To the Catholic Bishops…

/ 24 June 2004

David Batstone has a compelling letter out in (the E-mail network of Sojourners magazine) addressed to the US Catholic Bishops, wherein he asks them to consider the consistency of their public positions on social issues (particularly the willingness of some of them to condemn politicians who support pro-choice legislation, while being silent on the actions of politicians who support the war in Iraq). I will quote it at length:

Allow me to pursue one example - though I could name others that you selectively choose to de-prioritize - at depth. We recently have witnessed in the United States a decision and act by our political leaders to pre-emptively invade a sovereign nation-state. The social teaching of the Church explicitly prohibits and condemns such aggressive behavior. Pope John Paul II certainly understands this fact, as he made clear in an audience with President George W. Bush last month.

Even on humanitarian lines, one would ask for irrefutable moral grounds that might justify the military attack of one country against the people of another. The fact that the Bush administration each day revises, redefines, and rewrites the reasons for taking the United States to war is sufficient proof that its justification was at best flawed and at worst fabricated.

I have not heard one U.S. Bishop even suggest that Holy Communion might be withheld for any politician who enacted, or voted for, the immoral pre-emptive invasion of Iraq. Yet the consequent loss of human lives - both Iraqi and American - and the devastation of Iraqi society have been nothing short of tragic. Furthermore, this act of spiritual arrogance - invoking God's guidance while invading - has deepened historical animosities that surely will lead to more senseless bloodshed in the Middle East and across the globe.

I wish more of us would call the bishops to task in this way — I will work on composing my own letter now.