heart development.Nat Hentoff: Pro-lifers make their mark in the public square
In an historic development, the Michigan Democratic Party is the first in the nation to give official recognition to pro-life members. The Choose Life Caucus — as one of its organizers, George Ward, a lawyer, says — believes that the Democratic congressional leadership and, I would add, many of its other national leaders, have "a very wrong conception of what the majority of Americans believe about abortion."
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:05 PM Permalink
AP: Red Crescent Ambulance is used to stage attack
At the time this was filed there were only three wounded Marines.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 4:56 PM Permalink
Tech Central Station: The Mighty RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade)
You're going to be hearing a lot about RPGs - rocket propelled grenades - in coming days. They are the weapons of choice for small Iraqi units that are resorting to creative guerrilla tactics because employing company size or larger units in open combat with coalition forces would be foolhardy and fatal.
A very readable description of the guerilla tactics that we are likely to see.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:49 AM Permalink
AP Pope: War Threatens Hope for Future
Praying for victims of war in Iraq and elsewhere, Pope John Paul II said Sunday that armed conflict threatens humanity's hope for a better future.
This may be start of the movement from prayer for the victims of war towards a moral equivalence of the coalition governments and the Iraqi governments in the war.
I don't know if the AP chose to drop it, but some of the papal statements have referred to the failure of Iraq to comply with the United Nations resolutions -- which might be seen as a balance to the above.
Also -- please understand that I'm only a observer, a Vatican-watcher. I'm not suggesting the words that the Pope ought to say or that the Pope is saying the wrong thing. Think of me as a commentator on the American Catholic "street" -- which I define as cable news, talk radio, weblogs, and conversations -- with people who share my opinions and those who don't.
And speaking of hope -- here in New York, there's a recurring echo of 9/11 - Victory in Iraq means one less place where terrorists who want to hurt us can be based.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:23 AM Permalink
AP Pope: Iraq War Must Not Cause Hatred
Pope John Paul II urged the faithful Saturday not to allow the Iraq conflict to stir up hatred between Christians and Muslims, saying that would transform the war into a "religious catastrophe."
Holy Father, one goal of the the war is to liberate Iraq from an evil dictator. Stirring up hatred between Christians and Muslims is not a consequence of the war itself, but of Muslim propaganda designed to stir up that hatred.
Overwhelmingly -- it is to stir up the hatred of Muslims against Christians. Only one side in this conflict is hatred stirrers
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:15 AM Permalink
Sunday, March 30, 2003
NY Times Garry Wills: With God on His Side
The afflatus of becoming visible saints is intoxicating. It allows one to have great disdain for the manifest sinners who oppose our saintly will. This applies not only to outright enemies but to those (like the French) who do not join our crusade and even to those who dare criticize it. Rod Dreher, a senior writer at National Review, says that clergymen who oppose the war are spiritually disarming us and that military chaplains supporting the war should be heeded, not ''bishops in well-appointed chanceries and pastors sitting in suburban middle-class comfort.'' Dreher, a Catholic convert, must think the pope is one of those cushy bishops, as opposed to the hard-bitten military chaplains who know what God and the devil are up to. We should learn from the ''moral realism'' of soldier-priests, who are ''warriors for justice,'' and not heed ''the effete sentimentality you find among so many clergymen today.'' The priests who do not bow to the War God are, in a chaplain's words that Dreher quotes with approval, reinforcers of the notion that ''religion is for wimps, for prissy-pants, for frilly-suited morons.'' This is what used to be called ''muscular Christianity,'' and Dreher thinks it is the only authentic form of his faith.
Here are the links to make sense of this:
Wills piece is one big sneer at the idea of saying "Not my will but Thy will be done." and then acting according to the will of God as we discern it. Religiosity is the new scare word.
The straw man argument is that we're all cartoon figures who decide to go to war and then pick up the Bible, say something nonsensical like a prayer, and then announce to the world that God is on our side.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:29 PM Permalink
Vatican Loose Cannon Watch
CWN News: Abp. Tauran meets with the Vatican ambassadors
The Holy See is one of the few Western governments which has maintained full diplomatic relations with Iraq since prior to the outbreak of the Gulf War in 1991. Vatican officials have continued in their diplomatic efforts to bring the fighting in Iraq to a speedy negotiated resolution. Archbishop Tauran, in an official statement describing the Thursday meeting, said that it had allowed further discussion of the prospects for peace.
A negotiated resolution that leaves Saddam or his Baathists in power is a betrayal of all the people who we would leave behind to face the terror of his secret police.
It's funny how his excellency was talking about giving things time and caution. Now, all of a sudden, we're in a rush to end the war.
Anyway, what's the basis of these negotiations? Iraq is winning the war according to Chaldean Catholic, Tariq Aziz.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:56 PM Permalink
1010 WINS: Police arrest "Thrill Killer" Larme Price
His motive: to harm people of Middle East descent -- because of 9/11. His batting average in four murders was .500: two from Yemen, one from Guyana, one from Russia.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:14 PM Permalink
Peter Arnett is the Lord Haw-Haw of the Iraq War
The plight of the poor Iraqi citizens... The American battle plan failed...
Outrage? No, I think its treason. I'll update this item with a transcript when I get one.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 7:00 PM Permalink
Strange News Respect Dept.
Some of the strongest defenders of the Pope also support the war, while the strongest attackers of the Pope are with the Pope on supporting the war.
This gets ridiculous with supporters of abortion holding up signs that say "Now Obey the Pope", or people on television asking Catholics "How can you ask us to be opposed to abortion -- when you can't opposed the war -- are you a 'cafeteria supporter' of the Pope -- picking and choosing what you will support."
I think for many it's just a matter of convenience.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 6:44 PM Permalink
Stars and Stripes: Marines on the Front Lines
As the Marines continued to move into An Nasiriyah, Company F came across a dug-in group of Fedayeen. It took nearly three hours to defeat them even with the help of mortars and a few Marine AH-1W SuperCobras. The Marines took more than a dozen prisoners, some dressed in U.S. military “chocolate chip” desert uniforms worn by servicemembers during the Gulf War.
That's it for me. I'm not going to post any further stories on Iraqi troops wearing civilian clothing or U.S. military uniforms. So if you don't see more posts on this topic, then don't assume that this practice stopped.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 12:37 PM Permalink
New York Post: CIVILIAN HANGED AS BUSH VOWS: WE'LL GET FIENDS
An Iraqi woman who was seen waving a white flag at coalition forces was found hanging from a light post the next morning, President Bush said yesterday, vowing that "war criminals will be hunted relentlessly and judged severely."
Share this with people who believe there is a moral equivalence between the conduct of the United States and the United Kingdom, and the conduct of the Iraqi regime.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 12:26 PM Permalink