In October, Pax Christi will buy a full-page ad in the National Catholic Reporter prior to the annual meeting of the U.S. bishops. The ad will advocate abandoning the idea of a "just war," something the Catholic church, including in recent statements by the current Pope, shows signs of possibly being willing to do. James Rauner's article below reports how the Catholic church outside of the United States has opposed past wars, and suggests how little it would take to move the church in the U.S. to the same position. But opposing particular wars as "unjust," and suggesting that there might be just ones, leaves the war industry in place, making new wars inevitable. Pax Christi is to be applauded for urging the church to drop that outdated way of thinking, as the current Pope's statements suggest he already has. --DCNS
When Catholics Become a Peace Church
By Deacon James Rauner, Pax Christi Michigan
The Ides of War, March, 2003 "
In 2003, weeks before the attack, Pope John Paul II warned President Bush that his "preemptive war" on Iraq would throw the Middle East into chaos, that this war would be a "defeat for humanity which could not be morally or legally justified."
On March 5, 2003, Pope John Paul II sent the Italian Cardinal, Pio Laghi, to intervene with President George W. Bush and ask him not to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein, but the US leader rejected the appeal claiming he was "convinced it was God's will".
The day before the scheduled meeting with the President, the cardinal was asked to meet with officials from the US State Department, as the President wanted to know the agenda of the meeting in advance. Cardinal Laghi was "interrogated" by the National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice.
When the Cardinal arrived at the meeting with the President the next day, he handed Pope John Paul II's letter to the President, "who
immediately put it on a side table without opening or reading it."
The President then launched into an argument for war,. He told the cardinal that he, the president, "was convinced it was God's will", and sought to convince the papal envoy that it was the right thing to do.
"After a few minutes of what the Cardinal termed 'a sermon'", Laghi interrupted President Bush and said, "Mr. President, I came here in order to speak to you and to give you a message from the Holy Father and I would like you to listen to me."
Cardinal Laghi told Bush that three things would happen if the United States went to war. First, it would cause many deaths and injuries on both sides. Secondly, it would result in civil war. And, thirdly, the United States might know how to get into a war, but it would have great difficulty getting out of one.
Cardinal Laghi realized from this exchange that the President had already made up his mind. This was confirmed shortly afterwards by General Pace, as he accompanied the Cardinal to his car. He shook hands with the Cardinal and told him, "Your Eminence, don't be afraid. We'll do it quickly and we will do it in the best way."
The press corps was waiting outside the White House after the meeting to interview the cardinal, but administration officials did not allow him to speak to them at the White House.
In the weeks and months before the U.S. attacked Iraq, not only the Holy Father, but also many in the Vatican spoke out against a "preemptive" or "preventative" strike. They declared that the just war theory could not justify such a war.