Life and all its fullness a closer look

The purpose of my “Catholic Worker� digests is to try to provide a mostly objective abstract of its content in hopes of bringing its strain of Catholic thought to greater secular attention. As such, I merely describe articles in the digest. The mere inclusion of an article does not imply endorsement. National Review fans probably don't agree with every single article in every issue, and I don't pretend to agree with every article in every issue of the Catholic Worker.

However from time to time, I will highlight specific articles I think are really well worth reading and that you should try to find a copy of, even if that means Interlibrary Loan. My first such article is the article “Life and all its fullness� by Jane Sammon appeared in the Jan/Feb 2005 issue of the Catholic Worker.

The article is divided into two parts – a reprint of an article from the Jan/Feb 1983 Catholic Worker, followed by reflections on the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Together they represent an excellent defense of the “seamless garment� thread of the pro-life movement; the one I find authentic. The basic idea of the “seamless garment� approach to pro-life issues is that human life is sacred from womb to tomb. There is no appropriate time for us as human beings to take up the life and death power of God to take sentient life. As Jane Sammon puts it so well:

“And yet, it would be simplistic to think that people having intercourse are doing so in order to end a pregnancy later. The whole way of life now encourages a cavalier attitude about our behaviors. Just look at the lust with which war is carried out. Listen to the word “terminate,� which is used to both in describing abortion's goal and the killing of 'the enemy.' We have bought the entire package of this culture of death which the Pope speaks so robustly about. The Pope's criticism has been used by some of the most highly regaled warriors in our own country to describe the mores of those who support abortion, euthanasia, and doctor-assisted suicide. The same warriors defend the arms build-up, war and capital punishment. One could call this partial pro-life ethics.

So frequently the most authoritative voices against abortion pit its horrors against the horrors of wars, concluding that yes, you can be a faithful Catholic and support a just war, but you can never support abortion since the intended target of war is not the innocent, while the act of abortion only aims its death blows at the innocent. Some go on to point out that war is unfortunately always going to claim the lives of noncombatants, no matter how careful and precise the warriors are. Yet there seems little discussion about the possibility of “just war� in this era, despite all sorts of evidence to the contrary.�

Comments

question

I don't understand the last sentence.

Re:question

Fair question. My personal take on "Yet there seems little discussion about the possibility of “just war� in this era, despite all sorts of evidence to the contrary." is that there is very little discussion among policy makers and recognized Christian leaders in a given country about the possibility that a given war could actually be unjust.Every country believes it goes to war for a righteous and just purpose, but logically this cannot be always true because there are always at least two sides in a war. Either both sides are mistaken in going to war or one has justice on their side.But in the history of the world in general and in Christendom(?) in particular, every warring nation has gone to war with total faith in the righteousness of their cause.I count myself as a "just war" theorist, but I am worried when every war is baptized as just by our religious authorities. A decision tree that always leads to the result desired by the civil authority is in need of reform.I'm starting to believe that war is much like abortion. (Disclaimer what follows NOT mainstream Catholic thought) Both require the destruction of innocent life to carry out the procedure. Proponents of both procedures deny or minimize the taking of innocent life. Proponents of both procedures claim the procedure is sometimes needed to protect the "way of life" of the mother/nation. And both procedures have advocates who propose rational sounding restrictions (i.e. "just war", "abortion only in the case of rape, incest, or loss of mother's life").But mainstream Catholic thought labels abortion an absolute non-negotiable and war as a necessary evil. A view that anti-abortion politicians Stalin, Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania, and Yassir Arafat would have readily subscribed to.Go figure.

Re:question

But mainstream Catholics don't believe that war is a necessary evil, at least the Pope doesn't. He was very much against the war in Iraq.

Yes, everyone, anyone, is going to try and justify whatever actions they take. We could easily flip this enire question and ask if certain groups, religous or otherwise, are trying to promote an unjust peace. Where is the UN's commission on that? In the end we can only make a decision and stand by it. Constantly second-guessing such decisions only creates confusion. As big as the debate over war and peace is, chaos is a truly frightening alternative.

Thanks for tip/Re:question

Hi Greg,Before I get into a reply on this topic, thanks for tips on OPAL audio presentations. I'm also looking forward to your shows on CIL and catching up on Open Stacks podcasts this weekend. Downloading won't be a problem since I switched to DSL a few weeks ago.Now, on to the business at hand:"But mainstream Catholics don't believe that war is a necessary evil, at least the Pope doesn't. He was very much against the war in Iraq."The Pope and the American bishops supported (appropriately, I think) Gulf War I to free Kuwait. I think they also supported intervention in Kossovo, unlike many Republican congressmen. If I remember correctly, I think the American bishops parted company with the Pope over the current Iraq war. Taking a page from the neocon playbook, I equate many bishops' insistance on abortion single-issue voting with support for the President's "preventive war."On the Protestant/Evangelical side, I can't think of a single major religous leader (Robertson, Falwell, etc) in the last decade who has done anything but endorse war by America on others."Yes, everyone, anyone, is going to try and justify whatever actions they take. We could easily flip this enire question and ask if certain groups, religous or otherwise, are trying to promote an unjust peace. Where is the UN's commission on that?"First, please stop throwing the UN in my face. I do not support the UN as it is currently constituted. Sec. Gen. Annan's plan for reform is a recipe for failure. The presence of veto-wielding security council members insures that the UN will follow the League of Nations as a talking society. Expanding the Security Council will insure the ineffective talking goes on longer. I've stated similar views many times in this forum and I've lost patience with being portrayed as a UN supporter."In the end we can only make a decision and stand by it. Constantly second-guessing such decisions only creates confusion. As big as the debate over war and peace is, chaos is a truly frightening alternative."I'm not second guessing. I've been against this particular war from the beginning. WE, in the sense of the American people, or even the US Congress, never got to make a free, fully informed choice.The President alone sent troops to put "pressure on Saddam." Then he called for a vote on a resolution to "give him creditability" with the UN. Voting against the "use of force" resolution was portrayed both as being against the troops out in the field (though without war orders) AND weakening diplomacy by "taking an option off the table." This, in spite of the fact that the Administration had already decided in favor of war in Spring 2002. This decision was documented in "Chain of Command", and not denied by the Administration.As far as "chaos", that will be (and already is) the logical consequence of a foreign policy based on preemptive strikes and dependent on the assumption that the United States will be the sole superpower until the end of time. "Superpower eternal" has NEVER existed in ALL of human history and never will.

Re:Thanks for tip/Re:question

Tip? I think you've got me confused with somebody else. I'm the obnoxious conservative guy from SHUSH remember?

I didn't mean to imply that you were a UN supporter but in todays world there are basically two options, UN negotiations (or some combination of countries besides us) or us taking action. No one really wants to listen to us. They resent who we are and what we've accomplished and their lack of ability to do anything about it. The only countries that follow our lead are those who were liberated through our actions. Thankfuly that group is growing. But for now, only our actions are paid any attention to.

We don't really get a choice on war. There's a reason why he's called the Commander-in-Chief. And again, flip it, how much longer do we indulge an unjust peace with a psychopath?

The world is in chaos? I don't think so. A lot of Iraqi and Afghanis don't think so and a lot of Koreans and Iranians are hoping for a little less chaos and would probably prefer a little more war.

Nothing is eternal but unless more countries begin offering the same kind of freedoms we do its in the best interest of everyone that we remain at the top for some time to come.

Re:Thanks for tip/Re:question

"Tip? I think you've got me confused with somebody else. I'm the obnoxious conservative guy from SHUSH remember?"You also have a lot of great ideas about librarianship. Have to honor that. Our political differences don't have to blind us to our positive qualities. Just like Tip O'Neal and Reagan could be friends after ripping each other's ideas to shreads all day. It's a spirit that we've lost in this country - due to the active efforts of both parties."I didn't mean to imply that you were a UN supporter..." - clarification accepted. Thanks."We don't really get a choice on war. There's a reason why he's called the Commander-in-Chief."Article I, Section 2"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;.."It seems plain to me that "actual service", means war. Once a war is decided, the President has freedom of tactics and strategy.But who can "call" the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States "into the actual service"?Article I, Section 8 gives us the answer:The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;-----------------------To say that the Congress must rubberstamp ANY decision of the President to send troops into combat is to render Article I, Section 8 meaningless. If you want to say that times have changed, the world is more dangerous, and we can't afford the luxury of formal War Declarations; fine. But then the President's supporters should push for an amendment giving the President unambigous power to wage war unchecked."The world is in chaos? I don't think so."-North Korea has gone nuclear.-Iran is completely undeterred by our mighty actions and will soon go nuclear.-Two years after our invasion, Iraq (outside of Kurdish areas) is still a roiling mass of insurgent attacks.-Russia has asserted the right to attack terrorists (by their definition) anywhere in the world. Some of those "terrorists" will undoubtably prove to be our allies.-China has legalized the use of force against Taiwan.I could go on, but I don't want to depress myself further."Nothing is eternal but unless more countries begin offering the same kind of freedoms we do its in the best interest of everyone that we remain at the top for some time to come.""Remaining at the top" through threats, first strikes, torture, indefinite detentions, and a disregard for non-American life is in no one's best interest. Remember that ends don't justify means. Aligning our actions with our values would be in everyone's best interest.

Did you forget Gulf War I?

"todays world there are basically two options, UN negotiations (or some combination of countries besides us) or us taking action. No one really wants to listen to us."When the evidence is clear, even the troubled UN can act. Look at the First Gulf War. On August 8, 1990 Saddam's Iraq invaded Kuwait. By December 17th (after FRANCE deployed troops on our side), the UN Security Council set a firm Jan 15, 1991 deadline. Jan. 12, 1991 the US Congress, in support of the deadline resolution, grants the senior President Bush the authority to use force. Jan 17, 1991 Desert Storm begins with support from many nations including France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and even Syria.Time from invasion to UN sponsored, Arab backed, military action -- five months. People will listen to us IF there is an obvious threat.Was it perfect? No. Because we had to avoid veto threats from Russia and China, we didn't insist on removing Saddam. That was like declaring war on Germany on leaving Hitler in power. Also, Congress didn't issue a formal war declaration. But Gulf War I showed that we're not surrounded by irrational America haters. Most countries just want evidence of a clear and present danger to the world or to a region. Iraq in 2002/2003 was neither. We shouldn't have been shocked that so few followed. Or that the ones we gathered are leaving. They had no real interest other than not pissing us off.

Re:Did you forget Gulf War I?

Well, thanks for the kind words but I still don't do podcasts or ?CIL?

The President has a fair amount of leeway in what he does with the armed forces. I do remember the first Gulf War and Herbert Walker Bush dragged the Congress with him not the other way around. In fact that could be said about most of the major wars we've been involved in.

-North Korea has gone nuclear - been nuclear since the 90s

-Iran is completely undeterred by our mighty actions and will soon go nuclear. - status quo for a while now, negotiations not likely to be the solution

-Two years after our invasion, Iraq (outside of Kurdish areas) is still a roiling mass of insurgent attacks. - not nearly that bad and what there is of it the Iraqis are at least free to decide their own fate

-Russia has asserted the right to attack terrorists (by their definition) anywhere in the world. Some of those "terrorists" will undoubtably prove to be our allies.
-China has legalized the use of force against Taiwan.

- welcome to the new Cold War

"Remaining at the top" through threats, first strikes, torture, indefinite detentions, and a disregard for non-American life is in no one's best interest. Remember that ends don't justify means. Aligning our actions with our values would be in everyone's best interest.

But what does that really mean? My values say "Peace through superior firepower".

And to continue with Gulf War I it was a complete failure. People talk about what we spend now, well how much did we spend then and since on flyovers as well as medical and food support that got undermined by the Oil-For-Food program?

Gulf War I reinfored the status quo and the status quo is no longer acceptable.

Ah, I finally understand, I think.

Not about our political differences...But about about "your" thoughtful podcasts.Looking only at your handle GregS, and not paying attention to your actual signature, I confused you with Greg Schwartz, owner of the excellent Open Stacks blog and creator of some great LIS related podcasting. I figured you ran multiple blogs just like Norma does and that your last "what are you talking about comment" was false modesty.Mr. McClay, Mr Greg Schwartz, I apologize to you both for my deeply stupid mistake.

Re:Did you forget Gulf War I?

"I do remember the first Gulf War and Herbert Walker Bush dragged the Congress with him not the other way around."President HW Bush certainly led the way, but there was an honest debate in Congress that didn't take place immediately prior to midterm elections.Also, there really wasn't anything to interpret: Iraq occupied Kuwait and built up its forces along Saudi Arabia. You either wrote off oil monarchies or defended national borders."But what does that really mean? My values say "Peace through superior firepower"."What part of "The ends don't justify the means" don't you understand? Or what other part of my prior statement don't you understand?"People talk about what we spend now, well how much did we spend then and since on flyovers as well as medical and food support that got undermined by the Oil-For-Food program?"You tell me or point to estimates. The Congressional Research Service estimates that Iraq will cost us approximately $192 Billion by the end of FY 2005. Plus the 1,500 American dead, the hundreds of allied dead, plus more than 12,000 American wounded; plus unknown thousands of Iraqi civillians killed.Somehow I think the American costs of the previous decade weren't as high. If you find studies that say different, let me know.As I've said repeatedly, nearly any price is acceptable if we're either engaging in actual defense or are preventing a genocide in progress. From what was known at the time, Iraq in 2002 was neither. We went to an optional war based on what Iraq might do someday, but we've been paying a real price ever since.We went to war with Iraq to counter a theoretical threat while ignoring a real-life genocide in progress in Sudan; nuclear proliferators in Pakistan; and while a large segment of Saudi society funded the only group known to strike US territory -- al Qaeda.

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