What kind of authority does the statement have? Are Catholics obliged to accept it?Well that's a very clear indication of just what the intention of this statement is: to help American Catholics form their consciences. I also like the "burden of proof" resting on the hawkish side, so to speak.
This isn’t something that’s going to be added as an appendix to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It does not bind the consciences of American Catholics, but it helps them to form their consciences. Many Americans are troubled by the situation in the Middle East, and are looking for their shepherds to say something. Of course, there will be people who don’t agree with us. Some may say that we’re just trying to “bash Bush” and so on. Actually, I suspect that sometimes his cheerleaders get more upset than he does. We’re not trying to bash anybody, we just want to contribute to the debate.
So Catholics are free to disagree?
I don’t know if they’re free to say, for example, ‘Israel should bomb Lebanon back to the Stone Age.’ I don’t see how they can find any comfort for that view. The Catechism doesn’t say anything about bombing back to the Stone Age.
So the burden is on them to show how a different conclusion would flow from the teaching of the church?
Yes, that’s right. Our statement also called upon the United States to exercise greater leadership, and there might be some Catholics who are isolationists who might not welcome that, but I don’t think they can find much support for that.
I know this is a very difficult situation, and it’s easy for me in Orlando to write and say things. But we also have to remember that there are patriarchs and a cardinal in Lebanon who are dealing with this on the ground; it’s very tough for them.
I don't know that I completely agree with the last line of the interview: "Many of the anarchists of the day [the time of Benedict XV] were anti-globalists, so then as now terrorism is, in a sense, a reaction to globalization." In a sense, maybe. Taken further, this kind of thinking simply ends up being: it's all our fault! We are the terrorists! [And at some point I want to go into the whole "poverty causes terrorism" thing. Hogwash!]