A pair of articles on the justice of the Iraq war have appeared on the website Right Reason, in the form of a review of a new book bitterly opposing the war, President Bush, and the neoconservatives. The book’s title typifies the seriousness of the essays it includes: NeoCONNED. The reviewer at Right Reason, Edward Feser, measures the traditional criteria of the just war according to the moral manuals of the pre-Vatican II period, in order to employ a fair meaning of “traditional,” at least from (one would think) the paleoconservative side. In doing so, he collects some absolutely marvelous texts.
But since the paleocons in this instance, although not in others, fall all over themselves in exclaiming how they are faithful to the guidance of John Paul II and Benedict XVI in regard to the war in Iraq, the reviewer also includes a passage from Cardinal Ratzinger in 2004, when the morality of the war in Iraq was precisely the central issue. This gem cuts through moral pretense like a diamond:
Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.
Published in First Things March 17, 2006