The Catholic Case Against War: A Brief Guide

Univ. of Notre Dame. Mar. 2024. 194p. ISBN 9780268207892. pap. $32. REL
Cochran (politics and peace and justice, Loras Coll.; Catholic Realism and the Abolition of War) examines Catholic teachings about war. Relying primarily on Vatican documents and supported by numerous research projects, the book outlines the Church’s case against armed conflict. Cochran details the destructive nature of war, not simply warfare itself but also the social, economic, and human costs of placing a nation on the footing of war. He argues and provides evidence that war is an ineffective means of achieving a nation’s goals, and he points to other strategies (not necessarily peace) that—while uncertain—are more likely to succeed. This assertion is illustrated by nations that have no military armed forces. Such analyses mitigate against the charge that Catholic social teachings are Pollyanna-ish. This realism is further underscored by conceding that the abolition of war will not eliminate international strife, just as the abolishment of enslavement did not stop human trafficking. But Cochran stresses that the world would be better off without war.
VERDICT A solid case for why the Catholic Church’s position against war is realistic. Cochran provides a much-needed reassessment and refinement of “just war” theory, which is an ethical and moral framework for determining when war is justified.
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