The Romanian Byzantine-rite bishop for the whole US has forbidden everyone in his flock from participating or cooperating in the war against Iraq, under pain of mortal sin. This is an extraordinary action and it raises several important questions. For example, if it is sinful for Romanian Catholics, why isn’t it sinful for other Catholics? What about the Catechism’s proscriptions regarding just-war? One thing that bothers me is that bishops can remain silent in the face of consistent support of the murder of innocents in abortion by pro-abortion Catholic politicians and those who vote for them yet on this one issue we are told that otherwise good Catholics can be excommunicated for participating in a lawful and just war? And on a practical level, what happens when a young Romanian Catholic serviceman returns from the war and presents himself along with his bride to be married in their church?
Canon lawyer Ed Peters has examined Eparch Botean’s statement in light of the canon law of the Eastern Catholic Churches. He concludes that while there are many substantive flaws, the statement itself places Romanian Catholics in a precarious and ambiguous moral position and that to clarify the situation the Vatican should ratify or reject the statement without delay. If it were ratified, that would be an extraordinary act since I believe it would place all Catholics under the same obligations. That could have enormous consequences, not the least of which possibly would be to throw our troops into chaos even as they enter into battle.