Lethargic IITian
Musings of a 20-something lethargic IITian on India and Catholicism.

Thursday, January 23, 2003  

Last night's BBC Hardtalk featured Keiren Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton in the UK. The main topic of discussion was, of course, the Church's opposition to the US/UK war in Iraq. In between, Tim Sebastien also touched upon other issues such as the Church's recent messages to politicians and the sex scandals.

First things first - Bishop Keiren cut a sorry sorry figure. He was steamrolled all over by Tim, could barely defend his points and marshall his resources. I'm not questioning his skills as a Bishop - just those as a spokesperson for the Church on television. If the Church cannot get better speakers to appear in public fora for it, one does not have to look far and see why the common man has scant respect for the Church any more.

What should the key moral points of the Church stand be? For a Just War, very simply:

  1. Just cause. The Catechism of the Catholic Church limits just cause to cases in which "the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations [is] lasting, grave and certain." [1] How is it "certain" that Iraq will possess weapons of mass destruction (wmd) and use it against its own people and/or the US? Bush and Blair claim to be privy to some kind of cabbalistic "intelligence". Where is this much-vaunted "intelligence"? Why is it not shared with other governments?

  2. Legitimate authority. What legitimate authority does the US have to attack Iraq? The only competent authority to pull up an entire nation is the UN. The US must remember that it is just one citizen (albeit a rich and powerful one) in a larger principality of nations (UN). Attacking Iraq unilaterally is the same as me taking a knife and stabbing my neighbour. When one individual kills another on his own authority, it's murder. When it is done with State Sanction, then it's punishment.

  3. Probability of success and proportionality. The use of force must have "serious prospects for success" and "must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated" (Catechism, #2309). Even if the war on Iraq manages to dislodge Saddam and prevent the proliferation of nukes from Iraq to terrorists (as if Iraq had any), the resulting hatred that the US will create in the Islamic world will be sufficient to completely destabilise peace in the region (Israel and Turkey, for instance). Not to mention more jehadis willing to lay their lives down to attack the US. These are evils and disorders graver than Saddam himself.

These were precisely the points that Bishop Kieren failed to press. At several points Tim pressed him with, "But the final authority to decide on war rests with the politicians, right?" And Bishop Kieren agreed.

I don't see why he could not simply have replied - "There is a big difference between power and authority." Possessing a gun gives me the power to kill someone, but not the authority to do so. If I am a soldier at war, then I am given the authority to kill the opponent (but even that, not indiscriminately).

George W. Bush and Tony Blair have the power to attack Iraq (and go it alone with impunity if they desire, probably). Not the authority. Their legitimate authority is derived from their positions as democratically elected representatives of their people. Of the people of US and UK - not Iraq. The only legally competent body that could give them that authority is the United Nations - that too because Iraq has accepted the UN as a higher authority (remember, through all the sanctions, Iraq continues to be a member of the UN).[2]

I've noticed this on a few occasions in the past as well, but Hardtalk seems to pick on speakers who seem incapable of defending their points under fire. I wonder if this is a deliberate attempt on the side of the producers to put through an agenda.

[1] From the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' statement on Iraq.

[2] Of course, under conditions of war and aggression, the aggressor devolves the authority to be prosecuted on the aggressed - which is why the aggressed can resort to any means necessary and sufficient to defend itself.

posted by Kensy | 8:44 PM
Comments: Post a Comment
past blogs of interest
Hinduism as a religion
Pederasty and the American Church
Caste in Indian Christianity
Syro-Malabar engagements
Syro-Malabar weddings
Divine Retreat Centre
Varsha Bhosle and Ideological Relativism
Anti-Conversion Ordinance and the Church stance
Self-Righteous Rightism
The Hindutva Attack on St. Francis Xavier
Varsha Bhosle and the Church (U-turn)
Mail me! (replace the [AT] with an @)