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Cover note from Trinitarian Fr. Stan DeBoe to U.S. Ambassador James Nicholson

Dear Ambassador Nicholson,

Attached is a letter signed by heads of U.S. Religious Congregation, Catholic organizations, theologians, pastoral workers, and other concerned Catholics. Those who have signed this letter represent thousands of thoughtful, patriotic Catholics in the U.S. who are very concerned about our nation’s direction toward war. With this letter, we are particularly concerned about your appointment of Michael Novak to represent a theological and moral defense of a war against Iraq to Vatican officials. The Pope, the U.S. Bishops, the Conferences of Men and Women Religious and many congregations and organizations have spoken out clearly to U.S. Catholics questioning the justification and morality of the war and they have clearly stated that this war would not be morally justifiable, especially given that the Administration is trying to justify preemptive strikes and the threat to use nuclear arms, which is against Catholic teaching on “Just War.”

Mr. Novak is representing a thread of Catholic teaching that is dissenting from current statements from our recognized teaching office in the Church. The appointment of a dissident theologian by the U.S. government without consultation with the recognized leadership of the Church in the United States only serves to confuse those who are attempting to inform themselves about this current crisis.

In his book Tell Me Why, Mr. Novak explains to his daughter that to be “fully Catholic” one must hold to the teachings of the Church and if one holds “x when the Church teaches non-x, are you fully Catholic? The obvious answer is no” (page 149). I hope that you and he will not be presenting this as a Catholic analysis of a war on Iraq, since it is not in keeping with current statements and teachings, it is a dissident voice. While dissent is always welcome, it should not be confused with the clear statements made by Church leaders and theologians regarding preemptive strikes, use of nuclear weapons, and the current situation.

We are asking you to reconsider your decision of naming a state-appointed theologian, which seems to violate our time honored value of separation of Church and State. I would also urge you to enter into dialogue with theologians and Catholic leaders who would like to discuss our concerns about a war which we consider just and immoral.

National Catholic Reporter, Posted February 4, 2003