Is the war that has been announced against Iraq a just war?
“All I can do is invite you to read the Catechism,” [the present Pope when he was still] Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger replied with a mischievous grin, “and the conclusion seems obvious to me…”
For the guardian of Catholic orthodoxy, the obvious conclusion is that the military intervention that is taking shape “has no moral justification” (September 20, interview on the Italian national news program). The Catechism, Ratzinger [now Benedict] explained, does not embrace a pacifist position a priori; indeed, it admits the possibility of a “just war” for reasons of defense. But it sets a number of very strict and reasonable conditions: there must be a proper proportion between the evil to be rooted out and the means employed. In short, if in order to defend a value (in this case, national security) greater damage is caused (civilian victims, destabilization of the Middle East, with its accompanying risks of increased terrorism), then recourse to force is no longer justified. In light of these criteria, Ratzinger refuses to grant the moral status of just war to the military operation against Saddam Hussein.
[He] . . . added another consideration: “Decisions like this should be made by the community of nations, by the UN, and not by an individual power.” ‘