Three Principles of the War


By BISHOP MIGUEL DE ANDREA of Buenos Aires, Argentine

Delivered at a dinner for the sixteen Latin-American Delegates to the Inter-American Seminar, Chicago, Ill., September 2, 1942

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VIII, pp. 727-729.

I AM going to say a few words with the purpose of enumerating the principles upon which must be established the world which will be reborn from the ashes of the destructions now in progress, if any good is to come out of the immense evil of the war.

I will not claim to represent any one, in order to give them weight. It would be useless for me to claim any such representative capacity, for I do not possess it. I have no commission to represent either the government or the hierarchy of my country. I am simply one invited by my brothers of the hierarchy of this great nation, represented by the National Catholic Welfare Conference, who are profoundly preoccupied with finding the solution of the crisis of humanity, whose very vitals are torn and bled white in the birth of a new world.

Therefore I speak here as I am accustomed to speak in my own country. For me nothing has changed except the stage. The stage from which I speak now is the greatest and most resonant of all stages of the earth. My situation is therefore simple and unembarrassed: I represent no one, and commit no one.

After thus putting myself in the proper focus, you will permit me to present those credentials in virtue of which my words can demand a hearing and expect to be weighed; they are the credentials based upon the highest and most authentic moral authorities in the world: the Gospel, the Papal encyclicals, and the national Constitution. It is from these sources that my words proceed, and from them also come the immutable and eternal principles upon which world reconstruction must be based.

Liberty the First Principle

What are these principles? The first is that of Liberty. Liberty is the highest gift of God, given to man after that of life itself. Even as is the obligation which rests upon all to respect life as sacred, so is the obligation to respect liberty equally sacred. Man has the same right to one as to the other, because both have been given him by the same God. Fortunately there are still many of us in the world for whom it is less important to give up life than lose liberty, since without liberty life is not worth the living.

There is no doctrine which defends liberty more unyieldingly than Catholic teaching. It teaches us that without liberty there can be no sanctity. There is no sanctitywithout virtue, no virtue without merit, no merit without responsibility, and no responsibility without liberty.

The first principle therefore is liberty. And not only liberty of individuals but also liberty of nations. How gratifying it is to me to vindicate this two-fold principle in the name of the two titles which are all that I possess and which I cannot, and ought not, and do not wish ever to renounce: those which give me my two-fold character of Catholic Bishop and citizen of Argentina.

As a Catholic Bishop I proclaim liberty as the unalienable heritage of each and every man in the universe; and as an Argentine citizen I affirm the inviolability of the independence of my country, with the same courage with which you affirm that of yours, each one of you, citizens of your respective countries, large or small, which cover the whole world.

Justice the Second Principle

The second principle is that of justice. The world which is passing was coming to be almost the reign of injustice. And individualism without feeling or compassion, which had thrown off every restraint, divine or human, to satisfy its insatiable ambition, was multiplying with impunity its victims among men, among social classes, and among nations.

The peoples of the world are very tolerant and very patient with the political mistakes and the moral aberrations of those who rule them, but when multiplied injustices create for them economic insufficiency and they begin to feel themselves crushed under the burden of their misery, then they hasten the hour of rebellion, of uprising, and of revolution.

We must guard against political and social injustices, and, above all against those which are economic. In the sinister glare of the present conflagration, I believe that I have the right to ask this question which is full of the gravest implications: Among what peoples have those governments of violence arisen, against which the systems of liberty now defend themselves? Among those peoples who after the war of 1914 remained disillusioned, oppressed and despoiled.

A short time ago, from this nation in which I now speak, there arose a great voice which declared to the world that the ideal of the present struggle is the "satisfaction of needs."

Good! I do not believe, however, that that ought to meanmerely that the resources of nations should be so distributed that the necessities of each could be satisfied without having to resort to external aggression. It should mean also that the resources of families within nations must be so distributed that the necessities of each home can be taken care of without having to appeal to internal aggressions.

Says This Is Hour of Renunciation

More important than the "living space" of nations in the world is the "living space" of families within nations.

Justice demands a more equitable distribution of goods among all the families of the world, through the assurance of a just wage for labor. And that will come, if not first by evolution, then by revolution. The world up to now has not cared to listen to the admonition of the Holy Spirit: "Nihil proderunt thesauri impietatis: justita vero libervit a morte" (Prov. X 2). "Treasures of wickedness shall profit nothing; but justice shall deliver from death."

We have the duty of doing everything possible so that justice will be established in the world by peaceful evolution. Undoubtedly this will demand renunciations, but the hour of making them is already at hand. In order to bear up under them, and to rise above them, we have charity at our command—the charity of Christ. It is not the present events which urge me to preach these things. This fact is corroborated by the motto which I chose for my coat of arms when, after the last war, Benedict XV conferred upon me the episcopal dignity: "In charitate et justitia pax": "Peace through charity and justice."

Democracy the Third Principle

The third principle is that of democracy. I admit that democracy in not a few nations has lost its prestige. But I ask: Is that sufficient reason for the abolition of the democratic form of government? When a man is sick, the indicated procedure is not to kill, but to cure him.

Has the decadence of democracy been brought about by some deficiency which is of its very nature? No! This deficiency has manifested itself because no care was exercised against a parasitic disease which in some places attacked the democratic form of government, as such disease can attack, and has in fact attacked, every other form of government. This disease is a false philosophy of life. It is, in theological terms, the pride of life. From this it is evident that in order to rehabilitate itself democracy must become more austere; or, to speak in equivalent terms, it must become Christian.

Democracy is in need of being perfected; there is no one who doubts this. But one does not perfect a thing by substituting something else for it. Unhappily there are many in this hour so critical for the world who have allowed themselves to be seduced by the false concept of a government of force, attributing to force a virtue which neither logic nor experience permits us to accept. It is necessary to make a distinction between government of force and government which has force.

On Government and Force

Government of force is that in which force makes use of government for the enslavement of rights and of liberties. Government which has force, on the other hand, is that in which the government makes use of force for the effective exercise and the defense of the same rights and liberties. We are the enemies of every system of government of force and defenders of the system of government which has force.

It is not enough in reality that an individual or a nation merely possess rights and have liberty. There is also need for a force which will make them respected. Today, more than ever before, the celebrated formula of Pascal should be engraved in the conscience of men and in the soul of nations: "Justice without force is impotence; force without justice is tyranny." Justice must be wedded with force, so that that which is just may be strong and that which is strong may be just.

Why do I support the democratic system. Because Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical, "Diut urnum," proclaimed to the world in historic circumstances that all political systems, whether essentially monarchical or essentially republican, are equally admissible, always provided that they maintain intact human and divine rights.

Furthermore, because the Constitution of my country, to which I owe formal attachment, like the Constitution of the United States, to which its subjects owe allegiance, and the Constitutions of the sister republics of America, are essentially democratic.

And giving God that which is God's has never served and never should serve as an obstacle, but rather as an incentive to giving to Caesar that which is Caesar's!

Finally, I sustain the principle of democracy because it is a system of government which morally obliges all men of good-will to work for the raising of the moral and material level of the people, since no other system opens the way to the people as does the democratic system, to participate in the responsibilities of power.

Tells What Peace Calls For

To conclude: the establishment of peace in the new world after the war demands, in the name of humanity, that the nations make up their minds to contribute something of their own sovereignty, in order that there may arise in the world of tomorrow a supranational society, armed with the necessary powers to make it, in the nucleus of the universal community, the supreme court of last appeal in international disputes.

The treaty of 1919 was an imperfect effort. It is not just to blame only its authors for that original imperfection. Public opinion in the various nations was not prepared to make the renunciations demanded for the creation of a perfect supranational society.

Today things have changed. If that were not the case, they should have to be changed. The experience of the past is overwhelming. The tottering of the world is frightening. We do not yet realize its apocalyptic character. The vandal-like destruction of the laborious constructive process of the centuries and the blood of millions of innocent victims cries out from the earth, to use the biblical phrase.

The history of tomorrow will never pardon the men of today for their failure to understand or to measure up that which must be done. Everything boils down to conciliating two apparently contradictory tendencies; internationalism and nationalism. We must make up our minds to cut off the vicious extremes both of the one and of the other. We must have the courage to condemn individualism no matter where we meet it, not only among individuals but also among nations. And not only among weaker nations but also among those that are strong; not only among the small ones but also among the great.

On Man's Responsibilities

Now, my friends, I have a profound conviction of the truth of what I am saying, and the authority on which Irely in saying it is very high, and for that reason it is exceptionally gratifying to proclaim it from this platform graciously accorded me in the greatest and most powerful nation on earth.

To achieve this lofty goal, we rely upon this principle: The love which each one of us has for himself must never be indulged to the detriment of that which is due the family; nor that which he has for his family to the detriment of that which is due his country; nor that which he has for his country to the detriment of that which is due to humanity.

To our own consolation and that of the world, I believe that we can sense the advent of this humanitarian andChristian reality in the following words, written by the President of the United States last December, acknowledging the pledge of loyal assistance given him by the Catholic Bishops of the United States.

"We shall win this war, and in victory we shall seek not vengeance but the establishment of an international order in which the spirit of Christ shall rule in the hearts of men and of nations."

That is to say, that we are in a position to hope for a peace which will be not specifically either German or Roman or Saxon or American but essentially Christian, for only thus will it be human in the fullest sense of the word!