Tuesday, April 15, 2003

From the diocesan newspaper of the Diocese of Albany:

Throughout the quarter-century of his pontificate, John Paul has preached repeatedly about "solidarity," that is, the unity of the human race as God's creation. The term has become a byword of his papacy, one that he juxtaposes with such values as truth, charity and justice. The idea of solidarity is why he rails so often against market forces that allow the rich to dominate the poor; the notion of solidarity led him to call on the Northern Hemisphere to forgive the indebtedness of its Southern neighbors; solidarity is the reason he so often speaks about ecumenical and interfaith amity.

By insisting so much on solidarity, the Pope may have added a new dimension to a major tenet of the just-war theory. That theory holds that a nation cannot go to war except in self-defense. Among the primary moral and political objections to the war in Iraq was that the coalition forces moved without firm proof that they were defending themselves. But it could be argued -- on the basis of the Pope's own theory of solidarity -- that the years of horror perpetrated against the Iraqi people by Saddam Hussein were provocation against everyone in the world who treasures such values as truth, charity and justice. Indeed, what Saddam inflicted on his people seems to fit perfectly one part of the definition of the just-war theory, as given in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: damage that was "lasting, grave and certain."

If the concept of solidarity had been previously added to the just-war theory, its other elements might have fallen into place in the case of the Iraqi crisis: alternate means of achieving peace, such as years of diplomacy and negotiation, proved to be ineffective; the prospects for success are very high; and the use of modern arms seems not to be producing "evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated."

Thanks to Mark Shea for the link!