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[casi] US Taking Case for War to Vatican

Seems as if the Vatican has been making too much noise lately regarding the
moral bankruptcy of US policy. How dare the US think it has any right to
lecture the head of a church of over 1 billion people on what constitutes
"just war"? What arrogance!
January 16, 2003

U.S. taking its case for war to Vatican
By Larry Witham

     The U.S. ambassador to the Vatican will hold a forum in Rome to argue to
Catholic Church officials that a pre-emptive strike in Iraq would be a "just
war," a moral argument that the pope and U.S. bishops have rejected so far.
Top Stories
     The presentations to Vatican officials are likely to include American
Catholic philosophers, such as Michael Novak of the American Enterprise
Institute, who have argued that the threats of terrorism and weapons of mass
destruction justify new military strategies.
     Jim Nicholson, the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, confirmed the plan to
Catholic News Service this week and organizers in Washington said it will
likely be held from Feb. 8 to Feb. 10.
     "It's going to be around that weekend," a staff member close to the
plans said yesterday. "The agenda may already be pinned down."
     The forum will "try to enlighten the dialogue on the moral analysis of
when war might be morally justified," Mr. Nicholson told the wire service
     Mr. Nicholson, along with other proponents of a new "pre-emptive strike"
view of a just war, said terrorist attacks and weapons of mass destruction
have changed the moral equation.
     "The clarification of thought on everyone's part is a good thing," said
Catholic philosopher George Weigel, who writes on the topic in January's
issue of First Things.
      But he said no one would expect the Vatican to endorse a particular
military action.
     The symposium in Rome will come after Pope John Paul II, in his first
mention of the Iraq crisis, on Monday, told diplomats to the Vatican that
military force must be "the very last option" and under "very strict"
     "War is not always inevitable," he said in his annual address. "It is
always a defeat for humanity."
     After the speech, Mr. Nicholson said President Bush agreed that war was
a last resort and that it could be averted if Iraq abides by U.N. resolutions
and gets rid of its weapons of mass destruction.
     Just-war doctrine says a war must be defensive, a last resort, likely to
succeed and unlikely to produce more harm than remedy.
     By those criteria, the U.S. Catholic bishops in November said a
pre-emptive attack on Iraq is not morally justified.
     In December, Archbishop Renato Martino of the Pontifical Council for
Justice and Peace said: "A preventive war is a war of aggression, there's no
doubt. It is not included in the definition of a just war."
     The moral argument of the pre-emptive strike, or "preventive war,"
doctrine, its advocates say, is to curtail unimaginable destruction by
nipping it in the bud.
     "If we knew on September 10 what was going to happen on September 11,
would we not have been justified in taking some action against that?" said
Mr. Nicholson, a Catholic and former head of the Republican National
     He said that last fall Mr. Bush corresponded with the pope and that U.S.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the
Vatican secretary of state.
     "It has generated, I think, a pretty healthy discussion within the walls
of the Vatican, among the Curia, and certainly in the Catholic press," Mr.
Nicholson said in the news service interview.
     The United States has had diplomatic relations with the Vatican since
the Reagan administration, and issues such as the Soviet Union, Bosnia, the
Middle East and now Iraq have been topics on the diplomatic table.
     The pope opposed the 1991 Persian Gulf war and has lamented the embargo
on food to Iraq's populace.
     Though investigative reports have argued that President Reagan and Pope
John Paul II worked together to aid the Solidarity movement in Poland, thus
sparking the fall of Soviet communism, Reagan administration officials,
including Vatican Ambassador Vernon Walters, have denied the report.

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