Tension between the Catholic Church and Israel over the use of the term “just war”

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Tension has arisen between the Catholic Church over the term “just war.” The controversy erupted following the publication of a statement by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Holy Land, a committee that forms part of the assembly of Catholic leaders in the region and whose president is Cardinal Pizzaballa.

In the text, the Commission express their dissatisfaction for the use of the concept of “just war.” They say it perpetuates and legitimizes the ongoing conflict…

We feel the need to speak out against the misuse of a term used in Catholic doctrine. That term is “just war,” a concept developed in pre-Christian antiquity, that, to our alarm as Christians, is increasingly being weaponized to justify the ongoing violence in Gaza.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church uses this term when it describes the criteria for a war to be considered “just.” But the Commission in the Holy Land claims these points are not being fulfilled.

That is, they point out that both sides have not differentiated between civilians and soldiers. Moreover, they say Israel has been using disproportionate force, which can be seen in the number of casualties. And the Commission points out that the clear majority of victims has been Palestinian women and children.

Israel responded to the Commission's claims quickly with a statement from the Israeli Embassy to the Holy See.

It should be lamented that a group of people from the Catholic church has decided to issue a document, that using religious pretext and linguistic stunts, does nothing else then de-facto objecting Israel's right to defend itself from its enemies' declared intentions to put an end to its existence.

The Embassy stresses that Israel's objectives were clear from the beginning: to put an end to Hamas in the territory. They also argue they have tried their best to distinguish between civilians and soldiers and they claim Hamas has not. They state the Commission's statement ignores attacks on Israel not only from Hamas but also from Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iran.


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