The Common Good
August 2005

An Inconsistent Ethic

by William Peltz | August 2005

Contrary to what Jim Wallis writes in "

Contrary to what Jim Wallis writes in "A Life of Moral Consistency" (Hearts & Minds, June 2005), Pope John Paul II’s "consistent ethic of life" wasn’t that consistent. He believed that an unjust war doesn’t have the same moral weight as abortion.

Even though the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t claim that its teaching authority is infallible, in practice its definition of, and absolute rejection of, abortion in all situations is treated as infallible. War, on the other hand, no matter how unjust, is always just a matter of judgment. Even if the pope declares a war to be unjust, as John Paul declared Iraq to be, disagreement and debate with that part of the church’s teaching authority is permissible. Thus, John Paul’s commitment to "peace" was not to be considered, even by him, as being on the same level as his commitment to "life."

William Peltz
Albany, New York

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