At Odds With the Pope: Legitimate Authority and Just Wars (Cavanaugh, 2003)

At a recent campus discussion about the bishops’ authority to speak on matters of war, much airtime was given to whether the bishops had overstepped their competence in judging such matters. Near the end of the session, a genuinely perplexed student stood and echoed the disciples’ question to Jesus: “To whom should we go? If we can’t rely on the church’s judgment in these matters, where should we form our opinions?”

It is one thing to argue, on just-war grounds, against the overwhelming judgment of the pope and worldwide bishops, that the recent campaign in Iraq was morally justifiable. It is another thing to argue that the pope and bishops are not qualified to make such judgments.

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