“Q. 1276. Under what circumstances may human life be lawfully taken? A. Human life may be lawfully taken: 1. In self-defense, when we are unjustly attacked and have no other means of saving our own lives; 2. In a just war, when the safety or rights of the nation require it; 3. By the lawful execution of a criminal, fairly tried and found guilty of a crime punishable by death when the preservation of law and order and the good of the community require such execution.”
Long time readers will recognize commenter Tom as my worthy adversary on many a Civil War post here at TAC. Tom, a prosecutor in real life, has done yeoman’s work for years in defending the traditional teaching of the Church in regard to the death penalty at his blog Seeking Justice. He has done a series of posts in response to the anti-death penalty editorial of Our Sunday Visitor, the Jesuit rag America, National Catholic
Birdcage Liner Reporter and National Catholic Register that are well worth reading.
So it seems that some Catholic papers that few people read, joined by a blog group that few people read, are taking a brave and bold stand for justice in favor of… convicted murderers, and urging abolition of the death penalty.
Where to begin with this crew? The sanctimony and name-calling directed at those like myself who merely uphold what the Catholic Church has always and everywhere taught about capital punishment? The shoddy reasoning that simultaneously claims to support the Catholic Catechism (which teaches that capital punishment is morally legitimate but should be used rarely) while claiming at the same time that the death penalty intrinsically violates human rights, and ought not just be used rarely, but abolished altogether?
Or perhaps to point out that when they say it’s “three popes and the current magisterium” against St. Thomas Aquinas and the Church’s traditional teaching on this matter, they are buying into the very “hermeneutic of rupture” between current Catholic teaching and traditional Catholic teaching which they routinely criticize some Traditionalists (scornfully called “Rad-Trads”) for espousing, and which was condemned by Pope Benedict XVI as a faulty view of Vatican II and post conciliar teachings?
Or to remind them when they call us (without apparent irony) “lovers of death” that it was precisely one of those three Popes, the same Benedict, who stated, “There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”
But this crew is undeterred by facts, which they resolutely ignore as being inconvenient to their “America is Moloch” meme (such as: the death penalty is very rarely used in the US and only on offenders who could not reasonably be “rendered harmless” by incarceration). It is undeterred by a religious teaching going back 6,000 years and utterly irreformable, and a principle of the Natural Law itself, that gives societies the right and even duty to protect themselves and to carry out justice by resort to the death penalty. It is shameless in its lack of actual knowledge of the criminal justice system and penal systems, and what each can reasonably accomplish to “render offenders harmless”. But from their basement blogging outposts and neatly isolated cubicles in Madison, this questionable alliance of dissenters, some “conservative” Catholics, some thoroughly liberal, such as those found in the pages of Catholic-in-name-only America and National Catholic Reporter, forge ahead, facts be damned, Church teaching be damned, public safety be damned.
Go here to read his other recent posts on the subject.