Sin in nsituation of lesser of two evils

how does it work in nthose cases with things that are objective sin

for example, lying to save someone’s life, like in wwII where people hid jews from Nazis or made them fake baptismal certificates. or if you kill an aggressor who is attacking someone like the police have to do sometimes.

where does this all stand on a moral standpoiont? is something always sin if it’s to prevent another evil, would ends does not justify the means apply here?

what does the church teach on thihs and why? these things are objective sins aren’t they?

Please, someone, correct if I am wrong, but there is still much theological and philosophical debate on whether lying is truly an intrinsic evil (torture for anti-terrorist purposes is also still being debated). Please take a look at these links for more info regarding these matters.

As for killing in self-defense, here is what the Catechism has to say:

2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. "The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not."

Here is a guide to the “double-effect principle:”

As for the principle, “doing evil for a greater good,” you do not have to do much research into the Catholic faith to know that that is one of the most evil and vile beliefs this world has ever seen. For example, if killing one man saves a thousand, then why not kill a thousand to save a million or a million to save…whatever a million times a million is. Even if this type of evil were committed by a single person, it is still a scandalous form of evil. Many people would see how convenient it is to commit evil for some greater cause and, eventually, everyone would start doing evil. In the end, only good brings good and only more evil is created as a result of evil.

Indeed, there are times when morality may seem “gray” but it is not. As there is God and the devil, there is only black and white. Its just that what constitutes “black and white” is very complex. You will find that out if you read into these links well enough. I hope this helps.

In short, choosing a lesser evil is still choosing an evil and is to be avoided. This is the crux of the Church’s teaching and she is quite clear on this.

That said - we cannot deny that there are exceptions. Jesus allowed the apostles to strip grain and eat it on the sabbath - his reply when called on this was 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Expanded this can be read as "The Law (or teaching) was made for man, not man for the Law.

We are not under “The Law” - except the Law of Love given to us by Christ Himself. God’s law is written on our hearts and the Holy Spirit is to be our guide.
The Law of Love - and the guidance of the Holy Spirit must drive us to make the most moral decision and act in the most moral way we can in a given situation. Exactly what that decision is and what if any culpability we have must be addressed on a case by case basis.


Taking someone else’s property without permission is stealing, but I don’t think anybody here has a problem with taking a rifle away from a sniper aiming at children.

As a matter of fact, if you knew the sniper’s intentions and had the opportunity to take the rifle safely yet neglected to do so, wouldn’t that be a sin of omission?

I would say the sniper has no right to his own property if he is going to use it in that manner. Similarily, a Nazi has no right to the truth if he is asking whether you have Jews hiding in your attic.

There is more to a law than just its letter. There is the spirit of the law, and God’s laws are for our benefit, not our detriment.

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