Catholic Dictionary




Armed conflict between nations that is morally tolerated on certain conditions. These conditions, first stated by St. Augustine, have become classic in Catholic moral teaching. In order for a war to be just, it must be on the authority of the sovereign, the cause must be just, the belligerents must have a right intention, and the war must be waged by "proper means." The "just cause" means that a nation's rights are being violated by an actual or at least imminent attack; that other means of preventing aggression, e.g., diplomacy or embargo, have been tried and failed or would be useless; and that there is a proportion between the foreseen evils of conflict and the hoped for benefits of engaging in war.