Friday, March 13, 2009

Mark Shea on the Fifth Commandment

From here:
Another trick we often use to justify the taking of innocent human life is the Minimum Daily Adult Requirement approach to Catholic moral teaching. This involves that notion that the Ten Commandments describe the uppermost limits of human achievement. So, for instance, when a nation is in the grip of war fever (as ours was in 2003), just war requirements (which are intended to make it extremely difficult to go to war) get treated as a sort of imprimatur and blessing on war, instead of what they are: a set of hard-to-satisfy requirements that aim to fill us with very grave doubts about the wisdom of ever taking this horrible step.

Rather than seeing the just war requirement as a massive restraint intended to remind us of the gravity of war, we labor to jerry-rig arguments (often very specious ones) to show that just war requirements are "satisfied" -- and then, once we have skated past these, we go to war with alacrity and eat popcorn while boasting about the cool "shock and awe" visual effects on the nightly news. Those who are eager to go to war are fairly easy to spot: They tend to be itching to fudge the definitions, to claim that Special Circumstances make it okay to ignore this or that particular criterion, and to be quick to make much the same sort of appeals about the need to bring just war doctrine "up to date" as abortionists do when they talk about "updating" our definitions of "innocent," "human," and "life."
Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

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