The Book of Exodus, translated literally, says “You shall not murder” (Ex 20:13).
We should easily understand the distinction, since our own laws distinguish between First Degree (pre-meditated) Murder, Second-Degree (meant it but didn’t plan it) Murder, Manslaughter (my own actions could and did cause the death of another), Self-Defense (it was him or me), and Accident (someone died because of me, but I had no way of foreseeing or preventing it).
This is why Catholics are not forbidden to serve in the military, where killing is possible and possibly for many even likely, but where murder is never condoned. Not ever. (I’m a military mom. Do NOT get me started on the slander the Left spews about MY KIDS on this and other — e.g., torture — topics.)
Why does the Church teach that it is never permissible to murder?
God alone is Lord over life and death. Human life is sacred, because it belongs to God. It is His property. Therefore, an attack on human life is a sacrilege committed against God.
What sorts of attacks on human life are forbidden by the Fifth Commandment?
- Murder and acting as an accomplice to murder are forbidden.
- Killing unarmed civilians during a war is forbidden.
- The abortion of a human being, from the moment of conception on, is forbidden.
- Suicide, self-mutilation, and self-destructive behavior are forbidden.
- Euthanasia—killing the handicapped, the sick, and the dying—is also forbidden.
Today people often try to get around the Fifth Commandment with seemingly humane arguments. But neither euthanasia nor abortion is a humane solution. That is why the Church is perfectly clear on these questions. Whoever participates in an abortion, forces a woman to undergo an abortion, or merely advises her to do so is automatically excommunicated—just as with other crimes against human life. If a psychologically ill person commits suicide, responsibility for the act of killing is often diminished and in many cases completely annulled.