How can you claim to be pro-life, yet ever support a war?
After all, lives are taken in war.
Innocent people, most of whom are women and children, die as collateral damage in war. Can this ever be excused?
JESUS SAID TO MAKE PEACE
Frequently, people will point to Christ’s words as “proof” that Christianity must be a pacifist religion.
“If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also,” Christ said (Matt 5:39).
He also states as part of His Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt 5:9).
And Saint Matthew records Jesus telling Saint Peter, “…Those who take the sword will perish by the sword” (26:52).
True, Christ said all these things. But they often fail to remember all that He said.
THE FORGOTTEN THINGS JESUS SAID
You can consult your Bible to verify it, but it is true: Christ commanded His followers, “And let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one” (Luke 22:36).
How does one square these sayings from Christ?
Jesus is also the Word of God made flesh (John 1:1,14). As this article by Catholic Answers on Just War points out, all of Scripture—both the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament—is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16).
As a result, when the Bible confirms “there is a time to kill” (Ecclesiastes 3:3) that must be read as having the weight of Jesus behind those words as well. As well, many times in the Old Testament, God commands His people to go to battle.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ALLOWS FOR JUST WAR
The Catholic Church speaks for Christ on matters of faith and morals in our present age (Matt 28:18-20). The Church recognizes war as a horrific event, but also says under VERY strict conditions, it may be just to go to war.
Paragraph 2309 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church spells out all the conditions that must be met at the same time for a war to be just:
“The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous
consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
– the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
– all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
– there must be serious prospects of success;
– the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.
The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the ‘just war’ doctrine.
The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.”
I am not going to break down each of these conditions. I mean to merely point them out to say that because the Catholic Church allows for war in some instances, then I, as a pro-life person can too.
This is not to say every war is just or that I have an insatiable thirst for blood. But just as Christ did not place an absolute prohibition on violence, neither does His Church, nor do I.
Aren’t Innocent People Killed in War? Then How Can You Say a War Could Be Just?
The Catechism recognizes that modern warfare usually involves atomic biological, or chemical weapons capable of “indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants.” The Catechism says such tactics are a crime against God and man, requiring “firm and unequivocal condemnation” (2314).
The Church takes seriously innocent lives being taken, no matter their religion or location. The Church mourns for innocent blood being shed.
Thus, I Support War… A Just War, Only
I do not want for any innocent blood to be shed. And I do not support war, generally speaking.
The only war I support is just war.
If that is good enough for the Church Christ Himself founded, then it is good enough for me.
WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?
When I am asked for my position on war, it is most often out in front of an abortion center. I stand outside them, trying to counsel people to help them out of their circumstances.
The most common example is when an accomplice to an abortion-minded mother is talking to me from the front porch of an abortion center. I stand on the sidewalk trying to convince him or her to go in, and to get their friend out of there before it’s too late.
Sometimes these people will ask me if I support war.
So what if I answer “Yes?”
What if I told the accomplice to the murder of the child in utero that “Yes, I support war.” What difference would that make?
I suppose they would say one of two things:
Either, (a) then you’re saying it is okay if one person to kill another, or at least that an innocent person dies—as happens in war, to civilians. Therefore, since killing innocent people (in war) is okay, it is permissible for this innocent baby to die.
Or, (b) Ha! See? Then you’re not pro-life as you claim, since you say it is okay lives to be taken—especially innocent civilians’ lives, especially women and children.
The problem with this logic is this.
In either case, this would not mean that the moral weight of the innocence live being lost is the same. In the case of the accomplice to the abortion, he or she has a direct involvement in the murder of that innocent child.
I realize the accomplice is not procuring the abortion—and we’ll set aside if they are, God forbid pressuring the woman into having the abortion. I also realize the accomplice is not the one dismembering the human child in utero.
However, just as the guy driving the get-away car in the bank heist goes down with the robbers, when the cops catch them, the accomplice does carry some culpability in the instance of an abortion.
It would be altogether different if the accomplice has a change of heart and tries to get the woman out—which is something I have witnessed myself several times. But if that does not happen, then the accomplice is justifying innocent blood being taken.
The accomplice cannot do much about an innocent victim of a drone attack, or an air strike his country’s military perpetrates on another country. I am not moral theologian, but the culpability would seem to me to be remote, at best.
However, he or she has the power, and even the responsibility to save the innocent life before him. In this case, the baby who rode in the car with him or her to the abortion mill, who may not be riding back with him or her unless he or she intervenes.
So what if I answer “No?”
What I tell the accomplice outside the abortion mill that I do not support war. What then?
Will that convict the accomplice that lives ought not be taken, especially innocent lives? I pray so, but often—at least in my experience—this does not happen.
The accomplice is begging the question
By even asking me if I support war, they are assuming lives ought not to be taken. This is begging the question of innocent lives being killed.
A good tactic could be to reverse their question and pose it back to them:
“So, Acccomplice, you are asking me if I support war. Is that because you recognize that lives ought not to be taken. Is it because you know, in your conscience, that innocent people, especially babies, should not be killed?”
IN CLOSING: WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON
Often, this question about war is not posed so as to get into a philosophical discussion over the merits of performing murder. Instead, the question over war, at least in my estimation, is posed to try to divert the conversation away from what is going on inside those closed doors, the accomplice is standing in front of.
Often they are out there because they don’t want to even be inside. Because in there, they know deep down that an innocent life is being snuffed out. In there is cold and uninviting. No matter what this guy standing outside on the sidewalk has to say, or whether he is there at all.
With it being Memorial Day today, I thought it would be a good time to hit this topic. May those soldiers who gave their lives for our country rest in peace.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Are you pro-life and have you been asked by opponents for your stance on war? If so, how do you respond?
Is there anything I can add to my piece to strengthen it, especially in regards to the Catholic Church’s Just War Doctrine?