Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Church, Natural Law, Torture & Self-Defense

At one time the Holy See controlled and ruled a large part of Italy then known as the Vatican States. During that time the Church was required to protect the innocent and punish the guilty as was any other state which was often done by the execution of horrid criminal by hanging and, if my data is correct, beating them to death. Certainly the police of that time, such as they were, used such extraordinary and severe questioning techniques as make "water boarding" appear as a child's game.

Now that the Pope and his advisers are cozy and safe in their stained-glass windowed ivory towers they no longer need to directly protect the People from criminal and military attacks as terrorize and physically threaten individuals, cities and entire peoples. The Pope et.al. can now wring their hands over the necessary use of threatened and real force needed for the common good and protection of the innocent by such statements, attributed to the Holy Father via John Carr of the USCCB staff, reported (NCR; May 17-23, 2009; Page-1): "Pope Benedict XVI has said the the prohibition torture 'cannot be contravened under any circumstances.' Simply put, torture is a classic case of ends and means." said Carr. "Good ends cannot legitimize immoral means".

Certainly the use of deadly force is justified by Natural Law as a right in self-defense and, very likely, as a duty for the protection of the innocent. To enforce that right and enable that duty the means to do so must be allowed including such as ready access to modern arms (Where the civil authorities are unable OR unwilling to do protect) and also the use of force short of killing, which includes what some describe as "torture".

At a more morally balanced time the Church encouraged the use of "the edge of the sword" in counter-attacking those (eg The Cathars and the followers of the false prophet Mohammed) who were attempting to destroy the core of our Faith and its daughter Civilization. As the threat to both are even more severe now than then, I do not understand the Holy See's reluctance to use necessary force to provide the Natural Law rights of the People and resultant protection to the Churches of God.


James Bremner said...

Dear Mr. Pawlak,
I really enjoy your blog and almost always agree with you , however in this case I must respectfully disagree with you on one certain issue. You draw the comparison of the church of the past, (papal states) using capital punishment, often brutally, to punish serious offenders and compare these practices to the methods of the previous administration (and most certainly current administration's as well). I would just like to remind you that the church throughout her colourful history has not always been led by saintly men, in fact some of the popes of the past were downright awful, (children et. all). The popes are infallible in matters of faith and morals, not necessarily in matters of state. I grow increasingly tired of reading Catholic bloggers who insist that waterboarding is not torture, I am sure that if you had it done to you, you would have quite a different view.
James Bremner

James Pawlak said...

Dear Mr. Bremner:
Thank you for your comments. If "water boarding" had saved my life or that of some other innocent human (Like those in the LA Library Tower a target saved by such questioning)I certainly would have approved of it. It appears that such is, in fact, the case.

It would be lawful to shoot-to-kill such terrorists. I see no problems with a lesser method of suppressing terrorism of which the basic teaching followers of Islam are the leading proponents.

If it were one of mine in danger and "torture" would get the needed and life saving information, my response would be "Pass the battery cables please!".

Today's Church is divorced from the reality that St. Bernard of Clairvaux faced in outlining the need for deadly force to protect the Church and "strike blows for Christ with the edge of the sword."


James Bremner said...

Hi Jim
Perhaps you could recommend some St Bernard reading for my edification? I confess I know little about the man, even less about the saint.
As a soldier who just returned from Afghanistan I have an abhorence of torture, which as you rightly point out is the practice of muslims, as commanded by Mohammed in the koran. My feeling on torturing captured enemies is that they would be less likely to surrender in the first place, knowing that that is what's in store for them. One could imagine the effects of a cornered enemy fighter more afraid to surrender than fight to the death. Also I feel that often, true strength lies in the hands of those who are capable of showing mercy. Where we differ, I believe, is that you strongly believe in the efficacy of torture where as I do not. I believe that the LA tower was an exception to the rule and not the common result of torture. I guess there is no way of knowing that for sure. I know that I would not be able to torture anyone, even though I am a soldier with combat experience.
James Bremner