Granted, there is a concession made to the idea of a just war, but the criteria for such is quite rigorous, and yet it seems that every war manages to meet the criteria of just war according to many Christian moralists. As Erasmus noted centuries ago:
Some princes deceive themselves as follows: ‘Some wars are entirely just, and I have just cause for starting one.’ First, I will suspend judgment on whether any war is entirely just; but who is there who does not think his cause just? Amid so many shifts and changes in human affairs, amid the making and breaking of so many agreements and treaties, how could anyone not find a pretext, if any sort of pretext is enough to start a war? (Erasmus, The Education of a Christian Prince, p. 104)
We see the pretext for war repeatedly, and how quickly we follow the drumbeats of war, forgetting our obligation to work for peace at all costs. Erasmus noted the horrors and abominations of war in the 16th century. How greater the evils modern warfare brings that could be added to this description:
For it has never proved possible to terminate a single war. One war is linked to another, and drags along with it an interminable and inextricable chain of ills. These ills are so many that their number can barely be comprehended, they are so atrocious that even an utterly wicked man cannot make right of them. Yet these are the natural consequences of any war, however just. Furthermore, the grounds for starting a war are sometimes false, not infrequently contrived, and for the most part doubtful. Then the outcome of any battle is always uncertain, and finally, no victory is bloodless, and the fighting is always at the expense of the man who had least to gain by winning. So that I am led to declare boldly that the god-fearing prince will be far more astute to maintain peace, however, unfair, than to embark on even the most advantageous war; for such a war will be preceded, accompanied, and followed by such an ocean of ills, so vast a swamp of wickedness, and so black a plague of immorality. (ibid., p. 139)
In light of our theology, our task is not to prescribe particular solutions but to offer the opportunity for reflection and discernment at a deeper level. Our task as people of faith is to ask questions that prompt deep moral reflection on the part of world leaders, questions that lead us more to the ideal than to the exception that is merely morally licit. Given the failures of previous military interventions in the region, what is the proper response that provides a lasting peace and secure future for the people of the region? How can we protect innocent lives without creating a wider humanitarian crisis in the region? What resources are available to us and to the region that might provide security and stability without further violence?
Let us heed the call of the beatitude to be peacemakers so that one day we might be called children of God.
Sir Mario J. Paredes, K.G.C.H.S., presidential liaison, Roman Catholic Ministries, American Bible Society
The rise of brutality and persecution has no place in our society. We must deplore and use all means at our disposal to reject and denounce this sickening extremist, fanatical ideology. It is our moral duty to condemn these atrocities against the Christian minorities and we should be ready to do the same against any minority. Humanity calls us to exercise reason not brutality. Let us intensify our campaign to denounce the absurdity of this new trend.
Father C. John McCloskey, Church Historian and Research Fellow of the Faith and Reason
Institute in Washington DC
All nations that belong to NATO should study immediately a rescue plan to offer humanitarian asylum to an Christians who are willing to accept it. All European countries of Christian origins should join a coalition of armed forces to attack and destroy completely the forces of the Islamic State by any means short of the use of atomic bombs.
If they are jihadists, we should be crusaders with a blessing from Pope Francis with plenary indulgence. Once defeated, all their weapons should be confiscated and destroyed. All Christian churches in the region should be rebuilt.
At the same time, all Muslims should be allowed to worship as before, but the mosques should be open for all to see and hear the preaching, to prevent any messages urging violence against Christians.