In a recent statement, Pope Francis has taken a stance regarding the supply of weapons to Ukraine in defense of the Russian invasion. He stated that supplying weapons to Ukraine was morally acceptable. When speaking on the issue, the Pope differentiated between immoral and moral reasons for supplying weaponry to other countries. [i]
The Pope spoke of "the Roman Catholic Church's 'Just War' principles." He asserted that "deadly weapons could be used in a proportionate way for self-defense in the event of an invasion, a position which Ukraine currently finds itself in." [ii]
Additionally, Pope Francis articulated in further detail why it is morally acceptable, stating,
Self defense is not only licit but also an expression of love for the homeland. Someone who does not defend oneself, who does not defend something, does not love it." [iii]
The Pope gave examples of immoral reasons to supply weapons, including if the intent was to provoke more war or to get rid of arms that a country no longer needs." He clarified, "The motivation is what in large part qualifies the morality of this action." [iv]
What is Just War Doctrine?
The classical Catholic just war account is derived from St. Augustine and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which "develops the classical account by conceiving war as a means of legitimate societal self-defense." St Augustine summarized the theory stating,
They who have waged war in obedience to the divine command, or in conformity with His laws, have represented in their persons the public justice or the wisdom of government, and in this capacity have put to death wicked men; such persons have by no means violated the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." [v]
Just war theory consists of many moral principles, acting as conditions that must be satisfied "for the decisions entailed in launching and prosecuting wars to uphold the requisites of justice." The most critical requirement is that "wars be waged to correct some manifest injustice, referred to as "the principle of just cause." [vi]
Watch the video below for a detailed breakdown of the just war theory.
[i] Christopher White, Pope Francis backs Ukraine's defense, says supplying arms 'may be morally acceptable' (Sep. 15, 2022)
[iii] Philip Pullella, Pope says supplying weapons to Ukraine is morally acceptable for self-defense, (Sep. 16, 2022)
[v] Braking in the Habit, What is a Just War? (Oct. 15, 2018)
[vi] E. Christian Brugger, What Is Catholic Just War Doctrine and How Does it Apply Today? (Apr. 28, 2021)