Popes and Councils Confirm the Doctrine of Saint Thomas on War

September 19, 2016

What Popes, Saints, Doctors and Theologians Think Regarding the Lawfulness of War (contd.)

2. Popes and Councils Confirm the Doctrine of Saint Thomas on War

Saint Thomas Aquinas “sets forth the three conditions that legitimize in conscience the use of armed force.”

According to the entry “Paix et Guerre” in the Dictionnaire Apologétique de la Foi Catholique, Saint Thomas Aquinas “sets forth the three conditions that legitimize in conscience the use of armed force.”

1. When the war is brought on not by simple individuals or through some secondary authority,…but always through the authority that exercises the highest power in the State;

 

When the war is brought on not by simple individuals or through some secondary authority,…but always through the authority that exercises the highest power in the State

2. When the war is motivated by a just cause; that is to say, when the adversary is fought because of a proportionate offense that he really committed….

When the war is motivated by a just cause; that is to say, when the adversary is fought because of a proportionate offense that he really committed

3. When the war is conducted with a right intention; that is to say, in faithfully making every effort to promote good and to avoid evil in all ways possible….

When the war is conducted with a right intention; that is to say, in faithfully making every effort to promote good and to avoid evil in all ways possible

This doctrine of Saint Thomas is indirectly but strikingly confirmed in the papal Bulls, in the conciliar decrees of the Middle Ages concerning the “peace of God” and later the “truce of God,” just as in the peaceful and arbitrated settlement of conflicts between kingdoms. These documents, in their concordance, interpret the authentic thought of the Church and the general spirit of its teachings on the subject of moral questions concerning the right of peace and war…. The practice of popes and councils corroborates and accredits the teachings of the Doctors [on the subject], whose three fundamental principles Saint Thomas puts into relief. (cols. 1261-1262.)

 

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII: A Theme Illuminating American Social History (York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 1993), Documents XI, p. 514.

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