Page 2, 21st December 1956

21st December 1956
Page 2
Page 2, 21st December 1956 — Catholic Division

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Catholic Division

Sir, The most disturbing feature of the dispute over the Suez crisis in your columns is the fact that among Catholics there can be any dispute at all and that the Church in England has failed to give any clear lead to Catholics at all.

The Church lays down moral principles as to what constitutes a Just war for the guidance of Catholics. As has been pointed out by "Catholic Priest," our Government's Suez venture satisfies none of the requirements for such a war.

Yet Catholics and the Hierarchy. who speak with one voice and with such firmness on most moral issues. are .divided and, officially, silent on a matter involving war.

The Church, quite rightly, never tires of condemning Communism. But that doesn't need any moral courage or spiritual insight. Of course we all oppose Communism, we wouldn't be Catholics if we didn't but now, when our own Government is involved. that same Church is silent.

was also horrified to read in a recent " CH." leader on Suez that, if our action foiled Russian ambitions in the Middle East. that alone would justify it.

Surely an abiding difference between Catholicism and Communism is that with us evil means can never be condoned, even for a good end (in the " Mother or Child" controversy and debates on contraception, divorce or mercy killing that is one of the main points of our argument).

It is difficult enough for the Church to live down the time when it always supported-or seemed to support, which is just as bad-the Ruling Class, and actions like this don't make it any easier.

John B. Butler.

Our correspondent begs the question. If it is claimed that all and any military action is immoral (the pacifist view), then it would follow that the Anglo-French intervention was wrong, and it would be the duty of all Catholics to denounce it. Our correspondent first states that just warfare requires the observance of certain conditions and later seems to talk of ntilitary intervention as " evil"

in itself. Whether or not the conditions of a just war are fulfilled in any given case is. in many instances, arguable. It is not therefore surprising or scandalous that in such instances Catholics may he divided. Certainly they cannot be condemned for this on the quite different contention (not held by the Church as such) that all Military action is evil and therefore always unjustifiable. EDITOR. " C.H."

Perverse Principles

Sir,-In a society made up of independent States which have not yet succeeded in placing a supranational authority over themselves, urgent necessity requires that the order of justice and right should prevail in order to ensure peace, which is an indispen,able condition of prosperity and an essential element of the common good.

If this order is seriously threatened by the perverse will of one of the States concerned, and peaceful methods are unable to maintain it, the only thing the injured State can do is to take the protection of its rights into its own hands. Thus reason justifies a defensive war by which a State endeavours to repel an unjust aggression, an offensive war by which it seeks to restore an essential right, and a war of intervention by which a friendly Power gives armed assistance to a belligerent in similar circumstances.

Your correspondent, a Catholic priest, applies the conditions relating to a just war too rigidly, as if circumstances were of no account! Ile also has some very confused ideas concerning the efficacy of the United Nations Organisation, and appears to believe the Government action in the Suez Canal to he wrong. merely because some Conservatives admit " the risks involved by the action of their leaders."

Moreover, his timid approach to the whole problem of war, is reiterated in the letter of your reader Timothy Herlihy, who it would appear advocates sacrificing principle for peace. . . . "To tolerate patiently injuries suffered by others is an act of imperfection and even a vice if it is possible to resist the aggressor." (St. Thomas Aquinas.) John J. O'Brien.

26 Observatory Road, East Sheen, London, S.W. 14.

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