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Differing Opinions on Just War

IS the invasion of Afghanistan by the United States and its allies, including Australia, morally justifiable?

Did the massacre of some 3000 civilians by Muslim terrorists on September 11 last year, warrant military retaliation against the evil Taliban regime which refused to hand over the ultimate perpetrator of the outrage?

I believe the answer to both questions is yes, if one still accepts the longstanding teaching of the Church on what constitutes a just war.

In simple terms, I understand that teaching to be as follows.

It is sometimes lawful for a sufficiently grave reason to take some action which is in itself good or indifferent, although it is foreseen that, beyond one’s intention, the death of the innocent may follow.

All nations great or small have a right to life and independence. The will of one nation to live must not mean the death of another.

When this equality of rights has been attacked or threatened, order demands that reparation shall be made. The measure and extent of that reparation should be determined by the rules of justice and reciprocal equity.

But when an aggressor nation refuses to discuss and abide by the rules of justice, war may be the only means by which a national can vindicate and defend its just rights or those of friendly nations.

It is not a just cause for a war that a nation desires to extend its territory or increase its prestige. The only justifying cause of war is that it is, in the circumstances, the only possible way of vindicating a just right.

If the supreme authority of a nation thinks that the life of his country is worth defending, then he is bound to defend it, observing, in the conduct of the war, the existing statutes of the law of nations.

In ‘Real Life’ (CL 3/3/03) Fr Kevin Ryan obviously believes that this war against terrorism does not meet the above criteria. However he also mentioned that a high-ranking cardinal in Rome offered Mass for the intentions of the United States and its allies in their military action.

Clearly the cardinal sees things differently. Who is right?

R.T. CONGRAM Holland Park, Qld

Written by: Staff writers
Catholic Church Insurance

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