Rorate Caeli

Francis: No justification for war, even today

In his homily for today at Santa Marta, Pope Francis came up with a sweeping denunciation of all war, a condemnation apparently without any qualifications or exemptions even for just war.

Our emphases: 

“Today Jesus weeps as well: because we have chosen the way of war, the way of hatred, the way of enmities. We are close to Christmas: there will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes – all decked out – while the world continues to wage war. The world has not understood the way of peace.”

 Pope Francis went on to recall the recent commemorations of the Second World War, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, his visit to Redipuglia last year on the anniversary of the Great War: “Useless slaughters,” he called them, repeating the words of Pope Benedict XV. “Everywhere there is war today, there is hatred,” he said. Then he asked, “What shall remain in the wake of this war, in the midst of which we are living now?”:

“What shall remain? Ruins, thousands of children without education, so many innocent victims: and lots of money in the pockets of arms dealers. Jesus once said: ‘You can not serve two masters:  either God or riches.’ War is the right choice for him, who would serve wealth: 'Let us build weapons, so that the economy will right itself somewhat, and let us go forward in pursuit of our interests. There is an ugly word the Lord spoke: ‘Cursed!’ Because He said: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers!.’ The men who work war, who make war, are cursed, they are criminals. A war can be justified – so to speak – with many, many reasons, but when all the world as it is today, at war – piecemeal though that war may be – a little here, a little there, and everywhere – there is no justification – and God weeps. Jesus weeps.” 

The Holy Father went on to say that, while the arms dealers go about their business, there are the poor peacemakers who, perforce to help another person, and another and another, spend themselves utterly, and even give their lives – as did Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, against whom the powerful, worldy cynic might say, “But what did she ever accomplish? She wasted her life helping others on their way to death?” He repeated, “We do not understand the way of peace.”: 

“It will do us well to ask the grace of tears for ourselves, for this world that does not recognize the path of peace, this world that lives for war, and cynically says not to make it. Let us pray for conversion of heart. Here before the door of this Jubilee of Mercy, let us ask that our joy, our jubilation, be this grace: that the world discover the ability to weep for its crimes, for what the world does with war.”

A note on the translation: in the passage translated by Vatican Radio above as "A war can be justified -- so to speak -- with many, many reasons", the "so to speak" is fra virgolette ("in quotation marks") in the original Italian. A clearer translation is "A war can be justified - in quotation marks - with many, many reasons", proving beyond doubt that he thinks that such justifications are false, hence his sweeping declaration immediately afterwards that there is no justification -- non c’è giustificazione -- for war today. Sorry, would-be apologists, but this is not a translation issue!

It is interesting that for Francis, war is caused solely by profiteers who want to get rich on weapons sales. No thought, no nod, is ever given to the possibility that perhaps, just perhaps, there are some who wage war in order to protect the innocent and to stop evildoers from causing further chaos.  

Previous Popes have denounced war as "useless slaughter" and have called for an end to all war, but there is an enormous difference between deploring war and expressing the desire to see an end to all war, and condemning without distinction all those who work at war and declaring without any qualification whatsoever that today there is no justification for waging war. 

More than ever, Francis symbolizes a Church and a civilization that is tired and has lost its will to live: a "West" that in the face of wrath it could not comprehend, possessed with only a fraction of the conviction that its enemies has, takes refuge in meaningless slogans that inspire no one, help no one, and only encourage those who would like to destroy everything that is holy, everything that is of value. 

We are certain that the usual apologists -- the ones who never learn, the ones who will justify everything --  will rush to explain that Francis is referring only to ISIS and other extremist or terrorist groups and their wealthy manipulators, whether Islamist or cynical Westerners. Unfortunately there are absolutely no grounds for such precision in his, as usual, confused and extremely damaging words. Neither are Francis' words excused by Cardinal Parolin's recent declaration in favor of the possibility of just war against ISIS; Francis is not Parolin, and if there is anything we have learned in the past 2 years this is a Pope who is willing to hang the Curia out to dry.

In the meantime, the Christians of the Near East will continue to have little choice but to flee, with no words whatsoever from Rome except feckless and practically meaningless expressions of concern. Meanwhile those who are prepared to defend them as true and just warriors can expect nothing but condemnation from the same Rome.