I will stipulate that I’m the worst Catholic in the world. OK. So if anyone wants to call me that I beat you to it so don’t bother putting it in the combox.

I’m against torturing people. For a number of reasons. I do not believe in using other people as a means to my own end, no matter how noble I believe my end to be.

And big government scares the heck out of me. A government that can torture you will torture you…eventually.

Jesus Christ had a run in with big government that didn’t end well. (Well it ended well but things looked pretty grim for about three days.)

But I do want to ask this question. As Catholics we have the Just War Theory and theories on legitimate defense so it’s not that all violence is disallowed.

I accept it’s wrong to torture a surrendered enemy but is an enemy truly “surrendered” if he has knowledge of an imminent attack and his silence is preventing someone from stopping it? Aren’t they still essentially an active combatant if their silence furthers the goals of their violence?

So, couldn’t doing violence to this person still be covered under legitimate defense?

The Catechism states:

2265. Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. To this end, those holding legitimate authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their charge.[66]

But in this case the unjust aggressor is still seeking to do harm by their silence. So repelling this attack could possibly mean repelling the aggressors by physically harming the person.

I’m asking this question in all honesty.