A(a) The Church distin. guishes between commandments and counsels of perfection. One must keep the commandments, one should, i.e. one is encouraged to keep the counsels as far as one can. Thus one must be baptized if one is convinced of the truth of the Church, one must not seek a divorce etc.; one is encouraged to practise the evangelical counsels of perfection, e.g. poverty, chastity, obedience etc.; non-resistance to violence is a counsel of this kind.
It does not abolish the natural human right to self-defence, and still less does it abolish (1) the natural human obligation of helping those who are united to us by some special human bond such as kinship, friendship, contract, loyalty etc., (2) the precept of charity by which we must help anybody who is in distress.
E.g., would the Good Samaritan have been so good if, supposing he had come upon the scene a little earlier, he had waited until the thieves had finished beating up his neighbour before moving in to begin his ministrations?
(b) ('bust drove the moneychangers out of the temple with a whip and overthrew their tables. Surely this was violence and, what is more, violence in support of what some would call an abstraction. The practice of the money-changers was an insult to God and a scandal to men but, it could be argued, it QHow would you answer my non-Catholic friend on the NC' following points:
(a) The moral teaching of the Church is based on the principle that Christians should imitate Christ.
(b) Christ did not oppose violence with violence; it was a vital part of his teaching that evil was not to be overcome by physical force, and his death bore witness to this principle.
(c) The Church should not therefore teach that it is justifiable to kill in self-defence.
(d) it is begging the question to say that war can be justified if certain conditions are fulfilled since nobody is prepared to name a war that has fulfilled all the conditions. To he consistent, the Church should teach that Christians may not engage in war.
(e) As war has been tolerated throughout the history of Christianity it is out of all proportion for the Church to protest so vigorously about the killing of a grossly deformed baby.
(f) It is inconsistent to claim that a baby's life is innocent, while teaching that it is horn in original sin, and is certain to commit actual sin if it survives. If it is innocent, that is all the more reason for putting it out of its Misery.
wasn't doing anybody any bodily or material harm.
The contrast between this and Christ's behaviour during his Passion emphasises the distinction which the Church has maintained: Christ used violence when another's good required it; when it was his own life at stake he gave us a supreme example of his own counsel of perfection.
(c) From the above it follows that the Church cannot avoid upholding a man's right to kill in a case where this would he the only effective means of self-defence, while at the same time she encourages us to follow Christ's example in nonresistance.
(d) Under certain conditions a Christian may be bound to go to war if his neighbour's good requires it. Have these conditions ever been verified in fact? The conscience of a nation is probably even more complex than that of an individual human being.
Conditions change rapidly. Today's aggressor may be struggling for survival tomorrow. Motives may be, and usually are, mixed, but surely if the good motives are weighty and obvious. an honest Citizen can act upon these while repudiating the bad? It is rather sweeping to suggest that there has never . been a just war.
I would maintain that Germany's aggressions in 1914 and 1939 provided a sufficient motive for armed intervention, despite the fact that everybody knows there were other. less worthy issues involved. On the other hand, this does not justify our policy of unconditional surrender. Furthermore, I would say that the altered conditions of today make it increasingly difficult to justify any war.
(e) To speak of the Church's tolerating war gives a wrong impression. There is of course the difficult case of the Crusades. I am inclined to regard these in general as an aberration, although when one examines them in particular it is not so easy to condemn them all out of hand.
It is true to say however that the Church's attitude has been steadily hardening against war over recent centuries. One must also remember that, as with individuals, so with nations. the Church must hate the sin but love the sinner. In this sense the Church must "tolerate" warriors.
II is not easy to see any logical connection between -toleratMg" war in any sense and condemning euthanasia. However, ;list as the Church must maintain that individuals or nations have a claim to he protected against aggression -and some individuals (and nations) have an obligation in certain circumstances to protect, so the Church must maintain that a child has a right to have its life preserved and some people have an obligation to try and preserve it.
It is true that the Church also maintains that in certain circumstances lives may become forfeit e.g. unjust aggressors etc., hut in this case the aggressor in a sense throws his own life away (which he has no right to) by laying himself open to justifiable resistance.
We believe that every person born into this world has some mission to fulfil, whatever it may be. If a man refuses to fulfil his mission we condemn him for that, but we must also condemn those who prevent others from fulfilling their mission. To cut short a person's life by positive action spoils that person's chances of fulfilling his mission. Only God knows what that mission is and how much time it needs.
The mission may be for example the largely Rassive one of stimulating the medical profession to greater heights of achievement, but surely in the context of the brotherhood of man this is something trernendous (f) The concept of sin envisaged in the question is rather ited. As indicated in a recent answer. the "sin" part of original sin might well be kept in inverted commas. It can be regarded as a hereditary sickness or deformity of the soul which afflicts all the children of Adam and it is therefore quite consistent to speak of a baby as innocent unless one also advocates sending all T.B. patients to Dartmoor.
It is a constant theme of Christian writers that actual sin is not an irremediable disaster. It is the struggle with sin that brings greatness into our lives and the fact that we are almost certain to lose some battles makes our final victory all the greater. It is unjust to take away a person's chance to fight, in fact one can almost say. with apologies to the poet: it is better to have lived and lost than not to have lived at all, for, with regard to those who may seem to us to have lost, only God and his saints
. know the secrets of God's mercy.