Life in Christ
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.
“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
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
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.
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
it thwarts the development of peoples.
multiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of
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.
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
80 § 3.
111 Cf. Paul VI,