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What about today? Were I back in the classroom, I’d ask my students to construct a morally defensible argument for killing a tyrant. If the student followed Aquinas’s reasoning, the case for tyrannicide would involve a leader who was doing grave evil, who could not be removed from power except by being killed, and whose assassination would not make matters worse. Were those conditions met, Aquinas argued in his Commentary on Peter Lombard, a citizen might even be “praised and rewarded” for being the “one who liberates his country by killing a tyrant.”
With the 30th anniversary of the Revolution of 1989 coming this fall, we’ll all be reminded that there are alternatives to killing tyrants or surrendering to evil: Awakened consciences can discover nonviolent tools of resistance to tyranny, tools preferable to assassination. And consciences are awakened when men and women hear a summons to moral heroism—to living in the truth, which is the greatest of liberators. That is why the current stance of the Holy See toward Latin American tyrannies is so disconcerting. For rather than calling the people of hard-pressed countries like Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua to effective, nonviolent resistance against tyrants on the model of Poland and Czechoslovakia in the 1980s, the Vatican is constantly bleating about “dialogue” with murderous thugs who’ve demonstrated for decades that they’re only interested in maintaining their power, masking their gross personal ambition and greed with a fog cloud of gibberish about “the revolution.”
Heads - State - Government - January - Letter
Now, however, 20 former Latin American heads of state and government have said, politely but firmly, that enough is enough. In a January 6 letter to their fellow Latin American Pope Francis, the signatories, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, acknowledged the “good faith” and “pastoral spirit” of Francis’s Christmas blessing Urbi et Orbi (to...
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