Pacem In Terris

Fifty years ago today. Read it here.

Maybe this would be a good document to review piece by piece over the next several weeks. Here’s how it all began:

Peace on Earth—which (humankind) throughout the ages has so longed for and sought after—can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order.

Does that mean a good measure of it can be known outside of the divine sphere? Or are we doomed to slide into a maintained, if not accelerating, disorder perpetrated by those who labor against God? Even ourselves, at times?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to Pacem In Terris

  1. John McGrath says:

    I do not know what is meant by divine order when the Vatican speaks. It used to mean a clear social hierarchy where those lower in the hierarchy must obey those above. That is why in the 1800’s it regularly condemned democracy as being against the divine order. But I wouldn’t rely on people at the top of hierarchical piles – kings, presidents, CEOs, bishops, etc – to create a peaceful world.

    War became truly calamitous with the advent of the citizen soldier under Napoleon, and the ideology of nationalism that goes along with armies of citizen soldiers as opposed to paid professionals. The only other truly calamitous form of war came with the religious wars, but they had disappeared by the time of Napoleon. Princes before Napoleon used professionals troops to hold or take territories. You lose, or your costs become too high, you make peace, you sign a treaty, and try again later. With nationalism a whole population grows a blood lust to defeat the enemy completely and at all costs.

    The Congress of Vienna tried to restore the pre-Napoleonic order, including restoring the pope as king of the Papal States. but it was too late. Populations, not just their leaders, wanted war to settle disputes. And they would settle for nothing less than complete victory. Due to he domestic policies Napoleon III would go down as one of the greatest national leaders, and France could well have held on to its economic superiority over Britain. But instead he chose to meddle in war in Italy and this brought him down and injured France. He could not overcome the populist nationalism of that time, and ours.

    Obama is trying to restore war to its professional status through the use of internal mercenaries drawn from a very small portion of the population and a dependence on drones, special forces, and special ops plus naval and air power, the more professional/technical of the armed services. But he must still appeal to nationalistic “patriotism” to justify the use of military force throughout the world basically to protect corporate interests. The big difference is that war is being tuned into a bloodthirsty “patriotic” spectator sport rather than a participatory sport.

    Islamicists have a created a western style nationalism around the concept of the ummah, the commonwealth of Muslim nations headed by a caliph, rather than a nationalism based on citizenship in a particular country. The US is determined to defeat this ummah nationalism but can it? In any case both sides require fanaticism to keep the battle going.

    If you look at biological nature rather than cosmic nature predation is the natural order. Yes, there is much talk about how our species is as much cooperative as competitive. But what is more cooperative than a tribe united in solidarity to destroy another tribe? Much, if not most, of our social cooperation is in the interest of competition.

    The Founding Fathers of the US, good Protestants, merchants and parliamentarians, accepted the nasty side of human nature and tried to devise a system of checks and balances to prevent too much power accumulating to a dictator/king or to a small group. Obviously this reasonable approach has failed. The US is not only an oligarchy but a very aggressive empire as well. The sport of elections does not guarantee a democracy, although elections do serve to mitigate frustration with oligarchy. Those with the most economic power also hold the most political power and they use that power shrewdly in their own interests, and not for the common good or for peace.

    Now there is religious teaching that says we must learn to act with loving respect towards our neighbors, even towards our enemies, that is, towards all of humanity. But this this neighborly, peace promoting form of religion is often lacking in the religions and the religious.

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