As Democrats and Republicans continue to fight over record budget deficits, the Catholic Church has exhorted politicians to protect the poor and vulnerable as spending cuts are slowly enacted. While this is a noble goal, the Church’s refusal to tackle the current budget-busting U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya undermines its most prized objectives.
The Catholic Church, home to over 1 billion members worldwide and over 68 million members in the United States alone, is an influential force in geopolitical and socioeconomic circles. Whether one is Catholic or non-Catholic, a person of faith or not a person of faith, I believe that it would be reasonable to recognize the Church as a global institution capable of affecting policy discussion.
That being said, if the Catholic Church is serious about sparing social safety nets, health care spending, and poverty programs from potentially draconian budget cuts, then it needs to get serious about challenging multiple, U.S.-led wars overseas. Afghanistan and Iraq alone have cost at least $1.17 trillion so far. We’ve spent billions more on our CIA and drone war in Pakistan. We’ve spent hundreds of millions on CIA, drone, and aid operations in Yemen. And now, according to Democratic Representative Brad Sherman, we’re spending billions on the Libya War.
Yet, except for a modest amount of criticism directed at the Libya War, the Catholic Church has failed to robustly challenge the other wars, particularly from a financial perspective. This is ironic, however, since these vast (and continuing) expenditures could have been utilized to fund programs for the poor, needy, disadvantaged, helpless, and dependent. And from a strictly ethical perspective, war, even when unavoidable and morally justified, is one of the most ‘anti-life’ pursuits in which humanity can engage.
Therefore, fully recognizing that the United States faces a potential debt crisis in the not-too-distant future, social services and programs can only be preserved if record military budgets and trillion dollar war spending are confronted. That means, the Church will have to stand up against Democratic and Republican leaders, most of whom support record military spending and multiple wars. That means the Church will have to stand up against the military-industrial complex, which everyone knows full well profits handsomely from US military spending that far outstrips any other nation on earth. That means the Church will have to revisit its Just War doctrine in order to determine whether or not the criteria still apply to the wars at this time. That means the Church will have to start fighting to end these wars which have taken a severe toll on human life; that is, if the Church is truly committed to the pro-life position.
As we face a severe budget crisis, the Catholic Church has an opportunity to stand tall for the cause of peace and charity. Taking a decisive stand against wars that drain the Treasury of limited resources that could be applied to what the Church deems to be vital social, moral, and economic priorities would prove a much more consistent fiscal doctrine.
The world awaits her response.