As anyone who’s read more than a post or two on this blog should know, I’m a big advocate of heroic virtue. In _Veritatis Splendor_, Pope John Paul II says that we have a great deal of freedom in regard to following God’s positive law. I totally agree, while, with JPII, I say we should follow positive law to the greatest extent possible.
So, normally, when there’s room for personal interpretation, I follow the most saintly, prophetic, exaggerated teaching possible.
However, I also acknowledge when the Church says there’s room for nuance in terms of how other people do things.
For example, the Church teaches there is such a thing as Just War. The Church also teaches that what constitutes a Just War is ultimately left up to those most “in the know,” and those with the responsibility for public good.
I believe that people should have a right to conscientiously object to participating in a war they believe unjust. I believe we should take these things into consideration, but I also believe the ambiguity of the situation does not bear the level of culpability in one’s vote that abortion does, and Cardinal Ratzinger clearly said this in his infamous 2004 letter.
Now, am I personally going to take up arms and go to Iraq or Afghanistan? No way. Would I consider taking up arms if an enemy invaded our country or the government turned against us? Possibly, though I’d prefer to die an outright martyr.
Would I engage in violence to defend someone in my family? Very likely so, though I’d like to try to do something like that Muslim store clerk who held the thief at gunpoint, gave him some money in charity, and then talked to him about Islam.
However, what I will not do is say that violence is always wrong. I will not say that war is always wrong. That is to say that the Church’s theory of Just War is wrong, and every liberal Catholic who calls himself a “pacifist” and votes for pro-abortionists to support the vote for war, ends up saying just that. Many saints, including two of this site’s direct patrons, engaged in warfare (actually 4 of this site’s direct patrons did, but the other two aren’t officially canonized).
St. Louis IX fought in the Crusades, though he never committed personal mortal sin.
St. Louis de Montfort once beat up a bunch of drunks who were mocking him when he was street preaching on Saturday evening–and they all showed up at Mass the next morning.
Then you have St. Wenceslaus of Bavaria, who is a martyr yet defended himself against his assailants.
We should also remember St. Joan of Arc, who is regarded even by atheists like Shaw and Twain as one of the most truly holy people in history.
St. Martin of Tours, most famous for the time when, as a recently converted Roman soldier, he gave half his cloak to a poor man, went around burning down pagan temples when he was a bishop.
Then there was a whole regiment of Roman soldiers in modern-day Switzerland who adopted Christianity and were martyred for it.
Not only is absolute pacifism a violation of the Catechism, it’s also an implication that the Church was wrong to canonize these people, and canonization is itself an exercise in infallibility.
So while I am the first to argue that the peaceful way is always better, I will never argue for official pacifism, especially as a political obligation.
Meanwhile, the Church is completely clear on the moral obligation of voting for the candidate who is the most pro-life on abortion is as possible.