Would it be wrong for a Catholic firefighter to not put out a fire at an abortion clinic?

Lets say an abortion clinic is on fire. There is no one in the building. Would it be wrong for a Catholic firefighter to let the building burn down so that it wouldn’t be rebuilt? I don’t know how to feel about is. On the one hand there is no one hurt, but there is property damage. Yet its property damage to something evil. So would it be okay for a Catholic firefighter not to put the fire out.

I’m pretty sure he’d still have to put the fire out. It’s his job.

He has a moral obligation to obey authority, unless this authority was asking him to do something sinful. Putting out a fire in an abortion clinic would not be sinful, so he still has that moral obligation to obey authority and do his job by putting the fire out.

If he’s a firefighter, he has a duty to put out the fire… Especially if the fire could spread to other buildings or property… Or, if life is in danger.

To go against one’s sworn duty would to also go against one’s Catholic Faith.

As Jesus said “Let your yes be yes and you no be no” … When you take on a job, you can’t be selective in how you perform that job.

To not put out the fire would be the same as a Catholic Doctor not treating an Abortion doctor that had a heart attack. The Catholic Doctor took an oath when he became an MD. “So did the abortion doctor, however the abortion doctor broke his oath”

I think if you took on the job without informing the boss you would refuse to work certain jobs, you’re lying to your employer, taking pay under false pretenses and endangering the lives of the rest of your fire crew. you can decide which is worse.

if your moral scruples tell you not to put out abortion clinic fires, don’t be a fireman.

I don’t know why these questions are so hard. if you don’t want to “lie” to the Nazis, at least tell the Jews you’re hiding before you hide them.


I believe that faith filled Catholics always need to do the right thing. If you look at the Spiritual life God/Jesus/Holy Spirit do not withhold their grace or support from one based on lifestyle…it is up to each to be open or docile. That is another post.

As a firefighter, I can tell you that there would be no circumstance where your employer would allow such action. Further I don’t see any moral reason to let it burn down. How could you ever know everyone was out? What if there are explosive lab chemicals , propane, etc that can kill or damage surrounding people/property. Whether its burned to the ground or damaged, it will be rebuilt by insurance.

As a firefighter we encounter lots of people doing lots of sinful things, fellow sinners. Do we withhold care from the strip club owner having a heart attack? Do we not try to save the gang member who got shot? We don’t make moral determinations of people’s life situation during the height of an emergency. Instead, we approach everyone with equal dignity and serve them to the best of our ability.

Thank you for your service to the community as a firefighter! Also a great post. :slight_smile:

To the OP: Yes, it would be wrong. Aside from all of the very good points made above, the other firefighters have a right to expect that they don’t have to have a 15-minute debate in front of the burning building before their colleague agrees (or refuses!) to help them put it out.


this is funny first if you were a firefighter and refused to fight a fire I would start looking for another job. you would be Fired immediately and perhaps end up in jail as you are breaking the law. I don’t think the city cares if your catholic that is no excuse for not fighting the fire. and if someone inside dies in that clinic that is murder and murder is a sin. so if you refuse confess your sins. you have broken ione or more of the 10 commandments of God . God bless:blessyou:

Starting a backfire is an acknowledged fire fighting tactic! Sometimes explosives are used! :wink:


Caption: A firefighter watches a backfire set to protect a ranch along Grimes Canyon

If it’s good to protect a ranch along Grimes Canyon … protecting all of society ought also to be a proper motive too. Though let’s let the firefighters make that decision. :smiley:

Putting a fire out quickly is one of a firefighters’ goals. Sometimes controlling an existing fire so that it doesn’t spread to damage other things is a decision that gets made.

Analogous to preferring organic foods to artificially man-enhanced alternatives - letting a fire run its course could be considered a “natural alternative.”

At such times as building fires, sometimes do-good government investigates the building owners in multiple ways to determine if (since there was a fire that endangered the rest of the community and cost local government money and resources to fight it …) said owners are to be prosecuted for whatever neglect, not-to-code electronics or building materials, or people were responsible for the crisis.

youtube.com/watch?v=XdR2T6YKAUc < Applicable tips from Fire Marshal Bill

If a Catholic firefighter refuses to put out a fire at a abortion clinic, I guess it would even be a crime. Should a Catholic police officer refuse to respond to a call of a break-in at a abortion clinic?

You are correct, when on duty we have a legal duty to respond and can be held criminally and civilly liable if we fail to do our due diligence.


I’m glad I wouldn’t be judged before receiving emergency treatment!!

Thank you for doing what you do!!! :love::love::love::bowdown2:


Would it be wrong for a Catholic firefighter to not put out a fire at an abortion clinic?

Would These BE Asked?

Would it be wrong for a BLACK firefighter to not put out a fire at KKK Headquarters?

Would it be wrong for a Gay firefighter to not put out a fire at a Catholic Church?

Anyway I’ve never heard such asked. HERE as you can see - the Catholic question DOES get asked.

**Q: Why Might This Legitimately BE?
Maybe there’s a good reason why the others aren’t. What might such good reasons be?:

There are no longer any KKK Headquarters … (whereas there are abortion clinics)? Or …

It’s an unfair question to ask re: a gay firefighter: in that it casts suspicion on him/her – and undue scrutiny as per performance - as if they wouldn’t do their best?

I know. This is a Catholic place. It’s good to examine ourselves - and ask ethical questions. Posing counter-questions could be a way of excusing possibly bad behavior instead of preparing oneself for a possible eventuality and deciding the best course possible for dealing with it.

It’s not bad to notice that the same standards are not applied much in similar circumstances – to other people who might scruple to hesitate as to whether defending something they personally oppose with all their convictions - comes as part of the job. For example:

Checking one’s “gay” inclinations per the military door went from:

“Don’t ask, don’t tell …” (IMO this is at its best - “What difference does this make? Be a soldier, sailor, marine etc.! Don’t sexually misbehave …” - heterosexually or otherwise)!


A military person’s*** sexual (and related political?) inclinations*** are a defining character that they shouldn’t be asked to check at the door. < Not a rule written in stone, but my impression of current unofficial policy.

Increasingly a Catholic person’s rights in the military (and soon Fire Departments - per this thread?) are being challenged at many levels including the restricting of Catholic Chaplains to even teach the faith on matters where the state has decided to differ from Catholic teaching – EVEN to the point where unwilling Catholics will be co-opted into violating their own consciences and Church teachings in contributing to another’s sin - sometimes MORTAL sin.



So I bring up a couple of comparisons - questions that probably would NOT be asked by a Fire Department or Government, the media, academe, or anyone else that I can see. And **I am not even SERIOUS about those questions. ** Just demonstrating how strange such scrutiny can look when applied – to other than to pro-life Catholics.

That’s not always the case. It is very possible that obeying “sworn duties” puts one at odds with their Catholic faith. Soldiers being the most prominent example. If a higher up orders you to kill someone you know is innocent, following your sworn duty would mean abandoning the tenets of your faith. If there was no risk to others, I (personally) would work the perimeter to contain the fire from spreading (giving it more time to burn the clinic) and theeen put it out. Am I evil? No. Do I wish harm on anyone? No. I’m just not about to go out of my way to protect something that only causes evil in the world. Even if it’s my “job” to do so. Christ first in “all” things.

OSKAR SCHINDLER, Catholic Businessman;
Saved 1200 lives by “not doing his best”
in the service of an evil enterprise
Use “zoom in” to read plaque


For examination, let’s recast the contemporary question: “Would it be wrong for a Catholic firefighter to not put out a fire at an abortion clinic”? With:

WAS it be wrong for a Catholic businessman to not put out his best efforts to produce armaments for his country, and help that country identify “its enemies” insteading of sheltering them?

Not a perfectly analogous ethical question. But a less theoretical one.

If someone here thinks that what Schindler did was RIGHT (as I do) … but thinks that:

– applying his value of “humanity first over technical rules that support evil things and goals”*

– does not apply to the theoretical situation ethics puzzle here

– (whereas I would at least in some circumstances) I’d be interested to see your thinking.

  • Schindler’s employing of otherwise vulnerable Jews and others who would be imprisoned and probably killed otherwise saved many lives. Additionally, rather than doing his best ( principle being examined here, no?) to provide armaments to the Nazis (that he knew would kill people and prolong the war) he delivered unusable products, demanded more help (people) from the Nazis – that he didn’t really need to not produce the junk he was producing – and lied about the abilities of some of the people the Nazis came to collect to meet their concentration camp quotas (said they were critical to the war effort AND that the “quota” seekers would be blamed for his company’s failures)!

Schindler made some choices that are now hailed by most everyone. He saved the lives of some that were threatened by unrighteous bullies, callous cowards, people with strange political and moral ethics (though in power), NOT at the point of their execution but preventing the injustice via his passive efforts – and some active ones.

How much of Oskar Schindler’s kind of applied ethics (if any) could or should a believing Catholic imitate in the above circumstance, considering what abortion clinics are for.

I am thinking of an uninhabited building here. Allowing people to suffer (deliberately) to make a political point is of course NOT pro-life nor justifiable IMO.

I would not want you at my place of work if it was on fire and you were a fire fighter and no, I do not work at an abortion clinic.

It is not for anyone to play God.

ProTip: take off the uniform. don’t be a firefighter. don’t take a firefighter’s job and don’t steal from the public if you’re not going to do the job they’re paying you to do. don’t risk someone else’s life for your scruples.

if someone put my people in danger because of this sudden discovery of scruples, there wouldn’t have been much left to court martial afterwards.

I don’t know if you’re evil, that’s above my pay grade, but your attitude is despicable. and I don’t think you really care who gets hurt.


Not analogous at all, unless someone is likely to shoot or intern you for not being a firefighter.

If you choose to be a firefighter entirely of your free will, you must do it to the best of your ability regardless of the building. Schindler had far fewer choices. In addition, a firefighter is reducing distruction, whereas an armaments manufacturer is increasing it. Really, I don’t think the situations are even similar.


Thanks for responding Jen! Per your:

Paragraph 1: Yes. Schindler was amazing in risking that. And an American firefighter who similarly decided that his “duties per his contract” did not extend unto – “doing one’s utmost to insure a life-taking enterprise ran at top speed” – would not be shot. Interned? Hmm. Not a Nazi concentration camp, but jail would be a possible risk for a scrupling firefighter (if caught).

Sentence 2: Yes. The buildings have done nothing wrong. Firefighters are not drafted, they apply. Doing one’s best to fight fires is generally the right thing to do.

A firefighter is “reducing destruction” :hmmm: - In this theoretical case that is not so clear. Reducing the destruction to a place “dedicated to destruction” - could be saving a PLACE where harm to PEOPLE (created by God, in His image, with souls etc., etc.) would take place (again) but this time due to one’s own contributions.

That could be a crisis of conscience for a good person. Render unto Caesar or to God?

Generally BOTH if it can be done. Occasionally a choice is inescapable. Then:

Go with the first commandment (because God is perfect and Caesar might be wrong)?

Go with Caesar because you are here and not in heaven (whatever ungodly side effects ensue)?

Do neither? Quit? Pretend to be in a catatonic state?

There seems to be a lot of support for Caesar (worldly duties prevailing) on this thread so far. And Jesus does say “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars”. Are all worldly priorities Caesar’s (the state, one’s boss, one’s contract?) or is there a point at which, like Peter teaching in the Temple in violation of Caiaphas’ orders, one decides:

[size=]“It is better to follow God than man!”?

Caption: When a burning building has LIFE inside of it - even a pet - a firefighter’s ethical priority is …
“Save the LIFE before the building” – both if possible (But IN that order)


What IS similar in the Schindler/firefighter analogy would be:

A technical breaking of a law or (in the case of the firefighter) its spirit. For a higher purpose.

Using ones power of the moment to prevent future **evils **- that will surely resume more quickly or continue “more efficiently” - to the best of one’s abilities vs. (replace “prevent” with “promote” or “enable” - for that is the almost sure consequence).

Schindler did SOME of his job, and looked good doing it (THAT part wasn’t contributive to the evil). Delivering deliberately defective parts on time (well – dishonest on the less important level). A firefighter in charge who decided to make every close call in favor of neighboring properties versus the burning one - might even be LESS dishonest than Schindler shipping bad parts as he would be protecting SOME properties better while passively ruling that saving a baby killing factory was not as important as saving a neighboring home or better business.

Triage: Where Ethical Priorities Collide.

At hospitals the triage department decides who gets emergency help FIRST. This should be done with the highest ethics - but if one patient is FIRST another is LATER. Sometimes BOTH can’t be saved. Sometimes NEITHER can. The one with power to decide must do THAT to the best of their ability.

And one need not use “help the worst person first” as the tiebreaker. e.g. A drug lord is wounded in a shootout and is in WORSE danger of dying than … a woman in labor with a breached baby. As a Catholic (if it’s me) try to save them both. Who first? Considerations:

**The mother and child - ** per the number of people helped, a better claim upon the state’s services per being non-criminals, and their innocence regarding a natural need for medical care.


The drug lord - per his danger of going to hell imminently if he loses his life whereas the mother and child if lost will more likely go to heaven? *< As a state employee this *shouldn’t **enter into triage - but a spiritual person might consider it.

The Question proposed by Wild Catholic in post 1 is an interesting ethical one:

Is it better to save innocent babies than a “bad building” if you have the power?

Might cause some to answer differently than if the question is put …

Can a firefighter decide not to do his/her job if a conscience qualm is involved?

I MUST say that it’s not often I see a “situation ethics” puzzle proposed – that is not proposed in a way leading toward “justifying that an evil can be done” in opposition to a Catholic Church teaching. Wild Catholic’s example rather wonders if someone might support a Church teaching (oppose abortion) more than a civic duty if the two come into conflict. :hmmm:[/size]

I don’t know if it will make a difference in your ProTip but … in Wild Catholic’s proposed scenario in post 1 … and in the very (SaintFrancis333) post you responded to the abortion clinic was empty.

Which seems to be your main objection. A pro-life objection if you will. And THAT would be quite a proper objection on your part per both the civic and faith obligations - as ACTUAL lives in the present would be being sacrificed to “save” theoretically (though probably) threatened lives "in the future - PLUS the property damage considerations.

I read the other post differently than justifying not aiding people. And therefore being evil. I highlighted the “no people harmed” stuff in red below.

Originally Posted by SaintFrancis333
That’s not always the case. It is very possible that obeying “sworn duties” puts one at odds with their Catholic faith. Soldiers being the most prominent example. If a higher up orders you to kill someone you know is innocent, following your sworn duty would mean abandoning the tenets of your faith. If there was no risk to others, I (personally) would work the perimeter to contain the fire from spreading (giving it more time to burn the clinic) and theeen put it out. Am I evil? No. Do I wish harm on anyone? No. I’m just not about to go out of my way to protect something that only causes evil in the world. Even if it’s my “job” to do so. Christ first in “all” things.

Those qualifiers were in the middle of the post - but they were there. Which makes a big difference. Sacrificing lives in the name of pro-life WOULD be a strange ordering of priorities at the very least. With evil consequences even if one intended the “other good thing” (saving babies later).

Abortion is now illegal in Mississippi. If the ***legal aspect is reversed ***- and an illegal EMPTY abortion clinic is found to be on fire does a whole different ethic THEN prevail?

Can a fire chief** then **choose to opt toward (say) keeping his crew safer than put them “at risk” to save a property that violates the STATE’S rules? (That’s putting another spin on things). It would make it easier to mull one’s options without as many consequences later. :hmmm:

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