Readers of these postings know that I continue to be puzzled by the ways in which church leaders seem to avoid consitant critique of the habit of perpetual war, a habit notable in those nations which exhibit now, or have exhibited in the past, imperial tendencies. Occasionally I will remark on the constant need to keep alive the opposition to the particular war, the War in Iraq. There are few comments on this, in part I suppose because readers of this blog, as I am, are more immediately interested in the problems of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church. The connection, in my mind, is in the parallel use of war language, war imagry, and the mounting of distress signals by the realignment crowd and the similar (and much more effective) use of such instruments by the political right. But even if there were no connection I believe it is necessary to keep before us the obscenity of this War.
I must apologize for hiding some of my critique in the midst of "weekly" summaries of events and concerns in the Anglican /Episcopal stuggles. Perhaps such comments need to stand by themselves. So, with this as a forward, I repost a comment from a previous blog and add a final new comment.
I said this yesterday:
"The Archbishop and the Pope exchanged remarks and the Archbishop made several pronouncements. Here is the only thing I found even obliquely concerning the several wars in which England and the US are involved.
“There are many areas of witness and service in which we can stand together, and which indeed call for closer co-operation between us: the pursuit of peace in the Holy Land and in other parts of the world marred by conflict and the threat of terrorism…” (From the Common Declaration of the ABC and the Pope)
The pursuit of peace is fraught with diplomatic niceties of language, but one might think that two spiritual leaders of these two quite practical religious traditions could perhaps cut to the chase. They may think of some vague thing called “the Holy Land,” but for people on the ground the places, ideals and images, involve other names – Palestine, Israel, Syria, and Lebanon.
It is obscenely polite that neither would mention the damned war in Iraq. They both have been known to make critical remarks about the war on other occasions. To have that war reduced to “parts of the world marred by conflict” is to let too many off the hook.
The Common Declaration was written, of course, by other hands, the work the product of other minds, careful minds, who rather we would read beneath the surface of bland words for other meanings. Too bad. It would have been at least refreshing to read a banner headline that said, “ABC and Pope agree War is Hell.”
In the Papal rooms the cruelty of polite conversation crushes the joy of real engagement every time."
To which I might add, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, in her interview with the New York Times was asked, "Have you met Pope Benedict?" Her response was, "I have not. I think it would be really interesting."
I hope that when she does, part of what might be most interesting would be if she opened up a conversation about the war, and about the imperial tendency to perpetual war.