PopeWatch: Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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PopeWatch2-199x300

 

The Pope addressed the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki over the weekend:

 

 

Pope Francis called for a global ban on nuclear weapons Sunday as Japan marked the 70th anniversary of the U.S. dropping an atomic bomb on Nagasaki days before the end of World War Two.

The pontiff said the memories of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945 remain as a call for nuclear disarmament.

“After so long that tragic event still causes horror and repulsion,” the pope said in Rome.

“It became the symbol of the boundless destructive power of man, when the achievements of science and technology are put to wrong use. It remains a permanent warning for humanity to reject war forever and to ban nuclear weapons and every weapon of mass destruction,” Francis said.

The pope said he wishes there would be “one voice” that says, “no to war, no to violence, yes to dialogue, yes to peace. With war we always lose.”

Go here to read the rest.  PopeWatch assumes that the Pope will get around to condemning the atrocities committed by the Empire of Japan during World War II sometime around the 12th of Never.  As for his statement that in war we always lose, here are some people who might have begged to differ with the Pope:

 

 

 

 

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35 Comments

  1. It is so easy for a simple person to live in a simple world. The real cause of war is Totalitarianism.

  2. “Pope Francis called for a global ban on nuclear weapons…”

    Not sure how this jives with his support of the recent US agreement with Iran. Particularly since it will likely add one more nuclear state to the mix.

  3. To be fair to Pope Francis, all popes, except for poor John Paul I, have called for the abolition of nuclear weapons, which always begs the question as to who would supervise the banning, and ignores the truly lethal consequences, and the extreme likelihood, of a nation, or nations cheating on such a ban. The air of unreality about such proposals, “Genie, get right back in the bottle right this minute!”, reminds me of the attempt to ban the crossbow by a Church Council, at least when used against Christians. When it comes to either weapons or money, popes too often fit this gibe of Cicero against Cato the Younger: “For he (Cato) gives his opinion as if he were in Plato’s Republic, not in Romulus’ cesspool.” The only time a ban on nuclear weapons would work is if the earth were already completely filled with nations that would never use nuclear weapons under any circumstances, and there were additionally no terrorist groups that would use nuclear weapons. Needless to say such an earth doesn’t exist now, and I doubt it ever will.

  4. I recall a scriptural passage where our Lord (bigger things were the priority) told Peter to “put” away his sword…not to “throw’ it away.

  5. Found this article on Catholic Answers:
    http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/dropping-the-atomic-bomb-was-wrong-period

    The author quotes Pope Benedict, “[W]e must begin asking ourselves whether as things stand, with new weapons that cause destruction well beyond the groups involved in the fight, it is still licit to allow that a just war might exist.”

    He also cites the just war doctrine of course, especially proportionality, “the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.”
    It strikes me first, that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki meets this test and, second that proportionality is really consequentialism in disguise.

  6. Of course, the inverse also needs to be considered–when with modern weaponry and delivery means is added to the reality of a fanatical religious nation that openly announces they intend to destroy us and are developing the means aggressively, does there not enter a different criterion of “just war”–one that Aquinas could never have conceived of?

  7. proportionality is really consequentialism in disguise
    The difference lies in the desired outcome. If someone wishes to dismiss an argument, it’s “consequentialism”; if they like where the argument goes, it’s “proportionality.”
    The idea of a proportionate response goes at least back to “eye for an eye.” (Which was a limit, not a required minimum.)
    The original words have actual meanings, but that’s what it’s been reduced to in this conversation.

  8. I agree with efforts to ban nuclear weapons, but without the illusion of supposing it would usher in a new era of world peace. Two major world wars both of which killed tens of millions aside from those who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki prove that war is lethal enough and brutal enough without nuclear weapons. The best course is to repent of sin and pray, as our Blessed Mother requested.

  9. “PopeWatch assumes that the Pope will get around to condemning the atrocities committed by the Empire of Japan during World War II …”
    ***
    I’m still waiting for him to get around to condemning the Supreme Court’s decision redefining marriage and the Planned Parenthood videos.
    ***
    Alas, he’s apparently too busy stacking the deck at the Synod so that the Church can follow the Supreme Court’s lead in redefining marriage, including adding such luminaries to the Synod lineup as certain Archbishops who think we should be “no more outraged” at Planned Parenthood’s nefarious deeds than we are at the state executing convicted murderers.
    ***
    But I’m SURE he’ll get around to it “soon, soon.”

  10. The bombing of Hiroshima is not a close moral question – no matter how much Americans might, understandably, want it to be. http://bit.ly/1D7TKx5 The problem is consequentialism, which has become the most popular moral heresy in the postmodern world. Hiroshima has been condemned by every Pope since it happened because of consequentialism– and every Catholic theologian of importance, including Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who, along with many important and thoughful Catholics, believed/believe that it was more than just a military operation, but an event which profoundly changed the world –helping to usher in the moral chaos , from which arose the Sexual Revolution and Culture of Death. http://bit.ly/1gFpUpy

  11. “Hiroshima has been condemned by every Pope since it happened”

    Actually Pius XII never condemned it, and I don’t think poor John Paul I ever said anything about it. As for consequentialism, it is a neologism coined by Anscombe in 1958 and has a very short Catholic pedigree. The idea that the likely consequences of one’s actions are not an important guide in determining one’s actions when confronting nothing but bad choices, particularly in war time, strikes me as extremely peculiar.

    The prohibition on the use of nuclear weapons is based on the innocent having an all embracing immunity from harm. That is a relatively new concept for Catholicism. For example, Popes would routinely centuries ago place entire nations under interdict, denying both good and evil people within those nations the sacraments. Crusades were often undertaken at the behest of the Church where popes had to know based on prior experience that many innocent would perish. A common military technique throughout the ages has been to besiege cities and cause them to surrender through starvation and diseases that would often be rampant in besieged cities. Crusader and papal armies would often besiege cities, knowing that the innocent and the weak would be the first to suffer. Popes have routinely put innocents at risk throughout the centuries for what they perceived to be higher ends.

    The way in which the Church now looks at the innocent is not how the Church always looked at innocents, especially in the long centuries when Popes ruled secular states and commanded armies.

    This statement by Father Seimes, one of the German Jesuits at Hiroshima, indicates that the Catholic position on nuclear weapons was not obvious at the time:

    “We have discussed among ourselves the ethics of the use of the bomb. Some consider it in the same category as poison gas and were against its use on a civil population. Others were of the view that in total war, as carried on in Japan, there was no difference between civilians and soldiers and that the bomb itself was an effective [means] for tending to end the bloodshed, warning Japan to surrender and thus to avoid total destruction. It seems logical to us that he who supports total war in principle cannot complain of a war against civilians. The crux of the matter is whether total war in its present form is justifiable, even when it serves a just purpose. Does it not have material and spiritual evil as its consequences which far exceed whatever the good that might result ? When will our moralists give us a clear answer to this question?”

    I don’t think Hiroshima is a close moral question either. I believe it was clearly the moral thing to do, all other alternatives involving greater loss of innocent life.

  12. and every Catholic theologian of importance, including Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who, along with many important and thoughful Catholics,

    That’s Bishop Sheen. Rochester is not and was not a metropolitan see. Also, his most scholarly training was in philosophy, not theology.

  13. He was made titular archbishop (of Newport, Wales) upon his retirement. So, technically, it is appropriate to refer to him as Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

  14. I’d very much have to see the quotes involved- in context– before I’d believe anyone citied as having condemned the bombings as immoral.
    The Venerable Sheen, for example, did speak about the bombing a lot, and even got quoted more than a single line when I went looking. (Same sorts that quote the CCC and claim it applies when the whole POINT was to hurt them militarily, and we’d have been delighted to not kill a single civilian)
    Problem being, in each case he talks about how it’s our REACTION to the bomb that’s an issue.
    Here’s a long one that doesn’t mention it as an aside, unlike the more popularly quoted one from a talk about sexual morality:
    http://catholictradition.org/Mary/mary-atom.htm

  15. I fear a large part of the problem is going to be layers of interpretation– today, we can get a citation, and go check it, rather than having to trust the source to be objective and to be saying what we think we’re hearing– even when the CCC tells you exactly the source for the claimed condemnation of the bombing of Japan, why pull the book out and go look when you “know” what it’s going to say already?
    Especially if it supports what you’re just sure is true over all?
    It doesn’t take many fairly minor disagreements and less than impartial interpretations, or mild overstatements that fall well inside of rhetorical style, and you’ve got a conclusion wildly different from what the case is.

  16. “I’d very much have to see the quotes involved- in context– before I’d believe anyone citied as having condemned the bombings as immoral.”

    Anti-bombing advocates usually cut and paste quotes from a lot of sites floating around the internet. The history behind such quotes usually is shoddy. Robert Maddox in Hiroshima: The Myths of Revisionism has done an excellent job of revealing the shoddy scholarship behind most anti-Hiroshima factual, as opposed to moral, arguments:

    VF:But we read strong statements from American officials and officers who panned the bombing. Don’t these contradict you?

    RM: Revisionists are fond of citing various officials — [General Douglas] MacArthur, [US Admiral Chester] Nimitz and [US Army Air Force General Curtis] LeMay, etc. — who later criticized using the bombs. There is little doubt that some of these men had axes to grind. There is no credible evidence…that any of them criticized using the bombs before or immediately after they were dropped. Indeed, some Alperovitz cites as opposed to the bomb actually urged that a third bomb be dropped on Tokyo.

    Go to the links below to get an overview of the book. It is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand Hiroshima as a historical controversy:

    http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/55076

    http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2008/08/hiroshima_hoax_japans_wllingne.html

  17. “The only time a ban on nuclear weapons would work is if the earth were already completely filled with nations that would never use nuclear weapons under any circumstances, and there were additionally no terrorist groups that would use nuclear weapons. Needless to say such an earth doesn’t exist now, and I doubt it ever will.”

    Exactly right. When I hear any Pope say “The world must eliminate nuclear weapons” I normally don’t hear a programmatic proposal, but rather “The world must become a place filled with nations that would never use nuclear weapons”. Indeed it must. Indeed it never will.
    This is why I try to put prayer ahead of politics in my life.

  18. D Black:
    I lost an uncle (I was named after) on Iwo Jima, so your question is very appropriate…the would be cousins I never got to know etc.

  19. Don L:

    Sorry for your loss. So many fine Americans have died in the nation’s wars. But your uncle is looking down on you. I question those that say the bomb should never been dropped. The Japanese fought like crazed mad men on every island in the Pacific. If we had not dropped the bomb and had invaded mainland Japan, there’s estimates that up to a million deaths on both sides would have resulted. Thank God Truman was a strong leader, made the decision, and never doubted himself, in-spite of the skeptics.

  20. Of course the bigger question might be about how many lives (and souls) might be sacrificed to plain old fear once the Persian Empire gets the weapon they might very well use.
    Funny that those who deplore its use might inadvertently be the very causal advocates of it’s much further destruction by their sentimental sense of security and peace–supporting Obama’s deal with the devil.

  21. The difference lies in the desired outcome. If someone wishes to dismiss an argument, it’s “consequentialism”; if they like where the argument goes, it’s “proportionality.”

    Yeah, I realized that when Shea once posted (approvingly) an article detailing Dr Who vs Star Trek. Even though Dr Who is probably THE most consequentialist character on TV while Star Trek and its Prime Directive (which the article and Shea both – rightly – lambasted) is THE most consistent non-consequentialist example on TV (as demonstrated QUITE often by SF Debris).

    It was that moment I realized just how empty the morality of Shea and every other non-consequentialists was.

  22. Saint JPII called out consequentialism and its close cousin, proportionalism, in Veritatis Splendor. Virtually all of the justifications for the bombings are consequentialist in nature, simply asserting that the bombings were justified because they averted “x” unknowable number of Allied casualties. Or the Japanese had it coming to them because of their own government’s war crimes, or they had it coming to them because maybe they were going to get the bomb first, etc. etc. All of which are simply consequentialist arguments, which is fine if you’re a Modernist, but not so much if you’re an orthodox Christian:

    . . . This teleologism, as a method for discovering the moral norm, can thus be called — according to terminology and approaches imported from different currents of thought — ‘consequentialism’ or ‘proportionalism’. The former claims to draw the criteria of the rightness of a given way of acting solely from a calculation of foreseeable consequences deriving from a given choice. The latter, by weighing the various values and goods being sought, focuses rather on the proportion acknowledged between the good and bad effects of that choice, with a view to the ‘greater good’ or ‘lesser evil’ actually possible in a particular situation. . . . Even when grave matter is concerned, these precepts should be considered as operative norms which are always relative and open to exceptions. (VS, 75)

    . . . Such theories however are not faithful to the Church’s teaching, when they believe they can justify, as morally good, deliberate choices of kinds of behavior contrary to the commandments of the divine and natural law. These theories cannot claim to be grounded in the Catholic moral tradition.” (VS, 76)

  23. Virtually all of the justifications for the bombings are consequentialist in nature, simply asserting that the bombings were justified because they averted “x” unknowable number of Allied casualties. Or the Japanese had it coming to them because of their own government’s war crimes, or they had it coming to them because maybe they were going to get the bomb first, etc. etc.

    What about the point repeatedly mentioned: the other options would have killed MORE Japanese? And this we know because they barely avoided being wiped out by famine WITH our help – a blockade would have been near genocide.

    When your code says it’s more moral to let old ladies get hit by buses, then you’ve lost the right to declare who is or isn’t an orthodox Christian.

  24. “justifications for the bombings are consequentialist in nature, simply asserting that the bombings were justified because they averted “x” unknowable number of Allied casualties.”

    Rubbish. The Allied casualties and the Japanese casualties from not using the bombs were every bit as foreseeable as those incurred by the Japanese from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those who do not concede that Truman faced a situation where a great many people were going to die no matter what he did aren’t worth taking seriously in this debate, and neither are those who blithely ignore the moral imperative of stopping the Japanese Empire in its ongoing war of aggression as quickly as possible.

  25. Tom,

    Though you haven’t addressed the problem of the Japanese militarizing a large portion of their population. If 75% of their population was to be placed under arms, it can change the morality of the act and not be consequentialist nor proportionalist.

  26. 1) “militarization” of the population, which would never be absolute, would not justify killing innocent civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to terrorize (Eisenhower’s word) the Japanese govt into capitulating. Again, this is just consequentialism: “we avoid evil x by committing evil y.”
    2) Yes, many would die no matter what. The point is, it’s immoral to target civilians directly, as was done at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in the hope that such destruction would compel surrender. An invasion, on the other hand, would involve *mostly* soldiers vs. soldiers, with civilians not being direct targets. It makes a moral difference. And of course, there is no moral certitude about how many casualties would actually result from an invasion, there are only educated guesses. But even if it’s an order of 10 soldiers dead in an invasion vs. 1 dead civilian in the deliberate targeting of H and N, such a “trade off” mentality is straight up consequentialism, doing an intrinsically evil act of murder to avoid a perceived or expected “greater evil” of military deaths.
    3) Blockade or invasion were both viable options. In a blockade, any resulting deaths would not be attributable to the blockade, but to the continued immoral decision of the Japanese authorities to continue hostilities.

  27. 3) Blockade or invasion were both viable options. In a blockade, any resulting deaths would not be attributable to the blockade, but to the continued immoral decision of the Japanese authorities to continue hostilities.

    So like I said: a near genocide is ok as long as your hands aren’t dirty.

    It’s one thing to martyr yourself for your principles: go for it, that’s all well and good. But it’s quite another to demand that others sacrifice and die for your own self-righteousness.

  28. “1) “militarization” of the population, which would never be absolute, would not justify killing innocent civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to terrorize (Eisenhower’s word) the Japanese govt into capitulating. ”

    But the Church has allowed bombing of military targets even in cities where there were civilians and would knowingly result in civilian deaths. The Church has never stated that there can be no civilian casualties whatsoever if there was a proportionate reason to bomb a target. Thus, the militarization of the population may in fact change the moral calculus and thus not necessarily be consequentialism.

  29. Thus, the militarization of the population may in fact change the moral calculus and thus not necessarily be consequentialism.

    The distinctions being drawn here would be quite Jesuitical and I have no clue why Miss Anscombe would expect working politicians to make those distinctions reliably bar that she had no sense of the process of how ordinary people or politicians make decisions. Her complaints about Truman were quite exhibitionistic and not limited to monographs or journal articles.

  30. “Blockade or invasion were both viable options. In a blockade, any resulting deaths would not be attributable to the blockade, but to the continued immoral decision of the Japanese authorities to continue hostilities.”

    A blockade seems to be the only plausible certain alternative. But turning large swaths of Japan into Buchenwald strikes me as a doubtful moral “improvement.”

  31. Now, why is it that death’s resulting from our blockade would be the fault of the immoral Japanese regime persisting in hostilities, yet deaths resulting from that same immoral Japanese regime’s refusal to accept the Potsdam Declaration are our fault?

  32. and the Soviets coming south thru Manchuria – and the POW’s in Jap hands?
    how does the blockade deal with them ??

    Invasion viable? to whom? to the american people who just lost 1 million of their finest youth from @Mo.1q4 44 to end of q1 45 on islands? [forgetting momentarily Anzio etc. ] the and are being told they need to plan for 3, perhaps 5 million more casualties beginning in Sept 45 – Kyushu has some 900k Jap soldiers on it not counting militia and hostile civilians.
    Viable to whom?? at what cost??

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