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Keiran wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Is it classified as a sin to kill in war if your a soldier?
  • If it is, and if it is a war fought with sound moral reasons, such as to depose of an immoral dictator, for example, would a soldier who killed Nazis in the Second World War be classed as a sinner?
  • If so, should he confess killing as one of his sins?


  { Is it a sin for a soldier to kill in any war, just (war) or not, and should he confess killing as a sin? }

Mike replied:

Hi Keiran,

One of our previous Apologists, Mary Ann answered a similar question here:

Unless, it falls into one of the categories Mary Ann mentioned:

  • killing a non-combatant on purpose, or
  • killing the captured

I don't believe there is any sin to confess, though there may be a therapeutic value in mentioning it in the Confessional. I thought this portion of the Catechism may also interest you. It is the criteria for a just war:

2309 The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:

  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.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the just war doctrine.

I hope this helps,


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