Better dead than red

So Jeremy Corbyn has said that he would never press the nuclear button. I leave for others the political problems which might arise were he to become prime minister, but I think about the moral position. I use my imagination to try to understand. I am now prime minister and I have been reliably told that Russian nuclear missiles are on their way. (replace Russia with any large power you choose) While our defences are good, there is a high chance that one or two will land on the UK. And since the Russian armoury is huge there are plenty more to follow if the first fusillade fails. I realise that these bombs make Hiroshima no more than a firecracker by comparison – we are talking about virtually the whole of London, and many other large cities, being destroyed, and casualties in several millions.

Should I press the button? The result will be to add to our deaths the deaths of people like us in Russia. Could that ever be justified? Of course I can create a quick moral argument: I am acting in self defence against a great evil. I do not intend their deaths directly. Only a defence in kind has a chance of stopping the attack and disabling the Russian armoury. But I know that, in practice, there will be a tit for tat nuclear duel which must end in no victory – only a desert of smoking flesh. The survivors will be me, in my protected bunker, and my Russian counterparts in theirs. I remember that Catholic teaching on these matters requires a reasonable prospect that commensurably good outcomes will be achieved. I am far from convinced that they would be.

General Sir Nicholas Houghton, the outgoing chief of the defence staff, leapt up and down in rage, claiming that the purpose of nuclear armaments was deterrence, and that they had already kept the world safer by their existence and their potential use. A prime minister who would refuse to use them would put us all into hazard. The argument is a strong one, yet it seem extraordinary that we can only preserve peace by threatening the destruction of the human race.

And there is a flaw in this. What defence do we have against rogue states who already have nuclear capability, and those who might acquire this – perhaps with the help of self-serving allies? The Iranian nuclear programme brought about a dozen years of argument with the US, and many would claim that the current settlement could easily be breached in the right circumstances. How about Israel, thought to be the sixth largest nuclear power, with about 100 warheads and ability to build atomic, neutron and hydrogen bombs? What trust do you put in North Korea with Kim Jong-un in charge? It only requires a smaller state with no other means of defence to turn to nuclear protection for its own survival to set the unstoppable ball rolling. Remember the Cuban missile crisis.

I am a fan of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) because they keep alive warnings of the hazards involved, but in practical reality I see such movements as only chipping away at the edges. The idea that one might persuade every state in the world to destroy the nuclear weapons and the capacity to make them is in cloud cuckoo land. As long as one state retains them so will the others.

You may convince me otherwise, but I think my imaginary course as prime minister would be to resolve not to press the button, but, unlike Corbyn, to keep quiet about my intentions. What do you think?

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Moral judgment, Quentin queries and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Better dead than red

  1. Brendan says:

    I’m with you Quentin. Sadly……in a world that is becoming more and more dangerous for ourselves and our children by the year ; the answer is to keep ones supposed enemy ‘ guessing ‘. While the worlds politico-economic systems have patently failed to bring the utopia promised ( as if on their own they ever could ) to its peoples – today’s enemies could be tomorrows friends in our schizophrenic world, and vice-versa.
    It is sensible and in perfect conformity with Christian thinking to hope, pray and act for nuclear disarmament , while taking the ‘ political ‘ decision not to commit ,’ yea or nay ‘ directly.- politicians do it all the time in a morally correct way. It kept St. Thomas More alive …. qui tacet consentire videtur… in a different context. But the point is , it worked ; only skulduggery was his downfall ! In the context of today’s political milieu the concept of ‘ mutual destruction ‘ – barring the ever-present possibility of a maniac having charge of the ‘ button ‘ – is the crux of any policy on the use of nuclear weapons to be considered in today’s political climate. …… if we want to tuck our children/ grandchildren in at nights with prayer having certain hope of a future for them the following morning.
    If Jeremy Corbyn makes Prime Minister in the future , he may regret being so outspoken on this issue .

    • Brendan says:

      correction – ‘ mutually assured destruction ‘

    • G.D. says:

      Brendan, there is no security in a deterrent. .
      If someone starts a nuclear gun then it will be death all round. And a sterile planet for any that they will survive, bunkers or no bunkers, to die slowly on.

      I’m more likely to shoot someone who is waving a gun around than someone who isn’t.
      If i haven’t a gun and someone shoots me then i die …. If everyone has a gun then I get shot anyway. What’s the difference?
      The likelihood that i die without taking anothers life is all.

  2. Nektarios says:

    Quentin,

    What was they saying during the last world war, ‘Read the Bible and pass the ammunition? Things have not changed, only the means to destroy is much more powerful.
    I was in the forces during the 60s. Never did the world face the possibility of mutual destruction as mankind did with the Cuban missile situation.

    The Russian premier at the time placed some atomic weapons in Cuba. He thought America would be too scared to consider mass mutual destruction, how wrong he was.
    John F. Kennedy stood his ground, and told the Russian premier, that if he did not remove them by Saturday, he would consider it as an act of war.
    The hours ticked by, and as the deadline was almost reached, the Russians pulled out their atomic weapons from Cuba. Phew!

  3. John Nolan says:

    ‘There are no circumstances in which I would order or permit the firing of a nuclear weapon’, wrote Neil Kinnock on becoming Labour leader in 1983. Two years later he said the same thing to US congressmen, adding ‘even if Britain itself were under attack by nuclear weapons.’

    In 1987 Labour was heavily defeated in a General Election and by1989 had effectively abandoned unilateralism; however, Lord Kinnock (as he now is) seems to believe that Labour’s shock defeat in 1992 was in no small measure due to public perception that the party couldn’t be trusted on defence. Hence his outspoken criticism of Jeremy Corbyn.

    Since the end of the Cold War there is not much public interest in the nuclear issue. CND, after a resurgence in the 1980s, has once again dwindled into insignificance. Before this years’ Election there was some discussion on the future shape of the deterrent, but the decision to build the four new SSBN’s to carry Trident missiles (the life of which the US is extending to mid-century) has already been made and even if Labour is returned in 2020 it will be beyond the point where it could be cancelled. In addition, there are a lot of jobs depending on it.

  4. Brendan says:

    Following on from the epigram ‘ youth is wasted on the young ‘……… ‘ politics is wasted on politicians and the generals ‘………… Just daydreaming everyone !

  5. Nektarios says:

    I don’t know if you are aware, that Russia in the 1970s ordered a launch of nuclear weapons on the west?
    In the command centre as dawn was coming in, a sole person was ordered to launch due to an attack. He checked all the data and it showed there had been no launch of weapons from the West.
    He cancelled the order to launch.

    Again the screen lit up and ordered him to launch nuclear weapons. Again he checked the data and it still showed no weapons had been fired, again he cancelled the order.
    For a third time the order to launch came, and again he checked his data and showed no weapons had been fired. But before he cancelled it, he checked a satellite and realised what the problem was,
    so he duly cancelled the order to launch nuclear weapons on the west for the third time.

    Later that day he was called to give an account as to why he disobeyed orders to launch. He replied he checked all the data and found nothing in the west had been fired. What he did find was the sun was beginning to rise and the satellite read it as if a nuclear weapon had been fired.

    The world owes this man a debt of gratitude. But the Russians had him court-martialled for disobeying orders, took his pension away, and gave him a dishonourable discharge. If he is still alive, he lived in a poor area of Moscow. Russia owes this man the highest honours and we our heartfelt thanks. The record need to be set straight.

  6. G.D. says:

    I applaud his statement. Even if it cuts his own throat.
    To refuse to kill and destroy on that scale is an obviously right and moral choice.
    Not to mention thoroughly Christ like.
    Wasn’t it Jesus who said he could get legions of angels to defend him? Did he?
    Destruction on that level has to be refused, even if it means death.
    Leave the destroying to the destroyers and work for real peace!

    If i have a gun, (or a big dog even!) ‘for defence’ of course, I am a threat to others. Whether i believe that or not; and others me as such. And then i talk of peace and love! Hypocritical of me i think.

    Having the means to kill changes my attitude considerably to what i can and can’t do. Even if I don’t acknowledge it consciously.

    How many missals from wherever are pointed at countries without nuclear arms?

  7. Brendan says:

    G.D. – The main point about a deterrent is to deter someone from using something already in existence that could have catastrophic consequences for us all. The fact is that the capacity for states to ‘ go nuclear ‘ is a global phenomenon. I’m sure the worrying situation of ‘ North Korea ‘ is on most developed nations intelligence radar right now ! Governments have to deal with the world as it is ; without the possibility of at least one nation ( ? The United States ) in a confederation of nations with the same interests/ meeting of minds having one single nuclear weapon for all, there is always the possibility of a ‘ rogue ‘ nation blackmailing the rest of the planet. One dreads to think what would have happened if Hitler had won the race in that area. Unfortunately , since then nuclear weapon proliferation has become fact ; although it is good to see that years of patient diplomacy and encouragement of good relations where possible , appear to have borne fruit in the ‘ Iran ‘ scenario. There has to be first the political will among’ st EVERYONE in establishing trust to lead ultimately to complete nuclear disarmament. Until then……..

    • G.D. says:

      Brendan, If only one state has nuclear weapons then so be it. They can blackmail yes. But it’s up to the other’s to stand up to the ‘bullies’ in passive resistance, be that defending themselves by means of less catastrophic means or no ( look at Ghandi & King ) and taking the conesquences. Even unto accepting death (on a cross); in this mortal realm.
      It’s strange, to me, that we sing the praises of them that lose lives in war (in defence of …) but them that are destroyed by resisting without creating more violence we ignore. Yes, we sing there praises, but we don’t take on board thier examples.

      The point is peace, true peace, is never going to be gained by any form of attack or threat, or, violant defence. That is just not of God.
      Again, Jesus the Christ IS the example for our conduct.
      In a microcosmic form he showed us the above (in my opinion) fact; I’m sure of it.
      Any form of violence begets violence. Be it attack or violant defence.

      I express to my confirmandates it’s harder to resist ‘bullies’ when you know you can’t pick up a gun or a knife and retalliate, than when you can. Takes more courage and strength to be passively resistant; and it creates peace for the world.
      But to do it peace needs to be firmly instilled within first. (Be that individual group collective or entire nations). We need to be working for that in small personal ways as well as for the greater society.

      If agressors had no like minded followers, but met with resistance from the vast majority ……. thay could blow the world to smitherines …….. but the people killled would be in the ‘right’ with God. And gain.

      To all extensive purposes it’s lunacy not to follow that path.
      I’m not saying don’t resist the ‘bad’, but don’t create it either.

      Please forgive the ‘preachiung’ tone of the above ……. but it’s just so important ….

  8. John Nolan says:

    Nektarios, I think the incident to which you allude took place in September 1983, and the officer concerned was Lt-Col. Stanislav Petrov, At that time the Soviet leadership was ageing, ailing and jittery. They had shot down a South Korean airliner over the island of Sakhalin. They seemed to have convinced themselves that the Americans were contemplating a first strike, in which case their only option was to ‘launch on warning’. Petrov’s computer system suggested a number of incoming missiles, but he did not trust the data (apart from anything else the number appeared far too small) and so did not inform his superiors. The following month there was a serious scare when the Soviets misread the NATO Command Post Exercise ‘Able Archer’ as cover for the real thing. It was probably the nearest we came to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis, but it did not become general knowledge until the 1990s. Petrov gained international fame and reward as ‘the man who saved the world’ and they even made a film about him.

    When the US monopoly of the atom bomb ended in 1949 a new strategy had to be developed for the nuclear age. Previously strategy had been about successfully prosecuting wars and achieving victory. Henceforth it was about avoiding war by means of deterrence. Clémenceau once famously remarked that war was too important to be left to the soldiers, and US nuclear strategy tended to be civilian-driven, although it is worth remembering that there was no Soviet equivalent of the RAND Corporation. Deterrence still works even if there is no intention of ever using nuclear weapons – it is enough for a potential adversary to assume that if you possess the capability to retaliate, you will do so. Given that its aim is to prevent conflict, deterrence cannot be regarded as morally wrong per se. Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    G.D. – are the missals to which you refer OF or EF?

  9. St.Joseph says:

    All we need is one madman, I wonder how much security is preventing this.?
    I believe it all ought to be banned!

  10. Martha says:

    For a few years until 1963 I belonged to a small civil defence group which aimed to be available to help people locally to prepare for a nuclear attack if one appeared to be imminent. As far as I remember, this meant choosing a small space, stocking up with tinned food and water, insulating it with sandbags, and staying there for a certain length of time until the fallout and radiation from the nearest likely target would have dispersed.

    All new dwellings in our son’s part of Switzerland are legally required to include a purpose built shelter room with walls and a door of a specified thickness which they have. It is quite sobering to see it, and what use it would be, supposing they could clear all the clutter they store there in time, I do not know.

    I do know that I thought there would be a nuclear war long before I would grow old, and saw no point in making contributions to a pension scheme.

  11. John Candido says:

    I think that it is irresponsible to broadcast to an enemy that you will not respond in kind should the UK be attacked by nuclear weapons. It is almost a form of false bravado knowing that the United States will most certainly respond on their behalf as well as on the UK’s behalf. Any nation is entitled to self-defence from an unjust aggressor.

    Australia and a number of other states are vitally interested in preventing nuclear war through on-the-ground verification teams inspecting the number of nuclear warheads that any nation might have.

    Vasili Arkhipov was another unsung Soviet hero who saved the world from total disaster during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. He was a submarine officer in the Soviet navy.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/oct/27/vasili-arkhipov-stopped-nuclear-war

  12. St.Joseph says:

    John Candido.
    I think that if someone is intent to blowing up the world ,they would not be in the least bit concerned if another country had weapons or not.
    Do all the other small countries have nuclear weapons as a deterant.
    One time Britain was ‘Great’ can we really afford to spend money on nuclear weapons.
    As long as each country has power, peace will never come about.
    Prayer is the answer.Perhaps we need more faith
    It has been known to be the answer in the past!
    Knowledge is good but perhaps too much is fatal.

    • John Candido says:

      That is a fair comment St.Joseph. As to whether or not Britain should pay for nuclear weapons for their legitimate self-defence needs; I certainly think so. Nuclear weapons are expensive, dastardly but unavoidable and un-inventible.

      We must all work for peace. There is no alternative to peace and its inherent goodness. It is why we have the United Nations and its Security Council, the Atomic Energy Commission, diplomacy, the laws of war and the huge body of international law that covers a multitude of areas such as human rights, commerce via international trade law, etc.

      One unappreciated plus that the world has is the powerful diplomatic role that the Vatican and the Pope can and do play in times of great international stress.

      ‘Knowledge is good but perhaps too much is fatal.’ (St.Joseph)

      Knowledge cannot be unknown or uninvented as well. We have to live with better and more deadly methods of killing each other off wholesale. What is in humanity’s favour is that while things such as nuclear weapons are un-inventible, the role that religion, diplomacy, making use of the intelligence gathering capacities of agencies such as the CIA, MI5, your ‘Secret Intelligence Service’ (previously known as MI6) etc., ethics, philosophy and international law, are a very potent counterbalance.

      Technology is unstoppable; however it is open to regulation and the input of the international community. There is no defence against a future Hitler or terrorist organisation obtaining the means to manufacture a suitcase bomb, i.e. a nuclear weapon that can be carried in you backpack, except what I have outline previously and a good dose of luck. Prayer and vigilance certainly helps us all.

      We certainly need to pray for France and all of the victims and their families of the most recent outrage against civilisation.

  13. freeloader says:

    How about ISIL getting hold of neuclear weapons. Armageddon. They crucify people and behead them. How are the nations going to contain this. Delenda.

  14. John Nolan says:

    John Candido,

    The link you give to the story of Vasili Arkhipov and the incident aboard the Foxtrot class submarine B-59 on 27 October 1962 suffers from a certain amount of journalistic hyperbole, although the background is accurate enough. It didn’t emerge until 2002. B-59 had been detected and was being signalled to surface by the use of practice depth charges, a procedure that had been approved by the President. In reality she had no alternative but to surface; there was no charge in her batteries, the aircon wasn’t working, and CO2 levels were at critical point. According to VP Orlov, who was aboard, the captain (Valentin Stavitsky) lost his composure and ordered that the ‘special weapon’, i.e. the nuclear torpedo with a yield of 15 kt, be assembled (not fired – a crucial distinction). Arkhipov managed to calm him down and the decision was made to surface.

    Orlov’s account has been questioned by the other submarine commanders who didn’t believe Stavitsky would have acted in this way. When the commander of Foxtrot B-130, Nikolai Shumkov (whose boat was in a similar situation to that of B-59) ordered all the torpedoes to be prepared in an attempt to impress the political officer, the officer responsible for the nuclear torpedo told him it could not be armed without a direct order from Naval HQ.

    Be that as it may, the Americans in 1962 were unaware that the four Foxtrots were nuclear-armed, and equally unaware of their mission, which was to establish a submarine base in Cuba. In times of tension and stress mistakes and accidents are far more likely to happen. It would appear that the commander of the land-based missiles on Cuba had the authority to use them if the Americans invaded – which indicates grave irresponsibility on Khrushchev’s part. In normal circumstances there is a tendency not to ‘think the unthinkable’ and if warning systems are triggered the instinct is to suspect a technical glitch. But circumstances were not normal in 1962, nor were they in 1983. However, in 1962 everyone was aware of this, whereas in 1983 NATO commanders failed to recognize just how paranoid the Soviet leadership had become.

  15. Brendan says:

    Sometimes a ‘ Paris ‘ shock on such a devastating scale of cold , calculating , clinical murder ; gives the world a sharp jolt/reminder to ‘ come to its senses ‘ regarding the destructive power of nihilistic weaponry . Let’s join the world as we pray with our brothers and sisters at Notre Dame today , for an end to this insanity.

  16. Geordie says:

    John Candido.
    “We must all work for peace. There is no alternative to peace and its inherent goodness.”
    I agree we should all work for peace but peace in itself does not result in good living. We abuse peace by selfishness and self-indulgence; in other words sin. War is the result of sin.
    We can work for peace by prayer and self-denial. I wish I could maintain this life style for longer periods than I do. We need lots of contemplatives like St. Therese of Lisieux and St. John of the Cross. Or perhaps the Second Coming would save us from ourselves. Maranatha.
    A re-introduction of the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel at the end of Mass would be a good start.

  17. Quentin says:

    Our early Mass this morning was dedicated to the victims of the Paris tragedy. The priest ended his sermon with a story I want to share. The context was the attitude which we should have towards those who seek to harm us. It is relevant to this discussion.

    “A holy man, walking by a river, saw a cat about to drown. he put his hand in to rescue the cat, and had it scratched for his pains. He tried again and was scratched again. A passer by said ‘Why rescue the cat when it scratches you?’ But the holy man tried again, was scratched again, but at last rescued the cat. He said to the passer by: ‘It is the nature of a cat to scratch; it is the nature of man to love. That is why the cat scratched me, and why I rescued the cat.'”

  18. John Nolan says:

    I wouldn’t underestimate the power of prayer. The spectacular victory of the Holy League at Lepanto (1571) is attributed to the intervention of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the Church rightly celebrates its anniversary on 7 October. Yet it would not have happened without the skill and bravery of the Christian fleet (plus a technological advantage in artillery and ship construction).

    ‘Aide-toi; le Ciel t’aidera’ as the saying goes.

    We should welcome the British decision to construct a new naval base at Bahrain capable of taking ships as large as the new Queen Elizabeth super-carriers, and giving us a permanent strategic footprint east of Suez (nearly half a century after Harold Wilson’s government cancelled the CVA -01 carrier and announced our imminent departure from the area).

    European Geostrategy, an on-line defence journal, recently ranked the top fifteen Powers in terms of military capability. It is not a question of comparing numbers, but rather looking at the capacity for projecting power, sustaining overseas operations, technological advantage, intelligence advantage, combat readiness and other factors including ‘soft power’, although the survey de-emphasized this as it is not easily quantifiable. The results are interesting. The USA ranks first as the sole Superpower. Second is the UK, the only other country to rank as a ‘Global Power’. Then come eight ‘Regional Powers’ in order: France, China, Russia, Japan, Germany, Australia, Canada, India. The remaining five are classified as ‘Local Powers’: Italy, Spain, South Korea, Brazil, Turkey.

    The UK’s status as a long established nuclear player is taken into account, but declared possession of nuclear weapons is not enough to put Israel, Pakistan or North Korea into the top fifteen.

  19. St.Joseph says:

    John Nolan.
    As much as I admire your knowlwedge on the Superpowers and I will not hide my ignorance in not knowing much myself
    But I can only look at it in a way that there will never be peace in the world as long as we dont
    sort out through the UN to ban all weapons, I would even go as far as saying guns and any weapon that is destroys human life, Satan’s weapons!!!
    There must be another way as well a prayer. which is the most important
    ..

  20. John Nolan says:

    St. Joseph,

    A sharpened stick is a weapon. If you know how, you can kill someone with a rolled-up newspaper. In the Middle Ages the Church tried to ban the crossbow, of course to no avail. There will never be peace in this world; violence and warfare are endemic to the human condition. Forget the UN – its record in peacekeeping is abysmal; the old League of Nations had more success in that regard.

  21. St.Joseph says:

    John Nolan.
    A sharpened stick is a weapon, yes however it would not cause as many deaths as all the nuclear weapons, firearms etc One can kill someone with a blow of the fist and I do understand what you say.
    Neverthless it is the only answer I think that can bring peace amonst the Nations, also prayer.
    I would be interested if anyone else can think of a solution?.

  22. John Candido says:

    St.Joseph

    There are no current methods to stymie war and terrorism or to limit the savagery of today’s weaponry save what I have outlined in broad terms previously. What may develop in future is where you will see improvements to these issues.

  23. John Candido says:

    Any matter about the future is speculative; however there is room for a modicum of creative speculation in life. Although gun control in the United States is not on the same page as St.Joseph’s question about weaponry, I can think of a possible solution for American society, which again is something that is only a possibility in future.

    Estonia is the most wired country on earth. They have ‘e-elections’ i.e. using the internet and secure identity so that any qualifying citizen can safely vote via the internet. E-elections are a very convenient method of voting as they can be done at home or at work, if you can find an empty room where you can vote anonymously. Voting is not compulsory in Estonia.

    The United States needs to employ e-elections in all local, state and federal elections. Combining this convenience with a move to compulsory voting will be the conduit to taming the power of special interest groups such as the NRA and their lobbyists, or the health insurance industry, etc.

    Compulsory e-elections use the broad mass of sensible, ordinary middle voters every time. By doing so America will strengthen its democratic fibre involving more citizens in political issues, encourage moderate candidates to stand for election, assist in a more rational generation of policy prescriptions, counterbalance the power of special interest groups such as the NRA and enjoy better social, economic and political outcomes that will lead to a better way of life for more people.
    The big question is whether or not America is ready to become a more civilised nation-state where their obsession with individual rights is to be gradually tempered by community rights and what is in the public interest. Attitudinal change is very challenging but central to establishing a culture of compulsory voting done via the internet.

    The use of e-elections to civilise gun control in the United States is a good metaphor for the central importance of a listening synodal church to generate much needed reforms. A properly run, unfettered, listening synodal church, that isn’t hijacked by vested interests in order to produce predetermined outcomes, will be an effective conduit of the Holy Spirit for the Roman Catholic Church and hopefully lead to sensible, well thought out reforms. The shining intelligence and experience of all Catholic bishops freely participating as equals regardless of their ecclesiastical rank, and the advice of their periti are yet to be fully utilised to the church’s benefit, post Vatican II. A listening synodal church is absolutely critical to the future well-being of the Roman Catholic Church.

  24. St.Joseph says:

    John Candido. .
    Even all you say came about would souls be saved..
    That does not mean to say the World would then be living in the Spirit!,

  25. Brendan says:

    What is critical to the ” well-being ” of the Church is that our diocesan bishops in answer to its chief shepherd – and the call of the Holy Spirit – gets deep down into the muck and ‘ lives ‘ with its flock. More ‘synods ‘ or synods preparing for synods is superfluous to need . Bishop Peter Doyle expressed his feelings during the Synod of how he was surprised at some of the statements on how ‘ married couples ‘ lived out their vocation. If a Bishop can say this – how then does a Bishop understand his role ? The faithful needs leadership and that means ‘ courage ‘ in the face even of adversity and going against the tide of society’s mores . Only the Spirit of God can animate His Church to effect change. At the moment Cardinal Vincent Nichols seems to be making sounds that will change the way parishioners ‘ think ‘ and ‘ act ‘ in relation to parish life following Synodal expectations. This would need a ‘ metanoia ‘ experience for us all. Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation will be most welcome under the circumstances to lift the confusion arising from the Family Synod. No Synod of the Bishops can do this on its own. After all we are The Catholic Church now and ‘ til the end of time.

  26. John Nolan says:

    John Candido

    I know that voting is compulsory in Australia, but most countries would regard this as an infringement of civil liberties. Evelyn Waugh refused to vote, saying ‘it is not the business of the subject to advise the sovereign on her choice of ministers’. He was teasing, of course, but if someone were to believe this sincerely, his view should be respected. I did not vote in the first Euro-election because everyone was expected to vote for a party rather than a candidate and as a result no one bothered to canvass my vote.

    You can’t force people to conform to your model of a good citizen. They tried this in the French Revolution, and look what happened. Nor is it axiomatic that by putting in place what you consider to be good procedures, you will get good results. As for the ‘listening synodal Church’ it will be interesting to see if Pope Francis listens to the majority of bishops who rejected the Kasper proposal on admitting the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion, or attempts to introduce this particular ‘reform’ by back door methods.

  27. Geordie says:

    John Candido
    The USA talks a lot about democracy but it strikes me that there is very little true democracy in practice. In my opinion, it is a two-party dictatorship and they maintain their dominance through money.
    The US interferes in other countries who do not vote the way they think is right or is not in America’s interests. True democracy means we have to accept elections which we do not agree with. American history is full of instances where the US has overthrown or helped to overthrow freely elected governments which do not suit America’s wishes. The UK is not far behind in its interfering efforts.
    Peace will only be achieved by negotiation and, as has been said, by prayer. However there will be wars and rumours of wars until the end of time.

  28. St.Joseph says:

    Whilst we are remembering those who died on Friday evening in Paris and their families, we must not forget those young men who died by committing suicide ,our prayers must reach out to all..Whatever their beliefs that what they did was for God.
    We look to history here and the wars,what example does that show to them when so many innocent men women and children died in the two world wars, also remembering Hirosima and Nagasaki.etc. and not forgetting that there is so much love and compassion in the world around us. Trust in The Lord.

  29. Martha says:

    St. Joseph, I don’t think we can tell if what the jihadis and Isis or Daesh are doing is for God, only He knows what is in people’s hearts, if individuals are genuinely mistaken, or if they are truly evil. Their acts are certainly evil, and either way I agree with you that we should pray for them to be enlightened and forgiven, as well as praying for their victims.
    I also think this is a situation where diplomacy is useless and we have to fight, with whatever weapons will be most effective, which in my opinion excludes nuclear weapons of any kind. The total, permanent annihilation that they cause is too extreme to justify under any circumstances. Christ certainly refused to call on His father to send legions of angels to fight for His own life, and He teaches us to turn the other cheek on a personal basis, but that does not apply to international
    aggression and evil regimes aiming to enslave the world.
    The use of drones seems to me to be a very useful development, with their ability to assassinate one targeted person rather than bomb and destroy large numbers indiscriminately, though of course they can be used by both sides.

  30. St.Joseph says:

    Martha.
    Yes I hear what you say, I don’t believe what the jihadis and others do are in the name of God either, that was not what I meant,but what I feel they believe, when they call on the name of Allah.! Which one of the young men did on Friday. They feel they are either dying for God or their country..
    I was watching a programme on EWTN yesterday called Syria’s Christian Exodus.
    So they think that its the will of God. or brainwashed.
    Jesus is the answer.He came to renew the earth, and He will come again next time in His second Coming! Maybe it is close at hand. without being presumptious!!!
    ,

  31. John Nolan says:

    Geordie,

    Democracy is a chimera. Britain did not have universal manhood suffrage until 1918 and universal suffrage until 1928, but had representative government in the 18th and 19th centuries. The quality of leadership in pre-democratic Britain was far higher than it is now, both in education and ability. Hitler came to power by democratic means and then established a one-party state; but had he gone to the people in (say) 1938 he would have won an overwhelming mandate.

    The worst kind of foreign policy is one driven by perceived morality. Lord Palmerston was regarded by the more reactionary Powers in Europe as a dangerous revolutionary, but when he supported ‘liberal’ movements in (for example) Spain it was for pragmatic reasons, not because he believed they occupied the moral high ground. Like all politicians he was not averse to claiming the moral high ground for himself, as when he had to defend the ‘Opium War’ with China against a Tory opposition who claimed (with some justification) that it was immoral.

    It is obvious now, and was remarked on by more far-sighted people at the time, that Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak should have been left in place. The first two no longer threatened Western interests and the last was pro-Western, anti-Islamist and a force for stability. Assad of Syria was the same; Russia, Iran and the Western Powers should have intervened early on to help him put down the revolt before it got out of hand. Assad and his father did not have a good record on human rights, but the vast majority of the Syrian people were safe and had a good standard of living.

    ISIL is a monster of our own making, born out of a foreign policy which puts ‘morality’ before national interest.

  32. Geordie says:

    John Nolan
    I agree; “The quality of leadership in pre-democratic Britain was far higher than it is now, both in education and ability”. However it was also self-serving and corrupt. Now we have so-called democratic governments that are equally as bad but not so well educated. I also agree that the dictators should have been left in place. Our ham-fisted efforts have created hell on Earth.

  33. Nektarios says:

    John Nolan

    One can but agree with most of what you said, John, in addition, I would only add that there is a futility of morality. Why you ask? Well simply this: For the Christian, the adherence to morality
    is an adherence to the Law. and is aimed at mankind in the physical and mental realm only. The Law condemns man. But the Christian because Christ has paid the price exacted by Justice for sin, the Christian is no longer under the Law but under Grace.
    And the Grace of God applied to us as Christians is a work of the Holy Spirit and spiritual in nature.

    Why is there any surprise at the likes of Hitler or Mao or Stalin or IS. They in going down the road of morality the Law, acted against God’s laws and being spiritually dead, set themselves up with dictatorships and in the process went mad and psychopathic.

    I think one needs to define more what is meant by the political get out clause for all unpalatable actions by governments in our name, it is in the national interest?

  34. G.D. says:

    ‘Give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar ……’ seems to be getting a good response judging by most of the comments above.

    Prayer is more than asking God to do something. It’s meant to change us, and our lives into imitators of Jesu. He showed us what to do. … ‘give unto God what belongs to God’ (like minds & hearts shaped by the attitudes of Jesus) isn’t getting much of a free response it seems.

    And yes ………. ( John Candido says: November 15, 2015 at 1:59 am
    ” Very true G.D. But what else are you going to do? Lie down and take it all in? ” ) ……….. I’d like to think I would, John, with as much PEACEFUL RESISTANCE as i could possibly muster. Plenty have done in the past, plenty still do today.
    But if push came to shove maybe I’d revert to ‘war mongering’ too, and increase the negativity, who knows? I’ve never been tested that way.

  35. St.Joseph says:

    When will to Governments realise that there will never be peace when the Law says it is alright to remove a baby from the safe place of the womb where they are peacefully sucking their thumb, dancing in the waters,they say they listen to music, then it may not be a bomb but a knife cuts them into pieces. This has and is happening to millions of innocent children and tdont blink an eyelid.
    May God forgive them -do they not know what they do? The day of Judgement will not leave anybody out.

    • Martha says:

      Yes, St. Joseph, yet there is horror, rightly, at the discovery of the bodies of dead babies at a town in Germany recently. Why do so many people not realise that there is little difference?

  36. St.Joseph says:

    Martha.
    A saying of my mother’s many years ago, and that was ‘Our Blessed Mother is holding back the hand of Her Son.How much longer will she do that!

  37. John de Waal says:

    I used to be in favour of multi-lateral nuclear disarmament. Certainly the deterrent seemed to have worked- especially at the time if the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember it well. And yet I have changed my mind. My younger son has convinced me that no threat, however awful, would justify killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people by nuclear weapons.

    On a practical level we must ask: who might we be bombing? Our present enemy – ISIL- does not have a specific land base in the same sense as a normal country. Where do you aim when terrorists can strike anywhere? As for North Korea, as far as I know they do not have the capability of delivering a missile to the other side of the world. Russia may appear belligerent at times but I think they are not that crazy.

    Which brings us back to the moral question – and to me there can be little doubt. You should not do evil even if the outcome may be good (at least for you). The end does not justify the means.

    A final thought : how can we lecture other countries from developing nuclear weapons if we possess the ourselves?

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