All Christians to blame for sins
We are agents in communion, in communities constituted by shared practices and language. We do things with words. Words affect our relationships with one another. They divide. They unite.
In a letter to the editor published Wednesday of Holy Week entitled, "Prayer a potent weapon," Joseph Vallely claimed that Protestantized rationalistic culture inculcated in Timothy McVeigh the belief that violence is at times morally appropriate. Mr. Vallely suggests our right response is for the Catholics among us to pray the rosary.
Although a number of Mr. Vallely's claims may be supportable, i.e. the efficacy of praying the rosary or evils made permissible by forms of rationalized religion, he commits a number of injustices not the least of which is promoting a memory unfaithful to God's work among His people.
All Christians, Protestant and Catholic alike, share in the tradition of members who in their faith felt obligated to kill. They also share in the tradition of pacifism. (A leader to whom many have looked to as an obedient disciple of Christ is the late John Howard Yoder, a Notre Dame theology professor, who was thick in the messianic pacifism that is a part of the Mennonite way of life.) Both just war and pacifism are traditions (not doctrines) acknowledged on both sides.
It may do us some good to remember that both "sides" also shared in the sin of the Reformation and the continued sin of disunity. To futher cause division by suggesting that one or the other of these groups is the facet of the Christian community responsible for the sin of Mr. McVeigh is unhelpful to the extreme. There is much work to be done within and outside the church, but this is not it.
It is our faithful memory that enables us to acknowledge ourselves as sinners forgiven and to fare forward in hope. (What better time to remember this than now, following on the heels of Easter?)
Let us finally heed the Word of all words, which calls us to share in prayers and lives transformed through the Spirit by peace and reconciliation — an undertaking only possible as we are members of the church of Jesus Christ.
April 17, 2001
All Viewpoint Stories for Wednesday, April 18, 2001