Our work against unjust war.

+ Protect the poor and powerless-- listen, learn, educate, organize, empower participation, and respect life from the moment of conception to the time of natural death. The 4th work of justice and peace.

With the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Catholic Church in the United States had an evangelical opportunity to truly witness to the depth of our belief in the Gospel of Life.  Alas, that catechetical moment was not to be, and the Catholic Church and our bishops for the most part lined up with the rest of the crowd calling out, not for a just response to the aggression, but for acts of unjust war that, as time has proven, have not made us safer but instead have increased our risk of danger from terrorism and outside aggression.  At no time did we conduct an examination of our national conscience, in order to determine who the 'secondary terrorists' were in these actions -- these are those who, by their actions, goaded these people towards violence and enabled their actions.

Instead of standing forthright for the Gospel of Life and defending the rights of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq to life, from the moment of conception to the time of natural death, the bishops have essentially preached a gospel of moral relativism. These themes are drawn out in greater detail in the documents linked below.  The moral facts on the ground are simple:

  • The Iraq War has an objective moral reality that is not dependent upon our perception of it.
  • The Iraq War is either a just war - or it is an unjust war. It is not "both-and", it is "either-or".
  • Both John Paul II, and then Cardinal Ratzinger ( who at the time of the Iraq and Afghan wars was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), judged these wars as unjust. These were the two most eminent Catholic authorities on both the teachings of the Catholic Church and the application of its teachings to situations such as prevailed in the first decade of this century.
  • Therefore those who claim that the wars on the people of Iraq and Afghanistan are just were and are to this day wrong. Those who say that there is more than one Catholic response to these wars are wrong. This is not a debate about the prudence of engaging in a just war. This is about the immorality of participation in an unjust war.  The killing associated with those wars, by the aggressors, is the moral equivalent of abortion.  See also the Lenten letter of Bishop John Michael Botean and Fr. Charles Emmanuel McCarthy's work on Moral Law and the US Bishops.

This page has links to the my commentary and work on the Afghanistan and Iraq War issues going back to 1998. It is roughly in chronological order, from the most recent to the oldest.  It is unlikely that I have found everything that I have had to say on the subject, but a lot of it is here.  It includes all of my responses to the poor response of the U.S. bishops to these unjust wars. There is some material missing from 1999-2001, due to the non-availability of the archives of the Catholic justice and peace listservs which I moderated at www.cin.org. I have also included links to the statements of the Catholic Worker
 movement about the war, Bishop Botean's declaration of the injustice of the Iraq War, and Fr. Emmanuel McCarthy's essay on moral law and the Iraq war,  all of which have been influential in the development of my thoughts on these issues.

No bishop has ever responded to my writings on this subject even though some of this material was sent by postal mail to all of the US bishops and all of the Vatican bishops.

The whole world should be worried about the fact that the Catholic Bishops of the world's most heavily armed country, which has more troops in foreign countries than any other country, and is fighting three wars at this time, appear to believe that there is an American Exception to the teachings of the Catholic Church on war, peace, justice, and life.

Bob Waldrop

April 2016 Catholic Worker -- special edition for the Vatican Conference on Nonviolence and Just Peace.

Letter to Cardinal Turkson sent with 100 copies for distribution to those attending the conference.

No, we have not received a reply to this letter, nor did we really expect one. We have not had a reply from any of the other Vatican cardinals and bishops who also received a copy of this, nor from any of the United States bishops that we also sent this edition to. 

And yes, we sent one to Pope Francis but there is an army of ecclesiastical bureaucrats between usn's and him, so we doubt our missive got anywhere near his desk. The Vatican is well practiced in managing popes.

We have been attempting to correspond with the Vatican and the US bishops since December 2001 on this issue. We don't really expect a reply, because well, who are we? Long haired radical peacenik Catholic Workers who actually take the Church's teachings on war and peace seriously.  Is there anyone more marginal than that in this world of violence and wealth? The rich and powerful are well practiced in the art of marginalizing those who object to their depredations, and it starts with refusing to notice that someone is talking to them, or attempting to talk with them anyway.  That's OK, we're also praying for all these bishops. We love them and care for them, which is why we have invested so much in attempting to help them understand how their betrayal of the Gospel of Life is such a scandal. 

Novena to St. John Chrysostom on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of the United States,  May 29, 2011

The Shame of Notre Dame, May 23, 2011

Osama is Dead, May 1, 2011

GOP agenda steals from the poor and middle class, April 10, 2011

Obama and Romero, March 24, 2011

Total moral bankruptcy on display for all to see, February 6, 2011

Are the US Catholic bishops satisfied with the results of their endorsement of the war in Afghanistan? July 2010

The problem with Al Gore. July 2010

The runaway general and the US Catholic bishops. June 2010

An answer to Archbishop Chaput, March 24, 2010 (Feast of the Martyrdom of Romero)

Civilian death toll soars in Afghanistan, August 2009

Our Tyrant Emperor calls for more war , August 2009

The unmentionable sorrows of war, May 2009

Open Letter to Archbishop Piero Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Feast of Corpus Christi, 2008

Open Letter to H.E. Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago, March 2008

NCR and the Iraq War, September 2007

A Dark Day for the Church in the US (on the appointment of Archbishop O'Brien to the see of Baltimore). July 2007

Dear Catholic Bishops, part of the Letters from Osama series. Postcard version, suitable for mailing. Flyer version, suitable for copying and distributing. June 2007

Lent 2007 OKC Catholic Worker Newspaper, articles Response to the US Bishops Statements, 2006-2007, Bishops Destroy the Church's Witness to Life,

2006 National CW Statement to the US Bishops

Response to Stephen Colecchi November 2006

Moral Law and the Iraq War, by Fr. Emmanuel McCarthy

Response to the "Call for Dialogue and Action on Responsible Transition in Iraq," from Bishop William Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 2006

Liturgy and War and the US Catholic Bishops Feast of St. Benedict, 2006

The Errors of Michael Novak: A critique of the Catholic neo-conservatives support for the Iraq War, revised and updated from the two 2003 essays on the same subject. Summer 2006

Does the end justify the means? Lent 2005

Daily prayers in time of war, Lent 2005

Prayer to Dorothy Day for the people of Iraq, January 2005

More errors of Michael Novak and others regarding the war on Iraq, February 2003

The Errors of Michael Novak , Feb 2003

What would Jesus do with Iraq? Fall 2002

Open Letter to the US Bishops regarding the morality of our nation's war on the people of Afghanistan, Holy Innocents 2001

Eleven Concerns about the Justice of the Afghanistan War, November 2001

Lenten Message of Bishop John Michael Botean, Eparchy of St. George in Canton for the Romanians, declaring the Iraq War to be unjust. March 7,. 2003

Daily prayers in time of War, October 7, 2001, together with a Reflection on the present situation.

The Easter Letter to New York City, October 2001. A redaction of Paul's epistles arranged as though he was writing to the people of New York City following the terrorist attacks.

Overcoming evil with good in the light of the attacks on the World Trade Center, September 12, 2001

Just War and the Iraqi Escalation February 1998

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