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A just war? Clarification urgently needed

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Mar 19, 2003

The US bishops, as a group, have expressed reservations about a war on Iraq. So has the Vatican. But reservations are one thing; it's quite another thing to say-- as Bishop Botean has said-- that participation in the was would be a mortal sin.

Bishop Botean's authority extends only to the relatively small number of Byzantine-rite Romanian Catholics. But the logic of his argument (that the war fails to meet just-war standards) would apply equally to all Catholic Americans-- IF he is right.

So there are two possibilities: 1) Bishop Botean is right. The war is intrinsically and gravely immoral, and he's the only bishop courageous enough to say that Catholics cannot take part in it. 2) Bishop Botean is wrong. The war can be justified, and he is abusing his authority by telling people otherwise. Is there a third possibility? I don't think so.

When bishops disagree on a serious issue, we rely on the Holy See to settle the differences. This is a serious issue, involving the fate of nations and the salvation of souls. We need some clarity, and it has to come from Rome.

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