The Just War doctrine originated in the writings of the non-Christian Roman writer, Cicero (c. 60 BCE), and was later taken up by St. Augustine (c. 300 CE), Thomas Aquinas,(c. 1260 CE) and Hugo Grotius (c. 1640), among others. A succinct exposition of Just War doctrine is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Section 2309).
There it is summarized as four conditions, all of which must be met for a war to be just:
2307 The fifth commandment forbids the intentional destruction of human life. Because of the evils and injustices that accompany all war, the Church insistently urges everyone to prayer and to action so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war.105
2308 All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war. 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-defense, 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 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. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
See: The Just War Doctrine http://preview.tinyurl.com/9lzpqa8
“Despite the clarity of these points, and their prominent inclusion in the Catechism, it is sadly the case that, in practice, the Catholic Church all but entirely ignores them.” ~ John Uebersax PhD
See: Why Doesn’t the Catholic Church Follow the Just War Doctrine?http://satyagraha.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/just-war-theory-and-christian-teaching/#comment-2432
Listen to this well-known and well-respected Catholic teacher and apologist (Tim Staples, beginning here at 36:00) tell a caller “good Catholics can disagree about the on-going wars regarding whether of not they are just.”
This is not true because Catholics have an OBJECTIVE STANDARD LISTING FOUR POINTS WHICH MUST ALL BE MET FOR A WAR TO BE CONSIDERED JUST.
This is NOT something good Catholics can disagree about, this is basic, Catholic moral theology with an objective standard which must be met by ALL CATHOLICS. Staples, here, is saying: “Good Catholics can disagree about what is or isn’t MORTAL SIN, which is pure 100% untrue.
According to Catholic MORAL theology, WAR is lawful ONLY when ALL FOUR of these CONDITIONS are met:
1. It is declared by legitimate authority;
2. It is just; that is, is waged for a just motive, such as re-establishing justice when offended, repairing an injury or defending oneself against aggression;
3. It is inevitable; that is, when all other peaceful means of obtaining justice and of obtaining redress have failed;
4. It is useful; insofar as it is likely that the advantages obtained will outweigh the damages suffered.