Just War Doctrine



In Bats! Sweet Apple Acre is overtaken by fruit bats.  The Mane 6 argue over how to get rid of the bats so Ponyville can keep its apples.  Some of them up with a plan to terminate them, much to the displeasure of Fluttershy, and Twilight Sparkle brings up that it would harm the ponies if the bats ate all their food supply.  This is very much like the argument over whether using force against a violent aggressor is the right move; many say this is wrong as well.  The problem is not everybody stops when you stop.  Over the centuries the Church Fathers began to more overtly defend the response of warfare so long as it was necessary, did not overdo the force the enemy was using, and sought to only do that which was necessary and not resort to abuses.  Saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas are the most commonly cited sources on this subject.Saint Augustine spoke of war as being a motive for peace and as laughable as the concept is to pacifists, it has worked and when carefully examined it does.  He said this.

“For peace is not sought in order to the kindling of war, but war is waged in order that peace may be obtained. Therefore, even in waging war, cherish the spirit of the peacemaker, that, by conquering those whom you attack, you may lead them back to the advantages of peace . . . .” (Epistle to Boniface 184)

He also adds, “The natural order, which would have peace amongst men, requires that the decision and power to declare war should belong to princes” [1].  It is the state’s authority to declare war when necessary, not the clergy, as the sword of the Church is the Gospel.  The Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas, goes into detail with the just war doctrine.

“And as the care of the common weal is committed to those who are in authority, it is their business to watch over the common weal of the city, kingdom or province subject to them. And just as it is lawful for them to have recourse to the sword in defending that common weal against internal disturbances, when they punish evil-doers, according to the words of the Apostle (Romans 13:4): ‘He beareth not the sword in vain: for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil’; so too, it is their business to have recourse to the sword of war in defending the common weal against external enemies.” (Summa Theologica II-II.40.1)

He added “if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since ‘a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump’ (1 Corinthians 5:6)” [2].  Quite far from what people think, the Church has not changed her stance nor can she.  Saint John Paul II mentioned “legitimate defense by military force” when the damage inflicted by the enemy is “lasting, grave, and certain”, all other options have failed due to being “impractical or ineffective”, “serious prospects of success” must be there, and the gravity must not be “graver than the evil to be eliminated” [3].

Sure, in the end of Bats!, the Mane 6 might have come to a conclusion that helped the ponies and the bats benefit; but it is a kids’ show.  In real life this may happen sometimes, but it does not always happen.  The same Lord Jesus Christ who said to turn the other cheek (rf. Matthew 5:39) also said that “he that hath not, let him sell his coat, and buy a sword” [4].  The Psalmist says, “In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land: that I might cut off all the workers of iniquity from the city of the Lord” [5].


[1] Saint Augustine of Hippo, Against Faustus 22:75

[2] Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II-II.64.2

[3] Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2309

[4] Luke 22:36

[5] Psalm 100(101):8


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