—By Desiderius Erasmus (1467-1536), Catholic priest, biblical scholar, theologian
“That the clergy cover over this most irreligious conduct [war] with the cloak of religion renders the evil less capable of remedy. The colors in the regiments, (consecrated by ministers of peace!) bear the figure of the cross painted upon them. The unfeeling mercenary soldier, hired for a few pieces of paltry coin, to do the work of a man-butcher, carries before him the standard of the cross; and that very figure of the cross becomes the symbol of war, which alone ought to teach every one that looks at it, that war ought to be utterly abolished. What hast thou to do with the cross of Christ on thy banners, thou blood-stained soldier? With such a disposition as thine; with deeds like thine, of robbery and murder, thy proper standard would be a dragon, a tiger, or a wolf!
I see you, while the standard of salvation is in one hand, rushing on with a sword in the other, to the murder of your brother; and, under the banner of the cross, destroying the life of one who owes his salvation to the cross. Even from the Holy Sacrament itself, (for it is sometimes, at the same hour, administered in opposite camps) in which is signified the complete union of all Christians, the warriors, who have just received it, run instantly to arms, and endeavor to plunge the dreadful steel into each other’s vitals. Of a scene thus infernal, and fit only for the eyes of accursed spirits, who delight in mischief and misery, the pious warriors would make Christ the spectator.
The most absurd circumstance of all those respecting the use of the cross as a standard to support the war and warrior, is, that you see it glittering and waving high in air in both the contending armies at once. Divine service is also performed to the same Christ in both armies at the same time. What a shocking sight? Lo! crosses dashing against crosses, and Christ on this side firing bullets at Christ on the other; cross against cross, and Christ against Christ. The banner of the cross, significant of the Christian profession, is used on each side, to strike terror into the opposite enemy. How dare they, on this occasion, to attack what, on all others, they adore?
Let us now imagine we hear a soldier, among these fighting Christians, [or one of his civilian supporters] saying the Lord’s prayer. ‘Our Father,’ says he; O hardened wretch! can you call him Father, when you are just going to cut your brother’s throat? ‘Hallowed be thy name:’ how can the name of God be more impiously unhallowed, than by mutual bloody murder among you, his sons? ‘Thy kingdom come:’ do you pray for the coming of his kingdom, while you are endeavoring to establish an earthly despotism, by spilling the blood of God’s sons and subjects? ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven:’his will in heaven, is for peace, but you are now meditating war. Dare you to say to your Father in heaven ‘Give us this day our daily bread;’ when you are going, in the next minute perhaps, to burn up your brother’s corn-fields; and had rather lose the benefit of them yourself, than suffer him to enjoy them unmolested? With what face can you say, ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us,’ when, so far from forgiving your own brother, you are going, with all the haste you can, to murder him in cold blood, for an alleged trespass that, after all, is but imaginary. Do you presume to deprecate the danger of temptation, who, not without great danger to yourself, are doing all you can to force your brother into danger? Do you deserve to be delivered from evil, that is, from the evil being, to whose impulse you submit yourself, and by whose spirit you are now guided, in contriving the greatest possible evil to your brother?”
How long, O Lord, how long? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_O860l8u3U&feature=youtu.be