Category Archives: Morall Theology

The Rights and Duty of Catholics to bear arms

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches explicitly that Christians have the right to bear arms. Nay, He not only teaches we have a right, He instructs us that it is our duty. He does this on the very night He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, so as to teach us not to misinterpret His willingness to be Crucified, as an unreasonable renunciation of natural right to self defense or unreasonable submission to unjust authority.

The words of Our Most High and Divine Lord are these, and you find them in the Gospel of Saint Luke, chapter 22, verse 36: I quote from the Douay Rheims translation of the Clementine Vulgate:

But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a scrip; and he that hath not, let him sell his coat, and buy a sword.

These words, Our Lord said to the Apostles. Thus they are understood immediately in reference to the Sacred Hierarchy, that they have the right to defend themselves and thus to bear arms. But by extension, since Christ’s sacred representatives should be men of peace and reconciliation, if they have the right and duty to bear arms, then all the more so, all other members of the Church.

This is not why the Church is called the Church Militant. That title refers to our spiritual struggle against the forces of darkness, which as Saint Paul reminds us, are spirits not men.

But this is why, we need to understand rightly how much true Catholic doctrine differs from what the Marxists and Secularists want us to understand it to be. Indeed, the fear non-Christians have of these words of Jesus is evident over at Wikipedia, which has an entire article on Luke 22:36 to attempt to convince you to be a pacifist and interpret the words of Jesus as not having to do with physical armaments. And they laughably try to convince you that Pope Boniface VIII would support such an idea.

The Natural Right to bear arms

Every living thing has the right to defend it’s life. This is a law of nature. It is said to be a law because it is in the very order of the created world, that we can see that living organisms defend themselves. Since non-rational beings cannot sin, their self defense cannot be a sin. And since God endowed them with a means of and or instinct for self-defense, their doing so must be part of the law which He wrote in the natural order of things.

Consequently, since man is a rational being capable of artifice, he can make tools and instruments for self-defense and use them for that purpose. Thus every man, as an individual, has the right to make and bear arms.

I will speak, below, about bearing arms, for brevity sake, but please understand me in regard to the manufacture, bearing and use of arms, since the right or duty to each implies the duty or right to each.

The Natural Duty to bear arms

Every individual human being lives by the gift of God, the Author of all life. This gift of life is a gift, and thus must be protected. We cannot licitly ignore this duty. Thus every individual human being, has not only the right to self defense but the duty to defend himself. And when this requires the use of arms, he does well to use them and is obliged to use them, except in those cases where to testify to the faith, he submits to those who hate Christ so as to win the crown of Martyrdom. Yet this is by special inspiration, not something to be sought out. Because to be a Martyr you have to be willing to forgive your enemies who put you to death. And that is a very rare grace among those who are unjustly put to death.

This duty becomes even more obligatory when a human being has the duty to protect others, such as children, parents, the weak or the innocent who are defenseless. It is also a graver duty when the society to which one belongs is threatened as a community. Because according to the natural law we owe collaboration in self defense of our own, by ties of affinity, blood, society, and alliances.

The Divine Right and Duty of Christians to Bear arms

A Christian, therefore, on account of his membership in the Mystical Body of Christ, by Baptism, is bound to defend not only his own life, but the lives and faith of all Christians, when they are threatened unjustly or out of hatred to the Faith or out of hatred of Christ. This is a fundamental duty of the Communion of Saints here on Earth.

While many Catholics have strong habits of prayer for fellow Catholics and Christians who are persecuted, few of us realize that our duty goes much beyond prayer.

For this reason, the right and duty to bear arms for Catholics regards himself, his family, his relatives, his parishioners, all Catholics everywhere, the Church, the clergy, and all who are persecuted out of hatred of Jesus Christ.

For this reason, it is more accurate to speak of the Rights and Duty, than of the right and duty, because by Faith and the teaching of Our Lord, this Duty encompases many persons and therefore the right to act in each case has its own species of justification.

Those who deny that Catholics have the right and duty to bear and use and manufacture arms are simply heretics, and should be regarded as such, because they deny the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They should also be regarded as cowards and mad, since they are attempting to counter common sense and subject the Church to the wicked of this world.

When to exercise your Rights and fulfill your Duty

The right and duty to self defense obviously exist at all times, but the actions which flow to fulfill or execute this right and duty arises only when a threat is perceived.

It is important to note that I say, when a threat is perceived, not when a threat arises. This is because when a threat arises, there may not be time sufficient to procure the instruments of your self defense. Of course one must use this principle sanely. A paranoid can certainly fear many things to excess and build himself a military bunker and arm himself to the teeth and think he is justified in that. But his excessive fear causes him to go to an excess, which may actually be dangerous to himself or others, financially as well as physically, even if it must be conceded that he is not acting without or in violation of his rights or in neglect of his duty.

The use of arms, however, can only be in accord with one’s rights and duty when the threat exists and when the use is capable to thwarting the threat and when it is required to do so.

Thus, in times in which the civil authorities or the State are sufficiently controlling the threat against oneself or ones family or the innocent, a private individual has no necessity to resort to the use of arms. But when the government fails in this, or when the civil authorities themselves threaten the lives or liberty of the individual or public or the Church, then an individual and indeed the whole society has the right to use and organize for the use of such rights.

Indeed, it becomes the grave duty of everyone to resist their own enslavement or their persecution for being Catholic or acting or worshiping as a Catholic. For this reason, the mere fact that the leaders of your nation are your legitimate rulers, by law, does not give them the right to enslave you. And any attempt to do so is a grave and imminent threat.

Just War Theory

Under the name, “Just War theory”, Catholics for centuries have discussed the moral question of when it is licit for a sovereign power to begin hostilities. There has to exist a just motive: that is a grave threat of hostilities or the grave violation of the order of justice, already perpetrated. There has to be a good probability of victory. There has to be due use of force, not excessive nor insufficient, directed against combatants, not the civilian population. The Moral Law must be observed in all matters during the conduct of hostilities.

Unlike secular concepts of just war, the Catholic concept allows for pre-eminent actions, because the purpose of a just war, in Catholic teaching, is to restore the order of justice, and as soon as unjust men begin to prepare for war, a Catholic power can intervene to reduce them to submission, because it is never just that unjust men bear arms capable of harming others. Obviously, in such cases, prior unjust actions must have been perpetrated.

But just war theory in Catholic teaching requires a complete understanding of that in which justice consists, for it is easy to justify an action on the basis of a partial review of information, facts, motives or goals. For this reason, while non-Catholic nations are capable of engaging in just wars, they often fail to do so justly, because they ignore the teachings of Jesus Christ in principle and a priori, that is, before all other considerations are made.

For this reason, Catholic teaching would disagree fundamentally with many of the so-called Rules of Engagement used against terrorists. We can see this in the decision by Pope Sixtus V to put to death 5,000 individuals as brigands, who were found in the possession of arms, on Papal roads, after, inan extraordinary decree to suppress brigandage, he forbade under pain of death the bearing of arms on the road. His ban was only for a time, but during that time all who violated were arrested and executed as brigands. Thus, we can see from this example, that sufficient advance notice to all is sufficient grounds to regard those bearing arms in a war zone or terrorist zone, as combatants. An actual, live use of force is not the only rational basis to determine a threat.

Moreover, there can be just wars even by Catholic powers against Catholic powers, not because our Faith has nothing to do with war, but because being Catholic does not guarantee that you are just in all things. Likewise, there can be just wars by a Catholic power to a rebellious province or region, when that rebellion threatens the Catholic Faith or the stability of the state, and is not based on just cause but on brigandage and treachery.

Finally, I have written this essay for the edification of the faithful, not because I am either in favor or opposed to the use of arms, but simply because it is a topic upon which nearly no clergy speak, and in which so many clergy speak contrary to the teaching of Jesus Christ, or against the natural law.

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CREDITS: The Featured Image above is a statue of Saint Louis IX, King of France and leader of the Seventh and Eighth Crusades, for the defense of Christendom against Muslims powers in Egypt and Tunisia which threatened Christians in the Holy Land and Christian maritime commerce and traffic in the Mediterranean.

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There is no moral obligation to observe Corona Control per se

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Saint Alphonsus dei Liguori is one of the Doctors of the Church. He was named such by Pope Pius IX on account of the excellence of his teaching on morality. In his writings nearly every possible situation in which one has to make a moral judgement is explained by the principles he so clearly taught from Scripture, Tradition, the teaching of the Saints and great theologians.

One question he dealt with is the case of whether one is obliged to observe a merely positive law.  A law is a norm which regulates behavior and which is promulgated by a legitimate authority. A positive law, is a law which emanates from a human authority and is in written form. A merely positive law is a positive law which has no fundament or basis in the Divine, moral, natural or evangelical law. Having no basis, here, means that it is not based on, nor incorporates, nor is derived from, nor applies any pre-existing law from God, from the Gospels, from the laws of nature or from the laws of morality, understood in the Catholic sense of the term, “morality”.

Take for example, the laws which regard the speed at which you can travel on the road with your automobile. These are merely positive laws. Likewise, consider the rule in a Public Library about returning a book within so many days. These are merely positivie laws.

Saint Alphonsus says that the observance of a merely positive law is based on our moral obligations to God and to our superiors and to others with whom we have bonds of fidelity or justice.

For example, in borrowing a book from a Library, while it is not a sin to keep it longer than the time permitted, it does breach fidelity with the authorities of the library, to whom we pledged to return the book. Likewise, the book is the property of the Library, and so we have a moral obligation to return it, not to keep it, because that would be theft, which is contrary to the Divine, moral, natural and evangelical law. So to neglect to return in on time is not a mortal sin, per se. But to neglect to return it for several years and then return it, would be a mortal sin against fidelity. It might also be a mortal sin of scandal, if one were a father of a family and by such gave  bad example to one’s children. But to return it late by a day may be no sin at all, if we simply forgot and were not otherwise negligent. And so, since the rules about returning books are merely positive law, whether it be sinful or not to return a book late is determined not by the rules themselves but by reference to these higher laws of God, the Gospels, morals and nature. — In this case, I assume you have not signed a contract with the library to observe its rules, because if you have, then it might be a mortal sin of injustice by breach of faith, to not observe them. It depends on the terms of the contract.

The laws regarding the speed at which it is permissible to travel on a highway are similar. It is not a sin per se to go 1, 5, 10, or even 100 miles per hour faster than the the speed limit, however, you have to understand what “per se” means, to understand rightly this principle.  “Per se” means considered by itself or through itself. In the present context, since the speed at which your automobile moves is not a moral act, whether it moves at 1 mph or 10,000 mph has nothing to do with sin, when we consider the velocity by itself or according to itself.

However, if we consider the speed of an automobile in respect of its physical proximity to other things, and the capacity of a driver to control the automobile at the given speed at which it is traveling, then we consider the speed no longer per se but inasmuch as it is the occasion or circumstance of a moral decision, which must always take into account the Divine, Evagelical, moral and natural laws.

In fact, laws about speeding are imposed for public safety, because when everyone knows what to expect from everyone else, then all can travel on the road in safe expectation of how the other automobiles will move on that road. This is a artificial harmony by consensus of free agents, where the legitimate authority establishes a velocity as a maximum or minimum for the utility and safety of all. And since automobile accidents can be and are frequently dangerous at high speeds, it is very reasonable and a proper exercise of jurisdiction that a legitimate authority exercise foresight and establish such rules.

So if the highway is deserted with no other cars at all on it, it is not a mortal sin to drive too slow or too fast, unless your ability to control your vehicle at that velocity on that road, in those weather conditions is impaired. And if it is impaired you should adjust your speed to reach a velocity where you can control your vehicle. Otherwise you are putting yourself, and any passengers, in mortal danger, and that is a mortal sin of imprudence and as regards passengers, of breach of faith.

But in the case of the Corona Control decrees in many nations, there are many difficulties. In many nations, these decrees are unlawful, since they are emanating from legitimate authorities which do not have constitutional or legal authority to issue such decrees or to issue such decrees which so contravene the natural rights of citizens to free movement and action and work.

If the decree is unlawful, there is no question of obligation in observing it. It must be considered by all, citizen and policeman, simply not to exist.

However, if the decree in some things is lawful and in other things is not lawful, then a citizen must consider whether it be based on truth. Because even a legitimate authority, which has the legal right to issue a decree, cannot morally obliged the citizen to its observance in those things which are not lawful.

Moreover, if the decree is not founded on truth, then it is not obliging in anything even if it is otherwise lawful.

And this appears to be the case with the Corona Control. Because, though many are SAID to be dying with Coronavirus, how many are actually dying FROM COVID-19 is not being accurately reported. And the authorities issuing unprecedented decrees to control the lives of citizens are showing NO concern that the numbers of those who die FROM Coronavirus be accurately reported. And that is sufficient grounds for the citizen to doubt the legitimacy of even lawful orders.

Furthermore, the statistics which have been published both in China and in Italy and all over the world, are in agreement, that COVID-19 is not as lethal as the winter flu is for the general population, even if it is more lethal than the winder flu for a very small segment of the population (compromised immune systems with existing pathologies).

The arguments that the CORONA CONTROL decrees must be or should be observed because a very small fraction of the whole population is put at risk by being infected by the whole population is simply irrational and cannot be sustained by any notion of justice. Because the risk to a very small part of the population cannot outweigh all the rights of the rest of the population to live. It is the question of the lives of a very few compared to the lives of everyone else, their livelihood, work, education, etc..

For this reason, since the CORONA CONTROL decrees are merely positive laws and lack a foundation in truth, justice, and common sense, there is no moral obligation whatsoever, from Christians or non-Christians that they be observed.

However, Saint Alphonsus does say, that inasmuch as merely positive laws may be enforced with heavy fines or severe penalties, then inasmuch as the person who is contemplating not observing them has some duty to care for others, he should restrain himself for their sake so that he can continue to care for them. This applies to parents and those who care for the sick, aged, infirm or needy. And this is why many priests are not risking their violation, because they want to provide the Sacraments after the Corona Control ends. — If it ever does.

This does not mean, however, that anyone should be careless about hygiene, especially in the presence of anyone who is at high risk from this infection. That is why, I say, there is no moral obligation to observe these CORONA CONTROL decrees per se, but there in specific cases may be an obligation to observe some aspects of them.

And this is why good mothers teach their children to blow their nose in a handkerchief or with a facial tissue, to wash their hands frequently, and to use bathrooms in a sanitary way, as well as, to stay home when sick. These instructions of our mothers or fathers, are sane rational practices to observe our duties of fidelity and charity to all around us.

Above, I have expounded the Catholic position. Compare it with the New World Order position, expounded here, without reference to God.

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