George Weigel has weighed in on Archbishop Renato Martino’s comments that “there can be no just war.” While heaping praise upon Archbishop Martino for his previous work as the Vatican’s UN ambassador, he questions the propriety of some of his recent comments, most notably in an interview with the National Catholic Register.
Question: “Are you suggesting there is no such thing as a just war anymore?”
Archbishop Martino: “Absolutely. I think with modern weaponry, there is no proportionality between the offense and the reply. It makes much more damage. War is so destructive now. It is not just a fight between one person and another.”
First, Weigel disposes of the notion that what Martino says here carries the weight of religious obedience for Catholics. As he says, there is a difference between the prudential judgment of Vatican officials and the teaching authority of the Church, a difference which many Catholics have a hard time grasping.
As for the specific contention that a just war is not possible Weigel responds:
That is not the teaching of the Catholic Church. It is the personal opinion of Archbishop Martino. And, in all charity, it seems an opinion uninfluenced by pertinent facts.
The fact of the matter lls out for clarification. Are Bishop Botean and Archbishop Martino right? Are our soldiers fighting an unjust war and thus putting their salvation in peril or is the determination of a just war a prudential judgment according to their consciences? It’s not a matter to be taken lightly and it would seem that a judgment of the Church is demanded. Why have not heard from our bishops on it then?