Friday, March 07, 2003

Just War and Dissent

Mark at Minute Particulars argues that the Open Letter written by lay Catholics to the President "undermines the authority of the USCCB and pope" and refers to the letter as a "statement of dissent." Disagreeing with Bill Cork, Mark argues that "the USCCB and the pope have indicated not only what the Church teaches, but how they believe it ought to be applied at the current moment." Mark says later, "I simply don't see how anyone can claim that the Church's teaching on just war has not officially been applied."

However, he also notes that one might disagree, saying, "I'm not suggesting that this is the only conclusion that one can draw about the Iraqi crisis in light of just-war theory." Further on, he notes, "It is clear that the bishops and pope do not think the present situation warrants an invasion of Iraq. Could they be wrong? Of course. Can I disagree? Of course."

To be honest, I don't see how Mark can hold that the position of the USCCB and John Paul II have given an official teaching on this situation which to disagree with is to dissent, and at the same time hold that one can legitimately disagree with the Holy Father. How can dissent -- even public dissent -- from official Church teaching ever be morally licit? I understand Mark's point about the importance of how one expresses his/her disagreement with the Holy Father's own personal judgment, but if one argues that what the Holy Father has said is not just his own judgment but is a Magisterial teaching (which is what "official teaching" means to me)... that's something else entirely.

Mark (or those who agree with him), can you help me understand your thought?

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