Benedict XVI on military force to restore conditions of peace

One of the most useful document of Pope Benedict’s pontificate is his 2006 Message for the World Day of Peace.  He had been elected in April 2005 and this Message was therefore one of the first things he did.  The Message was officially signed 8 December.  Think about him working on something like this around the time when he was also working on his famous address to the Roman Curia at the end of 2005.

In his 2006 Message Benedict discusses the threat to peace offered from extreme positions, atheistic materialism and, on the other hand, religious fanaticism.  Without question he had in mind Islamic extremism.

8. Here I wish to express gratitude to the international organizations and to all those who are daily engaged in the application of international humanitarian law. Nor can I fail to mention the many soldiers engaged in the delicate work of resolving conflicts and restoring the necessary conditions for peace. [Military intervention is sometimes necessary to clear obstacles to peace.]I wish to remind them of the words of the Second Vatican Council: ”All those who enter the military in service to their country should look upon themselves as guardians of the security and freedom of their fellow-countrymen, and, in carrying out this duty properly, they too contribute to the establishment of peace”. On this demanding front the Catholic Church’s military ordinariates carry out their pastoral activity: I encourage both the military Ordinaries and military chaplains to be, in every situation and context, faithful heralds of the truth of peace.

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9. Nowadays, the truth of peace continues to be dramatically compromised and rejected by terrorism, whose criminal threats and attacks leave the world in a state of fear and insecurity. My predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II frequently pointed out the awful responsibility borne by terrorists, while at the same time condemning their senseless and deadly strategies. These are often the fruit of a tragic and disturbing nihilism which Pope John Paul II described in these words: ”Those who kill by acts of terrorism actually despair of humanity, of life, of the future. In their view, everything is to be hated and destroyed”. Not only nihilism, but also religious fanaticism, today often labeled fundamentalism, can inspire and encourage terrorist thinking and activity. From the beginning, John Paul II was aware of the explosive danger represented by fanatical fundamentalism, and he condemned it unsparingly, while warning against attempts to impose, rather than to propose for others freely to accept, one’s own convictions about the truth. [NB: An important key to understanding Benedict’s approach to pretty much everything: propose, don’t impose.] As he wrote: ”To try to impose on others by violent means what we consider to be the truth is an offence against the dignity of the human being, and ultimately an offence against God in whose image he is made”.

10. Looked at closely, nihilism and the fundamentalism of which we are speaking share an erroneous relationship to truth: the nihilist denies the very existence of truth, while the fundamentalist claims to be able to impose it by force. Despite their different origins and cultural backgrounds, both show a dangerous contempt for human beings and human life, and ultimately for God himself. Indeed, this shared tragic outcome results from a distortion of the full truth about God: nihilism denies God’s existence and his provident presence in history, while fanatical fundamentalism disfigures his loving and merciful countenance, replacing him with idols made in its own image. In analyzing the causes of the contemporary phenomenon of terrorism, consideration should be given, not only to its political and social causes, but also to its deeper cultural, religious and ideological motivations.

11. In view of the risks which humanity is facing in our time, all Catholics in every part of the world have a duty to proclaim and embody ever more fully the ”Gospel of Peace”, and to show that acknowledgment of the full truth of God is the first, indispensable condition for consolidating the truth of peace.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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18 Responses to Benedict XVI on military force to restore conditions of peace

  1. msc says:

    How I wish he had been ten years younger when he became Pope. Hearing that “Joseph…” in the announcement of his election was one of the more thrilling moments in my life.

  2. CradleRevert says:

    Unfortunately, I believe it is the impose mentality of our past and current interventions in the Middle East that has in large part aided the recruiting efforts of groups like ISIS.

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  4. Supertradmum says:

    Fr. Z., Thank you for this post. I meet more Catholics who are pacifists more than imposers or proposers, especially in Europe, where defense is not even seen as a good. Sadly, many Catholics no longer believe in any type of military force, leaving the field to a real enemy who is in love with violence.

    Until Catholics regain an appreciation that spiritual warfare bursts out into physical and material warfare, much of what the Church teaches on defense and just war theory is lost on these people.

    I suppose relativism and subjectivism have ruined the ability of some Catholics to be able to judge when fighting is necessary.

  5. LarryW2LJ says:

    It seems too many Catholics have ONLY the image of the kind and gentle Jesus permanently etched into their brains. Many forget, or would like to forget the Jesus that took out the whip and skeedaddled the money changers from the temple. (Or that He asked people to repent for that matter!)

    No one wants war – ever. It’s a horrid thing. But I don’t think Jesus wanted us to be pacifistic, politically correct navel gazers that would just stand by and be slaughtered.

  6. jacobi says:

    I didn’t know of this document, but it really says it all, and is so relevant to today’s world.

    Formal wars are unlikely. The military now exist to protect us against terrorism, not political, but religious.

    Yes, by all means let us dialogue and preach the peace of the Gospel, but with a weapon at the ready.
    Such are the opponents we are up against nowadays.

  7. KM Edwards says:

    Paragraph 8 is critical. But only a first step in my humble opinion.

    The Popes, since Paul VI encouraged Catholic nations to drop their constitutional Catholic name, have effectively allowed or even encouraged the fall of “Christendom” per se, that is, nations that declare themselves constitutionally Catholic. Without constitutionally Catholic nations, Catholics have no political strength in the world anymore [the watering down of faith and morals further compounds this to the point that it is hard to talk about “Catholic voter blocs” within these post-Catholic secular nations anymore].

    Now imagine what is going in Iraq today if we did have constitutionally Catholic countries.

    They could form a Catholic league, both economic and military. As a military league, the Catholic nations could send troops to aid Kurdistan and air lift Chaldean Catholics out of harm’s way and support them in humanitarian ways. As an added measure of Christian charity, the Catholic league could extend their support to the pagan Yazidis as well, thereby accelerating the potential that many of them would convert to the true faith.

    Since today in 2014 most countries that were constitutionally Catholic no longer are, very sadly, this will likely not happen any time soon. An alternative therefore would be for the Pope to create in law one or more ordinae militiae, like the Knights Hospitallers of St John, aka The Knights of Malta. The latter are the oldest recognized entity at the United Nations. They have devolved into less of a military character in recent decades. But this could be changed.

    Such an order could provide a home for all those decent Catholic soldiers in the US and other NATO countries who are being bullied by homo-nazis for offering Mass on military bases, to leave the US/NATO military and join the Catholic ordinae militiae, Catholic Jedi Knights so to speak, fighting to defend the Catholic brethren worldwide, and embark on these missions to fight for and protect Catholics in the Middle East, Pakistan, Africa and perhaps even these here US of A.

    They could also provide real-time security at the parish level against activists who occasionally invade parishes and demand Holy Communion in spite of their lack of spiritual preparation and penance.

    The Holy Father might even then be able to use these ordinae militiae to physically remove wayward bishops and priests who disobey him or sign declarations in favor of immoral and heretical changes to foment the demise of the faith and morals within each archdiocese.

    Considering the potential good such a global Catholic military order could achieve, one has to believe that the lack of global Catholic ordinae Militiae is the precise reason why secular media, Islamic Jihadists, and many others cultural, religious and ethnic blocks no longer regard the safety and welfare of Catholics as important. Such orders could rekindle a regard for Catholics among those global entities and powers-that-be who recognize nothing but force.

    I’m offering my Rosaries for a Catholic military order to be created for the defense of our brethren in the East. May it come to pass soon.

  8. Luvadoxi says:

    And we’ll all stay free….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHUFiG1YBwc

  9. Bosco says:

    “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” (Pope Benedict XVI quoting the Byzantine Emporer Manuel II Paleologus on 12 September 2006 from a dialogue between the Emporer and a Persian Scholar recorded in 1391).

    “‘Pope Benedict’s statement don’t reflect my own opinions’, the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires declared. ‘These statements will serve to destroy in 20 seconds the careful construction of a relationship with Islam that Pope John Paul II built over the last twenty years'”. (The Telegraph 15 March 2013)

    I wonder how’s that relationship between Islam and Christianity doing at the moment, Your Holiness?

  10. Kerry says:

    Revert, not so! The believe and believed what they preach without any help from anyone. Cutting children in half with knives is just some angry response, like keying a car?

  11. Bea says:

    [NB: An important key to understanding Benedict’s approach to pretty much everything: propose, don’t impose.]

    Unfortunately, P. Francis’ approach isn’t even this, when he faced his Fundamentalist friends and said he didn’t want to proselytize. How are we to teach the Truth if we don’t even propose but only dialogue.

    So much for Truth, as for Peace, here, I believe, we must IMPOSE. Just like the bully in the schoolyard, he won’t understand words to behave, to be good, to be peaceful, to dialogue. The bully would just laugh in your face, but a fist in the face, he would understand. A couple of days ago the Pope said one doesn’t stop violence with violence, but that is the only language violent people understand.

    Pius V understood this when he called the Catholic world to arms and defended Europe at Lepanto.

  12. marcelus says:

    BoBosco says:
    13 August 2014 at 3:29 pm
    “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” (Pope Benedict XVI quoting the Byzantine Emporer Manuel II Paleologus on 12 September 2006 from a dialogue between the Emporer and a Persian Scholar recorded in 1391).

    “‘Pope Benedict’s statement don’t reflect my own opinions’, the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires declared. ‘These statements will serve to destroy in 20 seconds the careful construction of a relationship with Islam that Pope John Paul II built over the last twenty years’”. (The Telegraph 15 March 2013)

    I wonder how’s that relationship between Islam and Christianity doing at the moment, Your Holiness?

    Bea:

    Bea says:
    13 August 2014 at 10:27 pm
    [NB: An important key to understanding Benedict’s approach to pretty much everything: propose, don’t impose.]

    Unfortunately, P. Francis’ approach isn’t even this, when he faced his Fundamentalist friends and said he didn’t want to proselytize. How are we to teach the Truth if we don’t even propose but only dialogue.

    So much for Truth, as for Peace, here, I believe, we must IMPOSE. Just like the bully in the schoolyard, he won’t understand words to behave, to be good, to be peaceful, to dialogue. The bully would just laugh in your face, but a fist in the face, he would understand. A couple of days ago the Pope said one doesn’t stop violence with violence, but that is the only language violent people understand.

    Pius V understood this when he called the Catholic world to arms and defended Europe at Lepanto.

    Are you for any resason leaving out the part where Benedict apologized to the Muslin???

    PLease, do not cover your face with one hand.

    “Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) — Pope Benedict XVI apologized in person today for causing offense to Muslims with a university lecture last week implicitly linking Islam to violence.

    “I am truly sorry for the reactions caused by a brief passage of my speech,” the pope said from his Castel Gandolfo summer retreat in Italy. “These were quotations from a medieval text that do not express in any way my personal opinion.”

    Twice he had to apologize:

    Pope’s Angelus[edit]

    On 17 September, before his regular weekly Sunday Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict XVI stated the following:

    At this time, I wish also to add that I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims. These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought. Yesterday, the Cardinal Secretary of State published a statement in this regard in which he explained the true meaning of my words. I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect.[61]

    The apology is the second for the pope in two days after a statement was released yesterday through the Vatican in which the pope reiterated his respect for Islam and said he was sorry his speech had been interpreted in a way he hadn’t intended.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aKbMHhuvCE6A

    There is another where he calls the qran “sacred book”

    Neeed I remaind you of St-JP2 kissing the green book also? “God protect Islam?Remember?

    In any case, no other modern Pope has faced Islam like Francis has had to. And he has been clear, thru him or his Cardinals, whom he sent to Irak in the middle of the conflict, in his messages , in his claim of reciprocity in EG, urging the UN to act…

    PLease if you are going to keep tha fashionable Francis bashing, you may have to look for another topic. Not this one on Islam. Sure you’ll many many more. The hate distilled towards Francis or at least toleration instead of love is remarkable.Sad to see “Catholics” directly looking out to hit on the Pope for whatever reason, being as he is, THE ONLY PETER.

  13. Bosco says:

    @marcelus,
    So when Cardinal Bergolio jerked the rug out from beneath Pope Benedict XVI that was acceptable? Certainly Pope Benedict XVIs quote about Islam would not have catapulted him onto the cover of Rolling Stone or Time.

    As for any backtracking on Pope Benedict XVIs part, may I suggest that there is a distinction between regretting that certain hearers took offence and repudiating what was said.

    If, as you say:

    “…no other modern Pope has faced Islam like Francis has had to”, then it may in no small part be due to Cardinal Bergolio’s having publicly diminished the former Pope Benedict XVI as he had done and, in cannily diminishing Benedict XVI in the Muslim world, Bergolio diminished the very office he would himself later came to occupy.

    There was no ‘Francis bashing’ in any remark of mine. One reaps what one sows.

  14. marcelus says:

    @Bosco

    @marcelus,
    “So when Cardinal Bergolio jerked the rug out from beneath Pope Benedict XVI that was acceptable?”
    My friend, no offense but you are watching science fiction here.
    I believe not many will agree with that. A conspiracy?

    Do you remember Vatileaks,corruption, the butler and the rest??

    Benedict unfortunately had to leave since issues to be tacked were far too many and far to complicated for him for a man like him. He said it himself: I’m no leader, my reing will be short.
    believe me this may well be the opinion of the vast mayority of catholics worlswide, not because I say so.
    Constantly Looking for reasons to hit on this Pope, (popular here) and if you do not like the terms bashing, which does not limit itself to insulting, is something quite similar.

    But seriously and if I got this correctly: are you saying Francis staged a coup d’etat on Benedict? is this correct?

  15. Bosco says:

    @marcelus,

    You asked:

    “…are you saying Francis staged a coup d’etat on Benedict? is this correct?”

    Short answer: Not at all.

    Longer answer: Please re-read what I actually wrote. Peace.

  16. JTH says:

    Si vis pacem para bellum.