Further Ethical Challenges in Military Science from the Perspective of the Catholic Church: Reflection on the Use of Drones
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The ethical assessment of the appropriate forms of offensive military action have been one of the most significant areas in this respect over the past few years. In the teachings of many religions military weapons and procedures are traditionally evaluated and the limits assessed as to what is appropriate in a war situation. In the Catholic Church quite an elaborate system has been evolved, beginning with the teaching on what constitutes a just war, followed by the medieval criminal law procedures as determined by the councils of the Church, and in the 20th century the various declarations on atomic weapons and weapons of mass-destruction. The Catholic Church still has no established and official position on offensive action in war in the light of the UAV systems. Different opinions and views have been expressed, but it is still far from being a definitive teaching. Research institutes in the Vatican, in the different Episcopal Conferences, and in Military Ordinariate are working on an overall assessment of the problem. However, a comprehensive and correct position has to take political considerations into account, as well as the advantages brought about by technical advances and an assessment of security factors. This way a position can evolve that is faithful to the Catholic Church’s tradition, a doctrine what is acceptable to the political leadership, too.