Time to change military direction

Re OSV’s Dec. 27 editorial and the Tom Hoopes article on applying just-war criteria to our Afghanistan endeavor: World War II (in which I served as a naval deck officer) and, to a lesser extent, the Korean conflict were virtually our last wars between standing armies.

Vietnam, where the enemy was often indistinguishable from the civilian populace, changed everything.

Though no standing army threatens us today, the Pentagon mindset — that military might can “win” in any situation — continues to dominate our national policy. Idealism is the new realism.

If, instead of spending a trillion dollars on our military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, we had devoted it to trying to eliminate global poverty and disease, the world — including the Arab world — would have loved us! And, terrorism, which feeds on frustration and despair, would have been a tiny footnote in history.

It is late, but not too late to change our national direction and do what we should have done in the first place.

— Father George P. Carlin, SOLT, Covington, Ga.

Prudential judgment

Your recent article, exploring whether the Afghanistan conflict continues to be a just war, was excellent (“Does troop surge meet just war conditions?” Dec. 27).

There was plenty for liberals and conservatives to disagree with; in other words, it was informative and balanced.

After reading the article, it could not have been clearer that questions like this require prudential judgment. How different from the slaughter of the innocents taking place today around the world, which is an intrinsically evil enterprise that can never be justified.

— Dr. William G. Kussmaul III, Media, Pa.

Just Peace 

As indicated in the Afghanistan troop surge article, one can support or oppose the war in Afghanistan as just or unjust. The goal of a just war is a just peace.

— John J. Erceg, Hudson, Ohio

Disappearing clericalism 

I disagree with the letter to the editor “clericalism’s dangers” in the Jan. 3 edition. The author asserts that clericalism will always be with us because of the hierarchical structure of the Church.

I maintain that clericalism is an attitude by both the hierarchy and the people and not the result of Church structure. I’m seeing a change in the priests being ordained and their ability to relate to the people differently than their elders did. Now that lay people are highly educated, they don’t look up to the priests as if the priests know all and we know nothing as it actually used to be.

But it takes time. The older priests can still be clericalist because that’s how they’re used to relating to their parishioners. And, of course, it is very hard to change at this late date.

The pastors that I know in my area relate well with the people. They’re easy to approach and talk to.

— Jeanne Schmelzer, Bremen, Ohio

Nonpartisan denial 

In response to the Dec. 20 article, “Bishop revives debate over pro-choice politicians”: The issue of a Catholic clergyman denying Communion to a public sinner has never been one which is exclusive to political leaders. Whether the person is a political leader or not, the Church has always upheld that none of its members can receive if they are guilty of mortal sin, and unrepentant. In fact, for a Church leader, or even a lay person, not to uphold a teaching in defense of it, would be a sin of negligence.

There is no question that anyone who participates in, or encourages, abortion is guilty of murder.

— Barry J. Pollingue, Baton Rouge, La.

Divine Islam? 

My comment is in regard to the article “Is Islam a force for good? Or for violence?” (Jan. 3). The writer quotes Peter Kreeft as follows: “Pope Benedict has said and the Catechism of the Catholic Church has said, that Islam is a great religion that worships the true God because they learned about God from the same people that we did, the Jews. So it is a religion based on divine revelation.”

When I read this, I was stunned. I turned to the Catechism’s relevant paragraph 841 (which is a direct quotation from the Second Vatican Council’s document Lumen Gentium ) which says nothing about it being a “great religion” although it does acknowledges that Muslims “together with us ... adore the one, merciful God.” It also says that Muslims “profess to hold the faith of Abraham” but says nothing about Islam being based on divine revelation.

The way Kreeft is quoted, it seems he is saying that Mohammed, founder of Islam, had a divine revelation. Is that what he is saying?

Kreeft had some good points to make on the topic of this article but the sentence quoted above disturbs me.

— Margaret M. Mantia, St. Louis, Mo. 

Editor’s note: Observe that Kreeft’s next two sentences are: “That is not to say that the Quran is Scripture [i.e., revealed]. It certainly isn’t.”When Kreeft says Islam is based on divine revelation, he means only insofar as it is based on Judaism and Christianity.