A lengthy and unpleasant exchange on the Caelum et Terra blog on these topics left me feeling that they had been rather more obscured than revealed. No sane Catholic can argue that warfare is anything but a terrible calamity and at very best a very difficult thing to justify, but a position of practical pacifism on the part of one side would hardly resolve the dilemma of violence and violent oppression.
This post at Against the Grain (hat tip to Amy Welborn) seems a useful step toward clarity. In particular, it quotes someone named Tom Haessler, of whom I know nothing except that he has been all over the comments on a number of Catholic blogs lately with remarkably reasonable, charitable, knowledgeable, and insightful remarks. Mr. Haessler says: "The parsing of various aspects of just war theory is quite foreign to [Pope Benedict's] approach. He's trying to call all to their senses, to awaken new communities of conscience, to help us discover new zones of sensitivity and awareness not previously attended to; he's NOT playing Jesuit anagrams with just war theory."
Somehow I knew that this pope, whom I've admired for so long precisely for the depth and scope of his thought, was not going to take a superficial view on so grave a question. I have some more ideas on this which I think I'll hold until I've thought them through a little more.