Thursday, February 13, 2003

Clerics and Iraq

Fr. James Schall, SJ, today has an excellent article on the general clerical opposition to war against Iraq, and how disagreement is not only legitimate, but perhaps even called for (please note the "perhaps" -- I am not saying those who disagree are stupid). Lest anyone wonder, Fr. Schall is not some loony dissenting warmonger. He teaches political philosophy at Georgetown, and has penned many serious and thoughtful articles and books on a number of issues. Here is a noteworthy passage:
    In our darker moments, we can imagine a discouraged American president, surrounded by clerical doubters, finally caving in at a Prayer Breakfast. "All right, Reverend Fathers and dear Pastors, since you know more about defending the rights of peoples and our country than I do, since you have more information than I do about what is going on in Iraq and the world, since your methods are more effective, I hereby turn the safety of the nation over to your competent hands." Of course, it would not take a moment's reflection to realize that we could not be safe in the hands of the no-war-at-this-time party, however well intentioned it may be. Their advice is just that — advice, not policy, let alone a basis for action.

    Not only would such an alternative be unconstitutional and imprudent, it would be against the stated principles of most Christian social thought — that matters of war and peace are in the hands of chosen leaders who have a right and duty both to spell out their reasons and to act on them. The idea that no action can take place till the last cleric or moralist is convinced of a problem is a formula for disaster.
Really, you should read the whole thing.

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