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Life in Christ

557

2313

Non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must

be respected and treated humanely.

Actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to

its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command

such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who

carry them out. Thus the extermination of a people, nation, or

ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin. One is morally

bound to resist orders that command genocide.

2314

“Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruc­

tion of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime

against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal con­

demnation.”

110

A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the

opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons—

especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons—to commit

such crimes.

2315

The

accumulation of arms

strikes many as a paradoxically

suitable way of deterring potential adversaries from war. They see

it as the most effective means of ensuring peace among nations.

This method of deterrence gives rise to strong moral reservations.

The

arms race

does not ensure peace. Far from eliminating the

causes of war, it risks aggravating them. Spending enormous sums

to produce ever new types of weapons impedes efforts to aid needy

populations;

111

it thwarts the development of peoples.

Over-arma-

ment

multiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of

escalation.

2316

The production and the sale of arms

affect the common good

of nations and of the international community. Hence public

authorities have the right and duty to regulate them. The short-

term pursuit of private or collective interests cannot legitimate un­

dertakings that promote violence and conflict among nations and

compromise the international juridical order.

2317

Injustice, excessive economic or social inequalities, envy,

distrust, and pride raging among men and nations constantly

threaten peace and cause wars. Everything done to overcome these

disorders contributes to building up peace and avoiding war:

Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them

and will so continue until Christ comes again; but insofar as

they can vanquish sin by coming together in charity, vio­

110

GS

80 § 3.

111 Cf. Paul VI,

PP

53.

2242

1906

1938

2538

1941