Can a Catholic believe that the U.S. was justified in its decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan during World War II?

Full Question

Can a Catholic believe that the U.S. was justified in its decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan during World War II?


The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.” A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons—especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons—to commit such crimes. (CCC 2314; cf. Gaudium et Spes 80)

Under the Catholic interpretation of just war; not only must the cause of war be just; but the acts of war used in combat must also be just. The use of weapons to destroy civilian populations, such as the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is an unjust act of war. Terrorizing civilian populations to force surrender, which was part of the U.S. strategy in dropping the atomic bombs, is also an unjust act of war. It is therefore problematic for a Catholic to try to justify the U.S. decision.

This article was first published on Dec 25, 2014.

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Raphael Benedict

Raphael Benedict is a Catholic who wants nothing but to spread the catholic faith to reach the ends of the world. Make this possible by always sharing any article or prayers posted on your social media platforms. Remain blessed

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  1. Hogwash! It saved in the area of hundreds of thousands of American and Japanese lives….. It would have been a blood bath for both sides if we would have had to invade instead of dropping the bomb.

  2. As a Catholic I am disturbed by this article. I want to assume the writer means well but I fear it borders to heresy. It goes against that quote from Catechism.
    Here are some facts about WWII
    1) Rome joined WWII before US. It invaded Ethiopia in 1935 killing thousands. Others who joined WWII before US are Germany, Russia, Poland and JAPAN. JAPAN invaded China.
    2) Pearl Habor was bombed before Hiroshima/Nagasaki
    3) Hiroshima/Nagasaki didn’t contribute the biggest death statistics (leading casuaties were in USSR, Poland,..)
    So is this author attempting to insinuate that other people are exempted from following this teaching? A person ignoring the contribution of Japan to this war shows a very sadistic mindset.
    Can the writer talk about this without asking his audience whether a Catholic can believe that the JAPAN, Russia and ROME were justified in their decision to kill millions during World War II? Why US only?
    Another related article said that US bishops and priests supported the ‘just war’ by not condemning it. Has this writer learned anything from this or is it just fashionable to use selective justice. Is teaching selective justice not heresy.
    Note I am unequivocally against mass killing.

  3. I doubt the catechism was written by a Democrat. It was Democrats who dropped the Bomb in the first place. Fulton Sheen marks that event as the birth of the culture of death.

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