The new auxiliary bishop of San Francisco has gotten a considerable amount of good press of late and he certainly deserves it. I followed his work from a distance for several years and am very happy that the Holy See has elevated him to the episcopacy. His name is Robert W. McElroy and he has been a bishop for about six months. I was delighted to read a wonderful article by him that ran in America magazine three weeks ago on the subject of War Without End. Bishop McElroy rightly raises a serious and tragic issue, namely that the United States now seems able to absorb almost continuous warfare into its mode of operation. He points out that our extraordinarily large American economy combined with our modern weapons of destruction that minimize American deaths, plus the fact that we operate with a professional army, come together to make it possible for the great majority of the population to live their lives almost untouched by the agonizing suffering that always accompanies war.
Bishop McElroy rightly points out that a major national debate should have been developed once the administration and congressional supporters of the war ignored the promise of troop withdrawals scheduled for 2011 and instead reset their goal to three years later in 2014. Regretfully, the national reaction was DEAFENING SILENCE!
Roman Catholic moral theologians have given enormous thought and study to the issues of war and peace. Principles relating to “just war” have been clear for generations and those principles have been violated tragically in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These two wars have resulted in the deaths of thousands of young Americans and billions and billions in wealth have been dissipated but those costs have been minimal compared to what has been paid by the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. Their cities have been destroyed, their economies wrecked and hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives. Bishop McElroy strongly urges all Americans, but especially Roman Catholics, to shake off our lethargy and get involved with both prayer and political action to help lessen this development of a national attitude which seems content to tolerate war without end.