In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech — just days before the birthday of the Prince of Peace — President Barack Obama told the world that war is inevitable.
He explained that there will always be evil forces, and that we should be prepared to fight them. From that depressing premise, he launched into a defense of his decision to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to fight in Afghanistan.
Whatever happened to all that "our time for change is now" talk Obama preached on the campaign trail? Sadly, it’s just more of the same old, same old. His acceptance speech was something that President George W. Bush could have written.
Obama said, "I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed."
Perhaps the Nobel committee should change the name of the Nobel Peace Prize to the "Nobel We Hope You Change Your Commitment to War Prize."
The Catholic Church has a very different approach to war and peace.
The Vatican’s representative to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, said the Vatican’s attitude for centuries was, "War is inevitable, so let’s put some strict conditions to limit its effects.
"In these last decades we have adopted a different perspective and we say peace is possible, so let’s work tirelessly for peaceful solutions."
Pope John Paul II, in his Jan. 1, 2000, World Day of Peace message, said, "In the century we are leaving behind, humanity has been sorely tried by an endless and horrifying sequence of wars. … The 20th century bequeaths to us above all else a warning: Wars are often the cause of further wars because they fuel deep hatreds, create situations of injustice and trample upon people’s dignity and rights. … War is a defeat for humanity. Only in peace and through peace can respect for human dignity and its inalienable rights be guaranteed."
Pope John Paul II tirelessly called the world to embrace the Gospel wisdom of forgiveness over revenge, justice over greed, nonviolence over violence and dialogue over war.
Echoing the anti-war teachings of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006, said that conflict was feeding hatred and the desire for vengeance.
Unlike Obama, who said in his Nobel speech that "instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace," Pope Benedict said that "these facts (in Lebanon) clearly demonstrate that you cannot re-establish justice, create a new order and build an authentic peace by turning to the instrument of violence."
In a sermon preached to Pope John Paul II, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the papal household, compared the Pax Romana (the Roman Peace) — established by the Roman Emperor Augustus through a long series of military conquests — to that of the peace of Christ.
Father Cantalamessa said that Jesus is concerned with "another, superior kind" of peace that aims to win over enemies instead of destroying them.
He said true world order demands today that Christ’s way to peace replace that of Augustus.
We can’t have it both ways. Either we follow the violent path, which always leads to destructive, fleeting, false peace or we choose to walk the nonviolent road toward life-giving, true and lasting peace.
Choose the way of Christ. Believe that peace is possible!
Tony Magliano is a columnist for Catholic News Service.