This is why you can disagree with a bishops on prudential matters of judgment—because they themselves don’t always agree, so you must determine for yourself which one represents the authentic stream of Catholic tradition. The retired Archbishop Philip Hannan of New Orleans, a paratrooper chaplain in World War II, has explained why war with Iraq may just fit the just war theory, as opposed to the anti-war leanings of many of his US brethren.
- As a seminarian in Rome in the late 1930s, he watched Hitler and Mussolini gather power, and as a paratroops chaplain saw the devastation of World War II. Those experiences shaped his appreciation of military strength, applied early, to oppose tyranny. For that reason, decades later, he was among a tiny handful of bishops who unsuccessfully resisted publication of a Catholic bishops’ document deploring the nuclear arms race as immoral. On Tuesday, he made much the same argument, reminding the bishops that he spoke as one who had stood in the filth of two Nazi concentration camps.
He doesn’t mince words either: “‘They’re not realistic because (they’ve) never seen what is the result of absolute disregard of human rights,’ Hannan said of the other bishops. ‘They’ve never seen it; they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.’”
Sounds like the kind of bishop I wish we had more of.