Bishop Gumbleton and War

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Bishop Gumbleton, of Detroit, in his Trinity Sunday homily, managed to work in the opinion that prosecution of war, even the war against Hitler and Nazism, was something contrary to the teaching of Christ. This is what he said:

Today, President Bush is over in Europe celebrating how 60 years ago we invaded the continent of Europe from the British Isles. We think of this as a marvelous thing, something to celebrate, but it meant killing and hatred. That’s not God. That can never be God.

Somehow we’ve come to think that sometimes it is OK to hate and kill. We’ve come to believe that sometimes killing is necessary, but it isn’t. And it can’t be. It cannot be.


Anyone reading this statement without any knowledge of the history of the D-Day Invasion would think that we, the Allies, were aggressors in World War II; that we were there simply to kill and hate. My initial response to this was that the Bishop seemed to believe that there was nothing worth dying for. To clarify, I meant that the Bishop seems to believe that there is nothing worth fighting for, which may involve both killing and dying. What if that had been the response of the Allied leaders in 1939 and 1941? As it was, 6 million Jews died in concentration camps during the years 1939 to 1945. It only stopped in 1945 because of the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944. We celebrate this act today, not because it commemorates killing and hatred, rather we celebrate it because it commemorates the triumph of good over evil.

The Church teaches that the taking of innocent life is a mortal sin, it is always and everywhere wrong, an evil. Those in Nazi Germany who came to power in the early 1930’s scorned such ideas. They looked upon themselves and their countrymen as as "supermen", the only real human beings, all others being “inhuman” and “subhuman”, especially Jews. They took it upon themselves, after having come to this conclusion, to begin a systematic program to eradicate all humans who were “inferior” in some way, thus the concentration camps. The lives of the Nazi’s were not “innocent”, rather they dedicated themselves to the taking of the innocent lives of others, they were engaged in the grossest kind of evil. Yet, in Bishop Gumbleton’s world, nothing would be done to stop such men, because, after all, it cannot be right to hate and kill. In Bishop Gumbleton’s world, it’s preferable that 6 million, or more, Jews be exterminated than that any Nazi army be challenged and destroyed.

But the Allied leaders did not respond as Bishop Gumbleton would have them do. Instead, they chose to fight evil, knowing that many Americans would die, so that good might prevail. I believe they made the correct moral, Christian choice. They recognized that to tolerate evil is to, in a sense, cooperate in propagating it; in fact, to allow evil to flourish is to become guilty of that evil. The Bishop might argue that, instead of war, reason should have been resorted to. Surely such men as Hitler and Goebbels would listen to reason. However, even a rudimentary knowledge of the history of the 1930’s would show that reason and negotiation was tried, ad nauseum, with the sole result of encouraging Hitler to become even more aggressive and bloodthirsty. Such men do not listen to reason.

We are faced with a similar situation today; we have been attacked by men who hate us because we are not “like them.” These are men who are also dedicated to the taking of innocent lives and, thus, have themselves surrendered all claims to their own innocence. They are dedicated to killing us solely because we do not share their ethnic and religious background – we are Christians, infidels. If we choose to believe that it is wrong to try to stop them, killing them if necessary, then we shall surely die, along with who knows how many countless thousands, or millions, of others. I believe that the only appropriate response to evil is to try to destroy it, not out of hatred but out of concern for the Good. If we do nothing, we ourselves shall be guilty of allowing their evil to reign over the earth.

3 Comments

Amen. Many believe we should just ignore the rest of the world; others claim we're currently trying to impose our will on the rest of the world. I disagree with both points of view. We are and we must continue to resist those who prove their barbarity by killing and murdering innocents.

I dont mean to tick anyone off here, but I thought Id make a few points here if I could. if Ive overstepped my boundaries, please let me know.

Doesnt this just make us the worlds policemen? I mean, I'm not naive here, I'm 40, and a veteran myself so I know the score.But if were going to go into Iraq, we have to go into Iran, and if we go into Iran, we have to go into Palestine, and if we go into Palestine, we have to go into Cuba, and if we go into Cuba, we might as well go into Northern Ireland, right? I mean, where does it end?

If "we must continue to resist those who prove their barbarity by killing and murdering innocents", why dont we speak out about the attrocities comitted by the Israeli government
on the Palestinain people? I mean, I know they do a lot of bad stuff to the Israelis, but the israelis give it back too. wheres our outrage about that?

Get Bin laden, bring him back to the U.S. try him and publicly execute him if it will sate everyones thirst, but we cant just go marching into every country we think needs our help or liberation!

It's hard to take the high road,it really is! But someone has to step back and call a time out here! Ive often thought we should pave over Afghanistan and turn Iraq into a sea of glass, but would that really solve the problem? Or rather, would it only ensure the propagation of terrorists in the future? Remember, that little kid jumping up and down on top of a wrecked humvee on the evening news will grow up some day; whose to say he isnt the master mind of the next 9/11??

Steve

Thank you for your comment, you have not ticked me off nor have you overstepped your bounds. In fact, after I made this post, I thought someone might raise the point you raised.

My point is not necessarily that we should take military action anywhere and everywhere in the world. My point is not really made from a political point of view. My point is that, contrary to Bishop Gumbleton’s homily, it may, at times be the Christian thing to do to stand and fight to prevent the spread of evil. I recall a passage in C. S. Lewis to the effect that love of neighbor may involve the necessity of preventing him from doing great evil, from doing harm to himself and innocent people around him. He made the point that love of neighbor may involve praying for him at the same time you have to kill him. Bishop Gumbleton said in his homily that it is never Christian to either defend oneself or prevent someone from the wanton taking of innocent life, I believe that to be wrong headed; the Christian prohibition against the taking of a life is against the taking of innocent life, those we are attacking are not innocent.

We are engaged in a war on terror, we are fighting people who wish to destroy western civilization and Christianity. The people who are waging war on us are the kind who would clothe their own women and children with explosive vests and send them to blow up innocent people having lunch in a restaurant or riding a bus on their way to work. They are not involved in a principled struggle, only in terror. They are criminals.

As for taking the high road, in order for that to be effective there has to be a willingness on both sides to reach a compromise. We have seen in recent weeks the acts of men who would behead innocent civilians and send the videotape of the act to a rogue TV station for broadcast to the world. These murders are a clear message that there is no high road, nor can there be. These men are not interested in negotiations, only in our destruction.

In light of the situation, I believe it was legitimate for us to take the war on terrorism to Iraq, as Iraq presented the greatest immediate threat to the U.S. Saddam Hussein was, indeed, working with Al Qaeda and he was not working to our good. Having done so was a gamble, we gambled that the Iraqi people were ready for a change of regime and democracy. If we succeed and can establish a democratic republic in the Middle East, and those in other countries see what that means by way of long term peace and prosperity, we may not have to invade Iran or Pakistan, they may simply be forced by their own people to follow Iraq’s example.

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This page contains a single entry by Ron Moffat published on June 21, 2004 7:12 PM.

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