Good Friday and War

On the theme of suffering on this Good Friday, there is a pertinent and evocative reflection by James Bogle on OnePeterFive on the bombing of Japanese Catholicism – that is, the unnecessary destruction of Nagasaki on August 9th, 1945, three days after the incineration of Hiroshima on August 6th.

We have written of the evils of these acts – here and here and here – which follow upon the previous firebombings of Tokyo, Dresden, and numerous other civilian targets, all in the name of war.

The moral dissonance found in American conservatism justifying such acts – by George Weigel and others  – is, to say the least, disconcerting. How do they reconcile their justification of such an heinous act with the teaching of their, and my, own Church?

Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation. A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons – to commit such crimes. (CCC, 2314, cf., GS 80.3)

If we justify such intrinsically evil acts for ourselves – that is, nations supposedly founded on Christian principles – how can we reject them in others? Will use of such weapons of mass destruction – this time with millions of innocent victims – be justified again, in another conflict, or an escalation of the many now underway? The ‘destruction of whole cities’ is wrong, and profoundly wrong, per se, regardless of circumstances or intention. Those tens of thousands of innocent victims, women, children, the elderly and the unborn, suffered their own ‘Good Friday’, as so many continue to do so today. May God receive them into His kingdom.

We may have yet more to say on this, but, for now, and on this holy day, we pray for all those who suffer in war and violence, for all the crimes against life. As well, that all those blinded in conscience – and we all are, to some extent – may see the full light of truth, of life and of love, demonstrated so vividly by Christ, the Son of God’s, sacrifice on that Cross on Calvary’s hill.

We adore Thee O Christ and we bless Thee, for by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.