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556

Part Three

However, “as long as the danger of war persists and there

is no international authority with the necessary competence and

power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-de­

fense, once all peace efforts have failed.”

106

2309

The strict conditions for

legitimate defense by military force

require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision

makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one

and the same time:

the damage inflictedby the aggressor on the nationor community

of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to

be impractical or ineffective;

there must be serious prospects of success;

the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than

the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruc­

tion weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called

the “just war” doctrine.

The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy

belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibil­

ity for the common good.

2310

Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to

impose on citizens the

obligations necessary for national defense.

Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed

forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they

carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the com­

mon good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.

107

2311

Public authorities should make equitable provision for

those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms; these are

nonetheless obliged to serve the human community in some other

way.

108

2312

The Church and human reason both assert the permanent

validity of the

moral law during armed conflict.

“The mere fact that

war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything

becomes licit between the warring parties.”

109

106

GS

79 § 4.

107 Cf.

GS

79 § 5.

108 Cf.

GS

79 § 3.

109

GS

79 § 4.

2266

2243

1897

2239

1909

1782, 1790