With so many negative responses to Tony Magliano’s Aug. 5 column, readers of the Catholic Review are apt to walk away with the clearly erroneous belief that the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki could be justified within the Catholic moral tradition. I respectfully insist that the Catholic Review dispel any such misconception. Without wanting to be too heavy-handed, let me add that I have a PhD in Moral Theology from the Catholic University of America.
Let the Church’s Magisterium have the last word on the debate about the morality of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: “The deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always morally evil and can never be licit either as an end in itself or as a means to a good end. It is in fact a grave act of disobedience to the moral law, and indeed to God himself…” and, “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.”
The prohibition against the direct intentional killing of the innocent is an absolute moral norm that admits of no exceptions. Those critics of Magliano who attempt to justify the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have taken a position, one presumes unwittingly, directly at odds with the fundamental moral teaching of the Magisterium.