Well, this is a different kind of pope.
In a departure from Vatican opposition to just about every military undertaking in the last 40 years (including both Iraq wars), the Church has now endorsed military operations against ISIL:
“What’s needed is a coordinated and well-thought-out coalition to do everything possible to achieve a political settlement without violence,” [Italian Archbishop Silvano] Tomasi said, “but if that’s not possible, then the use of force will be necessary.” [H/T The American Interest]
The archbishop goes on to say that this change in the Church's stance on war isn't simply because of the violence against Christians, but I have to disagree.
Entire dioceses have been wiped out in Iraq. These are ancient Christian communities, some of whom were evangelized by the Apostles themselves. Not only is ISIL killing and raping, it is razing these historic buildings to the ground and burning every scrap of sacred text they can find.
In recent times the Church has taken its doctrine of Just War and defined it so narrowly as to seem almost indistinguishable from Christian Pacifists. No matter what the conflict, the Vatican could be counted on to urge negotiation and prayer as a solution.
We are now seeing the limits of both.
Happily, the Catholic Church still retains in its teachings an understanding that war is sometimes necessary and indeed required. Indeed, the Church even goes so far as to recognize that the profession of arms is a legitimate calling and one necessary to protect the innocent.
As the tide of war continues to rise, (and we step ever closer to the abyss), it is no longer logical to pretend that anything less than physical violence will stop ISIL's bloodthirsty killers from slaughtering innocents.
It's about time.
An interesting element of this move is that Russia is heavily involved - the historic guardian of Orthodox Christians. This add additional credence to my belief that Russia can actually be a vital and crucial American ally in the war that is coming. This is yet another example how empty posturing over the Ukraine is not only failing to help the people in question, but also undermining our efforts elsewhere. It's an open-ended strategic blunder that just keeps getting worse.