Insight on the News
Bishops Against Nuclear Weapons
U.S. Roman Catholic bishops are at odds with current U.S. nuclear military policy. In their recent 150-page pastoral letter, “The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response,” the bishops, 239 to 8, condemn nuclear war with no exception and call for the immediate halt to new nuclear weapons systems. Sincere Catholics see in this an abrupt about-face. In the past, the U.S. government could count on the Catholic bishops to bless their participation in war. This was exemplified during the Vietnam conflict by words of the late Cardinal Spellman: “My country, right or wrong. My country.”
But now something has changed. U.S.News & World Report quotes Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago, chairman of the letter’s drafting committee, as saying that any “directly intended attack on civilian centers qualifies as murder in Catholic moral theology. It is not justified, even in retaliation for an attack on our cities, and no exceptions to the principle are admitted.” San Francisco Archbishop Quinn, former president of the bishops’ council, went one step further. He declared that Catholics in the military should refuse any order to detonate a nuclear bomb, even if that order came from the president, reports U.S.News & World Report.
Therefore, the bishops appear to have sounded the moral tone as to how 50 million American Catholics should respond to the nuclear weapons issue. The pastoral letter, while not binding, nonetheless forces a dilemma of conscience upon American Catholics in the military, in public office and in the defense industry. What the letter recommends, however, still does not fit in with the principle stated at Isaiah 2:4, which calls for ‘beating swords into plowshares and not learning war anymore’—any kind of war anymore.
Africa’s Severe Drought
Jesus Christ predicted that “there will be food shortages . . . in one place after another” as part of a composite sign marking “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3, 7) The continent of Africa provides one evidence of this. Fifteen African states suffer from severe food shortages due to drought, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Swaziland reportedly has the worst drought in 30 years, South Africa and Mozambique the worst in 50 years, and Zimbabwe claims to have its worst in this century, resulting in the loss of 50 percent of its mealie (maize) crop and of an estimated 1 1⁄2 million head of livestock. As the dry season began, many regions were being proclaimed disaster areas. Their future looks bleak from a human viewpoint, but the Bible shows that soon Christ’s reign will ensure “plenty of grain on the earth.”—Psalm 72:16.
“Let Anger Alone”
“Let anger alone and leave rage; do not show yourself heated up only to do evil,” counsels the Bible. (Psalm 37:8) For years, popular human wisdom disagreed. “Let it all hang out,” was the motto. “It’s healthy to vent anger,” prescribed many psychotherapists. But now scientific research is highlighting the value of controlling anger. For example, social psychologist Carol Tavris states in her new book Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion: “Expressing anger makes you angrier, solidifies an angry attitude, and establishes a hostile habit.” Therefore, she advises: “If you keep quiet about momentary irritations and distract yourself with pleasant activity until your fury simmers down, chances are that you will feel better, and feel better faster, than if you let yourself go in a shouting match.”
Duke University Medical Center, after a seven-year study, concluded that people who anger more quickly may die sooner than those who do not. Excessive hostility is linked to heart damage as much as smoking and high blood pressure are, their studies suggest. Therefore, since statistics show little evidence that spouting anger like an exploding Roman candle is healthy, would it not be better to heed what Proverbs 14:29 says: “If you stay calm, you are wise, but if you have a hot temper, you only show how stupid you are”?—Today’s English Version.