Understanding war through papacy & morality : The Tribune India



Abhijit Bhattacharyya


Author and Columnist

On May 2, more than two months after the war between Russia and Ukraine began, Francis, the Holy Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, agonizingly declared that “the real scandal of Putin’s war is that NATO is at Russia’s door barks,” prompting the Kremlin to “react badly and unleash the conflict.”

It was a devastatingly honest, fair and objective statement from the Pope amid the turbulent politics and diplomatic bickering in the West. Nonetheless, this one candid statement from the Pope has earned his respect and left several notches in the eyes of people who cross religious and national borders. He really spoke out about the inherent human folly and the need to be fair even in the midst of death and fighting. He must certainly have been alarmed to see another conflict between white Christians and white Christians in Europe, which is already facing a rapidly declining population.

In a way, what the Pope said in May is also what the Russians said regarding the invasion of Ukraine, described as “special military operations,” putting the ball in the West’s playing field and signals a solution to the bloodshed between them. Christian nations must be sought quickly.

Still, the Pope’s (September 16) view of the conflict appears muted, muted and fixated on the justification of “just war” and the “morality” of supplying arms from non-belligerent to belligerent. This is odd because it shows the Pope in a new light and is more flexible in the face of deadly conflict. However, these words cover a broader perspective on the ongoing European conflict.

When asked whether it was morally justifiable for the West to supply arms to Ukraine (as one of the two belligerents), the Pope was again transparently honest: “Yes, it is morally legitimate for nations to supply arms to Ukraine, because they defend themselves from Russian aggression.”

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The Highness of the Holy See further explained the difference between morality and immorality: “This is a political decision…. It may be immoral if the intent is to provoke more war or to sell or dispose of arms that a country no longer needed. Motivation is what qualifies morality of action.”

However, the Pope made it clear that “dialogue” with the “aggressor” is a path to “peace” that should never be avoided. Finally, he stated that the current conflict over Ukraine follows the principles of “just war” which allow for the proportional use of deadly weapons in self-defense against the aggressor nation.

In fact, His Holiness’ statements of May 2nd and September 16th are full of wisdom. Nevertheless, let’s see if the latter statement could be seen from the “natural justice” theory, because it takes two to tango. The Pope mentioned morality and just war. Natural justice is defined in a “moral” rather than a legal sense. Why? Because in a conflict it is necessary to hear the points of both parties. While the Pope justified Russian aggression in May as a “reaction” to the Western “barking at Russia’s door”, in September “morality” and a “just war” are in the foreground.

What is a “just war” (Latin: bellum justum) in the context? How just is a “just war”? Who decides on the verdict? Legally defined, a “just war” is one that the “proponent deems morally and legally justifiable, such as a war against an aggressive regime.” Under Roman law, the “fetiales” (a group of priests who oversaw international treaties) had to confirm to the Senate that there was a just cause for war before war could be declared. However, with the advent of the UN Charter, the concept of bellum justum lost its legality, as the Charter prohibits the use of force other than in “self-defense”.

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Today, Ukraine is fighting Russian aggression in “self-defense”. But why did Russia invade in the first place? When the Holy Pope told the world in May that Russia had responded because “NATO is barking at Russia’s door,” it was clearly an ongoing provocation that had reached ominous proportions and posed an existential threat to a great nation. Any doubts? If so, why not call it Moscow’s “just war” in self-defense? To be under physical threat for two decades while a perceived hostile act wormed its way slowly and steadily down the Balkan-Black Sea axis into Moscow’s vulnerable underbelly? Moscow is a “bad man”. But even for the wicked man, a plea grew that could no longer be ignored. The Ukraine is the battlefield, a laboratory for an experiment with old and new war equipment.

Understandably, there are countless sympathizers and supporters for invaded Ukraine, but none to proclaim the looming possibility of ecological and ecological disaster! One wonders what the post-conflict atmosphere in Europe will be like as violence continues with 24×7 missiles, bombs and chemical reactions from thousands of small and medium-sized arms. Water, soil, air, everything becomes polluted, contaminated, poisoned and becomes the harbinger of physically/mentally handicapped children with terminal illnesses, similar to what happened in Japan after 1945.

So, whether the best of the best in the world call the current Russia-Ukraine conflict noble intention, true motivation, highest morals, just war, right action, possible dialogue, or ultimate peace for humanity, mass extinctions are an ugly reality. In fact, those dead will stay dead as big boy irrepayable bank loans. But the living will remain dead, even if they are not dead.

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Europeans will never learn from their love of history’s long, drawn out and endless wars. They twice tore the world into catastrophe in the 20th century. And there are countless European wars in the history books; up to 100-year wars, Crusades, Napoleonic wars and countless bloodshed through its soil – from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD and the simultaneous establishment of the Eastern Roman Empire known as the Byzantine Empire (Byzantium) in Constantinople (Istanbul) . ), until their fall in AD 1453 by Mehmet II from the Turkish Ottomans, who took control of more than half of Europe, Asia Minor, the Levant and the North African coast; with incessant wars following true traditional trends of European martial culture.

What is inevitable, however, is that the war will do irreparable damage to the entire European geography and demography. And the remote areas outside of Europe will not be spared from the aftermath either. There was once a conceptual “Holy Roman Empire” whose history originated in the heart of Europe and consisted of roughly 11 countries – Germany, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland and Switzerland – and more as existed a millennium to August 1806, with the centrality of the spiritual authority of the Holy See interspersed with an occasional touch of secular power.

In the end, largely because of the incessant bloodshed, Voltaire’s somewhat harsh epithet sticks: “It was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.” Endless war and eternal Europe are synonyms. Debris and riches are the double gifts of Europe’s warlike history.





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