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Pope John Paul II Against Bush’s Iraq War

September 26, 2004

Not surprisingly, I get posts and emails from people who disagree with my take on things as presented in this site; some (very few) are courteous and literate, and that is much appreciated. Many are rude and quite self-righteous in addition to being uninformed; many are obviously not willing to hear or examine any evidence outside their own minds before assaulting my intelligence, character and faith. They are wrong, but they put me in good company.

Andrew Greeley gets similar responses (though far more of them). But as he pointed out recently, when he’s assaulted for disagreeing with the Bush war machine he is in very good company. The Pope agrees with him. Here are excerpts from his recent column in the Chicago Sun-Times (“A Dove in Good Company”, Sept 24, 2004) (I’ve added a few underlines to make it easier to get the points.):

I get a lot of hate mail from conservative Catholics who are furious at my criticism of the Iraq war ….

I am curious that the writers think that a priest does not have the right — and indeed the obligation — to express a moral teaching. If a priest believes a war is immoral, he should say so. Moreover, in my criticism of the Iraq war, I have a priest of considerably more importance than I in the same camp — and potentially much more troublesome.

The pope.

His Holiness and his colleagues in the Vatican have opposed the war since the very beginning. John L. Allen in his superb book on the Vatican — All the Pope’s Men — devotes 65 pages to detailing, day by day, the Vatican’s position on the war. Allen comments that this mobilization of the Vatican apparatus around opposition to the war is unique in modern history. The papacy does not accept the theory of unilateral preventive war. It does not agree with the Bush administration’s foreign policy. It did not think that all possible grounds for a peaceful solution were exhausted before the American attack and, like most of Europe, it did not believe that there was sufficient evidence of weapons of mass destruction — and it turns out that they and not the Bush administration were right. It urged that nothing happen until the completion of the U.N. arms inspection — and it turns out that here again the pope was right and the president was wrong ….

The teaching on the Iraq war is not ”authoritative.” Yet, ought not Catholic conservatives, who virtually worship the pope, at least listen to him respectfully on this subject? ….

A constant concern in the pope’s comments is fear of the death of innocent civilians. Iraqi deaths don’t count, quite literally. The Defense Department refuses to count them. Some estimate that Iraqi casualties are as high as 30,000. If the war goes on long enough, Americans may kill as many Iraqis as did Saddam Hussein. Today, every time someone dies in Iraq, Americans are blamed because if they had not come, these people would still be alive ….

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5 Comments

  • The opposition that the Pope expressed to the War in Iraq was not an absolute condemnation of war, but rather an expression 1) of concern that not all avenues of diplomacy had yet been tried , and 2) of the need for some sort of agreement/concensus among nations that Iraq needed to be invaded. The Pope believed in stopping dictators, to the point of revolution (although peaceful overthrow is always preferred), in order to preserve the human dignity of those oppressed by those regimes.

    Regarding the objections, the following has now been shown to be true: 1) regarding diplomacy, eventually all options were exhausted, up to and including going before the U.N. (which has now been shown to be corrupted – bribed by Saddam Hussein in the “Oil for Food” program); and 2) although some evidence has been found to be falsified, it was falsified on Hussein’s side – the “evidence” of production of WMDs was false, only because we were receiving the same information Hussein himself was receiving. A concensus was lacking among nations, not because of the veracity of the evidence presented, but because of the above mentioned bribery of several heads of state, among them France, Germany, and Russia.

    The spin that Greeley, a notorious practitioner of “liberation theology” (condemned and vigorously fought, in fact, by Pope John Paul II), is trying to put on the Pope’s words further illustrates his own lack of understanding of the Pope’s meaning. Greeley merely tries to fit the Pope’s round words into his square head.

  • I have been looking for information that I found on this site. The number of innocent Iraqis killed in the war with Iraq. You say 30,000 another site says 73,000. Then all the “hate blogs” out there usually stay pretty steady at around 100,000. So tragic no matter what the numbers.

    Perhaps the Holy Father didn’t agree with Mr. Bush in his Iraq stance, but how would he feel now? At the end of his life,as he appears to be, we cannot ask him. Surely, he would not want America to just leave the Iraqis to those “insurgents.” They offer nothing but more abuse and repression. But, I am not one to assume to speak for him. It is my opinion that we stumbled into Iraq now we must stay to help them.

    By the way, I wonder how many Saddam Hussein killed. I really wonder. We cannot point to one evil to justify another of course. It would be interesting though, just to figure out how many lives the US actually saved. God Bless the Holy Father…

  • Andrew Greeley is a prophet. Even a cursory look at the Old Testament (not to mention the New) shows that prophecy is a dangerous profession. Since God has called Father Greeley, may He protect him.

  • Since You do not know anything about Catholism “OBVIOUSLY” then I doubt you anything about politics. Saying worship the pope was a clumzy statement and it represents the writer perfectly, so I suggest that you learn more about anything you want to include in your useless articles. It is not a shame to ask if you dont know.

  • Andrew Greeley says anything to present his thinking as being superior to the Holy Father. He might do better writing his dirty novels.

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