Thursday, May 05, 2005


A British moral philosopher has claimed that Pope John Paul II was not very conservative because he greatly disliked war and capital punishment, even though he did not rule out either altogether. Ed Feser has some wise and relevant things to say about that claim but I am inclined to be a bit more abrupt. I would hope that nobody in his right mind wants war and any reasonable person must be very reluctant to inflict the death penalty -- if only because miscarriages of justice do occur. And John Paul II was a very compassionate and kindly man so it is certainly to be expected that he would recoil from inflicted death in war or otherwise. But to say that recoiling in that way is not conservative is a great affront to conservatives. It is Leftists who do not recoil from death. Even mass-murder does not bother them -- as we repeatedly saw in the 20th century. It is VERY conservative to defend the rights of the individual and no right is more basic than the right to life. Conservatives and Catholics alike do see occasions where war and capital punishment may need to be turned to but to imply that conservatives LIKE either or are enthusiastic about either is Leftist projection.

And any idea that John Paul's criticism of the Iraq war means that he was not conservative is the height of absurdity. Or is Patrick Buchanan not a conservative either? MANY conservatives are critical of the Iraq war -- though I am not one of them. Conservatives (and Catholics) can and do reasonably disagree among themselves about WHICH war is justifiable but if they ruled out ALL war they would be very odd conservatives indeed. Conservatives are people who can face reality in all its messy complexity and the reality is that war is sometimes needed in a world where tyranny and aggression exist. My own defence of John Paul II as a great conservative is here.


No comments: