Debating just-war theory in light of Islamic State and past Iraqi wars

By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In the days that followed Pope Francis’ Aug. 18 remarks on U.S. airstrikes earlier in the month against Islamic State, the buzz was about whether the pope had actually given his consent to them.

The more sobering post-buzz reality is how one stops what, in the pontiff’s words, is an “unjust aggressor.”

Does the United States go in, alone or as part of a broader coalition of nations? Or, to use the language of just-war theory, is the United Nations the “competent authority” to judge these particulars?

Pope Francis appeared to endorse the U.N. during his in-flight news conference returning to the Vatican from South Korea.

A handout picture made available by the U.S. Department of Defense Aug. 27 shows a U.S. Air Force fighter jet refueling over northern Iraq Aug. 21. Catholic experts are debating the just-war theory in light of the current threat from the Islamic State and past Iraq wars. (CNS photo/Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel, courtesy U.S. Department of Defense, via EPA)

A handout picture made available by the U.S. Department of Defense Aug. 27 shows a U.S. Air Force fighter jet refueling over northern Iraq Aug. 21. Catholic experts are debating the just-war theory in light of the current threat from the Islamic State and past Iraq wars. (CNS photo/Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel, courtesy U.S. Department of Defense, via EPA)

“A single nation cannot judge how to stop this, how to stop an unjust aggressor. After the Second World War, there arose the idea of the United Nations. That is where we should discuss: ‘Is there an unjust aggressor? It seems there is. How do we stop him?'” he said.

“The U.N. charter permits military intervention in response to armed attack at the invitation of a legitimate government or with the approval of the U.N. Security Council,” said Gerard F. Powers, professor of the practice of Catholic peacebuilding at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

“In this case, you can make the case that the unilateral intervention is, from a legal point of view, legitimate, because it’s at the request of a legitimate government, in this case, the Iraqi government,” he added.

Here I Am, Lord

My time as priest in Sitka, Alaska 

By Fr. Bill Zamborsky
(Editor’s note: a shorter version of this reflection appeared in the August 2014 issue of the Southeast Alaska Catholic newspaper.)

Here I am, Lord, I come to do Your will:

Fr Bill Zamborsky and fish

Fr. Bill Zamborsky and a salmon caught near Sitka, Alaska.

‘Here’ was Cleveland, Ohio and I thought it always would be.  I was the third of eight children, and my parents taught me to love the outdoors, and to live in and by our Catholic faith. By the 4th grade, ‘priest’ was on my list of things I wanted to be when I grew up. I left home to enter the seminary for ninth grade, and was very much drawn to religious work in the remote mountain areas of our country. Eventually I applied for, but was unfortunately not accepted, by the college seminary of my choice. If I was to be a priest, ‘here’ could no longer be Cleveland, Ohio.

After months of tormented prayer and advice from people I trusted, I made a commitment to the Diocese of Orlando, Florida and was sent to a seminary in Indiana. In due time, I was ordained. ‘Here’ was the Diocese of Orlando, Florida.

The Bride of Christ:

Daily life as a parish priest has been the field in which Christ has consistently sown the graces of his love for me. These graces have brought me to the full understanding of the Church as his bride, his beloved for whom he gave himself on the cross and to whom he gives himself in the Eucharist. The daily graces of priestly life have drawn me ever deeper into the amazing mystery of my relationship with Christ and with the people who are the Church. The love of the Church for me is joy itself and a call/challenge to love her more deeply, more selflessly, more like Christ.

This desire to love Christ and his Church more and better led me to a sabbatical.  I came to realize that the many things I did to make my love for Christ and his Church real in daily life had become distractions from or substitutes for the love I wanted to give.  I realized that I needed time away from all the ‘doings’ so that I could reconnect with the loving.  The remote mountain areas of our country continued to draw my heart with their amazing beauty and untamed wilderness.

‘Icons for Iraq’ fundraiser set for August 22

ICONS FOR IRAQ The tree of life

Fundraiser for Christians and other Persecuted Minorities in Iraq sponsored by the Diocese of Juneau.

Friday, August 22, 2014 from 4:30-7:00 pm at St. Ann’s Hall, Juneau (next to the Cathedral of the Nativity). 
Deacon Charles Rohrbacher will be donating original icon illustrations from his published Exsultet and The Passions of Holy Week books from Liturgical Press for the fundraiser. All proceeds will be donated to Catholic Relief Services or Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

To view the icons for sale and see the minimum suggested bid, please visit the New Jerusalem Workshop Page on Facebook, or SEE IMAGE GALLERY BELOW.  Icon images and minimum suggested donations

All items will be available by making a donation to either Catholic Relief Services or Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

Early donations to obtain a specific icon can be made until noon on Thursday, 8/21, by contacting Deacon Charles Rohrbacher via email:

All requests from outside of Juneau will need to pay via credit card. All items that need to be shipped will have an additional 15% charge to cover postage and shipping.

Items to be sold will list a minimum donation – please be generous so that together we can help to alleviate the suffering in Iraq.

What we can do about violent religious persecution

By Bishop Edward J. Burns
For the Juneau EMPIRE – August 17, 2014

Earlier this week, the Vatican called on Muslim leaders to speak out against the “barbaric” and “unspeakable criminal acts” of the Islamic State in Iraq. The statement said, “The plight of Christians, Yezidis and other religious and ethnic communities that are numeric minorities in Iraq demands a clear and courageous stance on the part of religious leaders, especially Muslims, those engaged in interfaith dialogue and everyone of good will.”

Children flee violence in northern Iraq

Children flee violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar, Iraq, Aug. 10. Islamic State militants have killed at least 500 Yezidi ethnic minorities, an Iraqi human rights minister said. (CNS photo/Rodi Said, Reuters)

The Vatican statement called on “followers of all religions and men and women of good will” to “unambiguously denounce and condemn” the actions of the Islamic State which “bring shame on humanity”. The statement singled out for condemnation massacres of people based on their religion, the barbaric practice of beheading and crucifixion, forced expulsions of thousands of people, including children, elderly, pregnant women and the sick, the abduction of Christian and Yezidi girls and women as “spoils of war” and the destruction and desecration of churches and other places of worship.

This is in response to the wave of violent persecution unleashed on Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq. This past week an already terrible situation became intolerable as jihadi fighters overran the Christian villages and towns of the Ninevah plain. Terrified that they would be forced to convert to Islam or be killed, an estimated 150,000 Iraqi Christians abandoned their homes and possessions and fled to Iraqi Kurdistan. There are credible reports that all of the churches in these largely Christian communities have been desecrated and burnt or demolished. This follows the brutal expulsion less than a month ago of the Christians and other religious minorities of the city of Mosul and the confiscation and in some cases, destruction of churches and other houses of worship in the city by the so-called Islamic State.

Runnels brings ‘Gulf Coast’ tenacity to new position as Holy Name principal

By Nicole Miller and Mary Stone

Holy Name parish in Ketchikan is pleased to announce that Mrs. Vicki Runnels will be joining the Holy Name community as their new school principal. Mrs. Runnels, a life-long Catholic from the Gulf Coast region of Mississippi, brings to Holy Name many years of experience in Catholic education and an energy and passion for educating youth. Past-principal Connie Wingren retired in May of this year.

Runnels served as an elementary school teacher for over fourteen years, and as a director of religious education for three years. She worked closely with teachers and school leaders to design units of study focused on fostering student critical thinking, collaboration, and inquiry. She also served as the coordinator of after school enrichment programs for grades three through six. Holy Name in Ketchikan is her first position as school principal since receiving her administration credentials.

Mrs. Vicki Runnels

Mrs. Vicki Runnels

As a former classroom teacher, Mrs. Runnels expresses a deep appreciation for students’ cognitive and social-emotional development and is eager to support teachers as they collaborate with each other to prepare students for their future endeavors. Additionally, having endured the hardships of a devastated community after Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Mrs. Runnels knows the importance of making the best use of limited resources, and appreciates the creativity and ingenuity that often accompanies a unique demographic, such as that found in the communities of Southeast Alaska.

Mrs. Runnels holds a BS in Education/Early Childhood from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma and a Masters degree in Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi. She enjoys reading, sewing, weaving, creating pottery and especially cooking. Her favorite pastime, however, is spending time with her husband, Joseph, and their three sons, Ian, 24, Austin, 22, and their late in life surprise, Trevor, 13. They have long loved Alaska, and feel very blessed that God has called them to make Ketchikan their home.

After a recent visit to Ketchikan, Mrs. Runnels shared, “Everyone was warm and friendly. The citizens of Ketchikan put the hospitality state to shame. The community is charming and the scenery gorgeous (glad I could bring the sunshine). Alaska has been on my mind for years. When I was a child one of my favorite aunts went on a visit to Alaska and never returned! She fell in love with your state and made it her home for the last forty years of her life. She often urged me to come to Alaska, and I am so glad that I did. I’m excited about moving to Ketchikan and joining the wonderful staff at Holy Name School and the parish.”

Vicki, the oldest of 6 children from a deeply Catholic family, was raised in a Gulf Coast, Mississippi community where, she relates, “It was hard to stand anywhere and not see a Catholic Church.” Her parents were committed to their Catholic faith, and that continues in Vicki’s own family. She and her husband Joseph, a Catholic convert, made the decision even before parenthood that their children would attend Catholic schools. Mrs. Runnels’ single year of Catholic school as a child made such an impression that she always knew this would be the choice for her own children. Recently relocated from Pass Christian, Mississippi—an area where she has lived most of her life—Vicki admits that the one drawback to moving to Southeast Alaska is that her youngest son will need to attend public middle school. The Runnels’ older sons are attending college in the lower 48.

The Diocese celebrates the Diaconate

By Bishop Edward J. Burns

Monagle ordination mr

Mike Monagle of St. Paul the Apostle parish in Juneau is ordained into the permanent Diaconate by Bishop Edward J. Burns on August 8. 2014.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I had the privilege and honor of ordaining Ronald Mathews and Michael Monagle to the Permanent Diaconate on Friday, August 8, 2014 at St. Paul the Apostle Church. The night before the ordination we celebrated Solemn Vespers. I would like to offer this column as representative of my reflection that evening. At the same time, I would ask that you join me in offering a prayer of thanksgiving for their ordination and ask the Lord to bless them in their diaconal ministry.

“Good evening and a special word of welcome to all of you, especially our guests from out of town. This is an evening filled with much joy, anticipation and thanksgiving.

• The joy of being blessed with the Diaconate in our Church and in this wonderful Diocese of Juneau and Southeast Alaska.

• The anticipation of tomorrow’s ordination, when Mike and Ron will begin a life of ordained ministry.

• And the thanksgiving to God for blessing us with two very talented men dedicated to the Lord and committed to Him through the Church.

I was so struck by this evening’s reading—it is so powerful and speaks volumes of the task that lies ahead for Mike and Ron. Allow me to read it again:

(1 Peter 1:22-23) By obedience to the truth you have purified yourselves for a genuine love of your brothers and sisters; therefore, love one another constantly from the heart. Your rebirth has come, not from a destructible but from an indestructible seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

In praying through this scripture passage, I’d like to dissect it and offer some reflection.

By obedience to the truth – For us, this is obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ and to the Magisterium of the Church. Now Ron and Mike, through ordination you will be a part of the hierarchy of the Church. This “obedience to the truth” is vital to the ministry that lies before you.

The passage calls for a genuine love of your brothers and sisters – in knowing both of you, I see this genuine love expressed in so many ways by the great work you have done at St. Gregory Parish in Sitka and here at St. Paul’s. Ron – for the wonderful ways you have been an element of stability; your presence has helped in times of transition in your parish. People have looked to you because of your good work. Mike – for the wonderful ways you have given to the workings of the parish, on its councils, through the Knights of Columbus, in catechetical ministry, the RCIA, etc. Both of you have demonstrated your genuine love through relationships with your family members and, in particular, with your wives, who will be for you a wonderful support. I pray that you always exude that genuine love for others.

Your rebirth has come – Brothers, with tomorrow’s ordination – this will be a new life for you. It will be a rebirth in your relationship with Jesus Christ. He will use you as his instrument, his mouthpiece. You will be his servant and people will recognize His presence through your charitable acts. Your rebirth has come! Always give him praise and honor for this rebirth, this new life, this new ministry – an ordained ministry that is so desperately needed in Southeast Alaska. Because we too need to be reborn in our relationship with Jesus Christ, I pray that through your good work and service, we may come to know a deeper relationship with Christ. We want to hear his words through you; we want to know his presence through yours, and we need you to fan into flame that faith that has been instilled in our hearts since baptism. Your lives of witness to Jesus Christ are needed so that those who do not believe will wonder or be intrigued about your strength, your joy, your peace and your determination. I pray that those who do not know Jesus Christ will come to know Him through your words, your charitable acts and your genuine love for others. I pray that through you they will discover that Jesus Christ is your strength, your joy, your peace and your determination.

And this rebirth comes from (as Scripture says) an indestructible seed – and that seed is the word of God, the truth that cannot be destroyed. It is Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, who men tried to silence, who they crucified to the cross, but who rose from the dead and called his disciples out of their fright to go forth with confidence to bear witness to the cross and to sow the indestructible seed that would bear much fruit. Know that the seed you sow in your diaconal ministry is the same indestructible seed that has been watered by the blood of martyrs. Do not be afraid to sow the seed, the word of God, the truth that is Jesus Christ.

As our Scripture passage tells us, this indestructible seed is the living and enduring word of God. Ron and Mike, may this word of God live and endure in your diaconal ministry. And we, your family and friends, your co-workers in the vineyard, your fellow parishioners, your brothers and sisters in Christ – will support you in your ministry with our prayers and affection. As you begin this night of final preparation for ordination, we ask that God will send down upon you his peace and his choicest blessings so that we in turn will be blessed by your charitable work and service.”