Abortion

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.”
-Psalm 139:13-15

Abortion has remained one of the most divisive issues in the United States since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision ruled abortion to be a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution. Since that time, over 50 million abortions have been performed in the United States. The wounds of abortion have spread far and wide throughout our country and world. In addition to the millions of children who have been denied their right to life, victims of abortion include mothers, fathers, families, and all of society. This calls us to act to protect the child in the womb and support in concrete ways those mothers and fathers who find themselves challenged by a crisis pregnancy.
 
Catholic social teaching tells us that all human beings are made in God’s image and thus possess an inherent and inviolable dignity. This truth serves as the foundation of the Catholic Church’s commitment to defending human life from the moment of conception until natural death. The right to life is the most basic and fundamental right that we possess, without which we would have no others. Abortion is a most severe violation of the dignity of the human person and for this reason is morally unacceptable.

What Does Scripture Say?

“You shall not kill” (Ex 20:13).

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jer 1:5).

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth” (Ps 139:13-15).

Catechism of the Catholic Church on Abortion:

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life” (CCC, 2270).

“Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law” (CCC, 2271).

“Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. ‘A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,’ ‘by the very commission of the offense,’ and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society” (CCC, 2272).

“The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation. . .” (CCC, 2273).

“Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being” (CCC, 2274).

Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia

“Euthanasia and assisted suicide can appear a reasonable and even compassionate solution to the suffering of individuals and families struggling with illness or the dying process. Yet these are not real solutions – they do not solve human problems, but only take the lives of those most in need of unconditional love.” -USCCB Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities
The 2014 death of Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old woman diagnosed with terminal brain cancer that ended her life via Oregon’s “Death with Dignity” law, has reignited the physician-assisted suicide debate in the United States. Assisted suicide is currently legal in Washington, Oregon, Vermont, and California. Contrary to popular belief, assisted suicide is not legal in Montana. However, as a result of the Montana Supreme Court’s decision in Baxter v. Montana, physician-assisted suicides are occurring in Montana.

What Does Scripture Say?

“You shall not kill” (Ex 20:13).

“As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).

“None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or we die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom 14:7-8).

Catechism of the Catholic Church on Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia:

“Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible” (CCC, 2276).

“Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable. Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator” (CCC, 2277).

“Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of “over-zealous” treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected” (CCC, 2278).

“Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged” (CCC, 2279).

“We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of” (CCC, 2280).

“Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God” (CCC, 2281).

“If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law. Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide” (CCC, 2282).

“We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives” (CCC, 2283).

Capital Punishment

“The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who proclaim, celebrate and serve the gospel of Life in every situation. A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty.” -Saint John Paul II, January 27, 1999, St. Louis, Missouri

“We oppose capital punishment not just for what it does to those guilty of horrible crimes but for what it does to all of us as a society. Increasing reliance on the death penalty diminishes all of us and is a sign of growing disrespect for human life. We cannot overcome crime by simply executing criminals, nor can we restore the lives of the innocent by ending the lives of those convicted of their murders. The death penalty offers the tragic illusion that we can defend life by taking life.”
-“A Good Friday Appeal to End the Death Penalty”
A Statement of the Administrative Board of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Capital punishment is currently legal in 32 states, including Montana. Since its reauthorization in 1976, over 1,400 people have been executed in the United States. Since 1973, more than 150 people have been exonerated from death row after new evidence revealed their innocence.

All human life is a gift from God. We must call for policies that protect the right to life of every person, even those individuals convicted of heinous crimes. In a historic address to Congress, Pope Francis called for a “global abolition of the death penalty … since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.”

What Does Scripture Say?

“You shall not kill” (Ex 20:13).

“Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let us go out in the field.’ When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ God then said: What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! Now you are banned from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. If you till the ground, it shall no longer give you its produce. You shall become a constant wanderer on the earth. Cain said to the LORD: ‘My punishment is too great to bear. Look, you have now banished me from the ground. I must avoid you and be a constant wanderer on the earth. Anyone may kill me at sight.’ Not so! the LORD said to him. If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged seven times. So the LORD put a mark on Cain, so that no one would kill him at sight” (Gn 4:8-15).

“Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?’ They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She replied, ‘No one, sir.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more’” (Jn 8:3-11).

Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Death Penalty:

“Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity ‘are very rare, if not practically nonexistent’” (CCC, 2267).

Human Trafficking

“Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. We must unite our efforts to free the victims and stop this increasingly aggressive crime which threatens not only individuals but the basic values of society and of international security and justice, to say nothing of the economy, and the fabric of the family and our coexistence.” – Pope Francis

On a global scale, human trafficking ranks as the 2nd largest criminal activity, bringing in an estimated $32 billion annually. Human trafficking encompasses the entire state of Montana, and has recently been especially problematic in the Bakken. Statistics are difficult to develop as victims are often not easy to identify.

Unfortunately, human trafficking is often is forgotten as a “sanctity of life” issue. Treating an individual as a commodity to be bought and sold is a grave violation of his or her human dignity. The Catholic Church condemns all forms of human trafficking and has fought diligently to end this modern-day slavery while providing assistance to the victims of trafficking.

What Does Scripture Say?

“You shall not steal” (Ex 20:15).

“For the LORD, your God, is the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who has no favorites, accepts no bribes, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the resident alien, giving them food and clothing. So you too should love the resident alien, for that is what you were in the land of Egypt” (Dt 10:17-19).

“For he rescues the poor when they cry out,
the oppressed who have no one to help.
He shows pity to the needy and the poor
and saves the lives of the poor.
From extortion and violence he redeems them,
for precious is their blood in his sight” (Ps 72:12-14).

“He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.’

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:16-21).

Catechism of the Catholic Church on Human Trafficking:

“The seventh commandment forbids acts or enterprises that for any reason – selfish or ideological, commercial, or totalitarian – lead to the enslavement of human beings, to their being bought, sold and exchanged like merchandise, in disregard for their personal dignity. It is a sin against the dignity of persons and their fundamental rights to reduce them by violence to their productive value or to a source of profit. St. Paul directed a Christian master to treat his Christian slave ‘no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother, . . . both in the flesh and in the Lord’” (CCC, 2414).

Poverty and Economic Justice

“. . . within the community of believers there can never be room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a dignified life.” -Pope Benedict XVI

Despite great advances in technology, science, commerce, health care and other areas of human development, poverty continues to be a major problem in the United States and across the globe. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 46.7 million people living in poverty in the United States in 2014. Of those, 15.5 million were children under the age of 18 representing a child poverty rate of 21.1%.

Being “pro-life” means having care and concern for the poor. We do this not only by providing direct aid to those in need but also by engaging in efforts to address situations, systems and structures of economic injustice. The poor have many different faces (e.g., the “working poor,” the disabled, the elderly, the exploited, etc.) but in all of them we should see reflected the face of Jesus Christ.

What Does Scripture Say?

“Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking off every yoke?
Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry,
bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard” (Is 58:6-8).

“And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said:
‘Blessed are you who are poor,
for the kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way’” (Lk 6:20-23).

“The land will never lack for needy persons; that is why I command you: “Open your hand freely to your poor and to your needy kin in your land’” (Dt 15:11).

“Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow” (Mt 5:42).

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25:31-36).

“If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?” (Jas 2:15-16).

Catechism of the Catholic Church on Poverty and Economic Justice:

“The right to private property, acquired or received in a just way, does not do away with the original gift of the earth to the whole of mankind. The universal destination of goods remains primordial, even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise” (CCC, 2403).

“’In his use of things man should regard the external goods he legitimately owns not merely as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself.’ The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family.” (CCC, 2404).
“In economic matters, respect for human dignity requires the practice of the virtue of temperance, so as to moderate attachment to this world’s goods; the practice of the virtue of justice, to preserve our neighbor’s rights and render him what is his due; and the practice of solidarity, in accordance with the golden rule and in keeping with the generosity of the Lord, who ‘though he was rich, yet for your sake . . . became poor so that by his poverty, you might become rich’” (CCC, 2407).

“The development of economic activity and growth in production are meant to provide for the needs of human beings. Economic life is not meant solely to multiply goods produced and increase profit or power; it is ordered first of all to the service of persons, of the whole man, and of the entire human community. Economic activity, conducted according to its own proper methods, is to be exercised within the limits of the moral order, in keeping with social justice so as to correspond to God’s plan for man” (CCC, 2426).

“God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them: ‘Give to him who begs from you, do not refuse him who would borrow from you’; ‘you received without pay, give without pay.’ It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones. When ‘the poor have the good news preached to them,’ it is the sign of Christ’s presence” (CCC, 2443).

“’The Church’s love for the poor . . . is a part of her constant tradition.’ This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor. Love for the poor is even one of the motives for the duty of working so as to ‘be able to give to those in need.’ It extends not only to material poverty but also to the many forms of cultural and religious poverty” (CCC, 2444).

“St. John Chrysostom vigorously recalls this: ‘Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.’ ‘The demands of justice must be satisfied first of all; that which is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity’:
When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice” (CCC, 2446).

“The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:
He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise. But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?” (CCC, 2447).

Immigration, Migration and Refugees

“The Church hears the suffering cry of all who are uprooted from their own land, of families forcefully separated, of those who, in the rapid changes of our day, are unable to find a stable home anywhere. She senses the anguish of those without rights, without any security, at the mercy of every kind of exploitation, and she supports them in their unhappiness. [We are called to work] so that every person’s dignity is respected, the immigrant is welcomed as a brother or sister, and all humanity forms a united family which knows how to appreciate with discernment the different cultures which comprise it.” -Saint John Paul II

According to the Pew Research Center, there were approximately 11.3 million unauthorized persons residing in the United States in 2014. In large part, these immigrants feel compelled to enter by either the explicit or implicit promise of employment in the U.S. agriculture, construction, and service industries, among others. Many come from countries struggling with severe poverty where it is often impossible for many to earn a living wage and meet the basic needs of their families. Others, including hundreds of thousands of unaccompanied children, flee countries ravaged by the violence wrought by criminal organizations and gangs.

Millions of others flee the persecution and brutal oppression that have become a way of life in places such as Syria. These displaced persons, forced to flee their homes, end up refugees in a foreign land seeking the safety and stability to which they are entitled as members of the human family.
It is essential that we heed the call of Pope Francis to guard against a culture of indifference that dehumanizes those on the margins of society and regards them as problems or inconveniences. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to attend to the needs of these most vulnerable populations in a way that promotes the common good and upholds the dignity of all.

What Does Scripture Say?

“There was famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, since the famine in the land was severe” (Gn 12:10).

“When an alien resides with you in your land, do not mistreat such a one. You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; you shall love the alien as yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the LORD, am your God” (Lv 19:33-34).

“You shall divide this land according to the tribes of Israel. You shall allot it as heritage for yourselves and for the resident aliens in your midst who have fathered children among you. You shall treat them like native Israelites; along with you they shall receive a heritage among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe the resident alien lives, there you shall assign his heritage—oracle of the Lord GOD” (Ez 47:21-23).

“When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.’ Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son’” (Mt 2:13-15).

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Mt 25:35-40).

Catechism of the Catholic Church on Immigration, Migration and Refugees:

“Human interdependence is increasing and gradually spreading throughout the world. The unity of the human family, embracing people who enjoy equal natural dignity, implies a universal common good. This good calls for an organization of the community of nations able to “provide for the different needs of men; this will involve the sphere of social life to which belong questions of food, hygiene, education, . . . and certain situations arising here and there, as for example . . . alleviating the miseries of refugees dispersed throughout the world, and assisting migrants and their families” (CCC, 1911).

“The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.
Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens” (CCC, 2241).

War and Peace

“If you want Peace, work for Justice.” – Pope Paul VI

Despite the unprecedented progress we have witnessed in so many areas of human life over the last century, wars and conflicts continue to be a tragic reality for all too many in the world. No peoples seem to be left untouched by the scourge of war including those of us in the United States. In our own day, tens of thousands of Americans have been killed or wounded in the various wars and conflicts in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Innocent civilians around the world are caught in the crossfire, unable to find the peace and security that is essential for the raising of families and building of lives.

But, as Christians, we are filled with the hope that faith in Jesus Christ provides. He points the way toward true peace and calls us, as His disciples, to undertake the necessary work of building a world of peace founded on justice. In witnessing the fruit born by this work, we are reminded that these labors are not in vain but rather breathe life and shine light into the dark corners of our world.

What Does Scripture Say?

“You shall not kill” (Ex 20:13).

“He shall judge between the nations,
and set terms for many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again” (Is 2:4).

“The work of justice will be peace;
the effect of justice, calm and security forever” (Is 32:17).

“Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God” (Mt 5:9).

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Mt 5:43-45).

Catechism of the Catholic Church on War and Peace:

“Respect for and development of human life require peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war, and it is not limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is ‘the tranquillity of order.’ Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity” (CCC, 2304).

“Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic ‘Prince of Peace.’ By the blood of his Cross, ‘in his own person he killed the hostility,’ he reconciled men with God and made his Church the sacrament of the unity of the human race and of its union with God. ‘He is our peace.’ He has declared: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’” (CCC, 2305).

“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.
These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the ‘just war’ doctrine.
The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good” (CCC, 2309).

“Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense.
Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace” (CCC, 2310).

“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” (CCC, 2313).

“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; it thwarts the development of peoples. Over-armament multiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of escalation” (CCC, 2315).

“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, violence itself will be vanquished and these words will be fulfilled: ‘they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more’” (CCC, 2317).

What You Can Do

“In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue; participation in the political process is a moral obligation.” – USCCB Statement “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship”

Promoting life and human dignity in the State of Montana is very rewarding both personally and for those who benefit from our work. We are called by the Church to care for the poor, the marginalized, and the vulnerable.

The Montana Catholic Conference would be honored to have your assistance in acheiving its goals. Not everyone can dedicate 40+ hours a week to specifically promoting life and justice in the public arena. We understand that you have jobs and families and many other issues in your lives that take considerable time and energy. When numerous individuals are able to provide limited support through their time, energy or fiscal means, MCC is able to advocate, teach, and organize for those in need.

Discuss with your family and pray about what you can offer. Even if your contributions are limited, you can help make a difference. Here are a few of the many ways you can help:

  • Learn About Catholic Social Teaching
  • Become informed about issues related to human life and dignity
  • Learn about Federal, State, and Local Government
  • Volunteer your time at one of the many Catholic charities or associated organizations
  • Join the leadership for the Affirming The Culture of Life Conference
  • Write letters to the editor
  • Write letters to your lawmakers
  • Make a donation. No amount is too small.
  • Become a sponsor of the Affirming the Culture of Life Conference
  • Pray, pray and pray!