More Just War
In “A Church for Peace” (September 9), Lisa Sowle Cahill states that church teaching allowing the limited use of violence in just-war doctrine (which Cahill labels “theory”) shows inconsistency, incoherence, or pastoral concession. There is no inconsistency when we assert that it is absolutely wrong ever to intend harm to anyone. In legitimate defense or war, the intention is to stop the attack, not to harm the attacker. Consider the shooting of the murderous truck driver in Nice. Under the conditions of last resort and proportionality, the intent would not have been (or should not have been) to harm the driver but to stop the truck that was being driven as a weapon. Police and soldiers who follow the protocols for the use of lethal force are not intending to harm people—and so there is no inconsistency in the church’s absolute condemnation of directly harming people while teaching we may use force to defend others and ourselves that indirectly results in harm or death.
That just-war teaching has been used to endorse war rather than prevent or limit it does not mean the teaching is untrue or useless for preventing or limiting war. The principle of double effect that is integral to the whole of Catholic moral teaching is at work, not only in the teaching on legitimate defense, but also in the whole of life, such as in giving pain medicines that shorten life or treatment of ectopic pregnancies that results in the death of the embryo. We need a greater pedagogy toward peace, but it is not served by overlooking the precision of the church’s teaching.
Fr. Stephen Rocker
Your editorial on the value of the Hyde Amendment (“Why Hyde Matters,” September 9) misses the mark in several respects. You criticize Hillary Clinton for her position in opposing this law because it might cost her votes. What this means is that you are advocating that her campaign decisions be made on the basis of cold and cynical political calculation, rather than principle and integrity. Has it even occurred to you that perhaps Clinton is simply trying to do the right thing, rather than the most politically useful thing?
Another problem with your editorial position is that, in arguing against any publicly funded abortions, what you are doing is advocating for a public policy that allows rich people to obtain abortions but denies that same right to poor people. Don’t poor people also have the right to medical care?
While it is true that many European countries place a twelve-week limit on abortions, it is not fair to compare this to the United States. European countries generally have free medical care available to all, in stark contrast to the United States. Poor women in Europe are therefore much more likely to see a doctor early in their pregnancies and then get good advice about their options going forward.
Finally, you throw in the loaded and misleading world “elective” near the end of your editorial. This is a blatant mischaracterization of the very painful and gut-wrenching decisions women are called upon to make concerning their reproductive options. It implies that the decision to have an abortion is something made lightly, similar to the decision of what to eat for supper. The use of the term “elective” is highly unfair to the women of this country.
I am a Jesuit priest. I am writing not about your editorial “Georgetown’s Sins & Ours” (September 23), but just to thank Commonweal for publishing the beautiful article Kathleen DeSutter Jordan wrote commemorating her friend Sister Ann Manganaro, SL. It allows us to understand the truth of Raïssa Maritain’s “lovely reflection” about the holiness of friendship. I am very grateful to Ms. DeSutter Jordan.
Lucien Longtin, SJ