Just War: Week 3, edited by Father Frank Schuele
Last week we looked at some of the moral conditions necessary for a nation to consider before resorting to the use of force, including just cause, competent authority, and comparative justice. This week we look at the remaining conditions:
4) Probability of Success: This is a difficult criterion to apply, but its purpose is to prevent irrational resort to force or hopeless resistance when the outcome of either will clearly be disproportionate or futile. The determination includes a recognition that at times defense of key values, even against great odds, may be a “proportionate” witness.
5) Proportionality means that the damage to be inflicted and the costs incurred by war must be proportionate to the good expected by taking up arms…This principle applies throughout the conduct of the war as well as to the decision to begin warfare.
II. The conduct of war
1) Proportionality is: once we take into account not only the military advantages that will be achieved by using this means, but also all the harms reasonably expected to follow, can its use still be justified?
2) Discrimination prohibits directly intended attacks on non-combatants and non-military targets. It raises a series of questions about the term “intentional,” the category of “non-combatant,” and the meaning of “military.”
The pastoral letter goes on to elaborate principles prohibiting counter-population warfare, the deliberate initiation of nuclear warfare, and whether nuclear weapons could be morally justified. Finally, the document evaluates American policy and practice on the military doctrine of nuclear deterrence, finding it morally untenable in some aspects which are still in place.
Download this document at www.usccb.org (search Challenge of Peace).
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church (2005) quotes and greatly expands upon the material found in the Catechism, forming an authoritative companion to the Catechism. It addresses new moral dilemmas, ethnic cleansing, organized terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and weaponry development.
In accord with Pope John Paul II’s increasing skepticism that any large-scale warfare could be justified today, it strengthens the demand for cooperation among nations to build a more peaceful world order by non-military means while at the same time protecting and helping defenseless victims of aggression within countries.
Find the Compendium at www.vatican.va (search social doctrine compendium).