[Marxism] Catholic conscientious Objectors?
Paul H. Dillon
illonph at pacbell.net
Thu May 26 07:39:31 MDT 2005
----- Original Message -----
From: "Carlos A. Rivera" <cerejota at optonline.net>
To: "Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition"
<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2005 12:12 AM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Catholic conscientious Objectors?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul H. Dillon" <illonph at pacbell.net>
> However, John Paul II made it very clear that he felt Iraq was not a just
> war. Does this mean Catholics in the service can claim religion a basis
> for their CO status in THIS war, that priests could preach against
> participation in it, since the head of their church found the war unjust?
Actually, technically, he didn't "find" the war unjust. If this sounds like
a lawyer's argument, its because it is, after all, it is a law issue you
The difference in key. The pope did not raise an issue of doctrine, but
rather of personal vocation, something very different. That the pious, in
particular thinking he is a saint after dying, might bear witness to his
example, but don't have to, and can in fact contradict this vocation.
Catholic conscientious objectors wil indeed have a hard time proving their
religious motivation, a lot of if it due to localized anti-catholic
sentiment. Yet there are possible loopholes, my favorite being declaring
oneself a devotee of St. Marcellus the Centurion (aka of Tangiers), the
saint of Conscientious Objectors:
Roman centurion at Tangier. During a celebration of the emperor's birthday,
Marcellus refused to participate in the pagan offering ceremony. He threw
away his arms and armour, openly declared himself a Christian, and was
condemned to death. The unit's notary refused to record this incident and
declared himself a Christian as well; he was Saint Cassian.
martyred c.298 at Tangier
Marcellus of Tangier M (RM)
(also known as Marcellus the Centurion)
Died 298. During the festivities held by a Roman legion at Tingis (Tangiers)
in celebration of Emperor Maximian's birthday the centurion Marcellus,
regarding such festivities as idolatrous, refused to sacrifice to the gods.
He threw off his military belt and tossed away his arms and vine-branch, the
insignia of his rank. When the festival was over, he was brought before a
judge named Fortunatus. When questioned, Marcellus declared, "I serve only
the eternal king, Jesus Christ."
Fortunatus remanded Marcellus to lay his case before Emperor Maximian and
Constantius Caesar, who was then in Spain and favorably disposed to
Christians. Instead Marcellus taken under guard before the deputy praetorian
prefect, Aurelius Agricolan, who was then at Tangier. After an exchange
between the two that is still preserved, Marcellus pleaded guilty to
repudiating his allegiance to an earthly leader, and was executed by sword
It was afterwards said that the official shorthand writer, Saint Cassian,
was so indignant at the sentence that he refused to report the proceedings,
and that he too was executed in consequence. In all probability this is a
fictitious addition to the authentic account of Saint Marcellus, though
there seems to have been a martyr at Tangier named Cassian.
The relics of Saint Marcellus were translated to León, Spain, were they are
kept in a rich shrine. Marcellus is the patron of the city (Attwater,
Benedictines, Delaney, Husenbeth).
(not to be confussed with the canonized Pope of the same name, who ruled 10
There is also institutional support, most notably "Pax Christi", the
foremost catholic peace organization, similar the the Quaker "Peacework"
Also, the still-valid "Declaration on Conscientious Objection and Selective
Conscientious Objection" issued by the United States Catholic Conference
"Although a Catholic may take advantage of the law providing exemption from
military service because of conscientious opposition to all war, there often
arises a practical problem at the local level when those who exercise civil
authority are of the opinion that a Catholic cannot under any circumstances
be a conscientious objector because of religious training and belief. This
confusion, in some cases, is the result of a mistaken notion that a person
cannot be a conscientious objector unless the individual is a member of one
of the traditional pacifist churches (for example, a Quaker).
In the light of the Gospel and from an analysis of the Church's teaching on
conscience, it is clear that a Catholic can be a conscientious objector to
war in general or to a particular war "because of religious training and
belief." It is not enough, however, simply to declare that a Catholic can be
a conscientious objector or a selective conscientious objector. Efforts must
be made to help Catholics form a correct conscience in the matter, to
discuss with them the duties of citizenship, and to provide them with
adequate draft counseling and information services. in order to give them
the full advantage of the law protecting their rights. Catholic
organizations which could qualify as alternative service agencies should be
encouraged to support and provide meaningful employment for the
conscientious objector. As we hold individuals in high esteem who
conscientiously serve in the armed forces, so also we should regard
conscientious objection and selective conscientious objection as positive
indicators within the Church of a sound moral awareness and respect for
Now, this declaration is significant, because much more than the Pope's
opinion, it is canonical within the Catholic Church of the USA until it is
ammended or repealled.
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