Guest article by Fr Emmanuel Mccarthy (continued)
The tragic and on-going problem of Church leaders—popes, bishops, priests, ministers and pastors—chronically substituting a Way that is contradictory to Jesus’ Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, and then telling themselves, their people and humanity that their way is a Way that is in conformity with or equivalent to or superior to or more realistic than the Way explicitly taught by God-Incarnate, has mammoth and unfathomable, temporal and eternal, repercussions. For as Pope Benedict XVI has written, “Contradictory things cannot be means to salvation. The truth and the lie cannot be ways of salvation.”
For example, burning your enemies at the stake at an auto-de-fe (act of faith), as such murders were called, was taught by Church leaders from popes, to theologians, to saints as a way of salvation and believed by Christians to be a means to salvation for nearly six hundred years. There may have been Church leaders during those centuries who knew very well that the auto-de-fe was not a way to salvation, that it was no more than the evil of murder blasphemously operating under the name of Jesus. But, out of fear of reprisal they said nothing. However, their silence communicated episcopal, theological and saintly assent to this lie and it proclaimed loud and clear to everyday Christians and to all humanity, “This is a way of salvation.”
With such Church leaders running the institutional Churches is it any wonder how Christian just warists—who do not want to follow the Nonviolent Way of Jesus, but desire instead to follow the way of some just war theorist— can so perfunctorily and cavalierly make a deliberated decision not to follow what God-Incarnate has revealed through, with and in Jesus. It is an act of the will, not intellect, that chooses not to teach and not to obey what Jesus unequivocally informs His disciples they must teach and obey, namely, “all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19).
However, the authority to substitute war or torture or capital punishment for the Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies as taught by Jesus is given to no Christian, no Christian leader, no Christian group, and no Christian institution by Jesus. The authority that validates this or that Christian just war theory, on behalf of this or that person or nation, as the way of God is not God-Incarnate, the Jesus of the Gospels. Just war theories owe nothing to anything Jesus ever taught or lived. The authority that backs all just war theories, as well as all just torture theories and all just capital punishment theories, Christian or otherwise, is only some relatively little, concupiscence drenched human consciousness like our own or like that of Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas and millions of others from popes to peons. The Word (Logos) of God, incarnated in and proclaimed by Jesus, is totally opposed to the acts that these theories require and that these authorities teach as compatible with the Way of God—and Jesus says so. If Jesus, God-Incarnate, were to endorse or support the acts demanded by war, torture and capital punishment, He would be contradicting himself and denying His own truth. But,
“God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict itself”
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 159).
When Jesus, God-Incarnate, says, “X is the Way,” and someone else says, “Not-X is the Way,” it is critical that the Christian recognize that logically and theologically and morally there is no middle ground between the two. The Principle of Non-contradiction, which governs the use of human language and without which morality could not exist, states, ‘Between two logical and meaningful propositions “X” and “not X” there is no middle ground. If one is true the other is false.’ So for the Christian what does reality, rationality, sanity and moral certainty dictate that he or she or they should do? Follow X or follow Not-X? Can a Christian in the same moral moment follow X and Not-X, obey the source of X and obey the source Not-X, be always faithful, semper fidelis, to X and always faithful to Not-X? It would be ludicrous to even suggest he or she could. A Christian cannot obey two Masters. If choosing to follow, obey and be faithful to both in the same moment is logically, theologically and morally impossible, then a Christian by an act of his or her will must make a deliberate choice as to which Way he or she will commit his or her life, as to which authority he or she will follow because that person teaches the truth. Jesus’ Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies or not-Jesus’ Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is the choice every Christian must make within a human condition saturated with violence and enmity—and again it makes no difference whether the Christian is pope or pew dweller. But, a Christian should be honest with himself or herself and their fellow human beings, and a Church should be honest with itself and the world, and not tell themselves and all humanity that not-Jesus’ Way is Jesus’ Way.
Deceitfulness, added onto defiant disobedience of Jesus and His Way, makes one a very effective agent for placing the yeast of evil in the human dough. If one is a Church leader such decitfullness and difiance transforms one from being a Good Shepherd, in the model of the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels, leading his or her sheep, the children of God who have been placed in his or her spiritual care, along the Way of Jesus to the Kingdom of God, into a spiritual Pied Piper of Hamelin playing a tune that leads God’s children into the raging river where both body and soul are destroyed: war, violence and enmity.
“God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict itself.”
“Contradictory things cannot be means to salvation. The truth and the lie cannot be ways of salvation.”
(To be continued)
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy