2309: there must be serious prospects of success

In the CCC 2309, one of the requirements for military defense to be just is that “there must be serious prospects of success”

How does the Church define “success” in this case? If it simply means “being victorious in the war” doesn’t that mean that people who are faced with annihilation by an enemy they have no hope of defeating in a strategic “win the war” sense, should offer no military resistance and allow the aggressor to commit whatever atrocities they desire?

Success = resolution. That can take many forms: the cessation of indiscriminate killing, removal of a tyrannical dictator, liberation of captives, etc.


is there a source like an encyclical or something where this definition is presented?

I would think in a nuclear war situation if we can stop another country from using it’s nuclear weapons or if they have already used them we can stop them from further using them then that is success. Winning for the sake of winning no but preventing a nuclear war yes that is success.

No. Just what my theology profs have advanced.

I take

to mean that success is when the resolution we aimed at has been achieved.

so in CCC 2309

we should understand this as “there must be serious prospects of achieving the resolution aimed at”

what is the principle that determines acceptable resolutions to aim for in war

Dignity. Peace. Equality. Justice.

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The world’s safer because of “them”. :smirk:


Basically, if fighting back is going to lead to more human suffering than surrender, with no good outcome in view, then one should not do it.

This is true even if the other party is clearly in the wrong. Neither Jesus nor the early Christians led a violent uprising against the unjust Roman occupation of the Holy Land.

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