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Full Version: 'It is not lawful for me to fight.' - St. Martin of Tours
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St. Martin of Tours, a soldier in the Roman army, is to have famously told his commander, "It is not lawful for me to fight.”  Yet there is a long tradition of soldier-saints throughout Church history who not only did not refuse to fight (St. Alexander and the Theban Legion), but even attributed victory to the Christian God (St Andrew the Tribune and his Companions).  Why this seeming discrepancy? 
And what about Joan of Arc who got direct orders from St Michael? And Constantine who attributed his war victory to the Sign of the Cross?

Perhaps Martin, like Sebastian and others, came to find it immoral to fight for the Roman army and the pagan emporer? Or maybe the Church allows for individuals to take a pacifist position, while allowing kings and countries to defend themselves?
Perhaps the battles St.Martin and all those other saints had to fight were unjust wars?
(11-11-2010, 07:24 PM)ketchum Wrote: [ -> ]Perhaps the battles St.Martin and all those other saints had to fight were unjust wars?

Exactly.  If St. Martin had knowledge that the war was not just he would be morally bound to refuse to fight.  Well, let me say might instead of would - I'm not sure.
(11-11-2010, 08:33 PM)The Catholic Thinker Wrote: [ -> ]
(11-11-2010, 07:24 PM)ketchum Wrote: [ -> ]Perhaps the battles St.Martin and all those other saints had to fight were unjust wars?

Exactly.  If St. Martin had knowledge that the war was not just he would be morally bound to refuse to fight.  Well, let me say might instead of would - I'm not sure.

"Might."  "Not sure."  That's part of my point, I suppose.  All admirably reasonable explanations, but all theoretical.  I merely wondered if history addressed this. 
You know...there's always the chance that he was wrong...after all, saints are human, too.
(11-11-2010, 09:06 PM)Underdog Wrote: [ -> ]You know...there's always the chance that he was wrong...after all, saints are human, too.

Except for St. Bitey of Kentucky, who was a squirrel, that's true.
Is the quote attributed to St. Martin accurate?
(11-11-2010, 08:48 PM)Miquelot Wrote: [ -> ]
(11-11-2010, 08:33 PM)The Catholic Thinker Wrote: [ -> ]
(11-11-2010, 07:24 PM)ketchum Wrote: [ -> ]Perhaps the battles St.Martin and all those other saints had to fight were unjust wars?

Exactly.  If St. Martin had knowledge that the war was not just he would be morally bound to refuse to fight.  Well, let me say might instead of would - I'm not sure.

"Might."  "Not sure."  That's part of my point, I suppose.  All admirably reasonable explanations, but all theoretical.  I merely wondered if history addressed this. 

You are correct that I added nothing to the discussion.  I'm curious for some knowledge on this issue too.
Perhaps it was to fight for something immoral or unjust? The Christians soldiers fought loyally for the pagan emperors in all things except which was contrary to the divine and natural law.

Pope Leo XIII had this to say in Diuturnum about the soldiers of the early Church who served under pagan rulers:

"20. The case, indeed, was different when they were ordered by the edicts of emperors and the threats of praetors to abandon the Christian faith or in any way fail in their duty. At these times, undoubtedly, they preferred to displease men rather than God. Yet, even under these circumstances, they were so far from doing anything seditious or despising the imperial majesty that they took it on themselves only to profess themselves Christians, and declare that they would not in any way alter their faith. But they had no thought of resistance, calmly and joyfully they went to the torture of the rack, in so much that the magnitude of the torments gave place to their magnitude of mind. During the same period the force of Christian principles was observed in like manner in the army. For it was a mark of a Christian soldier to combine the greatest fortitude with the greatest attention to military discipline, and to add to nobility of mind immovable fidelity towards his prince. But, if anything dishonorable was required of him, as, for instance, to break the laws of God, or to turn his sword against innocent disciples of Christ, then, indeed, he refused to execute the orders, yet in such wise that he would rather retire from the army and die for his religion than oppose the public authority by means of sedition and tumult. "

Writing concerning the same topic of the same time period earlier that same century, Pope Gregory XVI remarked that "the crime of cowardice and desertion had contaminated the pagan army, it never contaminated the Christians." (Cum Primum 4).

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