The armistice began at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It marked the general end of hostilities of World War I and the beginning of peace negotiations. To this day, we remember that day and all our military veterans during our celebrations of Veterans Day. The brutality of that war shocked the world. The Great War was often called the war to end all wars. Despite such hopes, tragically, war and violence continue in our world.
Faced with the reality of conflict in our fallen world Catholic moral theology provides a Just War Doctrine, found in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and in the writings of many theologians. The doctrine begins with the principle: “all citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.” War should be a last resort undertaken by those who take care of the community.
The Catechism lists the following principles in paragraph 2309: “(1) the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain; (2) all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; (3) there must be serious prospects of success; (4) the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.”
While we must work toward the avoidance of war, we must also have a strong military ready to defend us should our hour of need befall us.
On Veterans Day we honor our servicemen and women, and remember that in a fallen world, we need veterans to protect us from the evils of war.