The American Tsunami has hit Iraq, with a high and mounting death toll that is or soon will be comparable to that in southeast Asia. A New York Times headline today – “Amid Chaos, Sri Lankans are Struggling to Survive” – could just as truly read “Amid Chaos, Iraqis are Struggling to Survive.” And like the people of the Indian Ocean region many Iraqis and Americans are asking, “Why?!?” But every answer the Bush regime gives turns out to be false.
The suffering in Asia is horrendous and the impact will be long-lasting; but at least it was not deliberately inflicted on them by us. This tsunami in Iraq was unleashed deliberately by America’s leaders, deceptively and without just reason, and was easily preventable. In fact it can even now be stayed from its destructive course. That is surely an issue of Christian morality.
Here’s a post I wrote back in September about John Paul II’s opposition to the American invasion of Iraq (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.
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 ….
I was raised Catholic and although John Paul II is more popular than many past Popes, American Catholics don’t pay too much attention to his opinions and have, for example, ignored Catholic teaching on birth control for decades. This may have gotten worse with the scandal involving American priests. The other side of this; however, is that they may just as easily walk away from their association with the evangelical protestants if there is a scandal within either the religious right or the republican party.
This doesn’t specifically apply to Catholics, but CSPAN recently had a show on religion and the Bush presidency. It was truly telling when one panelist pointed out that Bush publicly stated that he prayed for strength during the decision to go to war, but that he never prayed for guidance.