Is is moral to shoot through someone to kill a murderer?

To Whom It May Concern,

I have watched a lot of war movies and police dramas lately, and this question keeps coming to mind: Can a Catholic assist someone else in sacrificing their life? I know that suicide and assisted suicide are wrong, but what about assisted self-sacrifice (for lack of a better term)?

For example, a cop is being held hostage by a criminal. The criminal is holding the cop in a way that the only way to shoot or disable him is by shooting through the vital areas of the cop being held. While, he is holding him, the criminal is causing harm to others (whether by shooting at others with a handgun or threatening to push the button on a detonator). The cop being restrained asks the other cops in the room to shoot through him and stop the criminal. The cop does willingly sacrifice his life for others, which is morally right, but is it morally right for the cops to shoot through him, a man who is their friend and is doing no harm to them?

I would appreciate the answer.

Dear friend,

Absolutely not! What one would be doing is murdering the man by shooting through him. The end cannot justify the means. One cannot deliberately and directly take innocent human life, no matter how many may benefit from it–even if the innocent person asks for it.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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