New Vatican statement: Can war ever be just?

New Vatican statement: Can war ever be just?

It seems that Vatican opposition to war with Iraq is evolving. Now Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state (the equivalent of prime minister for the Holy See), asks if any war can be justified. (paid subscription required, free trial available):

    But Cardinal Sodano also advanced a radical new argument, going beyond the scope of the Church’s “just war” teaching. He said: “It is not only a matter of knowing if this war would be just or unjust, moral or immoral. We want to raise the question: Is warfare worthwhile?”

This would be a radical departure from past Catholic thought on this subject. As my boss Phil Lawler said to me recently, “In light of the many statements coming out of Rome recently, suggesting that war is never (really? Never?) the right way to solve problems, it’s interesting to note that on April 27 the Pope will beatify, among others, Marco D’Aviano. That 17th-century Capuchin was noted as a fiery preacher, who rallied the troops of Vienna for their battle against the Turks in 1683, and even reportedly gave military advice to the legendary Jan Sobieski.”

If this is a new direction in Catholic thought, it raises disturbing questions. If Saddam Hussein invaded Israel and started slaughtering the people there, setting up new concentration camps, and building new ovens, would the world not be justified in attacking? And if we knew that Saddam was planning such a thing, would we not be obliged to stop him? Or to put it in concrete historical terms, was the US wrong in going to war against the Nazis and liberating Europe, and not incidentally, the Vatican and Poland?

Update:Italy’s defense minister responds to Cardinal Sodano. I think it’s a sensible response.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli