As my co-blogger Paul notes here, National Catholic Register, the Jesuit rag America, National Catholic
Distorter Reporter, and Our Sunday Visitor have a joint editorial calling on the Supreme Court to decree by judicial fiat, in precisely the same manner that it legalized abortion, the abolition of the death penalty. Well, lets look at these four publications.
No surprise from America and National Catholic Reporter. They are leftist propaganda organs and have precisely the same respect for the traditional teaching of the Church as they do for the Constitution: bupkis.
Our Sunday Visitor has always been a fairly lickspittle publication that has usually blown to and fro with the changing winds from the Vatican. Their theme song might as well be Company Way:
That brings us to National Catholic Register. They should know better. They should especially know better than to try to defend their blatant betrayal of principle with the following cheesy editorial:
From the time of the publication of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), Pope St. John Paul II urged Catholics to re-examine the use of the death penalty — teaching that its use today should be “very rare if not practically nonexistent.” His successors Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis consistently have taught the same.
We’ve taken that teaching to heart. We’ve prayerfully pondered it, and we accept it. Our reporting over the years has reflected this teaching. And, while we recognize that the Church has allowed for the legitimate use of the death penalty for society’s self-defense, we find that it’s harder and harder to argue that a particular act of capital punishment is circumstantially necessary today in contemporary America. We believe the right path is to seek its abolition, and we’ve taken the opportunity, along with other members of the Catholic press, to encourage our readers to consider this stance as a part of comprehensively embracing the gospel of life.
Today, we face ever-increasing assaults on the sanctity of human life. Unity among Catholics in defense of life can send a powerful message. Euthanasia, abortion, war and capital punishment differ in moral weight, but they all threaten human dignity, and we must work to end them. While we look forward to the day we can stand in unity with the other Catholic publications on each of these life issues, we stand today on the death penalty, strengthened by the teaching of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis, and say, “Capital punishment must end.”
Let’s take this apart piece by piece, shall we?
1. Prior to 1995 the Church had absolutely no problem with the death penalty. John Paul II’s stance was at odds with the consistent teaching of the Church since the time of Christ.
2. Even John Paul II did not call for the complete abolition of the death penalty, because that would have been a flat reversal of the prior teaching of the Church, which is what this editorial calls for.
3. Capital punishment not necessary in contemporary America? I will assume that no one on the editorial board of the National Catholic Register has loved ones who work in prisons. Murders by individuals serving life sentences are not uncommon of both guards and fellow inmates. Of course the issue is additionally complicated by the fact that Pope Francis has come out against life sentences. This would indicate under 2267 that the death penalty is licit since contrary to the assertion in that section of the Catechism, we have no way of assuring that a convicted murderer cannot kill again, especially if we follow the Pope’s lead and no longer have life sentences for murderers.
4. The Gospel of Life-The idea that the death penalty is antithetical to the protection of innocent life is so looney that it could only have been developed during a period when society, and a great many clergy and laity within the Church, had badly lost their moral compasses. Equating convicted murderers with unborn children is simply obscene. I can understand people who have prudential concerns about the death penalty. For 33 years I have seen up close what an imperfect instrument law is. If the people of a state or a nation wish to abolish the death penalty, it is not a hot button issue for me. However, such prudential concerns are a far cry from the assertion that being for the death penalty is in any way in opposition to the Gospel.
5. While we look forward to the day we can stand in unity with the other Catholic publications on each of these life issues,
That is the most hilarious section of the editorial. America and National Catholic Reporter do not give a damn about abortion or euthanasia. When they are not giving space to people who think abortion and euthanasia are civil rights, they are carrying water for the party of abortion and euthanasia.
6. The most disheartening aspect of this editorial is how adamantly determined it is to pretend that Catholic teaching on the death penalty began in 1995. Of all the heresies that beset the Church today, perhaps the most perfidious one is presentism, the idea that all that matters in the Church is what current Popes and other ecclesiastics say and do rather than the broad teaching of the Church. That is not how the Church operated for almost all of her history, and that is not how our greatest Saints viewed the teaching of the Church.
The powers that be at National Catholic Register should be ashamed of being used by anti-death penalty activists to give their prestige to this misbegotten effort to have the Supreme Court unconstitutionally strike down the death penalty. In doing this they are poor Catholics and poor Americans.