Vatican: Military action against ISIS “is probably necessary”

posted at 3:21 pm on August 12, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

It’s not a call for a massive invasion, but the messaging from Vatican officials sounds a lot more friendly to military action than usual. Longtime Vaticanista John Allen expressed surprise yesterday at the sometimes-grudging approval coming from the Holy See about American intervention against ISIS, noting that it stands in stark contrast to its opposition to both Iraq wars. And this approval comes not via background briefings, but very official communications:

Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the pope’s ambassador to Baghdad, told Vatican radio that the American strikes are “something that had to be done, otherwise [the Islamic State forces] could not be stopped.”

Lingua spoke plaintively of the ordeals faced by an estimated 100,000 Christian refugees from northern Iraq – many of whom, he said, are children – to account for his view of the American campaign.

“You can see these kids sleeping on the streets,” Lingua said, adding, “[there is so much] suffering.”

In a similar vein, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s envoy to the United Nations in Geneva, told Vatican Radio that “military action in this moment is probably necessary.”

Both Lingua and Tomasi went on to say that the international community needs to do more to unmask whoever’s supporting the radical Islamic State forces and to cut off its supply of arms, signaling reservations about widening the conflict.

At the same time, their endorsement of the American action, however grudging, was unmistakable. In light of recent history, it’s a sharp reversal of course.

Normally, the Vatican opposes military interventions of most varieties. As Allen concludes in this article, the events of the last few weeks have outstripped the pacifist approaches preferred by the Holy See, and the brutality of ISIS and its clearly annihilationist ambitions make it clear that this situation requires more active responses. “‘Give peace a chance’ may work as a fervorino,” Allen writes,  “but as foreign policy it doesn’t quite do the trick.”

In an interview that will air during today’s edition of The Ed Morrissey Show, I asked Allen to discuss the nuance of this statement, which some thought was a blanket approval for all military interventions. Allen said that it’s no “green light,” but perhaps more of a yellow light. The concern, Allen said, was that a green light could get portrayed as a call for a new crusade — and that would put many other Christian minority communities in Muslim-dominated nations at risk, or even more at risk than they are now. (Allen wrote the excellent book The Global War on Christians last year surveying that risk in detail.) That could cause the same kind of ethno-religious cleansing in other parts of the world — which is what the Vatican feared in earlier American interventions in the region, and why they opposed them.

That wasn’t the only shift in tone coming from the Holy See. The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which normally issues anodyne blessings and commemorations of holidays and events, today issued a sharp call for Muslim leaders to denounce the Islamic State as well as its “barbarity”:

The Vatican called on Muslim leaders to condemn the “barbarity” and “unspeakable criminal acts” of Islamic State militants in Iraq, saying a failure to do so would jeopardize the future of interreligious dialogue.

“The plight of Christians, Yezidis and other religious and ethnic communities that are numeric minorities in Iraq demands a clear and courageous stance on the part of religious leaders, especially Muslims, those engaged in interfaith dialogue and everyone of goodwill,” said a statement from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue released by the Vatican Aug. 12.

“All must be unanimous in condemning unequivocally these crimes and must denounce the invocation of religion to justify them,” the statement said. “Otherwise, what credibility will religions, their followers and their leaders have? What credibility would remain to the interreligious dialogue patiently pursued in recent years?”

Allen told me that the Vatican appears to be running out of patience with its ecumenical Muslim partners. This looks, Allen said, like the Vatican’s attempt to “cash in on 50 years of ecumenical outreach” in order to marginalize ISIS. The Council’s question is a challenge to their partners, demanding some investment in the risks of peace and tolerance. Pope Francis’ last two predecessors both took a lot of criticism for their efforts to reach out in dialogue with Muslim leaders. Now it’s time to see whether those leaders and their successors have the same fortitude, or whether these have just been empty gestures all along. If after decades of engagement these leaders cannot bring themselves to condemn the forced conversion, beheadings, ethnoreligious cleansing and flat-out genocides of ISIS, then it leaves very little value in continued engagement from the Vatican’s perspective.


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He can always call for a new Crusade to reclaim most of the ME.

nobar on August 12, 2014 at 3:39 PM

This time around, it would be necessary to start with a reclamation of Europe.

Resist We Much on August 12, 2014 at 4:16 PM

I’m afraid that’s exactly what is going happen, and soon, RWM, starting in your old stomping grounds.
Will Britain find it’s spine in time? We shall see…

Doc Holliday on August 12, 2014 at 5:11 PM

Illinidiva on August 12, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Some is better than none, especially when your church is sitting dead in the center of enemy territory and you don’t command armies anymore.

Ebola on August 12, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Resist We Much on August 12, 2014 at 5:18 PM

:: blink :: Who said it was?

Ebola on August 12, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Some is better than none, especially when your church is sitting dead in the center of enemy territory and you don’t command armies anymore.

Ebola on August 12, 2014 at 5:13 PM

I think that more could have been done. I don’t see Pius XII as a great moral voice. He was pretty reactionary and had ties to Mussolini. I think that the whole situation is complicated and debatable, and I come down on the side of the institutional Church not doing enough because their own hides were on the line.

Illinidiva on August 12, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Whatever Pius did do, I think that it wasn’t enough.

Illinidiva on August 12, 2014 at 5:10 PM

In other words, you don’t know, but you condemn him anyway.

You do realize the Vatican is in Rome, which was enemy territory, run by the Fascisti and then the Nazis until 1944?

How about the Church’s activity in the Resistance?

God, I love these vapid hipsters with their limp-wristed*, all-encompassing condemnations of anything they’re supposed to oppose, facts be damned.

* no offense to anyone else

formwiz on August 12, 2014 at 5:33 PM

I come down on the side of the institutional Church not doing enough because their own hides were on the line.

Illinidiva on August 12, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Funny, what they did and said publicly, as well as encouraging priests and nuns to fight in the Resistance, seems pretty gutsy to me.

formwiz on August 12, 2014 at 5:37 PM

I’ve had conversations with “moderate” muslim imams and members of a mosque. Their excuse to not say anything against this barbaric behavior has taken two “defenses:”

1 – THis barbaric practice (beheadings, stonings, crucifixions, etc.) is not real Islam

2 – These practices are cultural problems not religious.

You tell me how many of these so-called moderates would would excuse Catholics or Jews or Hindus or Buddhists if members of any of these religions did what these Muslims are doing to non-Muslims. Zero, nada, etc.

Finally – who in their right mind can “teach” people to be so evil?

MN J on August 12, 2014 at 5:44 PM

About time!

MN J on August 12, 2014 at 5:44 PM

“How many divisions does the Pope have?”asked Joseph Stalin. How’s that working out for him? The Papacy is still standing. One might speculate about Mr. Stalin’s current abode.

Mason on August 12, 2014 at 5:45 PM

” Jesus said pretty much the exact opposite in Matthew 5:38-40…”

Jesus ALSO told his disciples to buy swords even if they had to sell their cloaks to do so (Luke 22:36). Of course he wasn’t being strictly literal — but he wasn’t being literal in Matthew 5 either. he was an oral teacher, aiming for people to remember what he said rather than precision, so he deliberately exaggerated so it would stick in people’s minds.

At any rate, Jesus’ commands were that his disciples , being servants of a kingdom not of this world, were not to use swords to make Jesus king. So Jihad for Christ was not an option, though there were plenty even among his own disciples at that time who thought it was a neat idea.

Nonetheless, he still expected his disciples to be armed because roads in Roman times were not safe. Being peaceable did not mean you were supposed to allow yourself to be robbed and murdered by fugitive slaves , who made up much of Roman banditry.

Paul further set the example in Acts — when confronted by death threats, he went straight to the Roman authorities, who sent a detachment of armed troops to protect him on the road from Jerusalem (Acts 23:23-35). We owe the existence of the NT to those nameless pagan soldiers willing to lay down their lives for Caesar, protecting a rabbi who was also a Roman citizen.

Jesus told us to ‘render to Caesar what is Caesar and to God what is God’s”. In saying this he clearly delineated a difference between the kingdoms of this world, who have a responsibility for physical security, and the kingdom of God, responsible for the state of men’s souls. It would be another thousand years or so before we caught onto this.

Thus, the principles of the NT in violence are crystal clear: We are to seek peace in both our personal and public capacities. The kingdoms of this world are authorized and expected to use force to restrain lawless violence. But we Christians are NOT permitted or authorized to raise a “Christian army” to force everyone to obey Christ and his teachings. And there are people who are both Christians and soldiers, such as Cornelius the centurion.

These teachings are so crystal clear it astonishes me that anyone could ever misread the NT as a call to absolute pacifism in all spheres. Not only is that not what it says, pacificsm has failed whenever it’s been tried on anything like a national scale. Pennsylvania was originally founded as a literal Quaker state — a nation made up of Quakers and on the basis of those teachings. How’d that work out for them?

pendell2 on August 12, 2014 at 6:09 PM

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which normally issues anodyne blessings and commemorations of holidays and events, today issued a sharp call for Muslim leaders to denounce the Islamic State as well as its “barbarity”

How can Muslim leaders (Imams) denounce ISIS for doing the very things that Mohammad did and in mass and repeatedly? It would be tantamount to denouncing Mohammad himself. “Interreligious Dialog”? What ridiculous and pathetic pontificating clowns.

VorDaj on August 12, 2014 at 6:24 PM

Whoa!!! The Pope is getting a clue. Never thought I’d live to see the day….

307wolverine on August 12, 2014 at 6:24 PM

How can Muslim leaders (Imams) denounce ISIS for doing the very things that Mohammad did and in mass and repeatedly? It would be tantamount to denouncing Mohammad himself. “Interreligious Dialog”? What ridiculous and pathetic pontificating clowns.

VorDaj on August 12, 2014 at 6:24 PM

They are nevertheless doing just that so….

lexhamfox on August 12, 2014 at 6:39 PM

The distinction between a Muslim and an Islamist is an important one.
novaculus on August 12, 2014 at 3:55 PM

Only as far as the distinction between a minor league baseball player and a Major League Baseball player.

Nutstuyu on August 12, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Both Lingua and Tomasi went on to say that the international community needs to do more to unmask whoever’s supporting the radical Islamic State forces and to cut off its supply of arms,

How do you say Saudi Arabia, Qatar and America in Italian?

BL@KBIRD on August 12, 2014 at 6:41 PM

These teachings are so crystal clear it astonishes me…
pendell2 on August 12, 2014 at 6:09 PM

May I introduce you to homosexual “marriage”…

Nutstuyu on August 12, 2014 at 6:46 PM

But wait, Jimmah Cottuh sez: “We must recognize the new Islamic State, learn what their concerns are, and negotiate with them to achieve an equitable and lasting peace.”

/

otlset on August 12, 2014 at 6:48 PM

https://twitter.com/USATODAY

Iraq crisis
4m

Defense Department official: US military sends 130 advisers to northern Iraq to plan for evacuation of refugees – @USATODAY
Read more on usatoday.com

canopfor on August 12, 2014 at 6:51 PM

canopfor on August 12, 2014 at 6:53 PM

Iraq crisis
4m

Secretary of Defense Hagel announces additional assessment team sent to Iraq – @DeptofDefense
End of alert
============

U.S. Dept of Defense @DeptofDefense · 3m

Breaking: #SecDef Hagel announces that additional assessment team will be sent to #Iraq

https://twitter.com/DeptofDefense

canopfor on August 12, 2014 at 7:01 PM

canopfor on August 12, 2014 at 7:01 PM

One basis for this difference may be is the difference between Benedict XVI’s European myopia and Francis’s rejection of it as a significant cause of his country’s suffering. God save us.

russedav on August 12, 2014 at 7:09 PM

There was a time when if the Pope was talking about war, it needed to be taken seriously. Very seriously.

Now, its no more remarkable than a Dennis Miller monologue.

BobMbx on August 12, 2014 at 7:19 PM

But wait, Jimmah Cottuh sez: “We must recognize the new Islamic State, learn what their concerns are, and negotiate with them to achieve an equitable and lasting peace.”

/

otlset on August 12, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Strangely enough, ISIS isn’t asking to be recognized, respected, nor have they submitted a list of negotiation terms for any sort of peace.

They have more in common with the creatures from “Independence Day” than with anything else.

“What do you want us to do?”

“Die….”

BobMbx on August 12, 2014 at 7:23 PM

For laypeople to best understand the teaching of the Catholic Church with respect to warfare — killing — the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a good starting place:

2308 All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war. However, “as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed.”105

2309 The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. the gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
- there must be serious prospects of success;
- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. the power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine. The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

It should be noted that 2309 allows a nation to defend others in the community of nations.

Furthermore, there is this, which also pertains to the nature of warfare:

2313 Non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely.
Actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out. Thus the extermination of a people, nation, or ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin. One is morally bound to resist orders that command genocide.

2314 “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.”109 A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons – to commit such crimes.

“Pontification” aside about the dangers of modern warfare, it is true that every organization which possesses weapons more powerful than the civilian population at large is capable of wreaking great destruction upon said populations. Hence, ISIS, even though they do not possess modern scientific weapons, is completely capable of genocide, and hence should be warred upon by the community of nations. If the community of nations comes down to just the United States, so be it.

2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. To this end, those holding legitimate authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their charge.

unclesmrgol on August 12, 2014 at 8:36 PM

Only as far as the distinction between a minor league baseball player and a Major League Baseball player.

Nutstuyu on August 12, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Not entirely true.

I had a co-worker who came from back east to work with me. He is a Muslim, and needed to get to a mosque for evening services. I told him about the King Fahd Mosque here in Culver City and suggested he go there. He replied that said Muslims viewed his rather obscure sect as apostate and would probably harm him if he went there. Turned out the nearest acceptable mosque was over 50 miles way in the direction that rush hour was going. I phoned the mosque for him and had him talk to the imam. They held up the service until he arrived.

His sect sechews all violence, so I guess they would bat .000 in the baseball game you suggest.

unclesmrgol on August 12, 2014 at 8:42 PM

Whatever Pius did do, I think that it wasn’t enough.

Illinidiva on August 12, 2014 at 5:10 PM

What do you want him to do Declare a Crusade?

workingclass artist on December 21, 2013 at 5:19 PM

Just to not whitewash Islam would be an immense improvement on his part. You seem to expect nothing of him at all.

VorDaj on December 21, 2013 at 5:46 PM

I expect the Pope to do what he can with the means available to him.

What he’s not going to do is needlessly endanger the lives of those under attack as happened during WWII…

“The news of the increased persecution reached Pius XII. His own protest was due to go into L’Osservatore Romano (the Vatican newspaper) that very evening, but he had the draft burnt saying, “If the protest of the Dutch Bishops has cost the lives of 40,000 people, my intervention would take at least 200,000 people to their deaths.” Such was the result of openly naming the Jews; more death from vain gestures. There is no doubt that if Pius XII had made such a vain gesture, instead of saving more Jewish lives, he would then have been open to the criticism of having made the situation of Jews worse by vain and inopportune public statements. Those who now criticise him for not saying enough would then have attacked him for saying too much.

The Jewish historian Pinchas Lapide sums it up: “The saddest and most thought-provoking conclusion is that whilst the Catholic clergy of Holland protested more loudly, expressly and frequently against Jewish persecutions than the religious hierarchy of any other Nazi-occupied country, more Jews – some 11,000 or 79% of the total – were deported from Holland; more than anywhere else in the West.”

Thereafter, Pius XII adopted his policy of not naming the Jews explicitly. This was partly because of his experience of the diplomatic “deafness” of the allied governments, and partly because of his knowledge and experience of the increased persecution of Jews which followed the condemnatory statements made by the religious authorities. He devoted himself instead to the covert rescue operation to save Jewish lives…”

http://www.michaeljournal.org/piusXII.htm

The Pope uses the methods at his disposal and works with the Bishops.

http://www.caritas.org/

CRS (Catholic Relief Services) works with Caritas.

“Unable to enter refugee camps run by the United Nations, many Syrians fleeing from violence in their home country have found basic necessities and ongoing support from Catholic Relief Services in nearby Lebanon.

“When they come, they have nothing,” said Joan Rosenhauer, who serves as Catholic Relief Services’ executive vice president for U.S. Operations…”

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/syrian-refugees-find-support-from-catholic-relief-services/

workingclass artist on December 21, 2013 at 6:13 PM

workingclass artist on December 21, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Why not just name a muslim as Pope then?

VorDaj on December 21, 2013 at 6:22 PM

Seems VorDaj and Illinidiva are fellow travelers.

And the answer to VorDaj’s question is in the last paragraph of Ed’s post. If ecumenism is real, then it must of necessity be a two way street.

unclesmrgol on August 12, 2014 at 9:52 PM

Walter L. Newton on August 12, 2014 at 4:47 PM

You are a true piece of shit.

8 weight on August 12, 2014 at 9:55 PM

Anyone know anything about the Crusades ?

Lucano on August 12, 2014 at 10:20 PM

And the answer to VorDaj’s question is in the last paragraph of Ed’s post. If ecumenism is real, then it must of necessity be a two way street.

unclesmrgol on August 12, 2014 at 9:52 PM

There are no two way streets in Islam, never have been, never will be. One would think 1,400 years would be long enough for even the densest to have caught on.

VorDaj on August 12, 2014 at 10:23 PM

Anyone know anything about the Crusades ?

Lucano on August 12, 2014 at 10:20 PM

Otho de Lagery. Deus vult!

VorDaj on August 12, 2014 at 10:28 PM

Whatever Pius did do, I think that it wasn’t enough.

Illinidiva on August 12, 2014 at 5:10 PM

It is really easy for you to cast judgment on Pius, from your position of safety. You are not living smack dab in the middle of a nation allied with Nazi Germany. Pius was. Pius saved thousands of Jews. You did not. STFU.

More importantly, the Catholics living in Nazi occupied countries were vulnerable to a backlash from the Nazi regime, had Pius stepped too far out of line. After Rommel’s assassination attempt, Hitler obliterated the German aristocracy. A similar massacre of Catholics would likely have happened as well, had Pius made a misstep. He was very well aware of that fact.

(As it was, the number of Catholics who perished in the concentration camps was actually greater than the number of Jews who perished there – of the 16 million who were murdered, “only” 6 million were Jewish.)

Pius did what he could.

SubmarineDoc on August 12, 2014 at 11:59 PM

There are no two way streets in Islam, never have been, never will be. One would think 1,400 years would be long enough for even the densest to have caught on.

VorDaj on August 12, 2014 at 10:23 PM

We are about to find out. Let’s see how they answer the Pope.

unclesmrgol on August 13, 2014 at 1:02 AM

Vanceone on August 12, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Yes, but we have a New Covenant now. Not sure you can separate the individual from the collective on that one…

HornHiAceDeuce on August 13, 2014 at 6:30 AM

I think that more could have been done. I don’t see Pius XII as a great moral voice. He was pretty reactionary and had ties to Mussolini. I think that the whole situation is complicated and debatable, and I come down on the side of the institutional Church not doing enough because their own hides were on the line.

Illinidiva on August 12, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Why of course more could be done in any game of brinksmanship … until one goes to far precipitating disaster. Pius XII went up to that very brink. We know this because Hitler ordered the German Army to invade the Vatican and to imprison Pius XII. Such an event would have been fatal for many of the Jews Pius was protecting.

Pius XII was “reactionary” only from the perspective Marxists and today’s Social Progressives. And sure he had ties to Mussolini as one would expect given the fact that both men were Italian leaders situated in Rome. But Pius had ties to FDR too. Pius XII and his team in the Vatican was involved Mussolini’s overthrow in July 1943, soon after the start of the Allied invasion of Italy.

One should also know that Italian Fascists did not equal German Nazis. When in power, not only did the Italian Fascists protect every single one of Italy’s Jews, they also often protected Jews from the Nazis in occupied Europe. Moreover, the Italian Fascists Army was the only WWII military force that conducted to a large scale military operation to rescue Jewish children being sent to the Nazi death camps. The operation was a success. FDR, with all of his wartime Jewish support never conducted a similar military operation to directly rescue Jews.

Mike OMalley on August 13, 2014 at 7:11 AM

dusting off the just war doctrine.

NoVAHockey on August 13, 2014 at 9:42 AM

Whatever Pius did do, I think that it wasn’t enough.

Illinidiva on August 12, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Oh, and one other thing….the origin of the “Hitler’s Pope” myth was a smear by the left wing, because of the fact that Pius XII was very anti-Communist. (The “Hitler’s Pope” myth is probably, by the way, the biggest anti-religious smear since “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”.)

Sadly, the Jewish community has been very bad about supporting their enemies and ignoring their friends. The left wing is the only place on the political spectrum where “respectable” anti-Semitism exists, but the Jewish community is very left leaning. (There are, of course, many noble exceptions – ALT, this is a shout out to you.) The Jewish community is also very supportive of the United Nations, despite the ridiculous degree of anti-Semitism there. As Mike OMalley mentions above, despite his Jewish political support, FDR did not take any specific actions to assist the plight of European Jews (with the obvious exception of crushing the Nazis militarily, but he did this for unrelated strategic reasons). FDR actually resisted taking large numbers of Jewish refugees, before the war. (So here you have it…Pius did more to directly help European Jews despite his position of risk and weakness, than FDR did from his position of safety and strength.)

SubmarineDoc on August 13, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Pope Clement V’s chickens coming home to roost…

HBowmanMD on August 13, 2014 at 11:14 AM

SubmarineDoc on August 13, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Thank you for speaking the truth of Pius XII .
I’ve done much research ( as he is a distant
relative ) and found nothing negative in his
actions or deeds .

Lucano on August 13, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Anyone know anything about the Crusades ?

Lucano on August 12, 2014 at 10:20 PM

Otho de Lagery. Deus vult!

VorDaj on August 12, 2014 at 10:28 PM

Not bad , not bad at all . I tip my hat .

Lucano on August 13, 2014 at 11:48 AM

To Resist we much:

your post was excellent and I salute you.

Mariadee on August 13, 2014 at 2:07 PM

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