Page 4, 20th May 1983

20th May 1983
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Page 4, 20th May 1983 — The politics of war and peace
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The politics of war and peace

"APATHY in the face of doom" (Leader, April 15) wasn't, I assume, intended to pronounce on the bomb quite as finally as I A Emerson, April 29, takes it.

Maybe — though I venture to doubt it — "almost all moral theologians" judge nuclear weapons "to be wrong in themselves". But anyhow whether or not weapons could be at once both "wrong" and "justifiable as deterrents" — theologians for their part. I believe, would he the first to acknowledge that they are not the final arbiters in faith or morals; that instead their special and excellent role is "to serve the magisterium" (Redempior hominis, 19) — certainly not to oppose it or, on issues already decided, even to sit the fence. "He that is not with me is against me."

It is, after all, at Christ's command, and fortified by his prayer, that it falls to Simon Peter (and his successors in their turn) to confirm his brethren — not the other way round (Luke 22; 31.32). While the real "doom" Peter is thus armed to protect them from isn't (it seems plain) primarily physical at all, but the leave given Satan to "sift" others, even the saintliest possibly, not so singularly appointed by Christ.

"Fear not them that kill the body .

. but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body" (Matt. 10:28) is the priority our Redeemer gives mankind; and not Peter himself, I take it, may put the salvation of anyone seriously at risk.

Accordingly, if almost all theologians do indeed declare the bomb to be wrong in itself, it can only be that the Popes have done so already.

Which takes us, I suggest, to the "hypothetical question" the Leader ends with: namely that "something considered intrinsically evil is matched by . . . say, contraception" as condemned by the Church absolutely.

Except, as it happens, that the latter condemnations by their explicitness and finality in reality serve only to illustrate, as if from a fresh angle, the absence of any such absolute ban on the bomb: as, for example, in Pope John Paul's latest peace message, with its renewed confirmation of the morality of deterrents notwithstanding the arrival of the nuclear age.

Indeed this "absence". I suspect", chiefly accounts for a certain coolness in the reception given the message in, as we have seen, some professedly Catholic quarters. Yet what else do we witness here, I submit, but "Peter" confirming his brethren yet again in anxious times when Christian opinion might seem much bedevilled.

S E MacKenzie Surrey.

From Lord Rawlinson

THE EXPRESSION of belief by some Catholics that one of our priests should not be the full-time official of CND is neither a "smear" nor a personal attack upon a priest as a priest.

It is the expressions of genuine belief that it is not right for the Church to have one of her priests so officially identified with the administration of an organisation which is advancing some particular political viewpoint on the defence and peace policy of our nation.

All of us are dedicated to preserving peace. Those with actual experience of war are often the most dedicated. But in the defence and peace debate of today there exists two viewpoints; that of the multilateralists and that of the unilateralists. There are devout Catholics who honestly believe that the unilateralists (the CND) do not serve well the cause of the preservation of world peace nor serve well the defence of our country.

Mgr Kent would not agree, and I respect him for his obvious sincerity. Indeed he has expressed his personal belief that the Holy Father should,

in effect, come out directly in favour of unilateralism.

The Holy Father has not, but the Holy Father has warned against priests becoming too directly engaged in politics.

And the multilatera.

list/unilateralist United Kingdom defence policy debate is now, for the first time, squarely in the arena of party politics. The Conservatives and it appears, the Alliance? (via Dr Owen) favour multilateralism; the Labour and Communist parties unilateralism.

I personally would object strenuously if a priest sought and obtained office in the post of an official in any group organised to support multilateralism.

So I certainly can appreciate the very difficult situations in which our Cardinal is put. He it is who should have not only our loyalty and affection but also our understanding. For on this matter there does arise very strong differences of opinion.

Why then cries of "smears", and why some scarcely courteous attacks on those who are very troubled at a priest being in the centre of a political whirlpool? But then there is an old saying in my profession . .. if you have a bad case, abuse the others attorney.

It would be sad indeed if Catholics cannot conduct this argument with charity and personal respect. It is surely about a matter of importance and of principle.

Rawlinson House of Lords




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