Catholicism, Roman

The Western Church has a long tradition of discussing participation by Christians and Christian states in warfare—one that originates in the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. Christ taught an interpersonal ethic of forgiveness, nonresistance, and restoration but never directly discussed in detail a Christian’s responsibilities to the state in time of war. It is recorded that on one occasion he fashioned a weapon and employed it nonlethally when he drove merchants and money-changers out of the Temple (John 2:15). While he was living with the disciples, several of them (evidently a minority; Luke 22:38) seemed to go about armed and Peter is recorded as having briefly employed a sword in Jesus’s defense (Matthew 26:51). Jesus and the apostles generally taught submission to political authority, ...

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