‘Popesplaining,’ Just War, and Calumny, by Phil Lawler

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Pope Francis answers questions during an inflight press conference from Malta (Vatican Media)

By Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture, April 04, 2022

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org.

Two weeks ago, when I complained that Pope Francis had “contradicted hundreds of years of Catholic teaching on justice and warfare,” several readers wrote to say that I had criticized the Pontiff unfairly. When he said, “There is no such thing as a just war,” these readers explained, what the Pope really meant was that every war is caused by injustice. Since warfare can be justified only to defend against a grave injustice, it follows that in any war, one side (at least) is guilty of injustice. Thus even if one side is fighting for a just cause, the other is not, and so the war in unjust.

Granted, by that line of reasoning, the Pope’s comments of March 18 could be reconciled with the Church’s venerable teaching on justice in war. In other words it is possible to read the Pope’s statement as consistent with the Catholic tradition.  …