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Frequently Asked Questions
regarding
THE MEANING OF
A JUST WAR

Q. 1. What is a "just war?"

A. 1. Three of the basic conditions of a just war are:

- One that is waged as a last resort. All non-violent options must be exhausted before the use of force can be justified.

- One that can be fought to redress a wrong suffered. For example, self-defense against an armed attack is always considered to be a just cause. Further, a just war can only be fought with "right" intentions: the only permissible objective of a just war is to redress the injury.

- A war can only be just if it is fought with a reasonable chance of success. Deaths and injury incurred in a hopeless cause are not morally justifiable.

Q. 2. What does the Catholic Church teach about a Just War?

A. 2. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 2309, it states:

"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 inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or 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.

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 responsibility for the common good."

Q. 3. Does the Vatican view the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as just wars?

A. 3. From day one, the Vatican has condemned the invasion of Iraq as an "unjust war." It is no different with the war in Afghanistan. It does not meet the above conditions as a necessity to protect the United States against an invasion.



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