The killing instinct

When I was a young subaltern in the army (doing my National Service) I would talk with my company commander about his war experiences. He was in a Highland regiment then and took part in the invasion of France and Germany.  He told me how he had shot a German woman at long range. “It was just a bet,” he said “it was a difficult shot. Oh, and I’ve still got her watch. Or, at least my wife has – I gave it to her as a present.”

My disapproval must have showed because he went on to say “You know, when you’re continually killing people you simply have to blunt your feelings. Otherwise you couldn’t be a soldier. But of course, after weeks of that, human life just doesn’t seem important.”

I remembered reading that, in the early centuries of the Church, you were indeed allowed, albeit reluctantly, to be a soldier. But when you came back you had to do penance. It was not that you were guilty but that you were contaminated. True or not, Christians generally took pacifism for granted – the new life of love in Christ was incompatible with killing. They were to develop a taste for it later when the government of the Church was sufficiently well established to be able to overlook Christianity.

I would like to think that, had I taken part in direct military action, I would have regretted every man I killed, and would still be praying for their souls. But would I have felt like that if I had fought my way across Normandy, or had an opportunity to see Belsen after its liberation? And how would I have felt if my lack of aggression led to the death of men I was commanding?

This innate enthusiasm for killing is called the “Schrumpf effect” after a marine sharpshooter who was reported as rejoicing in the number of people killed, and saying of an Iraqi woman caught in the crossfire, “I’m sorry, but the chick was in the way,”

In fact World War II experience tells us that most men will go to some lengths to avoid killing. Men subjected to lengthy combat were likely to suffer from psychiatric symptoms, while those who seemed comfortable with it had “aggressive, psychopathic tendencies”. Some surveys discovered that only 15 to 20 per cent of soldiers fired their weapons when in combat – even when ordered to do so. This so concerned the US authorities that they changed their training in order to increase the killing rate.

Do any of us feel that killing even in wartime is so wicked that we would not do it? Is there a difference between shooting a woman or child directly and killing a score of them by dropping a bomb from a few thousand feet? How do we react to the idea of blanket bombing – Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima? Would any of us argue that we should never use a hydrogen/atomic bomb even if that were the only way of avoiding being bombed in return?

About Quentin

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119 Responses to The killing instinct

  1. Iona says:

    “I’m sorry, but the chick was in the way”

    That is really a terrifying comment, when you think about it. Makes it seem like a game he was playing. He might have been throwing a snowball: “Oh, sorry love, I meant it for so-and-so”.

    I find your statistic re the percentage of soldiers who actually fired their weapons in combat somwhat reassuring.

    Should we “never use an atomic bomb even if that were the only way to avoid being bombed in return?” – But we could not know for certain that the “enemy” would bomb “us” if “we” didn’t bomb him first.

    • st.joseph says:

      I would think that calling a women a ‘chick’ as Quentin says the marine sharpshooter called an Iraq woman ,shows its disrespect anyway.

  2. Peter D. Wilson says:

    This harks back to an earlier question of whether killing is always an evil. During my National Service I never had to fire a shot in anger, but that was just a matter of circumstances; plenty of my contemporaries did. Had the occasion arisen, I like to think that I should have regarded killing a particular individual as a regrettable necessity and, as you say, prayed for his soul.

    Mass bombing, inevitably involving the wholesale slaughter of innocents, raises altogether more difficult questions. On the one hand, it may prevent even greater slaughter elsewhere, though that is conjectural; on the other, it certainly cuts short thousands of lives that even beyond their own intrinsic value, might have brought great benefits to mankind. I’m glad I was never likely to be in the position of making such a decision.

    Incidentally, while I appreciate the idealistic element in pacifism, I regard it in practice as relying on someone else to do the dirty work.

  3. claret says:

    This raises the question of what is meant by ‘Pro -Life,’ and a whole host of other ‘lfe issues.’ Do the Quakers support abortion or are they ambivalent about it ? I don’t know the answer but I have never heard a Quaker ‘spokesperson’ speak on the subject. Does silence infer consent?
    There is no doubt that a world without killing would be a much better place but someone would soon come along and promote ‘mercy killing’ and abortion, and someone else would be pleased to carry it out.
    On the subject of warfare then this cannot be separated from all the other evils of the world that inevitably lead to war. Greed, envy, hate, revenge etc. and then the pressing question of whether it is right to defend yourself against these evils.
    Incidentally I think the 15 % to 20% that is quoted relates to soldiers who purposefully fired above the heads of the opposing soldiers rather than refusing to fire in the first place.
    ( I guess that if I was ever in the terrible position of having to share a fox hole with someone and was under attack then I would want that person to be a fighter and not a pacifist !)

  4. st.joseph says:

    No one likes wars-if there was a way to stop them without the awful destruction to the lives of humans beings,
    When we hear of the terrible things on the news where killing women and children without a reason,
    they have to be protected., and if a soldierdoes happen to have to shoot we must pray for them. they must suffer mentally doing their duty to save others. I know my father was in the Desert Rats and he I believe he sufferd mentally for years after he came home.But did have his life.
    I have said this before, but my grandfather was killed the first day of the Somme making my gran a widow and with a my mother age 4 He was 28 with millions of others.My husbands nephew at 28 was killed rescuing hostages in the jungle the trauma comes later with their families.
    We must continue to pray for peace, it seems that when one war stops, another starts.
    I am pleased that we do have soldiers prepared to lay down their life for their brothers.
    I dont believe their are many who are civilised will enjoy it.

  5. mike Horsnall says:

    Personally I am not a pacifist, I believe in the doctrine of just war and would kill. On the other hand if a man or men were to come down my drive after my wife and daughter I would, if neccessary, cheerfully kill them too with whateve means came to hand.

    • John Candido says:

      I fully support Mike Horsnall’s point of view here.

    • st.joseph says:

      Mike, I dont believe that you really meant ‘cheerfully’ in the sense oj joy. Or did you?

      • mike Horsnall says:

        ST Joseph,
        No you are right. ‘Cheerfully’ here is probably best interpreted as ‘without remorse’ or ‘without hesitation’ Of course, faced with the actual situation I can’t predict in advance how I would physically act .

  6. John Nolan says:


    Was the German woman shot by your former company commander a non-combatant? If so, then he should have been shot himself, and I for one would have refused in conscience to serve under him.

    On a lighter note, Lytton Strachey, when registering as a conscientious objector during the Great War was asked by the tribunal the usual question: “What would you do if a German soldier was attempting to rape your sister?” Strachey, a well-known homosexual, replied: “I would interpose my body between them”.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      John – I suspect that if no officer who had ever committed a reprehensible act were allowed to command, we should have very few commanders.

      We have to accept that successful military action demands a measure of ruthlessness, and it may spill over beyond what is legitimate. The incident mentioned by Quentin seems to have been a casual, cold-blooded murder compounded by theft, unredeemed by subsequent remorse, and almost certainly there would have been many such. However, a soldier cannot choose his commander and I doubt very much whether a refusal to serve on grounds of conscience would be upheld by any tribunal.

      • John Nolan says:

        In the film ‘Schindler’s List’ Amon Goeth takes pot-shots at innocent civilians, and this was confirmed by his former mistress in a Thames Television documentary screened shortly before her death. Goeth was hanged; Quentin’s OC no doubt retired with honours and an obituary in the Daily Telegraph. The fact that he boasted about this afterwards is quite remarkable since this is clearly a war crime and utterly contemptible conduct in a British officer. Subaltern or not, I would have told him this to his face and applied for an immediate transfer, giving my reasons for doing so.

  7. mike Horsnall says:

    never thought of that..!

  8. Nektarios says:

    Quentin & Fellow bloggers,

    The phraseology of your forward appears to be asking questions about killing in war situations mainly, but in fact, it is seeking one solution, namely that war and killing is inevitable.
    I have met a few pacifists over the years, and they were not treated kindly but seen as cowards because the stood by their conscience. A whole host of mechanisms of Government was used to get them to fight and kill their fellow human beings. It was psychological warfare on many who were confirmed pacifists.

    There is the glorification of war in books, video games and films, perpetuating and conditioning children to accept war as a perfectly norma;l and for males a perfectly macho part of life. And so it is, we have got used to killing.

    Here in the West, we have probably killed more people over the centuries than anyone else.
    Governments and Churches are constantly talking about peace, but to have peace, one must learn to live peacefully, and that seems utterly imposible.

    • John Nolan says:

      “Here in the West, we have probably killed more people over the centuries than anyone else.” Really? The Tai’Ping rebellion in mid-19th century China is reckoned as the most destructive war in history in terms of casualties, and no-one knows the number slaughtered by Genghis Khan and his Mongol successors in the 13th century. Beat your breast by all means, but don’t ignore the facts.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        Not to mention the 5 million lost to saughter and famine across Northern China in ‘the great leap forward’

  9. ionzone says:

    Would World War II have happened if Christians had refused to fight? It’s quite possible the events would have panned out very differently, World War One would likely not have been fought, which means there would have probably been no public feeling for the Nazi’s to take advantage of, which means they might not have gotten the landslide election they did, which might have kept them out of power.

    On the other hand, if the Nazis did get power anyway, they might still have tried to eradicate the Jews, disabled, gays, etc, even if they could not rally the people to war, though they would lack the reason they did this – which was a direct response to the feelings left over from WW1. On the other hand, the Nazis may have started their eradication of the Christian religion first instead and become more like Russia.

    It’s moot, though.

  10. Geordie says:


    “They were to develop a taste for it later when the government of the Church was sufficiently well established to be able to overlook Christianity”

    I like this statement. It separates the government of the Church from true Christianity. Church government has at times been appalling. It was a sad day when the Church became the established religion of the Roman empire. It’s governance became political from that time onwards. Once a political situation enters the equation then killing becomes part of the Church’s governance; eg the execution of ‘heretics’. Many people executed for heresy weren’t heretics at all; they were politically inconvenient. St Joan of Arc is a good example of this.

    • John Nolan says:

      Had the Church not become the established religion of the Roman Empire it would have remained a persecuted and marginalized Jewish heresy and would have disappeared from the pages of history. Fortunately the Holy Ghost had other plans.

      • st.joseph says:

        Maybe we would still be waiting for the Messiah!
        Would anyone recognise The Holy Ghost? Even now!

    • Nektarios says:


      Well put – even it is a very sad reflection on the Christian Church.
      The truth is man likes violence and has been going on ever since Cain killed his brother Abel.
      That should be a wake up call to mankind – in killing another, be it an individul murder
      or state sponsered murder,it is my brother we are killing.

      Is it possible to stop war, stop killing? If we say it is just human nature there is nothing we can do, then the killing will go on.

      I am reminded from Scripture, that even in the very last days before the end comes,
      there will be wars and wars and rumours of wars.
      Lord have mercy upon us.

  11. John Nolan says:

    st joseph

    The point I was trying to make is that too many people like the idea of Christianity as a sort of fluffy-bunny philosophy yet reject the Church that Christ founded, and regard her survival through the vicissitudes of two millennia of human history as something to be regretted. Christianity is not simply a philosophical concept, it is the means to salvation, and the Church, however imperfect she might be in her worldly governance, is still the Church of Christ. You cannot divorce her from human history, and if you think as Catholics do that her sacraments are necessary, you cannot, as Geordie does above, try and identify a ‘true Christianity’ apart from the Church. If he is not a Catholic, then fair enough; if he is, then he is very confused.

  12. Vincent says:

    I am debating in my mind the question of blanket bombing. The key question it seems is whether or not women, children, civilians in general are legitimate targets in a just war. We might want to assume that they are, for the most part, patriots. But is this enough? We can assume that many support the war by their labour and even the children may be contributing. Some will remember how we bought war bonds with pocket money in WWII.

    If these do not add up to making the civilian population a legitimate target then I cannot see how much of the allied bombing effort can be justified. German cities were often bombed at intervals to make sure that the rescue services would be out on the streets for the next wave. The creation of firestorms was welcomed; these welded people to the pavement with their great heat. The casualties were in tens of thousands.

    The civilian deaths do not satisfy the principles of double effect if their destruction was clearly intended as the means to lower morale and to hasten the ending of the war. (In the case of Dresden it appears to have been mainly to keep the Russians happy.) Let’s suppose, as may well be the case, that blanket bombing did shorten the war. Let’s suppose (though this is less likely) that the overall total of deaths was reduced thereby. Let’s suppose those nasty Germans deserved it – well they bombed Coventry, didn’t they? Our principles still do not allow us to do wrong so that good may come

    • John Nolan says:


      The foremost critic of the allied bombing campaign (and this was some time before the firestorms of Hamburg and Dresden) was George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, who spoke against it in the House of Lords, although his fellow bishops did not support his stance. Significantly Churchill, towards the end of the war, privately admitted that the bombing campaign amounted to ‘terrorism’.

  13. Geordie says:

    John Nolan
    I see you into character analysis again. I am a Catholic and I am not confused. I recognise the sacraments are the means of attaining holiness. I do not separate the Church from human history, nor from true Christianity. I am just sad some Church leaders, in the past and at present, have brought shame on our Saviour’s foundation. I believe that inspite of the failings of Church governance, the Holy Spirit protects the Church from doctrinal error and it has survived for 2000 years because the Holy Spirit perseveres with us and our frailties. This doesn’t mean we should leave every thing to Him and refrain from fighting against evil within the Church and outside the Church.

    • John Nolan says:

      Geordie, you’re being disingenuous. I was taking you up on your argument, which others have advanced, that somehow Christianity would have been ‘better’ if the Roman Empire had not got involved with it. The Christian infrastructure, based on Roman provincial administration, enabled the Church to survive the collapse of the Roman Empire in the west in the fifth century and the eastern Byzantine Empire lasted for a thousand years after that. Without the Roman Empire you would not be a Christian, let alone a Catholic, and neither would I.

      Early Christians were pacifists because they opposed the then pagan Roman state and expected the Second Coming sooner rather than later. However, being fed to lions may well be a heroic witness but is hardly conducive to spreading the Gospel.

  14. John Candido says:

    I totally agree with John Nolan on the criminality of Quentin’s commanding officer, in shooting an innocent civilian. I was utterly appalled by reading it, and if he was reported for doing so, he should have been given a military trial.

    I agree with Vincent about the bombing of civilians. They are not a legitimate military target and everything possible should have been done to minimise civilian loss of life. Unfortunately, crimes have been committed on both sides, as usually occurs in wars. Have there been any cleanly fought wars in history? Probably not!

    These important questions aside, the allies in both world wars were clearly on the right side, and for the sake of freedom and justice for all, we thoroughly needed to win each war. Freedom owes an undying debt of gratitude for all service men and women who served in times of war. We most assuredly must pay our respects for all of the fallen and their families, as well as for those who were injured in any way.

    I agree with Peter D. Wilson on the subject of pacifism, would like to share this quote from American episcopal clergyman called William Thomas Manning (born 12 May, 1866, in Northampton, England – died 18 November, 1949 in New York) who was Rector of Trinity Church, New York (1908–1921). He eventually became U.S. Episcopal Bishop of New York.

    ‘If by Pacifism is meant the teaching that the use of force is never justifiable, then, however well meant, it is mistaken, and it is hurtful to the life of our country. And the Pacifism which takes the position that because war is evil, therefore all who engage in war, whether for offense or defense, are equally blameworthy, and to be condemned, is not only unreasonable, it is inexcusably unjust.’

    Question, ‘do any of us feel that killing even in wartime is so wicked that we would not do it?

    I would do it, but I probably would not enjoy it. Provided that we were fighting a just war, that we were prosecuting the war correctly in moral and legal terms, and that my aggression is necessary for not only my own survival, but the survival and military success of my company of soldiers. Having said all of that, I can assure you that I would be scared out of my wits, and I am really sure that at times it would be a thoroughly ugly and awful experience.

    Question, ‘Is there a difference between shooting a woman or child directly and killing a score of them by dropping a bomb from a few thousand feet?’

    There is a possibility that bombing and killing civilians is an unavoidable double effect or unintended consequence of the bombing. I am assuming that this bombing raid is principally targeting military infrastructure, where civilians, of necessity, are excluded from the definition of ‘military infrastructure’.

    Question, ‘How do we react to the idea of blanket bombing – Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima?’

    I would consider it a war crime if the principle reason for the raid was to effect civilian casualties.

    Question, ‘Would any of us argue that we should never use a hydrogen/atomic bomb even if that were the only way of avoiding being bombed in return?

    If ‘being bombed in return’ means being bombed with nuclear weapons intended for mass destruction, then I would be in favour of a first strike that strictly targets military infrastructure, and where civilian deaths were absolutely unintended. Conventional weapons would be used in preference to unconventional weapons, if and only if, they were tactically amenable. If not, nuclear weapons would be used out of necessity, and under a policy of strictly targeting military objectives to the exclusion of aiming to kill civilians.

    Here are some links about ‘Just War Theory’ that you may find interesting,

    • st.joseph says:

      John Candido.
      A good comment.

    • Vincent says:

      John Candido, thank you for addressing my points so comprehensively. Let me be brief. The Allies were capable of focussing their bombing on military objectives quite precisely by the later stages of the war. But the blanket bombing of civilian areas became clear policy. Fire storms were a deliberate technique of using large numbers of incendiary bombs to heat the air and suck in air from beneath to create a draught and so intense all-consuming fire.

      “. . . when I look round to see how we can win the war I see that there is only one sure path . . . and that is absolutely devastating, exterminating attack by very heavy bombers from this country upon the Nazi homeland. We must be able to overwhelm them by this means, without which I do not see a way through.” Winston Churchill.”

      The result in casualties : Hamburg 45000, Dresden 25000, Tokyo 100000. And vast civilian areas of cities flattened. (Atomic bombs not included)

  15. John Candido says:

    All of the Geneva Conventions including all additional Protocols can be accessed from the website of the International Red Cross at, It is the first option under ‘Quick Links’.

  16. st.joseph says:

    Thank you for those links. I am sure it is very interesting to know.

    But I think now is the time that we look at the situation of the killingsof unborn children, (not here on the blog)
    And where the safest place is in their mothers womb, helpless babies who have no way of defending their selves` even from their mothers. Millions have been killed at the hands of those who are meant to be protecting life.
    In war we are defending life,but abortion is attacking, and we are allowing it to happen.
    How can we sleep at night!

  17. John Nolan says:

    John Candido

    Forty years ago I had the privilege of meeting Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC on two occasions when he came to speak at the Durham Union. On the first occasion he proposed the motion “This house believes that pacifism is a naive creed”. Such was the obvious goodness and sincerity of the man (I believe his cause for sanctification has been taken up in Rome) that even the usual crop of lefties was silenced, and the motion was carried.

    The official Christian attitude to warfare has evolved over the centuries. Although William of Normandy invaded England in 1066 with the blessing of the Pope, and the Conqueror’s half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, is depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry with a mace or club in his hand, those who had shed blood at the Battle of Hastings were made to undergo quite stringent canonical penances.

    Incidentally, Odo is described as ‘baculum tenens’ and ‘baculum’ is also the Latin for a bishop’s staff. So Odo might well have been urging on the troops from behind, armed with nothing more lethal than his crozier.

    • Quentin says:

      John, do you have any more information about Christians being required to do penance as following military fighting? Or have I misremembered? (see my original post).

      • John Nolan says:

        Quentin, I’m relying much on memory here, but in the first millennium the Church was more interested in mitigating the effects of warfare – it was well known that when barbarian rulers embraced Christianity they moderated their behaviour in this regard – but accepted that warfare is endemic to the human condition, which is surely a truism. After Hastings William gave thanks to God for his victory but ordered his army to do penance and paid out of his own pocket for the abbey erected over the spot where Harold was killed.

        In the centuries that followed, the crusades and military action against heretics such as the Cathars tended to make the Church Militant more militant, or at least militaristic!

  18. John Nolan says:

    Again, JC, and many thanks for your illuminating comments above, I find myself somewhat at odds with the teaching of John Paul II and Benedict XVI regarding nuclear deterrence. As a “cold war warrior” and a War Studies graduate, I think there is a lot to be said for it, and am entirely in favour of the UK remaining a nuclear power (and in fact enhancing our nuclear capability which is an on-going process now supported by the main political parties).

  19. Iona says:

    John Nolan – you say “warfare is endemic to the human condition, which is surely a truism”. I’m not so sure about that. I believe, when the Inuit (then called Eskimo) were first contacted by Europeans, and once they’d succeeded in learning enough of each other’s languages to converse, the Europeans were describing life in Europe, including warfare, and the Inuit were incredulous, as they themselves did not engage in anything remotely like warfare.

    The explanation might be: in an environment like Greenland, who needs human enemies?

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      “… the Inuit were incredulous, as they themselves did not engage in anything remotely like warfare.” On the other hand, I once read (whether it was true or not) that among them it was quite acceptable to take a pot shot at an acquaintance simply because he made an attractive target, with no animosity on either side.

  20. Iona says:

    As to pacifism, was it not possible for someone who was unwilling to kill to volunteer for stretcher duty, or mine clearance, or some such task?

  21. mike Horsnall says:

    I like to think that I would go for the stretcher duty thing if I had the guts-seems the best thing really-I’m not a pacifist as I said earlier but think that for us to go and carry in the wounded etc would be a good thing in itself and preferable to killing- if there was an option.

    • John Nolan says:

      The role of a stretcher-bearer was both difficult and hazardous but the more extreme ‘conshies’ wouls not volunteer for this as it released men for fighting. I was once told that GK Chesterton was accosted in the street by a woman who asked “why aren’t you out at the Front?” GKC indicated his paunch and replied “I think, Madam, that you will observe that I am”. I can’t, however, vouch for the accuracy of this story.

  22. Nektarios says:

    Fellow bloggers,
    We are getting bogged down in the thought up morality that allows killing, but it seems to me, we are missing the point. – Man is violent!

    Where does that violence start if not in our thoughts?
    We seem to be pre-occupied with killing in the war scenario, but there is a thousand and one ways we are killing each other. Let me give you a few examples: There is the killing of a relationship; divorce and a child becomes upset and maladjusted and kill themselves on account of it.
    There is the killing of another through unemployment. You know, in India for example, people made poor because of lack of employment is seen as just a fact of life. Here in the West, if one is unemployed, they say, it is there own fault.

    As often crops up in the blog there issue of killing of the unborn. Many who have done this act,
    have become clinically depressed, so much so, thy feel as if they were dead. But the issues surrounding such issues are complex, but comes out of a heartless conditioning, and is part of a fragmentation taking place in societies, globally.

    There is the killing of confidence in the workplace as one wants to dominate and get advantage over another, and losing their confidence, their job, take to drink or drugs and that eventually kills them.
    But being so assertive and competitive in the workplace is seen as, and lauded as a good thing,
    when in fact it is a recipe of war like mentality.

    There is the killing of a business through agressive takeovers, excessive usury of banks and they call this killing off others like this, progress!

    There is the killing of the spiritual life through pride, anger, fear, aggressive squabbling, inter-denominational fighting, causing weakening of faith, fear, fighting physically and verbally, leading some to making shipwreck of their savation and suicide.
    These are just a few examples.

    What we see through such simple straight-forward examples, that we are all violent and that violence can lead to different forms of lets say, more subtle and not so subtle forms of killing our fellow human beings.

    If we would stop killing wider afield in wars etc, we need to start very near, in own own thoughts
    and hearts.
    Can we do that? Is it possible to change our thought habits so we are not killing off either ourselves, our spiritual lives or that of others?

    • st.joseph says:


      I agree with all that you say.
      Unfortunately we look through rose coloured spectacles.
      The only perfect peace we will find is in Heaven and on earth with the Peace of Christ.

      I am inclined to look at it -for evil to survive, good men do nothing
      As long as Satan is doing his rounds, evil will survive.
      We can have peace in our hearts, but it is a big very big world and for good to spread, it needs the words of Truth, and unfortunately that has become misguided, and made blind.
      We have the perfect example in the teachings of Jesus, and until every man has it in his heart, the good man will die,and a new man will be born!
      We are killing the soul, and that is just if not ,more important than the body.

      • Nektarios says:


        st. joseph,

        Our enemy does indeed go about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
        He is not just the enemy of Christians, that old serpent is the enemy of the whole of humanity. He cares not a jot if he sows emnity in our hearts or among nations, he is no lover of mankind.
        We are encouraged by God’s Word, to, `let peace of God reign in your hearts’. But it is clear the vast majority have no idea what that peace is, or consists of.

        Many think that peace is where we have ample sufficiency of everything, our health, a good job, obedient children, good governance and so on, so we are not troubled on any side, and that is, ` living with rose coloured spectacles,’ as is the idea that arming ourselves to the teeth with weapons of mass destruction actualy produces peace. The direct opposite in fact, it produces fear, and where fear is of this sort is, the peace of God reigning in our hearts is not. Our arch enemy, can attack on on any side.

        But we must fight the good fight as Christians in a spiritual way, in an inward way, starting with our thought and hearts. We cannot demand peace in the world if we are not at peace, nor can we help others to peace.

        By peace, I do not mean what the politicians mean by peace, which is little more than an interruption of hostilities.
        When one comes to see not only man out there is violent, but we are violent in our thoughts, attitudes emotions and self will, only then does one begin to see clearly, and seeing clearly, acts on it!

    • mike Horsnall says:

      “….There is the killing of confidence in the workplace as one wants to dominate and get advantage over another, and losing their confidence, their job, take to drink or drugs and that eventually kills them….”

      This is a huge over generalisation. I encounter lots of small business owners and company directors in my clinics and particularly over these troubled two or three years most have been desperate to keep staff many of whom have become long term friends as well as employees. At the college I work at there are about 15-20 employees and we form a happy co-operative group of people interested in one anothers well being-even though our college is a private enterprise subject to the vagaries of economic life.
      I think it is easy to overlook human goodness while revelling in great swathes of abstract thought. The catholic faith as far as I can see teaches good inherent in the creation and I support that teaching strongly..strangely enough I see that beauty and that goodness all around me like a vein of gold in rock or flowers across the hillside.

      Yes too , before anyone starts I have seen with my own eyes human beings being put to death in a fairly summary manner and have visited some of the gestapo death camps etc etc-nonetheless God made this world, was pleased with what he saw -and still is so.

      • st.joseph says:

        I hear what you are saying.
        Did Jesus come and be Crucified for us, so that we could be nice to each other!
        Jesus told his disciples. ‘even the hedans do that’
        Christianity is knowing Jesus who is our Saviour, who came to show us the way to his Fathers Kingdom, our Heavenly home.
        How many of the nice people who dont know Jesus as God and Worship God Our Father.
        An interesting film on BBC 2 16.3 12 called Reverse Missionarie, a village nearwhere I live.
        All very nice people ,and it portrayed the people in the village those who did not know
        the least thing about the Bible or Jesus or Church.
        Very nice people, but very unaware of Christianity as the Church.
        Now this may sound to some as unloving to those who do not attend Church, but we have to Worship God and love Him above all things, even before our neighbour and ourselves.
        The Corporal Works of Mercy and the Spiritual Works of Mercy, and they are christian acts lived by millions of people all over the world, who are living their lives in the Light of the Word of God through Jesus Christ, and no doubt are on their way to their salvation.
        But let us not confuse this with the acts which are performed in the name of Christianity.

      • Nektarios says:

        Mike Horsnall

        Now who is looking through rose coloured spectacles? Having run a business for the Home Office with over 20 staff and ran my own business for over 20 years, I think I understand the business mentality very well.
        Mark this well, when a business little or large, but worse when large, they are hiring people to do a job, right! What is the relationship between that businessman/woman and their staff? When one uses another person, there is no relationship, just using!
        Same applies when you are training other people in a particular discipline. Training is one thing, but relationship with those being trained – no Mike, such are using trainees for a groups own ends, and the trainees are using you, so there is no relationship.
        You or they, may be friendly but it is an uneasy friendship, and one not likely to continue long.
        Then when push comes to shove, the usual phrase to let them off the hook , as they think is, ` well business is business. You think this is all generalization?

        Do you think I am `revelling in swathes of abstract thought?’ You are entitled to your opinion, so let me ask you: What is goodness actually? Since you know what it is, I presume you are in possession of goodness? If not, you are giving me other people’s thoughts or what they have written on th subject of goodness. If that is the case, you my dear Mike is the one talking in abstraction?

        Lastly, it is not wise to presume to know what God thinks about anything. Now Mike you really have gone intothe realm of generalization and abstraction?

  23. John Candido says:

    I would like to adjust my statements concerning a nuclear first strike, in the light of the church’s teaching in Chapter 5 of the Second Vatican Council’s ‘Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World’ (Gaudium et Spes), to the following statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 1983 called, ‘The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response’. Assuming that my premises are maintained, my statements on employing a nuclear first strike remain. However, they are subject to and augmented by the above provisions of the ‘Pastoral Constitution’, and the Statement of the USCCB.

    The USCCB are for nuclear deterrence, but are opposed to making weapons from either side, capable of being used in a nuclear first strike. This policy is the ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ or ‘MAD’ scenario, which has prevailed throughout the Cold War, and which has luckily helped us to avoid a nuclear conflagration.

    They state under section 163, in ‘The Concept and Development of Deterrence Policy’,

    ‘…stable deterrence depends on the ability of each side to deploy its retaliatory forces in ways that are not vulnerable to an attack (i.e., protected against a “first strike”); preserving stability requires a willingness by both sides to refrain from deploying weapons which appear to have a first strike capability.’

    And in section 190, point 1,

    ‘The addition of weapons which are likely to be vulnerable to attack, yet also possess a ‘prompt hard-target kill’ capability that threatens to make the other side’s retaliatory forces vulnerable. Such weapons may seem to be useful primarily in a first strike; [84] we resist such weapons for this reason and we oppose Soviet deployment of such weapons which generate fear of a first strike against U.S. forces.’

    Note 84. ‘Several experts in strategic theory would place both the MX missile and Pershing II missiles in this category.’

    Assuming that the world does not enter a scenario where any nation-state’s nuclear arsenal is at a ‘first strike’ capacity, it would be entirely prudent that the United Nations can undertake the most thorough, autonomous, unimpeded, and impartial verification on-the-ground, of any nation-state’s nuclear weapons, on behalf of the entire world. Similar processes were undertaken between the former USSR and the United States in the 1970s in the era of the ‘Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty’ or ‘SALT’ talks.

    The goal of these talks was to limit the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles or ICBMs, and submarine launched intercontinental ballistic missiles or SLBMs between the two nation-states, i.e. to limit the arms race for these weapons. SALT I was signed by both US President Richard Nixon & General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev on the 26th May, 1972 at a summit in Moscow.

    Part of SALT I was an antiballistic missile treaty or ABM treaty. These missiles were to be used to attack any offensive missiles that were incoming. It is very significant to note that the ABM treaty limited each side to one ABM deployment or launch area, and limited each side to 100 interceptor missiles each. These limitations had the effect of maintaining the deterrence effect of Mutually Assured Destruction or MAD. The ABM treaty was ratified by the US Senate on the 3rd August 1972.

    The negotiation for SALT II opened in 1972 and lasted seven years. SALT II limited the number of strategic launchers. These are missiles that have a number of independently launched warheads called ‘multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles’ or MIRVs for short. Limits were put on the number of MIRVed ICBMs, MIRVed SLBMs, heavy long-range bombers, and the total number of strategic launchers that can be utilised. SALT II limited each side to 2,400 of these technologies. SALT II was signed by US President Jimmy Carter & Secretary Leonid Brezhnev in Vienna on the 18th June 1979. SALT is now known as START, which stands for ‘Strategic Arms Reduction Talks’.

    The United Nations attempts to do something similar, with a goal of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, through the ‘United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs’ or ‘UNODA’. UNODA is under the auspice of the United Nations Security Council. I have no expertise in this subject area, but I sincerely hope that they have been effective in these important tasks. You can read more about the work of this NGO from here,

    Preventing wars, the spread of nuclear weapons, limiting arms races, and verification on-the-ground, are a much needed faculty of the UN. It can deter and limit the prosecution and scope of a nuclear war, with its frightening potential of harming civilians in a total war, and of limiting the potential of nuclear weapons of its capacity for disproportional responses to perceived threats. This is achieved by verifying and determining for all, that no nation-state has a first strike capability.

    Proportionality and the reasonable hope that a war is winnable are both important principles of just war theory. It might be prudent if the world never moves to any nation-state developing a nuclear first strike capacity. As we don’t have a world government which would make nuclear war impossible, although the potential actions of terrorists must always be at the back of our minds, in the wider interests of peace throughout the world it is probably better that the Cold War stance of Mutually Assured Destruction be maintained.

    Click to access TheChallengeofPeace.pdf

    • Nektarios says:

      John Candido

      I was in the armed forces at the height of the cold war. This cold war nearly came about and if President JFK had not stood his ground, the then USSR would have waged a full blown war and this world would have been a terrible place to live in.
      Mutally Assured Destruction, mad indeed concept, was kept going right up to the wire with only 24 hours left. Mercifully, the USSR leadership backed down and took their weoponry out of Cuba. I don’t think there was up to that time, a more dangerous point
      for the whole of humanity as that day.

    • John Nolan says:

      John Candido

      The strategic concept of Mutual Assured Destruction (its acronym is unfortunate) never found favour with Soviet strategists, whose emphasis was always on war-fighting, war-winning and the exploitation of victory. Strategy was never handed over to civilians, as was the case with US nuclear strategy. There was no Soviet equivalent of the RAND corporation. However, they were pretty hard-headed and realistic.

      There is a sense in which any nuclear weapon state has a first-strike capability against a state which does not possess those assets. At present Israel has a first-strike capability vis-a-vis Iran. If she were to use this to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons might she not be doing the world a favour?

      • John Candido says:

        The Iranian situation is looking awfully dim. Iran claims that they are only developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes. If that were so, why don’t they allow United Nations inspections of their nuclear power facility? Israel, the United States, Europe, and the UN Security Council are rightfully suspicious of their intentions, given that they will not allow their nuclear facility to be inspected on-the-ground.

        Israel has said that it will bomb Iran if they were to maintain their current stance. The United States have had an aircraft carrier in the Middle East that has engaged in war games. I have no doubt whatsoever, that Israel will bomb Iran in April, failing any constructive developments from Iran. They have said that everything is on the table for negotiation, but the bombing of Iran is strictly off the negotiating table. The UN Security Council are limited in what they can do, because both Russia and China have vetoed military force to resolve the issue. It is looking awfully grim Jim!

        I have heard that Iran have been making some diplomatic noises in order to extricate themselves from the corner that they have painted themselves in. Whether anything will come of out of this is anybody’s guess. Some commentators have suggested that Iran is playing for time, and that they do not have a constructive track record of engagement with the West.

        Should Iran remain obstinate, they will most surely be attacked by both Israel and the United States in about a month’s time. Time is ticking away. The backdrop of this situation is that the West cannot allow an undemocratic regime, which is led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, from acquiring nuclear weapons. Both the regime and Ahmadinejad have made statements in the public domain that are clearly anti-Semitic.

        Can the world stand by and allow this regime to acquire nuclear weapons? I don’t think so. Nuclear weapons are not necessary for the defence needs of Iran. Peaceful use of nuclear energy is not an issue; however, why have the Iranian regime forbidden UN inspectors from examining their nuclear power plant? What has really worried me is if the world were to allow Iran to build nuclear bombs, not only will they have the capacity to threaten anybody that they deem an enemy; they will have the capacity to transfer nuclear fission to terrorists such as al-Qaeda. It is a truly terrifying possibility!

        The technology exists in which creating a nuclear bomb, that can be carried in a backpack or suitcase. They are called suitcase bombs. All that a terrorist group needs is fissionable material in order to do this. The civilised world cannot allow this to happen.

  24. John Candido says:

    The Cuban Missile Crisis was a terribly frightening event. Thank God sanity prevailed and war did not eventuate. I am not sure who advised Khrushchev to back down, but from what little I know, President John Kennedy probably saved the world by not listening to his Generals, who wanted to attack the Soviet Union during the crisis. I have gathered this information via the odd television documentary about the Cuban missile crisis and a film dramatization of the event. How true is it, I wonder?

  25. mike Horsnall says:

    “Do you think I am `revelling in swathes of abstract thought?’ You are entitled to your opinion, so let me ask you: What is goodness actually? Since you know what it is, I presume you are in possession of goodness? If not, you are giving me other people’s thoughts or what they have written on th subject of goodness. If that is the case, you my dear Mike is the one talking in abstraction?….. lastly, it is not wise to presume to know what God thinks about anything”

    I thought I had made it clear earlier that I wanted no part of personal duelling with you. Read the guidelines for the blog.

  26. Nektarios says:

    Mike Horsnall,
    Sorry that you took what I had to say so personally. If I have offended you, please forgive, but it was not to duel with you, personally. I was simply taking you up on the points you yourself placed on the blog.
    There is no need to labour this.
    Yes, I have read the guidelines, and please read some of my postings in other recent topics which pleaded with some to stop dueling with each other.
    Again, Mike, apologies if I have caused you any hurt or offence.

  27. John Nolan says:

    Let’s get the terminology right, folks. There is no such thing as a ‘first strike’ weapon; the term ‘first strike’ is used by nuclear strategists to describe the capability of one side to pre-emptively take out the other side’s nuclear arsenal. Since the advent of submarine-launched ballistic missiles in the 1960s, which give those who possess them a ‘secure second-strike capability’, neither side in the Cold War came close to having a first-strike capability.

    Turning to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the first instinct of the US military was not to attack the Soviet Union, as John suggests above, but to attack the missile sites in Cuba using conventional armaments. We later learned that Soviet commanders on the ground had been given permission to instigate a retaliatory (nuclear) attack on the US without referring to Moscow (an extraordinarily reckless move on Khrushchev’s part).

    Arguably the closest we came to nuclear war was in November 1983 when the ailing and increasingly paranoid Soviet leadership misinterpreted a NATO command post exercise (CPX) codenamed Able Archer as the real thing. It is said that only a launch code malfunction prevented their missiles from being fired. Unlike 1962, we were only told about it sometime afterwards.

  28. John Candido says:

    The Second Vatican Council has guided us to limiting the horrors of war by the protection of civilians and by inference, other non-combatants such as health workers, rescuers, employees of the international Red Cross, and United Nations Peace Keepers.

    In the Council’s ‘Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), at Part II, Chapter V, Paragraph 80, we have this statement,

    ‘Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.’

    The Council continues to assert the dangers of an unquenchable arms race, and its deleterious effects on the maintenance of peace and the proper care for the poor, and for the unstinting use of international centres of diplomacy, such as the United Nations, for the advancement of peace.

    Paragraph 81,

    ‘Whatever be the facts about this method of deterrence, men should be convinced that the arms race in which an already considerable number of countries are engaged is not a safe way to preserve a steady peace, nor is the so-called balance resulting from this race a sure and authentic peace. Rather than being eliminated thereby, the causes of war are in danger of being gradually aggravated. While extravagant sums are being spent for the furnishing of ever new weapons, an adequate remedy cannot be provided for the multiple miseries afflicting the whole modern world. Disagreements between nations are not really and radically healed; on the contrary, they spread the infection to other parts of the earth. New approaches based on reformed attitudes must be taken to remove this trap and to emancipate the world from its crushing anxiety through the restoration of genuine peace.’

    ‘Therefore, we say it again: the arms race is an utterly treacherous trap for humanity, and one which ensnares the poor to an intolerable degree. It is much to be feared that if this race persists, it will eventually spawn all the lethal ruin whose path it is now making ready. Warned by the calamities which the human race has made possible, let us make use of the interlude granted us from above and for which we are thankful to become more conscious of our own responsibility and to find means for resolving our disputes in a manner more worthy of man. Divine Providence urgently demands of us that we free ourselves from the age-old slavery of war. If we refuse to make this effort, we do not know where we will be led by the evil road we have set upon.’

    ‘It is our clear duty, therefore, to strain every muscle in working for the time when all war can be completely outlawed by international consent. This goal undoubtedly requires the establishment of some universal public authority acknowledged as such by all and endowed with the power to safeguard on the behalf of all, security, regard for justice, and respect for rights.’

    ‘But before this hoped for authority can be set up, the highest existing international centres must devote themselves vigorously to the pursuit of better means for obtaining common security. Since peace must be born of mutual trust between nations and not be imposed on them through a fear of the available weapons, everyone must labor to put an end at last to the arms race, and to make a true beginning of disarmament, not unilaterally indeed, but proceeding at an equal pace according to agreement, and backed up by true and workable safeguards. (3)’

    (3). Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter Pacem in Terris, where reduction of arms is mentioned: AAS 55 (1963), p. 287.

    Pope John XXIII’s encyclical letter called ‘Pacem in Terris’, can be accessed from here,

    The Second Vatican Council’s ‘Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), can be accessed from here,

  29. John Candido says:

    These are some passages about the arms race and disarmament, from Pope John XXIII’s ‘Pacem in Terris’, which was promulgated on the 3rd April, 1963.

    ‘Causes of the Arms Race.’

    ‘109. On the other hand, We are deeply distressed to see the enormous stocks of armaments that have been, and continue to be, manufactured in the economically more developed countries. This policy is involving a vast outlay of intellectual and material resources, with the result that the people of these countries are saddled with a great burden, while other countries lack the help they need for their economic and social development .’

    ‘110. There is a common belief that under modern conditions peace cannot be assured except on the basis of an equal balance of armaments and that this factor is the probable cause of this stockpiling of armaments. Thus, if one country increases its military strength, others are immediately roused by a competitive spirit to augment their own supply of armaments. And if one country is equipped with atomic weapons, others consider themselves justified in producing such weapons themselves, equal in destructive force.’

    ‘111. Consequently people are living in the grip of constant fear. They are afraid that at any moment the impending storm may break upon them with horrific violence. And they have good reasons for their fear, for there is certainly no lack of such weapons. While it is difficult to believe that anyone would dare to assume responsibility for initiating the appalling slaughter and destruction that war would bring in its wake, there is no denying that the conflagration could be started by some chance and unforeseen circumstance.’

    ‘Moreover, even though the monstrous power of modern weapons does indeed act as a deterrent, there is reason to fear that the very testing of nuclear devices for war purposes can, if continued, lead to serious danger for various forms of life on earth.’

    ‘Need for Disarmament.’

    ‘112. Hence justice, right reason, and the recognition of man’s dignity cry out insistently for a cessation to the arms race. The stock-piles of armaments which have been built up in various countries must be reduced all round and simultaneously by the parties concerned. Nuclear weapons must be banned. A general agreement must be reached on a suitable disarmament program, with an effective system of mutual control.’

    ‘In the words of Pope Pius XII:

    ‘The calamity of a world war, with the economic and social ruin and the moral excesses and dissolution that accompany it, must not on any account be permitted to engulf the human race for a third time.’ (59)’

    (59) Cf. Pius XII’s broadcast message, Christmas 1941, AAS 34 (1942) 17, and Benedict XV’s exhortation to the rulers of the belligerent powers, August 1, 1917, AAS 9 (1917) 418.

    ‘113. Everyone, however, must realize that, unless this process of disarmament be thoroughgoing and complete, and reach men’s very souls, it is impossible to stop the arms race, or to reduce armaments, or—and this is the main thing—ultimately to abolish them entirely. Everyone must sincerely co-operate in the effort to banish fear and the anxious expectation of war from men’s minds.’

    ‘But this requires that the fundamental principles upon which peace is based in today’s world be replaced by an altogether different one, namely, the realization that true and lasting peace among nations cannot consist in the possession of an equal supply of armaments but only in mutual trust. And We are confident that this can be achieved, for it is a thing which not only is dictated by common sense, but is in itself most desirable and most fruitful of good.’

    Link to ‘Pacem in Terris’,

  30. John Candido says:

    John Nolan

    Can you tell me what the meaning of this abbreviation ‘AAS’ is? It is found very frequently in most Vatican documents. I have used Google to help me find what it stands for and I think that it means, ‘Acta Apostolicae Sedis’ in Latin.

    ‘Acta’ I think means ‘an act’, and ‘Sedis’, I think means ‘chair’, meaning a position of authority. ‘Apostolicae’, I think means ‘Apostolic’.

    Can you translate this for me? Thanks.

  31. John Nolan says:

    The Acta Apostolicae Sedis (Acts of the Apostolic See) is the official gazette of the Holy See and is published (in Latin) about twelve times a year. As well as listing ecclesiastical appointments, it publishes papal encyclicals and decrees, and decisions of the Congregations. It was founded by Pope St Pius X in 1909.

    Regarding Iran, the authorities have dispersed and hardened their nuclear facilities, so it is unlikely they could be taken out by conventional bombing. Ground-burst nuclear weapons would do the job, and if delivered accurately would not have to be of high yield. However, nuclear devices exploded on or near the ground create fall-out. Nato will definitely not go for this option, but the Israelis conceivably might, if the alternative was the destruction of the state of Israel.

  32. st.joseph says:

    John Candido.
    It would be wonderful if the United Nations would read all the Documents from the Vatican!.Maybe they will now that you have posted them.
    We must pray about it.
    But will man listen?
    When ever have they listened to the Vatican when it speaks- even Christians will not listen to their voice!
    So it will be all down to opinions as usual. We must continue to pray and defend the peace and truth.

  33. John Nolan says:

    The United Nations Organization has fought only one successful operation, namely the Korean War (1950-1953) and this was only possible because when North Korea invaded the south, the USSR was boycotting the Security Council over the American refusal to recognize Communist China. Elsewhere its efforts at ‘peacekeeping’ have not been impressive, and have sometimes been counter-productive. Look at the Congo, the Middle East, Bosnia (a complete shambles until the US and NATO intervened) and, most shamefully, Rwanda in 1994 where a ‘peacekeeping’ force of 2500 did nothing to stop genocide, and in some cases stood by, fully armed, as civilians were massacred in plain view. The death-toll has been estimated at 800,000. I don’t decry the efforts of some (not all) of the UN agencies, but as far as peace-keeping is concerned, the old League of Nations had a better record.

    • John Candido says:

      John Nolan, while I acknowledge the sad litany of failure that the United Nations have to their shame, I think you have overlooked one other successful military operation conducted through the authority of the UN Security Council. The Gulf War that began on the 2nd August 1990 and ended on the 28th February 1991 was a coalition of 34 nations led by the United States. The military operation which was called ‘Operation Desert Storm’ began on the 17th January 1991. This is also known as the First Gulf War, or the Iraq War.

      • John Nolan says:

        The Gulf War was indeed authorized by the UN (Resolution 678) as was Britain’s action over the Falklands in 1982, although in the latter case Britain could have acted anyway, as the principle of self-defence applied. Korea was different in that it was fought under a UN joint command, and those who took part were technically UN troops.

        One result of the UN Charter is that there are no longer formal declarations of war or peace treaties. In some ways this is unfortunate; if Britain had formally declared war on Argentina the arguments over where the Belgrano was when she was sunk would have been irrelevant. In fact, Argentina regarded a de facto state of war as existing from 1 May when Vulcan bombers attacked Port Stanley, and regarded the attack on the Belgrano (2 May) as legitimate. Britain dates the start of hostilities from 2 April, when the Falklands were invaded.

  34. ajbunting says:

    Here’s Blake being strangely prophetic about the arms race:
    “And mutual fear brings peace,
    Till the selfish loves increase:
    Then Cruelty knits a snare,
    And spreads his baits with care”.
    (Songs of Experience, c. 1790)
    Just so. The danger now of course is that nuclear weapons may fall into the hands of those who care nothing for life, including their own, and acknowledge no law except that their god will reward them for killing as many unbelievers as possible.

    • Nektarios says:

      aj bunting
      Fellow Bloggers

      And as I said earlier, where fear is, the peace of God is not.
      And so, the killing we have got used to over millenia continues.
      What is one to do – Christian?

      The argument may run, well if you are a man or woman of peace, they will kill you?
      This is clearly an argument to induce fear, and don’t tell me fear is not everywhere globally right now – it is palpable.

      Yes, William Blake had a clear eye about somethings, and he often took it to frightening
      What he was not so aware of, was the Power of God to keep safe those who believe on Him and especially those who would know the ways of God and discovered they are all the ways of Peace. They then acted on it and lived accordingly.

  35. st.joseph says:

    John Nolan.
    Thanks for that info, not too much up on all that.
    What do they do then?

    • John Nolan says:

      Well, the main UN deployment at the moment is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with 17,000 troops making up a ‘stabilization’ force known as MONUSCO (formerly MONUC). What they are in fact doing is propping up the corrupt government in Kinshasa, and are supporting the regime’s military offensive against rebel groups in the east of the country. The UN claims that its priority is to protect civilians (we know from Rwanda how good it is at that) but human rights organizations and the Catholic Church are warning that the result will be further massive displacement of civilians.

  36. johnbunting says:

    Of course we are in a rather different situation now, with the chance of nuclear weapons getting into the hands of those who acknowledge no government or law except that of their god, who requires them to kill as many unbelievers as possible.

  37. johnbunting says:

    Apologies for the repetition: the first comment took some time to appear, and I thought it wasn’t going to!

  38. st.joseph says:

    Does Britain need to be involved in the worlds wars?
    Isnt it time it looked after its own .
    Compared to America, it is only a small country, why do we have to be in the forefront of it all.
    We seem to go along with the USA whenever.
    Don’t we have enough problems of our own to sort out
    I am looking at it from the point of view of someone who is ignorant of political decisions.So it may be a silly question!

  39. Horace says:

    The opinions of Quentin’s company commander are shocking – to a naïve soul like myself almost as incredible as the stories of “child sexual abuse” (btw. not “child abuse”) by priests.

    I was a schoolboy in a Catholic school during World War II ,
    Like everyone else I was enrolled in the OTC (Officers Training Corps) where we learnt to drill, to march, and to shoot a rifle etc. Although when you shoot a rifle at somebody there is an obvious possibility that you may kill that person, as far as I can remember “killing” as such was never explicitly mentioned or discussed. The emphasis was all on discipline and duty.

    The idea that one might kill non-combatants – especially women or children, who are to be respected at all costs – was, of course, unthinkable.

    As a philosophy this assumes that one’s superiors are upright and honourable, as well as knowing more about the situation than you do. In today’s culture such assumptions seem to be generally considered stupid; while instant, unquestioning obedience is more likely to be considered morally wrong!

    • Nektarios says:


      In HM Armed Forces I would say generally the idea of killing non-combatants is abhorent.
      As there must be order and discipline within the ranks by military personel, (officers included) but it is no different than obeying the traffic lights or the rules of the road when driving.

      When it comes to myself however, I do not compare myself to another as superior or inferior, nevertheless, in certain situations such as war, or like obeying the rules of the road, if one is going to survive and get along safely with ones fellow combatants and motorists, or even as pedestrians, we almost unquestionably obey. In fact ,it is one of the first things outside the safety of the family home we are taught, is it not?

      But the point you raise in my mind of Authority is a big question as there are so many authorities all clammering for your total compliance.

    • John Candido says:

      Even if he had served his country with distinction, I would say that Quentin’s Company Commander isn’t fit to wear the uniform of a British Officer. His cavalier attitude to innocent civilians is an affront to common decency, and he is in disgrace.

      • Quentin says:

        Perhaps we have to be a little careful here. Before the Milgram “Obedience” experiment (in which people were required to impose more and more painful punishments on “volunteers”), psychology majors were asked to estimate how many people would go through with this. They said 2 or 3%. In fact they would have been more accurate if they had said that only 2 or 3% would refrain from going through with it.

        This suggests to me that while people can be disapproving of immoral acts when they are presented theoretically, they may behave quite differently under the pressures and temptations of real life. More than one person on the Blog has expressed deep disapproval (as indeed they should) but it doesn’t follow that all of them, or us, would not have done the same thing under the same circumstances.

  40. John Nolan says:

    I wondered how long it would be before someone managed to turn this thread around to the clerical ‘sex abuse’ scandals. Thank you Horace – you did not disappoint.

  41. Nektarios says:

    John Nolan

    We have spent a lot of time on the blog discussing clerical sex abuse within the Church, but reading through some of it, I get the impression all the anger and noise is really not about sexual abuse perse, but homosexuality. Why?
    Is it because we are conditioned to be austere when it come to issues of sex? Is it because we are conditioned religiously, if we are going to get near to God, we must not have sexual feelings,
    must be celibate? This is all too childish for words.
    But for thousands of years and in many countries and cultures, from pre- Christian times to the present day, man has tormented himself with issues of sex, of sexuality, of a celibate monasticism seeking to escape it only to find it there too. Why?
    The issue of homsexuality as with hetrosexuality is a fact, so why are we getting hot under the collar when such issues are raised?

    I have every sympathy for someone who has been sexually abused and especially if it is a child, for that child will carry such things all his/her days. But the abuser is the one who has a problem.
    Clericalism that demands celibacy to get near to God, is childish and silly, but it leads to tormented lives and out of that tortured exisitence, not being able to relate, but his her biological needs are still there and can lead some to be abusers.
    Other clerics want to be celibate, not because the Church demands it, but simply they can relate to others without being sexual. They are the batchelor or spinster type. In religious circles this is hailed as a great boon, they are the ones who really get near to God. LIke I have said, such demands upon relationship by Church institutions has led not nearer to God as they thought, but a tortured exisitence.

    Perhaps someone else would like to pick up on this and offer solutions for the child abused, and for the abuser?

  42. st.joseph says:

    Purity is something from ones heart.
    If we love the Lord our God,we are able to see the gift of our sexual nature that God has bestowed on us.
    Sexual abuse begins within ourselves. It is all around us, TV, films, books, speech, impure thoughts,
    lust which is now taken for granted.Sex shops, sex aids
    Unless we understand the meaning and why we were created in the image of God,there will always be sex abuse.
    Prostitution now made legal as a business, and I believe taxable.
    Jesus said’Even if a man looks at a women he is committing adultry in his heart’ I take that as his wife too or husband, and if they are not satisfied with ones spouse, extramarital relationships.
    Self satisfaction for one owns pleasure, and not for the giving to ones spouse ,to my mind is killing ones own dignity, and could be called adultry in one own heart.

    If one does not have this love which include the love of God within marriage in the Trinity ,even if they dont know it,there will be problems .
    As far as the child who is abused, the only way forward is forgiveness, then healing will take place.
    This is why understanding ones own fertility ,working with God is so necessary.

  43. mike Horsnall says:

    “Clericalism that demands celibacy to get near to God, is childish and silly, but it leads to tormented lives and out of that tortured exisitence, not being able to relate, but his her biological needs are still there and can lead some to be abusers.”

    It seems to me that the above comment simply fails to understand both celibacy and sexuality. Certainly wrong decisions can be made by individuals regarding their own sexuality- seeing ones own sexuality as a visceral compulsion for example leads into serious abuse of self or other…I am talking here about human beings in general not priests. Celibacy is not an instrument of torture but potentially one way of integrating ones sexuality and allowing its drive to be rechannelled. Recently I have had opportunity to chat the whole subject over in depth with three or four celibate priests and in doing so was reminded that the vow of celbacy is not unlike the vow of chastity in marriage.

    Regarding the ‘demand’ of celibacy, no one forces a man to remain celibate and priests do laicize in order to marry- for these men I have great respect. To assume that celibacy is a distorting mechanism at play misses out the key aspect-choice is involved and freely given. To assume the tortured existence implied one must assume an incompleteness or serious flaw in the individuals concerned-well perhaps but no more than for the rest of us.

    St Joseph:

    . Jesus said’Even if a man looks at a women he is committing adultry in his heart’
    This saying certainly makes adulterers of us all…I wonder what you think its application is in daily life..the veil perhaps for men????!!!!!!

    • Horace says:

      The full quote – from the vulgate is:-
      Matthew 5 28 “But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman TO LUST AFTER HER [my capitals], hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
      Surely one can look upon a pretty woman without necessarily lusting after her.

  44. st.joseph says:

    Mike. With ‘Lust ,you misunderstood my meaning of love that comes from the heart.
    Females today are not free from all this either, just look around you!
    I know people who are living images of God within marriage ,where the sexual act is no longer possible, due to health problems ,both mental and physical.
    Self control with Gods help, It is not all about ‘sex’
    A celibate priest and Nuns aquire this great love of God in their lives, and obviously when one falls in love and wants to spend the rest of their life with a family, then self control is easy!!!
    Why are we defending marriage at this present moment.
    We are not all born with horns. We do have the help of grace.
    We ought to have the prime example of The Holy Family.
    When it is said we give up all things for God, we dont have to give up marriage, we dont love the Lord any less, because we do..There has to be some who will bring the love of God in the world with children.

  45. Geordie says:

    Adultery is the sin of infidelity against your husband or wife. If you are unfaithful to your spouse by having sexual relations with someone who is not your spouse, that is adultery. You can’t commit adultery with your own spouse, either by thought or action.

    • st.joseph says:

      That is not what Jesus said. But anyone who wishes to believe in that, ‘do so’.
      Man must feel the need to have his way, sexuallyand females. Why do you think that NFP is used so little in marriage.
      Ask those wives who I have taught, they will tell you differently.

  46. John Candido says:

    Pope John XXIII has stated in his encyclical ‘Pacem in Terris’, also called ‘On Establishing Universal Peace in Truth’ in 1963, that…

    ‘112. …Nuclear weapons must be banned. A general agreement must be reached on a suitable disarmament program, with an effective system of mutual control.’

    And he further states,

    ‘113. Everyone, however, must realize that, unless this process of disarmament be thoroughgoing and complete, and reach men’s very souls, it is impossible to stop the arms race, or to reduce armaments, or—and this is the main thing—ultimately to abolish them entirely. Everyone must sincerely co-operate in the effort to banish fear and the anxious expectation of war from men’s minds.’

    Rereading sections 112 & 113 which deals with disarmament and the arms race, I was initially struck by what I thought was a very good man, exhibiting an excessively unrealistic, and not well thought out hope in banning weapons. How on earth can you uninvent weapons that are used by military forces from minor things as an assault knife, or a rifle, all the way to a nuclear arsenal? Everyone knows that what has been invented, however ghastly, and reprehensible in hindsight cannot ever be uninvented. Is Pope John XXIII completely unrealistic? Even if the earth never has a world government, is it possible to oversee a global process of gradual disarmament, which must include all nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, which are commonly known as weapons of mass destruction?

    I now think that there is a possibility that it can be achieved, but it will take a very long period of time, and if I were to have a guess; it is most likely a couple of centuries away or even longer. It will mean that nation-states will have to accept some diminution of sovereignty, for the careful process of disarmament, and the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. If the process of disarmament were to occur under this scenario, it will occur progressively and in careful stages.

    The components of such a scenario lie in a UN Accord or Declaration that every nation-state who is a signatory, must agree to inspections from expert verification teams from the United Nations, who will conduct the most thorough, clinical, autonomous, unfettered, and impartial verification on-the-ground, of any nation-state’s conventional and unconventional weapons (nuclear, biological, and chemical), for the wider interests of peace, and on behalf of the entire world.

    We can reasonably speculate that this will not be acceptable by any states initially, which is a par for the course. All states dislike any loss of their sovereignty. Look at the current difficulties with EU attempts to gain unanimity among members to rectify and prevent future economic difficulties. It took several years before a sufficient number of states signed the Rome Statute in order to bring into being the International Criminal Court (ICC). The United States, Israel, and Sudan have unsigned their previous signing of the Rome Statute by their respective leaders.

    Much like the ICC’s beginning where the United States and other states objected to signing to its provisions, we must consider that the acceptance of an Accord or Declaration of Disarmament will take a long time before a sufficient number of states will accept it as a necessary provision to move towards lasting disarmament.

    If the world were to eventually consist of high quality democratic nation-states (no guarantees that this will occur, or that any democratic state will agree with any Declaration to Disarm), such an accord would most likely be more amenable to be signed by every member state (given time), than would otherwise be the case if we still had a communist China and Cuba, poorly administered democratic states such as Russia or Pakistan, and various Islamic dictatorships and absolute monarchies such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. It could be envisaged that should a member state of a future Declaration refuse UN weapons inspector teams access to do their work, they would be subject to the full force of the UN Security Council. It is by such provisions that compliance will be enforced, and go to make the eventual banishment of nuclear weapons a worthy and possible future goal.

    We must all pray and hope for a peaceful world, which will eventually disarm itself from the peril of weapons of mass destruction. We should all pray and work for peace on a daily basis. It is our duty as Christians, Jews, or Muslims, to work for a peaceful and just world.

    • John Nolan says:

      In the twelfth century the papacy tried to ban the crossbow but even in the so-called ‘age of faith’ no-one took a blind bit of notice. The UN, with 190-odd members, is indeed the ‘Parliament of Man’ envisaged by the young Tennyson, but its very size means that it is incapable of reforming itself. An organization that gives the same weight to a tin-pot third-world country with an economy smaller than that of Milton Keynes as it does to Germany or Japan, is patently absurd.

      As for ‘world government’ it would either be the worst tyranny imaginable, and there would be endless wars as peoples struggled to overthrow it, or it would be so bureaucratically inefficient that nothing would ever get done. Look at the history of empires.

      • John Candido says:

        Thank you John Nolan for keeping your reply relevant to the topic. I hope that others may return to relevant replies within this most important topic of peace and justice.

  47. mike Horsnall says:

    St Joseph,
    Sorry I was only trying to ask a simple question about how one could meaningfully interpret Jesus’s comment. As far as I know I havent got as far as misunderstanding anything yet !!! The point being that men continue to look at women almost as a reflex activity-what do you think is meant by adultery in the heart? ..just a simple answer will do!!

  48. st.joseph says:

    Mike. Thats what I mean when I said ‘killing the soul’.
    Perhaps we ought to take that into account also when discussing body. War against Satan!

  49. ajbunting says:

    If I remember correctly, Jesus said, “If a man looks on a woman, to lust after her, he has committed adultery with her already in his heart”. I imagine He might say the same about a woman looking lustfully at a handsome man.
    I think one can admire – discreetly, of course – someone who is beautiful or attractive, without having lustful feelings for them. Just finding someone attractive is not sinful in itself. After all, it’s often the first step towards a perfectly honourable marriage.
    Jesus also said, I think, “Have you not heard, God created them male and female? For this reason shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh”.That sounds like a good endorsement of sexuality to me.
    The remarks by Paul about marriage and celibacy were perhaps a little unfortunate, but I think even he recognised that the celibate life was a vocation for the few rather than the many.

    • st.joseph says:

      Would anyone get married if they didn’t find the opposite sex attractive.Females have the same duty as males to respect them selves selves in dress, and respect for others weakness”s ”Lead us not into temptation’.that does not mean we should go overboard in either direction.
      Sexual desire between husband and wife is important in marriage, not the glue that holds it together.Otherwise we would marry the first boy or girl, who we ‘fancied” To put it bluntly, because that is all it is sex appeal. It does help to love God first!

  50. mike Horsnall says:

    J Bunting 3.04pm

    Yes thats about how I see it. There is straightforward admiration, there can be attraction and neither of these things need be lust-lust,lets face it isnt entirely subtle as far as sensations go. Myself I would admit of lustful feelings if what I would term an ‘intentional desire’ crept in. That would be the time to avert the eyes, change the subject ,move away a bit.. or whatever was needed.

  51. st.joseph says:

    John Candido.
    Re -your comment above,
    If man behaved as he ought, there would be no reason to discuss Wars at all!!

    • Iona says:

      But he doesn’t.

      Hence this thread.

      • st.joseph says:

        Yes we can condition ourselves to that fact.
        There will always be wars, but ‘we’ won’t solve them,maybe prayer might help.
        The messages at Fatima, the Rosary, as our Lady asked, would go along way towards it,maybe all the way!

  52. John Candido says:

    I have thought of another problem with my proposal for progressive, universal disarmament. The military-industrial complex of advanced nation-states continues to develop better and bigger weapons, on behalf of states interested in obtaining the latest that science and technology can offer. It would seem that all military-industrial complexes are centrally engaged in the arms race, and any attempt to limit or eventually stop the arms race, and further, to bring about a gradual global disarmament, will also have to consider how science and technology will somehow be stopped from inventing better armaments. It is all looking terribly difficult. Pray for peace.

    • John Nolan says:

      John Candido

      I agree with you that there was a certain logic in the arguments advanced in the 1920s that if nations had enough armaments to defend themselves, and not enough to attack their neighbours, peace would be assured. However, nations tend to arm themselves according to their perceived security requirements, subject of course to budgetary constraints. An ‘arms race’ occurs when military technology is evolving rapidly, which didn’t happen until the mid-nineteenth century. Preserved at Portsmouth is HMS Warrior. Iron-hulled, with a main armament of the latest long-range breech-loading rifled guns, with state-of-the-art engines giving her an unprecedented range (as well as being fully rigged for sail) when she was launched in 1860 she was far and away the most advanced warship in the world. Ten years later she was obsolete. (By contrast, the big US aircraft carriers are expected to have a shelf-life of at least fifty years). Artillery has not greatly advanced since the 1914-18 war; nor have small-arms since the 1890s. The Vickers medium machine gun was in British army service from 1914 to 1968, and its replacement the GPMG is in some ways inferior, lacking an indirect-fire capability.

      There are fewer nuclear warheads in the world now than there were at the height of the Cold War; but they are in many more hands, which makes the situation more, rather than less dangerous.

  53. mike Horsnall says:

    “…Thank you John Nolan for keeping your reply relevant to the topic. I hope that others may return to relevant replies within this most important topic of peace and justice…”

    No chance here I’m afraid, lust is far more interesting and probably more pertinent than long earnest discourses about military industrial complexes ….. Didnt someone somewhere invent the phrase ‘a lust for power’?

    • John Candido says:

      How sad!

      • mike Horsnall says:

        “How sad”

        Yes..”lust for power” is a sad phrase. In a sense though we can equate bette to that and can act in the reverse spirit whereas a military industrial complex may be beyond our grasp. Idid a degree in Politics and economics some years ago now and examined the State military complex issue till I was sick of the end the only pertinent action I could take was to raise money for Biafra! We cannot affect the complex relations of power inour society except by campaigning where we can and keeping an eye on our political masters. We can however notice the drives in and around us working against those which cultivate defensiveness and aggression. We can take care of one another, we can lobby and we can pray.

      • st.joseph says:

        John Candido.
        The relavant topic as I see it was ‘not’ War, but the killing instinct.
        Killing comes under a lot of headings.As I see it . War against The Lord and His Holy Church, and Her teachings,just to begin with!Which is far more pertinent today.

    • Nektarios says:

      Mike Horsnall

      Let’s discuss peace and justice for a bit.
      What do we mean when we use the word peace? Governments around the world, talk peace, peace, when there is no peace, and arm themselves to the teeth preparing for war. If policitics and that of political parties are based on division, how can they produce peace. Does peace for them merely mean a cessation of hostilities, which of course is no peace at all.
      Blessed are the peacemakers, said Jesus our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount.
      Is He, do you think ,speaking about diplomats and ambassadors? Or is He speaking about those people who have peace, live peaceably, are examplers of peace in action
      and spread and unite people in bonds of peace and love?

      We spoke about justice in a past topic where I asked can there be justice when one is poor and another rich? Where one can access the best lawyers that money can buy and the poor man cannot get any access, can there be real justice in the world?
      As injustice mounts around the world, where good is called bad and where that which is bad is called good, know there can be little justice and the end is near.

      • John Nolan says:

        Justice does not presuppose equality in either material or intellectual terms. That is precisely why it is so important. Those who talk about ‘social justice’, from the French Revolution onwards, usually end up practising injustice on a grand scale. The only liberty we can actually enjoy is individual liberty, guaranteed by law, impartially administered.

  54. Nektarios says:

    Fellow bloggers,
    There is a relation between war and the sexual, not directly of course, so let me ask some other questions that may eventually tie up with the causes of war, if I may:

    Has love anything to do with sex? Is love romance, sentiment, sex and all that, or is love something totally other from all that?

    War is a breakdown of relationhip with our fellow man. In this situation love for our fellowman, being seen as the enemy, is absent. So the glue of relationship is Love be it in a marriage, or family, society, between nations, nature or the cosmos.
    Is the love we think we have for others, Love at all? Are we just fulfilling of our desires. Is Love desire? – obviously not.
    Do we possess Love or does Love possess us? So what is Love actually? Perhaps you have never been faced with such questions?
    Perhaps we now see that there is very little Love in the world, with family breakdown at record levels, sexual abuse and violence, not to mention political and economic abuse going on too.
    Wars going on all over the place?
    Do we actually Love at all?

    • st.joseph says:

      When Jesus showed His anger to those who were abusing His Fathers House,by whipping them.

      How do you think that His Love shows itself in humans today? Or Him to us.?
      Something I have often wondered.

      • st.joseph says:

        I know God showed His Love for us by giving up His only Son by His Life Death and Resurrection. Doing the Will of His Father.

    • John Nolan says:

      “War is a breakdown of relationship with our fellow man”. No, because it is not individual or personal. It is the most complex and challenging collective activity undertaken by man, hence its perennial fascination. It is a paradox; one the one hand it requires courage, loyalty and self-sacrifice, all virtues; while at the same time it involves violence and destruction. It brings out the best and the worst in people. It is, in short, a metaphor for our human condition.

      Nor is it a futile activity; the futility myth comes from the title of a poem by Wilfred Owen (not one of his better ones – if you want an impression of what it was really like in the trenches, read the same poet’s ‘Exposure’).

      • John Candido says:

        Perfectly put, John Nolan.

      • st.joseph says:

        What I was under the impression of the trenches,is what my grandmother told me about the 1916 war, that is, that the solidiers were sent in like fodder.
        I dont need a poets impression, I heard plenty from her, looking for years at the little brass box with the telegram in it, thinking he would walk in the door, as his body was never found. Yet parents buy guns and toy soldiers for their children.Why?
        And my fathers impression of mental trauma for years after the 2nd WWW. Also the years after ,by my husband relative,who in the SAS, was shot by a 14 year old.
        As said before in an earlier comment, it is not only the trauma’s at the time but the effects afterwards. In the families left at home to suffer.Talk is cheap!
        Now my grandson going in September. For what, I ask?

      • Mike Horsnall says:

        I”…t is a paradox; one the one hand it requires courage, loyalty and self-sacrifice, all virtues; while at the same time it involves violence and destruction. It brings out the best and the worst in people. It is, in short, a metaphor for our human condition…”

        Aha, something authentic at last.

  55. Nektarios says:

    st. joseph.

    Please re-read what Jesus our Lord actually did. He did not actually whip them, but scattered them
    and upturning the tables of the money-changers and so on.

    God is not separate from His love. Certainly one can say that His love is long-suffering, patient,
    not willing that any should perish but all should come to a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus.

    His love to us is te same as God the Father’s love. HIs work on the Cross, death and resurrection is finished – all the love of God in action. That done, he goes before us and draw us to himself,
    giving us the Holy Spirit, brothers and sisters to travel with down here. And lastly, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts

  56. st.joseph says:

    Thank you. That ought to show a good example as to how we treat our own bodies and others, as the Temple of the Holy Spirit,both physically and sexually, also in marriage between a man and a women.!
    He will scatter them.

  57. John Nolan says:


    Your mention of Biafra suggests that your degree in politics and economics was taken in the 1960s and no doubt you were subjected to hours of tedious Marxist analysis.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      I think it was the early 70’s John, back when I had hair at any rate. Yep there was Marxism a plenty garnishing every possible dish. I liked Leeds but unfortunately the British Politics department was so far left leaning it pretty much fell over! I did a minor in Philosophy at the time when Professor Geech was there so we all did Wittgenstein and AJ Ayer till we were completely stupid. I think the best course I did was Literature and the History of ideas in the 18th century. In those days I was either in the Anti nazi league, at CND or on the tarmac at Heyford base. This meant that I was either being punched by skinheads or kicked by police horses for much of my tender youth…shame really!…As you can no doubt tell I keep a certain fondness for those days…I was the long haired lad on the steps with a loudspeaker banging on about famines in far away places…..

  58. John Candido says:

    There is a magnificent resource from Yale University called ‘The Avalon Project’, which is a major reference point for anyone interested in the laws of war as well as important documents pertaining to political, diplomatic, and historical subject areas. I just happened to stumble on it while looking at the Hague Conventions on warfare in Wikipedia. I am sure that there are other data bases that are just as comprehensive if you look hard enough; this one is quite outstanding. is the home page. covers the laws of war.

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