This is about my question, How, according to the Catholic Church, can God order genocide even though the Church has declared such a situation impossible?

May I know why was this question downvoted? I honestly don't know what am I doing wrong.

OK, I've been told a few things:

I’m interpreting Veritatis Splendor retroactively.

I don't think this argument is applicable to this problem. IIUC if the Church declares something "inherently evil", as it has in this case, then it does not mean that the Church issues a new law that comes to force at the moment it is published; rather, the Church describes objective reality, describes some absolute moral law that is unaffected by any circumstances including time. Note the Church doesn't create a new moral law, or put a moral law in force, but rather it describes an absolute moral law that is, has always been and will always be in force from the will of God. Similarly, when scientists discover a new law of nature, they do not create it: instead, they only describe a law that was applicable even before their discovery.

Therefore, the "Lex retro non agit" argument is not applicable here: if the Church says that genocide is "inherently evil", then it means it is, has always been and will always be evil, and whoever commits it is guilty of a sin, whatever the circumstances: he may have lived a few thousands years ago, he may live now or he even may haven't been born yet and will only live and commit this crime in the future; also he may know genocide is a crime, or may not think of his deed as evil, or he may think his deed is actually good, or he may not even know what genocide is! - This is all irrelevant: if genocide is inherently evil, then in all these cases its perpetrator commits a sin and defies God's will.

I am looking for a debate, not for an answer.

I disagree with this. Most definitely, I am looking for an answer, that is for a solution of my problem. My noticeable activity in the comments stems from a few reasons:

  • I got an answer, but this answer is, sadly, very dubious to me. In this case I indeed discuss this answer. My only alternative is to downvote this answer, but I don't want to do this, mainly because I don't think this answer is a careless one, and also because this way I can't learn. If I impeach an answer I disagree with, I hope to somehow reach the real, correct answer to this problem (or learn I was wrong); if I just downvote the answer, I'll waste the opportunity to do so.

  • If someone criticizes my statements then I feel I have the right to defend them or at least to explain them.

  • I did post other people's opinions, and arguably this was abusing the comments section. I did this because my question looked like an attack on the Church; so I had to post whatever I knew in defense of the Church, just to calm my consciousness... else I feared I'd join those who fight the Church, and I didn't want to do this, so I had to make my post as balanced as I could. Arguably though, I could post these possible explanations as an answer, and then impeach my own answer at the comments section. This would clean up the comments. In any case this shows I’m constantly doing my own research on the subject... which is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing, right?

  • I think your question is fine. It's a bit wordy however. Also your comments tend to be wordy. Brevity really helps with most posts; more is less.
    – user3961
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 3:36
  • This for example. It's pretty wordy.
    – user3961
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 3:39
  • Rhetoric 101, begging the question, look it up. In short, it means that you have assumed an answer in the asking of a question. Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 21:58

2 Answers 2


I think your question is fine. It's on-topic, as it asks for the views of a particular Christian tradition. As for why it has been downvoted, that's something about which we can only speculate. Maybe the downvoters simply found your question uninteresting, but perhaps they didn't like the way your question/comments were presented.

Again, I don't think there's anything wrong with your question. But, since you are asking for advice, here's how I would have approached the question differently: I would have strenuously avoided implying that I had correctly understood Veritatis Splendor or Deuteronomy 20. You do fine with your first statement on Veritatis Splendor:

I believe that we can say...

But then at the end you say:

How does the Church explain the fact that while it declares it impossible for God...

Similarly, with respect to Deuteronomy 20, you say:

This most obviously satisfies the definition of genocide...

But many Christians will disagree with that statement. Personally, I would have written something like:

It seems that Veritatis Splendor says ____. But Deuteronomy 20 says ____, which to me seems to fit the UN's definition of genocide. What am I missing? How does the Catholic Church reconcile this apparent contradiction?

In my experience, that sort of tone tends to generate more positive responses to questions, as it demonstrates that you are truly curious about the beliefs of the group in question, and don't mean to attack them.

I don't get the sense that you mean to attack the Catholic church when I read your question. But to some it could give the impression that you are more interested in poking a hole or two in Catholicism than in actually learning what Catholicism teaches in Veritatis Splendor and its interpretation of Deuteronomy 20.

  • You all assured me that we don't get so many trolls. OK, that's your story and you're sticking to it. The way the question was written, versus your much better version, is what trolling is all about. There's an art to it, which is the evoking of a particular emotional response in the reader. The Freemason nailed it in a final comment "You're applying Veritatis Splendor, 80 retroactively and looking to debate. My peace be with you, good day. – The Freemason" Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 22:18
  • 1
    @KorvinStarmast For what it's worth, quite a few questions by non-Reformed people on this site strike me as not in particularly good faith, seeming more to challenge the belief system (Calvinists believe God does what?!?) and than coming out of genuine curiosity. But some of my questions about other traditions probably can come across that way too. I'm thus inclined to extend some grace in borderline cases. Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 1:11
  • That is certainly a charitable approach. Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 11:41

Your question is badly phrased because it assumes that the Catholic Church has an inconsistent position. It has the same problem as the old question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" If you answer that question then you're admitting that you have, at some time, beaten your wife. Likewise, anyone who answers the question you've written is admitting that God is inconsistent.

So rather than asking

How, according to the Catholic Church, can God order genocide even though the Church has declared such a situation impossible?

you should ask

If the Catholic Church considers it impossible that God would ever order genocide, then how do they explain his orders for the Israelite conquest of Canaan?

While it does certainly seem like the Catholic Church has an inconsistent position, by phrasing it like I've suggested you avoid asserting that they definitely are inconsistent, and you give them enough space to show how they think about the issue logically and consistently.

  • I see no fundamental difference in your two examples. And neither looks like the question "have you stopped beating your wife?"
    – user3961
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 3:37
  • 3
    @fredsbend The first asserts that God has ordered genocide, the second asks for how the CC explains it if they won't call it genocide. I think they've qualitatively very different.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 3:54

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