The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Via Drudge I found a Reuters report that the Vatican (which is to say the Pope) has warned the anti-Iraq coalition that it is "responsible before God":

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican said on Tuesday countries that decide to wage war on Iraq without a global consensus must take responsibility before God and history -- making clear the Pope would not endorse their actions.

"Those who decide that all peaceful means that international law makes available are exhausted assume a grave responsibility before God, their conscience and history," said Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls.

This is an astonishingly immoral statement, completely at odds with what a religious institution should be saying. By demanding that the US and its allies follow "international law", the Vatican has raised the laws of man -- specific laws of specific corrupt and sinful men -- on a pedestal and proclaimed them as the works of God's mercy.

In this context "international law" means the imprimatur of the United Nations Security Council. It is true that the United States has not obtained a vote sanctioning an attack on Iraq. This was because France, China, and Russia threatened vetos. But the idea of five countries wielding veto power is not a pillar of international law; it is merely a detail of how the United Nations was set up in 1945. If there were no veto power, the resolution authoring the use of force would likely have passed 9 to 8 or 10 to 7.

Consider all of the reductio ad absurdum arguments that one can pose at this point. Suppose only China were opposed to a war and threatened to veto. Is the Pope saying that the actions of dictatorial atheists would determine whether George Bush were "responsible before God"? Suppose there were no veto and one country, say Guinea, were the swing vote. Does the Pope believe that God's attitude toward George Bush would change depending on the foreign policy of Conakry? Presumably in this scenario severe pressure would be used behind the scenes to obtain Guinea's vote. Would George Bush then be under obligation to use highest bribes or most threatening blackmail, to save his standing before the Lord?

I don't remember the Pope saying anything about Saddam Hussein's responsibility before God. What does it say about a religious leader who will criticize a politician because he is not universally admired by other politicians and by dictators -- but will not make a peep about a dictator's crimes against humanity? It is said that murder and torture "cry out to God". God may listen, but the Pope is deaf.



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