Catholic Worker Movement out of touch with ROTC protest

Catholic Worker Movement out of touch with ROTC protest

The Catholic Worker Movement is out of step with Catholic teaching. Members of the group protested outside the University of Notre Dame’s ROTC offices this week.

“It saddens us that one of the preeminent universities is training warriors,” said the Rev. Ben Jimenez, a Catholic priest from Cleveland.

The protest ended as Notre Dame police quietly pulled some of the protesters aside — fewer than a dozen in all. The protesters were doing a re-enactment of the martyrdom of St. Marcellus, a third-century soldier who became a conscientious objector after he’d converted to Christianity.

How about other soldier-saints, like St. Acacius, St. Adrian of Nicomedia, St. George (the dragonslayer), St. Joan of Arc, St. Louis IX? How about the call to arms issued by numerous popes, including Pope Pius V at Lepanto or Pope Urban II at the First Crusade? What about the very clear Tradition within Church teaching, enumerated even in the Universal Catechism today, that allows for self-defense and just war?

A personal decision for pacifism and against armed resistance to violence is admirable and a special calling for a Christian, but it is not and never has been a requirement to be imposed upon all people and the whole Church.

A soldier who fights when called by his nation in a just and honorable fashion, respecting the dignity of persons and in as restrained a manner as possible is not a contradiction of Catholic orthodoxy or orthopraxis. It is to Notre Dame’s honor that it is forming the future warrior-leaders of our nation in a context of Catholic moral principles.

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  • ROTC is an easy target of the likes of Fr. Jimenez, who get to feel self-righteous and “brave” for standing up to the big bad military by protesting at Notre Dame. It is shameful, self-centered behavior.

  • Oh, what ever happened to Psalm 144:
    “Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war; My safe guard and my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, My shield, in whom I trust, who subdues peoples under me”Psalm 144:1-2 NAB

  • Well, while I support the Just War doctrine, there is a strong strain of pacificism in the Christian tradition, to the extent that for a long time soldiers who killed had to undergo penance before being readmitted to communion.

    And one could well argue against the industrialized military apparatus of nation-states war machines is unlikely to fulfill the rqeuirements of Just War doctrine – Rome has been warning of such limits at least since Pius XII if not earlier. George Weigel might not see it that way, but his take is not the only legitimate Catholic one.

    And, it might help to remember that Dorothy Day vigorously opposed US participation in World War II – even after Pearl Harbor. She was vilified for that then, and it is hardly shocking that the disciples of the movement she co-founded might continue that approach.

    My own personal view is that the two strains of the tradition are in necessary tension, necessary because of original sin.

  • Dom, unfortunatley, you failed to show how they are “out of step” (love the military imagery…) with Catholic teaching. Source please?

    Thus, it’s fine to point out that you don’t *like* what they’re doing but “not in line” (other great military imagery…) with Catholic teaching, please, proof!

  • Liam: There is a difference between decrying over-militarization and the sort of pacifism that says that the existence of soldiers and armies is immoral.

    Brigid: Apart from my references to papal calls to arms which are easily found online (Wikipedia, for instance), the Catechism also speaks in several places about legitimate self-defense and use of armies in just war. (The Catechism is also available online if you don’t have one).

    They are out of step with Catholic teaching because like so many other Catholic pacifists, they over-extend the tradition of individual pacifism to claim an obligation to absolute passivity that includes demobilization of standing armies. This is one example of it.

  • Well Notre Dame’s theology department is a bit out of step with the Chruch IMHO. I think that is the department to protest.

    Dorothy Day did point out that the wars fought centuries ago were different than war in 1940 or in 2007.  For example she wrote : “theologians have laid down conditions for a just war … and many modern writers, clerical and lay, hold that these conditions are impossible of fulfillment in these present times of bombardment of civilians, open cities, the use of poison gas, etc. “

    She has a very good point. I would add also that modern war involves a large bureaucratic State which bungles and screws up even simple things making just war pretty near impossible.

  • The problem with the Catholic Worker, aka Dorothy Day, position is that taken to its logical conclusion, tens, perhaps hundreds of millions more people would have been slaughtered had she prevailed.  The position of an American soldier is to place his life in defense of those civilians who have no other defense.  In many ways, the soldier may be more of a pacifist than the comfortable birkenstock priests and aging polyester nuns who seem to comprise much of the so called progressive left anti-war movement.

  • Where in this newspaper article did it state that these Catholic Worker protestors called for a “demobilization of a standing army?” I only saw a quote about “training warriors.”

    [BTW, I count two Catholic Catechisms (along with the Compendium and new US Bishops) in my office along with six Bible translations and one well-used copy of Sheed’s “To Know Christ Jesus” along with hundreds of other great writers. Also, I was taught in high school to never cite an Encyclopedia. You? ]

  • Good job, Dom.

    Pacifists purport to support negotiation and diplomacy.  I wonder if someone was breaking into their homes if they would call 911 for gun-toting policemen or speed-dial their local union negotiator for help?

    Who do they think keep them safe in their personal pacifism if not the warriors who will actually risk their lives and limbs for others?

    Frankly, I don’t care if the military-industrial complex is helping do the job of securing our country.  Missles and tanks, aircraft carriers and such are not made in home garages.  That material is designed to kill avowed enemies and to spare our own warriors—a trade-off I support.

  • If it weren’t for soldiers there would be no pacifists.

    I have never had any respect for people who do nothing in the face of evil but help it to spread. They are just cowards to me and I would never believe they are deserving any form of honor.

    I believe doing nothing in the face of evil is immoral. The Church was born to fight and is warlike in her very nature for Christ came to bring a sword not peace and woe to those who repose while the soldier lays down his life for the good of his neighbor. It is a supreme act of love for God and neighbor and should be greatly honored, especially by Catholics.


  • Well, Brigid, since I’m not writing an academic paper and the Wikipedia entries give the data I’m talking about, it’s quite sufficient. And if you’re going to be intentionally obtuse when I say “the Catechism” you’re going to have to guess what I mean.

    If you want to have a discussion, fine, but I don’t have time to play games.

  • Thank you for your support of a just war. My son is in the military and about to be sent back to Iraq. The troops are very demoralized because they are afraid their funding will be cut off; they’ll be left like lambs to slaughter and our Congress’s attitude is cheering the terrorists. He says people don’t realize how important the mission in Iraq is to the worldwide fight against terrorism and how grateful (the people he meets) are to be free of the murderer Saddam. He also said the media distorts everything; they stay in their hotel and don’t really know anything of what is going on.

  • Austin,

    Thank God for your precious son!  I am so grateful for his courage, compassion and sacrifice for our Country, and the future of our Nation and the world.  May our Lord, Jesus Christ bless him and answer all of the prayers of St. Michael the Archangel who fought the first Just War for heaven with all the good angels.

    My family prays for our solidiers every day, morning and night.  Your son is in our prayers with great appreciation.


  • “The Church was born to fight and is warlike in her very nature for Christ came to bring a sword not peace and woe to those who repose while the soldier lays down his life for the good of his neighbor.”
    Then again, what about today’s (Sunday’s) Gospel? “It is enough.” Jesus did not fight with a sword, and told Peter to put down his sword. Our battle is not to be fought with such weapons, according to our Redeemer, but by putting down our swords and laying down our lives…
    That war continues today testifies against the weakness of man, and our inability to resolve our differences without killing people. We resort to war because we are weak. That is not to say that those who have sacrificed their lives in warfare are weak, but that humanity is imperfect and has a long way to go…War, since the coming of Christ among us, is never a glorious triumphant response to conflict and is not the way to peace.The sword of the Church is Truth.