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Romanian Catholic bishop calls war 'mortal sin'
AP Wire .. breaking on live feed | March 19, 2003

Posted on 03/19/2003 6:32:23 AM PST by NYer

CANTON, Ohio (AP) _ The bishop of the Romanian Byzantine Catholic Church has forbidden members of the church to participate in the coming war against Iraq, calling it a ``mortal sin.''

Bishop John Michael Botean issued a Lenten message to parishioners March 7, saying that the war doesn't meet the Christian criteria for a just war.

Botean wrote ``... any direct participation in and support of this war against the people of Iraq is objectively grave evil, a matter of mortal sin.''

The church, he said, would support ``any of our members in the military or government service who may be confronted with situations of legal jeopardy due to their need to be conscientious objectors to this war.''

The Romanian Byzantine Catholic diocese is headquartered at St. George Cathedral in Canton. The diocese covers the United States and has 5,000 members in congregations in Los Angeles; Aurora and Chicago, Ill., East Chicago, Ind.; Brookline, Mass.; Long Island City, N.Y.; Dearborn and Detroit, Mich.; Roebling and Trenton, N.J.; Alliance, Canton, Chesterland, Cleveland, Lorain and Boardman, Ohio, and McKeesport and Hermitage, Pa.

An estimate on how many church members serve in the military wasn't available. A message seeking comment was left Wednesday at church offices.

Romanian Catholics follow the practices of Eastern Orthodox churches instead of the Roman Catholic church but are loyal to the pope.

Pope John Paul II and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have both spoken against war but have not declared it to be a sin.

AP-ES-03-19-03 0901EST

TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; History; Moral Issues; Orthodox Christian; Religion & Politics; Theology
Bishop John Michael Botean issued a Lenten message to parishioners March 7, saying that the war doesn't meet the Christian criteria for a just war.

If mass murder and raping children does not constitute a moral reason to intervene, what does?

1 posted on 03/19/2003 6:32:24 AM PST by NYer
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To: Siobhan; american colleen; sinkspur; livius; Lady In Blue; Salvation; Polycarp; narses; ...
Mortal Sin ping .......
2 posted on 03/19/2003 6:33:15 AM PST by NYer (God Bless America)
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To: NYer
There is another thread on this subject and I posted the following:

Opinions are like, well you know.....everyone has one. I would have preferred he express his statement as an opinion rather than taking it upon himself to make a seemingly Papal "ex-cathedra" pronouncement (which we know only involves Church doctrine) about the results of Catholics' participation in this war.

He should be reminded that we have a living Pope who, although He isn't enthusiastic about any potential loss of life, hasn't condemned members of his flock who will participate in this war.

Although I am tired of this overused and abused phrase, "What Would Jesus Do?", I'd like his answer to that question. It is my understanding, without even considering the many attrocities and inhumane acts perpetrated by Saddam, that his acts of redirecting food and medical supplies provided by the US for the Iraqi people to his military has resulted in the death of 5000 Iraqi children per year. Yes, Archbishop, what would Jesus do?!

God bless America,

3 posted on 03/19/2003 6:40:25 AM PST by EODGUY (Pray for our military personnel and the people they seek to liberate.)
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To: NYer
Anybody seen a response from the Vatican? This sounds way out of line...
4 posted on 03/19/2003 6:41:07 AM PST by Truelove
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To: NYer
what does?

Posing a clear and present danger to the security of the United States. If "mass murder and raping children", of which the Saddam Hussein regime appears to be guilty, constituted causus belli, we would have the right and duty to wage war against numerous regimes throughout the world, from small nations in Africa to the People's Republic of China. Do we, who tolerate the mass murder of children in our own country, have such a right and duty? I think we have matters to attend here, first.

I disagree with the Bishop, however. Our reasons for waging war against Saddam Hussein et al. have to do with protecting our own safety. Putting a stop to Saddam's unspeakable brutality is bonus.

5 posted on 03/19/2003 6:46:08 AM PST by ArrogantBustard
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To: Truelove
Anybody seen a response from the Vatican? This sounds way out of line...

It is. No single bishop can declare something to be a mortal sin that is morally neutral. There is considerable debate about the "justness" of this war, and the Catholic Catechism says that secular authorities have the duty of national self-defense.

The bishop's a lefty; another poster said he's a former KGB sympathizer.

6 posted on 03/19/2003 7:03:26 AM PST by sinkspur
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To: ArrogantBustard; NYer; Notwithstanding
I disagree with the Bishop, however.

So do I.

I'm not sure canon law allows him to declare this a mortal sin. Are there any canon lawyers around?

In any event, there are some bishops, not too few who are from the liberal sector, who are overly vocal and imprudent with their statements (they appear more anti-American than anything else). Archbishop Renato Martino for one.

7 posted on 03/19/2003 7:10:56 AM PST by ThomasMore ([1 Pet 3:15-16])
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To: NYer
Botean wrote "... any direct participation in and support of this war against the people of Iraq is objectively grave evil, a matter of mortal sin."


8 posted on 03/19/2003 7:18:05 AM PST by eastsider
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To: NYer
Bp. Botean is making statements that are above his pay grade.

He has no authority to opine on the morality of neutral acts until after they have been done.

9 posted on 03/19/2003 7:48:07 AM PST by wideawake (Causa finita est)
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Not only has there been no such statement from the Vatican, this bishop can't even get Jesus right. Christ was most definitely not non-violent; peaceful, perhaps, but certainly not non-violent. He made a whip to clear the temple of the moneychangers, didn't he?
Furthermore, non-violence is not even Christian in origin, it is Hindu(and they call it ahimsa).
10 posted on 03/19/2003 7:49:02 AM PST by lgapizzuti
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To: ThomasMore
Dr. Ed Peters, a canon lawyer, has posted a response to this at:

Bishop Boteans' Lenten Message 18 March 2003

In an astounding statement, Bp. John Michael Botean, Eparch of the Romanian Catholic Eparchy of Saint George in Canton, OH, purports to declare authoritatively that the pending US-led attack on Iraq is absolutely immoral and has forbidden his subjects (basically 5,000 Romanian Catholics in the US) to take part in it. While the statement has, I believe, many substantive flaws and errors in it (see below), it is not my purpose to critique the statement itself, but rather to highlight some important canonical issues it raises. Citations here are to the 1990 Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (CCEO) that governs Eastern Catholics.

The bishop’s statement clearly invokes, and provokes, fundamental questions of Christian rights and duties because of the following points:

Eastern Catholics are bound to follow what their bishops declare as teachers of the faith (CCEO 15 § 1), though this obligation is qualified by the phrase “conscious of their [the faithful’s] own responsibility.”

Individual Eastern bishops are to be regarded as authentic teachers of the faith for those entrusted to their care and the faithful must adhere to that teaching with a “religious obsequium” of soul (CCEO 600). The canon expressly states, however, that individual bishops are not infallible.

One who disobeys an Eastern bishop can be subject to sanctions for that disobedience (CCEO 1446). Bp. Botean does not threaten canonical sanctions, but warns of "incalculable temporal and eternal consequences" should his letter be ignored.

On the other hand, and in addition to the qualifications already contained in some of the above provisions, we should note that:

Eastern Catholics have the right to, among other things, make known their opinions on matters pertaining to the good of the Church and to make their opinions known to others (CCEO 15 § 3). There is no doubt that public statements by Catholic hierarchs on issues related to just war theory, the duties of citizens toward their nations, and the obligations of Catholics to their bishops, would be legitimate topics of discussion.

An Eastern bishop who misuses his high office can be subjected to sanctions for that misuse (CCEO 1464 § 1).

The eparch's statement is unprecedented for its clarity and starkness; it simply must be read to appreciate this point, though fair-minded readers can admit that it is not a peacenik, blame-America-first harangue, but is instead a reasoned (though, I think, wrongly) exercise of conscience. It cannot be issued, however, and then forgotten. If Bishop Botean is correct, his argumentation would seem to apply to all Catholics, and only an inexcusable lack of pastoral solicitude on the part of other Eastern and Latin bishops could account for them not following suit immediately. If, on the other hand, Bishop Botean is wrong, then he has placed his faithful in a profound and direct conflict of conscience between their ecclesiastical and civil leaders, which, I suggest only an inexcusable lack of pastoral solicitude would suffer them to remain in.

Bishop Botean having no superior short of the Holy See, I believe his extraordinary statement must be ratified or rejected by the Holy See without delay (CCEO 1060-1061).

Just One Example

I realize it is easy to say “There are many things wrong with this document, but I don’t have time to show you.” Well, there are many things wrong with it, and I don’t have the time to discuss them. But I will give one example. Bishop Botean writes: “Unjust killing is by definition murder.” This is wrong. There are many kinds of unjust killing: some of them are unintentional accidents and we call them manslaughter, not murder. It is still an unjust killing, but both law and sound Catholic moral theology recognize a diminished culpability and do not treat such acts as murder. This important distinction, left unvoiced by Bp. Botean, is enough to show a serious flaw in a major point of his paper. +++

11 posted on 03/19/2003 10:36:28 AM PST by lrslattery
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To: lrslattery
Thanks for the informative post!
12 posted on 03/19/2003 12:13:31 PM PST by ThomasMore ([1 Pet 3:15-16])
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To: eastsider
13 posted on 03/19/2003 12:18:38 PM PST by Invincibly Ignorant (jk)
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To: lrslattery
Like many of you Bishop Botean's statement frustrated me, so I contacted the diocese directly. Their response was polite and respectful but they did not offer a clarification and would not consider a retraction. So I pursued a clarification from Archbishop O'Brien of the Military Ordinariate. More quickly then I expected I received a fax from the diocesan offices of the Military Ordinariate. Archbishop O'Brien is a great and worthy bishop who used his experience, knowledge and faithfulness to help bring clarity to Bishop Botean's statement.

In response to my inquiry, Archbishop O'Brien reaffirmed that the position of the bishops and the Church is not and has not been that this war is evil or unjust. He took exception to Bishop Botean's statements regarding this war and clarified that soldiers can in good conscience serve their Commander in Chief in this war. He also made the point that Catholics in good conscience can disagree about the conclusion in using the just war doctrine. His letter in response can be read online at

Many people are being confused by this bishop's statement and I urge you to spread Archbishop O'Brien's response far and wide.
14 posted on 03/20/2003 1:20:34 PM PST by Mike Hernon (Just War)
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To: NYer
Vatican: US, Backers Responsible Before God on Iraq
15 posted on 03/21/2003 7:00:31 PM PST by findingtruth
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To: NYer
What's with the catholic church and the UN? Disgraceful.
16 posted on 03/21/2003 7:12:39 PM PST by Bulldogs22
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To: Mike Hernon
Thanks for being the one responsible for the clarification. Much appreciated! And I have been citing it when necessary.

Abp. O'Brien is a great guy - I saw him on EWTN's "World Over Live" a couple of months ago and I was so impressed with him - he posesses humility, holiness and common sense and you get the feeling that he means what he says.

He's been mentioned as a possible successor to Cardinal Law in the Arch. of Boston, but as much as it would be great, I hope he stays with our miliary men, especially now.

17 posted on 03/21/2003 7:35:53 PM PST by american colleen (Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione.)
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