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Miguel E. Medina wrote:

Hello Father,

This is my question:

  • Is it sinful to desire and enjoy the killing of those, who we are permitted to kill in the Catechism, taking into count that you desire, even more, that they repent so you don't have to kill them? (e.g. wars, police duty, self defense, defense of others)

  • If I'm a soldier and I'm training to protect and kill, how much can I enjoy my work — as most training teaches to use inherent anger as an energy itself?

  • What would specifically be sinful?

I have had combat tendencies since my youth, and I'm directing this combat energy toward military work to serve my country and protect the innocent.

  • If I feel cruelty or anger only as emotional energy (which is endorsed in training for motivation) but I only use it as an energy for combat proficiency without making it a desire to hurt the enemy, is it permitted? (I always would prefer him to give up, and if he's a criminal, to redeem himself.)

What I mean is that you can be doing martial arts and use the anger of being hit:

  • to have more force, or
  • for the enjoyment of combat itself (to simply feel happy while sparring with your opponent.)

  • What is specifically sinful about this?

I am only concerned in what is specifically sinful about this matter, in order to adapt.

I haven't found an answer in any Catechism or dogma, and I know that there existed a lot of medieval Catholic military companies and even mercenaries like the Teutonic order, and also many saints preaching just cause bloodshed and holy wrath (St. Bernard, St. Louis XIII and similar saints).

God bless you,


  { Is it sinful to enjoy the killing of others that we are permitted to kill and can you do martial arts and use anger for enjoyment? }

Mike replied:

Dear Miguel,

First, none of us our priests but as your question implies, this is the type of question that should be brought to your local priest or pastor. We are hesitant to give you a reply, because there can be many nuances to your specific question and situation.

That said, it is not good for any Christian to desire the death of another person and there should be no joy in performing this act.

Everyone born into this world has a specific purpose in life. For someone to desire the killing of a person, and therefore a vocational calling (he or she) may have, should not be felt as a joyous event in one's life. Beyond that, the only prudent reply I can give you would come from Church documents:

Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states under the Commandment section titled:

I strongly recommend that you read the whole section. Here is a portion of the section:

  • On Avoiding War.

Avoiding war.

2307 The fifth commandment forbids the intentional destruction of human life. Because of the evils and injustices that accompany all war, the Church insistently urges everyone to prayer and to action so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war. (cf. Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes 81 § 4)

2308 All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.

However, "as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed." (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes 79 § 4)

2309 The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:

  • the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • there must be serious prospects of success;
  • the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the just war doctrine.

The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

2310 Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense.

Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace. (cf. Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes 79 § 5)

2311 Public authorities should make equitable provision for those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms; these are nonetheless obliged to serve the human community in some other way. (cf. Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes 79 § 3)

2312 The Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict.

"The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties."

(Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes 79 § 4)

2313 Non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely.

Actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out. Thus the extermination of a people, nation, or ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin. One is morally bound to resist orders that command genocide.

2314 "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." (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes 80 #3) 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.

2315 The accumulation of arms strikes many as a paradoxically suitable way of deterring potential adversaries from war. They see it as the most effective means of ensuring peace among nations. This method of deterrence gives rise to strong moral reservations. The arms race does not ensure peace. Far from eliminating the causes of war, it risks aggravating them. Spending enormous sums to produce ever new types of weapons impedes efforts to aid needy populations; (cf. Paul VI, Populorum Progressio 53.) it thwarts the development of peoples. Over-armament multiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of escalation.

2316 The production and the sale of arms affect the common good of nations and of the international community. Hence public authorities have the right and duty to regulate them. The short-term pursuit of private or collective interests cannot legitimate undertakings that promote violence and conflict among nations and compromise the international juridical order.

2317 Injustice, excessive economic or social inequalities, envy, distrust, and pride raging among men and nations constantly threaten peace and cause wars. Everything done to overcome these disorders contributes to building up peace and avoiding war:

Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them and will so continue until Christ comes again; but insofar as they can vanquish sin by coming together in charity, violence itself will be vanquished and these words will be fulfilled: "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

(Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes 78 § 6; cf. Isaiah 2:4)

I tried to find an encyclical related to war or fighting in war but couldn't find any.

Sorry, that's the best I can do.


Miguel replied:

Thank you, Mike! —

I had a lot of trouble finding an answer too, but I communicated with the Catholic Military Association of England. Their answer is that the feeling is neutral itself, as long as your purpose is to do good.

I also found an answer by St. Thomas Aquinas to this issue:


Mike replied:


Thanks for your feedback.

It's appreciated.


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