The Jesuit General’s selective indignation

The Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Adolfo Nicholas, in an interview issued a blistering criticism of the Obama Administration regarding Syria. The whole text is on the site of Vatican Radio.

Here is the summary with my emphases:

The Jesuit General has accused the United States and France of an “abuse of power”, in considering military action in Syria and says the Jesuits fully support Pope Francis’ call for a day of prayer and fasting in support of peace this Saturday.

While he says he would not normally comment on international or political situations, [!] Father General Adolfo Nicolás SJ says the current circumstances mean he cannot keep silent, stating: “I cannot understand who gave the United States or France the right to act against a country in a way that will certainly increase the suffering of the citizens of that country, who, by the way, have already suffered beyond measure.”

Fr Nicolás outlines three fundamental problems. Firstly, an abuse of power which, he says, would be like “the big boy of the neighbourhood” abusing, harassing and bullying the weaker members of the community. Secondly, he expresses concern about the lack of concrete information about the use of chemical weapons in Syria. And he highlights in particular the impact that any military action by the US and France would have upon “the ordinary innocent and poor people” of Syria.

Here’s my question for Fr. Nicholas, SJ.

If it’s suddenly okay to weigh in and denounce the Obama Administration on a matter of geo-politics, where have you been when it comes to the Pres. Obama’s promotion of abortion and a culture of death? HMMMM?!?

Obama and SYRIA: high dudgeon and smug indignation.

There’s a lack of “concrete information” about the use of chemical weapons in Syria?

Father Nicholas, there’s NO LACK of concrete information on the number of abortions.

There is NO LACK of concrete information about other evils that the Obama Administration is promoting.

Where have you and your Jesuits been?  The biggest religious order in the Catholic Church, are you?

Harassing and bullying someone who is weak?


Suffering without measure in Syria?

THAT’s what drives you to break your silence in the press?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in I'm just askin'..., Liberals, The Drill and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Phil_NL says:

    As I say every time a bishop goes overboard: take this simple advice, and stay silent on matters of prudential judgement.

    But apparently, that is very difficult. But why? Yes, you cannot ride your favorite political hobbyhorse in public, but if you want to do that, go into politics.

    And for the record, I do think intervention in Syria is a bad idea, but that’s simply because whom it will benefit: equally diststeful – and murderous – Al Qaida affiliates. Apart from going in and spending 20 years to clean up the mess (and probably 200 more to bring some sort of civilization) there’s no hope for Syria, and I’m pretty sure the west isn’t willing to take on such a commitment. But the reason that the US doesn’t have ‘the right’ to lob some Tomahawks through Assad’s letterbox is nonsense. The US has every right to do just that, simply on account of the fact Assad is an enemy to the US interests as well (supporting hezbollah), and that’s before we come to the humanitarian argument. Any sovereign state has the right to wage war on its enemies, that’s the hallmark of sovereignty. One just musn’t complain if one’s on the loosing side. Sadly, Obama and Hollande try their hardest to be on the loosing side, to the detriment of us all…

  2. Lisa Graas says:

    To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men. — Abraham Lincoln

  3. inexcels says:

    The ongoing silence of major Church figures regarding the horror of abortion is certainly disturbing to say the least.

    I can’t really disagree with Fr. Nicholas’ position on this particular matter, though. The U.S. really needs to stop looking for excuses to wage perpetual war in the Middle East. I’ve seen a lot of assertions from hawks about how intervening in Syria is somehow a matter of “vital importance” to our “national security,” but I have yet to see one iota of evidence to back it up. I’m supposed to believe that Syria is somehow a credible threat to the self-proclaimed mightiest military power in the history of mankind?

  4. Pastor in Valle says:

    I’m with you on abortion &c (of course!), and also with wondering where the Jesuits are in all this. I have never been able to get my head around why people heavily into ‘justice and peace’ are not heavily into pro-life issues too.
    But I cannot agree on Syria, for many reasons. I cannot see that this would be a just war; there is no reasonable hope that the situation afterwards would be better than the situation before; there is no reasonable hope of success. To say the least, a fundamentalist Sunni government in Syria would almost certainly bring an end to the tolerance of Christianity there. This would (indeed already has) placed intolerable pressure on Lebanon, always designed as a refuge for Christian Arabs, and now, because of its Christian hospitality to fellow Arab refugees, threatened itself with a dominant Sunni majority.
    Don’t get me wrong; I am no fan of Bashar Assad or of his father. It is just that the alternative would almost certainly be worse. Sometimes we must choose the lesser of two evils, and certainly hold back from weighing in on the side of the probably greater evil.

  5. Jim R says:

    Frankly, issues like what to do in Syria are anything but easy or clear on a multitude of levels. Do we do nothing in the face of the use of gas by a government against its people? What would the Father General say about never responding to atrocities by tyrants? If we do something, how much? What is the appropriate response? At what point do we step in, if ever? At what point MUST we step in, if ever? Morality, international law, national sovereignty, ability to achieve desired results, economic costs, political costs, etc., etc., etc.

    His Holiness has appropriately called for prayer and fasting , but sometimes, we all know, military action is an unfortunate necessity in the face of criminal and heinous acts. I do not envy the President this dilemma. We all need to pray for peace. We need to pray for wisdom and the right response by the President, the USA and the international community. I don’t think anyone actually knows with certainly the right response. Whatever one thinks of the President, he is the President and right now he, Congress, the military, our nation and our allies – and the people in Syria – need our prayers for the right answer.

  6. jflare says:

    I think it a very sad day when I agree with the conclusion, but want to tear my hair out when I read the rationale.
    He considers it an abuse of power because we’re acting like the “big boy in the neighborhood”?? Hello! That beloved international community that some seem to love hasn’t done much of anything of substance in years. They’ll convene their committees, they’ll write their memos, they’ll publicly say that such and such shouldn’t happen. ..And at the end of the day, they do NOTHING!
    I’m very weary of this attitude that anything the US does in it’s own best political or economic interest is wrong, even though every other nation in the world community routinely it’s own best interests too.

    For the record, I think it’d be unwise to get very involved in Syria myself; I see no reason to think that anyone there will listen to our view.
    But that’s a VERY different reason from what the Father General gives.
    It the Jesuits want to be credible, they need to demonstrate that they at least comprehend how the world typically works. Making a pronouncement from an ivory tower about the evils of the world merely make them look to be idiots.
    Surely they can do better!

  7. Priam1184 says:

    Trouble is coming mes amis. People don’t seem to get how pi**ed off Russia is at the United States right now, and also don’t seem to realize that if the wrong move gets made here (and that seems the most likely outcome) that this could get real nasty real fast. Maybe Barack Obama and his confused and generally incompetent management of world affairs are the just judgement on a world gone mad. Keep your gas tanks full everybody…

  8. Maria says:

    Where are the SJ’s in implementing Ex corde Ecclesiae in their schools?
    Where are the SJ’s voice in the fight of getting rid of homosexuality in the priesthood?
    Where are the SJ’s voice in adhering to Sommorum Pontificum?
    Where are the SJ’s voice in same-sex marriage, abortion, contraception issues?
    Where are they? But they are very well represented in media: liberal, orthodoxy and even Vatican but no single solid voice that uphold the magisterium of the church.

  9. tcreek says:

    3 facts.
    – There is a war in Syria with many innocent people killed, the latest by poison gas.
    – No one is suggesting that the United States become engaged in the war on either side.
    – United States intelligence has pinpointed the location of poison gas depots and has the capability to destroy them and their delivery systems.

  10. tonyfernandez says:

    I’m feel very strongly that the US should not get involved with Syria, much like it should not have done so with Iraq and also Afghanistan. There is no basis in Just War theory for the actions that Obama is proposing.

    That said, Fr. Z is right on about his criticism. Yes, Syria is important, but abortion is killing so many more people. It needs to end, and our bishops need to be more vocal about it. I wish that they were more vocal about abortion than they were about welfare spending, foreign aid, just wage, and other vague economic ideas that in the end only make people worse off.

  11. MaryL says:

    I am not from the US and it is a major concern to me how one person – the president of the US, whoever he is, good or bad, has the power, even to override his own Congress government and have the power to authorise the bombing of a much smaller sovereign nation with a legitimately elected government. As far as I am concerned even if it was fully investigated and proven that the legitimately elected Assad government did use chemical weapons, this is not a reason for the United States (or in fact, their President) to be the sole judge, jury and executioner. Russia, Britain, China and the Pope are all calling for Mr Obama not to order this atrocious violence on the Syrian people. The United Nations has not authorised it. Why have we not heard from Iran and Saudi Arabia? Why have we not heard from Israel?

    This is precisely why God is the Authority – not the US President. That is why as Catholics we follow the Pope and congregate in our millions this Saturday to pray and fast to support peace in Syria and the whole world.

    This is not the time to side-step this issue by castigating the Jesuits for not speaking out about abortion. This scenario of gross violence against another much smaller sovereign nation by the US is a very urgent situation. No, lets not forget about this US President’s shortfalls on his stance on abortion, but right now – LETS STOP THE WAR AND SUFFERING IN THE MIDDLEEAST.

  12. iPadre says:

    Didn’t see him condemn “same-sex marriage,” while some of his brothers are giving it outward support.

  13. AA Cunningham says:

    “- United States intelligence has pinpointed the location of poison gas depots and has the capability to destroy them and their delivery systems.” tcreek

    Recent reports indicate that Assad is dispersing his arsenal. It’s unlikely they are still where they were a few weeks ago. There’s a lot of vehicle traffic reminiscent of what went on in Iraq in the weeks leading up to Operation Iraqi Freedom when convoys were observed moving from Iraq to Syria. This is what happens when one telegraphs ones’ intentions.

    Regarding Fr. Adolfo Nicholas statement “I cannot understand who gave the United States or France the right to act against a country in a way that will certainly increase the suffering of the citizens of that country, who, by the way, have already suffered beyond measure.” That would be the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction Father.

  14. msc says:

    Bravo, Father. I’ve thought the same thing about certain Church leaders’ public statements on various policy issues.
    As for whether this is a just war, I believe one can argue reasonably that it meets the criteria set out in the Catechism. It certainly meets Thomas Aquinas’ conditions.

  15. tonyfernandez says:

    I’d say it’s pretty tough to say that you’ve met the conditions of a Just War when you don’t even have proof that the people you’re planning on attacking even did the act that you accuse them of doing!

  16. Cordelio says:

    Dear tcreek,

    Do you really believe that no one is suggesting that the United Stated become involved in a Syrian war?

    If Syria – in a fit of moral outrage – were to make targeted, tactical cruise missile strikes on U.S. nuclear weapons sites (i.e., WMDs far deadlier than Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal), would you not consider this an act of war? What magic attribute does the United States possess that makes military attacks on foreign soil not an act of war? What do you think a war is?

    Dear AA Cunningham,

    While I suspect I disagree with the Jesuit Superior General on many, many things, are you being facetious when you suggest to Fr. Nicolas a U.N. treaty (to which Syria does not even appear to be a signatory) as moral grounds for a U.S. attack on a foreign power?

  17. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Hm, lots of indignation on behalf of the ‘citizens’ of Syria (and of course in any bombing attacks – if extended to population centres, citizens would be harmed indiscriminately) but why no mention at all of our Christian brothers and sisters who have been targeted, bombed, killed and driven out by those rebels and salafists that Obama and Hollande seem so keen on helping to power.
    Elephant in Room, meet Fr Nicholas.

  18. Bosco says:

    I am utterly opposed to military intervention in Syria; however, I do agree that the Jesuits should have been long and vigorously decrying ‘God Bless Planned Parenthood’ Obama’s blood-letting of innocent unborn lives both in the US and abroad.
    What worries me frankly about the perils of the matter of intervention in Syria is that not only will Obama go to war (yes that’s what it will be) whether or not the US Congress approves the action but also Obama’s moral sense (if any) is so demoniacally beclouded that he, and his infallible technology, forsaken by God, will waltz the US into a catastrophe.
    Obama now denies he drew a ‘red line’. He now says it was the world that drew a ‘red line’. The world seems to think it didn’t.

  19. Indulgentiam says:

    “the big boy of the neighbourhood’abusing, harassing and bullying…” You know it’s laughable how the evil one always slips in a grain of truth with the lies. he’s not even imaganative about it. There so easy to spot. There is already a bully in the region.
    I Clicked on the link provided by VexillaRegis. I scrolled down to read the comments and came across the following by a woman who has been there working with the refugees for 8 years.
    Here’s an excerpt–“It has been startlingly amazing watching how successful the propaganda campaign has to elevate Assad as some sort of “anti-imperialist” saint, instead of the despot he is…
    So, if we are t o speak out against war in Syria, let’s speak out against Assad’s war against his people. If we are to decry “foreign intervention”, let’s decry Iran and Russia for supporting Assad in his murderous rampage by sending in weaponry and boots on the ground, too. And, as we argue against ‘intervention’ by bombs, let’s put as much energy and attention into finding an alternative intervention that puts an end to this grotesque war of a ruler against his citizens, too.”
    She has more and it’s worth the read.

    Saint Raymond Nonnatus (†1240; Feast—August 31) I just learned about this great Saint during a homily by an FSSP Priest. He was a Mercedarian read his story here—
    What I found interesting about his story is that his primary concern was not for the physical needs of the captives. But that the tortures they were subjected to might cause them to convert and thereby loose their souls. Jesuits like the Father General, not all, took a left turn in the 50’s? 60’s? (Can’t remember now) and just kept right on going. Heaven help us and send us more Priests and laity like St. Raymond Nonatus.

  20. acardnal says:

    iPadre wrote, “Didn’t see him condemn “same-sex marriage,” while some of his brothers are giving it outward support.”

    You’re right about that “support.” One can Google “jesuits support homosexuality” and see what appears. Also author Fr. James Martin, SJ, hosts a recent video series on the LGBT subject available on YouTube, produced by the Ignatian News Network entitled “Who Are We to Judge.” Their support for the homosexual lifestyl eis implicit throughout. Moreover, they never really state the Church’s position regarding the difference between homosexual orientation vs behavior.

  21. Bob B. says:

    Many of the senior Church leadership have ignored what is occurring to Christians in Syria, Egypt and Iraq – the killings, destruction and exodus of Christians from their towns has been well known for many months.
    As for Obama, he put himself in a box and now he is sitting back letting others decide what to do about the “line” – Congress will decide, with pressure from the various religions, governments, and “experts.” (After all, its’ “gay rights” central to our foreign policy?) Whatever happens, it’s now “their” fault.
    The Jesuits, in general (no pun intended) have a lot of gall. For instance, how about this:
    Video series sponsored by Jesuits promotes homosexuality
    ( is among the latest; or how about a pro-abortion state assembly person on a Jesuit high school board (the board also had a archdiocesan education department member on it); or how about separate Lavender graduations at the local Jesuit university, where their law school has defended birth control and abortion?
    Dominus ac Redemptor Noster anyone?

  22. Supertradmum says:

    Selective Moral Outrage. So much for Bernardin’s seamless garment approach so loved by the Jebbies…..

  23. Palladio says:

    Point well taken, but I am afraid he is right about Syria. I see nothing just about shooting missiles at a sovereign nation in the midst of a civil war. This was Bill Clinton’s answer to Bin Laden in Africa, and that got us exactly nothing, if memory serves. If our enemies had scripted a set of actions to take in order to project American weakness, I doubt they could have done better than what the executive and his administration have said and done. No public outcry to speak of since fewer than 1 percent of Americans have family in active duty, but there must be other reasons, too.

    If it is any consolation, the Soc. of Jesus cannot be long for this world. It does not have enough members to man leadership positions in its schools and colleges. It has not for many years, and I doubt this will change. That said, the Jesuits who trained me were first rate minds and orthodox Catholics. They are all but one of them dead.

  24. Palladio says:

    So weak is our stance that Putin wasted no time in calling the Sec. of State a liar:

    WASHINGTON (AP) — “The State Department is hitting back at what it calls false accusations that Russian President Vladimir Putin made about Secretary of State John Kerry.
    The Russian president accuses Kerry of lying about the extent of al-Qaida operatives in Syria.”

    I just wanted to bolster my previous post and add how gross it all seems to risk American lives for no just cause.

  25. Phil_NL says:


    If you want moral justification, I believe there’s enough moral justification to bomb very large parts of both sides (exclusive of any Christians caught in the middle) off the face of the earth. As far as I’m concerned, the war started in the 7th century, and much of the sunni opposition would like nothing better than wipe out (or convert) the West, while Assed is way to closely allied to groups that share the exact same agenda except that they would kill in the name of shia islam (hezbollah, the ayatollahs).

    The problem is not moral justification, the problem is that, unless one reorganizes the islamic world very thoroughly (which the West has neither the stomach nor the backbone for, and most likely not even the capabilities), no lasting objective can be attained there, and in the meantime it’s 50-50 if it will make things slightly better or much worse. The question is not if we wage war, the question is how we go about this episode/battle in the one we’ve been fighting for over a millenium.

    But, and so we return to the original subject, many in the Church’s hierarchy are (at least) as blind to that fact as they are to abortion.

  26. tonyfernandez says:


    What I worry about is the backlash. Who in Syria is going to appreciate US intervention? Innocents? Doubtful, they don’t want to see more violence. Look at what happened in Iraq. The rebels? I’m pretty sure that they already hate the US. The Syrian government? Obviously not. The US gains no friends by doing this and gains for itself nothing. In fact, this kind of thing is used by terrorist recruiters to swell hatred against the US. There is a reason that Switzerland doesn’t get any kind of terrorist attack; it doesn’t meddle in the affairs of the Middle East. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned there.

  27. Kathleen10 says:

    Excellent, Fr. Z! Well put! The pressure of holding that back could blow your teeth out.

    The war on innocents isn’t “sexy” enough for some people. Capitulation, that’s what we have, and not only on that, but the surrender of our culture to homosexuality.
    Hurrah for you for defending the innocents.

  28. wmeyer says:

    The American people–and the world–are supposed to be protected by our system of checks and balances. But Congress has utterly failed to check the president, and so have the Supremes. That is why Obama’s relentless march toward a totalitarian socialist conversion has made such progress.

    We are in the final stages of that conversion. Neither Congress nor the Supreme Court is disturbed by Obama’s overrides of the Constitution. And remember that in law, precedents pave the way for future actions.

    We will not have long to wait for the final steps to be taken. I will be shocked, actually, if the election in 2016 takes place on schedule. I fully expect invocation of martial law and a suspension of elections.

    However, as a majority of the population continues in somnolence as this unfolds, then I say sooner may be better, as it will take those last steps to awaken the masses.

  29. Bob B. says:

    The Saudis and Qataris have spent billions supporting anti-Assad groups (there are questions about gas, oil and pipelines). “I just don’t agree that a majority (of anti-Assad groups) are al-Qaeda and the bad guys,” says Kerry, but one suspects he has no idea what’s going on (he didn’t in Congress, did he?) – especially with the CIA involved.
    Wonder who is really calling the tune?

  30. Kathleen10 says:

    Bob, that is my concern as well. President Obama sounds and appears much too “earnest” about this potential action in Syria. It’s as if it’s got to happen. What doesn’t add up is this president suddenly finding his heart about Syrians, when he doesn’t seem too lathered up about Americans, except the racial group he identifies with most, African Americans. He has demonstrated petite compassion for Americans worried about his goofy healthcare plan, or Americans showing up at Tea Party events trying to be good citizens, or those who care about abortion, or what might happen in America when you intrude into the arrest of an arrogant professor in Massachusetts and call the police “stupid” before you know the facts, or you intrude into a trial of a private citizen, inflame racial animosity to an unprecedented degree, and all but put a target on the back of an American found not guilty by a seated jury, and NOW he has all this compassion for…Syrians.
    It doesn’t add up. It doesn’t make sense. I hope and pray Congress says NO and sticks to it. But this president has shown no interest in what Americans want, and probably has little interest in what congress says.

  31. tcreek says:

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

    In modern times, the “good men” of the United States have been instrumental in blocking the triumph of Nazi Germany, Imperialistic Japan, Marxist Communism and now (so far) the advance of radical Islam. No other country has had the capability, hence a great moral responsibility has fallen upon the “good men” of the United States of America to engage those evils.

    Abhorrence for Obama’s awful domestic policies should not enter into this issue.

  32. AA Cunningham says:

    Cordelio, I’m suggesting that Fr. Adolfo Nicholas is probably a fan/supporter of the UN and he also probably has no idea that the treaty that I linked to even exists. I concur with Father Z, the Jesuit General should exercise better judgment about that which he issues prudential statements on.

  33. Johnno says:

    tcreek –

    The problem is that America is not in this for good reasons, nor by the will of good men. It is to protect the Petrodollar hegemony, and Syria is a stepping stone to Iran. Long before 9/11 America had already openly roadmapped their plans to hit Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Iran. Syria is a means to an end. Nothing more. U.S. drones have killed mroe children than that chemical weapon and the U.S. keeps doing it by the executive order of Emperor Obama.

    Also your ‘facts’ are incorrect. All the evidence points to the ‘chemical’ weapons being used by the Syrian Rebels, whom the U.S. is smuggling weapons to through the Saudis. It seems the latest evidence is that the Syrian rebels themselves, who’ve admitted the weapon came from their side, got it unwittingly from the Saudis; one Saudi prince in particular who has interests in Syria and whose very own intelligence agency ‘tipped’ the U.S. to it. But likely the weapon itself originated from America.

    So once it is all but confirmed, will the U.S. drop support for the rebels? Rebels whom by the way are also Al Queada militants? You know, something for which you and average American citizens can be thrown in jail for just for unwittingly bumping shoulders with to be tortured without trial ; versus people like Obama, Kerry and Clinton who openly smuggle money and arms to with full knowledge that they are helping America’s Public Enemy #1?

    The U.S. has NO moral authority and the world knows it. Obama and those in power are the bad guys here who act above and beyond the law. These men butcher children in the womb and promote sexual immorality with impunity. And you trust them with issues of this scale? Dead Syrians mean nothing to them any mroe than dead unborn children. This is about making moves on a geopolitical chessboard.

  34. AA Cunningham says:

    “There is a reason that Switzerland doesn’t get any kind of terrorist attack; it doesn’t meddle in the affairs of the Middle East.” tonyfernandez

    There was that PLO attack on El Al 432 in Zurich in 1969 and their multibillion dollar natural gas deal in 2008 with the Iranians but laundering a lot of terrorist money in Swiss banks helps keep them off of the RADAR.

  35. benedetta says:

    I just don’t know why anyone would expect something more from Obama in terms of moral sense other than being a big bully when he has used his office to encourage, as a political priority, the continued senseless torture and slaughter of tens of millions of unborn human beings. How does anyone expect him to respond to a conscience based argument when he doesn’t personally or politically respect the most basic moral commandment of our millenia to begin with, starting from the most innocent human beings alive on the planet. Perhaps in the light of the current situation these Jesuits and other dissenters will consider the damage that has been unleashed on the world by their pretense on the sanctity of human life.

  36. tonyfernandez says:

    AA Cunningham,

    Thus proving the point that peace is brought about through trade, not bombs. There’s a reason that the US has no plans of invading Saudi Arabia despite the horrible human rights abuses that they get away with.

  37. Imrahil says:


    I think the Father General has a right to say what he said. He may be wrong, though I think he is right*, but it’s certainly enough of a problem to allow clerical speaking-out.

    [* An actual war is not part of the discussion, so we need not check whether such a war might be just or not. What is in discussion is a “punitive military action” without any reasonable objective even from strategic point of view without particularly moral considerations. I do think that such-like forbids itself, especially if it comes from the West which, let’s face it, would have the strength for a war.]

    Abortion? As the Holy Father (roughly) said, “abortion is evil, but that’s no news to any of us”.

    You know, I always thought the Latin proverb needs some modification. Qui tacet, non consentire quaqua rei, sed recto modo decidere videatur. After all, qui tacet, philosophus manet.

    Just that he may have been silent on a topic that needed no clarification because it was clear from the onset, does not mean he has no right to speak out on other topics.

  38. Jim says:

    Here’s my question for Fr. Nicholas, SJ.
    The tiny but once strong 2000 year old Catholicism in India is rotten to the core. There is hardly a single parish where there is no “liturgical dance” on feast days or where pagan feasts are celebrated in the name of “inculturation”

    Where have you and your Jesuits been? Where were you when the faith was wreaked in my country? Pope’s men right?

    O wait, this is what your Jesuits have been doing : Saju George, S.J. – The Dancing Jesuit (this is from an official Jesuit channel).

  39. benedetta says:

    Imrahil, If the Jesuits hadn’t historically backpedaled on abortion then not saying something about it now in connection with this particular issue would be as you describe. But their advocacy in their American media and elsewhere pushes Americans to entertain the slaughter of the innocent in the pursuit of a consumerist culture. Further, their media frequently criticizes the prolife movement in America, weirdly enough. One presumes that the superior approves of all of that as there has been no intervention on that score to date. All that aside, they really can’t presume to take the moral high ground at this point. It’s just not a credible voice. Human life matters. Their actions have had real consequences. At the very least they really cannot be construed as a collective voice for justice for all human beings wherever situated.

  40. inexcels says:

    tcreek: In modern times, the “good men” of the United States have been instrumental in blocking the triumph of Nazi Germany, Imperialistic Japan, Marxist Communism and now (so far) the advance of radical Islam. No other country has had the capability, hence a great moral responsibility has fallen upon the “good men” of the United States of America to engage those evils.

    I’m not convinced we DO have the capability. Can we look at the world today and say that the thousands of lives and billions of dollars we’ve spent on the “war on terror” have been effective in checking radical Islam? If anything, I think there’s plenty of evidence that we’ve accomplished exactly the opposite. We’ve also committed gross evils like blowing up lots of civilians — even first responders — while unilaterally assassinating designated targets, including U.S. citizens, without any kind of accountability or due process.

    Even supposing one were to grant all of your points, however — how does attacking Assad’s forces help push back radical Islam when the rebels themselves are terrorists, or have strong ties to terrorist groups?

  41. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I just met a link to this and have not tried to follow it up, and have no idea how likely or astute the analysis is – or was a couple weeks ago, but, for whatever it is worth, some ‘official’ idea of what would be involved in trying to do something perhaps worth doing:

  42. Lin says:

    It is my understanding that the rebels this administration intends to assist are killing Christians. Not surprising since it is outlawing every form of Christian behavior in this country. I fear we are only days away from World War III. Pray the rosary! Only much prayer and fasting can save us!

  43. Tony says:

    1) The Society of Jesus is a Catholic religious order. Their opposition to abortion does not need to be stated, because it simply is a fact of their existence. I know a phenomenal Jesuit priest who is very much involved in the pro-life cause, and I am fairly certain that he is not the only member of his order who is like this. The Jesuits get a bad rap because of a few crazies, but as a whole are generally speaking a solid order these days. I would characterize it as a centre-left order, certainly, but that is not equivalent to heretical, despite what some trads might think.

    2) In a matter of prudential judgement that pretty clearly violates the Church’s social doctrine and where public protest might actually result in war being prevented in the very near future, why are we asking why a Catholic priest is not talking about abortion?

  44. Tony says:

    Also, a better followup question to the one posted above:

    Why are we slamming the Jesuits when they are clearly following the will of the Holy Father on this issue?

    I thought conformity to the mens of the Roman Pontiff was a good thing…

  45. Phil_NL says:


    I think we broadly agree that the effects of an intervention would not be helpful (perhaps for slightly different reasons though). But poor effects does not, in my book, make an intervention unjustified, merely stupid and ineffectual. I think we need to look at this in a much broader context than just Syria and 2013, I think we should look at what will best keep islamic bararians of all stripes in check. At this time that’s leaving them alone. And that bring us to the Swiss: the prime reason they are having a relatively easy time is simple that the other side has more high profile targets. Strip away the defense by the US of the West, however clumsily executed, and strip away the fact many arab leaders need a place to park their money, and the Swiss – who voted against minarets, for example – would be right in the cross-hairs. It’s not what the West does that matters, it’s what the West is. And since we have no desire to join the islamic world, there will be at best an uneasy truce with islam, with intermittent episodes of open warfare, all part of the long war. And that’s exactly how traditional islam sees politics, by the way.

    The Holy Father has made himself sadly quite redicilous by using exaggerated language. The pope would in this case also better have chosen different words. Following a bad call you don’t need to (assuming the general wasn’t instructed by the Pope to pile on this topic) doesn’t make it any better. As for your trust in the orthodoxy of the Jesuits by virtue of them being a religious order, well, let me be diplomatic and say I don’t share your optimism.

  46. janeway529 says:

    Reminds me of this quote:
    “You can’t throw Truth at people in such a way that all they can do is duck.” -Monika Hellwig

  47. StWinefride says:

    Dear Imrahil, you say: Abortion? As the Holy Father (roughly) said, “abortion is evil, but that’s no news to any of us”.

    I presume you are referring to Pope Francis. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a lot clearer on the issue of abortion – some of his quotes from 2005 (my emphases):

    Children are the major richness and the most precious good of a family, for this reason, it is necessary to help all people to be aware that the intrinsic evil of the crime of abortion, which attacks human life at its beginning, is also an aggression against society itself”.

    “Legalized abortion has laid the groundwork for acceptance of the destruction of embryos in scientific research. The result is that human life is reduced “to an object or a mere instrument. When it reaches this level, society itself suffers and its foundations shake, with all classes at risk .

    Regarding Fr Nicholas’ selective indignation, I once heard a Priest say during a homily – “what’s the point of being an angel in the street, if you can’t be an angel at home“.

    Thank you Fr Z for highlighting this.

  48. Palladio says:

    Beginning with a homicide bombing, Islamofascist forces attacked a town in Syria with two Syrian Catholic monasteries. Assad forces defended the town. The Christians fear that, should Assad lose, they are to be eliminated by Islamofascists. Read the AP story.

    I have to take sharp exception to those who live in so black and white a world that America, ignorant as sin of the Middle East, somehow can ride in on a white horse to right wrongs and save the day. America clearly cannot yet tell day from night in the first place.

  49. Imrahil says:


    What’s the point of trying to become an angel, if you are reproached for being one in the street unless you can prove you are one in the house?

    (I do not say that in engagement, only I came by this figurative answer…)

  50. PA mom says:

    I think the press is only willing to showcase certain causes. Prolife is not one of them. But, say that you are anti war and the media comes running. Just look at how much air and print Rand Paul is getting right now.
    I am strongly against intervention. This President does not seem to be able to identify an ally on the broad side of a barn, and in general, I just don’t trust him.
    9-11 is coming up again, and my stomach is in knots wondering what surprise awaits us this year.

  51. StWinefride says:

    Dear Imrahil, please feel free to ignore this as you say you came to your own figurative answer! :) But if you substitute angel for “holy”, then it is not about whether we try to become holy, we are commanded to do so!

    “… but as He who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”. 1 Peter 1:15-16

    When I first heard the Priest say it, I understood it this way: “Put your own house in order first”.

  52. catholictrad says:

    High time for the Jesuit Pope to supress his own order. The majority have left faith in Christ for faith in “Social Justice”. Rerum Novarum is not Marxism, but anti-Marxism. Said simply, what good is it to gain “social justice” and lose your own soul?

  53. benedetta says:

    Tony, that we need to cite certain notable exceptions to the American Jesuit dissenter rule such as new Jesuits, people like Fr. Pacwa and Fr. Spitzer, and our Holy Father pretty much proves Fr. Z’s point and the situation of the catastrophe that has been American Jesuit influence on the lay faithful, politics, and encouragement of the culture of death in the pursuit of consumerist values. Obama’s whole thinking on this issue is commensurate with the kinds of undermining of the gospel of life on Jesuit campuses and media for decades. The bullying of American Catholics through the requirement of funding for abortion and contraception by the Church or faith based entities is directly traceable to high powered Jesuit advocacy. You can be certain that if American Jesuits were to all of a sudden publish for prolife and teach for prolife in all their institutions with the some degree of vigor, Obama would be a lot less inclined to violate Catholics’ freedom of religion.

  54. Tony says:


    The point is that the “Jesuit dissenter rule” is no longer a rule. The order is in much better shape now than it has been in recent memory.

    Phil_NJ: I was not claiming that every Jesuit was orthodox, no more than I would claim every member of the FSSP was orthodox (I know that they are not religious…) My point is this: Catholic religious orders are definitionally pro-life, by virtue of their being Catholic. Their opposition to abortion does not need to be vigioursly stated by their superior general in Rome, because, well, Catholics should just have the charity to assume that since no Pope has suppressed them they are still Catholics.

    Also, Phil, language about prudential judgements and the Pope making a bad choice that the rest of us aren’t bound to follow is the conservative equivalent of liberals appealing to primacy of conscience: both are right in theory, but are often used to subvert the clear teaching of the Church and the will of the Holy Father. Think of what most people on this thread’s response would be if Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had urged fasting to prevent war in Syria. I would bet someone who used “primacy of conscience” or “bad idea by the Pope” would be accused of going against the mens of the Holy Father to restore fasting and penance to prevent wars as requested by Marian apparition X.

    All that is saying: please be charitable to our Holy Father. Please be charitable to the Society of Jesus. Please, as a Catholic, do your best to take into account the opinion of the Holy Father even when he is not speaking ex cathedra as we always tell liberals, because, you know, he is Christ’s Vicar on Earth, and we owe him the respect to consider his plea.

  55. ProLifeMommy says:

    GREAT ARTICLE, Fr. Z.!! I pray that our Jesuit Pope STOPS telling people to “make a mess” so that he can START cleaning up the mess his order has made & continues to make.

  56. Michael_Thoma says:

    Dr. Assad is a Western educated doctor who was enthroned to take over after his father. I doubt he has the reins on the military or knows what they are up to. What will removing the puppet do for anyone? The best case scenario is he is replaced .. with what? Another dictator who now openly hates and is aggressive toward Christians and minority groups? If not replaced, he is further angered by the Western response.

    Why hasn’t a third alternative been attempted? Attempt to educate him on what is really going on under his nose, by his puppeteers in the Syrian military and their allies?

  57. Priam1184 says:

    @tcreek Through its abortion laws the United States has now killed as many people as Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan combined, and one day soon we will close in on the death toll inflicted by Marxist Communism. And how can you say that we have stopped radical Islam? Where was radical Islam (Sunni Islam at least) 20 years ago? It was just an idea floating around in the mind of somebody no one had ever heard of bumming around Khartoum: Usama bin Laden. Where is it now? Ripping the Middle East to shreds.

  58. benedetta says:

    Tony, it’s a documented liberal tactic to attempt to silence orthodoxy with an accusation of “uncharitable.” And, who exactly are you calling a “trad”? Isn’t that uncharitable? A quick perusal of the Cardinal Newman Society site (see sidebar) indicates that it’s not a lot better now with the Jesuits. There is nothing wrong with asking the Jesuits to articulate in their various venues that although they are pleased with Obama’s expansion of the social safety net that we need him to implement restrictions on abortion. It would be a very simple matter via press release, media.
    , campus. The reality is that there are Jesuits who have been disciplined in recent years for teaching dissent. And. It was their exploitation of the laity’s charity, good will, obedience, and patience that bought enough decades. of silence to establish abortion in this country to the tune of tens of millions slaughtered. That is exactly what brought us to this horrible point. I suggest the Jesuits start in their own backyard, NYC, where rates are skyrocketing among the poor and politicians are proposing free abortion in the public schools for 11 year olds.

  59. Tony says:

    benedetta, I wouldn’t call myself a liberal by any means. I have a bit of a traditional taste in liturgy, so the “trad” title wasn’t meant to be offensive. Sorry if it was construed as such. I was not trying to “silence orthodoxy” in the least bit. In fact, I pointed out the tactics on both the right and the left that are used to ignore Church teaching (“primacy of conscience” on the left, and “prudential judgements” on the right).

    As for the Jesuit colleges: You realize that you can’t exactly go in to an institution and undo a bunch of bad things overnight, right? Today most of the younger Jesuits coming in are quite orthodox. Centre-left, but orthodox. Change takes time. It took time to get Catholic higher education to the point it is today, it will take time to get it to a better place.

  60. Patt says:

    I taught a religion class on Catholic morality –the sin of OMISSION is committed when one is silent about an obvious sin being committed. This silence about abortion and “catholic” politicians that support it is definitely the sin of omission. Which makes them just as guilty of the sin…
    Why should we go to war in the Middle East? It is a NO WIN situation that has been going on forever. Our intervention will not solve nor end it.
    It is said the Arabs will pay for it (BIG LIE).. How? By charging the guy at the pump 100 dollars per gallon of gas?
    Lastly, when did our politicians ever pick the right side to support???

  61. tcreek,

    Those are three statements alleged to be facts.

    – There is a war in Syria with many innocent people killed, the latest by poison gas.

    The poison gas attack has not been absolutely confirmed to have been perpetrated by the regime, and there have been reports that the rebels were responsible for the release of the gas.

    – No one is suggesting that the United States become engaged in the war on either side.

    To the contrary, Russia and Iran have both indicated that an attack on Syria might well cause them to attack at least one other of our allies, to wit Israel, and China has not been silent on the matter, either.

    – United States intelligence has pinpointed the location of poison gas depots and has the capability to destroy them and their delivery systems.

    So the administration as stated. If anyone takes that statement at face value, I have a bridge near New York City I would be happy to sell them for a song. I seem to recall that the United States intelligence apparatus was equally confident that Saddam Hussein was in possession of WMDs, as well, and look how that turned out.

    If there were Syrian Christians and/or Orthodox who wished to be safely removed from that country, and an operation to effect that result could be mounted with a good chance of success, that might well be a worthwhile proposition. A multi-missile cruise missile attack, on the other hand, what could possibly go wrong with that?

    I think a better approach is to follow the advice of an old adage: “Don’t let your mouth write a check that your posterior can’t cash.”

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  62. Southern Catholic says:

    We shouldn’t be involved. What happens when Assad is over thrown? The Islamist take over just like in Egypt, Libya, and to some extent Iraq. What happens then? All the Christians and Jews that remain get wiped out. It’s best that the US stays out of it to prevent WWIII.

    Also, for those you that apparently don’t know, the rebels that we are willing to help are the same ones that beheaded a priest last month, and cut open a dead soldier to eat his heart. All of these events were filmed.

  63. Stephen McMullen says:

    To Father Z’s point: The latest edition of “America” is encouraging support for the senate bill on immigration, and even notes that “73% of Hispanics voted for Obama” (I heard it was 76%). OK
    So we want to support that immigration legalization which will bring hoards more of Hispanics to the voting booth who vote for Pro-abort democrats. Does anyone see a disconnect here? Bishops? Hello? Looks like Pro-Life causes are taking a back seat to immigration. Yes? Why are people in the church working crosswinds to our Number 1 concern?

  64. Maria says:

    Dear Tony says:
    6 September 2013 at 2:22 pm

    ” In fact, I pointed out the tactics on both the right and the left that are used to ignore Church teaching (“primacy of conscience” on the left, and “prudential judgements” on the right).” — Conscience must be formed and informed so that it will be transformed and then, it can perform. This is the reason why we have catechism. How can we be bearers of truth as commanded by our Blessed Lord if our conscience is not informed to be formed in accordance with the Will of God? Example as Catholics, we are taught that abortion is intrinsic evil but not in China, not in Russia. If conscience is not informed and formed, how can we transform the society in such a way it will perform per the Will of our Blessed Lord. “prudential judgements” is when conscience is formed and informed per the value system of the belief of that person. As Catholics, we have 2013 yrs of information as to what the church teaches.

    Let us all fast and pray as our Holy Father calls us for peace not only in Syria but most importantly, that it may reign in our hearts. Peace must transform us first individuals.

    God’s blessings of peace and joy!

  65. Imrahil says:

    The dear @Tony said,

    prudential judgements and the Pope making a bad choice that the rest of us aren’t bound to follow is the conservative equivalent of liberals appealing to primacy of conscience: both are right in theory.

    Fine so far…

    Seems the deciding point is that liberals are wrong and conservatives are right.

    I do not believe there is a substitute for truth. Not even obedience.

  66. Pingback: SATURDAY EXTRA | Big Pulpit

  67. Pingback: Thank You But Hold the Applause -

Comments are closed.