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Congressional Record, Volume 131, Number 18, February 22, 1985



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United States of America Congressional "Record th proceedings and debates of the 99 congress, first session Vol. 131 WASHINGTON, FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 1985 n?. 1* AN OPPOSING VIEWPOINT ? Mr. HECHT. Mr. President, I recently received a copy of an article written by one of my constituents, Robert L. Bobbett of Las Vegas, NV. The article was published in the National Catholic Reporter on December 7, 1984. I ask that the article be printed in the Record. The article follows: [From the National Catholic Reporter, Dec. 7, 1984] Bishops' Peace Pastoral Blew It (By Robert L. Bobbett) The National Conference of Catholic Bishops should not have published its pastoral letter on war and peace. Although such a paper might have presented fresh approaches to nuclear disarmament, instead, "The Challenge of Peace' reflects a philosophy of timid withdrawal, fear and surrender rather than statesmanship, strength, courage and a display of loyalty to the United States. To read "The Challenge of Peace" carefully takes three hours, more or less. It takes much longer to study the wording that skillfully masks the implications of full compliance with the bishops' message. No person who would follow the guidance of the entire pastoral could ever be a strong U.S. president or a dependable military commander. The document reads very much as if it were written primarily to please a few senior bishops by junior bishops seeking to become archbishops?and several of them did. The tone of the pastoral approves of more people becoming conscientious objectors and avoiding employment in defense industries. The bishops' philosophy is a far cry from Article VI of "The U.S. Fighting Man's Code": "I will never forget that I am an American fighting man, responsible for my actions and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America." Basically, the letter seeks a world free of nuclear weapons and threats of wars. To achieve this, the bishops advocate making the superpowers subordinate to some higher world organization, such as the United Nations, to establish a peace based upon a socialist-type distribution of world assets. They are not clear on how the world would safely make transition from peace with nuclear weapons to a secure free world without these weapons, but they offer to participate in the negotiations. One may ask why the bishops have chosen this time to again publicize their traditional opposition to nuclear weapons. First, there is strong evidence the free-world antinucle-ar movement was originally a program planned and financed by the Soviet Union (USSR) as part of its long-range efforts to weaken and divide the allied countries. Once started, the free-world pacifists took over the funding and publicity. By the 1980s, the nuclear movement was a ready-made cause for the bishops and their Protestant counterparts to further develop. Second, the American bishops need a strong emotional cause to set the stage for the election of an American cardinal as pope whenever that requirement next arises. The American favorites are being groomed, and the rest of the bishops are maneuvering carefully so as not to offend any of the prospects. The candidates know who they are and are posturing so as to display those pontiff qualities expected to be sought in the next pope. Now. an interesting difference separates the U.S. papal candidates from our Pope John Paul. He is reported to have declared one time that he would give up the chair of Peter if necessary to defend his Poland. In their pastoral letter, there are no indications any U.S. bishop would do the same for America. Near the end of the pastoral, the bishops do make a weak statement of loyalty to the United States, but it is followed by a qualifying declaration of their worldwide citizenship. The phrase "war and peace" is an erroneous proposition. All rational people desire peace with honor and justice. The real issue is how best to go about keeping people both alive and free in a nuclear-oriented world. The right solution, and possibly the only solution respected by our foes and our allies, is the strategy of deterrence?deterrence based upon full military preparedness supported by a strong national resolve to defend the United States whenever necessary. If the formula for deterrence is: "Deterrence = Military Capability X National Will," then the bishops are tampering with both sides of the equation. The bishops agree that peace is not merely the absence of war; true peace must be constructed on the basis of freedom, justice and love. But their solution ignores the historical fate of the countries that have sought to obtain "peace of a sort" by the expedient of surrendering a portion of their freedom and security. Our American legacy rejects that solution that the bishops suggest. 2 In "The Challenge of Peace," the bishops spend considerable time covering the rules of engagement in what they define as a "Just war." Many of their requirements are already basic to our Christian-Judaic culture. The bishops appear unconcerned that the Marxist-Leninist "just war" doctrine claims the right to promote revolutionary changes in society by violent means. Accordingly, the bishop-defined "just war" rules will not insure peace or security or an allied victory or the survival of the United States. It is a shame so much of "The Challenge of Peace" looks as if it were prepared behind the Iron Curtain: It repeatedly encourages and praises conscientious objectors; it counsels military personnel to be bold in questioning combat plans and orders; it virtually rules out the use of U.S. nuclear weapons for either defensive or offensive purposes; it urges reliance on unarmed individual passive resistance as a national means of meeting an invading force; it says to win over the invader and to make him a friend while at the same time being ready for martyrdom. Throughout the pastoral. the bishops set the emotional stage for people to choose to die rather than to use lethal weapons in defense of anything. It is almost unbelievable that our American bishops would make such suggestions. Nevertheless, this is the philosophy that will be taught in our Catholic schools and universities as directed by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. An interesting insight into the bishops' thinking is revealed by the strong implication that it is morally acceptable for military people to kill one another in combat provided civilian casualties are avoided. The unstated emphasis is that, if there must be wars, then have them in some remote area where only military professionals will be injured or killed. The bishops ignore the fact that societies wage wars, not the generals and admirals. Accordingly, it is increasingly difficult to accurately sort out those who are truly noncombatants. For example, the open and covert activities of priests, nuns and brothers in this century, plus their civil disobedience and other political activities today, certainly have removed the religious profession from any noncombatant status it may have once enjoyed. Actually, members of the clergy have always been closely involved in, if not directly responsible, for, both national and international conflicts. Their search for political power has a long history and probably will continue. At one point, the bishops use the words of Pope Paul VI, "butchery of untold magnitude," to describe the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but they make no mention of American and Allied losses at Pearl Harbor. Bataan and London and during the Holocaust. It is disappointing to many people that our bishops could be stampeded into approving such a one-sided pastoral letter. We do know that several bishops had the background and the courage to vote against the letter. So why should patriotic Americans be concerned about the bishops' letter? Most pastoral letters are just filed and do not receive much attention. The bishops knew this and made provisions in their letter for it to be taught in every Catholic school, university and parish under their control or influence in the future. The ill effects are likely to show up in many future generations. Through their pastoral, the bishops have provided what is generally called aid, comfort and encouragement for enemies of the United States and its allies. Now, the parents of children attending Catholic schools must grill their children every evening and try to undo the damages done in that day's "theology" class promoting the merits of being a conscientious objector. Injecting nuclear-age fear into students and causing general disregard for traditional American patriotism. It may take years to overcome the damage the bishops are doing to the patriotic development of Catholic children and young adults. Unless patriotic American Catholics at every level of society firmly condemn and reject the bishops' war and peace letter, Catholicism in the United States will be tainted as unpatriotic for years to come. We must not abandon our classrooms to socialist-minded clergy and pacifist lay teachers. Can anything be done to change this situation? How do you get a bishop's attention? Even if he listens, and agrees, how can he retract a letter he and his fellow bishops have carved in stone? Probably nothing can be done to change the letter or to recall it. Still, the damaging effects of the pastoral can be reduced by lowering the bishops' enthusiasm for actively pursuing the matter. Start by stopping donations to activities most visable to your pastor and to your bishop. Of course, give instead to some other charitable cause. Avoid donations to any church activity that tends to undermine the foundations of American democracy by one-sided pacifism, lawlessness and the perversion of Christian theology into Marxist revolutionary ideology. In the search for universal social justice, the Catholic church and its sister churches must not simply attempt to replace atheistic communistic practices with Vatican-type so-cilaistic goals. I hope American lay people and their clergy agree that one of our immediate goals is to achieve an international reconciliation that lowers both the perceived and the actual nuclear thresholds that bother so many people today. The negotiations must continue. The bishops can help best by their prayerful support of our national leaders who are responsible for keeping the United States strong and free. They should also turn their episcopal efforts inward to bring the church into the 20th century, where it will again try to provide spiritual support for the people. To a significant degree, our children and our friends have not been leaving their church, the church has left them. When this trend is reversed, perhaps we will also see a significant reduction in the valid causes of world nuclearphobia (Robert L. Bobbett served 31 years with the U.S. Air Force, flew 164 combat missions and earned more than 30 awards and decorations. He was appointed a lay eucharistic minister in 1970 and has served on several parish councils. )? *