Defensive Force

What does the Roman Catholic church teach about defending others?

I see that the CCC approves of self-defense, but what if someone else is in need of our help?

Were obligated to preserve life in all its stages. That means if force is necessary to do that then we must resort, if possible, to the appropriate force to defend life. The innocent of course come first and foremost. Even though an aggressor has evil intentions we must only use harmful let alone deadly force if really needed. The church does acknowledge that in times of crisis we can be overwhelmed by the magnitude of a certain situation that our moral judgment of handling it may not be at it’s best.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life.” n. 2265

The basic principles of ethics which permit force, even deadly force, in self-defense are the same when defending self, family, neighbor, community, nation. It is the use of moderate force to defend the innocent against an objectively unjust attack.

stringbeanduck and Ron Conte,

Thank you both for the replies.
**2265 **Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.
It approves of a military and law enforcement, but it doesn’t seem to specifically say individual citizens should defend one another. Does it? Does the church have any clearer teaching about defending others than this passage?

Second, this doesn’t seem to define “one who is responsible for the lives of others”. Who does the church teach is “responsible for the lives of others”?

Also, it doesn’t seem to say that defense is a duty, but only that it “can be”. How does the church teach we can know if we actually have a duty to defend another or not?

You’re right, it doesn’t.

It doesn’t seem to say whether it is right or wrong for individuals to defend others. Why not?

Because it’s a prudential judgment based on the individual and circumstances.

The CCC also “evades” the questions about whether or not to use cloth to blow your nose, or tissue paper. It seems the Catholic Church really does not wish to control your every concievable move. It even gives you room to rely on a few things, like common sense and priests for spiritual guidance.

In other words, depending upon the situation, it can be right.

Based on the portion of the CCC I read, even if the situation “justified” action, it seems someone could say that the church has not given permission for civilians to defend one another. Unless, of course, there is further teaching about this. Someone could interpret the CCC to only allow for military and law-enforcement to use force in defending others and thus condemn a man who killed in order to save the life of a friend for instance. That doesn’t seem like the intention of the CCC’s teaching but the wording allows for that misuse as far as I can tell.

Assuming the situation called for defending another, what principle would justify and/or require defensive action?

Is any such principle said to justify or require defense of others in the catholic church’s teaching?

I can’t tell whether or not you have an opinion on using force to defend another. Did you intend to say that defending others is common sense?

Sure, it could be morally justifiable. But so could pacifism/non-violence.

Circumstances are everything in a question like this. Many factors to take in and consider.
You are in a good situation if you are using force to defend your church, your pope, or the properties of the church particular. That would inculde layity? Are they property? Or employees? Not sure there. But, you get the drift right?

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