Thursday 20 November 2008

Journey in a Broken World: When a Catholic may kill: just war, capital punishment, and just rebellion: less looked at doctrine, less spoken of rules

(Journey in a Broken World)

Article by Marc Aupiais

My family, it has been so involved in history, from the French resistance, where many of my people died fighting the Nazi occupiers of my ancestor's homeland: Mother France; to our political, but not armed fight against apartheid, via what has since been renamed the DA, the Democratic Alliance, but was once the Progressive Party. I had no doubt of the morality of politically apposing an enemy of ethical morality, but on hearing that the Church had forsaken the IRA, I worried for the souls of my heroic French family, who had fought the Nazi's, in the French Resistance.

We speak of anger as a sin, but this is a theological anger, not the emotion, which simply informs us of situations, which if well controlled: is a weapon, and a warning.

I remember, when I was very young being very angry, both due to sickness, to being easily angered after having a horrid sickness, this was not just anger, yet learning to control it came gradually with self control, and another anger, which was not for the same purposes, and different, powerful, good as an anger.

Anger, when I have been apposed in good, or when I see evil, which is not rare in South Africa: can pulse via my veins, yet when I look deeper, even as I had been telling myself of the emotion flowing, which I was observing for sin: I hate them, my words said inside, yet I looked deeper, at why and what I truly hated, "I hate this person for what they have done", and "continue" in! Even when another anger streaked via me, I used my contemplative theological powers, my Philosophy of actions, as I see it, and looked into what I really felt: to avoid mortal sin.

What I found was an anger at a situation, and at what happened, what someone did, and does still: which is aimed at destroying God's work. It is not hate the sin, love the sinner, my anger is the acting of charity. I do not do violence, this is unwise, and unwarranted, no: I simply realize the purpose of my anger. Anger is meant to be a tool to change bad situations into less bad, like hope: it is a realization that things are not as we want, or believe they should remain as. Anger of this manner was made by God. It is when anger is centered not at hope, not at defense and advancement of life, and right: that anger is unjust.

The IRA, who as a largely Irish person, I myself had quietly, in my mind: so wanted to be justified, I found were condemned by the church as terrorists, as opponents to her, despite their defense of the Irish people.

When I heard this, I feared for my French heroes, who I had been taught to admire for fighting the Nazi occupation, but left it: right until I started to contemplate abortion, the murder of millions: what were we to do of this? It is here where I read something odd: that one could kill, yet not always to prevent an abortion. Killing an abortionist like a hit man, is not just, yet whatever force necessary to prevent it if in the room as it is to happen, was called just, yet it was noted that it seldom required deathblows.

I was perplexed, puzzled, and would have stopped reading were it not EWTN. I read on, and looked for their sources. On my own, I understand better now, since learning to seek my source emotions: my furious, controlled anger when evil appears in front of me: whether watching a man have a gun pulled on him, or seeing violence. I have myself had a knife pulled on me, but was calm.

Anger is meant by God to be a source of justice, when we hate a person, we lie to ourselves: a person is but animated (Latin for soul is Anima: it is our life, that which feed's God's life-force into our being) flesh and blood: what we hate is always what they do or have done, the way they do what they do, is it not; or else, is it not that they are dangerous to our livelihood? What acting justly against an oppressor is and is not is vital, it always lies in preventing great evil, in what is called self defense, or the defense of innocents, or souls, or good against evil.

CCC 2243 is what allows for the formation of an armed resistance to an authority: such as a government, or German Occupiers of France, however, the doctrine of the church forbids the killing of bystanders, "non-combatants", and acts also are illicit, and not permitted: of what is known as "Terrorism". Further, the right conditions must be in place, much as in just war itself, but I will quote it directly:

"2242 The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."48 "We must obey God rather than men":49

When citizens are under the oppression of a public authority which oversteps its competence, they should still not refuse to give or to do what is objectively demanded of them by the common good; but it is legitimate for them to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens against the abuse of this authority within the limits of the natural law and the Law of the Gospel.50
2243 Armed resistance to oppression by political authority is not legitimate, unless all the following conditions are met: 1) there is certain, grave, and prolonged violation of fundamental rights; 2) all other means of redress have been exhausted; 3) such resistance will not provoke worse disorders; 4) there is well-founded hope of success; and 5) it is impossible reasonably to foresee any better solution." CCC

By this, when other means can achieve the goal, they are to be pursued, which is why the church has not caused civil wars in countries like Britain, or America, where abortion is predominant in many parts of society. The situation has not yet been seen as bad enough for military means of taking care of it. As long as there are non-violent means to sort out a situation, these are generally pursued. According to EWTN, my source on this: there is not enough evidence that other methods will not achieve the goal of ending abortion: violence on a small scale, except when directly in the situation, therefore only harms the cause of those apposing abortion. Prayer vigils, fasting, campaigns, legal battles, and politics, are therefore pursued. War is not taken up, except when absolutely seen as vitally needed.

This possibly justifies my French relatives, who it is hoped still to hope to see in heaven, it justifies many in Europe during the War.

So, why then did the church remain but political in South Africa: simply put, we had no right to do anything else: perhaps defend an innocent life when it happened, and many during the struggle did, yet there were not conditions which said peaceful means were not viable, there were not signs which said combat would not do additional harm. War must only be approached cautiously, and never by hurting non-combatants. Therefore, where some of my relatives were heroes for strategic armed resistance, others were likewise for political resistance.

War is never justified, except when utterly necessary, even then: rules must be kept, all is not fair in love and war. War is only justifiable: if all possible measures are taken to do so in a just manner, any unjust action, or unwarranted force: is not allowable.

When America invaded Iraq, it was an unjust war, the pope begged them not to, but they did, the result is a genocide against Christianity in Iraq, and elsewhere. In other times and places open warfare is acceptable, but again, it is not light matter to take to force. When force is used, it is only when all other options are dry, like driftwood.

My own anger must be channeled, so as not to cause harm to goodness. We must be strategic when justly angry, and we must be sane. When told to forgive a repentant sinner, we are not told to forgive the unrepentant: but tolerating evil can be just when licit means cannot be used, or for a while until it may be destroyed. Revenge is not justified, we cannot harm an aggressor after the fact in judgment with force, we are not a just authority. Where needed, legal or political action may be taken, but war is to stop immediate, certain harm, not simply to punish whom we appose. Defense of nations, is licit, except against just aggression, hence South African troops deployed throughout Africa on UN missions, can be morally justified.

Other times where killing is acceptable, is capital punishment, self defense, or defense of others, and in just war: all three show a grave duty. Capital punishment however should be rare, and when needed: alone. It is the church who so powerfully has combated and destroyed much of death friendly legalities.

Ultimately, war is a last result, as with force: in situations where they are utterly needed: as obliged by conscience. We are a peace loving people, as Catholics, yet there are times when war is justifiable, as with civil disobedience, which can often be: render to Caesar what is his, but what is God's to God: morality is the realm of God, as with religion: these belong to him alone.

For some Rules of Warfare c.f. 2302- 2317 of ccc

And so, to conclude, my French relatives were justly fighting an invasion, the IRA were fighting for a cause which many find appealing, but perhaps should not have taken to arms, and certainly should not have resorted to terrorism, and abortion still can and therefore should be fought on the social level. Mind you, while worried about obligations involving abortion, what actually alerted me to this, which I found impossible to find anything on when trying to justify my relatives' action against the Nazi oppressor: I found, when not looking into what is just: but in trying to understand if abortion to save the mother is ever permissible: to answer a non-Catholic who asked me of this. The answer is no, but should something be wrong with a woman, and the operation needed to save her could damage the child: it is a physical evil. If to save the mother, the intent is to kill the child, this is doctrinally evil: but if one should induce early pregnancy, when the child has a chance, or do a risky operation, this is fine: but to intentionally kill an embryo is abortion, for which we are materially, if not sometimes actually: excommunicated for any effective collaboration in!

In any case, I thought to share my research, by which I have at least allowed for the actions of my bedtime story type heroes of my family's past: to be just and righteous!

I do not however in this endorse any war, or warfare, or conflict: I simply relay what the theological stances seem to be, nor is this intended for anything but the justifying of conscience, and explanations of what the Catholic Church seems to teach!

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