Action Alert!

The tenor of Vatican statements against war

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Mar 20, 2003

It's not so much the Vatican's opposition to this war that bothers me; it's the way that opposition has been expressed. Most of the statements from Rome have been phrased in language that is completely foreign to the just-war tradition-- the Catholic tradition of moral realism.

A blatant example was Cardinal Sodano's comment a few weeks ago: "It is not just a matter of knowing if this war would be just or unjust, moral or immoral. We want to raise the question: Is this war worth it?"

First of all, if the war isn't "worth it"-- if military action would not yield a proportionate benefit-- then it is unjust and immoral, according to classic principles.

But more important, is this the way Church leaders should speak? If they think the war is immoral, shouldn't they say that in clear terms, rather than playing the political game? (Give Bishop Botean this much credit: He speaks in clear moral language.) What would you think of a priest who told a married man: "The point is not whether cheating on your wife is moral or immoral. I want to ask: Is it worth it?"

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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