Another "protest" that has become a regular part of Boston College life is the biweekly Boston College Pro-Life Prayer Vigil on the Dustbowl, which consists of several students praying a decade of the rosary in watch for the lives of the innocent unborn. Have these prayer vigils been covered by The Heights? No. Has the Editorial Board ever recognized these prayer vigils for being peaceful? No. Has the GJP ever recognized these prayer vigils as coinciding with the university's Jesut mission of promoting peace and social justice? No.
In fact, the GJP has long supported pro-choice movements on campus, like the Women's Health Initiative, a group not recognized by the university, that attempted to hold events promoting "dialogue" (to which pro-life representatives were not invited) last year. That the pro-choice stance is counter to the Catholic values of Boston College doesn't seem to have entered their logic patterns, though they were quick to denounce the bestowal of an honorary degree last May on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as being counter to those same values.
Some of you may remember that I wrote an article in The Heights two years ago criticizing the first of these protests at the Career Fair. I have been recently reflecting, however, on the nature of the call to protect all human life. For me, that call the past few years has expressed itself in being Pro-Life, i.e. being against abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, and infanticide. My socially just passions cried out for the innocent, born and unborn; for the infirm (and increasingly disrespected) elderly; and for the souls of men who had sinned, for though we may punish them on earth, the punishment of death is reserved to God.
But that passion has cried out for more. I distinctly remember sitting on the couch the summer before last watching the nightly news: the lead story was about the famine in Niger; it was followed by an Israeli soldier who blew himself up on a bus in Gaza; after the first commercial came the reports (daily then as now) of more deaths, both American and Iraqi, in Iraq. By the end of it, I was reduced to tears: what possible reason could we have to continue to inflict such violence against each other, or to neglect the poorest of the world?
Today, while praying before Mass, the thoughts began to coalesce in my mind and in my heart: if I am pro-life, then I am for all Life. As I cannot countenance the destruction of a life in the womb, neither can I countenance the taking of an innocent human life by other means, whether it be by neglect (e.g. most of Africa) or by "collateral damage" (e.g. the continual conflicts in the Middle East). Furthermore, I have a responsibility not only not to countenance it, but to actively oppose it.
Yet, I have started to feel that my responsibility goes even further. As I researched the origins of the First Crusade and of the idea of crusading this summer for my Mediaeval History course in Germany, I naturally had to read much concerning the development of the theories of "just" and "holy" war.
The theology of war has its origin in the works of
It is, however, equally important to note that, according to Augustine and almost every other Christian theologian into the 11th century, war only originates from evil and is itself always evil. Even when the war is just, it is yet a sin to kill somebody. Further still, many doubted even the idea of a just war; in the middle of the 11th century, Peter Cardinal Damiani said, “In no case should one arm himself for the defense of the Church; still less should one rage in war among men over worldly goods.”
Under the reform popes of the 11th century, this idea changed. When in 1053 Pope Leo IX led an army against the
Under Pope Gregory VII, however, appeared two evolutions in the theology of war without which the Crusades would not have been possible. First, Gregory morphed the meaning of the terms militia Christi, “the soldiery of Christ,” and milites Christi, “the soldiers of Christ.” These are ancient terms that appear at least as early as the letters of
All of this is to say, then, that while doing this research, it occurred to me that maybe those early theologians were on to something. Maybe it is a sin to kill a man, even in a just war. Maybe the GJP people are right when they tell me that I always seem to speak the Ten Commandments but never the Beatitudes. Maybe I do need to wake up and listen to some of the words that Christ has taught us: "Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God." "Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you." "Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone." Maybe I ought to have been there with them, silently kneeling and praying at the Career Fair. Maybe I should join them in November when they travel to Georgia to keep watch at the School of the Americas.
At the same time, I recognize that we live in a world full of evil men; I recognize that we are at this very moment locked in a battle with the forces of oppression and tyranny; I recognize that there are extremist Muslim terrorists who would rather destroy the world than let freedom and democracy flourish. I know that this battle will not be won by putting down our guns; I know that these men are so depraved that the language of peace and justice means nothing to them; I know that the call to spread peace in the world is now the call to stand and defend ourselves against the annihilating powers of extremism and terrorism.
But I pray nevertheless that the day may soon come when we will be delivered from these present evils; when we can put down our guns and embrace each other not as men divided by differences of race or creed but as men united in our common humanity; when the Peace of God will reign in our hearts, filled with love for that singly precious gift that He has given us: human life.