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The Busted Halo Question Box
Ask our spiritual experts virtually anything!
This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

Have your own question? Then pitch it to us!

Caitlin Kennell Kim
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Mike Hayes
Our readers asked:

Will Soldiers Go to Hell if They Kill Someone?

Neela Kale Answers:

Q: Soldiers in war are technically killing other sons and daughters of God in an effort to protect our country. Will this affect their fate on Judgment Day? Is it wrong to thank them upon their return home even though they’ve sinned?

Never hesitate to thank a returning soldier for his or her service to our country. (Thank you, veterans!) Military service cannot be reduced to any single act, and these returning veterans and their families need all the support they can get in response to their sacrifice and generosity. It is not your job to examine their consciences. Many of these men and women return home struggling with the psychological and spiritual consequences of their actions in the line of duty; they need to address these issues with the help of qualified counselors and spiritual advisors.

That said, your question raises an important issue for our collective conscience as a society, which bears the responsibility for sending its sons and daughters to war. People of all times and place have wrestled with war’s destructive effects. Is war ever justified? Is a particular act of war justified? Is military action acceptable only in self-defense? How about action to protect defenseless peoples elsewhere in the world? Or preemptive action against an impending threat? And, of course, moving from the abstract to the horrific, complex, bloody reality of our time and place: How do we assess recent U.S. military intervention in the Middle East? These questions are better confronted in our civic discourse, rather than in the interactions we have with individual veterans upon their return home. Christian witnessing for peace can be powerful, but should not come at the expense of the individual men and women who bear the cost — in their bodies and in their souls — of the devastation of war.

The Author : Neela Kale
Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Michael Salamone

    Im a Christian and I am thinking of becoming a cop I just don’t want to kill any one. People have told me they have no hesitation to kill me you are just defending yourself, but idk I really don’t want to kill any one I don’t want to have that on me when I die and meet God and have to look him in the eyes knowing what I “did”. You know it’s a hard decision. I want to be able to protect people take criminals off the street but if it comes down to someone shooting at me and I draw my gun is it just if I kill that person? I don’t want to but I need to protect myself as well. Can someone help me?

  • Palpatine

    In order for sin to be mortal and evil there has to be choice and intention. Each case is so different and complex its beyond our ability to make that judgment.

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