What is a just war in the eyes of the Catholic Church? In this paper I will tell you the main criteria for a war to be considered just. The Just War Doctrine was first introduced by St. Augustine of Hippo around 400 AD. St. Augustine got the just war theory through to the people by some of the books he had written. St. Augustine wrote dozens of books in his lifetime but he has two that really influenced the just war theory. The two books are City of God, and Confessions. Here is a piece of writing from one of his books. For even when we wage a just war, our adversaries must be sinning; and every victory, even though gained by wicked men, is a result of the first judgment of God, who humbles the vanquished either for the sake of removing or of punishing their sins. Witness that man of God, Daniel, who, when he was in captivity, confessed to God his own sins and the sins of his people, and declares with pious grief that these were the cause of the captivity. (Chapter 15) (1) People of his time read these books and that is how the Just War Doctrine started.
A couple hundred years later St. Thomas Aquinas reinforced the doctrine. He brought it up in the thirteenth century because of where he lived. There were many wars going on against all the small cities in the area of where he lived so he made up some guidelines to prevent fewer wars. His three main rules were, it has to be declared by a legit ruler, it has to be a just cause, and it has to be for the right intention. These three rules are still used in today’s just war doctrine. The Just War Doctrine is broken up into three parts. The jus ad bellum, Jus in bellow and jus post bellum. All of these are Latin for law of war, the law in waging war, and justice after war.
Jus ad bellum is the most important part of the doctrine. This is so important because this can prevent a war from happening. Jus ad bellum is broken up into five parts. Number one is that the war has to be a just cause. For example if the United States invaded Japan or some other country, it would be just for Japan to fight back. The second one is that it has to be declared by a supreme ruler. Anyone who has responsibility or authority over the public is considered a supreme ruler. The president of the United States is a supreme ruler. There can also be supreme rulers in a more downscale situation such as a city mayor or a state governor making choices for the public. Number three would be for the right intention; this has to be one of the more important ones out of the five. What this means is you can’t go to war with someone just because you don’t like them. This also means that you can’t go to war with a country for doing something that can be resolved through discussion or conference. Right intention states that you must have a legitimate cause to go to war, and if you do engage in war it has to seek just and lasting peace. Reasonable chance of success is the forth section in the jus ad bellum. A good example of this would be the United States of America going to war with a third world country. The US would have fighter jets loaded with explosives, tons of tanks, and futuristic weapons and devices, while the third world country would have very little if not any of those perks. That would be an example of a non reasonable chance of success. To sum it up it would be like the third world country bringing a knife to a gun fight. Last resort, the final section to close the jus ad bellum, but also the most important! This is so important because this is what decides if there is going to be a war or not. Last resort means… A final expedient or recourse to achieve some end or settle a difficulty. For example, if you don't improve, we'll try this new medication as a last resort. This term originally referred to a court of law from which there was no appeal. (2) For the war to pass as a last resort, each country would have discussed the other four sections of the jus ad bellum.
Jus in bello take place…