Jesus knew and cherished the meaning of the word "Freedom." Yet in the last moments of freedom before his torturers dragged him to his trial and execution, he uttered his prophetic words in Matthew's account, "All who take the sword will perish by the sword."
Apologists for the Bush Administration are suddenly shocked, shocked (!) to learn in the opening sentences of the newly reported National Intelligence Estimate that "the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse," according to one official quoted by the New York Times. Senator Edward Kennedy responded on the Senate floor, "Despite the conclusion of the intelligence community that the war has been a recruitment tool for a new generation of extremists, on numerous occasions since the document was prepared (five months ago), President Bush has claimed that the war has made America safer." This compilation of the views of 16 intelligence agencies, entitled "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States," apparently undercuts the repeated assurances by the Bush Administration that the Iraq War was making America safer, arguing in detail that exactly the opposite was true. Although these findings were approved in April by his Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, Mr Bush has knowingly contradicted the report's central assertions in numerous speeches ever since.
But political leaders beating the drums of "freedom" didn't need the CIA to tell them what Christ foresaw in the closing moments of his own freedom, namely that killing people only fuels a greater will toward retribution and more killing. When it comes to war, the only law that is never broken is the law of unintended consequences. To his great credit, Pope Benedict plainly stated in September 2002, before his election, that the "concept of a 'preventive war' does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church." He went on to say in 2003, shortly after the invasion, "There was not sufficient reason to unleash a war in Iraq...today we should be asking ourselves if it is still reasonable even to admit the existence of such a thing as a 'just war.'" Conservative Catholics like Fr. Richard Neuhaus and Michael Novak jovially overlook pronouncements like these, indefatigably citing traditional (but non-Biblical) Catholic ‘Just War' accomodations that more conveniently support Republican political aims.
As the number of killings in Iraq has surged past 100,000, the Administration's social engineers are busily mounting plans for a "military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities" that could result in vastly greater numbers of dead across Iran. As Catholics, we must immediately and unequivocally condemn any justification offered for the use of mass killing by this Administration to "advance the cause of freedom" in the name of the American people-particularly when, as the new intelligence report asserts, Mr. Bush so grossly miscalculated the consequences of his similarly "preventive" war in Iraq.
Christianity calls us to creative solutions, not violent ones, whenever a mob assembles to stone a seeming outcast like Iran. Jesus led by his example, which tells us pure and simple that we must no longer kill or torture in the name of freedom-as we watch the headlines increasingly chronicle how we are being led toward becoming the evil we once aimed to overcome.