Sixty-Seven Years Ago


“War is brutish, inglorious, and a terrible waste.

Combat leaves an indelible mark on those who are forced to endure it. The only redeeming factors were my comrades’ incredible bravery and their devotion to each other. Marine Corps training taught us to kill efficiently and to try to survive. But it also taught us loyalty to each other – and love. That esprit de corps sustained us.”


“Until the millennium arrives and countries cease trying to enslave others, it will be necessary to accept one’s responsibilities and to be willing to make sacrifices for one’s country — as my comrades did. As the troops used to say, “If the country is good enough to live in, it’s good enough to fight for.” With privilege goes responsibility.”

Eugene B. Sledge, “With the Old Breed”.

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  1. Ah Catholic Anarchist, I knew that this post would draw you like a kitten to cream.

    Too bad Christ didn’t have you around to advise Him to berate the Centurion instead of complimenting him:
    “5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” 7 Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. ”

    Then of course you could have told John the Baptist that he was wrong in his advice to soldiers in that he did not demand that they stop being soldiers: “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”

    Finally, with you at his side no doubt Saint Paul would have dropped the military imagery that he used in some of his epistles.

    Time will not permit me to relate all the aspects of Catholic history that would have been changed if the Church dropped its just war teaching and accepted your view that all war is evil, so one example will have to suffice. No doubt God would have changed his revelation to the Maid of Orleans so she wouldn’t have written the following letter:

    King of England, render account to the King of Heaven of your royal blood. Return the keys of all the good cities which you have seized, to the Maid. She is sent by God to reclaim the royal blood, and is fully prepared to make peace, if you will give her satisfaction; that is, you must render justice, and pay back all that you have taken.

    King of England, if you do not do these things, I am the commander of the military; and in whatever place I shall find your men in France, I will make them flee the country, whether they wish to or not; and if they will not obey, the Maid will have them all killed. She comes sent by the King of Heaven, body for body, to take you out of France, and the Maid promises and certifies to you that if you do not leave France she and her troops will raise a mighty outcry as has not been heard in France in a thousa nd years. And believe that the King of Heaven has sent her so much power that you will not be able to harm her or her brave army.

    To you, archers, noble companions in arms, and all people who are before Orleans, I say to you in God’s name, go home to your own country; if you do not do so, beware of the Maid, and of the damages you will suffer. Do not attempt to remain, for you have no rights in France from God, the King of Heaven, and the Son of the Virgin Mary. It is Charles, the rightful heir, to whom God has given France, who will shortly enter Paris in a grand company. If you do not believe the news written of God and the Maid, then in whatever place we may find you, we will soon see who has the better right, God or you.

    William de la Pole, Count of Suffolk, Sir John Talbot, and Thomas, Lord Scales, lieutenants of the Duke of Bedford, who calls himself regent of the King of France for the King of England, make a response, if you wish to make peace over the city of Orleans! If you do not do so, you will always recall the damages which will attend you.

    Duke of Bedford, who call yourself regent of France for the King of England, the Maid asks you not to make her destroy you. If you do not render her satisfaction, she and the French will perform the greatest feat ever done in the name of Christianity.”

  2. I ask for nothing from you Catholic Anarchist and am therefore never disappointed. Your comment about idolatry is as feeble an insult as your using a diminutive of my first name. Schoolyard comments haven’t had an impact on me since 1968.

  3. The fact that Christ didn’t address the matter explicitly does not mean that he condoned it. War by its very nature destroys what it tends to protect. The family is the building block of societies and war is a direct attack at that foundation. Men, women, and children die; it is no small matter and I think the “Catholic Anarchist” did not ask for anything contrary to basic Christian teaching on war. If man tried to engage with one another peacefully as quickly as man goes to war, the world would be more in accord with the Gospel.

    War is never a moral good; at best, it can be a justified morally neutral act to protect the common good from quickly spreading grave evil or in defense when all other measures have been exhausted.

    However to use the fact that the Lord didn’t address this in an opportune moment is a flawed argument in my view. There are a host of things Jesus didn’t specifically address, e.g. slavery — doesn’t mean that the Lord condones that either. Paul didn’t argue against slavery when talking to slave owners, does that mean the Catholic Church should reconsider its thinking on slavery?

  4. No Eric, the Catholic Anarchist views all wars as evil and believes that the Church has been in error in adopting the just war doctrine. God was quite explicit throughout the Old Testament in deeming certain wars to be just. If the argument is made that Christ commands that His followers never participate in war then the burden of proof is on those make the argument. Catholics are not Quakers and absolute pacifism has never been a majority position in the Catholic faith at least since the time of Constantine. Our data for the first three centuries is so incomplete, and the Roman legions were so encrusted with pagan rituals, that I hesitate to draw conclusions from that time period as to the position of the Church as a whole as to military service. Certainly the Fathers of the Church found no moral difficulty with Christians serving in wars once the Emperor was Christian.

    In any event I do not think the Catholic Anarchist is making a theological point but rather giving vent to the deep hatred he has for the United States, as demonstrated by such juvenile tactics on his part as not capitalizing America or the United States.

  5. Eric, as to Christians and military service, I believe this letter of Saint Augustine to Count Boniface is instructive.

    The pertinent portion:

    ” Do not think that it is impossible for any one to please God while engaged in active military service. Among such persons was the holy David, to whom God gave so great a testimony; among them also were many righteous men of that time; among them was also that centurion who said to the Lord: I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed: for I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it; and concerning whom the Lord said: Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Matthew 8:8-10 Among them was that Cornelius to whom an angel said: Cornelius, your alms are accepted, and your prayers are heard, Acts 10:4 when he directed him to send to the blessed Apostle Peter, and to hear from him what he ought to do, to which apostle he sent a devout soldier, requesting him to come to him. Among them were also the soldiers who, when they had come to be baptized by John,— the sacred forerunner of the Lord, and the friend of the Bridegroom, of whom the Lord says: Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist, Matthew 11:11 — and had inquired of him what they should do, received the answer, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. Luke 3:14 Certainly he did not prohibit them to serve as soldiers when he commanded them to be content with their pay for the service.”

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