The recurring question without an answer

The church teaches that everyone is entitled to self-defense (and defense of others) against an unjust aggressor. However, there is no official teaching - to the best of my knowledge - in a slightly different scenario. It goes: “someone puts others into lethal danger, unknowingly and unintentionally”. Obviously this person is NOT an “aggressor” in any sense of the word. But he presents a lethal danger to others.

If there is NO other way to neutralize the danger, is it allowed to use lethal force to prevent it? In other words: “kill this person”?

This is the question: “what does the church teach about this scenario”? I asked this question several times of several platforms. Never received an answer.

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Well if you’re not the “other” how do you know they’re in lethal danger? May seem obvious from your vantage point but the third party perspective can cloud what the actual other is seeing

Again another big IF. Have to engage in complete speculation. We’re assuming the other has no means to defend , which we can’t possibly know.

These huge uncertainties don’t exist w self defense

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Yes, if you must kill them to neutralize them then it is permissible.

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I’d argue “those who legitimately hold authority” to be police, etc and possibly those that Government authorized to conceal carry

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The Church teaches that we may resist an unjust aggressor, even to the point of killing that aggressor. The Church doesn’t normally have a “teaching” about individual instances of things (either hypotheticals or real-life scenarios), she just gives us the principles and we must apply them.

I would offer the example, and it may be a fairly lurid one, of a crazed, mentally deficient person who gets hold of a gun and many rounds of ammo. He runs up and down a crowded, busy street, menacing everyone and shooting people at random. He has just enough intelligence to keep reloading and firing, and thinks it’s a funny game. I have a gun too. Merely disabling him (shooting him in the foot or leg) isn’t an option because he doesn’t have the intelligence to know how badly he’s been hurt, and shots to the extremities are more likely to miss. I’m also liable to injure him just enough to make him angry but not to stop him. So, regrettably, I have to go for core body mass, the heart if I can, and kill him. That wouldn’t be a good thing, but if he isn’t stopped, he will just keep killing and killing until he runs out of ammo.

I don’t think this is complicated at all. That is the kind of moral reasoning that good catechesis should enable us to do. And in a nightmare scenario such as this, there’s no time to consult a confessor first.


If you can come up with a situation where someone unknowingly and unintentionally puts others in lethal danger which requires lethal force to prevent, I will tell you if it’s moral or not!


The recurring question without an answer?

The recurring 'WHAT IF? and WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Speculative highly improbable scenario,
drawn from and solely existing within someone’s imagination
for the oft-common purpose of attempting to stump a Christian question… .

The Church does not need to have endless Teachings on the endless "What If’'s

Answer: Nothing Justifies Murder of a Non Aggessor…

However: It’s Kosher for a non-Aggressor to give his own life for the life of others.


Sinful intent.

I can only think of someone who is say driving a car under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and has people in the car that are unaware…is that the sort of scenario being proposed?

After rereading your post I realize I misunderstood it at first. As others have said, this is a completely hypothetical situation. You need to come up with an example of your scenario that gives it substance. Otherwise it is a meaningless question.

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I do not believe it is permissible to take an innocent life to protect others. Almost positive about this.

Surely it’s not beyond anyone to be able to come up with a reasonable scenario. I am constantly at a loss how difficult it is getting across the concept of hypotheticals to most people.

Give us a scenario then.

No. I’ll pass. If someone cannot think of one themselves then I don’t imagine they’d be able to offer anything worthwhile to the discussion. I’ll leave you to think of one and we’ll take it from there.

Which ultimately means that you have nothing of value to add to the conversation since you can’t think of a scenario. You are the one who thinks it is a worthy question. It is your job to propose a meaningful question instead of trying to insult people. We aren’t here to do your thinking for you and propose your questions for you.


The typical scenario would be a mother whose life is threatened by a pregnancy.

I think that was my point.

I’m not asking to argue-I honestly don’t know the answer to this. Would it be permissible to shoot down a plane full of civilians if the plane was hijacked and going to hit a skyscraper? Obviously the passengers on the plane are innocent but you’d save thousands of lives by shooting the plane down. Again, I’m not asking to argue. I don’t know the answer.

The answer is no.

Really?? :face_with_monocle:

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Since you think it is a valid and meaningful question it is your job to explain it. It isn’t my job to give your question meaning and depth, in other words think for you.

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