First, I still tend to think that the Iraq War was just(ified). But I have a question for some of those who have argued vociferously on behalf of its justice, specifically when responding to the views of John Paul II on the war. Let me lay the groundwork first:
Catholics who accept the authority of the Magisterium argue(d) that going to war involves prudential judgment, and that ultimately it is the leaders of a nation who are responsible for making that judgment. By use of this argument, these Catholics sought to show how one could legitimately disagree with the Pope on this matter.
Now, I generally agree with this position... I made the same argument myself on more than one occasion. The question I have is this: if you take this argument at face value, how can the pope (or anyone else, for that matter) ever definitely state that a war is unjust? To use an easy example: was Hitler exercising his prudential judgment in invading Poland, France, Russia, et al? If he had come out and claimed that he had weighed the issues, and believed that he had to take this action for the good of his nation, would he have effectively neutered any definitive moral condemnation? Why not, if it is ultimately only one's national leaders who can determine if a particular course of military action is just or not?
Again, I do think that the war was just; my question is directed at a possible lacuna within the arguments of faithful Catholics explaining how their disagreement with the Pope is not dissent.