‘Just war’ theory doesn’t apply in modern conflict

Just War

The Vatican has strongly criticised the application of the “just war” theory to justify modern conflicts, particularly in Gaza.

The Justice and Peace Commission of the Holy Land recently issued a document condemning the misuse of this concept which is deeply rooted in Catholic doctrine.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin echoed these concerns, noting that the theory is being revised.

Parolin said “We know that on the question of just war. There is a lot of discussion today, because this was a concept of social doctrine.

“There is just war, the war of defence, but today with the weapons that are available, this concept becomes very difficult” he said. “In fact, it’s being discussed. I don’t think there is a definitive position yet, but it’s a concept that’s in revision.”

‘Just War’ theory being weaponised

The Justice and Peace Commission’s document argues that political actors in Israel and abroad are weaponising the “just war” theory to legitimise the ongoing violence in Gaza.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church outlines strict conditions for a war to be deemed just:

  • the harm caused by the aggressor must be severe and certain,
  • all peaceful alternatives must have been exhausted,
  • there must be serious prospects of success,
  • the use of arms must not cause greater harm than the evil being addressed.

Cardinal Parolin stressed that with modern weaponry, the “just war” concept becomes increasingly difficult to justify. “It’s never a just war.” He emphasised that a war can be just only in the context of defence, a standard neither side meets in the Gaza conflict.

The Justice and Peace Commission criticised the indiscriminate targeting of civilians and the disproportionate use of force. This has resulted in a catastrophic Palestinian death toll which has disproportionately affected women and children.

Cardinal Parolin reiterated that universal peace is a good that concerns everyone.

Even if diplomatic efforts sometimes seem to produce small results, “we must never get tired or give in to the temptation of resignation” he said.

“Peace is the duty of everyone” and begins “in our daily lives, in our cities, in our countries, in the world” Parolin remarked.


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