A Moral Challenge for Pope Francis

Exclusive: In modern times, the Catholic Church has made excuses for unjustifiable wars even as it has made abortion a cardinal sin, a hypocrisy that will be tested as Pope Francis visits the United States, a country immersed in all the immorality that comes from warfare, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

Pope Francis could use his visit to the U.S. this week to make unmistakably clear that the Catholic Church’s teaching on the “sanctity of life” applies to more than just the first nine months of gestation.

If he does so, he would face formidable opposition. The bishops appointed by Francis’s two predecessors had to swear allegiance to anti-abortion principles while showing less commitment to saving lives from war. The phalanx of right-wing bishops that Francis inherited were eager to be used, twice, to help elect President George W. Bush because he said he opposed abortion.

These bishops then aped the silence of the German bishops who could not find their voice when Adolf Hitler began what the post-war Nuremberg Tribunal defined as a “war of aggression.” Bush’s unprovoked attack on Iraq fit that definition to a T complete with what Nuremberg called the “accumulated evil” that inevitably results from such a war. Think lies, racism, kidnapping, secret prisons, torture, millions of refugees.

Pope Francis. (Photo from Casa Rosada)

Pope Francis. (Photo from Casa Rosada)

One can only hope that someone has told Francis that he would not have to start at Square One to rescue “the sanctity of life” from those who would confine it to abortion. The Pope needs no jackhammer to break through abortion-hardened concrete. Readily available are the writings of the justice-oriented Cardinal Joseph Bernadin, whose most important contribution before he succumbed to cancer in 1996 was a simple formula he proposed the “seamless garment” to link the Church’s “consistent ethic of life” to a whole range of moral and social issues.

Bernadin raised consciousness about the sanctity and reverence due all human life from conception to death. “The more one embraces this concept, the more sensitive one becomes to the value of human life itself at all stages,” wrote Bernadin. “This consistent ethic points out the inconsistency of defending life in one area while dismissing it in another. … there is a linkage among all the life issues, which cannot be ignored.”

If Pope Francis has the courage to endorse Bernadin’s approach to the sanctity of life, many presidential candidates will have to find a way to dance around it. One, Sen. Marco Rubio, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday: “I’m a Roman Catholic. For me, the Pope … has authority to speak on … theological matters. And I follow him 100 percent on those issues; otherwise I wouldn’t be a Roman Catholic. And so I believe that deeply. …

“On the social teachings, essential issues, like the sanctity of life and things of this nature, those go deep to the theology of this — of the faith. And I do believe — those are binding and I believe strongly in them.”

However, during the same interview, Rubio told Stephanopoulos that Obama was not forceful enough in making war in the Middle East. U.S. airstrikes, Rubio said, “are not, quite frankly, as vibrant as they should be.” Odd word, “vibrant.”

Will Francis find words to make it clear to Rubio and other U.S. officials that sanctity of life includes those tens of thousands of non-Americans who may not look like Rubio but who nonetheless deserve to be protected from the death that rains down from U.S. bombs, Bernadin’s “consistent ethic of life”? Will the Pope go beyond applauding the countries that are taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees and address Washington’s role in the wars and other violence that create refugees?

Will the Pope remind the Catholic majority of the U.S. Supreme Court justices that execution is against Church teaching? And will he remind flamboyant, right-wing Catholic Justice Antonin Scalia that it has been 500 years since the Church condoned torture?

Techniques Like Waterboarding

It will be interesting to see if Pope Francis has enough sensitivity to the horrors of the Inquisition, and the role played by the Jesuits in it, to suggest that presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham go easy on using that sordid history to brag about the “effectiveness” of torture. At a May 13, 2009 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing discussing waterboarding, Graham said: “One of the reasons these techniques have been around for 500 years is apparently they work.”

That torture “works” is a lie, unless your aim is to produce false confessions. That worked like a charm when President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney ordered interrogators to obtain “evidence” of operational ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq in order to associate Saddam Hussein with the 9/11 terrorists. (Before the invasion of Iraq, 69 percent of Americans had been led to believe that Saddam Hussein played a role in the attacks of 9/11.)

However, whether or not torture “works” is not the point here. When the Jesuits taught me ethics at Fordham College a half century ago, we learned of a moral category called “intrinsic evil,” inhabited by rape and slavery as well as torture. I had no idea that “intrinsic evil” could be somehow rehabilitated. But at Fordham, at least, it has been and in a most Jesuitical way.

Those graduating from my alma mater in 2012 encountered this not-so-subtle change when they objected to the invitation extended by Fordham’s President Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J. to “extraordinary rendition” aficionado John Brennan to give the commencement address in 2012 and to receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters (I am not making this up).

McShane had fallen victim to what more grounded Jesuits call the “celebrity virus.” At the time, Brennan, a Fordham College alumnus, worked in the White House (before becoming CIA director). It did not seem to matter very much what he did for the U.S. government. Confronted by graduating seniors who had been taught that torture was always and everywhere evil, McShane gave a glib gloss on torture and on Brennan’s role in compiling lists of those to be killed by drones with these words: “We don’t live in a black and white world; we live in a gray world.”

After the Senate Intelligence Committee released its major study on CIA torture in December 2014, a faculty-initiated petition asked McShane to revoke the honorary degree given to Brennan, calling “indefensible” his defense and support of torture. McShane rebuffed the petitioners. Another sad day for Fordham.

In his autobiography, To Dwell in Peace published 28 years ago, Vietnam War protester/prophet Daniel Berrigan, S.J., now 94 and spending his last days in Fordham’s infirmary for elderly Jesuits, wrote of “the fall of a great enterprise”, the Jesuit university. He recorded his “hunch” that the university would end up “among those structures whose moral decline and political servitude signalize a larger falling away of the culture itself.”

Berrigan lamented “highly placed” churchmen and their approval of war, “uttered with sublime confidence, from on high, from highly placed friendships, and White House connections.”

“Thus compromised,” warned Berrigan, “the Christian tradition of nonviolence, as well as the secular boast of disinterested pursuit of truth, these are reduced to bombast, hauled out for formal occasions, believed by no one, practiced by no one.”

It will be interesting to see if, during his visit to New York, Pope Francis decides to visit a Jesuit prophet named Berrigan or the celebrity virus-afflicted McShane.

Sexual Abuse

As if Francis needs additional sanctity-of-life issues to address during his visit to the U.S., a front-page, above-the-fold article in Monday’s New York Times provides yet another. Joseph Goldstein writes about the orders given to U.S. troops to ignore the sexual abuse of young boys by Afghan “allies.” Until now, the mainstream media had avoided this story, but it is not new.

Those who took the trouble to read the information leaked to WikiLeaks by Bradley/Chelsea Manning were aware of this ugly story several years ago. I alluded to this depravity in December 2010 toward the end of a short interview on CNN. I have not been invited back since, but it was worth it.

Sexual abuse, of course, is a major problem that Pope Francis, as well as his predecessors, have had to deal with. During his U.S. visit seven years ago, Pope Benedict chose to dwell on steps to address the Church’s pedophilia scandal to the exclusion of much else, but he got a free pass from the media in disguising his own role in trying to cover the whole thing up.

While still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he headed The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the Vatican office that once ran the Inquisition. In that capacity he sent a letter in May 2001 to all Catholic bishops throwing a curtain of secrecy over the widespread sexual abuse by clergy, warning the bishops of severe penalties, including excommunication for breaching “pontifical secrets.” Lawyers acting for the sexually abused accused Ratzinger of “clear obstruction of justice.”

Very few American bishops have been disciplined. And when Bernard Cardinal Law was run out of Boston for failing to protect children from predator priests, he was given a cushy sinecure in Rome. In my view, he should be behind bars.

Barring Female Priests

While Pope Francis’s popularity stems largely from his penchant for doing unexpected things, sadly, he has shown zero flexibility with respect to the ban on women priests, and no miracles can realistically be expected. The prohibition on female priests is another “truth” that has been set in concrete, even though it lacks firm foundation in either Scripture or early Church tradition.

One still hears, “But Jesus did not ordain women.” Truth is Jesus did not ordain anyone. “Ordination” did not exist until well over a century after Jesus. At that point, power-hungry males decided to marginalize women to make the Church more “acceptable” in sexist societies.

How many people are aware that, in the years right after Jesus was killed, many of the men and women who knew him personally worshiped in house churches led by women? THAT tradition (women in leadership positions) does have firm foundation in Scripture as well as in Jesus’s behavior toward women, but has been ignored by the self-ordained theologians and prelates often to the point of absurdity.

Thomas Aquinas, for example, followed Aristotle in attributing the conception of a woman to a defect of a particular seed, resulting in a failed male. Can it be that this is still part of our Catholic tradition? With his limited vision of 800 years ago, Aquinas explained:

“Woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence; such as that of a south wind, which is moist, as the Philosopher observes.” (Prima pars, q. 92, a.1)

Sadly, there seems to be little hope for equality for women in the Catholic Church anytime soon. At the same time, it is not impossible to hope that Francis will reaffirm Cardinal Bernadin’s inclusive approach on the sanctity of life.

How good it would be to remind American Catholics that ALL have a right to a decent life including not only those in utero, but also babies, young people exposed to predators, and adults with no economic or educational options but a poverty draft into the armed forces.

In addition, we Catholics, and most Americans, do need reminding that Bernadin’s “seamless garment” and “consistent ethic of life” apply to people of all nations; that intrinsic evil should not be given a facelift; and that Thou Shalt Not Kill still applies even to a country claiming special privileges as the “sole indispensable country in the world.”

Ironically, it was Russian President Vladimir Putin who, in an op-ed in the New York Times on Sept. 11, 2013, took issue with Obama’s oft-proclaimed claim of American exceptionalism. Putin wrote:

“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

For more on the last papal visit, see: Consortiumnews.com’s “What About the War, Benedict?” For an op-ed appearing in Sunday’s Baltimore Sun, see: “Will Pope Francis Be Polite or Prophetic”

Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst, works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He studied theology and Russian at Fordham, holds a certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown, and now teaches at the Servant Leadership School in Washington.

32 comments for “A Moral Challenge for Pope Francis

  1. Gregory Kruse
    September 24, 2015 at 08:26

    A beautiful article; irrefutable except by hate (intolerance) and willful ignorance.

  2. Christian
    September 23, 2015 at 21:03

    The bishops need to speak more about war-hungry USA. They do at times however those words are not sharp and too often receive very little coverage, perhaps because it may be received as anti-Armed Forces and therefore anti-American by some people. But it’s true that there really are no Catholic candidates. I don’t think any bishop can really be said to be a republican in the tradition of Reagan and Bush I and II. And of course they can’t be democrats who ignore the sanctity of the most vulnerable and innocent life.

    As for women priests, that issue is pretty much closed with few exceptions. Catholics such as myself do not see their barring from the priesthood as anti-women, rather we see it as affirming a truth about the spiritual, biological, anthropological nature of male and female, one which the apostles and their successors did seem to adhere to, and tradition is very important in the Church. We shouldn’t think or say this makes them less important, even though they are more present in private life rather than public life. As the Pope said even though her mission was personal and private rather than public, Mary was more important than the apostles, and is more important than all other saints.

  3. Edward A. Hara
    September 23, 2015 at 17:47

    QUOTE: “While Pope Francis’s popularity stems largely from his penchant for doing unexpected things, sadly, he has shown zero flexibility with respect to the ban on women priests, and no miracles can realistically be expected. The prohibition on female priests is another “truth” that has been set in concrete, even though it lacks firm foundation in either Scripture or early Church tradition.

    One still hears, “But Jesus did not ordain women.” Truth is Jesus did not ordain anyone. “Ordination” did not exist until well over a century after Jesus. At that point, power-hungry males decided to marginalize women to make the Church more “acceptable” in sexist societies.”

    Typical Liberal. Rewrites theology and history to suit his felt needs. It is evident that while you may have been educated by Jesuits, you (or they) were too busy concentrating on how to promote Liberalism to actually learn (teach you) the Catholic faith or historic Christianity. How about this for the ban on women priests:

    1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

    or this

    1Ti 2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

    The whole tenor of the Scriptures is that of covenant, and of man as covenant head. Even God identifies as “Father” and chose to be incarnate as man, not woman.

    Jesus most certainly did ordain. What do you think happened when He laid His hands upon the Apostles, breathed upon them to receive the Holy Ghost, and gave them authority to forgive sins? If that isn’t ordaining, then I am living on the planet Mars.

    Amateur theologians. Honestly, I wish you Leftist clowns would just give it a rest.

    • F. G. Sanford
      September 23, 2015 at 20:46

      Just curious, Ed – what’s your position on pedophile priests?

  4. W. R. Knight
    September 22, 2015 at 20:10

    For the anti-abortion extremists, the only part of life that is sacred is the 9 months of gestation. After that, they don’t give a shit.

    I sometimes think that the most avid anti-abortionists, who frequently are the most avid war mongers and gun nuts, are only opposed to abortion because it might deprive them of cannon fodder for future wars or moving targets for their assault weapons.

    • Edward A. Hara
      September 23, 2015 at 17:50

      Who pays you to tell such lies? There are thousands of ministries in America alone that care for the poor, the hungry, the homeless, and the needy. They offer assistance to women in problem pregnancies, instead of helping them kill their baby. I have personally worked for some of these homeless shelters, and have heard of many more than I have been able to personally help.

      Your statement is reprehensible on the face of it. But you’re a Liberal. Lying comes as naturally to you as breathing.

  5. F. G. Sanford
    September 22, 2015 at 17:17

    Sanity or Sanctity, the old man rues the difference there.
    He knows – of course he knows, the margin’s very thin.
    All the difference lies therein; two letters caution that The Word
    May never grey the night more dark than daylight’s passive stare.

    Tortured definitions parse the words that must apportion
    Meaning without substance made to liquify the truth.
    The old book gives a recipe for how it’s done and when to be applied.
    The new one does not specify, the lesser sin is granted no proportion.

    Scribes are wont to speak of sin, they shy from His pronouncement.
    They love the little children thus, renounce the act that makes them.
    When they’re cast upon a beach and drowned by cruel indifference,
    The scribes are never wont to fuss, nor counsel for indictment.

    The shades of grey deliver us with words to sooth and mollify,
    Those words then serve to consummate the gravest mortal sin-
    A paradox we can’t explain with words from which we hammered it
    Becomes placation for the sin as prayers turn those words to alibi.

    Magic makes the pledge that there is nothing up the sleeves-
    A difference made of meaning lacking substance seems concrete.
    Accumulated evil masks the solitary crimes-
    How fortunate the wizard when the audience believes.

    The old man knows, I’m sure he does, but can he speak for Christ?
    Sanctity delights the crowd believing what it wants.
    If he should mock illusion by revealing what’s in turn,
    They’d disavow the sin they own as a geriatric feist.

    Prestige can’t be risked upon alternatives that might
    Disclaim the wizard’s prowess when the handkerchief is raised.
    Sanity might not displace the horrors framed in paradox.
    Should he relinquish shades of grey, then what would save them from the black and white?

    The longest night is never black as daylight’s passive gaze.
    The Word was spoken long before it consummated sin.
    Sanity will have to wait for this long night to pass.
    Even then, an old man’s words may garner fleeting praise.

    The Word will find a page again in some yet promised land,
    No wizard will be cordoned by the dark of daylight’s gaze.
    Who holds the pen will matter not, the words will write themselves.
    The pen will move across the page, but not by human hand.

  6. Theodora Crawford
    September 22, 2015 at 15:00

    The Pope is garnering attention for the need for an awareness of the compassion we lack in our lives today. I’m not “religious” as the strictures of such organizations (not only “Christian” but all others) seem to be a major cause of human conflict over the centuries. If the Pope can inspire more humane attitudes toward others, his visit will be a triumph.

  7. September 22, 2015 at 11:48

    Ray McGovern has always been a gold standard for intelligence and for integrity, two things lacking in Washington DC and — to a large extent — in most other networks including the Catholic Chuch. He makes important points in this article.

    The Pope is a Jesuit — most know that the Jesuits created the concept of Liberation Theology that has been in stark contrast to Griftopia and War as a racket. What most do not know is that the Jesuits have been gutted – cut in half — in the past two decades. The Pope is dealing with a Church that is ultra conservative and in favor of war — it serves the elite while driving the progressive elements out of the Church.

    There are two populations growing right now: Latinos, and Muslims. The Pope is standing at that intersection.

  8. m
    September 22, 2015 at 11:29

    To those who are anti murder, Please contact your congressmen at http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov and tell them how you feel. Murder is murder, regardless.

  9. Mortimer
    September 22, 2015 at 10:31

    I will be surprised if anything worth calling ‘a miraculously’ changing new world order event, will come out of the Pope’s U.S. visit this week. — Joe Tedesky
    Precisely, Joe.
    I was recently reminded of the tremendous clamor leading up to the new century (Y2K). The wide ranging fears of blackouts and crashes of all sorts. Warnings and calls for preparedness and stockpiling. Sales of underground shelters and emergency foodstuffs — The media perpetuated hysteria was tangible and pervasive. — MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is how that episode ended.

    THE big world-changing event of the 21st century was the coup d etat in the US with the GW Bush theft of the Presidency.

    Neo-con plans for a “New World Order” were in place. Those plans, however, would not be implemented under a Gore (cursed liberal) presidency. — Vincent Buglioci’s article, published in The Nation, – http://www.thenation.com/article/none-dare-call-it-treason/ lays out the illegality of his installation into the office. The subsequent Horrors that’ve ensued, 9/11, these “Birth Pangs of a New Middle East,” the economic catastrophe with it’s massive theft of Pubic Funds —- round & round we go in a downward spiral as the world turns hostile.

    It’s a strange sort of juxtaposition – those anticipated fears of a Y2K computer related collapse were realized in the implementation of this misguided “New World Order.”

    This Pope does bring a breath of fresh air to this death-filled time in this early 21st century.

    • Joe Tedesky
      September 22, 2015 at 16:43

      Mortimer, your taking us on a walk through the past is very right on. I posted a comment the other day where I recalled the corporate planned coup that Major General Smedley Butler derailed off of it’s tracks back in the thirties. Then I wrote about the Gary Powers U2 plane shoot down, which sabotaged the Eisenhower Khrushchev détente meeting in Paris. Did you know that Lee Harvey Oswald when in Russia may have been involved in that Powers U2 shoot down? Of course, I couldn’t go on without writing about the JFK assassination. Why hell, why not mention the financial coup which took place in 1913 on Devil’s Island Georgia, where the Federal Reserve Bank was born. It is a fact of life, that us average folk don’t really have much of a say in any of the really important things that matter. Although, if we rattle the cage a bit, it makes the power elite nervous. When the one percent finally comes to realize how an employed working society will definitely benefit them, then, and only then will there be the dramatic change, such as the change we have been waiting for. I happen to believe that America needs good career jobs to begin the journey towards our country’s healing.

      I happen to like this Pope. For a Pope, Francis seems to be alright. Maybe, even better than alright when you consider the size of his flock that he has to preach too. He, cannot be expected to please everyone. My hope is he will possibly get the world leaders to quit these wars, and if nothing else feed the hungry of this crowded world. I wish the religious ones would also quit judging people. People are who they are, and we are all God’s children. Church’s should be a place for giving thanks to God in unity. If you aren’t the type to join in to all that unity prayer stuff, then thank God in private on your own, but for God’s sake quit judging people. Let us just hope that Pope Francis has some luck convincing our government to stop invading countries. Keep a careful eye on the cable news networks and their pundits comments. These media buggers are the ones who will subvert the Pope’s message for sure, so be on your guard. Let’s get it right!

    September 22, 2015 at 09:28

    It is not worthy to simplistically gloss over German state-church relations in the Third Reich era. National Socialism was fundamentally a Christian and Christian-inspired movement. The party had the blessings of both the Catholic and Lutheran establishments, the former particularly after Pacelli disbanded the Catholic Center Party and the latter after the Godesburg Declaration. In fact in 1937, the same year of Pius XI’s Encyclical supposedly condemning Nazism (though not actually mentioning it by name), Hitler boasted in a speech to the Reichstag “we have eliminated atheism” in Germany.

    Pius XI produced that Encyclical ,“Mit Brennender Sorge,” in response to a series of trials
    conducted by the German government in 1935 – 36 in which the accused were all members of the Catholic clergy or prominent laymen. In the Encyclical the Church revived once again its perennial “persecution” narrative but in fact only about a thousand individuals were arrested. And in light of recent events it is noteworthy that all had been accused of sexually abusing children entrusted to their care, with a bit more than half the
    trials resulted in convictions.

    And let us remember that Britain attacked Germany in 1939 for the same reason she started World War I a quarter century earlier, because her leaders perceived Germany’s 1871 unification as an existential threat to Britain’s continental power-sharing arrangement with France, and ultimately to English worldwide hegemony. In each case the hypothetical rescue of a small nation, Belgium in 1914 and Poland in 1939, provided
    the rationale for an otherwise unprovoked declaration of war against the empire’s hated rival. Britain’s aggression accomplished its purpose: twenty million Germans were slaughtered and their country lay dismembered in ruins and its reputation forever
    blackened by wildly exaggerated atrocity claims.

    • patrick
      September 22, 2015 at 10:00

      I am familiar with the school of history that attributes WWI and WWII to Britain in her effort to neutralize a newly unified and industrialized Germany as a threat to what MacKinder called the “Island Empire” (e.g., Preparata’s “Conjuring Hitler”). MIght you recommend further reading?

  11. Zachary Smith
    September 22, 2015 at 00:39

    Pope Francis could use his visit to the U.S. this week to make unmistakably clear that the Catholic Church’s teaching on the “sanctity of life” applies to more than just the first nine months of gestation.

    The “nine month’ wasn’t cast in stone through Church history. Some strange ‘science’ ideas involving homunculi got tangled up with the timing of ensoulment and created a lot of the grief the Church’s doctrines about abortion have caused the modern world. I can’t even begin to excuse the Vatican’s nonsense about contraception.

    …it has been 500 years since the Church condoned torture

    I’m not a Catholic, and haven’t read a lot of Church history, but I seriously doubt this claim. It’s true that in 1965 the Church issued Gaudium et spes condemning violations of human integrity like torture, but a person can infer that before 1965 the old rules were still in effect. It’s my understanding the Papal States were not very nice places, and the Vatican’s Navy needed slaves to operate the oars. Making slaves work has almost always required whips. I’ve downloaded some old books and am going to look into many issues before Italy’s unification, and fully expect to find that the full range of contemporary horrors were practiced in the prisons of those Church-run states.

    P. Francis is going to have to watch himself, for the rightwingnut warmongers and liberal hawks have perfectly good research facilities, and can scream “hypocrite” with an awful lot of volume.

    All that said, Francis is definitely a vast improvement over the previous two popes, Even if he does still carry around a lot of baggage himself.

  12. Joe Tedesky
    September 22, 2015 at 00:00

    I will be surprised if anything worth calling ‘a miraculously’ changing new world order event, will come out of the Pope’s U.S. visit this week. Pope Francis seems to be a fine man. This humble Pope appears to be a welcome departure from his uppity sinister looking predecessor Pope Benedict. Pope Benedict seemed to display all the qualities people have come to dislike the most about established religion. On the other hand Pope Francis comes off as his being the people’s pope. Do I see the Pope inspiring America to change it’s direction towards achieving world hegemony? No. Might we hear the Pope, at least, try and start that conversation? Yes. Will America’s corporate media aid in spreading that well needed conversation? Never. Already, the cable network opinion drivers are asking their pundits, too if the Catholic Republican congressional representatives will honor this Pope’s address to congress. This is going to be the best it gets. I will bet that there will be plenty of talk about abortion, gays, the poor, and much more. Although, all of these issues do need addressed, I don’t see the Pope igniting any spark under America’s frozen mindset towards it’s reversal of world dominance. If this subject does get some sort of mention by the Pope, you will need to pay close attention to hear how our American media will spin this kind of peacenik Pope rhetoric. Republican candidates will declare how the Pope should stick to religion, and leave the empire stuff to them. If this Pope is to ever perform a miracle, it sure would be nice to see him perform one now, and bring peace to this crazy warring world of ours.

    Just a side note; I’m wondering how the press will cover XiJinping’s visit this week. I’ll bet Microsoft and the rest of Silicone Valley is on edge with the Pentagon and that ‘Pivot to Asia’ nonsense. It’s like watching the battle of the techies against the banker chicken hawks for sure. This time it will be more about spying and Russia, not so much about buying Buicks.

    • Mortimer
      September 22, 2015 at 11:51

      I will be surprised if anything worth calling ‘a miraculously’ changing new world order event, will come out of the Pope’s U.S. visit this week. Pope Francis seems to be a fine man.> Joe Tedesky

      This Pope is a breath of fresh air in a world choking from the stench of industrialized destruction, displacement and death… .

      • Joe Tedesky
        September 22, 2015 at 13:52

        I agree.

  13. Minnesota Msary
    September 21, 2015 at 23:55

    Normally I like Ray McGovern’s columns, but this one left me with the queasy feeling that Ray is a social/ moral liberal who left the Catholic Church because it was not liberal enough for him. I am as anti-war as anyone, but the Church does have criteria regarding “just war.” Some decisions in the political realm are left to the prudential judgment of the layman.

    The State does have the right to use capital punishment, and even though recent popes have come out against it, they will never be able to make it a Catholic dogma that capital punishment is always wrong. Even Christ upheld the Roman governor’s right to execute him, saying it came from on high.

    • Joe Tedesky
      September 22, 2015 at 00:05

      Minnesota Mary, are you suggesting the ‘state’ is exempt from all of Christ’s teachings?

      • Brad Owen
        September 22, 2015 at 05:50

        Can the State presume to endorse all of Christ’s teachings for all of Its’ citizens, christian and non-christian alike? The Founders had an answer for that one, after reflecting upon the previous century’s bloodbath (the Thirty Years War). About all we can do is sit down together in this Great Dark Universe and counsel with one another upon what is “the right thing to do” in any given situation deemed important enough to cause us to sit down, in give-and-take, of such counsel.

      • Edward A. Hara
        September 23, 2015 at 17:59

        The state is the arm of God’s jurisprudence on earth (Romans 13: 1-5) and those who hold office are going to have to answer for how they disseminated that justice to those under their authority.

        In re the “death penalty,” read that passage from Romans closely. Even St. Paul understood that there are crimes for which the punishment is death, and Paul did not oppose the state in using that penalty.

        The death penalty points to a reality beyond this life which most people do not like to think upon — that there is an eternal death penalty called “hell,” reserved for all those who do wickedness.

    • W. R. Knight
      September 22, 2015 at 20:04

      “Just war” is an oxymoron.

      • Edward A. Hara
        September 23, 2015 at 17:56

        You are a pacifist, then?

        War is never good, and in the last 20 years, we have been treated to an ongoing dance of war done by the military/industrial complex which was only for the making of money by the rich.

        But the “just war” theory was designed to avoid such evils. Then Pope Benedict pleaded with Bush to not start up the Iraq fiasco. Bush, fine Christian that he is, ignored the Holy Father and instead ramped up the missiles and told his advisers to buy stock in Halliburton.

        There is such a thing as a “just war,” which takes place when you defend the life of the innocent from those bent on committing evil against them. The problem in America is that we haven’t seen a just war since this country was begun by being stolen from the Indian tribes who lived here.

      • September 25, 2015 at 17:45

        I fully agree. It is from St. Augustine’s attempt to limit warfare (in the 4th century).
        It has no relevance whatsoever to today’s manner of war-making because the requirements for making it “just” are impossible to meet. A very influential Catholic moral theologian holds that “War is state-sponsored violence.”

    • Rey Hinckley
      September 23, 2015 at 18:12

      I’m not sure that Ray has left the Catholic Church. It may be that the Church left him. The criteria of the “Just War” principles state that all other options must be used before going to war. They also said that more good should come from the war than harm and that civilians were not to be harmed. The only criteria that the church added to the criteria was that the clergy was exempt from being used as soldiers.
      I was raised in the Roman Catholic Tradition and was unofficially Jesuit trtained. My Jesuit teachers were Richard McSorley, S.J., Dan Berrigan, S.J. and John Dear, S.J.

      The State has assumed the right to execute individuals after conviction and sentencing on a one by one basis, because Christianity, the Roman Catholic did not mind Constantine changing the teachings of Jesus to allow him to co-opt the church for his purposes of empire.

      Are we sure of which of the men crucified with Jesus did Jesus say that he would be with him in heaven that evening? Jesus even forgave those who were executing him perhaps the message was meant for the man who for some unknown reason was convicted of murder.

      When Jesus said that the law allowing him “came from on high” didn’t specifically say that it was God’s will. I believe that if God is the entity that Jesus spoke of as a loving father wouldn’t have wanted Jesus to be tortured and executed. What father would want that of his loved child? A loving God would have been much more glorified if Jesus had succeeded in changing the minds of the republicans (Rome was a republic, so its citizens would have been republican).

      • Minnesota Mary
        September 24, 2015 at 21:49

        @Rey Hinckley

        Your second paragraph is muddled. Would you care to expound on how Constantine co-opted the Church for his purposes of empire. Please cite your sources also. Thank you.

    • Chris
      September 24, 2015 at 08:34

      “just War”? You mean, For “profit” “war”

    • September 25, 2015 at 03:58

      Has the Pope in the past several decades been instrumental in achieving peace anywhere on earth ?

      We are simply beating a dead horse!

      Did you know ? ​Pope Francis announced he was selling one of his two Harley Davidson motorbikes and hopes to raise £12,000 for charity. But it fetched more than £200,000 at auction

      Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2553501/Pope-auctions-Harley-Motorbike-given-Pontiff-year-sells-200-000.html#ixzz3mjXK22oN

      Speaking of Harley Davidson, here’s a little mischief by Stu Littlewood:

      What the Church can learn from Harley Davidson


    • September 25, 2015 at 04:02

      Has the Pope in the past several decades been instrumental in achieving peace anywhere on earth ?

      We are simply beating a dead horse!

      Did you know ? ​Pope Francis announced he was selling one of his two Harley Davidson motorbikes and hopes to raise £12,000 for charity. But it fetched more than £200,000 at auction.

      Speaking of Harley Davidson, here’s a little mischief by Stu Littlewood:

      What the Church can learn from Harley Davidson


    • September 25, 2015 at 17:32

      I recommend the book, THEOLOGY OF FEAR by Father Emmett Coyne to set straight the author of this comment. Another very good source is THE HORRORS WE BLESS by Daniel C. Maguire.

      • Regina Schulte
        September 25, 2015 at 17:49

        Re my comment posted above. It was intended to reply to Minnesota Mary’s first posting.

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