Can Catholics work for companies that produce military products?

Hey all,

I’ve been praying about my job. I work for a company which produces military related products. Could someone please tell me whether or not I should follow my conscience and seek jobs elsewhere? What criteria should I use to determine whether or not to stay or leave?

Thanks in advance!


In general, Catholics are not prohibited from this type of work. There could be specifics of your job which change that general statement.

One must always follow one’s well formed conscience.

Start with the Catechism and church documents and also talk to a priest or spiritual director.

If it were me, I’d have to know more about the products in question. Weapons are not intrinsically evil, but they have the POTENTIAL to be used for evil goals and means.

If the company had a track record of, for example, making products for export that suspiciously often wind up in the hands of dictators, terrorists and despots I might not be comfortable working there.

On the other hand, if the company primarily produces weapons such as Tomahawk missles or Apache helicopters that generally do NOT end up in rogue hands it would be another matter.

But that’s me.

You are doing us a service. Thank you.

Since when did we get so twisted up and dysfunctional we don’t know enough to preserve ourselves? Do you think we should just lay down and get stomped on? Good grief.


Perhaps the OP works for a company that does do something specifically immoral that he cannot reconcile to his conscience.

That is why I said “in general” it is not prohibited.

Thanks for your replies.

First, the company makes products which have a low probability of ending up in the wrong hands, so it has a low probability of being used for evil purposes.

Second, I think I’d like to pose a sub-question… if I can work in a place where R&D is done on life SAVING technologies, would that be morally equivalent or better than working on military products… or is it a wash since it can be said that military products “save lives” (rather violently through the application of force to one group to save others).


I think this is the kind of thing better discussed with a spiritual director who knows you, your spiritual disposition, issues you are working on in your spiritual life, etc.

Not b/c I don’t want to help but because this is one where conscience formation really does come in to play-- you have to look at all of the angles, church teaching, the concrete situation you are in, and then make choices.

There probably isn’t one right choice in this situation, although there may be some wrong ones. For instance, much “life saving” research these days embraces immoral means such as embryonic stem cells.

So, much specificity is required in discerning the morality of the situation.


A spiritual director does sound like a good idea . I’ll try to talk to the priest at my young adult group.

Thanks and God Bless,


I don’t see how it would be a problem in general. However, there are different circumstances which change the answer to that question. Let’s say you’re working for a company that makes the parts for nuclear bombs. To me, that would be immoral because the Church clearly condemns nuclear weaponry because they are weapons of mass destruction.

[quote=Catechism of the Catholic Church]**2314 **“Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.” A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons - to commit such crimes.

On the other hand, if you’re working for a company that makes MREs (meals ready to eat) for soldiers on the field, I see no conflict between my faith and that.

But let’s say you work for a company that makes the weapons used in the battles and such. Would that be immoral? I honestly don’t know. I guess it depends on if you know where these weapons are going. In other words, if you know what front they are going to. Say they are going to the Iraq war. To me, my conscience would not allow me to work for a company producing weapons for an unjust war. But say the weapons are going to a different place where the war is just. I would not have a conflict with my conscience and my faith in the last situation.


The company I work for makes products that would be used in any war that the US enters into. As such, they would be used for both “just” and “unjust” wars.

What’s your thought on that?


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