Most Reverend Gerald Kicanas, D.D., Bishop of Tucson
Diocese of Tucson
Re: Is George Bush a Prophet of God?
Dear Bishop Kicanas:
As you are aware, President Bush frequently claims to possess a divine mandate for preemptive war. Regarding preventive war itself, Pope John Paul II and the U.S. Bishops have taken a position which is strikingly unequivocal, in language such as: "difficult to justify...," "significant moral concern...," "troubling legal and moral precedents...," etc., very strong words from an institution bound to the virtue of circumspection. This is not to say that those who view themselves both as pirates and Christians did not find plenty of wiggle room to justify their invasion and occupation of a hapless third world country, and the seizure of their oil, in violation of both international law and numerous Commandments. You surely know that we are a rebellious and morally opportunistic lot, and require unassailable, Mosaic clarity if these issues are not to be thrown back upon the venue of individual conscience and the moral relativism into which we are thereby led.
As for Bush's special relationship with God, whom he apparently consults in lieu of advisors - to my knowledge the Bishops have not spoken of it. Granted that we live in a morally complex world, still, either this messianic liaison is bogus or it is not. Considering that elections are right around the corner, it is important that Americans know whether their President is in fact a prophet from God. To whom do we turn for an informed pronouncement about this? The responsibility of the Church to adjudicate such questions is given in Christ's own unambiguous words: "What is joined on earth is joined in heaven; what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven," or something to that effect. Aside from the discomfort of confusion within the Christian community, if the President's audacious assertion is not officially affirmed or denied in the manner of any other heretical claim, then it stands, both on earth and in heaven. Christian families will be obliged to send their sons and daughters to kill and die for this man, believing him to be an undisputed agent of the Almighty.
The Napoleonic self-anointing of our emperors is nothing new. To the extent that the Church makes no protest it confers its silent blessing, and virtually any war that ensues is automatically just. Admittedly, it is not an easy call to make. On one hand you risk, like Caiphas, denying God's true message, and on the other, validating the credentials of a bellicose lunatic capable of plunging human society into a nasty tribulation. One thing, though, is without nuance and requires no debate: it is your job to make the call.