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Life in Christ

545

The Old Testament always considered blood a sacred sign

of life.

60

This teaching remains necessary for all time.

2261

Scripture specifies the prohibition contained in the fifth

commandment: “Do not slay the innocent and the righteous.”

61

The deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to

the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the

holiness of the Creator. The law forbidding it is universally valid:

it obliges each and everyone, always and everywhere.

2262

In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the com­

mandment, “You shall not kill,”

62

and adds to it the proscription

of anger, hatred, and vengeance. Going further, Christ asks his

disciples to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies.

63

He did not

defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath.

64

Legitimate defense

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.”

65

2264

Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of

morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own

right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder

even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence,

it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with modera­

tion, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for

salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to

avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more

care of one’s own life than of another’s.

66

2265

Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty

for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of

the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered

60 Cf.

Lev

17:14.

61

Ex

23:7.

62

Mt

5:21.

63 Cf.

Mt

5:22-39; 5:44.

64 Cf.

Mt

26:52.

65 St. Thomas Aquinas,

STh

II-II, 64, 7, corp. art.

66 St. Thomas Aquinas,

STh

II-II, 64, 7, corp. art.

1756

1956

2844

1737

2196

2240