Apropos the previous New Oxford Note, it’s time for one of those “smarty-pants” New Oxford Notes. The neoconservative National Catholic Register (Nov. 27-Dec. 3, 2005) has a kill-the-insurgents editorial disguised as the lead front-page news story.
The story begins with a softball question. A Catholic soldier in Iraq killed an insurgent, and he asks, “Will I burn in hell?” He thinks it’s a violation of the Fifth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”
Of course, every Catholic should know that the Commandment does not forbid “killing”; it forbids murder. If the Catholic soldier really thought it outlawed “killing,” why was he serving in Iraq and why did he join the military in the first place?
The story includes an interview with pro-war Judy McCloskey from an online support group for Catholics fighting in Iraq. She complains, according to the story, that “some Catholic ethicists have confused the issue.” Well, yes, Catholic ethicists such as Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), but they have hardly “confused” the issue, in fact they have clarified it, for both of them pronounced the war on Iraq to be unjust.
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If the Seamless Garment links the sparing of innocent human life with the sparing of guilty human life (the murderer or invader of the household or the invader of the country) then the Garment is full of seams.
Christians in Iraq are perceived as being allied with the foreign occupiers, but the Americans provide no special protection for them.
Rather than mustering the courage to stand alone, Catholics find it easier to follow popular American political opinion.