Catechism of the Catholic Church

Life in Christ 557 2313 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. 2314 “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 demnation.” 110 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 such crimes. 2315 The 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. The arms race 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 populations; 111 it thwarts the development of peoples. Over-arma- ment multiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of escalation. 2316 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. 2317 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 110 GS 80 § 3. 111 Cf. Paul VI, PP 53. 2242 1906 1938 2538 1941