John Dear questions military service, Archbishop Chaput lauds it

by Joshua J. McElwee

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In his column on our Web site today, Jesuit Fr. John Dear explores, through biblical analysis, Jesus' total commitment to a nonviolent life.

Dear's conclusion is simple and succinct: Jesus was nonviolent. Period. And we should be too.

Contrast that with this: Yesterday, Archbishop Chaput of the Denver archdiocese addressed Catholic cadets at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Among the many points he made in the speech, the archbishop told the cadets two main things: that being a soldier is a moral good and that, in their career, the cadets can take up the mantle of "Christian moral leadership."

Per the first point, Chaput said, quoting Russian Christian writer Vladimir Solovyov, "Until the spirit of malice brought into the world by Cain disappears from human hearts, the soldier 'will be a good and not an evil.'"

Per the second, Chaput said:

Where the leadership and moral character of my generation failed, you need to succeed. The task of Christian moral leadership that will occupy much of your lives in the future will not be easy. It will place heavy demands on people like you who learned discipline and integrity in places like this.

This raises a question. Can both men be right?

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