Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Refusal to Join Unjust War- Saint? Coward? Strong? Weak?

An amazing article in a recent Indy about the Church taking very hesitant steps
on the road to sainthood for a man who refused to join the army in WWII
came to my attention recently. Highlights include"

...In 1940, aged 33, he was conscripted into the German army and completed basic training. Returning home in 1941 on an exemption as a farmer, he began examining closely the religious reasons for refusing military service. He studied the issues in detail and at one point wrote a series of questions about the morality of the war that he discussed with his bishop. He emerged from that conversation saddened that the bishop seemed afraid to confront the issues.
The mass of Austrian Catholic opinion was reconciled to fighting a war to defeat godless communism – overlooking the fact that Nazism was just as godless. But Jägerstätter refused to accept the Nazis' aims. "It is very sad to hear from Catholics that this war is perhaps not so unjust because it will wipe out Bolshevism," he wrote.
"But what are they fighting? Bolshevism or the Russian people? When our Catholic missionaries went to a pagan country to make them Christians, did they advance with machine-guns and bombs in order to convert and improve them?"

Amazing in my view because conscientious objectors are usually overlooked
in the awards, honours and and decorations bestowed by man.
Amazing too because the Church in this case seems to have acted weakly if
not cowardly as the next extract shows:

...In 1943, after being called to active duty, Jägerstätter reported to his army base and refused to serve. A military court rejected his assertion that he could not be both a Nazi and a Catholic and sentenced him to death for undermining morale. His offer to serve as a paramedic was ignored. A priest from his village visited him in jail and tried to talk him into serving, but to no avail...

Yet also amazing because the Church is now contemplating the prospect
of sainthood for the very man its clergy tried to persuade to
forget right wrong and conscience.
The example of sainthood for a courageous woman or man
refusnik should imho be more highlighted than perhaps it is.

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