Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Sad Occasions. (Letters)

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Sad Occasions. (Letters)

Article excerpt

* I am aghast that the U.S. hierarchy could, with four noble exceptions, bless the bombing campaign in Afghanistan (NCR, Nov. 23). During the 1980s when I lived in Northern Ireland, there were some sad occasions when I surveyed the devastation a 500-pound bomb can wreak on a town or village. Against Irish Republican Army protestations, it was rightly argued that bombs of such magnitude, even if "targeted," were almost certain to kill civilians.

That said, I discern three main differences between the IRA bombing campaign and this one. One, the bombs dropped by the United states on populated towns and villages were up to 30 times greater than the largest bomb ever detonated by the IRA. Given the titanic destructiveness of such bombs, it was not only likely but inevitable that civilians would be killed in great numbers.

Two, the IRA routinely apologized for the civilian casualties.

Three, the IRA campaign was conducted against the backdrop of consistent opposition and condemnation on the part of the Irish Catholic bishops. This was true even in the early days when the IRA had wide support in the Catholic community and when some moralists were ready to invoke "just war" self-defense categories on their behalf. In contrast, the U.S. bishops have almost unanimously acceded to the national mood of fervor and bloodlust. Sickeningly, the most vocal of these bishops are likely to treat us within the year to lectures on the sacredness and inviolability of innocent human life. …

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