PopeWatch: Unjust Aggression


Pope Francis was asked yesterday if he approved of the US airstrikes against the ISIS terrorists in Iraq:


In these cases where there is unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underscore the verb ‘stop’; I don’t say bomb, make war — stop him. The means by which he may be stopped should be evaluated. To stop the unjust aggressor is licit, but we nevertheless need to remember how many times, using this excuse of stopping an unjust aggressor, the powerful nations have dominated other peoples, made a real war of conquest. A single nation cannot judge how to stop this, how to stop an unjust aggressor. After the Second World War, there arose the idea of the United Nations. That is where we should discuss: ‘Is there an unjust aggressor? It seems there is. How do we stop him?’ But only that, nothing more.”

Go here to read the rest.  A few observations:

1.  In most cases stopping an unjust aggressor is going to require military action.  PopeWatch can think of very few examples in history where an unjust aggressor has been stopped by anything else.

2.  In regard to the Pope’s statement that powerful nations can use the pretext of an unjust aggression to wage a war of conquest,  PopeWatch can think of a few examples, including the Austrian reaction to the Sarajevo assassination.  In the context of ISIS slaughtering Christians and others however, and with the Iraqi government crying out for help, the Pope’s comment seems beside the point.

3.   The faith of the popes in regard to the United Nations has always struck PopeWatch as quite irrational, especially now that the United Nations bureaucracy is dominated by anti-Catholics eager to use the Church as a whipping boy.  What it would take to shake the grasp of the United Nations on the papal zeitgeist is something to ponder.

More to explorer


  1. I comment in your ISIL Waning post having seen that first. Harmless stopping is a delusion in his mind because if you don’t bomb, you go infantry and more likely get maimed yourself but he’s pretending that doesn’t happen. He is deliberately trying to continue the most pacifist themes of the very late life periods of the previous two Popes (and he thinks that way too) as though new papal late life pacifism ideology trumps saving thousands of people. He as Pope should announce that ISIS’s sins are retained by him unto damnation until they disband and repent….” whose sins you retain, they are retained”…Jn.20:23. And he should have done that weeks ago. And he could raise over a billion dollars in a month from a billion Catholics from his bully pulpit rather than the $40 K Cor Unum gave refugees which would build two homes over there for two families….out of hundreds of thousands. We bumble onward.

  2. Pope Francis cannot determine for the state how the state will respond to unjust aggression, for this is the principle of separation of church and state. Only the state can decide how the unjust aggressor may be stopped. The Catechism clearly states that the punishment must be commensurate with the crime. What is the punishemnt for genocide and the slaughter of unarmed Christians? How many dead Christians will it take for Pope Francis to realize that the Christians are being murdered in the hundreds of thousands?

  3. Francis-speak, talking out of both sides of his mouth. Maybe he knows what he meant by all that, maybe not. Perhaps by “stop them” he means DIALOG with them? Ask nicely?

  4. It is a wonderment when considering the beginning and ending quotes copied from the CNS article that he said stopping an unjust aggressor is licit, but … . The peoples suffering human pain and more deadly abuse at the hands of IS, the people for whom his Bishops and representatives plea for help now aren’t well placed for the ‘but’ of just and immediate discussion leading to saving action from the United (in name only) Nations. I agree that with human pain one cannot be neutral or have conditions.

    ‘ “We respect the Chinese people,” the pope said. “The church asks only the liberty to do its work, no other condition.”

    Yet the pope made clear the church should not accept a rigid separation between religion and politics. On four of his five days in South Korea, he wore a yellow-ribbon pin commemorating the approximately 300 people killed in the April sinking of the Sewol ferry, a gesture some interpreted as support for demands by victims’ families that the government appoint an independent investigation of the disaster.

    The pope recalled: “I took (the pin) out of solidarity with them, and after half a day, somebody came up to me and said, ‘You should take it off; you need to be neutral.’ I answered this way: ‘Listen, with human pain you can’t be neutral.’ That’s how I feel.” ‘

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: