Pope Condemns Concept of Holy War

The headline in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) declares, “No war is holy, pope says.”

Pope Francis said, “We never tire of repeating that the name of God cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone, and not war, is holy!” Even more strikingly, he said: Violence in all its forms does not represent the true nature of religion. It is the antithesis of religion and contributes to its destruction.” The highlighted text, in particular, seems to indicate that he is advocating pacifism. Perhaps he might allow self-defense. No one asked him for clarification.

 

This is revolutionary! Yet to date only Catholic news outlets have carried the story. The Religion News Service, “the largest single source of news about religion, spirituality and ideas,” did not think it newsworthy. Nor did any mainstream publication mention it. Few Christians and even fewer of the elite are interested in pacifism.

Pope Francis neither cited Scripture nor Church precedent for his position. He seems to be speaking as a prophet, though prophets usually state explicitly that they are passing on God’s message. Yet it is clear that both Scripture and Church tradition contradict the pope’s new position.

For example, in the book of Joshua, God commands the children of Israel to wipe out one Canaanite tribe after the other -- including women and children. In the New Testament, the Book of Revelation describes a very bloody Holy War led by the resurrected Christ.

Church tradition did not oppose war. Shortly after Constantine became the leader of Christianity, the Church adopted Augustine’s definition of a “just war.” For centuries, popes called for crusades and holy wars. Not only did they declare war against Muslims, they declared holy wars against Christian heretics in France, Sicily, and Germany. They continued to call for holy wars long after secular rulers refused to do their bidding. And when Protestants broke away from the Church, popes were hardly pacifists. For the last 150 years, the Church has claimed that popes are more-or-less infallible.

One of the Catholic Church’s key doctrines and selling points is that it unwaveringly upholds the traditions of Jesus, Peter, and the Holy Ghost. When facts contradict their position, they are ignored, suppressed, or misrepresented. No one seems to care. This is the real strength of the Church. No one holds them accountable.