to serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the cross in our Society, which we desire to be designated by the name of Jesus, and to serve the Lord alone and the Church his Spouse, under the Roman pontiff, the vicar of Christ on earth, should, after a vow of perpetual chastity, poverty, and obedience, keep the following in mind." From the Formula of the Institute, 1540
Thanks again, Tony, for your contribution to this series. I very much enjoyed reading your post.
Thanks, Cynthia. It’s a very interesting series, and I’m honored to be a part of the discussion. Next semester I may be doing some more work on Girard, so maybe I’ll more to put online then…
This is a very appropriate post (for me anyway). The events in Iraq, namely the brutal murder in cold blood of 60+ unarmed innocents attending divine liturgy (riposino in pace) by Mohammedans. This event has not sat well with me and I am seriously wondering what the role of violence in the name of self-defense should be at this point. There is absolutely no gospel passage condoning violence, even in self-defense. Yet I know this has been a mandate by the church at various times in history. And I’m thinking, if not now, when?
Yes, the issue you raise is very, very difficult. I would put myself in the just war tradition, as opposed to strict pacifism, but even if you allow for self-defense it doesn’t make this question that much easier. On a purely practical level, these sorts of suicide and other attacks against unarmed civilians seem extremely difficult to defend against. I certainly think the Iraqi civil authorities have the right and the duty to use force to protect their citizens, though using force always carries with it the very real danger of doing harm to other innocent people as well. The Church’s teaching on self-defense, as I understand it, requires that one does only the minimal harm necessary to one’s attacker. I haven’t been following the aftermath of the attack closely enough to know what measures the Iraqi government is taking to protect the Christian population, though it certainly seems appropriate that Christians throughout the world, as well as other people of good will, demand that they do more.
On another note, related to the theme of my post a few weeks ago on Mass attendance, I cannot fail to mention how inspired I am by our brothers and sisters in Iraq who are keeping the faith in such circumstances. I hope their example reminds Catholics in places where the practice of the faith has grown lax that many of our fellow Christians throughout the world literally risk their lives to participate in the celebration of the Eucharist. We have much to learn from them.
Also, incidentally, I think we’re probably best off speaking of the basis for self-defense in the natural law, as opposed to Scripture. I think you probably can find a basis in Scripture, but the argument would be much, much messier and also unpersuasive to non-Christians who don’t accept the authority of Scripture.
Anthony, you have pretty much laid out my conundrum. You can use OT scripture pretty much for anything or to justify any action/decision. Maybe in the grande scheme this is why Marcian lost out and it has remained in the canon. Who knows? Not me.
But I can say that I really cannot find any justificaton for violence in the NT. Not even self-defense. Add to this the “strategy” or “tactics” of the early church, which was essentially martyrdom. Even the very first “warrior saints” were saints because they martyrs (i.e. St Sebastian, pray for us!) as opposed to their warrior skills.
Anyway, your comments underscore why we (in this case, ME) need educated clergy who can carry on the wisdom and church tradition on such difficult topics. And FYI, by all accounts, the secular/Iraqi government has done nothing since the massacre, other than condemn the perpetrators as terrorists (who happen to be their correligionists).
I visit this blog regularly and I always leave with more than previously expected. Maybe you’re interested in my blog (http://erikbuys.wordpress.com). It’s about Girard and mimetic theory. Furthermore I’m teaching at a Jesuit high school – how’s that for a connection ;).
Nice. I met some other young theologians from Leuven at the COV&R conference this summer and they seemed like a thoughtful bunch. I look forward to visiting your blog again in the future.
Thanks for this..fantastic work.. so helpful in a class i am teaching. I didn’t see anywhere in your post above where you gave a direct link to your article on Per Caritatem site (just a link to their home page); nor was there an easy-to-find search or index to find you article there. So in case anyone else would like a direct link, it is http://percaritatem.com/2010/11/12/guest-post8-violence-and-christian-holy-writ-girard-sacrifice-and-eucharist/