Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
A modern theory of warfare which claims that all the citizens of a belligerent nation are to be considered combatants. the term has entered the vocabulary of the times since massive destruction of whole segments of the population is inevitable with the use of atomic weapons. With this in mind, the Second Vatican Council declared: "Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation" (Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, V, 80).
Because of the totally different situations in the world today, while still maintaining that, on principle, war is justifiable, the Church holds that nuclear warfare is next to impossible to justify in practice.