Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Back when bishops talked about warfare

I was reading an article on military affairs that appeared in 1984 in the International Journal of Applied Philosophy and was struck by a reference to the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on nuclear warfare that was issued by American Catholic leaders a year earlier. It made me think-back then, the bishops were all over the issue ...

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I was reading an article on military affairs that appeared in 1984 in the International Journal of Applied Philosophy and was struck by a reference to the Bishops' Pastoral Letter on nuclear warfare that was issued by American Catholic leaders a year earlier.

It made me think-back then, the bishops were all over the issue of warfare. They condemned offensive war. (Point 1.A.3: "Offensive war of any kind is not morally justifiable.") Yet for the last 10 years, we have been at war, and I can't remember the bishops weighing in particularly, not even when the world's most powerful country launched a preemptive war on false premises. What up with that? Did they just get bored? Was it just a passing phase?

I was reading an article on military affairs that appeared in 1984 in the International Journal of Applied Philosophy and was struck by a reference to the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on nuclear warfare that was issued by American Catholic leaders a year earlier.

It made me think-back then, the bishops were all over the issue of warfare. They condemned offensive war. (Point 1.A.3: "Offensive war of any kind is not morally justifiable.") Yet for the last 10 years, we have been at war, and I can’t remember the bishops weighing in particularly, not even when the world’s most powerful country launched a preemptive war on false premises. What up with that? Did they just get bored? Was it just a passing phase?

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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