Death in wars

I have been wondering if in a war it is wrong for a soldier to kill someone. Isn’t that person also a son or daughter of God? I cannot find a clear answer on what the Church teaches on this. After all, the person on the other side might not have any say in a counties politics. How could it be ok to kill them?

  1. Double-effect.
  2. The state has authority to put to death.
  3. Merry Christmas.:thumbsup:

Please explain what you mean. Jesus never gave the state authority to put people to death, or at least I think not. Look at Germany in WWII. The state put six million Jews the death, and five thousand Gentiles to death. How did they have authority to do that?

A whirlwind, simplified tour…

  1. You can do something that has two effects, one intended the other not intended. The classic case is self-defense. I intend to disable the aggressor, I do not intend to kill him. Both happen as a result of me putting a bullet in him, but him dying is not a means to disabling him (even though they are related/connected, they are not in a true cause/effect relationship here). A soldier may operate with this in mind.

Additional reading:

  1. The government exists for the sake of protecting the commonweal. A part of that involves putting to death, in certain circumstances. They have this power precisely because of the nature of their commission to protect the commonweal. However, this authority, which is from God, can be abused. Pilate abused this authority, for instance, although Christ admits that the power has been given to him from above. (Although, one could certainly say that Christ is actually just talking about Pilate having the opportunity rather than the right). War is just an extension of that right, and of course it too can be abused. There are requirements for waging a “just war.”

Additional reading:

  1. Merry Christmas.

And pay particular attention to “in certain circumstances”, because they are extremely rare if not nonexistent these days…and especially in this the Year of Mercy.

That would depend solely on whether it is a JUST war, the reasons for JUST war are pretty clearly defined…but the real question comes when the ‘official’ reasons are not the true reason, like when they use other excuses for war, but are really interested in the regions resources, or taking a certain leader out of power.

One could argue the individual soldier on the ground has no way to know these real reasons, but from what Ive heard from vets, it usually doesnt take long after deployment for many to figure out why they are really there, so…??

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit