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Why the Peace Movement Should Be Pro-Life

The peace movement, or antiwar movement, can loosely be defined as a social movement that strives to achieve the end of a particular war or any war, to minimize violence between humans in a particular place or type of situation, and for the goal of achieving world peace. The pro-life Movement can loosely be defined as a group of people dedicated to the protection of human life at all stages, from conception until death, and to the promotion of the well-being of young mothers. The peace movement and the pro-life Movement are not incongruous in their missions. They both want to stop violence against human life.

There is war in the world and it is threatening the lives of millions of people. Some in the peace movement may not make distinctions between just war and unjust war, they are just against war. They may look at young soldiers as innocent youths being sent off against their will to the slaughter. The reality is that the US troops currently engaged overseas are all voluntary enlistments. The number of casualties from both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom is over 5,700 American soldiers. We pray for the repose of their souls and for their families, and thank them for the gift of their service and for their ultimate sacrifice in defense of American ideals and freedom. All war is a tragedy and any loss of American soldiers is a tragedy.

There is also abortion in the world and it is threatening the lives of millions of people. The estimated number of abortions in the United States during 2008 was 1,206,200 Americans. The death toll is over 49,500,000 lives lost to abortion in the United States since its legalization in 1973. The reality is that there are millions of innocent people being sent against their will to the slaughter. No baby would choose to be killed rather than to have a chance to live, love, and laugh, to grow up, to become someone, even to become a soldier and defend this great country that will not currently defend him or her. Babies are not enlisting voluntarily for abortion.

War happens for a variety of reasons. Threats to national security, economics, foreign invasion, anything that threatens societal stability can be a lead-up to war. War should never be entered into lightly, as the consequences can be catastrophic and cannot be fully known in advance. One should never enter a war without being prepared to accept the consequences, including casualties.

Abortion happens for a variety of reasons as well. People may be afraid to have a child, they may feel inconvenienced, people may want a right to intimacy with no responsibility, they may feel financially threatened by a child. They may feel that the stability of the world as they have known it is threatened. Sexual relationships should never be entered into lightly, as the consequences can and should be life-changing and are never fully known in advance. One should never enter into a sexual relationship without being prepared to accept the natural consequence: children. This is not to say that every act of sexual unity will be fertile; it cannot be, by design. But the partakers in such a relationship must be willing and prepared to accept the child of their union as a natural and expected outcome of being intimate with one another, even if creating such a child was not their intent.

The peace movement would like to see problems ironed out without resorting to violence, especially violence against innocent parties. The pro-life movement would also like to see problems ironed out without resorting to violence against the innocent. The two can agree on this point. Innocent lives, lives caught in the crossfire of problems created by others than themselves, ought to be protected, preserved, and allowed to live.

The peace movement cannot be considered credible in their anti-violence sentiments until they become willing to champion all innocent lives threatened by violence and become pro-life. The violent ‘solution’ of abortion is incongruous with non-violent antiwar sentiments and the casualties are mounting. In order for one to remain intellectually honest and maintain moral integrity, one cannot be both pro-choice and anti-war.

All I am saying is give life a chance.

9 comments | Add one of your own.

  1. deltaflute

    Humm…where to begin.

    I’m a pro-lifer and a peace activist. So are many other people. The term commonly used to describe those who are for the sanctity of all life including the unborn, criminals, war-victims, suicides and euthanasia sick or elderly is called Consistent Life Ethic. We believe that all life unborn or born is sacred.

    Granted there are some who equate the two as being different, but you can’t group all peace activists together just like you can’t group all pro-lifers. There are some pro-lifers who believe that exceptions should be made in the case of rape, incest, or health of the mother. And they are still considered pro-lifers.

    As far as young military men being forced into it. I’ve never thought anyone in this current war was forced into it. The draft was initiated during the Vietnam War so at some point in time some people were forced into it. Also world wide, other countries do have mandatory service. Young men and sometimes women are required to put in some military duty.

    In our country, some men and women go into military service because it is an easy way to earn money and get an education. They may not be able to afford college any other way. So it’s enticing if nothing else.

    Yes, war happens for a number of reasons. But your article implies that the current war that the United States is involved in is a just war. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have condemned the war in Iraq. They have spoken to the White House about this matter many times. Therefore, it behooves any good Catholic to follow the teachings of the Church. In other words, if the Pope considers the Iraq war to be immoral then so should other US Catholic soldiers and citizens. However, I have not personally heard any priest condemn the Iraq War or discourage soldiers from participating in it. I have heard things more along the lines of support the troops, but nothing condemning this war specifically.

    As far as being pro-life, there are many people out there fighting the good fight and for me I feel it is my calling to stand up against war. Not everyone is called to picket at the local abortion clinic.

    Pax Christi

    Reply

    1. Denys

      You suggest that the expressions of anguish and concern that the current and previous popes have spoken about Iraq are “the teachings of the church,” and furthermore that they are clear, unambiguous, and binding-in-conscience condemnations of the US and allied invasion of Iraq.

      Nope; nope.

      It is one thing for a pope to express anguish about war, to lament that negotiations have broken down, to plea for more diplomacy. A clear and unambiguous condemnation of a particular national action is another matter entirely, and the record shows no such thing.

      Now, a number of Italian cardinals uttered more explicit (and highly sentimentalized) private opinions in public, and certainly intended to give the impression that they were speaking for the Church. But a careful reading of JP II’s words on the matter shows he was more careful in his language without sacrificing ANY of his moral and pastoral concern for life and lives to realpolitik–and without elevating his private opinions into Papal Bulls excommunicating Catholic soliders or something.

      You “feel it is (your) calling to stand up against war.”

      All war?

      Reply

  2. Deltaflute

    I consider their remarks and actions to imply that it is an unjust war. But you can call it ambiguous if you’d like.

    I don’t believe that there is such thing as an just war. Jesus never spoke about their being one. Instead he condemned that sort of thing by the way he lived his life. He was called the Prince of Peace. He spoke about turning the other cheek. He invited the lowest of the low to his table. He could have stopped himself from being crucified but he offered up no defense taking the road less traveled to make reparations for our sins. Many other religious groups agree with my sentiments including the Mennonites and Quakers.

    I’m a Catholic who follows the teachings of the Church and the Bible. But I follow Jesus first and foremost and cannot believe that defending oneself militarily or otherwise is the example that Jesus set for us. I believe that he told us to trust in him and not take up arms.

    I don’t own a gun and don’t take defense classes. I’m a conscientious objector. It sounds extreme, but I follow Jesus. He is my Lord and Savior. I put my trust in him.

    Reply

    1. Dmitry Kafeaza

      Assuming, of course, that we are engaged in “willing the good”.

      But to raise a historical example, I would not be able to turn another man’s cheek if the Einzatsgruppen were intent on shooting holes in it.

      I would conscientiously object to the latter — with prayer, and armaments meant to dissuade.

      Similarly, should police forego weapons and simply carry megaphones and crime scene buckets? (Note: link contains graphic info, http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/03/26/the-silence-of-the-canadian-lambs/)

      Reply

  3. deltaflute

    Jesus never said that it would be easy. It’s far easier to think that we need weapons to defend ourselves than our wits. In an ideal world, we would have no need for weapons except for hunting. But it’s mankind and the sins of mankind that cause people to think that weapons are okay.

    We cross a very thin between what we view as defending ourselves and causing evil. The war in Afghanistan is being fought with tanks and unmanned drones. We have limited the amount of causalities and even in the case of the drones removed man from the equation. At least on our side. The Afghans have explosives and hand held weapons. There are many more casualties on their side. Is is a just war if there is clearly one side is reaping the loss of human life while the other doesn’t even have humans on the battle field?

    That’s what I think about. I also think that if people had no need for weapons we wouldn’t be in this mess. So I choose not to have one even at the expense of my own life. Jesus said one must loose one’s life in order to gain it. I gladly give up my human body to attain true life in heaven. It’s a loss I’m willing to live with if that means that I never hurt or kill another human being regardless of their intent towards me. Jesus knew that, understood it, and lived it. He died so that I might live. So too would I die so that another, good or bad, might live. I’m not the judge. Only God judges. People repent. Are you willing to die for another person? Soldiers think they are. But what if that person was your enemy?

    I’m not a scholar and am not a great study of Canon Law, but I do read the Bible and know a little bit of the lives of saints. As far as I know, no war hero became a saint. St. Michael might be close but he is a solider for Christ which is what we all should be. St. Martin de Tours actually said that he was a solider of Christ and gave up arms. We should all strive to be saints. And we should follow those examples laid before us.

    Pax Christi

    Reply

    1. Denys

      Delta, you have articulated your position clearly. Thanks.

      If you believe that there is no such thing as a just war, then you are following your own opinions about what you think Our Lord taught, and you are NOT following what His Church teaches.

      I do not dismiss or deride the depth and passion of your convictions, but I do charitably point out that your position is a personal one, and not in conformity with the Church’s historical and current body of doctrine regarding the acts of statesmen and leaders.

      If I may speak to one other point you raised in your original comment–I feel faithfulness to the truth obliges me to speak about this–while some, even many, may call themselves “pro-life” but make numerous exceptions about the licitness of abortion in cases of rape or danger to the mother’s life, people who make such exceptions are making personal judgments and NOT following the unambiguous doctrine of the Church.

      Anyone who thinks “War, never; abortion, sometimes” has it exactly backwards, at least if the doctrines of the Catholic Church are our guide.

      (If the doctrines of the Church are NOT our guide, then we aren’t Catholics, no matter what we may choose to call ourselves…)

      Pax, caritas, et veritas.

      Reply

  4. deltaflute

    I agree with your thoughts about abortion. Never said that I didn’t. My point was that you can’t lump all peace activists as being pro-choice because that isn’t the case. I’m an example of that. Nor can you say that all peace activists need to suddenly drop what they are doing and join the picket lines of the pro-lifers. As peace activists we have our own work to do.

    I understand what the CCC says and what some Popes have said on the subject. That being said, I think that I have illustrated that their are many saints and even Jesus himself who would say that war even in the case of defense is wrong. It’s not explicitly said in the Bible which is why I think the Church says there is a just war. I never said that I followed that particular teaching laid out in the CCC. Clearly I don’t. But to say that I do not follow the lives and examples set out by the saints which make up the Church, is rather upsetting. The Church is much more than a building or a set of codes. It is also a body of people.

    I also find it upsetting that you are implying that I am not a Catholic simply because I disagree about one teaching. There are many types of Catholics, Eastern, plain Catholics, and even the newest Anglican brethren who are assimilating into Catholicism. Would you say that they aren’t Catholic because they have different traditions and even holy days? There is so much more to Catholicism. I love the fact that we are a diverse Body of Christ.

    I entered into this discussion with much apprehension. I had hoped to bring a different side to the discussion. I also had hopes that as Catholics we would not result to insulting each other. I’m afraid that out of charity. I will have to end this discussion.

    May God bless you and keep you. Pax Christi

    Reply

    1. Denys

      I haven’t insulted or called any names. You have indeed brought a “different side” to the discussion, one which I have found fruitful to engage.

      I have asked questions that have led you to state most forthrightly that you have judged the doctrine of the Church on war and just war and rejected it.

      There is of course much room in the Body of Christ for individuals to follow particular traditions–the charism of St Francis, for example, in which there would seem to be a strong strain of personal pacificism.

      In the fraternity of Christ I urge you to follow that charism WITHOUT attempting to universalize it into a doctrine that you hold superior to the firm teachings of the Church, claiming such things as “I don’t see where Jesus teaches that so I’m free not to follow it.”

      That’s a violation of communio and an un-Catholic act. I’m not calling names–I’m just pointing out a fact, and doing so because I care for your soul and the souls of others.

      There is plenty room in Christ’s Church for pacifists, indeed She NEEDS that charism–but pacifists who condemn ALL war and ipso facto all warriors and statesmen who wage war wound the Church’s unity.

      In charity, I will continue the discussion as long as necessary. If I’m in error, I trust that I will be shown how and why.

      (But plugging your ears and walking away from a discussion you don’t like is not “charitable” at all…)

      Reply