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M.9 Why should I stick to the Rules of Engagement if the enemy does not?

Enemy & War

These are not just rules: they help you to act at all time in accordance with your calling as a soldier and a Christian. Letting go of these rules means letting the enemy bring you down from the moral high ground. At every moment the human dignity of the enemy must be respected. Every suffering and death is evil, even that of the enemy.

The Bible tells us we are part of the fight between good and evil. Every day the enemy of God tries to lure us to the dark side by tempting us to do what we know is wrong. Standing strong morally and in faith is important. Jesus went even further when he was willing to suffer and die – not only for his friends but also for his enemies! For example, this could be translated in concrete action by a nation deciding no longer to join the arms race.

Do not let yourself down! Jesus gave his life for his enemies, rather than to play by their same dirty rules.
The Wisdom of the Church

What sorts of acts violate the human right to bodily integrity?

This right is violated by the use of violence, kidnapping and hostage taking, terrorism, torture, rape, and forced sterilization as well as by amputation and mutilation. These fundamental violations against justice, charity, and human dignity are not justified even when they are backed by government authority. Conscious of the historical guilt of Christians as well, the Church today fights against all use of physical or psychological force, especially against torture [Youcat 392].

Are kidnapping, torture, and terrorism morally wrong?

Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law [CCC 2297].

Was the Church sometimes involved in cruel practices?

In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood. In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors [CCC 2298].

In case of war, what does the moral law require?

Even during a war the moral law always remains valid. It requires the humane treatment of non-combatants, wounded soldiers and prisoners of war. Deliberate actions contrary to the law of nations, and the orders that command such actions are crimes, which blind obedience does not excuse. Acts of mass destruction must be condemned and likewise the extermination of peoples or ethnic minorities, which are most grievous sins. One is morally bound to resist the orders that command such acts [CCCC 485].

Is conscience-objection permissible?

Public authorities should make equitable provision for those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms; these are nonetheless obliged to serve the human community in some other way [CCC 2311].

Is moral law always valid in combat?

The Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict. "The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties" (Gaudium et Spes 79). Non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely [CCC 2312-2313].

This is what the Popes say

“An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction – and possibly the destruction of all mankind – are self-contradictory and an affront to the entire framework of the United Nations, which would end up as ‘nations united by fear and distrust’” [Pope Francis, to the United Nations, 25 Sept. 2015].