Just after the papal election, I rec'd an email from someone quoting the entire content of the inaugural post on his blog. At the end of his post, he rightly points out:

Conservatism is not orthodoxy.
Liberalism is not orthodoxy.

Obedience is.

My reply, via email, to this was:

I am not a conservative, I am not a liberal, I am a Catholic. There is no point in being Catholic if one is not obedient. Our past few popes, and I am sure the new one as well, have been very careful to delineate which of their teachings are unchangeable dogma (e.g. the non-ordination of women, contraceptives, abortion, the sinfullness of any sexual activity outside of Holy Matrimony) and which are prudential judgements (war, capital punishment). Pure pacifism is still heresy, the last time I checked.
John Paul the great was a true shepherd, in that he continually condemned sin (be it abortion, homosexual sexual activity, fornication, waging unjust war) while
loving and admonishing the sinners. I expect no less from Benedict XVI.

This is the reply I rec'd. I don't think he'll mind my posting this.

According the Vatican II, nonviolence is not a heresy:

"The Second Vatican Council praised "those who renounce the use of violence
in the vindication of their rights and who resort to methods of defense
which are otherwise available to weaker parties provided that this can be
done without injury to the rights and duties of others or of the community
itself."[95]... Non-violent means of resistance to evil deserve much more
study and consideration than they have thus far received. There have been
significant instances in which people have successfully resisted oppression
without recourse to arms.[96] Non-violence is not the way of the weak, the
cowardly, or the impatient"
- The Challenge of Peace

I might only add, that neither is nonviolence the way of the heretic.
Rather, it is Jesus' way - the way of the cross.

I've been thinking about this whole exchange for a few days now. I've come to the conclusion that this may be an example of unclear use of language leading to a confusion in communication. I used a very specific term - pacifism -. Those of you who know me personally or who have read me extensively know that I make an effort to be extremely precise in my use of language in the public forum. The reply that was sent to me used a somewhat different term - non-violence. I am of the opinion that there are significant differences between non-violence and pacifism.

CCC 2089 "Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him."

I will continue to maintain that pacifism is heresy. Pacifism is a system of thought that exalts peace above all other goods. It is like many other isms, prone to becoming a form of idolatry.
CCC 2113 Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, "You cannot serve God and mammon." Many martyrs died for not adoring "the Beast" refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.

One can worship peace to the point of ignoring evil and injustice. Jesus was not non-violent when he cast the money lenders out of the temple. Yet He ultimately chose not to resist His arrest, torture, and execution, and He chided Peter for cutting off the servant's ear - remarking "Those who live by the sword will die by the sword." (Mt 25:62) He chose not to worship the concept of peace but to obey the will of His Father. He was generally non-violent, but I would not call Him a pacifist.

Non-violent resistance is a stratagem that can bring peace, or can paradoxically provoke violence. Think about watching the news footage of non-violent protestors being dragged away from protests. Consider how the passive resistance, the going limp, so often seemed to provoke further violence from the arresting officers. As a strategy, non-violence is most effective against men of honor. Against some evils, non-violent resistance is probably ineffective. For example, some of the totalitarian regimes of history probably could not have been defeated by non-violent resistance, and indeed were barely conquered by violence. We honor the martyrs who died in Auschwitz - we also honor those who died to liberate it. I find it puzzling and paradoxical that the same voices raised in attack of Pope Pius XII for not doing enough against the Nazis are also likely to be raising voices promoting pacifism in today's world.

Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
CCC 1909
Finally, the common good requires peace, that is, the stability and security of a just order. It presupposes that authority should ensure by morally acceptable means the security of society and its members. It is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defense.

M'Lynn has some entries up with combox conversation about the right (and maybe even occasionally the duty) to bear arms. Whether to non-violently accept death at the hands of an unjust aggressor would be, I think, the ultimate prudential judgement. I can choose martyrdom for myself, but I think that I would fight with whatever weapons I had at hand to protect my children. Therefore, I personally could not be a pacifist.

However, I would like to also state that militarism is a heresy on an equal foot with pacifism, as militarism is the belief that "might makes right" and puts all one's faith in military power. Come to think of it, there is a good chance that being an adherent to many other 'isms' (socialism, capitalism, communism, individualism) in today's world (while claiming to be Christian) could qualify as heresy. If one claims to be Christian, obstinately refuses to deny the Truth that only God is the supreme deity, and instead worships some other concept or principle, that one meets my definition of a heretic.

I am, however, not a theologian, nor a canon lawyer, and I am willing to accept criticism and/or correction on this point.
Mark 9:41 And whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me: it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea.

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This page contains a single entry by alicia published on April 23, 2005 7:46 PM.

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