Godzilla v. Bambi

Thursday, September 22, AD 2016

 

 

Philosopher Doctor Ed Feser takes on Mark Shea on the death penalty in the biggest mismatch since Godzilla tangled with Bambi:

 

As Pope St. John XXIII once wrote:

 

The Catholic Church, of course, leaves many questions open to the discussion of theologians.  She does this to the extent that matters are not absolutely certain…

 

[T]he common saying, expressed in various ways and attributed to various authors, must be recalled with approval: in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.  (Ad Petri Cathedram 71-72)

 

What Catholic could disagree with that?

 

Well, Mark Shea, apparently.  For no sooner does he acknowledge the truth of what Joe and I wrote than he proceeds bitterly to denounce Catholics who have the effrontery actually to exercise the right the Church herself has recognized to hold differing opinions on the topic of capital punishment.  After acknowledging the truth of our basic claim, he writes: “So what?” – as if Joe and I were addressing some question no one is asking.  This is followed by a string of remarks like these:

 

When it comes to taking human life, the right wing culture of death asks “When do we get to kill?”

 

The Church, in contrast, asks, “When do we have to kill?”

 

The death penalty supporter looks for loopholes and ways to enlarge them so that he gets to kill somebody.  The Magisterium urges us to look for ways to avoid killing unless driven to do so by absolute necessity…

 

The term for that is “prolife”. You know, from conception to natural death. It’s what we are supposed to actually mean when we say “All Lives Matter”. Even criminal ones.

 

So it comes back to this: If you stop wasting your time and energy fighting the guidance of the Church, searching for loopholes allowing you to kill some of those All Lives that supposedly Matter to you, you find that you have lots more time and energy for defending the unborn that you say are your core non-negotiable. Why not do that instead of battling three popes and all the bishops in the world in a struggle to keep the US on a list with every Islamic despotism from Saudi Arabia to Iran, as well as Communist China and North Korea? Why the “prolife” zeal to kill?

 

Be more prolife, not less…

 

“I want to kill the maximum number of people I can get away with killing” is, on the face of it, a hard sell as comporting with the clear and obvious teaching of the Church and perhaps there are other issues in our culture of death that might use our time and energy more fruitfully, particularly when the immediate result of such an argument is to spawn a fresh batch of comments from priests scandalously declaring the pope a heretic, wacked out conspiracy theorists calling the pope “evil beyond comprehension“, and false prophets forecasting that “Antipope Francis” will approve abortion.  This is the atmosphere of the warriors of the right wing culture of death.  It does not need more oxygen.

 

End quote. 

 

Well.  What on earth is all that about?  And what does it have to do with what Joe and I wrote? 

 

Let’s consider the various charges Shea makes.  As to the “So what?”,  Joe and I are by no means merely reiterating something everyone already agrees with.  On the contrary, there is an entire school of thought with tremendous influence in orthodox Catholic circles – the “new natural law theory” of Germain Grisez, John Finnis, Robert P. George, and many others – that takes the position that capital punishment is always and intrinsically immoral and that the Church can and ought to reverse her ancient teaching to the contrary.  Many other Catholics, including some bishops, routinely denounce capital punishment in terms that are so extreme that they give the false impression that the death penalty is by its very nature no less a violation of the fifth commandment than abortion or other forms of murder are.

 

In our article we cited cases in which even Pope Francis himself has made such extreme statements.  We also suggested that the pope’s remarks should be interpreted as rhetorical flourishes, but the fact remains that they certainly appear on a natural reading to be claiming that capital punishment is intrinsically wrong – a claim which would reverse the teaching of scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and every previous pope who has addressed the topic.

 

Since Shea agrees that the Church cannot make such a change, to be consistent he would also have to admit that the more extreme rhetoric from the pope and some bishops and other Catholics is misleading and regrettable.  He should also agree that “new natural lawyers” and others who hold that the Church should completely reverse past teaching on capital punishment are taking a position that cannot be reconciled with orthodoxy. 

 

The late Cardinal Dulles, among the most eminent of contemporary Catholic theologians, has (in remarks quoted in our article) gone so far as to say that a reversal of traditional teaching on capital punishment would threaten to undermine the very credibility of the Magisterium in general.  Our primary motivation in writing our book was to show that the Church has not in fact reversed past teaching on this subject, and thereby to defend the credibility of the Magisterium.  Accordingly, Shea’s charge that Joe and I are in the business of “fighting the guidance of the Church” is unjust and offensive.  So too is Shea’s casually lumping us in with those who characterize Pope Francis as a “heretic” and “antipope.”  In fact we explicitly said that we do not believe that the pope wishes to reverse past teaching, and we proposed reading his statements in a way consistent with the tradition.

 

As to Shea’s other remarks, it is simply outrageous – to be frank, it seems as clear an instance as there could be of what moral theologians would classify as an instance of calumny – to suggest that Joe and I are really just “look[ing] for loopholes and ways to enlarge them so that [we get] to kill somebody,” that we “want to kill the maximum number of people [we] can get away with killing,” that we have a “zeal to kill,” etc.  There is absolutely nothing in what we wrote that justifies such bizarre and inflammatory accusations.

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34 Responses to Godzilla v. Bambi

  • The death penalty supporter looks for loopholes and ways to enlarge them so that he gets to kill somebody.
    .
    Mark Shea is loathsome and unhinged.

  • At bottom, Mark Shea’s religion is liberal progressivism, and his Church the Democratic Party.

  • Shea knows no limitations to his waistline or twisted logic.

  • “The death penalty supporter looks for loopholes and ways to enlarge them so that he gets to kill somebody. ”

    Shea thinks the best way to debate philosophers and theologians is to start out by showing himself to be a completely ignorant a**hole?

  • LQC above, “At bottom, Mark Shea’s religion is liberal progressivism, and his Church the Democratic Party.” Truth, brother.
    ..
    Murray, Ken, Stephen: excellent.
    .
    Moron liberals (here I’m intentionally redundant) constantly project (Do shrinks call it “projection”?) on those with whom they disagree numbskull nonsense and heinous lies.
    .
    En fin, Bambi tastes better than Godzilla. You haven’t lived until you savored a venison back strap cut warm from the kill.

  • The striking irony in Shea’s calumny is that death-penalty opponents are the ones looking for loopholes, against the plain meaning of Scripture and the clear, consistent teaching of the Church.
    .
    If God commands the death penalty for certain offenses, it cannot be intrinsically immoral. It can certainly be immoral under one set of circumstances or another, and that’s where prudential judgment comes in, but “intrinsically” means n all times and in all circumstances, in which case God world have been commanding his people to sin.

  • I believe the new natural law theorists are promoting the perspective that capital punishment is intrinsically evil. One of the proponents of this perspective, Christopher Tollefsen, has written extensively to that effect. I cannot find a link but I believe it was Tollefsen who wrote that scripture was an obstacle to his conclusion.

    When a choice is between Scripture (not to mention tradition and the Church Fathers), go with Scripture.

  • It is apparent that Shea’s rhetorical device of choice is the one referred to as “poisoning the well”.

    He has a great gift for creating sentences that make simple statements, but contain numerous vile and fallacious premises. I suspect he takes inordinate pride in this particular approach given that he never seems to use any other.

  • ” Many other Catholics, including some bishops, routinely denounce capital punishment in terms that are so extreme that they give the false impression that the death penalty is by its very nature no less a violation of the fifth commandment than abortion or other forms of murder are.”

    More like virtually ALL bishops!

  • I’m surprised Germain Grisez sees capital punishment as intrinsically wrong. He must like many have a swiss cheeze approach to the Bible….which is the opposite of St. Thomas Aquinas who such each verse as inerrant…exactly like Christ…”…and the scriptures cannot be broken”
    . I don’t agree with Feser that the Church…read catechism ….as in ccc 2267 is not in fact circumventing traditional teaching on the death penalty via its use of the phrase…” Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”. Laughable….prisons in the largest Catholic population, Brazil are nightmarish…famous for inmate murders as is Mexico, the second largest
    Catholic population. Heavily Catholic Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras have no death penalty and sky high murder rates. And all mentioned are non death penalty and one or two…rare death penalty. The Cardinal who wrote ccc 2267 was thinking only of the rarer Catholic situation like Austria who had forty murders in 2012 while Brazil had 50,674 murders that year.

  • Well Shea apparently does not know his limitations as he had to keep going:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2016/09/reply-to-dr-feser-regarding-the-death-penalty.html

    Then I found this post from yesterday:
    http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/53912.html#more-53912

    Not specifically aimed at Shea, but an amazingly apt rebuttal to most of what he writes.

  • Shea is not worth the effort to read, follow or engage in discussion. His followers are not worth engaging either.

    I am tired of Mark Shea and his fellow travelers. They add nothing to my life nor do they do anything to inspire my Catholic faith. Their ignorance, willful at that, of Catholic history puts me off.

    It is best to ignore him completely and treat him as the irrelevant blowhard that he is.

  • Mark Shea is as Catholic as Pope Francis, i.e., seldom. Neither should be allowed a Catholic audience.

  • “It is best to ignore him completely…” Well said. Liberals are either ignorant or evil. In Shea’s case, he has proven over time to be invincibly ignorant. So, it is best to ignore him.

  • The problem with ignoring them is that it does no good for those souls suckered into following him.

  • Father of seven: I’ve been ignoring them (Shea, liberal bishops, progressive priests, et al) for many years.
    .
    Years ago, I resolved to ignore their heterodoxies, extra-scriptural opinions, false equivalencies, distortions, omissions, fabrications, detractions, ad hominems. . . .
    .
    Nate, They won’t listen. And, I’ve been attacked for trying.
    .
    Keep deplorable my friends.

  • Robert T. George has the McCormack Chair of Jurisprudence at Princeton and is Pro-life, through and through. So, I am dumbfounded at his portrayal of the victim of homicide in the first degree as a non-existent disenfranchised individual.
    God does not contradict Himself.
    God gave men free will and God does not take His gift of free will away. ever….
    The capital one murderer in the first degree is brought to Justice and executed by his own citizenship in the state, the arm of God’s Justice. Every person had been in jeopardy of life when the murderer killed the first time. Now, every citizen is in double jeopardy of life as long as the murderer lives.
    Who? other prisoners, the warden, doctors, contractors and the possibility that the murderer might escape to kill more innocent persons who must be served in their innate human right to self-preservation and their civil human right to self-defense.
    The catechism of the Catholic Church was revised, had to be revised, to remove that error of the death penalty being practically non-existent inserted by Shoenborn. Priests, bishops and Popes do not execute the death penalty . The death penalty is the function of the state. As clergy, the priests are still citizens but are to serve the church…the principle of separation of church and state. The death penalty is executed through power of attorney of the condemned. Considering that the victim was denied his time to make his peace with God and was further scandalized by the murder. the murderer is given time to make his peace with God.

  • Think about this. If a person is on death row he knows the date of his death he has time to think of heaven and hell. Chances are he will be sorry for what he has done and be saved.
    I know it can happen. I sat on a capital murder case the young man was sentenced to death. during the trial he had no remorse. After the trial I found out he was worse then what we heard at trial. I pray for him and the girls daily . I was able to find out that he repented before he paid the price. He was saved!

  • “Robert T. George has the McCormack Chair of Jurisprudence at Princeton and is Pro-life, through and through. So, I am dumbfounded at his portrayal of the victim of homicide in the first degree as a non-existent disenfranchised individual.
    God does not contradict Himself.”

    George is one of the new natural law followers. Most (?all) followers of this hold that the death penalty is intrinsically evil.

  • Heavily Catholic Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras have no death penalty and sky high murder rates.

    What do they have in the way of a working police force, a prison system, and a functioning court system? I don’t think you find many students of crime and punishment who will tell you there research indicates that crime rates are more sensitive to severity of punishment than certainty of punishment or celerity of punishment. New York City engineered an 82% cut in its homicide rate with only minimal changes to the state penal law (but a trebling of the prison census, a trebling of law enforcement personnel, and revised police tactics and strategy).

  • Just me: Rehabilitation and repentance is the purpose of incarceration. The death penalty is the murderer being brought to Justice by his own citizenship. his own power of attorney executes him. The murderer in the first degree killed, taking God’s power over life and death. The murderer must restore the victim’s life to expiate for his crime.
    Philip: “the laws of Nature and Nature’s God” The Declaration of Independence. Natural law cannot exist without equal Justice and acknowledgement of “their Creator”, God. The condemned can turn to the church for mercy. The victim is dead. The condemned must restore his victim to life. The condemned meets his own equal Justice on the gallows. The condemned does it to himself. The death penalty cannot be intrinsically evil unless there is no eternal life of the soul. Both the perpetrator and his victim have immortal souls with a heavenly reward and perpetual hell. If the death penalty is intrinsically evil, and the murderer has inflicted the death penalty on his victim and the murderer is allowed to live, there is no Justice and there is no hell.
    Art Deco: In third world countries they have the AVENGER OF BLOOD. The nearest relative has 24 hours to pursue the murderer, no questions asked.

  • To Robert T George: Do not put your hand to an innocent man. The death penalty banned as intrinsically evil says that the victim deserved to be put to death and the murderer acted as an agent of the state. New Jersey banned the death penalty. and released Jesse Timmendaquas from Avenel for sex offenders. Timmendaquas raped and strangled seven year old Megan Kanka. In solitary confinement for twenty years, with his own guard and his own recreation he is enjoying his life and his crime. The death penalty prevents the murderer from enjoying his crime and reliving his crime in his mind, and knowing that he got away with murder.

  • P.S. The death penalty is the temporal punishment due to sin. The sins in the Sacrament of Penance may be forgiven but the penitent must be willing to do the penance. The penalty imposed by the state for murder in the first degree is death.

  • It makes sense when you assume that their religion is progressivism not Christianity.
    .
    For Christians, it’s in Genesis: “Who spills man’s blood, by man shall his blood be split. For man is made in the image of God.”
    .
    On the carnal level, it’s punishment, prevention, and deterrent.
    .
    Next up in NYS is assisted suicide. Of course, it’s advanced by “pro-life” Democrats elected by (confused and doubtful) self-anointed “pro-life” Catholics.
    .
    Like they do to everything else, progressives subvert (distort, advance cognitive dissonances and false equivalencies, fabricate, misrepresent, willfully omit, etc.) Holy Scripture and Church Teaching to advance their vile agendas.
    .
    Regardless of political candidates’ stated positions (lies, anyhow) on Black Lies (intentional) Matter, capital punishment, the welfare state, open borders, peace, love, medical marijuana.(all matters of prudential judgment), if said professional liars support more than 1.5 million babies yearly murdered in their mothers’ wombs, those politicians are not pro-life and you are not pro-life, either.

  • If the death penalty is intrinsically evil, and the capital one murderer in the first degree has inflicted an intrinsically evil deed on his fellow, then in equal Justice, this intrinsically evil deed must be inflicted on the condemned.
    Homicide in the first degree, laying in wait for, planning and plotting the murder of another sovereign person in cold blood, the capital one murderer, brought to Justice by his own citizenship must expire with grief over his sin. Ex.21:14 “But should a man dare to kill his fellow by treacherous intent, you must take him even from my altar to be put to death.” “my altar” is human compassion and divine mercy (all Justice is predicated on intent)
    An unrepentant first degree murderer living and breathing without the good will to expire with grief over his crime is a threat to humanity and the community; an offense against God in the first degree and a violation of our Founding Principles “…to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our (constitutional) Posterity.”
    The first degree murderer, unrepentant and un-rehabilitated, is condemned and executed through his own power of attorney because he refuses to honor his citizenship and this would be by expiring with grief over his crime and by forcing another citizen to do his dirty work.

  • Wow! This is the first time I have heard of a “new natural law.” Can someone explain to me what that is vs what the “old” natural law is?

  • As to Shea’s other remarks, it is simply outrageous – to be frank, it seems as clear an instance as there could be of what moral theologians would classify as an instance of calumny – to suggest that Joe and I are really just “look[ing] for loopholes and ways to enlarge them so that [we get] to kill somebody,” that we “want to kill the maximum number of people [we] can get away with killing,” that we have a “zeal to kill,” etc. There is absolutely nothing in what we wrote that justifies such bizarre and inflammatory accusations.

    Yes well that’s how Shea argues–it’s his brand. Although strictly speaking it’s not argument, it’s just invective, and after all this time I think it’s possible he really doesn’t know the difference.

    I only recently discovered the news of his firing from the National Catholic Register, in part from reading this site’s post and comments section on the event, since I graze here from time to time.

    I could never fathom the thought process behind Shea’s going after learned authorities–people who often have devoted years of their lives to deep learning in specialized fields–armed mainly by his minor flair for creative insult. Granted such learning doesn’t perfect anyone against error, but you must at least be well informed about the work you’re challenging and an honest broker about where you and your adversary disagree.

    In the decade and half I’ve been acquainted with his writing, lesson never ever ever learned.

  • I guess in the new natural law, John Wayne Gacy is a hero, after all, he reduced the population by tens of minor citizens, who police found buried under his porch and in his back yard.

  • Hello, Mr. Fotos. Have missed your writings the last 10 years.

    “want to kill the maximum number of people [we] can get away with killing,”

    That’s almost word for word a line he’s used against Tom McKenna (who, to be fair, never elaborates on his preferred criteria for categorizing homicide defendants).

  • That’s very kind, Art Deco, thank you.

  • Phillip: Thank you. Here is my response: Jesus Christ is a perfect human being. Jesus Christ, in the Hypostatic Union, is a divine Person. Everything written here without the perfect human being, the divine person, Jesus Christ falls short of addressing the issue. All souls are created in perfection and are thereby deserving of perfect Justice, Jesus Christ. All souls created in perfection for our constitutional Posterity must be addressed in any political conversation.
    The married couple living and breathing conjugal love, sublimating their sexual desires to one another, transfixed in ecstasy over their conjugal act bring life into the world and into their lives and into themselves. SEE: The Kiss by Auguste Rodin.

  • Phillip: I read the links. This response is posted on the Open Thread of Sept. 27
    To disenfranchise the Blessed Virgin Mary of her membership in the human race is irreligion = atheism. The NEW Natural Law is slithering, insidious, calumnious, disingenuous and dis-value =evil atheism. The only benefit from dis-value=evil atheism is that there is none. Evil must be avoided at all costs. Dis-value denies the original innocence into which all men in the human race are created. The Virgin Mary willed to sublimate her whole being to the will of God from the very first moment of existence. Created in original innocence as were Adam and Eve, as are all human beings, Mary maintained her original innocence in humble acknowledgement of God, her Creator. All future generations, our constitutional Posterity, are created in original innocence and must be accorded the benefit of community to maintain their original innocence. The purpose of the state is “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our (constitutional) Posterity.” The Preamble
    To disenfranchise the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the perfect human Person from gentile society is to bring forth brutes and bestial behavior. To disenfranchise God, “their Creator” from His Intellectual Property is the height of evil and is practiced by the devil.
    The devil is NOT an atheist. The devil uses atheism to seduce man into refusing to acknowledge God, “their Creator” and the perfect Virgin, Mary and the divine Son of God, Jesus Christ.
    With my apology to Professor Robert P. George whom I love and admire immensely. The New Natural Law theory brings to mind The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Tom McKenna Schools Mark Shea on the Death Penalty

Friday, October 23, AD 2015

Council of Trent-Death Penalty

 

No Catholic blogger writes better on the traditional teaching of the Church regarding the death penalty than Tom McKenna, my worthy adversary on this blog on many a joust over the Confederacy.  In a post on October 22, 2015 he masterfully addresses Mark Shea who has become hysterical, (what a surprise !), in his anti-death penalty rantings:

On Shea’s blog, another attack on Sacred Tradition and a confusing conflation of arguments.  The first thing bothering Shea this time is that death penalty proponents supposedly place too much weight on the words of Dismas, the Good Thief, related in this passage from Luke 23:

And one of those robbers who were hanged, blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise. 

Now, I don’t know anyone who hangs their hat on this passage alone, or even as a mainstay of the obvious and overwhelming approval of the death penalty in Scripture.  It is, however, one more place in Sacred Scripture where the death penalty is either merely assumed to be moral or expressly stated to be so.

It’s significant, if not decisive, that St. Luke added this detail, and did not record any rebuke of Our Lord to the Thief’s claim that the two criminals were being justly executed.  In fact, the Lord right after the Thief’s statement assures him of Paradise.

And after all, when God Himself says in Genesis,

Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image 

it’s pretty clear that He approves of the death penalty precisely because of the inherent dignity of man (almost the direct opposite conclusion drawn by our contemporary clerical class, which argues, against Scripture, that the dignity of man means that the death penalty is immoral).

 And while Shea smears those who cite this passage of Scripture in Genesis as “quot[ing] Scripture like a fundamentalist,” he may not realize that he is smearing folks like Cardinal Avery Dulles, not a noted fundamentalist as far as I know, and a man whose education, erudition, and judgment I certainly find more convincing than Shea’s.

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50 Responses to Tom McKenna Schools Mark Shea on the Death Penalty

  • Good Morning, Donald. I don’t know how to send you a “Tip” so I’m using this Comment box. Sorry. It’s 3:00am here in Chicago and I just got this from Michael Matt in Rome. Pretty bad…..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yHXKqKo-GM&feature=em-uploademail

    I feel sick.

    Elizabeth Fitzmaurice

  • That’s really bad. I too feel sick. I’m watching this space.

  • Well.
    A new church.
    Why not new commandments?
    Why not a new drive thru Mass chain?
    Save money and time…kind of a McSacrament. Pull in and order your choices;

    1.) Mc ommunion.
    2.) Mc onfession.
    3.) Mc Word.

    Depending on the order you could be thru the line in five minutes flat. More time for the casino, strip club or Transgender parade.

    Endless possibilities in the “new Church.”

    All kidding aside, which report is more likely?
    I pray its leaning towards “The Catholic Thing.”
    Remnant Church report paint’s a sorid picture.
    Feeling sick? It could be the “New swine flu.”

  • There is this idea among liberal progressives like Mark Shea that no one deserves to die (except perhaps conservative Republicans) and everyone deserves to go to Heaven (again, except conservative Republicans). The fact of the matter, however, is that Ephesians 2:3 describes us as children of wrath and Ephesians 2:1 says that we were dead in our trespasses and sin. We all therefore deserve the punishment that Christ received. Fortunately for the majority of us, we have received His mercy. Some, however, by murder and rape and pedophilia reject that mercy and should thus be sent straightaway after conviction in a fair trial by a jury of one’s peers to the gallows or firing squad or electric chair or gas chamber or lethal injection stretcher. I do not like that. I do not want that. I do not advocate that. But I remember what my 12 step sponsor said to me when we visited Fishkill State Penitentiary in NYS on an outgoing 12 step meeting: “The only difference between you, Paul, and the inmates is that they got caught and you didn’t.” While I had not murdered or raped or done pedophilia, I had certainly done plenty of other things and what he had said thus brought to home in a real way what St Paul had written in his epistle to the Ephesians. Death penalty? I don’t like it. I’m not supposed to like it. But it is God-ordained as punishment for the unrepentant murderer.

  • @Philip: “Which report is more likely?” I was wondering the same thing. The two reports are rather different, aren’t they? Personally, I believe Mr. Matt’s report. Mr. Royal seems to me to be a big fan of Pope Francis, based on some of his writings. Last I read from him, he’s still in the mindset of the poor Pope is constantly misunderstood.

  • Elizabeth Fitzmaurice.

    Thanks for your observations.
    Regardless of the validity of each report, one thing is certain. The forces of culture are pressing the Church. Nothing new here.
    As we pray our rosaries we must take strength in knowing that the victory is coming. Christ’s Church will suffer, as Christ himself suffered, and the glorious resurrection, as He resurrected, will come for his own as well. Regardless of the enemies of Holy Church.

  • I always wonder if Hitler would have been captured after W W 2, and had been convicted at Nurenberg, would the Pope then have argued against his execution? The answer is NO !! And the same should have been applicable if Osama bin laden had been captured. Anything but the death penalty would been disrespect for the thousands of victims.

  • Philip: Amen to that. 🙂 And no disrespect intended towards Mr. Royal, by the way.

  • Mark who?
    .
    Question for Gospel revisionists like Mark who? and the gang subverting the Gospels in the synod against the family: Who gave you authority to rewrite the Gospels?
    .
    God is eternal and His Truth is eternal. God preordained that in order to redeem man, the Christ must suffer death (penalty). N.B. unlike ancient fertility cults, the Christ could not redeem man by engaging in sexual intercourse with a temple prostitute or by cremating His first-born (Melech). If death (penalty) were an intrinsic evil, why would God preordain that the Christ would save man through His suffering and death (penalty)?
    .

    If any of that makes me a bad person, make the most of it.

  • Meanwhile, back at the ranch; http://www.lifesite news.com/news/violent-mob-of-pro-abort-feminist-tries-to-burn-down-cathedral-attacks-praying

    Francisco’s back yard…but wait! Issues that are of greater concern, death penalty v. abortion, should give us reason to speak out less regarding the terrible war on women.

    Take a close look at this war. Notice the prayers being tragically thrown at the innocent bare chested feminist.

  • As he ages, Mark Shea takes on a remarkable resemblance to Rosie O’Donnell.

  • Mark Shea has become so far left, that he ought to have Pope Francis’s hammer and sickle cross decorating his blog page. And he ought to change the name of his blog to “Social Justice Warrior And Loving It!” As for Tom McKenna “schooling ” Marky, Tom would have to send Death Row Shea to the corner with a dunce cap on his head 90% of the time!

  • He’s more focused on who he’s arguing with– describing their features, real or imagined– than dealing with the arguments.
    That’s a good sign that someone doesn’t HAVE an argument.

  • Cardinal Dulles, for whom I had the privilege acting as an altar boy and sacristan during a small Mass in law school, had this excellent article in First Things:

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2001/04/catholicism-amp-capital-punishment

  • Jonathan,

    That is a great link. Cardinal Dulles ultimately found himself siding against the use of capital punishment. But it seems the take home message he has for us is when he writes:

    “Summarizing the verdict of Scripture and tradition, we can glean some settled points of doctrine. It is agreed that crime deserves punishment in this life and not only in the next. In addition, it is agreed that the State has authority to administer appropriate punishment to those judged guilty of crimes and that this punishment may, in serious cases, include the sentence of death.”

    When Scripture and tradition state something is acceptable, it should be with great trepidation that modern man abolishes it.

  • Art Deco, Bravo!
    .
    That is best comment of the day so far!
    .
    Brevity is the soul of wit.
    .

  • His Sheaness (The Pyromaniac Prince of Literary Straw-men) needs to wean his sullied political heart away from that steady diet of NeoCatholic hyperbole. If only he had a fraction of the faith in God’s immutable Divine Justice that he seems to have in man’s modern political fashions – maybe he would actually find the peace that his troubled angry head so badly needs.

  • Father George Rutler was a friend of Cardinal Dulles and both were of the same opinion on capital punishment. (By the way, Pope Pius XII urged hanging those convicted at the Nuremburg Trial.)

    Read Father Rutler: “Hanging Concentrates the Mind” in Crisis Magazine, February 2013.

  • Capitol punishment – less than 100 American executions; abortion – millions. Trials for the executed criminals; none for the innocent babies killed. Shea needs to get a clue.

  • Thanks, Don.

    I sometimes wonder whether it’s worth the effort to address Shea’s histrionics, since I sincerely question his intellectual honesty. He seems dedicated merely to throwing rhetorical bombs and demonizing those he has deemed outside the pale. Perhaps he likes to stir the pot just to get the clicks on his site; since he does not post anything about his background or education, I’m inclined to assume he’s probably not very well educated, at least in the sense that he seems not to know how to reason with someone with an opposing view, resorting instead to ad hominem as his first recourse. Discourse with such a person is, as you know, usually pointless. But it’s important that the record be set straight especially about this issue, concerning which there is plenty of confusion among the laity.

  • Pingback: How Does Pope Francis Force Me to Have Kids? - Big Pulpit
  • Confusion arises from equivocating terms used in careless or abbreviated speech with the full, exact terms. For example, many forget–or are wholly unaware–that the term ‘pro-life’ is an abbreviated way of saying ‘pro-innocent life’. Once these distinctions are bleached away by equivocation, the errors in thought begin. Sloppy thinkers conclude that pro-life means they must oppose the just imposition of the death penalty for deadly, dangerous justly convicted criminals. Or that they conclude that because defending oneself might call for the use of deadly force against aggressors, being pro-life must require them to be pacifists. Other examples of this error abound.

  • I must also call attention to the distressing tendency of those who oppose capital punishment to treat prison guards as if their lives are disposable. This is wrong. Prison guards are innocent people and being genuinely pro-innocent life requires us to show active and efficacious concern for their lives too.

    Besides the corporal risks to prison guards of death, maiming, and injury that dangerous convicted criminals pose, prison guards and their families are at higher risk of the moral and spiritual maiming and injuries of family breakup, juvenile delinquency, and other social pathologies. The calling to be a prison guard who protects the innocent from dangerous criminals who would otherwise be loose among us is a difficult one, a vocation that is grossly underappreciated by those who do not have relatives or friends who are prison guards or members of their families.

  • It’s not only prison guards, Micha. What about other prisoners who are in for lesser crime, perhaps including manslaughter who still have some regard for human life? They may not be completely innocent, but surely they aren’t to be subject to the whims of the most vicious murderers who are without any regard for human life. A murderer who is in for life without any possibility of parole—what has he to fear and (his thinking) why shouldn’t he create as much mayhem as possible?

  • I’ve also seen it used to argue that we shouldn’t eat meat.
    The tactic is called ‘equivocation.’

  • Micha and BPS, you’re exactly right. It can never be emphasized enough that even under the “new” “modified” teaching that we only may execute when there is no other way to render an offender harmless, we have to include a consideration of whether the offender represents a reasonably discernible threat to prison personnel and/or fellow inmates. Killing and wounding of guards, staff, and other inmates by “lifers” is relatively common. After all, these are people who have *already* a proven lack of self control and a disregard for life such that they have already murdered. Couple that with the lack of any incentive for *not* assaulting/killing (what will happen to them? They’re already locked up for life!), it is easy to conclude that in many cases there is a substantial threat to prison staff and other inmates, and therefore we cannot really render these offenders harmless.

    People like Shea do not want to focus on either the victims of these murderers, the terror of the crimes they commit, or on the relatively forgotten prison staff and inmates whose safety and lives are put at risk by daily, close proximity to murderers. It’s much easier to focus on a murderer who claims he’s been transformed, and who has that claim magnified and spotlighted by a complicit pro-criminal media and academe.

  • Micha Elyi writes”

    “I must also call attention to the distressing tendency of those who oppose capital punishment to treat prison guards as if their lives are disposable.”

    If women or children made up more than an insignificant number among the population of prison guards, society (which, unfortunately, includes the Church) would see the problem of the threat to innocent life that Micha raises.

    This is but one example exposing a false dichotomy present in society (which, unfortunately, includes the Church) holding that, since women and children by their relative physical weakness are deserving of special protection by society, the protection of men is deserving of no consideration at all.

    In the Church of late (the last fifty years or so) this has translated into the neglect of men also as having any particular human dignity. So, for example, the downplaying of a mother’s role in society is (rightly) recognized as an affront to the dignity of woman (cf. Mulieris Dignitatem, Letter to Women, your typical American diocesan newspaper any given week, etc.), the downplaying of a father’s role, if it is mentioned at all, is…harmful to women and children.

  • Women are a significant number among prison guards.
    The guard that was killed up here in Washington a few years back was a woman, for example. (Not in a women’s prison, either.)
    There’s also no shortage of “female guards pregnant by prisoners” in the news.
    **************
    It’s not along the lines of the sex of those involved, it’s more along the lines of the prodigal son being given his inheritance over and over without ever having to come back to his father.

  • Judging by a quick search of prison guard statistics, it looks like you are correct: while men still significantly outnumber women, women are not an insignificant portion of the population.

    I think it still remains in the public consciousness, however, that prison guard is something that men do. I readily acknowledge the insupportability of this latter claim, as well as my suspicion that its bearing on public consciousness is a reason for the lack of concern for prison guards’ lives.

  • Just to point out that in 2014 and 2015 thus far, two (2) have been killed in assaults per the Officer Down Memorial Page. One perpetrator was a robbery suspect (in jail awaiting trial) and one was a lifer with several convictions for robbery, assault, and aggravated assault. Neither had previously killed anyone.

    In New York, the annual probability of death for inmates (who have a median age of about 33) was 0.0028 when assessed in 2013. That’s 87% higher than the norm for a man of 33 (about normal for a man of 46). That does not strike me as shocking for a collection of impetuous characters. There were 26 deaths from undetermined causes and 1 verified homicide. Were all the deaths in the undetermined category undetected homicides, the homicide rate in jails and prisons in New York would be similar to that in the Rochester slums.

  • Two (2) guards in prisons and jails have been killed. (btw “Officer Down” collates all deaths in law enforcement, not just deaths from assaults.)

  • I’d suggest this page as a source, over the memorial one:

    http://www.odmp.org/search/year

    It has three dead from assault, three dead from vehicular assault, 31 dead from deliberate gunfire.

    They list K9 losses but don’t count them towards the total, and those counts don’t include accidents even if they were in the line of duty.

  • Those would be patrolmen. I’m speaking of jail and prison guards killed.

  • I thought you were making a point about over-all ability to keep those who have posed a lethal risk from completing the deal, so to speak.
    Almost double of the normal rate isn’t that bad for a group of known bad folks, except that it’s in a situation where they’re known to be bad eggs, and are supposedly being kept under control, and the vast majority of accidental causes of death have been removed.

    (poisoning, suicide, car accident, murder and “other injuries” according to this: http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/usa-cause-of-death-by-age-and-gender )

  • I think you’re confounding my point. There were on that page 2 guards listed as having been killed in jails and prisons over the course of the last two calendar years (not quite complete re 2015). The vast majority of cops who die violently are killed on the street. The death rate 87% above national means (roughly speaking) was for inmates in New York in 2013, and the vast majority died of natural causes (the breakdown was ~74% natural causes, 13% suicide, 13% undetermined and <1% verified homicides). Even if inmates were killing each other at alarming rates, that would be a modest driver of the elevated homicide rate. Most of these guys dying prematurely are just very unhealthy (from drug use, I would guess).

  • Arrgh “a modest driver of the elevated mortality rate”.

  • Death to the typo demon!
    ****
    I think you’re missing my point– that they’re in a by definition highly controlled situation. Homicides (nevermind the unrecorded attempted homicides) should be freak accident level events for BOTH the correctional officers AND the inmates.
    ***
    Where the majority of cops are killed would be changed by where they work– the number that deal with the public professionally is much higher than the number that deal with jailed prisoners.

  • Inmates wouldn’t be able to harm anybody if they were chained (think dungeon) to their cell walls and fed minimally above starvation rations of bread and water. Instead, they’re well-fed and provided gym equipment so that many of them could play linebacker in the NFL.
    .
    Re: the death penalty a famed Catholic theologian wrote that Catholics may disagree with JPII on that and receive the Eucharist – it’s a prudential judgment and the pronouncement was not ex cathedra. That famous theologian later served the Church as Pope Benedict XVI.
    .

  • I understand you. My point is that if you want to argue for capital sentences, you should do so on normative grounds. The number of guards and inmates whose lives you will save by executing someone is small enough that it’s difficult to detect.

  • Problem being that your own information shows that it’s not difficult to detect, and the argument is made to counter the claim that a life sentence would prevent the criminals from killing again.
    Not only do we know that people don’t actually stay in jail for their entire sentence, but they can’t even be kept from murder when they ARE in jail.
    *****
    Ah-ha! I found a national stat!
    http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5341
    There’s a Death In Custody reporting program; nation wide, or less 3% of the deaths of those in custody were homicides. (roughly where suicide is for the general population over age 44)
    That is, optimistically, a quarter of what it is for the rest of the population.
    (page 17, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_10.pdf )
    Pessimistically, it’s more like a third.
    You can get bigger variations in homicide rate by moving.

  • Compare the number killed by murder to the number executed.
    http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=kfdetail&iid=495

  • NY prisons may be an outlier, Art Deco. Also, there are other crimes perpetrated by inmates
    See:
    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/06/prison_crime_rate_the_u_s_violent_crime_rate_is_falling_partly_because_the.html

    The money quote:
    “For comparison, there were 1.2 million violent crimes reported to the FBI by police departments across the country in 2012, and a little more than 5.8 million self-reported by inmates that same year, according to the BJS survey.”
    ” In a 2012 survey, a full 4 percent of the nation’s prisoners and 3.2 percent of jail inmates reported being sexually victimized in the previous 12 months…rapes and sexual assaults in[U.S. generally] 2012 was 346,830, representing a rate of 1.3 per 1,000 people 12 years of age or older, or 0.13 percent.

  • NY prisons may be an outlier, Art Deco.

    Really? It has the largest inmate census bar 4 (the federal system, California, Texas, Florida).

    a full 4 percent of the nation’s prisoners and 3.2 percent of jail inmates reported being sexually victimized

    What’s the plan here? Prison buggery is not limited to convicts remanded for murder. Are you going to start executing people convicted of robbery a la early modern England because some share thereof might bugger someone or are you planning to execute more people for homicide because people convicted of robbery and assault bugger people in prison?

  • Problem being that your own information shows that it’s not difficult to detect,

    My own information shows two guards murdered in a 21 month period, neither of whom were killed by a convict remanded for murder. That’s two perpetrators out of a prison and jail census in excess of 2 million.

  • Art, you’re not responding to the points I made, and your not making your own very well at all. You’ve also totally missed the rather major point that the criminals are VERY OBVIOUSLY NOT UNDER CONTROL, which is a required foundation for your argument that capital punishment is not licit in this situation.
    **
    Your own evidence shows that people in prison are SUCCEEDING in murder while they are behind bars, both of control officers and of other inmates.
    ….
    You haven’t even looked at the rate of murders outside of jail, by those who had been previously in jail for murder, much less ‘attempted homicide’ or ‘assault with a deadly.’

    When it’s pointed out that no, as a matter of fact murder of guards by inmates is detectable as shown by YOU DETECTING IT, you decide to ignore the successful murders of inmates, not even look at attempted murders, and start attacking strawmen.
    *******
    You limited your argument against capital punishment down to a ridiculously narrow point of murder of guards by convicts who were in custody, and that point still fails unless you additionally limit it to people with prior homicide convictions in the last 20-some months.
    ********
    ********
    A rephrasing of this argument.
    Original position: “Capital punishment is needed to keep criminals from hurting innocents.”
    Art’s counter: “It’s not needed because criminals in jail almost never kill anyone.”
    Foxfier’s counter-counter: “Two dead cops is not ‘almost never,’ and the murder rate for inmates is still over 25% of that for the national population.”
    Art’s response: “Those cops weren’t killed by convicted murderers.”
    ….
    They successfully murder other prisoners in numbers that approach the lawful executions, they murder wardens, they commit horrific physical abuse on other prisoners, they are very obviously not under control even when actually in jail.

  • Foxfier, I can explain my position to you. I cannot comprehend it for you.

  • If I did not understand, I would not have been able to make the counter-points that I made when you finally did elaborate on your point.
    If I had attempted and failed, then you could point to where the mistake was– as I did with your focus on number of successful murders of prison guards by inmates.
    If the counter points do not correlate with what your position is, you might try explaining it, simply, in one location, possibly in the form of “Because A(, B and C), I conclude D.”

  • No one, not even Shea, has provided evidence that our prisons are able to protect the outside public from any further harm from capital offenders. Pope John Paul 11 only made an assumption that prisons today are so safe that the incarcerated can do no further harm to innocent people. No proof of that assumption has been provided by the Vatican or any other Catholic body. The truth is – hundreds of murders outside the prison walls have occurred because of criminals held in solitary confinement.

Pope Francis and the Death Penalty

Saturday, March 21, AD 2015

Pope and Friend

 

Pope Francis this week delivered anti-death penalty sentiments that are not only in direct opposition to the traditional teaching of the Church, that would be the teaching until 1995, but also opposed to the current teaching of the Church.  From another pontiff this would be headline news, but from this Pope it is not even surprising.  Steve Skojec at One Peter Five explains just how out of tune with the teaching of the Church these statements of the Pope are:

The ongoing debates about the authentic Catholic position on the death penalty have grown particularly exasperating. Perhaps the worst thing of all is that we’re wasting time arguing over teaching that is incredibly well-established throughout the majority of Church history. The Church’s stance on capital punishment has always been more than merely permissive; the idea that “rendering harmless” those criminals deserving of capital punishment is sufficient to eradicate the need for such a sentence is simply not consistent with the teachings of Holy Scripture, the understanding of popes, doctors of the Church, and various apostolic pronouncements.

Adding fuel to the fire, today we have a report from the Vatican’s own news service indicating that Pope Francis has attempted to proclaim that there is no circumstance whatsoever in which the death penalty is warranted:

Capital punishment is cruel, inhuman and an offense to the dignity of human life. There is no crime in the world that deserves the death penalty. That was Pope Francis’ unequivocal message to members of the International Commission against the death penalty who met with him on Friday morning in the Vatican.

In a lengthy letter written in Spanish and addressed to the president of the International Commission against the death penalty, Pope Francis thanks those who work tirelessly for a universal moratorium, with the goal of abolishing the use of capital punishment in countries right across the globe.

Pope Francis makes clear that justice can never be done by killing another human being and he stresses there can be no humane way of carrying out a death sentence. For Christians, he says, all life is sacred because every one of us is created by God, who does not want to punish one murder with another, but rather wishes to see the murderer repent. Even murderers, he went on, do not lose their human dignity and God himself is the guarantor.

Capital punishment, Pope Francis says, is the opposite of divine mercy, which should be the model for our man-made legal systems. Death sentences, he insists, imply cruel and degrading treatment, as well as the torturous anguish of a lengthy waiting period before the execution, which often leads to sickness or insanity.

This is why I use the word “attempted” in describing the pope’s desire to eradicate capital punishment: because he lacks the authority to make such a change. Shocking, I know, but I said it before and I’ll repeat it again: the teaching on this matter is settled. In order to advance this position, Pope Francis would have to declare several of his predecessors as well as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Thomas More (who prosecuted heretics in an England where that was a capital offense), a papal decree, an apostolic constitution, and also St. Paul’s own divinely-inspired writing in the New Testament to be in error.

Don’t believe me? Read for yourself. We’ll start with the New Testament:

  • “If then I am a wrongdoer, and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death.” (Acts 25:11)
  • “Let every soul be subject to higher powers. For there is no power but from God: and those that are ordained of God. Therefore, he that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist purchase to themselves damnation. For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good: and thou shalt have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to thee, for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God’s minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil” (Romans 13:1-4).

We may also examine papal and magisterial pronouncements:

  • “It must be remembered that power was granted by God [to the magistrates], and to avenge crime by the sword was permitted. He who carries out this vengeance is God’s minister (Rm 13:1-4). Why should we condemn a practice that all hold to be permitted by God? We uphold, therefore, what has been observed until now, in order not to alter the discipline and so that we may not appear to act contrary to God’s authority.” (Pope Innocent 1, Epist. 6, C. 3. 8, ad Exsuperium, Episcopum Tolosanum, 20 February 405, PL 20,495)
  • Condemned as an error: “That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.” – Pope Leo X, Exsurge Domine (1520)
  • “The power of life and death is permitted to certain civil magistrates because theirs is the responsibility under law to punish the guilty and protect the innocent. Far from being guilty of breaking this commandment [Thy shall not kill], such an execution of justice is precisely an act of obedience to it. For the purpose of the law is to protect and foster human life. This purpose is fulfilled when the legitimate authority of the State is exercised by taking the guilty lives of those who have taken innocent lives. In the Psalms we find a vindication of this right: “Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all evildoers from the city of the Lord” (Ps. 101:8). (Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566, Part III, 5, n. 4)
  • “Even in the case of the death penalty the State does not dispose of the individual’s right to life. Rather public authority limits itself to depriving the offender of the good of life in expiation for his guilt, after he, through his crime, deprived himself of his own right to life.” (Pope Pius XII, Address to the First International Congress of Histopathology of the Nervous System, 14 September 1952, XIV, 328)
And finally, some teachings from the doctors of the Church:
  • “The same divine authority that forbids the killing of a human being establishes certain exceptions, as when God authorizes killing by a general law or when He gives an explicit commission to an individual for a limited time. The agent who executes the killing does not commit homicide; he is an instrument as is the sword with which he cuts. Therefore, it is in no way contrary to the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ to wage war at God’s bidding, or for the representatives of public authority to put criminals to death, according to the law, that is, the will of the most just reason.” – (St. Augustine, The City of God, Book 1, chapter 21)
  • It is written: “Wizards thou shalt not suffer to live” (Ex. 22:18); and: “In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land” (Ps. 100:8). …Every part is directed to the whole, as imperfect to perfect, wherefore every part exists naturally for the sake of the whole. For this reason we see that if the health of the whole human body demands the excision of a member, because it became putrid or infectious to the other members, it would be both praiseworthy and healthful to have it cut away. Now every individual person is related to the entire society as a part to the whole. Therefore if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and healthful that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since “a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6). – (St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, II, II, q. 64, art. 2)
  • In Iota Unum, Romano Amerio cites St. Thomas on the expiatory nature of accepting a death sentence:
     

    “Even death inflicted as a punishment for crimes takes away the whole punishment for those crimes in the next life, or at least part of that punishment, according to the quantities of guilt, resignation, and contrition; but a natural death does not.” (Cf. Romano Amerio Iota Unum, 435)

In his apostolic constitution, Horrendum illud scelus, Pope St. Pius V even decreed that actively homosexual clerics were to be stripped of their office and handed over to the civil authorities, who at that time held sodomy as a capital offense. He wrote: “We determine that clerics guilty of this execrable crime are to be quite gravely punished, so that whoever does not abhor the ruination of the soul, the avenging secular sword of civil laws will certainly deter.”

These are, to borrow words from the New Testament, “hard sayings.” But as Catholics, we are obligated to wrestle with these teachings – especially the ones we don’t understand or find ourselves interiorly opposed to. Taking it upon ourselves to condemn what we disagree with is to challenge the authority and doctrinal orthodoxy of those who proclaimed them true in the first place. The burden is on us to prove, if we really believe it, why some prior teaching was wrong – and how to reconcile that with infallibility and authentic doctrinal development.

The above citations alone should be sufficient to prove that the death penalty was traditionally viewed by the Church as more than just morally permissible in certain circumstances. It seems clear that the traditional view was that, when carried out justly, the execution of criminals deserving of such penalties by the legitimate authority of the state actually served the common good and even had the power to expiate temporal punishment on the part of the guilty. This is something that more recent papal statements — like those found in Evangelium Vitae — fail to address. (More on that in a minute.)

No less contemporary an ecclesiastical authority than Cardinal Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict, admitted at the very least that Catholics had room to disagree on this issue. He stated, as pertains to the question of capital punishment and the worthiness of an individual who supports it to receive Holy Communion:

Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. 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.

As a student of Church history, it’s no surprise that Ratzinger clarified this. We see why in an article published by Dr. Steven Long, professor of theology at Ave Maria University, on the website Thomistica (run by the Aquinas Center of Ave Maria). In the piece — which specifically addresses the recent joint statement in favor of abolition of the death penalty by four ostensibly Catholic journals — Long demonstrates that acceptance of the right of the state to levy this penalty was a requirement for the restoration of the heretical Waldensians to full communion:

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42 Responses to Pope Francis and the Death Penalty

  • Our dear Pope IS consistent in one matter; Speaking off the cuff!
    He has proven to speak (candidly) so much so that church teachings, it seems, take a second to his opinions. ( head shaking )

    I will offer my prayers for him.

  • The best way to eliminate the death penalty is by eliminating the scourge of capital crimes.
    .
    Pope Francis wants to show mercy to the condemned criminal.
    .
    When will he show mercy to the victims?
    .
    Has he seen the results of what a murderer or a rapist or a child abuser does?

  • Over at Catholic World Report, Carl Olson does a good job of rebutting the pope’s speech on a point-by-point basis.
    .
    This is wearying: the ceaseless pandering to the spirit of the age, the priggishness combined with intellectual shallowness, the coarseness and vulgarity of manner, the failure even to attempt to reconcile his blurtings with the traditional teaching of the Church… There’s something new in this vein several times a week.
    .
    It’s all too much. Did the pope tell an Argentinean divorcee to receive communion last week? Probably, it sounds like something he would do. Did he endorse annihilationism in his latest chat with Scalfari? God forbid, but given the past two years, would anyone be truly surprised if he did? Did he refer to orthodox Catholics as “doctors of the law” for wanting to uphold the Church’s teaching on marriage? Does he really think “clericalism” and “bad homilies” are the main reasons for the protestant advances in South America? That’s just the past several days, and I’ve doubtless missed something.

  • This sort of thing reminds you of Mark Shea’s diagnosis of the pederasty scandals a dozen years ago: we have the bishops we (at some level) wanted. This pope is one (one might wager) that most pew sitters in the occidental world wanted (when they were not making an effort to think with longer time horizons). I hate to think how long it will take his successors to rebuild from the demolition job he has undertaken. As far as I can discern, the priests at the local novus ordinary parish have stopped talking about him.

  • “One demographic and one only in the Church–white American conservatives–say “But we really want to kill as many people as we can get away with and still tell ourselves we are faithful to the Church.”

    Anyone want to take a guess who wrote this today on their facebook re: the death penalty?

  • I wish the desire to fundamentally transform the Church would experience the death penalty.
    .
    @Steve D., Eric Holder? Obama? Al Not-So-Sharpton? And why was the word “white” thrown in there? Leaving it out would have made the same point without the race factor. But, they want the race factor because…. they’re color blind? 😉

  • Thou shalt not stand idly by while thy neighbor’s life is in jeopardy. Capital punishment is self-defense in particular and in general. The victim must be vindicated. The murderer has taken the power over life and death into his hands and since the murderer has not raised the dead to life, the murderer stands as witness to the victim’s Justice in death, that the victim deserved capital punishment. Capital punishment exercised through power of attorney of the condemned vindicates the innocent character of the victim. Or let the murderer bring his victim to life. Being murdered does not annihilate the sovereign person’s soul and/or the victim’s civil rights and/or his last will and testament.

  • Sad to see Peter going so tragically off the rails.

    Apb. Gomez in L.A. has not got the memo, though, as he opines in the LA Times that while the DP is theoretically permissible, those mysterious “improvements” have made it entirely unnecessary: http://seeking4justice.blogspot.com/2015/03/la-bishop-expert-criminologist.html

  • I think Murray captured it best in his comment above with his use of the
    word “blurtings”. We are living in the days not of papal teachings, but of
    papal blurtings.
    .
    Keeping in mind how often this Pope’s blurtings must be ‘clarified’ by his
    press office, how often they conflict with what he has said before (or even
    in the same blurting), and how often they are simply incomprehensible–
    I’ve decided that it’s not so much that the man wants to teach as he just
    wants to satisfy his itch to, well, pontificate. It’s not for our sake that
    he blurts, it’s for his own. He doesn’t seem to have enough regard for
    his audience (namely, every other Catholic on the planet) to give a thought
    to what he’s about to blurt.

  • Steve D……sounds like Mark Shea to me.

    The Roman Pontiff is going to talk about whatever the Roman Pontiff feels like talking about. The fact that he is frequently annoying in his public commentary should surprise nobody. Tuning him out is the best way to deal with his annoying comments.

  • Penguins Fan, you are correct.

  • Kyle, everything is seen through the lens of racism for liberals like Shea.

  • The Pope has the power to forgive sins if and when the penitent repents. Before repentance, the Pope has no power or authority from Jesus Christ to forgive sins, as Jesus did not forgive the unrepentant sinner crucified with Him.
    .
    Mercy is inoperative unless the baby-raping murderer embraces repentance. The death penalty has the power to bring the murderer to repentance. Compassion must be more than a word, an unfeeling word, a tool in the devil’s arsenal to degrade and destroy souls. As a man, Pope Francis can adjure people to ban the death penalty. As a Pope, Priest and Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis has no authority to forgive mortal sins of baby-raping murderers, unless the murderer repents. As a man, Pope Francis must follow the strictures of the state. As a priest, Pope Francis must follow the Ten Commandments. The Catholic Church would not have a Fifth Commandment if murdering the innocent person were not a mortal sin. The state would not have the death penalty, if murdering the innocent person were not the crime of homicide. There would be no hell if murdering the innocent person were OK with God. There would be no Sacrament of Penance if the murderer did not need to repent. There would be no Justice if the murderer is freed of jeopardy of life.

    .Steve D.: ““One demographic and one only in the Church–white American conservatives–say “But we really want to kill as many people as we can get away with and still tell ourselves we are faithful to the Church.”
    .
    Every white, black, yellow or red murderer is subject to the death penalty. Equal Justice is endowed by “their Creator.” If God’s Justice has no place in our human race, only the innocent person is going to suffer.

  • People ultimately suffer the consequence of their sin ( and the sins of others). God Himself audits the balance sheet at the end. .
    don’t know what teaching there are on this idea, but when legitimate authority on earth punishes a person on earth, even to the point of capital punishment, does that in some way mitigate the purgatory for the sinner? On the other hand, when society or parents or family members are too loose, abdicating their responsibility to judge and to guide, and the person is not called to serious account on earth for their transgressions, will all of that remain for them in the herafter? I can imagine that facing life in prison and facing capital punishment could, as the pope said, make a person crazy- and on the other hand, it may be the only thing that would call a person to repentance.

  • The Pope’s wrong on the death penalty, if only because he doesn’t understand the difference between murder and the execution of a criminal convicted of a capital offense under due legal process.
    .
    On the bright side, the more the Pope blurts, the sillier Shea gets. That’s got to be worth a little something.

  • None of the last three Popes loved all of scripture….that’s it in a nut shell. Modern Catholic and Protestant biblical scholarship doesn’t love all of scripture either and Fr. Raymond Brown who didn’t believe Mary said the Magnificat was on the PBC under both Ratzinger and John Paul II.
    They all loved parts of scripture. John Paul II never quoted scriptural death penalty verses in Evangelium Vitae and he did the exact same thing with wifely obedience wherein he cited Ephesians only and ignored five other NT passages that balanced Ephesians to in effect say…someone has to have the steering wheel in seasons of difference in a marriage….cf. TOB and Dignity of Women. Check the Amish divorce rate…they’re uninfluenced by modern biblical scholarship and their divorce rate is probably under 2%…no one even knows iwhat it is.
    Pope Benedict is the first Pope in history to say that the herem..massacres of the OT
    were sins ( Verbum Domini 42) and not mandated by God. Scripture repeatedly…repeatedly says God ordered them. John Paul II ( EV sect.40) did not believe the Deuteronomy death penalties were from God yet scripture has them so ordered in the first person imperative by God. Why should we believe the ten commandments came from God now that three Popes undermine His other mandates? Francis is just their late life pacifism multiplied by ten. He and they will fail to convert all Protestants who know scripture by heart and love it even though they fail on some major passages. Which Protestants are converting? Probably the ones who have modern biblical scholarship’s cafeteria approach to scripture.
    And none of these past three Popes even looked at the criminal mess in northern Latin America where a large percent of Catholics live. To me its a farce. All you need to do if you’re aiming for Church high office is oppose birth control and a billion people will think you are conservative even if secretly…half the Bible makes you hurl. And half the Bible makes the last three Popes hurl. “Preemptive war is not in the catechism”, said Benedict. Errr….it’s in the invasion of Canaan which you called sin in section 42 of Verbum Domini and which
    Isaiah noted was ordered by God. II Kings 13 has the dying Eliseus tell King Joash to attack Syria. Which is inerrant…the Bible or the catechism? I’m done with listening to the non infallible. Wake me when the real ex cathedra or its cousin….all …all…not 66% or 50% Bishops with the Pope….is used. The universal ordinary magisterium? Ha….I thought that obtained on this issue…yet these last three Popes have sought abolition…which contradicts the already defective ccc 2267.
    Now forget Romans 13:4 and Gen.9:5-6 as they did…..for a minute. Does anyone think any of these last three Popes studied the murder problem in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador? No….none of us do. Popes don’t have to actually look at reality to be experts on anything anymore because no Catholic paid writer who is trying to pay bills for their family….is ever going to deeply call them on it….never…it means a small income becomes even smaller if they criticize a Pope…or a good income like those at Catholic Answers will slowly shrink. I’m done listening to the non infallible level of the recent Popes on all violence issues. Their ideas were meant to curry favor with post Christian Europe which began the anti death penalty idea….a Europe which also hurls at half the Bible. I’m going back to oil painting the ocean and making moves in the stock market both of which areas are now believe it or not…more rational than the papal. Remind me of that pledge if I enter this deadend violence area again.

  • To argue that the death penalty is never, under any circumstances, necessary, flies in the face of history.
    Alain Badiou is surely right, when he insists that “if you say A – equality, human rights and freedoms – you should not shirk from its consequences and gather the courage to say B – the terror needed to really defend and assert the A.”
    Today’s liberals want a “decaffeinated revolution,” 1789 without 1793, but as Saint-Just asked: “What do those who want neither Virtue nor Terror want?” His answer is well-known: they want corruption – another name for the subject’s defeat.
    One would surely expect someone from Latin America to endorse this bitter truth.

  • I’m beginning to think that 1) he doesn’t know and 2) he doesn’t care. Because he plans on the liberal media , which will oblige him, taking his statements and disregarding the history and tradition of the church as so beautifully stated in the article above. I wonder what he would have said “Justice” would have been for A Hitler had he been caught? Life in prison?? For 6 million Jews he killed? No. The only proportional response would have been the death penalty….. which most of his cohorts got from Neurenberg . Thank God for this website because NO other priest or source will correct this erroneous Pope!

  • Actually, the topic, by its simple existence, merely skirts the larger issue–that of modern man’s dilemma in properly dealing with life and death itself–hence, the hyper-pursuit of eternal health, perpetual youth, and a quick doctor assisted death, have replaced the entire religious concept of life being merely a temporary means of preparation for passage into eternity–with or without God.

  • A related question (temporal punishment and reward for sinners):
    If we (think synod) are to allow adulterers and sodomites to the sacred Eucharist, are we really going to openly discriminate against those other poor souls who are unrepentant murderers, rapists, jihadists, baptized heretics and such? If so, under what moral authority do we deny them? Will we not need to develop a third layer of sin in order to accommodate our Synodic aberrations?
    How does doing that fit into the modern church’s vision of “pastoral care?”

  • And none of these past three Popes even looked at the criminal mess in northern Latin America where a large percent of Catholics live.

    Latin America might benefit from capital sentences, but what they’re really lacking is well functioning institutions: land registries, police, courts, and prisons. Crime rates are much more sensitive to the surety and celerity of punishment than they are to the severity of punishment. (And, Francis’ chatter on political economy indicates he does not register any of this).

  • which most of his cohorts got from Neurenberg .

    The first set of Nuremberg defendants were an odd jumble, including men who were responsible for horrific crimes but also including two men who had served as governor of the central bank (one of whom had been imprisoned by Hitler in 1943), a Weimar-era politician who was posted as ambassador to Turkey during the war, a mid-level official of the propaganda ministry, and several professional military slapped with humbug charges (e.g. “waging wars of aggression”).

  • “Capital punishment is cruel, inhuman and an offense to the dignity of human life. There is no crime in the world that deserves the death penalty. That was Pope Francis’ unequivocal message to members of the International Commission against the death penalty who met with him on Friday morning in the Vatican”.

    Thanks for making me aware of this piece of news, as I had not heard about it before now.

    First of all speaking as a Catholic and someone who lives in Europe, this is a view most Catholics would agree with and that would even include some Conservative Catholics. While there is much about Europe that does not please me, opposition of the death penalty in the European countries is one exception. For many it has been the first time many people have seen a pope more in touch with the people and this shows why Pope Francis is one of the most popular people in the world.

  • Art Deco,
    Severity and celerity is the God manner. In the Old Testament, the witnesses were to begin stoning….and the community was to join in .. hence when Christ spoke in the Jerusalem temple. Jews in their subjective minds blasphemed and men took up stones immediately to stone Him but scripture says He passed through the crowd and miraculously eluded them. Their sin was not picking up the stones as ordered by God as first witnesses but their sin was not discerning that Christ, healer of the sick and possessed, was the Messiah and could say He was the Messiah legitimately.
    In Acts 5 God and Peter likewise kill Ananias and Sapphira quickly after their offense and the passage ends with a loud emdorsement of quick deterrence….” the whole community and all those who heard of it drew fear.”. California’s 20 year wait on death row is not a deterrent. That’s a lifetime to some criminals.

  • and this shows why Pope Francis is one of the most popular people in the world.

    What other settled teachings would you like to submit to a referendum?

  • Severity and celerity is the God manner.

    That’s nice, Bill. But if you do not hire enough cops, recruit and train them in ways which promote professionalism, deploy them optimally, maintain true and efficient fact-finding procedures in court, and punish offenders once collared, it is not going to matter much how many people you haphazardly execute. Veracruz is still going to be a disorderly mess, just a disorderly mess with a few more dead bodies courtesy firing squads.

  • James Charles,
    .
    Oh, for goodness’ sake. Both St John Paul II and Benedict XVI opposed the death penalty in practice, though both upheld its intrinsic legitimacy, so this is not exactly a new and startling innovation.
    .
    More to the point, it makes no difference what you or I or the people of Europe think about issues like the death penalty; the question is about whether the pope’s remarks are congruent with the Church’s magisterial teachings on the matter, and they pretty clearly aren’t. You are free to believe that there are no circumstances in the modern world that would require recourse to the death penalty (St John Paul II’s position), but as a Catholic, you are not free to believe that the death penalty is malum in se.

  • Not everything said by this Pope about anything must be taken as “gospel.” People need to start distinguishing things that must be accepted and the load of junk he comes out with as someone who doesn’t like the death penalty …. He doesn’t even like life in prison. Remember his recent comments?? So he’s wrong … not a criminologist …. And I choose to reject his comments.Amen

  • Many Catholics seem to be against the Catholic doctrine supporting capital punishment. But what do they support? What do they want for the criminal, a lifetime in solitary confinement? Violence of prison gangs? Prison rape? Where is the humanity in that? Perhaps we could turn prisons into country clubs for those poor dear murderers, but where would the justice be for the victims?

  • Dan and Murray.

    Good on ya! He doesn’t speak for the Holy Catholic Church when he presses his personal opinions. The shame is that he (pf) should take into consideration the position he holds, and therefore bring dignity and responsibility as one beholding the Chair. October will be interesting. Until then I continue to pray for him as our Holy Father.

  • Neither Bergoglio, nor any other individual has the power or the authentic authority to remove the deterrence of the death penalty from any other person. He becomes an accomplice to every homicide. Giving aid and comfort to the enemy is still treason.
    .
    “I will come back and get you and you cannot kill me twice” There is more than death awaiting the capital one murderer. There on the gallows, is his victim waiting for him, a victim he killed and cannot kill twice.
    .
    With the imposition of atheism, the world has become a haven of cowards who refuse to face their victims, a veritable snake pit. Where is St. Patrick when you need him. Saints preserve us.
    .
    Does Pope Francis believe in the communion of saints?
    .
    ” Long demonstrates that acceptance of the right of the state to levy this penalty was a requirement for the restoration of the heretical Waldensians to full communion:”
    .
    Abolishing the death penalty removes the power of the state, literally abolishes the state. This would play into the hands of a one world government, but not under God as the United Nations refuses to acknowledge God or the sovereignty of God.
    “The fool said in his heart that there is no God.”

  • Ken wrote, “What do they want for the criminal, a lifetime in solitary confinement? Violence of prison gangs? Prison rape? Where is the humanity in that?
    Since European counties, beginning in Scandinavia, began the systematic, routine and compulsory medication of violent offenders (something made possible by the development of Chlorpromazine and later Phenothiazine-based drugs) such things have been virtually eliminated.
    Behaviour is best modified by altering perception, mood or consciousness; something we can now do in a controlled, safe and effective way.

  • It simply does not compute. Hey, I’m a numbers guy!
    .
    Each year, approximately 1,500,000 innocent babies are murdered in utero; about 10,000 persons are murdered; maybe 60 killers are subjected to the death penalty.
    .
    Given the stats, why are so much ink and gigabytes expended over a few dozen killers’ punishments?

  • Sweden also continued eugenic sterilization until 1976, criminalizes ordinary parental discipline of children, and has rates of child seizure by state social workers which exceed those in the United States and West Germany by a factor in the double digits. Place is not worth emulating.

  • Since European counties, beginning in Scandinavia, began the systematic, routine and compulsory medication of violent offenders (something made possible by the development of Chlorpromazine and later Phenothiazine-based drugs) such things have been virtually eliminated.
    Behaviour is best modified by altering perception, mood or consciousness; something we can now do in a controlled, safe and effective way.

    .
    So much for free will.
    .
    Also, and to the original post, what does the line of reasoning promoted here by Pope Francis imply for just war theory?

  • Only in Europe can a man not be sentenced to death for his crimes, but he can be euthanized in prison:

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/cruel-and-unusual_816406.html

  • Is this statement to the international commission another of the irreligious, ‘tell them what they want to hear’ variety?
    A church spokesman that manages to ignore Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, the suffering or destroyed victims and their families’ lives, and a world of souls heading for eventual death and judgment, cannot be Orderly.
    It also seems contradictory to the vignette about answering an insult with a punch in the nose and the not wanting an attack to be painful.
    The unstructured field hospital will be dangerous if it doesn’t develop designated wards.

  • Ernst Schreiber asks, “what does the line of reasoning promoted here by Pope Francis imply for just war theory?”
    Nothing at all. To exclude capital punishment as an act of retributive justice does not deny the right of self-defence. As Robespierre argued in his plea for the removal of capital punishment from the Penal Code: “Outside of civil society, let an inveterate enemy attempt to take my life, or, twenty times repulsed, let him again return to devastate the field my hands have cultivated. Inasmuch as I can only oppose my individual strength to his, I must perish or I must kill him, and the law of natural defence justifies and approves me. But in society, when the strength of all is armed against one single individual, what principle of justice can authorize it to put him to death? What necessity can there be to absolve it? A conqueror who causes the death of his captive enemies is called a barbarian! A man who causes a child that he can disarm and punish, to be strangled, appears to us a monster! A prisoner that society convicts is at the utmost to that society but a vanquished, powerless, and harmless enemy. He is before it weaker than a child before a full-grown man.”
    Now, states do exist in a state of nature and the only arbitrator between them is the sword.

  • Murray: I believe you have made very good and valuable comments here. Thank you!

  • Michael Paterson_Seymour: “” But in society, when the strength of all is armed against one single individual, what principle of justice can authorize it to put him to death? “”
    .
    Justice, perfect Justice. Self-defense of one innocent person against a guilty individual, with the bloodlust of homicide in his heart. This is the principle of why the state, all government, is constituted: to protect the one innocent citizen against any guilty individual who will break the law or civil rights of any person with impunity; for that criminal, outlaw, destroys the state, the constituted state, which is established to provide Justice, secure the common good and the general welfare for our constitutional posterity.
    .
    Michael Paterson_Seymour, Please read The Preamble to the Constitution for the United States of America. “We, the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and to our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for (FOR) the United States of America.”

    Justice and freedom for every person is not a done deal, but must be established every minute of every day, by every one, now and forever.

  • “Abolishing the death penalty removes the power of the state, literally abolishes the state. This would play into the hands of a one world government, but not under God as the United Nations refuses to acknowledge God or the sovereignty of God.”
    .
    Some people, especially priests, and once, including myself, believe that capital punishment, so inadequately imposed, is more evil that letting the bloodlusting murderers live. Abolishing capital punishment will not bring about Justice, a more perfect Justice, for evil exists. Abolishing capital punishment will destroy man’s only hope in having the God-endowed freedom to self defense, the constituting of the state. Abolishing capital punishment by the state will enable the barbarians to murder at will and impose world wide atheism, the one world government under the world bank or 666 or whatever you want to call the beast.
    .
    IN GOD WE TRUST soon to be eradicated by atheism must be preserved. IN GOD WE MUST TRUST. GOD SAVE THIS COURT. and MAY ALMIGHTY GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR IMMORTAL SOUL.

  • Ernst Schreiber asks, “what does the line of reasoning promoted here by Pope Francis imply for just war theory?”
    Nothing at all. To exclude capital punishment as an act of retributive justice does not deny the right of self-defence.

    While I’m inclined to agree with you, consider:

    Capital punishment war is cruel, inhuman and an offense to the dignity of human life. There is no crime in the world that deserves the death penalty justification for waging war. That was Pope Francis’ unequivocal message to members of the International Commission against the death penalty [name your own peacenik organisation] who met with him on Friday morning in the Vatican.
    In a lengthy letter written in Spanish and addressed to the president of the International Commission against the death penalty war, Pope Francis thanks those who work tirelessly for a universal moratorium world peace, with the goal of abolishing the use of capital punishment preemptive self-defense in countries right across the globe.
    Pope Francis makes clear that justice can never be done by killing another human being and he stresses there can be no humane way of carrying out
    a death sentence war. For Christians, he says, all life is sacred because every one of us is created by God, who does not want to punish one murder with another, but rather wishes to see the murderer repent. Even murderers, he went on, do not lose their human dignity and God himself is the guarantor. [Insert some nonsense about how killing is murder.]

    .
    My point being that if you apply the line of reasoning absolutist rhetoric Pope Francis offered on the death penaly to the Church’s teaching on just war, you see where his prudential judgement leads. And granted, we’re working here with a paraphrase of the Pope’s statement rather than the actual words. But you know, I’m tired of parsing translations.
    .
    Finally, and while I’m aware that this isn’t what M. P.-S. is arguing, but for the benefit of others, does it strike anyone else as odd to argue that it’s okay for you to defend yourself, but it’s not okay for the state to deter someone from attempting to harm you (thus causing you to have to defend yourself) by imposing the penalty of death for certain crimes?
    .
    Maybe what I’m getting at is if you start tugging at this particular string of the seamless garmet, you wind up unraveling things you didn’t intend to unravel.
    .
    My thanks to Michael Paterson-Seymour for providing me a comment upon which I could riff.

Shea Plays Race Card on Death Penalty

Wednesday, March 11, AD 2015

 

Mark Shea has been trending left for quite a while and now he is using the favorite tactic of the contemporary left in this country:  race baiting.

 

but it’s totally not about race or anything and if you notice that it is you are “playing the race card”. The Death Penalty: Because the Magisterium is incompetent to teach about faith and morals when American white conservative sacred cows are involved.

 

Have you no sense of decency left Mark?  Of course, it has long been known around Saint Blogs that in the heat of controversy Mark Shea will use any stick to wield against those on the other side, no matter how dirty and unfair the stick is.  Back in 2013 Shea offered a public apology for his bad behavior and I congratulated him on it.  Go here to read my post.  One aspect of apologies is amendment of behavior and, regrettably, since that apology Shea has gotten worse in his public behavior, and the above putrid insult by him of Catholics who hold to the teaching of the Church for almost 2000 years as racists, is beneath contempt and is about as low as one can go in American contemporary discourse.

For 33 years I have engaged in adversarial relationships every day of my professional life as an attorney.  I have always tried to never use unfair arguments and I have always attempted to treat my adversaries with respect.  Sometimes I have felt that this has put me at a slight disadvantage occasionally with attorneys who have a win at all costs mentality.  However, my success record in litigation has been rather good, and I have the added bonus of being able to look at myself in the mirror when I shave.  I think that what I have done as an attorney is a good rule to follow in blogging, whether other bloggers do so or not.

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22 Responses to Shea Plays Race Card on Death Penalty

  • Here is a simple line of reasoning: if more capital crimes are committed by members of one race versus members of another race, then more people of the first race would and should receive capital punishment than the people of the second race. But the imposition of capital punishment is being done not because of race but because of the commission of a capital crime. It is sad that more members of one race may commit more such capital crimes than another. I do not say that that is for certain the case. I have not done a statistical study. But nevertheless, the punishment is done for the crime, not the race.
    .
    Now here is the thing: if we want fewer people of that particular race to receive capital punishment, then we have to find a way of ensuring that fewer people of that race commit such capital crimes in the first place. So the right question to ask is this: why do so many more people of that race commit capital crimes than people of other races? Find that answer and fix that problem, and then the supposed inequitable imposition of capital punishment on members of that race will decrease.
    .
    BTW, does Mark Shea pray and work for the cessation of criminal activity which would obviate the need for capital punishment in the first place, or would he prefer to show mercy to the criminal instead of justice for the victim?
    .
    PS, I am NOT a racist (unless you count the fact that I love the human race of which I am a member). Indeed, while by accident of birth the melanin of my skin cells is white, that of my wife, being Filipino, is a light brown.

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  • Mark who?

    FYI, in 2004, there were 1.3 million US abortions of innocents and 59 death-penalty executions each after numerous years of appeals and other delays.

    .
    Liberal catholics’ enthusiasm for forcing on the USA Catholic (recently rewritten) death penalty teaching would be commendable. Except, where is their zeal for forcing an end to the most pressing pro-life issue: abortion?

  • The death penalty is slanted even further in its application against men than any racial or ethnic minority Mark Shea cares to name. Yet Shea commits an act of omission regarding that obvious-to-the-most-casual-observer misandristic sexism. Truth doesn’t fit Shea’s feminist-driven narrative.

  • I think the race obsessives would argue that makes you the worst kind of racist Paul.

    And if Shea is going to play the race card, he should do so proudly, instead of sulkingly. Either it’s about race or it’s about playing the race card. Make an argument and defend it.

  • “I have the added bonus of being able to look at myself in the mirror when I shave.”
    ***
    Is that an explanation for the size of Mark’s beard?

    😉

  • PS: The number of US black unborn babies aborted each year is disproprtionately high in relation to the percentage of blacks in the US population. If that isn’t racism I don’t know what is racism.
    .
    Mac,
    .

    Growing a beard was my solution to having look at myself in the mirror.

  • Unlike you Donald, I was once removed from a courtroom by the judge in a citizen’s arrest case…and I made the arrest and was on the state’s side. But the defense lawyer accused me of strangling the defendant…whereupon I went into him verbally because I sensed an inaccuracy….strangulation varies from country to country and I spent time in foreign jungles where what I did meant hello.
    Be that as it may, Shea knows who pays him into his tin cup and how to keep on the Catholic speaker circuit. That John Paul II audience wants total catechism and Pope adherence….with any creative sensationalism left outside those two venues….ergo the Shea endless ad hominems outside those venues while having endless submission to the CCC and each Pope. Creativity here…submission over there. It results in pan infallibility of each Pope and catechism article which is kind of rampant anyway….though Francis has begun to end that in traditionalists. Both John Paul II in EV and Benedict on preemptive war quoted the catechism as though it was the Bible which neither of them did as to the actual Bible on the death penalty as to Romans 13:4. Lol….maybe Protestants are not 100% wrong about us and the Bible.
    If Shea goes against the CCC or the sitting Pope, he’ll be working for money at something else as time goes on. I sense he doesn’t want that. Corapi went against Canadian Bishops…never against the catechism or the sitting Pope…ditto Bill Donohue…the money came in.

  • Shea’s leftism is becoming more obvious with each new blog post. In the past few years, he has shown he’s a radical on immigration, the death penalty, and homosexuality. How long can the Catholic organizations that use his talents(?) continue to employ him in good faith?

  • A sure sign that Mark and those who pushed the editorial line are losing the debate. Comments on those sites are clearly against abolition. Generally they are well argued and consistent with Catholic teaching.

    I see that in my Diocesan paper also. There have been numerous editorials against the death penalty. Letters to the editor have been reasoned and persuasive others in the community.

    Truth is a powerful thing. Just as those who have pushed the anti-family and homosexualist positions in the last Synod are losing ground, so those that push for the abolition of the death penalty. That because it is a position that is contrary to natural law and Revelation.

    The Holy Spirit is moving. Just not the way many would like.

  • If you read Shea’s facebook posts on an regular basis (and I don’t recommend it if you value your sanity), you’ll discover the guy has always been a flaming Seattle lefty. Yes, he likes to hide it because of the pro death stance of Demonrats, but he’s on record saying that he’d have no problem voting for progressives if it wasn’t for their prochoice views. And yet he claims to be conservative? Laughable. The guy regularly posts links from the DailyKos, HuffPo, Salon, Media Matters and the like to trash conservatives, and if you point out the unreliability of these sources, he’ll cry genetic fallacy! His regular commenters or even more looney….by their fruits ye shall know them.

  • “Mark Shea has been trending left for quite a while and now he is using the favorite tactic of the contemporary left in this country …”
    ***
    I haven’t read Mark’s blog in years, but I do catch glimpses of his Facebook posts from time to time. And Don’s assessment (as well as Steve D’s assessment in the previous comment) seems about right. Mark’s Facebook page paints the picture of his leftward lurch far more tellingly than does his blog. Mark does little more than parrot talking points of the political left, trafficking in the left’s usual character assassination, guilt by association, and simplistic caricatures (often based on lies or misrepresentations) of those with whom they disagree. These days, his most ardent followers and commenters on Facebook seem to be fairly limited to such left-Catholic ideologues with axes to grind as Morning’s Minion and Dan Conway. Mark’s commentary is virtually indistinguishable from theirs.

  • *shrug* I stop listening to folks when they feel the need to lie to make their case. So he added another lie– it’s sad, and rather embarrassing since he is a public face for Catholicism, but he’s not going to persuade anyone who wasn’t already on his side.
    So it’s just… sad. Lies with fallacies piled on top.

  • Mark does little more than parrot talking points of the political left, trafficking in the left’s usual character assassination, guilt by association, and simplistic caricatures (often based on lies or misrepresentations) of those with whom they disagree.

    Yet another sign of how left he is. As the saying goes

  • Allow me to play the very real race card: Since Roe, tens of millions of dead babies. Of those over 55% were babies of minority mothers. Over 17,000,000 dead Black babies. Over 12,000,000 dead Hispanic babies. Planned Parenthood Mega-Death Center in Houston TX most days killing a majority of Black and Hispanic babies; and the new Death Center of Planned Parenthood being built in San Antonio [and currently with inadequate zoning certificate] somedays will kill 20 Hispanic babies. These are not white American sacred cows-these are God’s own precious infants. Guy McClung, San Antonio

  • I met Shea some years ago and was not impressed at all. And he has indeed been turning left and more than that, he just likes to have someone to attack and have controversy. I do not like him. Never read him. Not impressed years ago and have nothing to do with him now.

  • Comments on those sites are clearly against abolition. Generally they are well argued and consistent with Catholic teaching.

    You mean he did not delete them and insult the posters?

    I’d have told you a decade ago that Shea needed an editor. The regrettable demise of much of the Catholic press since then has deprived him of the services which were once provided by Brian St. Paul.

    I suspect that seeing his utterances as the work of a political intelligence is mistaken, except insofar as one can regard portside politics as the miasma of the inner life of troubled people. Political language can be a mode of expression for the problems of aging, or failures in daily life, or for long-standing character and personality defects. (Something more manifest in feminism than in other sorts of discussion). It does not have to be, but it often is. It can also be an exercise in status games and a reflection of anxieties in those games (Rod Dreher, I’m looking at you).

  • I met Shea some years ago and was not impressed at all.

    There are stories of him having rude confrontations with vendors at book fairs and the like. That would make an impression.

  • “You mean he did not delete them and insult the posters?”

    I was referring to sites promoting the editorials. However, I am sure he deleted comments, insulted posters and banned them. I don’t read Mark anymore. Don’t want to cooperate with evil.

  • All capital one murderers must be put to death. If some racially counted murderers escape because of skin color they must be put to death, too.

  • Shea’s point is wrong, as usual, race really is not a factor in the death penalty: http://seeking4justice.blogspot.com/2005/09/new-study-race-of-defendants-no-factor.html
    Many such race-baiters mention a numerical discrepancy between a race’s proportion of the population and that race’s representation in the criminal justice system; but such a crude metric only tells us there is a different rate of incarceration and sentencing, it does not explain why there is a difference, and without evidence of the “why” there can be no rational claim of racism as the reason for the disparity.

    It’s all simple logic and basic reasoning, but sadly Shea is not a thinker, he’s a mere agitator, hence the rapid descent to ad hominem when he is challenged.

  • If you read Shea’s facebook posts on an regular basis (and I don’t recommend it if you value your sanity), you’ll discover the guy has always been a flaming Seattle lefty
    .
    Can confirm. If you think Mark’s extreme on his SJW And Hating Life blog and you haven’t seen his Facebook, you haven’t seen anything yet. He’s an absolute fanatic there, with discourse about on the level with Bill Maher, though with more SJW hypersensitivity and even rarer moments of common sense or logic.
    .
    The guy regularly posts links from the DailyKos, HuffPo, Salon, Media Matters and the like to trash conservatives, and if you point out the unreliability of these sources, he’ll cry genetic fallacy!
    .
    Which is ironic, given how fond of he is of using guilt by association himself, and how often he smears writers for articles that he turns out not to have even read.
    .
    My favorite is when he accused Ben Stein of advocating eugenics, by embellishing on an embellished Rawstory article about an embellished Right Wing Watch article about an article that Ben Stein had written. When people linked to the actual Ben Stein article and showed how ridiculous the claim was, Mark suddenly deleted his post like a coward, without any comment or apology for his libel. And he learned nothing, as he has continued to do the same thing repeatedly (eg. libeling Matt Walsh for his article on suicide, which he also didn’t read. I’m sure there are more recent examples, but Mark’s blog is worthless as anything other than a near occasion to sin, so I don’t read it anymore).
    .
    His regular commenters or even more looney….by their fruits ye shall know them.
    .
    Had one far-left fanatic named Andy Simons (who Mark says goes to his parish) insist at length that Catholic teaching does not say that abortion is murder. Mark came in to agree with him on that claim and insisted that “Andy is fully pro-life.”
    .
    The same whackjob also argued against anti-abortion laws, absurdly bemoans that pro-lifers “refuse to work together with Democrats stop abortion,” etc. But try to argue that more welfare isn’t good for lowering the abortion rate, and Mark will accuse you of literally murdering babies. Mark isn’t really pro-life himself, imo, and he’s trying to deflect his shame by loudly and frequently accusing others.

The Death Penalty and the Traditional Teaching of the Church

Tuesday, March 10, AD 2015

 

Trent Death Penalty

 

One aspect of the current debate in Saint Blogs over the death penalty that I find fascinating is the sheer indifference that many anti-death penalty Catholics have to the fact that the Church until 1995 never challenged the right of the State to execute convicted criminals.  Calls for mercy from clerics were never uncommon, but the justice of the death penalty per se, apart from prudential concerns, never entered into the picture.  Steven Long at Thomistica looks at this:

 

Four Catholic journals–the National Catholic Register,  America, The National Catholic Reporter, and Our Sunday Visitor–have decided to press for the total abolition of the death penalty in the United States in a shared editorial, making only faintly veiled suggestions that it is essentially evil, “abhorrent”.  Their joint editorial may be found, among other places, here. The editorial manifests a wondrously positivistic indifference to, and disregard for, distinctions in doctrine.  That all the Doctors and Fathers of the Church–with the exception of Tertullian who died outside the faith– have taught the essential validity of capital punishment; and that it is the teaching of the Council of Trent that where all the Fathers and Doctors hold one interpretation of Scripture as the proper one, Catholics are to accept it, are two propositions that signify very little in the oppressive culture of mutationist accounts of doctrinal development.  

Wholly unobserved is the high theological note characterizing the profession required of the Waldensians in 1210 in order to re-establish ecclesial communion.  The Waldensians were required to acknowledge among other things the essential justice of the death penalty for grave crime.  Cf. Denzinger, #425—“Concerning secular power we declare that without mortal sin it is possible to exercise a judgment of blood as long as one proceeds to bring punishment not in hatred but in judgment, not incautiously but advisedly.”  Clearly to require this oath for the re-establishment of ecclesial communion at one moment, and then to imply the absolute necessity of the opposite—where what is at stake is not prudential application and limit but the principled possibility of just penalty of death—would constitute not a development of doctrine, but rather a mutation.  Note, again, that the oath required of the Waldensians directly refers to the death penalty in principle and that it indicates that as such it cannot be a malum in se. Nor is it listed as such in Evangelium Vitae, which provides a list of such intrinsic evils from which the death penalty is omitted. 

Are the editors of the journals involved–or the bishops who so commonly describe the death penalty as contrary to human dignity as though it were a malum in se–familiar with the work of the late Eminence Cardinal Avery Dulles on this question?  Or the teaching of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church?  Hundreds of years of Catholic teaching in conformity with the teaching of the Fathers and Doctors has acknowledged that implementing the penalty is a prudential matter and that the penalty is essentially valid.  Pope Piux XII taught that the penalty is valid across cultures.  The wisdom of applying this penalty is essentially a prudential matter.  But as prudential there is no such thing as “de facto abolition” since circumstances change, and–again, contrary to the journals and the new enthusiasm–deterrence is a necessary and essential part of criminal justice.  The reason for this last is that we are not free to impose penalties in this life without considering the common good, and an essential part of this consideration is (contrary to Kant who thought that the justice of the death penalty made its application to be absolutely necessary) the issue of deterrence.  

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27 Responses to The Death Penalty and the Traditional Teaching of the Church

  • “Need one observe that the journals’ appeal for the US Supreme Court further to ignore the US Constitution will have further implications for the deterioration of our legal system?”

    The Bishops have become consequentialists. They look to circumventing properly formed laws to achieve a (presumed) good. Though this will not be the first time. Look at how they applauded Obama’s Executive Amnesty in contravention of duly established immigration laws.

  • Peace and justice!
    .
    They’ve spent the past 52 years effectively ignoring abortion (45 million innocents killed).

    .
    Now, they have their bloomers in a bunch over capital punishment (a couple thousand predators punished).

    .

    Let’s commence emphasizing cruel and unusual crimes and the advancing the human dignity and value of the murder/rape victim.

  • Not even a couple of thousand, T. Shaw, a mere 39 executed this year, as against over 14,000 murders.

    Yet you’d think listening to certain folks that we were having orgies in the blood of thousands of mostly innocent executed prisoners.

    Facts get in the way of their self-aggrandizing dramatics.

  • The murderers live…and the victim’s families die a little bit…every day.

  • I agree with you about the death penalty. As you said in an earlier post, “prudential” concerns are one thing. Even just arguing certain places on Eartg dont need it anymore because of how conditions have changed is one thing. But given the world our Church spent its earliest days in (no one could exactly support our prison system) the death penalty does not seem to be wrong in principle.

  • Steve Martin: “The murderers live… and the victim’s families die a little bit…everyday.”
    .
    The victim is dead, in rigor mortis. It is presumption to believe that the victim is in heaven and the murderer has done her a favor by killing her.
    .
    Atheism believes that the victim had no soul and is beyond any legal human rights. The state does not have the authentic power to remove such inquiry from our human rights, disenfranchising the individual citizen from his day in a court of law.
    Any bill or legislation that would remove a citizen’s freedom to attain to the courts is unconstitutional. A blanket prohibition removes any individual circumstances in each case and cannot be allowed to stand.
    .
    In capital punishment, each case must be tried on its own merits and facts. Prohibiting such inquiry and trial is unconstitutional, as it violates the First Amendment rights of the deceased being represented by the state. The murderer must run jeopardy of life. Other wise the trial is tainted by unequal Justice.
    .
    The Catholic Church too must refrain from interjecting itself in state matters: Render unto Caesar…

  • Canon lawyer Ed Peters, citing the piece by Steven Long, also addressed the Gang of 4 (plus Patheos) editorial:
    ***
    https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/okay-what-about-catholics-and-the-death-penalty/
    ***
    “… Worse, though, than the four journals editorial itself—which for the most part only repackages and recycles prudential arguments against the death penalty as if they were arguments in principle—have been some of the “pile-ons” published in its wake, with Patheos administering an especially condescending tongue-lashing to Catholics who, tsk-tsk, can’t understand that opposition to the death penalty is demanded “for the simplest of reasons” and then walks Catholic troglodyte death-penalty enthusiasts through four reasons why they are (supposedly) so utterly and embarrassingly wrong, beginning each reason with “We are Catholic”.
    ***
    “Like, you know, I’m not.
    ***
    “As a Catholic squarely in line with the Catholic tradition that, as Long accurately if turgidly sets out, supports the just administration of the death penalty for capital crimes, I have grown used to having my motives for such support reduced to: my thirst for vengeance, my disdain for mercy, my obliviousness to Christ’s salvific will, my despair about conversion, and my contempt for compassion. I apparently do not understand that the death penalty does not bring murder victims back to life (gee, whodathunkit?) but that’s not to worry, because my support for the death penalty can be excused (and then dismissed) on purely demographic grounds (I am, after all, white, male, middle-aged, and usually vote conservative, so who cares what a heartless jerk like me thinks about anything?) …”

  • To be concise about the new not developmental position: it is rooted both in the catechism and in EV in the idea that perfect prisons protect you from murderers. That only addresses caught murderers which in Guatemala are 5% of murderers since that Catholic country clears-solves only 5% of murders. Perfect prisons ( see tiny Monaco) cannot protect you from uncaught murderers….95% in Guatemala….0% in Momaco.
    The further rebuttal:
    A. Large countries with multi cultural populations and large gang culture will never have perfect prisons…not even the US can afford them. The two largest Catholic countries are Brazil and Mexico and their prisons are nightmares. The Pope and the CDF did not look beyond the pristine prisons of Austria, Monaco. Malta, and Luxembourg….in short. the position is very Euro based but the majority of Catholics are in high murder rate northern Latin America.
    B. The CDF and the Pope during the 1990’s should have petitioned the US Supreme Court who had already done deterrence studies between 1972-1976 which made them conclude that executions deter not passion murders but premeditated murders. Neither the Pope nor the CDF have given educated readers any indication as to their having done deterrence research at all.
    C. While John Paul and Benedict were conservatives on sexual matters, they were liberal on Biblical issues with John Paul II being the first Pope to say that the OT death penalties were from an unrefined culture ( sect.40 of EV) rather than from God as scripture indicates. And Benedict was the first Pope in history to insinuate and really say that the herem of the OT were not from God either ( Verbum Domini sect.42). That’s a king size problem vis a vis the new death penalty regression. Regressions are not new. Killing heretics after Pope Innocent IV’s Ad Exstirpandum in 1253 was an opposite regression that lasted centuries. John Paul apologized for it and just began a new one that will get murder victims killed instead of heretics.

  • For those who need high positioned sincere dissent, they will have to access the 2007 Ave Maria Law Review online for a fee cited by Dudley Sharp at “Inebriate Me” at Patheos.
    A CDF consultor ( the people who shape the catechism) dissented. From D. Sharp’s post (with the footnote) apparently regarding the idea: yes execution if no other way possible:

    2) This by Kevin L. Flannery S.J., Consultor of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, appointed by Saint Pope John Paul II:

    “The most reasonable conclusion to draw from this discussion is that, once again, the Catechism is simply wrong from an historical point of view. Traditional Catholic teaching did not contain the restriction enunciated by Pope John Paul II” (5)

    “Capital Punishment and the Law”, Ave Maria Law Review, 2007 (30 pp), by Kevin L. Flannery S.J., Consultor of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (since 2002) and Ordinary Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University(Rome); and Mary Ann Remick Senior Visiting Fellow at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture (University of Notre Dame.

  • So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
    .
    In his book on Hell, Father F.X. Schouppe, S.J. relates the following: “Natural reason confirms the dogma of hell. An atheist was once boasting that he did not believe in hell. Among his hearers, there was a sensible young man, modest, but who thought that he ought to shut the silly speaker’s mouth. He put to him a single question: “Sir,” he said, “the kings of the earth have prisons to punish their wicked subjects; how can God, the King of the Universe, be without a prison for those who outrage His majesty?” The atheist of course had not a word to answer. The appeal was presented to the light of his own reason, which proclaims that, if kings have prisons, God must likewise have a hell.” – See more at: Stories of hell in lives of saints
    .
    People can incur the eternal punishment which is hell and which Revelation refers to as the second death (recall that because of Adam, we suffer the first death). It seems very reasonable to me that some crimes incur capital punishment. 1 Peter 2:13-14 (RSVCE): Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,[a] whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right.

  • OFF TOPIC – I am taking a class in the Church were in one of the instructors is a social justice warrior. She claims that in the US there is no reason for there to be poor. I am looking for supporting information/documents/research on why the regulated “Free Market” used in the US and other Western nations is the most moral (prudential) way to distribute wealth. I have the Catechism (2401-2463) but it lays only a foundation upon which decisions are to be made and can be used by each side to support their position. Thank you for any help you can provide.

  • As I have posted before:
    .
    The best way to stop capital punishment is to stop committing capital crimes. Stop murdering the innocent, raping women, sodomizing young children, etc. Just stop it. For all those prayers offered up at Mass to bring about a cessation of Capital Punishment, not once have I heard a prayer to convert the lost to the saving power of Jesus Christ. Not once have I heard a prayer to end criminal activity.
    .
    Another thing: why do we have all this angst to show mercy to the unrepentant murderer on death roll who while incarcerated still control murderous thugs of gangs out on the streets, but we offer no prayers of justice for their victims? It is time to stop this backwards way of looking at things. Romans 13:1-7 gives the State the power of the sword. You don’t want that power used against you? You can’t do the time? Then don’t do the crime.
    .
    PS, I write that having visited prisoners for 12 Step Meetings at the State Penitentiary in Fishkill, NY. My 12 Step Sponsor at the time told me that the only difference between those criminals and me is that I never got caught. And yes, I darn well know that I deserve the death penalty which Jesus Christ received in my stead.

  • Jesus said we would always have the poor with us. (Poor is relative.)

  • With the abolition of the death penalty, the unalienable Right to Life will be abolished and in its place, there will be the state and the state’s opinion of some alienable Right to Life at the pleasure of the state and now the Church. (This has caused human sacrifice)
    .
    Mr. Patrick Archbold is correct in his assessment of the power being surrendered, actually taken, by the state. “We, the people” must realize that it is “We, the people”, in concert, who are endowed with the unalienable Right to Life. The state does not confer an unalienable Right to Life. The Catholic Church does not endow the unalienable Right to Life. Therefore, not the state, nor the Church may dismiss or alter any unalienable Right to Life.

  • I am looking for supporting information/documents/research on why the regulated “Free Market” used in the US and other Western nations is the most moral (prudential) way to distribute wealth.–Catholic Attorney

    Easy. The alternative to the Free Market is some form of Slave Market and the Church opposes slavery.

    For much more rigorous discussion that includes reference to Church documents, I recommend starting with the Acton Institute. Free market ideas started with the Schoolmen who, centuries before that Scot Adam Smith came along, convincingly argued that (to put it into modern terms) the just price of a good is its market-clearing price, whatever that may be between willing buyers and willing sellers. The Schoolmen’s ideas of natural liberty also pre-dated John Locke.

    I suspect that Locke learned of these ideas during his stay among the Dutch, but I cannot yet prove that. Circumstantial evidence exists. Most Dutch traders were Catholic and most of Spain’s sea trade with Europe was carried by the Dutch (even during the long war for Dutch independence from Spain) so the economic and political ideas of Catholic scholars in Salamanca and Madrid could certainly have traveled to Holland and become influential among businessmen there.

  • I’m something of a fan of the Austrian School, so maybe the Mises Institute? Also, Hayek’s Road to Serfdom is must-read on the deleterious affects of planners and their “good intentions.”
    .
    Not that you’re going to get far with a dyed-in-the-wool SJW. But I suppose you could always revert to Acts and point out that if the Apostles couldn’t make socialism work, nobody can.

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  • Catholic Attorney-
    She claims that in the US there is no reason for there to be poor.

    First thing, ask her to define “poor.”
    If it’s “has less than someone else,” then that’s based off of envy.
    If it’s some other form, such as “going hungry and homeless,” point out that most of the folks who are actually poor in that sense aren’t abused by the free market, they are sick— usually mentally ill, addicted to drugs or under the care of someone who is either.
    The statistics about “Americans facing hunger” include “food insecurity” and not getting to eat as much as you want of whatever you want– I’d love to have beef every night, but chicken is what we can afford. There’s also the problem that my kids, who do not go hungry at all, would surely say that they don’t get to eat as all they want of what they want. There aren’t that many costco muffins on earth. 😀
    Another tactic you might use is to ask her if she’s calling Jesus a liar. “The poor you will always have with you.”

  • There’s also that the “free market” is how one describes a state where those involved are allowed to have private property.
    This article might help on that angle:
    http://www.legatusmagazine.org/private-property-and-catholic-teaching/
    and you might also look into the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on property.
    ***
    You probably should get her to define “free market,” too; she might be using the one that boils down to “other people are able to do something I don’t like,” or the strawman one that says “slavery should be legal.”

  • Thanks all!

  • I’m an anti-death penalty Catholic, although I believe that most Catholics who interpret the Catechism as you do do so in good faith. I have several problems with the death penalty. First, I think it imposes an intolerable and cruel punishment on the innocent; namely, the family members (especially) the children of the condemned. Secondly, we have no way (now or ever, I think) of ensuring that every condemned person is guilty. The possibility that even one innocent person could be executed for a crime he didn’t commit is reason enough to abolish the practice.

  • Claire,
    If you are correct then God was unjust twice. He gave the ancient people of God over thirty three death penalties for sins not just crimes and His system of justice simply entailed the testimony of two or three witnesses. What if the two witnesses bore false witness in order to get that person’s land?
    Number two is much later in the NT when God inspires Romans 13:4 ( ” not without reason does the state carry the sword ( machaira…used to execute James in Acts 12:2) for it is God’s minister an avenger to execute wrath on him who has done evil.”). God inspired that
    within an empire and government which had just judged and killed Christ unjustly.
    So if you are correct, God was incorrect twice.

  • “Secondly, we have no way (now or ever, I think) of ensuring that every condemned person is guilty. The possibility that even one innocent person could be executed for a crime he didn’t commit is reason enough to abolish the practice.”

    Though I would ask the same standard from the anti-death penalty crowd. That is, you must guarantee that no person in prison will ever commit an act of violence towards an innocent prisoner. Never. Ever. If you cannot do this, then the death penalty should remain.

  • By the “harm to their family” theory, every murderer you could have executed, but did not, is an even greater wrong.
    .
    Say, the families of those four cops who got gunned down in Lakewood, while they had coffee and a chat before duty.
    He’d been granted mercy by Huckabee, and was supposed to be in jail at the time of his murder…illustrating exactly the problem.

  • Claire I agree with you about the death of an unjustly convicted person. In some cases there is no doubt at all, but other times even after the governor has been petitioned, an unjust and hence immoral decision is made. I would like to know if there is some better way to safeguard against that.

  • :
    “‘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.”

    What is so disturbing about this new “teaching” started by JPII is that it is based solely on his own OPINION. No evidence was ever presented to support his OPINION. Nor am I aware of anyone other than me asking the bishops to show evidence that CP is no longer necessary for the protection of the innocent public because of the high technology in prison systems today. (Of course this excludes 3rd world countries from having to comply, don’t you know, they don’t have the money or the technology to conform. So, their killing of capital offenders is OK based on the new opinion of Church teaching)

    Well, as it so happens on Sunday April 29, 2001 an article on page “News 24” of The Orange County Register blows to pieces this new Catholic opinion-based teaching; or it should have, but the California Catholic Conference decided to dismiss the article I sent to them by way of Diocese of Orange representative who attend a discussion of the bishops support for a ballot measure to end CP in CA a couple years ago. The article headline was “Murder from the inside out” and dealt with a 3 year, $5,000,000, local, state and federal investigation of the newest high tech prison in California which resulted in federal prosecutors saying “…hundreds of murders (have been orchestrated) from inside maximum-security prisons. The Corrections Department says there is little it can do to stop the killings ordered by inmates who have nothing to lose and nothing but time (on their hands). A “25-count indictment of a total of 12 men and 1 woman on federal charges of murder, robbery, conspiracy and drug-related crimes” Eight of the 12 men were serving in a “prison within a prison.” They “live alone in antiseptic cells that are painted white with a glass wall so that guards can always see inside. Meals are brought to the cells and they are allowed outside only one hour a day, alone, to exercise in small concrete yard.” In other words, these are prisoners housed in solitary confinement in the highest tech modern prison in CA, from which they orchestrated “murders, robbery, and conspiracy and drug-related crimes.”

    So much for the Church’s attempt to be “holier than thou” in order to be consistent with Cardinal Bernardin’s “consistent ethic of life” which killed the original real, absolutely no doubt, pro-life movement’s opposition to abortion and the need to get a Right-to-Life Constitutional Amendment passed to save the unborn.

    It is getting difficult to defend the Catholic Church as the “one, true, Church” when her bishops are tying themselves up in knots over ending capital punishment claiming it is “pro-life.” They started doing this in the mid 1980s in response to a conflict Catholic Democrats were having with the Church’s teaching on abortion and her seeking a Right to Life Constitutional Amendment. Catholic Democrats, which included the clergy, were they arguing that they “were pro-life, too” concerning these other issues which included capital punishment. The bishops adopted Cardinal Bernardin’s “consistent ethic of life” concept of “pro-life” enabling Catholic Democrats to justify their remaining in the pro-abortion Democratic Party. Interestingly, the bishops never looked at the Democrat Party’s “consistent ethic of life” stretching back to the days of slavery and the Civil War, and after losing the war their creating the KKK and then passing Jim Crow Laws (Selma AL were all Democrat government leaders). And don’t forget the Democrat Congress Members OPPOSED the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act in a higher percentage than the other party. To that we can add the party of pro-abortion, and now of same-sex marriage. Yeah, let’s all come together in the Catholic “consistent ethic of life” so the Democrat Party can continue to be an electoral power…that’s the ticket. How many Catholics still endorse the pro-abortion party, and that includes the clergy, with their names and support? Half of them after 42 years of Roe v Wade and abortion-on-demand being the law of the land.

    I’ll support the effort to end CP when the Pope and bishops find a way to exonerate the mortal sins of all those innocent people who have been murdered all these years with no chance of making a perfect contrition. Only 3% of convicted capital offenders receive the death penalty, and nothing causes one to repent sooner, if one is going to, than knowing the date and time your going to die, something their victims never had a chance of knowing. And those who administer the death sentence from the prosecutors, jurors and judges to those pulling the lever or administering the drugs will never commit a sin in carrying out their duty. They never have committed a sin and never will in doing so. It is a crying shame what the Church leaders have done to try to appease those Catholics that love being Democrats; being Catholic is not enough for them. But understanding the motive behind the bishops actions certainly helps explain the subtitle to the biography of “Cardinal Bernardin – Easing conflicts – and battling for the soul of American Catholicism” written by his 30-year long friend, Eugene Kennedy, Cardinal Bernardin lived 8 years after its publication, and never refuted a word in it; not even the telling comment, “Not only would this move gain greater support from Catholics and others but it would keep the pro-life movement from falling completely under the control of the right wing conservatives who were becoming its dominant sponsors.” And what is the “move” he is talking about? The adding of Democrat political social justice issues under the name of pro-life and calling it “The consistent ethic of life.”

  • It is getting difficult to defend the Catholic Church as the “one, true, Church” when her bishops are tying themselves up in knots over ending capital punishment claiming it is “pro-life.”

    It’s hardly news that the Catholic Church is full of sinners.
    If this is what the ill look like with treatment, imagine what we’d be like without!
    (…actually, you don’t have to imagine, you can check out the nastier bits of videos from the middle east, although I wouldn’t suggest it; talk about your first world problems)

Bishops, Lies and the Death Penalty Part Two

Tuesday, March 10, AD 2015

 

 

 

 

Saint Thomas Aquinas Death Penalty

 

 

Dudley Sharp has sent TAC part 2 of his response to the anti-death penalty editorial in National Catholic Reporter, America, Our Sunday Visitor and National Catholic Register:

 

One of the major problems with the Church’s newest teachings on the death penalty is that neither the Bishops, nor any other Catholics, opposed to the death penalty, fact checks anything the anti death penalty movement produces,  resulting in error after error presented to the flock, undermining the truth. You must fact check and consider opposing facts to find the truth. As a rule, on this topic, the Church will not do that.

On this topic, the Bishops have accepted anti death penalty claims, as gospel (small “g”), even when they conflict with Church teachings, as described.

“NCR” is for quotes from the referenced op/ed, with my reply as “Sharp reply”.

NCR: “(The death penalty) is also insanely expensive as court battles soak up resources better deployed in preventing crime”.

Sharp reply: It is all but guaranteed that the publications editors blindly accepted the anti death penalty material on the costs of the death penalty and fact checked nothing, just as with the bishops.

Since 1976, Virginia executed 108 murderers (70% of those sent to death row), within 7.1 years, on average, a protocol that would save money in all jurisdictions (1).

It is irresponsible not to fact check in any public policy debate, especially one where a religious flock is depending upon the truth, Fact check the cost claims and the studies, next time (1).

NCR: “Admirably, Florida has halted executions until the Supreme Court rules”

Sharp replies: Of the many options that Ok has for execution protocols, one of those. primarily, being considered, in the Glossip case, is nearly identical protocol in Florida, which is why Florida suspended executions.. Florida has had no problems with that protocol.

NCR: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf declared a moratorium on the death penalty until he has received and reviewed a task force’s report on capital punishment, which he called “a flawed system … ineffective, unjust, and expensive.” Both governors also cited the growing number of death row inmates who have been exonerated nationwide in recent years.”

Sharp reply: Virtually all of the problems that Pa. has had are based upon a judiciary, which has no respect for the death penalty law. Only three executions have occurred within Pa, since 1976, all of whom were “volunteers” who waived appeals. allowing executions. The judges will, otherwise, not allow any executions and/or will overturn the cases, also stopping executions. See Virginia, above, in contrast.

The Governor only made official what everyone knew that the judges had already done.

You may be happy with the judges, but be careful what you wish for, with judges that flaunt the law, simply because they don’t like it, becoming dictators in robes, not ruling guided by the law, but, instead, ruling to spite the law.

NOTE: Politics at play. The five Governors who have suspended executions are all Democrats, as, additionally, were/are the Governors that, in recent years, signed laws to repeal the death penalty, after Democratic majority legislators passed the bills. I believe all those governors support abortion, an intrinsic evil within Catholic teaching, whereas the death penalty is not and any Catholic can support more executions and remain a Catholic in good standing, the opposite of those who support abortion.

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20 Responses to Bishops, Lies and the Death Penalty Part Two

  • The loss of a loved one does not have closure, nor is closure wanted or needed. The pain of loss is always present. It is part of being human.
    The man entered the woman’s apartment at 2:30 A.M. raped the woman and chopped her head 47 times with an ax, killing her and eliminating the witness. The court asked if the man wanted to murder the victim or simply inflict serious bodily injury. When the lethal injection fails, in equal Justice, the state has 46 more tries. (It is normal to have seizures and rigor mortis when dying, unless our Constitution can change our human nature)
    .
    For myself, I would like to see the murderer undergo the same treatment that he inflicted on his victim. Then, Pope Francis will not have to worry about capital one murderers coming to stay at Hotel Marta, was it room 201?

  • When I shoot a man that says he “just” wants to steal my car, you bet I’m increasing the total amount of violence– thing is, “violence” isn’t all equal. Cutting people can be good, as in was when it saved my daughter’s life (cesarean section), or it can be bad, in the case of assault. The goal, reasons and target all matter, not the ‘violence’ of it.

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  • The Death Penalty is barbaric.
    If we are going to defend life – then is has to be ALL human life.
    Contradiction and hypocrisy to oppose abortion and euthanasia and then hold for the death penalty.

    The American obsession with death penalty and keeping people in isolated conditions for years on and awaiting death is cruel beyond words. Why don’t you put your resources into rehabilitation, showing respect for the prisoners, winning them to faith by care.

    Why does America, the ‘land of the free’, side with China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and other countries with poor records for human rights?

    We in Australia are disgusted by the American stand on the death penalty.

    Listen to Pope Francis. Stand up for life, human rights, dignity and respect.

  • “If we are going to defend life – then is has to be ALL human life.
    Contradiction and hypocrisy to oppose abortion and euthanasia and then hold for the death penalty.”

    That was precisely the position of the Church for almost 2000 years. To condemn that as hypocrisy merely demonstrates your ignorance of that fact.

  • “If we are going to defend life…”

    Such is the case with the death penalty. It is to defend innocent life against attacks. It is done under the principle of double effect. It is the same as when a cancerous uterus is removed even if a pre-viable fetus is in the womb. It is the same as when a police officer shoots an individual who is threatening another with deadly force.

    It is, as Don notes above, the consistent teaching of the Church. Through ALL its history.

  • Maurice, if you’re so concerned with respect for all human life, how about some respect for the families of murder victims? These folks, whither the murderer is executed or not, have to live the awful pain of being separated from a loved one by a killer’s lust for the rest of their lives. At least the murderer before his execution can pray to God for the forgiveness of his sin, which is more than his victim got.

  • “Virginia executes within 7.1 years of sentencing, on average…”
    That suggests to me a judicial system in chaos. When we had capital punishment in Scotland (until 1965), the longest time that elapsed in any case since 1887 between sentence and execution was 36 days.
    In all cases where the accused is in custody, the indictment (including lists of witnesses and productions) must be served within 80 days. In capital cases, the Crown Office target was seven weeks. The case had to call within 110 days of arrest.
    The last case, that of Henry John Burnet, was typical. The murder had been committed on 31 May 1963 and Burnett was arrested the same day. The trial took place before Lord Wheatley, the Lord Justice-Clerk and was a lengthy one, lasting from the 23 to 25 July. The jury took 25 minutes to reject pleas of insanity and diminished responsibility by a majority of 13-2. Leave to appeal was refused and he was hanged on 15 August, surviving his victim by 11 weeks.
    The case of the last woman hanged, Susan Newell was similar. The murder was committed on the 20 June 1923 and she was arrested the following day. The trial took place on the 18 and 19 September. After 35 minuted, the jury convicted her by a majority and she was hanged on 10 October, just over 11 weeks after her arrest.
    Section 72 of the 1887 Act – “All interlocutors and sentences pronounced by the High Court of Justiciary under the authority of this Act shall be final and conclusive, and not subject to review by any court whatsoever, and it shall be incompetent to stay or suspend any execution or diligence issuing forth of the High Court of Justiciary under the authority of the same,” ensured due expedition. This did not affect the Royal Prerogative and about half of capital sentences were commuted.

  • The Death Penalty is barbaric.

    Defending the slaughterers of the innocent from justice or even being stopped is barbaric.
    .
    You want to respect the prisoners? Treat them like they’re moral beings, instead of animals that can’t be held to a moral standard of not killing those who were not a threat to life and limb. Less than animals– animals that are known to stalk and kill humans are put down, because they are dangerous to the innocent.
    .
    Why does America, the ‘land of the free’, side with China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and other countries with poor records for human rights?
    They also love their children– as have those through the Church’s history that have defended their children with the death penalty. If you could be bothered to research, you’d find that we’re rather different– we’ll even defend other people’s children.
    .
    We in Australia are disgusted by the American stand on the death penalty.
    We in America are disgusted by the stripping of the right to self defense that is sadly common in Europe and Her Majesty’s areas.
    It’s cowardly, how the very government that is supposed to protect the good people instead attacks them, the safer target, should they try to protect the precious gift of life granted to them by God Himself.
    ****
    Fallacies I spotted:
    Equivocation and assuming the conclusion, argument by assertion, false choice; argument by assertion, ad hominem, assumes the conclusion;
    appeal to emotion, argument by assertion, ad hominem/slander, conclusion against evidence/red herring/false result;
    appeal to emotion, equivocation, association fallacy, selective ignoring of evidence;
    appeal to emotion, argument ad populum;
    appeal to authority, assuming the conclusion.

  • That suggests to me a judicial system in chaos. When we had capital punishment in Scotland (until 1965), the longest time that elapsed in any case since 1887 between sentence and execution was 36 days.

    Given that we already know you guys use odd definitions for most anything, what did sentence mean at that time?
    Here, we can still appeal after sentencing.
    If that’s what you guys think of when you hear capital punishment, no wonder y’all flip.
    .
    That information does explain the definition of “murder rate” as “those where the murder is convicted and ran out of appeals,” though.

  • and not subject to review by any court whatsoever,

    Ah, meaning that there was no appeal.
    .
    That sounds like a justice system that’s flat broken.

  • Foxfier wrote, “That information does explain the definition of “murder rate” as “those where the murder is convicted and ran out of appeals,” though.” The time for a reclaiming motion is 10 days after sentence.

    “Sentence” means a final determination, as opposed to an interlocutor, such as a ruling on the relevancy of the indictment, that certain evidence is inadmissible and the like.

    There can be no appeal to a higher court (as there can be from the Sheriff Court to the High Court) for there is none.

    Any ruling by a single judge can be re-examined by a larger bench, typically three judges, but, if the court is being asked to overrule a former precedent, five or even seven judges would sit. Grounds of appeal are the familiar ones; (1) that the trial judge had misdirected the jury; and (2) that he had admitted inadmissible or excluded admissible evidence. As these matters would normally have been fully canvassed at the trial, the parties would be in a position to argue their case more or less immediately. Most appeals in capital cases, which took precedence over all other business, were heard within a fortnight of sentence.

    In England, by contrast, there could be an appeal from the Assize Court (the trial court) to the Court of Criminal Appeal and from that court to the House of Lords; a process that could take months. As an act of humanity, if the CCA quashed the conviction and the HL restored it, the prisoner was invariably reprieved.

    How, in any circumstances, the process can take years I still find baffling.

  • How, in any circumstances, the process can take years I still find baffling.

    Due process I guess. Heavy on the “process,” light on the “due.”

    So we’re not barbaric about the death penalty. Quite the opposite in fact. We’re civilized. Like the Byzantines.

  • How, in any circumstances, the process can take years I still find baffling.

    There are plenty of websites that can explain the entire process, with enough detail to avoid mistakes about what is actually being read.
    ****
    Due process I guess. Heavy on the “process,” light on the “due.”
    Because it’s so much better to assume that the sentence is correct so that things can be nice and short, to release known monsters after a few years and prevent them from being identifiable time after time, or to send people to jail for the crime of raising a hand in defense of their lives or family.
    .
    It’s easy to cry out for respecting all life when it means only facing the safe battles, rather than fighting the murderers.

  • You know what gets me. I’ve never heard of a Catholic bishop making rounds, and making scheduled and unscheduled visits to congregations on Sundays, something which could be completed in most dioceses with a biennial cycle wherein each parish gets and announced and an unannounced visit. We only get to read their unmediated words in often vapid commentary placed in diocesan newsletters. A bishop can compose something that might be pondered in the future or he can compose something that addresses contemporary problems, or he can compose something derived from the day’s readings. What I cannot figure is the sense of priorities which induces them to make such efforts in advancing a dubious position regarding capital sentencing. It’s almost as if they’re begging people to pay them no mind.

  • Because it’s so much better to assume that the sentence is correct

    Their may have been an element of sarcasm in my comment. Hence the “light on the ‘due'” crack.

  • The sarcasm was not so light as to go unnoticed; that is why it was responded to.

  • You’re touch is lighter than mine then. Sorry I misread you.

  • I’m kind of angry about this, because the body count is adding up in my area. Typed and deleted several versions, but that’s the long and short of it.

  • Man does not create life. Man procreates life. God gives man the power to procreate life. God creates and immediately animates the human being, man has procreated, with animation by the infused, endowed, immortal, rational human soul. For this reason our Declaration of Independence says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal…” “Equal” means that no one person, or other, is above or beyond the law of equal Justice.
    .
    Man’s immortal human soul is endowed with sovereignty, that is, sovereign personhood, free will, intellect, reason, and the ability to love in “agape”. In Pope Benedict XVI’s words: “Eros can only be engaged through agape” Man’s “will to live” is the principled Right to Life.
    .
    I was physically sickened last night hearing Pope Francis call for a blanket amnesty for capital one murderers, those who lie in wait and plot the murder of his neighbor in violation of God’s command to: “love thy neighbor as thyself”. Now, if Pope Francis can guarantee eternal life in heaven, I will be the first one in line for a guaranteed heaven. Pope Francis sadly, tragically and unfortunately cannot guarantee heaven for me or any other capital one murderers. Every individual person must work out their salvation. The founding principles call this “the pursuit of Happiness” To delay or put stumbling blocks in the way of perfection for any human being is Satan’s work.
    .
    Killing innocent human beings (innocent of capital one homicide) through abortion, assisted suicide and or euthanasia disengages the state of the power to secure the Blessings of Liberty. And further disables the state from the power to defend the innocent. Giving murderers carte blanch, open season to kill at will, randomly, for no apparent reason is insane and anyone who does so is as ignorant as a door stop. Cold blooded killers to be set at large to prey on the innocent as so much rabbits is unconscionable.
    Abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide will be separated from their consequences. The state will be separated from their responsibility and the citizens will be taxed without representation. A totalitarian and atheistic, anti-theist form of government will be set into place. The acknowledgement of a Triune God of three Persons and man’s image of the sovereign person of God will be obliterated from the face of the earth. The free will of man will only be exercised by the powerful. Civilization will be no more. Man will be defined by Cain, who killed a man for striking him or got in his way. Man will be defined as the barbarians who offered human sacrifice and immolated their offspring, their posterity, their children to Moloch. Human sacrifice will now be redefined as killing the neighbor instead of mortifying oneself.
    This morning brought relief only as I read The American Catholic’s stand on the death penalty.

Tom McKenna on the Death Penalty

Saturday, March 7, AD 2015

 

 

“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.”

Baltimore Catechism

 

 

 

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.

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32 Responses to Tom McKenna on the Death Penalty

  • I’ve always looked at the death penalty this way:

    Let’s assume that the death penalty may be appropriate in the cases of the most heinous murders. It is therefore rarely applied. Let’s specifically assume that 1% of the murders each year in the United States may be eligible for the death penalty.

    There are now approximately 15,000 murders committed every year in the United States. 1% represents 150 potential death penalty cases per year. 14,850 murders each year would not be eligible for death-penalty consideration; 150 murders would be eligible.

    Only legally-constituted juries should consider the death penalty in such cases and the verdict must be unanimous. In addition, specific and strict rules of evidence and rules of proceeding, more stringent then those applied when determining criminal guilt, should be applied in all death penalty cases.

    On a related note, the 5th Commandment prohibition determinative of the Church’s position related to the death penalty is most accurately rendered as “You shall not take life unjustly” . . . from the Hebrew word ratsach, which is not a prohibition against taking all life, only taking life unjustly. As noted above in the article, Catholic teaching has never prohibited the taking of human life in all instances, as witnessed by self-defense, just war and death penalty exceptions.

    We may, for prudential reasons, consider further restrictions, but requiring those restrictions is not consonant with traditional Catholic notions of justice and fairness. There is nothing unCatholic about supporting the death penalty in very rare (1% of cases) circumstances. What has always been absolutely prohibited is the taking of human life unjustly. Any other characterization of the “Catholic position” is simply inaccurate.

  • Today’s clerics would rather defend the guilty than give justice to the victim.

  • This is one of those issues where I almost always find myself on the side of the people who have nominally different views. As I’ve said, I’m opposed to the death penalty, but the logic of folks like Tom is always sounder and more rooted in facts than those who want to pretend that to be a Catholic means you must oppose the death penalty. There is absolutely no way one can square 2,000 years of Church teaching with an absolutely prohibitionist stance. To insist that the absolute prohibitionist stance squares with Church teaching is as daft as insisting that it would be permissible, say, for divorced Catholics to take holy Communion.

  • I have been looking at the death penalty from underneath the torrent. The state, through the prosecutor, must restore equal Justice to the victim and vindicate him. The victim did not deserve the death penalty inflicted on him. The murderer, who has not expired with grief over his murder of an innocent person, is living outside of equal Justice required to be counted as part of the human race. The murderer has become an outlaw. It is the murderer’s equal Justice, employed through power of attorney by the executioner that brings the murderer to his forfeited Justice and his end and vindicates the victim.
    .
    So, Catholics do not have to support the death penalty. Catholics must support equal Justice. The criminal’s non-compliance with equal Justice will bring him to a bad end, where he meets equal Justice on the scaffold.

  • I am a Conservative Catholic. I oppose the power of the State to execute criminals. I have no sympathy for brutal criminals and if they get themselves executed by the State then I feel they earned it(most of the time). It should be obvious to any sentient Catholic that the State(speaking of the US) is growing ever more oppressive and is outright inimical to the Catholic Church. That totalitarian States will abuse their power over the lives of citizens has been amply proved beyond any necessity of discussion. In the bygone era of the gallows the State did not have resources for lifetime imprisonment. Now we do and it is less expensive incidentally to keep them confined for life than to execute them, just another incidence of government incompetence. Rather than terminate a life created by God for heinous crimes, it is preferable to punish them with a lifetime of servile labor while providing them with only religious instruction or religious books. No TV or movies or entertainments. One may hope that honest toil and religious instruction may one day bring these souls to an epiphany. That our government would maliciously or incompetently use its power over life to suppress its opponents is not unlikely in my opinion. Even the terrorists who murder us should rather be confined to a lifetime of humble servitude rather than glorified in martyrdom.
    The state is not God and has no legitimate power to take the lives of its citizens. Think about what you are asking as Christian power fades from our body politic. You are authorizing demonic force to your own peril perhaps.

  • If ever I am swayed to change my mind on the death penalty from being opposed to being in favor, it will almost entirely be due to the arguments put forth by its opponents. See Shawn Marshall at 10:20 above.

  • and it is less expensive incidentally to keep them confined for life than to execute them,

    The people who are doing the accounting are lying to you. Twenty-four hour care is always and everywhere very expensive. The problem here is the absurd procedural larding which has attended the administration of capital sentences (imposed by our scuzzy appellate judiciary). In a sane legal order, the death sentence would be imposed when certain statutory criteria were met, but the appellate judiciary does not allow that because…we said so.

    The other objection you get to capital sentencing, retailed by John Grisham though not endorsed by him, is that courts are untrustworthy. The remedy to a corrupt and incompetent court system (and there appear to be an ample supply in Texas and Oklahoma) is to repair the court system. Public prosecutors who trade in perjured testimony need to be disbarred, jailed, and to lose their house and pension. Per Glenn Reynolds, the comprehensive immunity prosecutors and judges enjoy is an invention of those officials. We need to strip them of it.

  • Fear of the atrocious State is all too well founded today Shawn. At the same time, I “still believe” the the clear teaching of the Baltimore catechism.
    The snag or catch is that those still worthy teachings were predicated on a certain moral identity in the community. We could once think of jail as a place and time for rehab because we all had certain religious based motives about what would constitute rehabilitation: acceptance of social moral standards, change of behavior etc. Now in prison the religious / philosophical reading provided would be antithetical to our communitarian purpose ( if we still had one).

  • Shawn Marshall: “That totalitarian States will abuse their power over the lives of citizens has been amply proved beyond any necessity of discussion.”
    .
    Totalitarian states are not given power. Totalitarian states take power, usurp, plagiarize, and abuse power. The duty of the state is to serve Justice. “We, the people…” are guilty for not preventing the homicide, not being the victim, and not evangelizing the criminal. The guilt we bear carries over into capital punishment but is not the defining factor of executing the murderer. The final and defining factor of the execution of capital punishment, which is the temporal punishment due to the act of taking another person’s life and his human rights is the releasing of the victim’s life from the murderer and even perhaps exorcising the murderer’s demon. Forcing the murderer to relinquish the victim’s life and vindicating the victim from the imposed death penalty is equal Justice for all persons, the duty of the state. The state acts through the power of attorney of equal Justice (forfeited) of the condemned murderer.

  • I fail this test.

    I’ve read your exhortation’s and sound wisdom. The CCC explains it perfectly, and yet my heart is troubled with the argument. Because I am to uphold and witness the Gospel message with my life I will adhere to the Holy Faith and accept the teachings.

    The conflict within my heart is murder and severity of murder vs. rehabilitation.
    In some cases the murderer is hopeless for any rehab to take hold and give light in the darkness, and my thoughts go to life imprisonment.

    Having participated in prisoners conversions for a short 14 years I’ve been privileged to see Jesus’ healing work, hence my difficulty with our judicial system making this final call.

    As I mentioned, I fail this test.

  • btw…In this ministry we always find that the incarcerated can not imagine two things. 1.) There loveable. 2.) There forgivable.

    In leaving the ninety nine our Lord shows value in the one.

    Which one is the question.

  • “Federal prosecutors say hundreds of murders have been orchestrated by inmates inside maximum-security prisons. The Corrections Department says there’s little it can do to stop the killings ordered my inmates who have nothing to lose and nothing but time ” (on their hands). “Operation Black Widow, a three-year, $5 million, local, state, and federal investigation began in Santa Rosa and culminated in the 25-count indictment of a total of 12 men and one woman on federal charges of murder, robbery, conspiracy and drug-related crimes.” “Murder from the inside out” Sunday half page article in The Orange County Register newspaper April 29, 2001.

    Don’t let the facts get in your way, Popes and bishops of the Catholic Church, my Church, in your efforts to side with another Democrat political prudential judgment issue you have re-named “pro-life” that enables Catholics to comfortably remain in the pro-abortion Democratic Party. Being a Democrat is more important than just being Catholic – it gives you such a warm feeling of morally superior to those in the other party.

    Hmmmm, the Democratic Party “consistent ethic of life” history – pro-slavery, fighting a war to keep it legal, after losing the war starting the KKK and creating Jim Crow Laws preventing blacks from having the rights won for them; support of eugenics to keep the white race pure and support of Planned Parenthood caring it out with birth control and abortions; a lower percentage of Congress Members supporting the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act than the other Congressional party; the whole out support of Roe v. Wade and abortion-on-demand, and now pro same-sex marriage, anti-God (D convention 2012), anti-Catholic Church (birth control) and anti-First Amendment Rights. Yeah, Catholic Democrats sure do have the right to feel morally superior to those in that other party – the party formed to free the slaves and fought a war and won.

    It is amazing how Satan works, isn’t it – Church going Catholics, including the clergy, are the largest single group in the Democratic Party and give the Democratic Party the electoral power to keep the wholesale murder of God’s greatest gift – life, now heading for 43 years and over 57,000,000 innocent victims, and now they are attacking his second greatest gift – the sanctity of marriage.

  • This talk on the cruelness of the death penalty all started with Pope Francis saying the death penalty should be abolished, instead of repeating what the CCC says. If we had a pope that cared one wit about Catholic teachings we would not be having this discussion.

  • And the same bleeding heart liberals that want to abolish the death penalty for the most worthless hardened criminals, with no hope of rehabilitation, see absolutely nothing wrong with the wholesale murder of 55,000,000 children. How arrogant and hypocritical is that.

  • D Black.

    The liberals blindness to the slaughter of millions is perverted. How they boast of being champions for the poor marginalized and forgotten, yet they view unwanted pregnancies as a nasty illness. Something that should be paid for or covered for by insurance or national healthcare programs. This so-called War on Women spin is as ludicrous as Hilter’s final solution.

    Please excuse my veering off topic.

    The Holy Church would be better served if it focused on the War on the Christians the War on the unborn and the War on religious freedom vs. death penality opinions.

  • Philip: “The conflict within my heart is murder and severity of murder vs. rehabilitation. In some cases the murderer is hopeless for any rehab to take hold and give light in the darkness, and my thoughts go to life imprisonment.”
    .
    God was sad, so, He sent His Son. They killed His Son and they still refused to accept repentance. And God continued to be sad.
    .
    Jesus paid no mind to the ignorant thief. Even death on the cross did not bring the bad thief to repentance.
    .
    Capital one homicide is when an individual plots, plans, lays in wait for and executes another human being. We do not know if the condemned murderer becomes a death bed convert on the scaffold.
    .
    It is the duty of the state to repair equal Justice, and respect man’s free will.

  • P.S. Philip: The man you describe is more than capable of repeating his execution of other human beings.

  • D Black,
    John Paul II sought abolition way before Francis and yes abolition contradicts their own rare use idea in ccc
    2267. Rare use? Mexico needs so many executions that it would make China look like Sweden if it carried them out.
    It’s hopeless because it’s deeper than the death penalty…it’s a gathering pan pacifism in high clergy….subconsciously motivated in Popes in the new media world to impress the Euro Union, the Nonel Prize jury, and all those educated liberal Europeans who left the Church because of its past use of violence. Popes now practice the higher biblical criticism that previous Popes like Leo XIII warned of…and no highly published Catholic authors like George Weigel even whisper it. John Paul II tells you softly in section 40 of Evangelium Vitae that he doesn’t believe the Levitical and Deuteronomy death penalties were really from God but from an unrefined culture even though Scripture has them being ordered by God. He can pick and choose what he believes…biblical cafeteria-ism…and he knows no Catholic author who is paying for kids’ college will criticize him or they’ll get few publishers.
    Pope Benedict did the same thing on OT violence issues. Pope Benedict in section 42 of Verbum Domini even goes to the modernist extreme of insinuating that the massacres ( really herem ) of the OT were sins and scholars with training in historical-literary context will prove it ( they won’t because 70 AD, the worst God involved massacre, was not ancient…the genre was history not fiction). Here’s Benedict talking of the herem in sect.42:
    “This can be explained by the historical context, yet it can cause the modern reader to be taken aback, especially if he or she fails to take account of the many “dark” deeds carried out down the centuries, and also in our own day.”
    So the herem of Canaan were like the bombing of Dresden…not from God though Wisdom 12 spends a whole chapter saying they were from God ONLY after God punished the idolaters in small degrees for 400 years firstly….and they would not repent.
    He goes further on all kinds of violence being anathema to the prophets as though they were
    Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan back in the day:
    ” In the Old Testament, the preaching of the prophets vigorously challenged every kind of injustice and violence, whether collective or individual, and thus became God’s way of training his people in preparation for the Gospel.”
    Really? I only recall them denouncing the rich Jews violence against poor Jews over land grabs. Let’s look at the prophets…Elijah killed 552 men and maybe 952 if the Carmel incident had a missing verse. Jehu, a prophet- king, killed decades of Baal worshippers. Samuel killed Agag because Saul failed to. Eliseus got 42 children killed by bears via a curse. Jeremiah warned the Chaldeans to perfectly fight against the Moabites…Jeremiah 48:10 “Cursed be he that doeth the work of Jehovah negligently; and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.”
    But Pope Benedict was allowed to make up OT history in sect.42 because we apparently are sinfully polite and don’t know the Bible as Jerome did. Christ said, “and the scriptures cannot be broken”. That’s never quoted in modern Catholic circles. Benedict was dead wrong….the herem were ordered by God as scripture says and the prophets did not challenge every kind of violence. One of the prophets contradicts Benedict on both prophets/violence and herem in Isaiah 23:11…” The LORD has issued orders concerning Canaan to destroy its strongholds.”. We have drifted so far from the early Fathers’ relationship to scripture that Popes no longer know the OT….or worse, think they know the real OT which was never written.

  • Mexico needs so many executions that it would make China look like Sweden if it carried them out.

    I suspect like disorderly loci in America, Mexico needs celerity of punishment before it needs severity of punishment. The experience of New York – which got better results than most states with investing comparatively more in the police census and comparatively less in the prison census is relevant here.

  • Bill Bannon nails it. Most clergyman of any stripe appear to default to the attitudes of a second-rate school administrator.

  • Here Art is a Shiite real sinful execution of Sunni prisoners that progressives should be worried about because hundreds of them are probably going on from the Shiites in revenge wherein they assume all Sunnis in these small towns would freely help ISIS even without coercion. Notice the photographer is not worried about being shot too because he is hezzbolah…even though he is not obeying their demand of his camera.
    Push up to around 4:15 to skip past much inactivity.

    http://youtu.be/-WIGdUrdd84

  • Mary De Voe.

    Feelings are never a good substitute for Church teachings are they? Duh.

    Have a good week.

    The poor thief refused the graces. So too the hardened killer. A merciful God gives sufficient graces to control ones behavior, however if one doesn’t participate in His graces he has made his choice.

    The community shouldn’t be at risk.

    Feelings got in my way of reason.
    Peace.

  • Philip: I have felt the strength of your prayers and the graces bestowed upon me. I feel like you are pulling me into heaven by the seat of my pants and my belt strap. I am looking forward to seeing you in heaven.
    P.S. You may need the help of a couple of Guardian Angels.

  • Mary De Voe.

    ….may need the help of a couple of guardian angels?? No “may” about it Mary. That statement should read “will” need the help ect.

    When I picture my guardian I see the scars of a battle savvy warrior. I believe I caused him so much grief and neglect when I did my impression of Frank Sanatra’s “My way.” I picture him in less grief these days…however that too can be deceiving so it’s best just to pray and help neighbor.

    As far as helping you into heaven I can not say anything except this; “Eloquent sermons and work divorced from prayer bear no fruit. The knees, not the intellect or the pen, give efficacy to action….so prayer before and after every activity.” St. Maximilian Kolbe.

    When it comes to intellect I’m the bench warmer in the World Series. 🙂
    It’s ok because the art of prayer is my work and as an apprentice I don’t look back…I just try to keep my hand on the plow and inch by inch move forward.

    It’s always interesting to hear / read the posts from scholarly faith filled Catholics.
    I’m very humbled.
    You and your friends are inspiring.
    Blessings.

  • Blessings right back on you, my friend, Philip.

  • Neither Pope Francis, the Supreme Court or the United Nations can, nor may run surety for a capital one murderer, since the murderer has free will to do as he pleases and it has pleased him to kill an innocent person. What will Pope Francis promise, that he will control a capital one murderer’s free will? How So? How is it that these murderers may be included in our midst to run double jeopardy of life to all innocent people? How will Pope Francis save us from being killed? and how does Pope Francis deny the murderer’s free will and the murderer’s soul without losing his own immortal soul???

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  • Many comments in supposed rebuttal to my remarks are specious at best.
    Justice is NOT served by killing criminals. Justice belongs to God. God gave His Son to man to show us the Way. The established Church and the government scourged Him with whips to the point of death and hanged Him on a cross.
    He was criminally executed. Was justice served?
    Almost all commenters ignored or minimized the caveat of giving the power over life to an oppressive State which is already so inimical to our Catholic Faith that it engages in outright intimidation and unconstitutional persecution. Sometimes when I become a little discouraged, I no longer wonder at the ability of fellow Christians to load children into cattle cars.

  • Go right ahead, Shawn Marshall. Become a prison guard. It is not an easy life for you or your family. Your children will be more likely to become delinquents and your marriage more likely to break down. But you can make the sacrifice, better someone who has a superior understanding of the superiority of imprisonment to the alternative than someone just doing a guard’s job for the money alone.

    Or you could minister to prison guards and their families. By doing so you would be serving the innocent victims of the incarcerated because the damage those convicted criminals do to the lives of innocent others continues on while they are incarcerated.

  • Shawn Marshall: “Rather than terminate a life created by God for heinous crimes, it is preferable to punish them with a lifetime of servile labor while providing them with only religious instruction or religious books. No TV or movies or entertainments.”
    .
    How are you going to keep the murderer from enjoying his crime? especially the rape and murder of innocent children?

  • some comments require forbearance, especially when critical points are evaded.

  • Is it constitutional to disavow the Right to Life for a person who is a citizen deceased? Last will and testaments have been abrogated. Human rights cannot be abrogated, especially for those murder victims who cannot speak for themselves. Abrogating the victim’s right to speak under oath in a court of law is unconstitutional. Therefore, abolishing the death penalty and disallowing the state to assume the murdered victim’s right to speak is unconstitutional. Every person must be enabled by the state to enjoy his constitutional human rights. If even one person is denied, all persons are denied. Each and every capital one homicide must be tried on a case by case basis. It is not true that there cannot be absolute certainty in a death penalty case.

    God respected the free will of Lucifer even as Lucifer tried to kill God by replacing God with himself.

Bishops, Lies and the Death Penalty

Saturday, March 7, AD 2015

 

 

 

Saint Thomas Aquinas Death Penalty

 

 

Hattip to Pewsitter.  Dudley Sharp, who has commented at TAC, has written a response to the editorial boards of Our Sunday Visitor, National Catholic Register, the Jesuit rag America and National Catholic Fishwrap Reporter:

TO: the Editorial Boards of America magazine, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, and Our Sunday Visitor

One of the major problems with the Church’s newest teachings on the death penalty is that neither the Bishops, nor any other Catholics, opposed to the death penalty, appears to fact check anything the anti death penalty movement produces,  resulting in error after error presented to the flock, undermining the truth. You must fact check and consider opposing facts (1) to find the truth. As a rule, on this topic, the Church will not do that.

The Bishops have accepted anti death penalty claims, as gospel (small “g”), even when they conflict with Church teachings, as described.

“NCR” is for quotes from the referenced op/ed, with my reply as “Sharp reply”.

NCR: “Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will hear arguments in Glossip v. Gross, a case out of Oklahoma that challenges the most widely used lethal injection protocol as being cruel and unusual punishment.”

Sharp reply: That is untrue. as found within Glossip, Oklahoma has adopted many new additional protocols, which are unique to Ok – not the most “widely used” and are those which will be the areas of contention at SCOTUS.

NCR: “Our hope is that (the Glossip v. Gross case) will hasten the end of the death penalty in the United States.

Sharp reply: SCOTUS will only look at the specific new protocols, within Glossip. All different protocols, of other jurisdiction will survive, be that alternate lethal injection methods, gas, hanging and firing squad, which exist in other states, the federal government and the military.

Based upon the facts, detailed within the 10th Circuit ruling (1/12/15), against the plaintiffs, it appears most likely that SCOTUS will reject their appeals, as well, and accept Ok new protocol.

In addition, it appears possible, if not likely, that Ok will adopt a nitrogen gas (NG) protocol, prior to the SCOTUS decision. NG has already been approved in an Ok  legislative committee. NG has none of the downsides of any other method, NG is a completely painless execution method, as well as providing an endless supply, which cannot be withheld (1) and which may be adopted by all states, which wish to minimize delay, legal challenge and costs.

NCR: Archbishop Thomas Wenski, of Miami stated, “… the use of the death penalty devalues human life and diminishes respect for human dignity. We bishops continue to say, we cannot teach killing is wrong by killing.”

Sharp reply: For about 2000 years the Church has taught that the death penalty is based upon the value of innocent life and an abiding respect for the dignity of man (2).

What the Archbishop is, now saying, is that for 2000 years the Church supported that which devalued human life and that which diminished respect for human dignity, a claim which no knowledgeable Catholic can or should accept.

The Archbishop is just repeating standard anti death penalty nonsense which has no respect for Catholic teachings and tradition.

One wonders – why he raises false anti death penalty teachings above Catholic teachings, a common problem for many of the bishops.

The Archbishop states: “We bishops continue to say, ‘we cannot teach killing is wrong by killing’. ”

Sadly, they do.

The Bishops are just repeating, again, common anti death penalty nonsense.

We all know that murder is wrong, even if there is no sanction.

The Bishops are unaware that sanction doesn’t teach that murder is wrong – Church morality and tradition, as well as clear biblical texts teach that murder is wrong.

Sanction is the outcome of that moral teaching. Those are the rational and traditional teachings, which, somehow, the bishops have discarded and replaced with this anti death penalty nonsense. How and why?

Execution of murderers has never been declared immoral by the Church and never will be (2). The foundation for the death penalty is justice, just as with all sanctions for all crimes.

These inexplicable gaffs may cause good Catholics to wonder when reason and tradition vanished.

NCR: Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley stated: “Society can protect itself in ways other than the use of the death penalty,”

Sharp reply: Cardinal, the proper standard is what sanction is most just for the crime committed, what the Church has called the primary consideration (CCC 1995, 2003) and what sanction provides greater protection for innocents.

The death penalty provides greater protection for innocents, in three ways, than does a life sentence (3).

One example:

There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since the 1930s (3).

Just since 1973, from 14,000 – 28,000 innocents have been murdered by those known murderers that we have allowed to murder, again – recidivist murderers ( two recidivism studies covering two different  periods) (3)

My guess is that none of the Bishops are aware, because they haven’t looked, as with EV and CCC.

NCR: “the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church . . . include a de facto prohibition against capital punishment.”

Sharp reply: First, the de facto prohibition is based upon several errors (4).

Secondly, as the most recent death penalty teachings have been confirmed, by the Church, as being a prudential judgment, any Catholic may reject the Church’s latest teaching on the death penalty (4), honor the Church’s teachings of the previous 2000 years, and seek more executions, based within justice and the fact that executions offer greater protections for innocent lives (4).

Endnotes:

1) Intro. Basic pro death penalty review:

The Death Penalty: Justice and Saving More Innocents

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-death-penalty-justice-saving-more.html

 

2) For more than 2000 years, there has been Catholic  support for the death penalty, from Popes, Saints, Doctors and Fathers of the Church, church leadership, biblical scholars and theologians that, in breadth and depth, overwhelms any teachings to the contrary, particularly those wrongly dependent upon secular concerns such as defense of society and the poor standards of criminal justice systems in protecting the innocent.

The Death Penalty: Mercy, Expiation, Redemption & Salvation

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-death-penalty-mercy-expiation.html

See Catholic references within:

New Testament Death Penalty Support Overwhelming

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2014/01/new-testament-death-penalty-support.html

 

3) The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter? A Review of All Innocence Issues http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-death-penalty-do-innocents-matter.html

 

4)  Current Problems: Catholic Death Penalty Teaching: Most recent Catechism (last amended 2003)

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2014_10_26_archive.html

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11 Responses to Bishops, Lies and the Death Penalty

  • As a Catholic I to quote what Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley stated: “Society can protect itself in ways other than the use of the death penalty,”. America like Europe has seen ongoing problems with crime and violence, despite all countries all wanting to be hard on crime. To my knowledge no country in Europe has the death penalty and I don’t think bringing back the death penalty will cure the crime problems of Europe. As a Catholic we are taught love and forgiveness, which makes supporting the death penalty in the twenty first century outdated. To be honest I wish the Catholic Church leadership could be more vocal against the death penalty.

  • “As a Catholic we are taught love and forgiveness, which makes supporting the death penalty in the twenty first century outdated.”

    Odd that it took the Church almost 2000 years to determine that love and forgiveness meant being against the death penalty. I guess the Church must have been wrong for twenty centuries under your logic.

  • Love and forgiveness on the part of the individual are compatible with”the healing and preservation of the common good” on the part of the state. Right?

  • “The Bishops have accepted anti death penalty claims, as gospel (small “g”), even when they conflict with Church teachings”.

    The exact same will be said after the October Synod of the Family, but it will concern divorced Catholics.

    The Bishops have accepted the insolvability of marriage claims, as gospel (small “g”),
    when they conflict with Church teachings”. Doctrine of course will remain the same, but will be summarily ignored because under the current pope the mean old church must be a forgiving and compassionate church (which means of course ignoring the words of Christ).

    Same thing with allowing those in “irregular” unions (same-sex couples) to receive Holy Communion. Just look the other way and be compassionate and caring to those living in grave sin. All it well in the church of nice.

  • Outdated? Objective truth is never outdated. St. Thomas Aquinas is not outdated.
    .

    So called government, even among earliest societies of heathen/wild men, were largely formed to protect the group from external and internal threats. An internal threat could be blood feud for a murder. The death penalty imposed by the chieftain or magistrate, or were geld, were means of preserving peace in the group after a murder.
    .
    We receive in Genesis a part of the theology of the death penalty. He who spills man’s blood will have his blood spilled by man. For man was made in God’s image.
    .
    If bishops were angels . . . In fact, the murderer or rapist devalued human life and diminished respect for human dignity and self-eliminated himself a claim to either. See Genesis.
    .
    Conrad’s, “Exterminate all the brutes.” from Heart of Darkness, may not only refer to Kurtz’s blind-followers, but also to English law, at the time, which imposed public hangings for crimes such as theft.

    Finally, my uncharitable opinions: catholic Liberals are one: not doing anything to oppose abortion and this makes them feel (warm and fuzzy – nothing to do with the facts) pro-life; and two: they want (to them more important than Truth) to get invited to idiot lib (I repeat myself again) cocktail parties.

  • If the capital one murderer is not put to death and the murderer murders again, the state becomes the enabler and an accomplice to the murder because they neglected to protect society when there was a chance. Samuel hacked Agag into pieces saying: “As your sword has made women childless so shall your mother be childless.”
    .
    Atheism is trying to impose its belief that there is no eternal life for the immortal human soul and that death is final and hopeless. Sending the capital one murderer to God for judgment with our hope for his redemption is a very charitable and just thing to do.

  • Archbishop Wenski…….if he were in charge of Citizenship and Immigration Services, every Haitian would be in the United States, living in an American taxpayer funded dwelling, receiving American taxpayer funded meals, health care, transportation, etc.

    I do not mean to make light of the bone deep wretched poverty of Haiti. What I am pointing out is that +Wenski is the typical American bishop who wants to solve a problem using United States Government authority and American taxpayer money.

    it’s the same thing with the death penalty. Pope St. John Paul II would oppose the death penalty because (in part) the death penalty was levied on Polish citizens by the Nazi General Government who tried to help Jews. Of course, the Communists “executed” anyone who was inconvenient, including Fr. Popieuszko.

    The long reign of Pope St. John Paul should have taught us many things, things that have gone unlearned. Enforcing the death penalty on Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy is NOT the same as shooting a village of Polish peasants who helped a family of Jews escape the roundup to Auschwitz. Yet our bishops treat it that way.
    John Allen Muhammad, the Beltway mass murderer, frightened even the hardcore criminals he was locked up with. Sure, let’s treat HIM like Mexico treats its convicted murderers. Let ’em out after 40 years.

    Pope St. John Paul II’s handling of Fr. Maicel and the Legionnaires of Christ showed how not to handle problems with a religious order.

    We learn NOTHING when we think we have ALL of the answers.

  • If the capital one murderer murders again, the state becomes the enabler and an accomplice to the murder because they neglected to protect society when there was a chance. This still does not justify the death penalty, after all how many cases of harsh domestic violence has been overlooked and eventually the wives are murdered by their husbands or partners. Indeed there are countless accounts, where the state has failed innocent people.

  • How loving and compassionate is it for the families of the victims to keep the murderer of their loved one alive and playing ping pong for 30 years?

  • [H]ow many cases of harsh domestic violence has been overlooked and eventually the wives are murdered by their husbands or partners.[sic] Indeed there are countless accounts, where the state has failed innocent people.

    That’s because the state, like the church, is a human institution, the good mixed up with the bad. There are I think instances were the death penalty is the least bad option.

  • The long reign of Pope St. John Paul should have taught us many things, things that have gone unlearned. Enforcing the death penalty on Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy is NOT the same as shooting a village of Polish peasants who helped a family of Jews escape the roundup to Auschwitz. Yet our bishops treat it that way.
    .
    Well said, Penguins Fan.

    .
    James Charles: “This still does not justify the death penalty, after all how many cases of harsh domestic violence has been overlooked and eventually the wives are murdered by their husbands or partners. Indeed there are countless accounts, where the state has failed innocent people.”
    .
    99% failure by the state does not recommend 100% failure. Even capital one murderers know, I mean KNOW that the death penalty is Justice. My brother was murdered… the murderer hanged himself. We are all subject to death because we have sinned. Trying to erase our judgment will not change any of it.

A Disgrace

Thursday, March 5, AD 2015

 

 

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.

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56 Responses to A Disgrace

  • “Murders by individuals serving life sentences are not uncommon of both guards and fellow inmates “
    Such violence could be very easily eliminated by following the Scandinavian example of allowing the compulsory medication of prisoners. Since the development of chlordiazepoxide HCI and later benzodiazepine compounds, prisoners’ behaviour can be effectively controlled, without long-term damage to their health. Pioneering work has been going on in Sweden since the 1960s, with excellent results.
    In Scotland, one can contrast the violence in prisons, where routine compulsory medication of prisoners is not allowed, with the success of the State Hospital at Carstairs, which houses some of the most dangerous mental patients in the country and where such medication is standard.
    Indeed, one would have thought prisons provided a useful resource for the development of psychotropic drugs and other forms of behavioural modification. In this way, evil can be tackled at its roots, in the brain itself.

  • As EWTN is the owner of the Register, it seems in keeping with the docile clericalism they have demonstrated since Mother Angelica had her run in with Cardinal Mahoney.

    But it has made my decision about renewing my subscription to the Register easy.

  • If Mother Angelica were not incapacitated I think she would have something tart to say about this. Here is EWTN from 2003:

    “Answer by Fr.Stephen F. Torraco on 11/6/2003:

    It is not correct to think of abortion and capital punishment as the very same kind of moral issue. Direct abortion is an intrinsic evil, and cannot be justified for any purpose or in any circumstances. Capital punishment, on the other hand, is not necessarily evil in principle, but can become evil by a bad intention or by the circumstances. Let me explain further. The Church’s teaching on capital punishment is governed primarily by the natural law, and secondly by the principle of double effect. The Church’s teaching on this matter remains fundamentally the same. The Church has always taught that it is the right and responsibility of the legitimate temporal authority to defend and preserve the common good, and more specifically to defend citizens against the aggressor. This defense against the aggressor, by virtue of the principle of double effect, can resort to the death penalty. The point here is that the death penalty is understood as an act of self-defense on the part of civil society. In more recent times, as you point out, Pope John Paul II has taught that the need for such self-defense to resort to the death penalty is “rare, if not virtually nonexistent.” The important point here is that the Pope has not, as he cannot, change the constant and fundamental teaching of the Church on this matter, based as it is on the natural law, namely that it is the right and responsibility of the legitimate temporal authority to defend citizens against the aggressor. What the Pope IS saying is that, in modern society, the modern penal system, along with an intense anti-life culture, makes resorting to the death penalty *disproportionate* to the threatening aggression. (According to the 4th criterion of the principle of double effect, the unintended evil effect of the act of self defense has to be proportionate to the intended good effect of that act.) Thus, while the Pope is saying that the burden of proving the need for the death penalty in specific cases should rest on the shoulders of the legitimate temporal authority, it remains true that the legitimate temporal authority alone has the authority to determine if and when a “rare” case arises that warrants the death penalty. And here is the specific point relevant to your question: if such a rare case does arise and requires resorting to capital punishment, this societal act of self-defense would be a *morally good action* even if it does have the unintended and unavoidable eveil effect of the death of the aggressor. Thus, it would, by the standards of the natural law and the principle of double effect, be morally irresponsible to rule out all such possibilities a priori, just as it would be morally irresponsible to apply the death penalty indiscriminately. For these reasons, the Church cannot possibly embrace EITHER a totally PRO-capital punishment teaching OR a totally ANTI-capital punishment teaching.”

    http://www.ewtn.com/vexperts/showmessage.asp?number=382239&Pg=Forum5&Pgnu=1&recnu=8

  • Such violence could be very easily eliminated by following the Scandinavian example of allowing the compulsory medication of prisoners. Since the development of chlordiazepoxide HCI and later benzodiazepine compounds, prisoners’ behaviour can be effectively controlled, without long-term damage to their health. Pioneering work has been going on in Sweden since the 1960s, with excellent results.

    Let’s subcontract prison administration to N.I.C.E.

  • Comment of the week Art! Take ‘er away Sam!

  • “If Mother Angelica were not incapacitated I think she would have something tart to say about this.”

    I have no doubt about what she might say. Unfortunately, after the run-in with Mahoney and then Bishop Foley of Alabama, she gave over control of EWTN to a lay board. They’ve been the passive clericalists.

  • To abolish the death penalty is to diminish the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His crucifixion, the cross. Forgiveness cannot be done without the temporal punishment for capital one homicide. Mercy cannot be accomplished without the death penalty. Justice for the victim cannot be done.
    The latest effort to ban capital punishment inflicts double jeopardy of life on all people. The first jeopardy happened at the homicide. A living capital one murderer, deserving the death penalty and being brought to Justice is not being treated with Justice and cannot be treated with mercy.
    Capital Punishment for capital one homicide is the exercise of Justice and a matter of duty for the state. The state brings the capital one murderer to Justice. The punishment must fit the crime. The murderer has not expired with grief over his crime. The murderer must not be allowed to enjoy the murder, not one second. The Catholic Church may not prohibit capital one punishment, the death penalty, except by preventing capital one homicide. The Church cannot deny innocent persons the security of having capital one murderers join their victims.
    .
    The Catholic Church and her priests are promised to serve God. The state is constituted to serve the governed, bringing the capital one murdered to Justice.

  • 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.

    Only a cafeteria Catholic could possibly believe that Church teaching extended beyond the period of one’s own lifetime.

  • The reasoning of Evangelium Vitae is similar to the argument advanced to the Constituent Assembly on 30 May 1791 by Maximilien Robespierre

    “Outside of civil society, let an inveterate enemy attempt to take my life, or, twenty times repulsed, let him again return to devastate the field my hands have cultivated. Inasmuch as I can only oppose my individual strength to his, I must perish or I must kill him, and the law of natural defence justifies and approves me. But in society, when the strength of all is armed against one single individual, what principle of justice can authorize it to put him to death? What necessity can there be to absolve it? A conqueror who causes the death of his captive enemies is called a barbarian! A man who causes a child that he can disarm and punish, to be strangled, appears to us a monster! A prisoner that society convicts is at the utmost to that society but a vanquished, powerless, and harmless enemy. He is before it weaker than a child before a full-grown man.”

    Of course, even Robespierre did not deny that capital punishment might be necessary in exceptional circumstances or in troubled times. Thus, of Louis XVI, on 3 December 1792, he said, “But a dethroned king in the bosom of a revolution which is anything but cemented by laws, a king whose name suffices to draw the scourge of war on the agitated nation, neither prison nor exile can render his existence immaterial to the public welfare: and this cruel exception to ordinary laws which justice approves can be imputed only to the nature of his crimes.”

  • EWTN / NCRegister have been flirting with neoCatholicism for some time now, and this lame editorial is the final nail in that coffin. At least they can’t hide it anymore.

  • I can understand JPII’s general aversion to the death penalty based on him seeing it applied by the Nazis and Communists to people based on their religious or political views, but how an otherwise extremely intelligent man, and those who follow his view, are incapable of distinguishing between those situations and say, the execution of a savage who rapes and murders a five-year old girl, is beyond my powers of explanation.

    And spare me lectures about the inherent dignity of every human being. Countries like Holland and Belgium were at the forefront of abolishing the death penalty, but now are at the forefront of euthanizing disabled infants.

    The fact is, respect for human dignity and the value of life requires imposition of the death penalty under certain circumstances. Catholics used to realize this. In supposedly one of Pope Francis’ favorite books, Lord of the World, the first thing the pope does when he is given control of Rome is reinstate the death penalty. Robert Hugh Benson properly saw abolition of the death penalty as part of the agenda of secular leftism, where society refuses to execute the guilty for heinous crimes, but stand ready to kill innocent people who don’t feel like living anymore or who are no longer “useful” to society.

  • “EWTN / NCRegister have been flirting with neoCatholicism for some time now, and this lame editorial is the final nail in that coffin. At least they can’t hide it anymore.”
    And I see in the blurbs at New Advent that, of course, the Catholic Blog at Patheos is all in on this exercise in stupidity.

  • Equating convicted murderers with unborn children is simply obscene.

    Well said.

  • Oh, heck… I just realized, isn’t this editorial against Catholic teachings, about rendering unto Ceasar?
    They’re promoting violating a system, and it’s not even for an inherent evil.

  • That National Catholic Register would have anything to do with National Catholic Reporter should tell anyone that the great dream of orthodox Mother Angelica to proclaim authentic church teachings to the masses is all but dead. Remember the great lady fondly for her vision of EWTN is “gone with the wind”. Sad, but true.

  • “Such violence could be very easily eliminated by following the Scandinavian example of allowing the compulsory medication of prisoners.”

    Go ahead and run that past your local ACLU attorney and give us his assessment.

  • Linking hands with, and thereby legitimizing, the Reporter is probably the foulest part of this bit of activism.

    The notion that the lefties will ever reciprocate on abortion, euthanasia or marriage is worthy of a contemptuous snort.

    When you support progs, they thank you for it and return to undermining you five minutes after the ink dries. Next, prog Catholics will be demanding the end of life sentences, citing the current Pontiff. What will the Register and OSV do then?

    Papal positivism does for the Catholic life of the mind what gamma radiation does for cellular growth.

  • With the current Pope’s statement that even life without parole is a no-no, doesnt that obliterate the argument that we dont need cap pun but need life without parole because we can keep the bad guy in a secure slammer and that’s the reason to stop capital punishment? The anti death penalty folks will have us be able only to slap a wrist once after their playing with centuries of Catholic teaching.

  • This idea of doping sane, but violent inmates with psychotropic drugs sounds like what the Soviet Union used to do with their sane dissidents. Sorry, but unless the inmate has an actual mental illness, I’m opposed to this crackpot idea. Besides, if the inmate gets out on parole, there’s no guarantee he will stay on the meds. We have this problem with mental patients going off their meds all the time, and the consequences can be quite deadly, as any mental health worker or policeman can tell you.

  • :
    “‘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.”

    What is so disturbing about this new “teaching” started by JPII is that it is based solely on his own OPINION. No evidence was ever presented to support his OPINION. Nor am I aware of anyone other than me asking the bishops to show evidence that CP is no longer necessary for the protection of the innocent public because of the high technology in prison systems today. (Of course this excludes 3rd world countries from having to comply, don’t you know, they don’t have the money or the technology to conform. So, their killing of capital offenders is OK based on the new opinion of Church teaching)

    Well, as it so happens on Sunday April 29, 2001 an article on page “News 24” of The Orange County Register blows to pieces this new Catholic opinion-based teaching; or it should have, but the California Catholic Conference decided to dismiss the article I sent to them by way of Diocese of Orange representative who attend a discussion of the bishops support for a ballot measure to end CP in CA. The article headline was “Murder from the inside out” and dealt with a 3 year, $5,000,000, local, state and federal investigation of the newest high tech prison in California which resulted in federal prosecutors saying “…hundreds of murders (have been orchestrated) from inside maximum-security prisons. The Corrections Department says there is little it can do to stop the killings ordered by inmates who have nothing to lose and nothing but time (on their hands). A “25-count indictment of a total of 12 men and 1 woman on federal charges of murder, robbery, conspiracy and drug-related crimes” Eight of the 12 men were serving in a “prison within a prison.” They “live alone in antiseptic cells that are painted white with a glass wall so that guards can always see inside. Meals are brought to the cells and they are allowed outside only one hour a day, alone, to exercise in small concrete yard.” In other words, these are prisoners housed in solitary confinement in the highest tech modern prison in CA, from which they orchestrated “murders, robbery, and conspiracy and drug-related crimes.”

    So much for the Church’s attempt to be “holier than thou” in order to be consistent with Cardinal Bernardin’s “consistent ethic of life” which killed the real and original pro-life movement’s efforts to get a Right-to-Life Constitutional Amendment passed to save the unborn. It is getting difficult to defend the Catholic Church as the “one, true, Church” when She is tying Herself up in knots over ending CP being “pro-life,” something She is doing in order for Catholics to justify their remaining in the pro-abortion Democratic Party whose “consistent ethic of life” stretches back to the days of slavery passing threw Jim Crow Laws and the KKK, and don’t forget their Congress Members opposing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act in a higher percentage than the other party. And to that we can now add the party of same-sex marriage. Yeah, let’s all come together in the Catholic consistent ethic of life…that’s the ticket. See how many Catholics still endorse the pro-abortion party, and that includes the clergy, with their names and support? Half of them after 42s of Roe v Wade. I’ll support the effort to end CP when the Pope and bishops find a way to exonerate the mortal sins of all those who have been murdered all these years with no chance of making a perfect confession. Only 3% of convicted capital offenders receive the death penalty, and nothing causes one to repent, if you are going to, better than knowing the date and time you’re going to die. And those who administer the death sentence from the prosecutors, jurors and judge to those pulling the lever or administering the drugs will never commit a sin in carrying out their duty. They never have committed a sin and never will in doing so. It is a crying shame what the Church leaders have done to try to appease those Catholics that love being Democrats; being Catholic is not enough for them.

  • These are great distractions from the real issue at hand. None of these determines whether the faith is practiced or not. However the rise of gay and group marriages throughout Europe and the Americas means that force of law can drive churches UNDER for failing to comply with the state when 2000 years of history and teaching make it impossible for our churches to do so. So bicker along on non-essentials while the state and the gay agenda get ready to STRIKE where it hurts the most.

  • One may argue over the public policy, pro or con, of the death penalty. However, these “editorials” and frankly many of the USCCB and Bishop pronouncements indelicately suggest that there is a moral imperative to the eradication of the death penalty and that is where they cross the line.

    The observation finding its way in the Catechism regarding the lack of necessity in ‘modern’ times is not properly a factor in the moral predicates for an important aspect of retributive justice. In fact, it is not even empirically sound….just look at the murder rates throughout Latin America both in and out of prison.

    Brian English I think raises a good point, namely, that the underlying “moral equivalence” argument found hidden in these and other pronouncements actually insults the notion of innocence and the need to value and protect the innocent loss of life. By saying that the death penalty is per se never to be used in our haughty version of a civil society, we have expressed a cultural view that innocent life is indistinguishable; we have undermined the entire aspect of justice having to do with retribution (not to be confused with vengeance); we have taken a dim view that the only life which matters both for the murderer and the victim is the life here on earth, and not everlasting life. We are offering the sentimentality of “forgiveness” without the substance of mercy and judgment. While it is for the individual to forgive, that is not for the state in its role to ensure order. This is a surrender to the culture, to the post moderns.

  • This is how arrogant the Catholic press has become: they believe that they have a kind of teaching authority. Wow, all four of them! This must be Catholic teaching. Pope Mark Shea I must be celebrating.

    Please. The commenter who notes all the murders orchestrated from inside prison, as well as murders committed within prison by death row inmates, vindicates the need for CP as the Church has always taught.

  • There was a time when I watched a lot of EWTN and listened to it on the radio and the computer. Sadly, I don’t watch it much anymore, as much of the programming is reruns of things from years ago. The lay leaders are likely afraid of running afoul of the USCCB.

  • “…… 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 the key to understanding the disease striking at the heart of our blessed Church. Thank you.

    I have always believed that the Church was not only connected to all previous eras of the Church Triumphant, but before Christ, in the very beginning days of our Church Fathers, we were connected in a real way to the Prophets, Priests and Kings of the Law and the Holy Temple in which God resided with His people waiting for His Advent.

    The key to our Faith is CONNECTION. We are not alone. We are not making stuff up as we go for modern times and modern problems. We are GUARDIANS, responsible to all those Saints watching us from beyond the veil, Old and New Testament characters together. We are ONE faith. The Faith is not a tool; a plaything. It is our sacred duty to keep it in our times for a spiritually illiterate generation, pure as it is given to us from Heaven.

    Thank you,
    Brian

  • When the nation has pardoned 25 to 30 million murderer’s of innocent lives since 1973 and even funds in the death of more innocent lives, future Americans, and then we speak of death penalty abolishment? Seriously?

    Look about you.

    Your surrounded by killers.

    What does a murderer look like?

    Thank God for reconciliation.

  • The move is to mercy without judgment. It is an abdication of authority and of responsibility. Also no punishment- we can reasonably hope that there is no hell.

  • Point made by Brian English is a great one: ” ….iCountries like Holland and Belgium were at the forefront of abolishing the death penalty, but now are at the forefront of euthanizing disabled infants.”

  • Stephen E Dalton: Double Jeopardy of life for all persons is unconstitutional.
    .
    Michael Paterson-Seymour: “The reasoning of Evangelium Vitae is similar to the argument advanced to the Constituent Assembly on 30 May 1791 by Maximilien Robespierre”
    .
    To put it bluntly, Robespierre was an idiot. Perhaps it is the translation, but Robespierre referred to a man as a ”that” not a “who” pointing to an uninformed mind and a total lack of respect for the dignity of the human being as an immortal soul. It is the duty of the state to align itself against every form of tyranny over the mind of man, especially and including the murdered man…the duty…the duty. The king and queen might have been exiled, stripped of their royalty and sent away, never to return but that never occurred to the man of no imagination. P.S. America did it to King George.
    .
    Anzlyne: “The move is to mercy without judgment. It is an abdication of authority and of responsibility. Also no punishment- we can reasonably hope that there is no hell.”
    .
    Thank you Anzlyne. You are very close to the truth. It is the principle that all men are created equal. The evil one, the great liar insists that man clothes himself in mercy killing, compassionate defection from his duty, generous slandering of the human worth of the victim. This creates inequality among men. The human worth of the victim is his immortal soul, his character, his eternity, his life denied to him. God forgave Lucifer and his minions even as they refused to acknowledge God. Lucifer was too proud to accept God’s forgiveness. It was Lucifer’s pride that drove him out of heaven. “Who is like unto God” in forgiveness? It is God’s burning mercy and love for Lucifer that flames hell. If the victim forgave his murderer there still is the matter of Justice binding upon the state. There is the soul of the people created in equality. There is self-defense. The truth is that the victim has not been destroyed or vanquished or exterminated. The victim is an immortal soul who is represented by the state in capital one murder cases. The banning of capital punishment is done so that the immortal soul does not have to be acknowledged and God’s mercy does not have to be invoked by the state’s court. Atheism imposed by the state.
    .
    There have been capital punishment bans and the murder rate went so high, that it had to be brought back. Serial murderers, John Wayne Gacy 29 victims and counting, Jeffery Dahmer, cannibal, Jesse Timmendaquas in solitary confinement, baby killer, Conrad Jefferies, more baby killers. How dare the church come out against innocent victims? And the Christ? Every one of those baby-raping murderers ought to be housed with Pope Francis in the hotel Marta.

    As Obama creates a diversion when people realize that Obama is imposing a tax and a penalty upon the people who refuse to buy Obamacare, because they do not want to buy Obamacare, the Vatican is creating a diversion to cover the Rosica embarrassment.

  • Stephen E Dalton wrote, “Besides, if the inmate gets out on parole, there’s no guarantee he will stay on the meds…”
    In the Scandinavian model, they would remain wards of the state, living in sheltered accommodation.
    One hopes that further research will lead to long-term implants or surgical interventions that remove the need for the constant administration of pharmaceuticals.
    One of the problems with life sentences is that they fail to take account of such possible future developments. A more realistic sentence would be the familiar British one of detention “during Her Majesty’s pleasure.” It is open-ended and leaves the person, even if released, subject to recall.

  • Stillbelieve
    And yet, the countries with the lowest murder rate in the world do not have capital punishment – French Polynesia, Hong Kong, Iceland, Monaco, Norway, Pilau…

  • Small nations with highly homogenous populations noted for not having a penchant for murder.

  • And yet, the countries with the lowest murder rate in the world do not have capital punishment – French Polynesia, Hong Kong, Iceland, Monaco, Norway, Pilau…
    ==
    I gather legal training in Britain does not cover the statistician’s concept of ‘reverse causation’.
    ==
    Monaco is a gilded enclave with about 24,000 people in it. In New York City, Manhattan’s Community District 8, which comprehends the Upper East Side and some adjacent areas, is a handsome area with a population of 220,000 and streets not very distant from the slum districts in Harlem and on the Lower East Side. The number of homicides in Community District 8 in 2014 = 0. The wealthy and well to do have their vices; a penchant for violent crime is seldom one.
    ==
    French Polynesia , Palau, and Iceland are insular states which are predominantly rural and small town and wherein the only cities are strictly 4th tier, with maybe 100,000 residents (and Palau has no cities at all). There are places in this world which fit that description with a serious violent crime problem, but they are all dominated by the descendants of plantation slaves.

    Rural and small town homicide rates in New York clock in there at 1.14 per 100,000. Oneida County, New York (like Tahiti) has a mix of small city populations, small towns, and countryside. Oneida County has also been suffering an industrial depression for several decades and has had quite a bit of demographic churn from immigration (along with a mafia presence). The homicide rate in Oneida County, N.Y. is 2.4 per 100,000. That in Cyprus is 2.0 per 100,000.

    We also have an ample population of Scandinavians in Minnesota. The homicide rate in Minnesota is 1.7 per 100,000, just what it is in Finland, in spite of the presence of a national-class city therein larger than Stockholm.

  • In the Scandinavian model, they would remain wards of the state, living in sheltered accommodation.
    ==
    That’s the whole problem.

  • Art Deco wrote, “The homicide rate in Minnesota is 1.7 per 100,000, just what it is in Finland, in spite of the presence of a national-class city therein larger than Stockholm.”
    Norway’s is 0.6.
    Hong Kong, one of the most densely populated places on earth, has a homicide rate of 0.4

  • And is made up of Chinese. China is ranked 110 for murder rates and Hong Kong is ranked 111.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

  • The Court is duty bound to deliver equal Justice. The judges are to be the personification of the virtue of perfect Justice and their identity is called out as “JUSTICE”.
    .
    On the principle that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL, it is the job, duty and privilege of the Supreme Court and the International Court of the United Nations to bring forth EQUAL JUSTICE for every human being ever created, living, dead and to be born.
    .
    This would be equal Justice for the gay agenda as equal marriage is not in the power of the Court, any Court to invent, to confer as Knighthood (prohibited by the Constitution, am looking up citation to be continued.) or a degree of sanctity as in Sainthood.

  • Mt lady friend from China with asylum in the U.S because of Tiannenmen (sp) Square said that there is no major crime in China because the government will not put up with it. (She is an atheist and we agreed about everything except the existence of the Supreme Sovereign Being. Yichin Shen teaches at the university in southern California.)
    .
    Removing capital punishment for the taking of innocent human life will remove any power the government has over the commission of every crime.) Kill the witness to rape, theft, usury, adultery. Why not? Eh, it s a free crime.

  • Europeans like MPS will change their attitude about the death penalty when they see in their own countries Islamic fanatics burning alive little children and beheading Christian men and women. By that time it will be too late. And the suggestion to use psychotropic drugs to control the violent beasts in prison is amazing in its hubris. Were I a criminal, I would rather be executed that to be forever dazed into a fog of non-sentience.

  • Before you compare homicide rates, you’ve first got to figure out if they’re measuring the same thing.
    For example, the UK version of the department of justice has a really nice quote about how their method of measuring murders is superior, because a murder isn’t counted until they have a murderer and that guy has run out of appeals. Less idealistically, there’s that scandal where they caught police reporting deadly assault as a lesser crime if the person could be said to have died in the hospital.
    I don’t know what Hong Kong’s rate was before the Chinese took over, but I do know it’s crazy to believe any statistics from the Chinese gov’t.

  • The US, on the other hand, can have a homicide recorded without even a body…..

  • I would agree with you Foxfier as a general matter. However, Taiwan shows a murder rate of 117 and it is interesting how these three Chinese polities are so close together on this index.

  • Foxfier: The bible gives a good account of how and when an homicide may be counted as a homicide (no notations) The bible also states that a rapist must support his victim for her entire life. With that law in place, victims need not sue for their true rights. The victims of crimes are not compensated by the Victims’ Compensation Boards as settlement. Being found guilty of rape or murder and serving a sentence does not mean that one is no longer guilty and has paid his debt to society. It means that he is no longer incarcerated. He is guilty and liable forever… A lifetime of punishment does Justice.
    .
    I posted one half of my comment earlier. I had a paper copy of the Constitution (Thank you, Lord.) : and it reads:in Article I Section 8: “No title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the consent of Congress, accept any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State. (This includes Hillary Clinton taking money from foreign countries without the express consent of Congress)
    .
    I stumbled over this Constitutional fact in Article I Section 5: Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings. punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.
    .
    It seems that our Congress, like Jonah, has been swallowed by a whale of a lie, malfeasance in office and violation of its true purpose, that is: representing its constituents.
    .
    Pope Francis prays for all members of the Catholic Church, the Saints in heaven, the people on earth and the suffering in purgatory. The people on earth need Pope Francis to remain steadfast in the dispensation of Truth, Who is Jesus Christ. Praying at Mass and then displaying a disregard for Justice in the public square by submitting to an earthly agenda renders Pope Francis’ face and words inequitable.

  • Foxfier wrote, “I don’t know what Hong Kong’s rate was before the Chinese took over, but I do know it’s crazy to believe any statistics from the Chinese gov’t.”
    Much the same as when HMG abolished the death penalty there in 1993 and the end of British rule in 1997.

    Donald R McClarey wrote, “it is interesting how these three Chinese polities are so close together on this index.” Very, especially as China and Taiwan have the death penalty and Hong Kong does not.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour, and how long will it be before the use of these chemical solutions are expanded to care for the petty and the disagreeable? What will stop a state from administrating a pharmacological solution for any reason? If our modern age suggests a state can interfere with the biological integrity of its prisoners (as dependents,) what argument can prevent them from doing so to fetuses in the womb or lab? The whole exercise sounds like a repeat of our medical fashions- chemical castrations and lobotomies were en vogue once too, after all.

  • another note: In some countries there is an unwritten law of the vengeance of blood, wherein, the closest relative of the victim may pursue and kill the murderer within 24 hours and all is well. This is true also of adultery, caught in bed, no questions asked. It may be a citizen’s arrest and completion of Justice with a sovereign person’s human rights. It is called integrity.

  • Hmmmmm

    Well, non-standard behaviour has to be controlled somehow and, surely, we should adopt the most humane means. Just as difficult children are now given Ritalin, rather than being beaten into submission, pharmaceuticals strike me as more humane than hanging or transportation for criminals, or strait-jackets and padded cells for the insane.

    Lobotomies went out of fashion precisely because Largactil and Megaphen achieve the same purpose, without the associated costs and risks.

  • surely, we should adopt the most humane means.

    The ‘most humane means’ incorporate treating people as autonomous agents who can choose between obeying the rules and taking the consequences.
    Just as difficult children are now given Ritalin, rather than being beaten into submission


    Uh, we’re all familiar with that.

    , pharmaceuticals strike me as more humane than hanging or transportation for criminals,

    It’s a solution fit only for Scandinavians, who have subcontracted their lives to state social workers and mental health tradesmen. We are still, at least residually, a free people in this country.

  • MPS, when I read your remarks about drugging sane criminals, why does Brave New World and 1984 bounce around in my mind?

  • Much the same as when HMG abolished the death penalty there in 1993 and the end of British rule in 1997.

    So they’re probably republishing the rate of success the Brits had in solving murders in HK. (Isn’t anybody else familiar with the running joke about proving one can foretell the future because you can predict what China’s published growth rate will be?)
    .
    . Just as difficult children are now given Ritalin, rather than being beaten into submission

    False choice, not to mention being a great example of exactly why people object– the prescription has a few good uses; it’s now being prescribed to kids who are in any way inconvenient, and there are websites explaining how to get your child on it so they are ‘disabled’ and thus improve your gov’t based income.
    .
    If you’re going to aim to turn someone into a zombie, at least have the honesty to make sure they’re dead, first. When someone is in jail, there’s no way that people can lie to themselves about how much better they are from having their free will violated. When the free will is violated invisibly, it gets far, far easier for that violation to expand. You’re promoting a solution that is an expansion of chopping off a thief’s hand…as compassionate.
    Same way that medical advances made abortion on demand for social life reasons a thing, while ultrasounds have made it much more objectionable– especially at stages where the kid has a recognizable profile.

  • Whatever happened to making the death penalty obsolete by converting the lost to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?
    .
    Why do we pray at Mass to end the death penalty but we do NOT pray to end the criminal attitude and behavior that results in application of the death penalty?
    .
    You want no death penalty?
    .
    Then pray and work for the conversion of the lost.
    .
    The solution lies in addressing the cause of the need to apply the death penalty, not in its actual application.
    .
    PS, Foxfire wrote a great post here about NICE. We want NICE. We don’t want the love of what it takes to convert the lost. We don’t want to do what the prophet Jeremiah did because it isn’t nice. We all want to feel good and no one wants the not nice death penalty. Well, as I commented on Foxfire’s post: NICE
    .
    Neurotic
    Insecure
    Cantankerous
    Emotional
    .
    BTW, every single person here deserves the death penalty. All of us. Me especially. But Christ got the penalty we deserve. Don’t forget it.

  • Glad you like it, Paul– been thinking about it because of stuff like this:
    http://superversivesf.com/2015/03/06/where-does-the-moral-anti-realism-come-from-today/

    When even the NYTimes has something saying “you’re going a bit far in the moral equivalence deal,” there’s an issue.

  • “For instance, if it were even whispered that the N.I.C.E. wanted powers to experiment on criminals, you’d have all the old women of both sexes up in arms and yapping about humanity. Call it re-education of the mal-adjusted, and you have them all slobbering with delight that the brutal era of retributive punishment has at last come to and end. Odd thing it is–the word ‘experiment’ is unpopular, but not the word ‘experimental.’ You must’nt experiment on children; but offer the dear little kiddies free education in an experimental school attached to the N.I.C.E. and it’s all correct!” ”

    CS Lewis, That Hideous Strength

  • “Donald R McClarey wrote, “it is interesting how these three Chinese polities are so close together on this index.” Very, especially as China and Taiwan have the death penalty and Hong Kong does not.”

    Which would indicate that ethnic characteristics have a lot to do with a propensity for murder and makes nonsense of the usual laundry list of nations without the death penalty are paraded by death penalty foes, since the death penalty has been usually abolished in nations where murder would be a minor problem in any case.

  • Donald R. McClarey wrote, “Which would indicate that ethnic characteristics have a lot to do with a propensity for murder…”
    That may well be true. We all know the difficulties in developing models involved in causal attribution and covariance (a fiendishly complicated branch of statistical theory) However, there is no obvious correlation, between countries, or within the same country over time, between the homicide rate and the death penalty.
    In Scotland, the abolition of the death penalty for vitriol-throwing (even without fatal consequences) in 1957 had no discernable result; it was rare before 1957 and remained rare afterwards.

  • Outside the Church there is no salvation was also a teaching of the Catholic Church. With an irrational premise from 1949 we now have a new doctrine.
    Vatican Council II (premise-free) agrees with the SSPX position on an ecumenism of return and non Christians needing to convert for salvation
    http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.it/2015/03/vatican-council-ii-premise-free-agrees.html

    Fr.Robert Barron in Catholicism uses an irrational proposition to reach an irrational conclusion
    http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.it/2015/03/frrobert-barron-in-catholicism-uses.html

Various and Sundry, 3/5/15

Thursday, March 5, AD 2015

– Jay Anderson has indicated he has written his final blog post, so I will provide him one last link. It seems that the heads of the four families – excuse, me the big four Catholic publications have joined forces and issued a joint editorial. They have set aside their differences and collaborated to discuss the burning issue of the day. Liberal and conservative, orthodox and heterodox: these labels mean nothing when it comes to this unequivocal teaching of the Church*. Yes, finally, America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, and Our Sunday Visitor have written their joint editorial calling for an end to abortion, rebutting same-sex marriage, condemning the genocide of Christians taking place in the Middle East, calling for the abolition of the death penalty.

These four Catholic publications have decided that the paramount issue bridging the gap between these distinct entities is the death penalty. What’s more, they’re not calling for the election of local legislators who will vote to outlaw the death penalty in their respective states. Oh no, they’re calling for the raw judicial activism when the Court decides on the case of Glossip v. Gross. Despite the fact that the death penalty is one of the few things manifestly countenanced by the U.S. Constitution, (after all, if you need to write amendments saying you can’t deprive someone of their lives without due process you’re tacitly admitting you can deprive citizens of their lives with due process) these four publications are totally cool with judicial activism so long as such activism comports with their personal preferences.

Jay notes that in his very first blog post he wrote:

Sir Thomas More’s admonition to Roper should serve as a warning and a reminder to Catholics that the activist Court that sides with us in this particular instance is the same activist Court that is likely in the future (as it has in the past) to “turn round on us” and use its increasingly strident activism to decide cases contrary to our Catholic values.

This was in reference to Roper v. Simmons, another death penalty case. Now, here we are, ten years later these supposedly Catholic publications are totally fine with the use of raw judicial power. They’re fine with it now, but where will they be in ten years when judicial activists deprive Catholics of basic First Amendment rights?

Like Jay I am personally opposed to the death penalty, but I’m even more opposed to legislation by judicial fiat, and those who support the Court declaring unconstitutional that which is concretely and unambiguously constitutional are compliant in an act of judicial tyranny, even if it is for an ostensibly good cause.

*Footnote here for the sarcasm impaired. Let’s just say that traditional Catholic teaching is no more prohibitive of the death penalty than the U.S. Constitution.

– Anna Mussmann muses that we’re over-complicating motherhood. It’s of a similar vein to what I’ve written before, suggesting that helicopter parenting is a symptom of selfish parenting. Her take is a little different, but well worth the read.

– I just can’t quit the latest Clinton scandal. It’s odd that this is the thing that has dented the Clintons’ teflon coating, to the point where even Lawrence O’Donnell is abandoning ship. Now the website Gawker demonstrates that Clinton’s use of a personal email account was a huge security risk. Long story short, Clinton preferred having her emails fall in the lap of Russia than an intrusive American press.

Here’s another Hot Air link. The Republican party now controls more state houses than any point in recent history, and they owe it all to President Obama. The party that is supposedly on its deathbed is routing Democrats at all local levels. This ascendancy started before Obama was immaculated, but has only sped up since.

– Darwin’s take on when to call the cops on a kid.

If you see a property or violent crime being committed, by all means call the cops. Or if a kid is doing something which seems likely to directly result in death or injury. If a child seems genuinely lost, upset or hurt, and you’re not able to find an adult connected with them (especially if you’ve taken the time to ask the kid if she needs help and she says yes) then by all means summon help.

But keep in mind that calling the cops on a family can have traumatic (and at times even fatal) consequences. “I wouldn’t let my kid walk home alone,” is probably not a serious enough reason, unless you happen to live rather literally in a war zone.

A victory today for the revolutionaries who dared to sled on Capitol Hill.

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10 Responses to Various and Sundry, 3/5/15

  • Over at PJMedia, Michael Walsh suggests that Hillary is being sent a Sicilian message.

  • Looks like the one last link is broken. Missing a colon.

  • “What’s more, they’re not calling for the election of local legislators who will vote to outlaw the death penalty in their respective states. Oh no, they’re calling for the raw judicial activism when the Court decides on the case of Glossip v. Gross. Despite the fact that the death penalty is one of the few things manifestly countenanced by the U.S. Constitution, (after all, if you need to write amendments saying you can’t deprive someone of their lives without due process you’re tacitly admitting you can deprive citizens of their lives with due process) these four publications are totally cool with judicial activism so long as such activism comports with their personal preferences.”

    National Catholic Register should know better. America and National Catholic Reporter have as much respect for the Constitution as they do for the Constitution: bupkis. Our Sunday Visitor should have this as their official song:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGhTr8lDCV0

  • ….Well, I guess we won’t be subscribing to the NCR. Too bad, although at least they didn’t do this the week after we subscribed. (We were planning on it as soon as our mail situation got sorted out.)
    ***
    Tons of binding teachings, and they decide to go for prudential activism, and in an especially stupid way. I’d like to call it something other than stupid, but that’s solidly in the “let’s chop down all the laws of England– again!” category.

  • The motherhood article has some good points, but I think it starts out with a big problem:
    Some time ago I made the mistake of picking up a parenting magazine.
    Don’t do that, unless it’s for amusement. It’s like picking up Cosmo or some guy version, but with fewer pretty ladies.
    They make money by making problems, and trying to get folks to solve them. (Also, the recipes tend to either not work, or taste horrible. I’m now pretty sure that the “creative treats” are more for impressing other adults than for the kids.)
    Biggest problem with motherhood is that, if you do it right, it puts a lie to the “you can have it all” BS we’re fed– you are not going to have a high-pressure male type career and be supermom.

  • Pingback: A Disgrace | The American Catholic
  • Thanks, Paul!
    ***
    One point of clarification: I’m not just “personally opposed” to capital punishment, I’d actually like to see it abolished. Just not by judicial fiat. I know that’s what you meant, but just wanted that point to be clear when the inevitable accusations start rolling in that we’re only “personally opposed” and therefore just like Mario Cuomo.
    ***
    Also, I’d just like to point out that, while I want to see the death penalty abolished, those Catholics who are essentially arguing that opposition to capital punishment is de fide for Catholics are full of it. Yes, I agree that, as Catholics we SHOULD oppose capital punishment, following the admonitions of Pope John Paul II; but it is a blatant misstatement of the Faith to proclaim that Catholics MUST oppose capital punishment or else be “dissenters”.
    ***
    Finally, this “cooperation” among the “Group of 4” national Catholic publications on this particular issue raises a question for other issues: Since these publications are “uniting [them]selves with the Pope and his predecessor on this issue” (to quote the justification offered by Register on the publication’s Facebook page), I am assuming that they will similarly unite and show Catholic solidarity with a joint editorial backing the Church’s teachings when the Supreme Court rules on same-sex “marriage” later this year?

    Yeah, right. I won’t be holding my breath.

  • They use (among other sophomorical ruses) that capital punishment meme as smoke screen to justify support for the uber evil Dem party, a.k.a., Abortion, Inc.

  • Please see my comment on the death penalty at the next post: A Disgrace.
    Herewith is my take on informed consent and guilt and devil possession.
    When a sovereign person chooses to relegate himself to entertain evil he chooses a diminished capacity, forfeits his sovereignty over himself and literally sells himself, his soul to the devil. Even for atheists, who do not believe in the human being, composed of body and soul, embracing a big lie and the Great Liar poses some hazards. Informed consent becomes impossible because of diminished capacity. Obsessed or possessed by the devil, a person’s free will is bound and therefore informed consent cannot be forth coming.

What Would Jesus Do On the Death Penalty?

Sunday, May 4, AD 2014

 

whatwjd

 

I always find questions that begin “What Would Jesus Do?” rather obnoxious for two reasons.  First, because they are usually posed by people absolutely certain that Jesus follows their views in lockstep, and second, because Christ of course is God and the mind of the All-Mighty is unknowable to us.  As Lincoln put it so well in his Second Inaugural:

Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.

So questions that begin “What Would Jesus Do”?, strike me as presumptuous at best and blasphemous at worst.

Johnathan Merritt at The Atlantic seems very confident as to the position of Jesus on the death penalty.  He would be against it:

 

Many forget that Jesus once served as a one-man jury on a death-penalty case. In a famous New Testament story, an adulterous woman was dragged to Jesus’ feet. The woman was guilty of a capital offense and had been caught in the act by at least one witness. The law mandated her death but Jesus prescribed a different response: “Let whoever is without sin cast the first stone.” He was teaching that only a perfect being—only God—should have power over death and life.

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72 Responses to What Would Jesus Do On the Death Penalty?

  • Thank you for this post, Donald McClarey. Equal Justice would require that Stephanie Neiman’s murderer be raped, shot twice and buried alive. The murderer of the woman whose head was chopped 47 times, (but, according to the court, he did not intend her death!!!), that murderer’s head ought to be chopped 47 times. That is equal Justice and God will and does save the court.
    .
    In my own case, an individual beat my daughter and almost broke her ribs, then demanded a date with her. When he came to the house, not knowing what else to do, I met him outside the door, raised my fist and came down as hard as I could. He would be dead if I had my way. A stream of warm light guided my arm and fist in a zigzag course. The man? Boy? Was struck in the very exact same place he had struck my daughter and with the same force. The story ought to end here, but he called and threatened to burn our house down with us in it, so my daughter went with him to protect us.
    .
    His friends were in the habit of burning peoples’ houses down and they burnt his house down with his mother in it, before they were apprehended. There is actually more but that is in book form, not yet. No, his mother did not die. She went back for the cat and was found “melted” on her bed. Her son must care for her.
    .
    God save this court. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all else will be added. Invoke Divine Providence.
    .
    Next is a baby rapist. Lobotomy, castration? This little Hitler needs to be raped until dead. Life in prison, breathing God’s good air, is not equal Justice.

  • Non glibly, I can say that Christ reiterated the death penalty for murder that He gave as Son in Genesis 9:6
    and He reiterated it in Romans 13:4. Vatican II states that God authored all parts of both testaments in chapter 3:

    ” For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.(1) In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him (2) they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, (3) they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted. (4)”

    Notice last words….” and only those things which He wanted.”. Now read Romans 13:4: ” for it is a servant of God for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer.”
    Christ wrote that according to Vatican II which no one actually reads.

  • ps…that’s chapter three of Dei Verbum.

  • Jesus is not recorded in the Gospels as saying anything to stop the Romans from executing anyone. Maybe He did, maybe He did not, we don’t know.

    For many years the murderer of Philadelphia policeman Danny Faulkner sits on death row in the SCI Greene (Pennsylvania) less than an hour from my house. Mumia has waged a PR war against the death penalty and its opponents are always receiving more press than its proponents.

  • Mumia declared himself a sovereign nation of one person and denied to Faulkner, a peace keeping officer, the same acknowledgement as a sovereign nation of one person. Mumia ought to have been tried under the articles of war and treason for making war against the United States of America.
    .
    Equal Justice would require that Mumia be executed by four bullets to the head and back while lying in the street.

  • Well, there is also the Catechism for Catholics. Now Saint Pope John Paul II insisted that the only moral justification for the death penalty is if a convicted murderer would be a further threat to society. Catholicism is neither liberal nor conservative. A good Catholic should be pissing off both ideological camps.

  • “A good Catholic should be pissing off both ideological camps.”

    Why, since the Church says nothing about most political issues, and what it does say is often fairly vague and subject to interpretation, with some notable exceptions such as abortion which the Church has condemned since the time of the Crucifixion.

    This pox on both your houses pose is as tiresome as it is predictable from Catholics who pretend to have Catholicism give them their political marching orders, while what they are actually usually doing is cherry picking among statements by representatives of the Church.

    The death penalty is a fine example of this. Saint JPII was opposed to it which did not jibe with Church endorsement of the death penalty for almost the entire history of the Church.

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/08/catholicism-amp-capital-punishment

    The Church did not come into existence in 1965, contrary to what many contemporary Catholics seem to believe, and the Church has usually left up to her sons and daughters their choice of positions on political issues since the Church has understood that, absent a very clear moral issue, or a threat directed at the Church by a political movement, it is not her role to make such choices for them.

    Cardinal Ratzinger clearly understood this back in 2004:

    “Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. 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.”

    http://www.priestsforlife.org/magisterium/bishops/04-07ratzingerommunion.htm

  • Robert L. Olsen,
    The problem with both St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict and their mutual catechism on the death penalty was that neither man felt bound to believe that God mandated violence in the Old Testament in the first Person imperative as the Bible states He did. Read Section 40 of Evangelium Vitae by the former and read Section 42 of Verbum Domini by Benedict. The Scriptures have God commanding both the massacres of the Canaanites and the death penalties of Leviticus inter alia. Neither of those men believed that and Fr. Raymond Brown who didn’t believe Mary really said the Magnificat served on the Pontifical Biblical Commission under both of them. The death penalty section of the catechism pictures an entire world of perfectly functioning life sentences. They did zero research. The two largest Catholic populations on earth are Brazil and Mexico….no death penalty and both have porous prisons and sky high murder rates …prisons which a Mexican Justice official said are 60% controlled by the cartels who in one case entered a prison and machined gunned rival gang members with the help of prison guards…here:

    http://youtu.be/Wt5Aw1rvVSc

    There’s that modern penology at work…making death penalties rarely necessary.

  • Every sinner deserves the death penalty, I more than most. I know what I have done and what I deserve. It is God’s mercy that He does not give us the Justice we so richly merit. So no, I do not know the mind of Christ when it comes to the death penalty, but He has every right to give it to me. Indeed in certain cases and instances He may even use the State to mete out His Justice. Romans 13:1-7 says so. Lord have mercy on me a sinner. Thank you Jesus.

  • PS, I have to wonder whether or not the opposition liberal Christians have against the death penalty is because they believe that they themselves do not merit such punishment so they want the possibility of the same to disappear. Of course that is utter nonsense. We have all committed Deicide by our sins. We have all lashed Christ’s back with a whip, crowned His head with thorns, pierced his hands and feet with nails, and punctured his side with a spear.

    The cry of no death penalty is really the cry, “I don’t deserve to be executed.” Christ did not deserve this fate, but He received it in our stead.

  • The death penalty: I’m for it. It is more merciful to execute a man than to keep him in a cage for life.

  • Bonchamps: “The death penalty: I’m for it. It is more merciful to execute a man than to keep him in a cage for life.”
    .
    Ask the victim if he would rather have a jail cell for life or the coffin.
    .
    Bill Bannon: “The problem with both St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict and their mutual catechism on the death penalty was that neither man felt bound to believe that God mandated violence in the Old Testament in the first Person imperative as the Bible states He did.”
    .
    The purpose of capital punishment is to restore God’s sovereignty over life and death; sovereignty that the murderer has arrogated to himself…the murderer is not God. In their efforts to drive God from the public square, the devils are denying God’s sovereignty over life and death.
    .
    Human sacrifice, as is abortion, is the chief form of worship of the demons and devils and the devil’s legions. God would have none of it and instructed the Israelites, His Chosen People to drive out the devil worshipers from the lands of Canaan, for God is Lord of the Land.
    .
    The Chosen People were instructed in the Ten Commandments and were forbidden to kill innocent human beings. Any nation that sacrifices its constitutional posterity to Molech does not deserve ti live.

  • “Fr. Raymond Brown (who) didn’t believe Mary really said the Magnificat ”
    .
    Fr. Raymond Brown, not really believing that Mary said the Magnificat, ought to have said the Magnificat for Her.

  • from the Stephanie Nieman post:
    .
    “from First Things and Avery Cardinal Dulles. “both cruel and unnecessary” emasculates capital punishment. The victim is dead.
    .
    Both St. John Paul II and Cardinal Dulles cannot live another person’s life for them, nor can they run surety for a capital one murderer and guarantee safety for society. Therefore, both St. John Paul II and Cardinal Dulles cannot remove the protection guaranteed by capital punishment.”

  • WWJD Jesus is God. Life and death are His thing. He would be prudent. He would judge each individual case perfectly. He can read hearts. He would be perfectly just. The killing in the OT (the flood, Joshua for example was just). HIs ways are above our ways.
    What Do We Do? We rely or our judges (who may not be religious) and who use precedent and guidelines. Unlike WJWD,our judges (and juries) have often not been prudent, have not judged each individual case perfectly.
    We have to be careful about taking even a single innocent life; unjustly taking a life. Our hands are full of innocent blood. We cannot follow sin with more sin.
    We have killed many innocent people through crime, abortion, euthanasia and miscarried justice. To save a single life is to save the whole world.
    For prudence we need to protect society from any continuing threat from a murderer. If capital punishment is necessary to protect society, we can do that.
    I stand with JPII on this.
    .
    Numbers 35:33-34 Deuteronomy 32:35 Romans 12:17-19

  • Anzlyne,
    He also called the death penalty “cruel” in 1999 in St. Louis. Inconsistent much?
    He opposed the Gulf War which simply wanted to remove Iraq from Kuwait which it had invaded….kinda of a “let invaders suffer no consequences” philosophy. He warned of dire apocalyptic consequences if we opposed Hussein.
    I think he was a genius as to understanding salvation as possible to the enclosed non Christian cultures.
    I think on violence and criminals and frankly protecting youth from criminal priests….he was a disaster.

  • Do some crimes deserve the death penalty? Absolutely. Is the death penalty inherently cruel and unusual punishment? No, I don’t think it is — not even if the process of execution involves some brief period of suffering, which in most cases will be far less than what the victim of the crime endured. If your state or country is going to have a death penalty, I see nothing wrong with using a firing squad, since it will probably be far easier to find competent marksmen than physicians, pharmacists or phlebotomists willing to take part in a lethal injection.

    The REAL question, to me, is whether use of the death penalty is morally prudent when it is no longer necessary to maintain public order. To borrow a phrase from the Gospels, if a government can’t be trusted to be faithful in “small” things like respect for the Bill of Rights and the rule of law, how can it be trusted in “greater” things such as deciding who is worthy, or not worthy, of death?

  • Elaine,
    Maintaining public order and deterring murders are entirely different. A country with a 20+ per 100,000 murder rate like Mexico ( very high) seems to have public order if you are in Mexico City but not if you are in Juarez for two months or if your daughter is being taken from you to be trafficked in the small wilderness towns by cartels. Evangelium Vitae and the catechism never even address deterring murders by those who are not in prison…both only oddly address stopping the murderer you caught already by modern penology….read life sentences. Then neither document faces nuances like the fact that gangs in prison order murders on the outside via phone calls or letters using code words. The NY Times years ago estimated 300 murders ordered from prison on the streets of California over a decade period ( California has a death penalty that is useless due to an average 20 year appeals period ).
    If the US Supreme Court’s 1976 note (as it ended the execution moratorium) that executions deter not passion murders but do deter premeditated murders is correct, then the current defacto Catholic position of abolition will get murder victims killed for decades or centuries to come until a wise Pope uninterested in elite liberal cultural opinion reverses it. This lady ( link below) says each execution deters 3 to 18 future murders if a state does them more than rarely. Prorate that worldwide and our current position, where instrumental as in the Phillipines, is getting more people killed than we burned in the Inquisition centuries on purpose.

    http://www.michiganlawreview.org/assets/pdfs/104/2/Shepherd.pdf

  • I think on violence and criminals and frankly protecting youth from criminal priests….he was a disaster.

    He was not in a position to repair the personnel systems of the 3,000 dioceses in this world whose ordinaries report to him. The responsibility for the passing of the trash so common in the Anglosphere between 1981 and 1993 (and to a degree before and after) lies with the diocesan bishops. The bulk of the trouble those problem priests caused they caused before John Paul ever sat on the Chair of Peter. Nor can you fault the bishops who ordained them for the most part, because the trouble was not brought to the attention of the chancery until decades later.

  • It is a vast oversimplification to simply say JP2 was against the death penalty. The WAY in which the death penalty is administered in the US Injustice system IS A MORAL DILEMMA. In the OT, their had to be witnesses (more than one) who actually saw a Capitol crime occur in person–then after testifying to actually seeing a given person commit a Capitol crime –those who saw it & testified to it–had to throw the first stones at the condemned. Americans are put to death under much less certain circumstances–hence the killing of innocents.

    If the death penalty was fully sanctioned in the OT for modern day use, then should we be stoning rebellious children? fornicators? Etc?

  • Art,
    We disagree. One third of the cases were known prior to 1993 according to the John Jay Report. The Pope knew in 1984-85 ( see link below) of widespread problems via Cardinals Laghi and Krol…and Cardinal
    Silvio Oddi who wanted all discasteries to meet in regard to it. So curia people knew it should be central. The Pope did deputize Bishop Quinn in 1985 to investigate so the
    pope knew it should be centralized but the below canon lawyer noted that Bishop Quinn was part of the problem perhaps as to insufficient zeal….he doesn’t say.
    The Pope could have decreed that such priests be handed over to police…just like Christ acted fast in the temple…not 20 years. The Pope’s power according to canon law 331 is ” supreme” and “immediate” and over all particular churches /canon 333…. and there is no appeals against his decrees..333-3. His CDF office, shown in court documents, in 1979 had a tape of Fr. Shanley speaking perverse ideas. Shanley would be promoted and molest two boys several years later. Whose area of responsibility is the CDF office? The Gauthe Case was 1985 in the national media print and tv.

    http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/records-show-john-paul-ii-could-have-intervened-abuse-crisis-didnt

    NCR may be bad on theology but historical accounts of key eye Vatican related players are not really them.

  • I do agree with JP2 that governments do have the right to put people to death. I think the methods & courts used to find people guilty murder (& just about every other crime) in modern day America are completely morally bankrupt & corrupt.

  • Barbara Gordon,
    He called the death penalty “cruel and unnecessary” to the world media in St. Louis in 1999 and his people worded the catechism to couch its use as next to impossible….and revised the catechism to do that inter alia.
    God’s requirement was for two or three witnesses. It like any rule is vulnerable. If two people murdered someone and then said you did it, your goose was cooked under God’s system. If three people wanted your land under God’s system, they could say they saw you with another’s husband and again, your goose was cooked. Romans 13:4 was written in the context of the Roman empire whose rules of evidence were probably as vulnerable as God’s. There never existed a system that could not be gamed but also established order.

  • Bill Bannon—your argument is valid on its face but not valid in Biblical context. For example: when would you get both parents to agree that their child was rebellious enough to require death & throw the first stones hitting their child if it were a false hood?

  • Also, I have always chaffed at the fact that there was no man caught in the very act of adultery that was brought right along with the woman caught in adultery who was presented to Christ for condemnation to death which He did not give.

  • Barbara,
    It was not a judgement call by parents….it was factual…if the child cursed them.

  • Barbara,
    The adultery case in John was precisely about bad men testifying and thus not bringing the male.

  • Back about 2 years ago this death penalty issue was brought into a completely different perspective for me when I was reading about a huge uproar over the international scene re: a woman the state of Iran planned to execute by stoning for adultery. Again, there was no man who was being stoned with her. The state of Iran tried a compromise effort with the protesters by agreeing to kill the adulterous woman by hanging instead. Having grown up Protestant in a faith where the death penalty was never questioned under any circumstances–you will die if the people of my home county have a voice in it after you have murdered someone–it absolutely shook my rock solid convictions built into me by my upbringing & culture. The OT completely endorses stoning for sexual sin–yet the idea of Iran stoning this woman & the hypocrisy of the man not being stoned with her–is totally abhorrent to me. I figured out for the first time that I was picking & choosing what portions of the OT scriptures I wanted applied–leaving others put completely. Stoning just the woman fir adultery & not the man is a prime example of corrupt justice in Iran like we see here in the US despite claims of equal justice under the law. DNA has set both those convicted of rape & murder in this country free–sometimes after decades in prison.

  • Barbara,
    Augustine explained why the OT execution laws were harsh and from God and were removed by Christ…except Gen.9:6 for murder. Prior to Christ, man had no access to sanctifying grace though he did have actual grace, Secondly Satan was stronger prior to Christ.
    Ergo without grace and with a stronger devil, man needed great threats and fear to avoid e.g. adultery.
    Now after Christ, man is stronger…Christians the strongest but non Christians due to a weaker devil and since Christ is drawing all men to himself…” and I if I be lifted up will draw all men to myself”.. which means actual grace is more available to even non Christians. Ergo Christ was ending those executions for personal sin in the caught woman episode you mention but was not ending executions for murder ie Rom.13:4.

  • Bill, your point about murders being ordered from jail in the US is very valid IMHO.

  • Elaine Krewer,

    AMEN & AMEN.

  • Bill,

    Back to the parents stoning their child for rebellion. These were real flesh & blood parents we are talking about here–not some card board figurine nor abstract concept. “Cursing” can cover abroad range of behaviors & words. So it is not as simple as you portray. Again these were real people applying this rule. You can curse someone without saying an actual word.

  • It is also absolutely dumbfounding & ludicrous to me that anyone would indicate that JP2 had direct first hand knowledge of children being molested and did nothing about it. I simply do not believe it. Maybe I shud–but I don’t.

  • It seems clear that there are many offenses for which death is a just penalty. Once we’ve decided that death shall be the penalty, I do not see the distinctions in form as particularly significant. Flaying alive and such intentional torture isn’t really a death sentence so much as a form of torture. Shooting or hanging or electrocution are not sufficiently different for me to get worked up about.

    However, I oppose the death penalty as unnecessary and, so, the accidentals such as the unfortunate condemning of innocent defendants have greater force. Surely remote communities faced with either killing or being repeatedly victimized can kill. It is an inherent right to defend our own. But, the ability to permanently incarcerate carries with it something of a duty to greatly limit the circumstances in which we prefer to kill.

    It may be that death deters some crime but the sufficiently unhinged to engage in the crimes most deserving of death are the least likely to be deterred and the ones rational enough to make that choice might just as well decide that no living witnesses is a rational choice. I can’t recall any credible evidence that the death penalty discourages crime, at least not such evidence as isn’t opposed by equally credible evidence.

    As a Christian, the subject is intimately tied into my feelings and understanding of redemption. My experience is that God has given many men time to open themselves up to Him. Many criminals – and I’m an enforcement officer with 18 years of experience with criminals – were warped by their environment. While this does not excuse their conduct, it does make it harder for them to see the larger significance of their choices than is true for those brought up in a healthier place.

    I do not know if that reality mitigates their guilt. I rather think it does in some cases but I think it makes a profound case for giving them such time to be redeemed as Christ gives them.

    So, I respectfully disagree with those who support the death penalty and suggest that the timing of death for such should be no more in our hands than ours should be in theirs. Let God decide when enough is enough, lest we send a soul to hell in our haste to exact vengeance.

  • Elaine Krewer writes, “The REAL question, to me, is whether use of the death penalty is morally prudent when it is no longer necessary to maintain public order”

    I suppose the position really changed in 1949, when António Egas Moniz shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine of 1949 for the “discovery of the therapeutic value of leucotomy in certain psychoses” followed a year later by the synthesising of Chlorpromazine and the other psychotropic drugs that followed.

    It is now possible to keep a prisoner more or less permanently tranquillised, virtually removing any danger to staff or other patients. That they have not been more widely used in the penal systems of many countries is little short of scandalous. In Scandinavia, they are routinely used, with excellent results. In Scotland, pioneering work has been done in the State Hospital of Carstairs.

    There will still be cases where capital punishment is necessary: to forestall or repress a coup d’état, to keep order in a beleaguered city, to maintain discipline in an army in the field being obvious examples.

  • WE are talking about capital one homicide, a murderer plotting and planning to kill another person, and capital punishment, the death penalty.
    .
    “But when a man kills another after maliciously scheming to do so, you must take him even from my altar (compassion, mercy) and put him to death.” Exodus 21:14
    .
    The victim’s innocence must be vindicated, otherwise the murderer says that the innocent victim deserved to be put to death and that, he, the murderer acted according to the laws of the state. The death penalty is vindication of the victim’s innocence, not vengeance. In some countries, if a homicide is committed, a close member of the family is given 24 hours to pursue and inflict vengeance on the murderer with no questions asked. Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, vengeance belongs to the victim and those who act in his stead.
    .
    To allow the murderer to enjoy his crime is monstrous and accessory after the fact. To allow the murderer another chance to murder is accessory before the fact.
    .
    Perfect Justice is a cardinal virtue bestowed by the Holy Spirit.
    .
    Uncontrollable children were brought to the elders who held court at the city gate by their parents. Pater familias got to say who stayed in his family. A criminal in the making could be ostracized, driven out of the camp which usually meant death in the wilderness by lions or tigers or bears, or stoned.
    .
    A blatant disregard for human life instills vengeance in a community, but retribution and vindication are an absolute necessity for a just community. Bringing a capital one murderer to Justice in the death penalty is an absolute necessity for a just community.

  • Mary De Voe, your faith does you credit and your referencing sources in most of your comments is a refreshing break from the common practice of unsupported assertions. I do not, however, subscribe to the view that retribution is a religious or theological requirement of our faith. I’d see Hitler or Bundy redeemed if it were part of God’s plan. If He redeems Mumia Abu Jamal because accidents of law kept that well-deserving-of-death cop killer alive long enough, I should rejoice at God’s Grace and Mercy. I am reminded of Jonah.

  • David Spaulding: “So, I respectfully disagree with those who support the death penalty and suggest that the timing of death for such should be no more in our hands than ours should be in theirs. Let God decide when enough is enough, lest we send a soul to hell in our haste to exact vengeance.”
    .
    The murderer denied to his victim, time to make his peace with God, yet you demand that the murderer be given his time to make his peace with God even though the murderer may have sent his victim to hell. Justice? The murderer ought to go to hell and take his victim’s place, but this is God’s call.
    .
    Being brought to JUSTICE on the gallows does force the murderer to repent, which is more than he gave to his victim.
    .
    I vehemently disagree with your laissez faire attitude. Society owes to the capital one murderer, JUSTICE, immediately. Justice delayed is Justice denied. The eagle is the symbol of the swiftness of God’s Justice. The eagle is on your badge.

  • Justice is not so easy to know as you imagine and the mercy we beg for from on high is the least we owe to one another.

    Certainly those who put Jesus to death deserved swift justice. Nothing in Scripture suggests that was meted out and I like to think that Christ redeemed them, that His mercy bought them time to internalize what they witnessed.

    So it is with heinous criminals: I do not know what He plans for them but I DO know that His ways are not our ways and that time is on the side of most men. Surely it is no sin to pray for the redemption of all and to create space for such a one to set their pride aside and accept His mercy?

    I do not deny that facing death may make one repent but my experiences in prisons suggest that the solitary existence of the condemned is as close to death as we can be before we die. Your proposition is likely true and, yet, does not negate my observation.

  • David Spaulding, unless you disavow the murder victim, you and I have had our time curtailed by the criminal.
    .
    “If He redeems Mumia Abu Jamal because accidents of law kept that well-deserving-of-death cop killer alive long enough, I should rejoice at God’s Grace and Mercy. I am reminded of Jonah.”
    .
    Jonah was an innocent man. God’s Grace and Mercy…NO, only accidents of law, which must be ameliorated.
    .
    You did not address the vindication that the state owes to the murder victim.
    .
    You and I am the state. It has occurred to me that I am going to meet Hitler and Mumia in the hereafter and I must be ready to address them. So, too, you must be ready to address them.

  • You are right, I did not address that point, though I should phrase it differently: “Does the State owe a victim justice?”

    I never thought of that before and I may have to think on it a bit. I’m guessing that the Church has covered the topic (is there any topic She hasn’t covered?) so that has to be credited in my response.

    Thanks for pointing it out and I shall get back to you.

  • David Spaulding: “I do not deny that facing death may make one repent but my experiences in prisons suggest that the solitary existence of the condemned is as close to death as we can be before we die. Your proposition is likely true and, yet, does not negate my observation.”
    .
    “the solitary existence of the condemned is as close to death as we can be before we die.”. Please understand that the life the condemned is living is the life he has taken from his victim. The murder’s life must be taken back and returned to his victim, in JUSTICE. If the condemned enjoys his crime, as Mumia does, he is digging his hell deeper and ought to be given no quarter.
    .
    Jesus led a solitary life, and Jesus is God.
    .
    Capital punishment, the death penalty, is the temporal punishment due to the sin of capital one homicide. Forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance, the temporal punishment must still be performed for the forgiveness to be effective.

  • David Spaulding,
    You wrote, ” I can’t recall any credible evidence that the death penalty discourages crime, at least not such evidence as isn’t opposed by equally credible evidence.”
    The US Supreme Court stopped their moratorium of the death penalty of 1972-1976 precisely because they reviewed opposing studies and sided with those studies that said execution deters not passion murders but premeditated murders. They made a decision that stopped eternally vying claims.
    Think of it this way. If you’re correct then God and His verbal agent Peter should not have executed Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 for lying to the Holy Spirit. And then Scripture tells you it deterred others in verse 11 at the end of this below quote…no studies needed…God says it deters:

    Acts 5:
    ” 8 And Peter said to her: Tell me, woman, whether you sold the land for so much? And she said: Yea, for so much.
    9 And Peter said unto her: Why have you agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold the feet of them who have buried thy husband are at the door, and they shall carry thee out.
    10 Immediately she fell down before his feet, and gave up the ghost. And the young men coming in, found her dead: and carried her out, and buried her by her husband.
    11 And there came great fear upon the whole church, and upon all that heard these things.”

    We have no account of anyone lying to Peter after that…” there came fear upon the whole church”. Deterrence….as in China which has hundreds of millions of poor and is a country twenty times safer than Catholic Mexico and Brazil which are the two largest Catholic populations on earth but have no death penalty.

  • I can certainly see how being able to call down the wrath of God would give sinners pause. I like to think I’d never sin again if God’s justice was so swift and evident.

    Thing is, we aren’t dispensing God’s justice, only that bastard, ignorant, and misguided thing that mere Man is capable of.

  • Yet God actively aligns us with that defective system in Romans 13:4 …one which killed His Son in that contextual case.

  • Like Don, I cannot presume to know the mind of God; while I oppose the death penalty, it is strictly on empirical grounds. Dead men can’t repent and frankly, in some cases, the release of death for those who truly deserve temporal punishment is too good for ’em. It’s an out they don’t deserve.

  • WK Aiken,
    But it can bring on repentance after which purgatory is no joke….and has no tv or weight rooms.
    Actually the good thief attained repentance only in his last time period as death approached. Prior to noon, he was ranting against Christ too…see Matthew 27:44… ” The revolutionaries who were crucified with him also kept abusing him in the same way.”
    So the good thief was unrepentant at first even under the death penalty until death really really approached and grace approached also. Timothy McVeigh also was apparently saved at the last chance end when he was given the option of Extreme Unction which he took.
    http://www.ncregister.com/site/article/10409

  • Bill- True . . . some motivations are certainly more powerful than others. That said, TVs and weight rooms shouldn’t be allowed wthin prison walls to begin with but that’s a different discussion.
    .
    In any event, in a purely theoretical realm where perfect justice was guaranteed at every stroke, the death penalty would be acceptable when merited – prima facie (hey, I used lawyer words there!) it is not objectionable under the Church’s stipulations. Maybe we’ll get there someday.

  • WK Aiken,
    I had 8 years Dominican education, 8 years Jesuit….then I read all scripture cover to cover, most of Augustine and all the Summa T. The catechism article on the death penalty would get a failing grade in a good school. It knew it had to ackowledge Rom.13:4 so it did and then it circumvented its intent with the over praise of life sentences ( coded as modern penology). The two worst murder rate countries on earth, El Salvador and Honduras, by UN stats…have no death penalty and are heavily Catholic. If you assert that the Vatican wants the death penalty in rare cases where it is needed as per ccc 2267….then show me the money.
    Find one Pope or curia official who is watching those two countries with an eye to applying the rare exception clause of ccc 2267. They ain’t. It was always words and words only as far as we can see from Catholics news media who never mention the plight of 6 Catholic countries who are in the top 20 worst murder rate countries on earth and have no death penalty. I’m done….need to garden…something honest.

  • “The catechism article on the death penalty would get a failing grade in a good school. ”

    Mebbe so, but as I ain’t nobody what’s been all edjumacated and such (only 4 years Jesuit, and simple parish Scripture study,) I have to go with what my moral authority teaches, and that’s the Church. Even if it’s not great.
    .
    So, whatevs. Gardening sounds a lot more fun anyway. Happy loaming!

  • “I do not, however, subscribe to the view that retribution is a religious or theological requirement of our faith.”

    There is the difference. Actually, two differences. The death penalty is not retribution or revenge. It is punishment. And, it’s not meant to protect sociery from the killer repeating the killing again. The repentent murderer death would see death as an appropriate penance. Retribution or revenge would be wherein I track down my son’s killer and kill him, out of spite/hate. And, two: the death penalty is not a religious requirement. It should not be a taboo, neither.

    Finally, (at last!) the recent revision of the Catechism broke near 2,000 years of Church teaching. So!! All of a sudden in 1996(?), 5,000 years of the works of divinely inspired authors of Holy Scripture; several hundred popes; and thousands of bishops/religious are all wrong and St. JPII has it right. Because the Holy Spirit changed His mind??? Not the way it works: God Almighty (eternal, perfect, omniscient, etc.) in the Holy Trinity, cannot have been wrong for 5,000 years; and St. JPII got the “word” to change it.

  • This is posted over at Shea and I, a Follow up, but it is more appropriate here. I am glad to hear that bill bannon and WK Aiken are tilling the soil for their redemption.
    .
    Genesis 4: 17-19: “Cursed be the ground because of you; in toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, since out of it you were taken; for dust you are and unto dust you shall return.”
    .
    Our Creator gave the land to man to work out his redemption. To take the man’s land would prevent the man from working out his redemption as prescribed by God. Man would be brought to the brink of hell without hope of salvation. Until the day man returns to dust, it is his property, the land which God handed to Adam to toil and sweat over to redeem himself.
    .
    “or prohibit the free exercise thereof.”. Taking a man’s land is a violation of man freedom to respond to God’s word, in thought, word and deed. Peaceable assembly cannot be violated.
    .
    He, who violates God’s word is possessed by the devil.

    .
    David Spaulding: “Thing is, we aren’t dispensing God’s justice, only that bastard, ignorant, and misguided thing that mere Man is capable of.”
    .
    In God We Trust…so help me God…and with reliance on Divine Providence, we shall have Justice.Thing is, we have to petition God for Divine Justice…maybe by tilling the soil.

  • I like the way T Shaw thinks. The death penalty is punishment – a punishment we all deserve as transgressor and which Christ received upon Himself.

  • It was always words and words only as far as we can see from Catholics news media who never mention the plight of 6 Catholic countries who are in the top 20 worst murder rate countries on earth and have no death penalty. I’m done….need to garden…something honest.

    I would not deny the lack of a death penalty is a vector there, but both places have severe administrative, social, and cultural defects that are not going to be remedied by executions.

  • Now Saint Pope John Paul II insisted that the only moral justification for the death penalty is if a convicted murderer would be a further threat to society.

    Since we have an in-prison murder rate– both inmates and guards– they obviously are still a threat to society.

  • Please stop saying that Jesus being put to death by the Romans somehow justifies Capitol punishment. JESUS WAS INNOCENT!! Which is my point exactly! Do states have the right to put their citizens to death?? Yes. Should they? That is a whole different question. Are we & have we put innocent people to death?? Absolutely. That is the problem I have with it!! Under no circumstances should we be putting ANYONE who is innocent to death. The equal aPplication of the law in the realm of Capitol punishment is a joke! You are much more likely to be given the death penalty if you are male than if you are female–and you are much more likely to be given the death penalty if you are black than if you are white.

  • One of my pastors taught us that in the original language (Hebrew) that God telling Cain that the blood of his brother Able which was crying out to God from the ground–also included the voices of all of the descendants that Able would have had that were never born due to Cain murdering him. Murder is a truly horrific thing–resulting in the inability of descendants of the one murdered never being born.

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  • Barbara Gordon-
    Will you please stop emoting and respond to actual arguments? Thus far you’ve mostly ignored them, and responded to arguments nobody is making.
    ..

    Perhaps it would help if you quoted what you are trying to respond to; to put things in italics and indicate they are a quote, you us the < marks with an i in the middle before and a /i bracketed with the < marks at the end.

  • Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia.

    I wonder if this was a mis-translation, or if BXVI meant it in a different way. It seems to me that capital punishment and war do have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. What they do not share is the same clear-cut lines of demarcation. There is much more room for prudential determinations in the application of cp and jw than there is in abortion or euthanasia, but how could anyone seriously argue that they do not carry the same moral weight (meaning, that they are not equal in their moral gravity or importance)? cheating at cards does not carry the same moral weight.

  • Speaking of Cain, didn’t God also prohibit anyone from exercising “capital punishment” on him? Support/prohibition of capital punishment based upon biblical passages is confusing at best.

  • c matt, I agree. The greater room for prudential determinations does have important practical consequences, one of which is the reduced room for confidence and self-righteousness. But logically the moral weight must be ocmparable.

  • “I wonder if this was a mis-translation, or if BXVI meant it in a different way. It seems to me that capital punishment and war do have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia.”

    No. Abortion and euthanasia are intrinsic evils. There is never any justification for them. This in contrast to war and capital punishment which are not intrinsic evils and which can be chose given the proper conditions. If those conditions do not exist, then they would be evil.

    But again, one can choose capital punishment and war licitly at times. One can never do so with abortion or euthanasia.

  • I wonder if this was a mis-translation, or if BXVI meant it in a different way

    In context, it’s very clear– people want to treat supporting the death penalty the same way it’s proper to treat supporting abortion, and that is not correct.

    The fact that there is prudential judgement involved means it doesn’t have the same moral weight– always wrong vs might be right, even if an individual case may be clearly wrong, the overall question has different weight by being worth asking.

  • c matt,
    St. John Paul II used the Cain immunity in a substantial section of Evangelium Vitae to lean people toward being averse to the death penalty. But in that early period, God was protecting Cain from vigilantes since there were as yet no kingdoms…and vigilantes seek their own wrath whereas Rom.13:4 later affirms the state carrying out God’s wrath with the sword.
    What St. John Paul did not tell his audience was that the same God a bit later mandated the death penalty for murder to both Jews ( Shem) and Gentiles ( Ham and Japheth) in Genesis 9:6. Why did the same identical God protect Cain and mandate execution a little later? Simple…God was about to inititate the first kingdom under Nimrod in Gen.10:8 and just like in Christian tradition, vigilantes are condemned ( hence Cain’s immunity) and capital punishment by governments are affirmed for murder ( Gen.9:6&Rom.13:4).
    St. John Paul II saw the Gen.9:6 verse mandating execution for murder because he quoted around it …around it four times in EV while never showing readers the death penalty part. What gives then? Was he being intellectually dishonest? Worse than that….he didn’t believe the death penalty part was inspired by God so he would not show it.
    Read sect. 40 of EV….he insinuates that the death penalties of the OT in Leviticus etc. were cultural and not really from God. Benedict in sect.42 of Verbum Domini did the same exact modernistic twist on the massacres ordered by God against Canaan. Because both Popes were conservative on sexual questions, Catholics assume they were conservative on Biblical questions like what does inspiration entail. They were not conservative therein. Fr. Raymond Brown served on the PBC under both men and Brown said that Mary never really said the Magnificat. Benedict infers that the massacres if the OT were really sins. They were not and Benedict couldn’t even face that the largest herem ir doom by far was brought about by God through the Romans in 70 AD because Christ noted Jerusalem had not ” known the hour of your visitation”…1.1 million people were killed in Jerusalem according to Josephus. Fr. Brown didn’t think Mary really said the magnificat, St. John Paul didn’t think God really gave the death penalties of the OT and Benedict didn’t think God ever mandated the dooms of the Canaanites. Check the sections I just mentioned for the two Popes.

  • Foxfire: this is in direct response to your direct comments to my comments. Sorry to have gotten on your nerves. The day I cease to emote is the day I cease to breathe air. Also, since you have accurately detected that I am specifically minutely detail oriented, I will attempt to take your advise in the future & reference the specific minutia I am emoting to/commenting on/referencing–you get the idea on all future posts except Mary De Voe’s posts! I might just break out in songs if delight & praise at any time in relation to her written words. 😀

  • Barbara-
    You’re still not doing anything but appealing to emotion, rather than answering arguments; you also are not quoting what you are intending to reply to.

    MDV usually responds in support of a post, and thus doesn’t need a lot of detail; you’re responding in resistance, which needs specifics.

  • Foxfire, in response to your comments to me that u posted at 8:18 pm.

    I did those things on purpose sir. Please develop a sense of humor.

    Thank you.

  • Major Catechism problems

    1) The Church acknowledges replacing the primary purpose behind sanction – redress/justice – with the false and tirtiary explanation of secular criminal justice systems being sufficient.

    2) She uses historical teachings, which don’t exist, to justifiy this remarkable change.

    3) She has acknowleged that this change is a prudential judgement, meaning the opposite of what the purpose of a Catechism is supposed to do – it creates a confusing (and false) teaching/judgement, which was based upon fa oundation which is opposite the secular facts and the eternal teachings.

    Fully reviewed, here:

    The Catechism and the Death Penalty
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-catechism-death-penalty.html

  • To Bill Bannon:

    Note, that God could have killed Cain. But didn’t.

    Cain, himself, stated that God’s punishment, was unbearable.

    Of course, God knew that such sanctions would be bearable to Cain. God was, in fact, being merciful, giving Cain every opportunity to repent.

    Instead, Cain, continued his life in the same manner he had before, creating a great city in tribute to himself and sin.

    It is a factual certainty that the flood was designed to wipe out the entire progeny of Cain and allow to live, what could be considered the spiritand progeny of Able/Seth, which is. precisely what happened.

    To paraphrase one religious scholar, whose blasphemous response was along the lines of “Of course God should have killed Cain, as soon as Cain had killed Able. Duh”.

  • Dudley Sharp: “To paraphrase one religious scholar, whose blasphemous response was along the lines of “Of course God should have killed Cain, as soon as Cain had killed Able. Duh”.
    .
    Actually, capital punishment is for capital one homicide, in law and in the Bible. The temporal punishment due to capital one homicide can only be done under the rules for capital one homicide. Cain had never been exposed to death. While Cain struck Abel in hatred, anger and jealousy, Cain did not premeditate death, for he had no aforethought of death, the Ten Commandments had not been given to Moses and the Israelites, and Abraham had not fathered the nation. (Could Abel have been intended as Cain’s human sacrifice to God, in a twisted way? Human sacrifice had not been invented then either and was definitely forbidden by God to Abraham in Isaac. Human sacrifice was the cause of God commanding that unholy nations be put to the sword and driven from the land.) Moreover, I believe that the mark God put on Cain was the sign “ABEL” for now, Cain had to live Abel’s life since Cain had taken Abel’s life. Cain had forfeit his own life and the capital punishment at this was living his victim’s life. It does not make sense any other way.
    .
    Barbara Gordon: The admiration is reciprocal. I have enjoyed many of your comments and have wholeheartedly appreciated them.
    Why we participate in these conversations is to share our knowing and grow in the experience of Truth, Who is Jesus Christ. And I appreciate and thank all who have encouraged and enlarged my education of the Faith. We, all, have our job to do.

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Conrad Black’s Messy Attack on Scalia

Friday, October 14, AD 2011

Conrad Black has written one of the most rambling and fairly incoherent things I’ve ever seen in quite some time.  I’m not quite sure what his overall point is, but he ends up attacking Antonin Scalia  of all people.

But some are, including Justice Antonin Scalia, who, as Maureen Dowd wrote in the New York Times on October 2, has attacked the complainant in a civil suit to stop the banning of co-ed dormitories at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. As Ms. Dowd pointed out, Justice Scalia has not hesitated prior to this to volunteer publicly either his solidarity with his Church militant, or his dissent from it. But in the case of the Roman Catholic Church’s long-held and oft-expressed (by four recent popes) hostility to the death penalty, Justice Scalia recently told Duquesne University in Pittsburgh that if he thought “that Catholic doctrine held the death penalty to be immoral, I would resign.” Since he could not possibly be unaware of the views of the Holy See over the past 50 years (John Paul I was the only pope in that time who did not reign long enough to opine on the subject), nor of the authority of the pope to speak on such matters for the whole Church, it is not clear why he is not delivering his letter of resignation to the president instead of sticking his nose into the dormitory rules in one of the national capital’s universities.

To move the inquiry that Ms. Dowd usefully started to entirely secular matters, there could be searching questions about why the Supreme Court has sat like a great suet pudding for decades while the Bill of Rights has been raped by the prosecution service with the connivance of the legislators, a tri-branch travesty against the civil rights of the whole population, but I will spare readers another dilation on that subject. However, Justice Scalia’s preoccupation with the dormitories of the Catholic University of America (a matter that is now, to the Justice’s chagrin, sub judice), is, in the circumstances and to say the least, bizarre.

Leaving that aside, the report card on the co-equal branches is not uplifting: The legislators and the executive wimped out on abortion and immigration. The beehive of conscientious jurists on the Supreme Court applied a completely amoral test to get to a defensible conclusion on abortion when it was dumped by default on them to determine. And its most vocal current Roman Catholic member, swaddling himself in his faith, upholds the death penalty in contradiction to the popes, holds in pectore his views on abortion (which is not now before the high court, though not for absence of petitions), and thunders fire and brimstone about coeducational university dormitories, which is not, I think, a subject that the See of Peter has addressed.

This is just bizarre.  From relying on Maureen Dowd as a source of criticism of Scalia’s Catholicism, to his complete non sequiter about Scalia’s involvement in the CUA suit, to Black completely misconstruing Church teaching on the death penalty; this turned into an unholy mess of an article that already has no clear thesis.

I was all set to write a response, but Shannen Coffin has already done so masterfully.   I’d be violating fair use to copy and paste the whole thing, but you must read the whole thing.  But here are the key passages:

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4 Responses to Conrad Black’s Messy Attack on Scalia

  • It looks like Coffin’s comment has been deleted.

    I read Black’s article, and there’s no way around it, that’s some bad writing. I even read the Dowd article on the chance that it made sense. It didn’t. I’ve never seen her construct an argument where one point follows another.

    There’s an additional historical inaccuracy in Black’s article that no one’s commented on: the idea that the Supreme Court was forced by the failure of elected officials to step into the abortion debate in 1973. You could make an argument – a valid one, I think – that the elected branches could have been far more aggressive since Roe was decided. But the few efforts they have made have been blocked by a Court that refuses to yield any ground on the issue. Black’s argument simply ignores the facts of then and now.

    They’re right that it’s improper for a Justice to speak out about a court case, though.

  • The post is still there, but I think he deleted one parenthetical aside that he thought was too much of a low blow.

    Some of the commenters on Black’s post (and on his post about the post on the Corner) made the same point you have about legislative attempts to do something about abortion.

    It’s just an all-around sloppy article.

  • The solid gold line has got to be this:
    Since he could not possibly be unaware of the views of the Holy See … nor of the authority of the pope to speak on such matters for the whole Church, it is not clear why he is not delivering his letter of resignation to the president ….

    Accusing someone of ignorance of something that he clearly is ignorant of himself.

    Dude. Meta. (/stoner voice)

  • How on earth Conrad Black could ever be regarded as some kind of expert on Catholicism, I don’t know. I have to admit I’m a bit biased against him because he ran HUNDREDS of newspapers into the ground financially and quality-wise (google “Hollinger International”), looted pension plans for some of the companies he ran, and played a big part in making it difficult if not impossible for people like myself to make a decent living in the profession we trained for (newspaper journalism), in order to finance a lavish lifestyle.

    All that said, a good case can be made that his actions didn’t rise to the level of federal crimes such as wire and mail fraud, and that the feds were overzealous in their prosecution.

    In 2007 Black wrote an 1,100-page exculpatory biography of Richard Nixon. If it’s anywhere near as rambling and incoherent as the column referenced above, I would say that being forced to read it would be my idea of Purgatory 🙂

Scottish Cardinal Makes Fool of Himself

Sunday, August 8, AD 2010

The primate of Scotland, Keith Cardinal O’Brien, today in the newspaper Scotland on Sunday, decried the attempts by the United States Senate to investigate the freeing of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer, who was convicted of the bombing on January 31, 2001, and sentenced to life imprisonment.  On August 20, 2009 al-Megrahi was released by the Scottish government to Libya, ostensibly on the compassionate grounds that he was dying of prostate cancer.

The text of the Cardinal’s article may be read here.

His argument basically consists of allegations that America has a “Culture of Vengeance” since we have the death penalty, while the Scottish justice system embraces compassion as demonstrated by the freeing of the Lockerbie bomber.

There is no polite way to put this.  The Cardinal’s article is rubbish from beginning to end.

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72 Responses to Scottish Cardinal Makes Fool of Himself

  • I see Cardinals Schonborn and Mahony have competition in being the most obnoxious prelates of the 21st century.

  • While I agree that the release on “compassionate grounds” was definitely suspect and I think that al-Megrahi got substantially less than justice would have required, I do have to take issue with one of your points, and ask a question in re: another.

    I disagree with your point #3. If al-Megrahi had been executed, then his victims would still be dead. I don’t precisely see the specific moral argument to be made for killing this man in this case, nor do I see how this specific case can be extrapolated to make an argument in favor of capital punishment generally speaking.

    Which brings me to my question. The only purpose I can see being served by executing al-Megrahi would be in service of precisely the sort of “Culture of Vengeance” that the Scottish primate accuses of pervading the U.S. justice system. Since you brought it up in your post, did you have a particular comment to that point? I’d say that, while it is more obvious in some places (e.g. Texas) than others, there is an argument to be made that our criminal justice system actually is focused inordinately on retributive “justice” and not on charitable justice – the latter being definable as a process of rehabilitating individuals to function in society, or at least to allow them to function away from the temptation to criminal behavior.

    I only bring up the latter here for contrast, because I could see it being argued from a Catholic position, whereas I don’t see a lot from that vantage point to recommend retributive justice. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

  • The Cardinal gets the prize for being close to the right answer by the wrong reasoning process. My question regarding the investigation is why did they wait until AFTER the gulf oil spill. I am not saying the investigation is wrong or shouldn’t happen. But the timing is very suspicious.

  • “I disagree with your point #3. If al-Megrahi had been executed, then his victims would still be dead. I don’t precisely see the specific moral argument to be made for killing this man in this case, nor do I see how this specific case can be extrapolated to make an argument in favor of capital punishment generally speaking.”

    When a particularly heinous crime is committed, the argument is often made that life imprisonment is an adequate substitute for the death penalty. This case graphically demonstrates that life imprisonment, at least in a European context, often does not mean life. Nine years for the 270 victims works out to slightly more than twelve days imprisonment per victim, about what someone in my county would get for a second driving while intoxicated conviction. This mocks any concept of justice.

  • I completely agree with the Cardinal. The American mentality of brutality, vengeance, and warmongering is out of sync with Catholic morality. It is quite questionable whether Americans who partake in these attitudes can be Catholics at all. Compassion and charity are more important than justice. The three theological virtues are love, faith, and hope, and justice is a result of love but not a virtue by itself (1 Cor 13:13). The sad fact about U.S. Catholicism is that there is no Catholic culture and practically no Catholic education. It is thoroughly Protestant. Thank God it has practically no influence on the Church Universal.

  • Thomas, are you saying that Scotland is now a Catholic nation with purely papist mores? Man, Knox must be rolling in his grave!

  • “Compassion and charity are more important than justice.”

    What you actually had in regard to the release was greed, trickery and injustice. If that represents the Scottish interpretation of Catholic morality Thomas, you and the Cardinal are welcome to it.

  • I think the issue we’re having here, Mr. McClarey, is less with this particular situation and more with the universal principle you seem to be espousing. Don’t think I don’t get hot under the collar thinking how Libya basically got their guy out of jail in exchange for an oil contract. I know that’s not justice. However, I don’t think that the Cardinal is wrong vis-a-vis Americans generally. I wouldn’t give a fig, honestly, if it were Scots who died rather than Americans – I just wouldn’t feel emotionally connected. It would still offend my sense of justice, but my sense of justice doesn’t raise the same stink as my desire to get even. The latter I try to ignore at all times.

    Is Card. O’Brien fundamentally wrong about why Scotland released al-Megrahi? I’m pretty sure the answer is yes. Is he right to say that we’re probably only making a stink because it was our people who died and we want him to “pay” for what he did? Fairly confident on another affirmative. Does this serve in any remote way as an argument in favor of the death penalty? Don’t quite see how, unless you’re approaching justice from a “we’ll make damn sure he gets what’s coming to him” perspective. Which really isn’t justice at all.

  • “I wouldn’t give a fig, honestly, if it were Scots who died rather than Americans – I just wouldn’t feel emotionally connected.”

    There we differ. To me the nationality of 270 innocents being murdered by a terrorist really isn’t of importance as compared to the enormity of the crime, and the lack of adequate punishment for the person behind the murders.

    As to your other point, the very essence of criminal justice is that the penalty be in proportion to the crime committed. Nine years for 270 murders is simply not commensurate with the offense. In civilized society people give up their right to private vengeance because they assume that the law will punish the guilty for the offense against them or their loved ones. This case makes a hollow mockery of that bargain.

  • Juniper,

    Nice to see the West Virginian anarchist make another commando appearance.

  • I tend to agree that leaving religion and the Irish troubles out of Lockerbie discussions facilitates constructive debate!

  • Again, Mr. McClarey, I’m not particularly contesting that the punishment in this case was inadequate. I think it was. But I’m less concerned about the lack of comeuppance to al-Megrahi, and more concerned that it was so easy a capitulation for the UK to make.

    Criminal justice, to my way of thinking, has as its object not the criminal per se, but society. The criminal is, of course, the proximate object, but not the fundamental one. Society must act on the lawbreaker in one of two ways: either (1) we confine him and attempt to rehabilitate him; or (2) whether due to the magnitude of the offense or the sociopathy of the offender, we keep him incarcerated for our collective protection. Clearly al-Megrahi falls into the latter class of offenders, and it is a grave miscarriage of justice that the government on whose soil the very crime was committed turned him loose for the benefit of possible oil contracts.

    What I remain mildly alarmed by your statement that:

    “Travesties like the release of the Lockerbie bomber are of course the best argument for the death penalty.”

    That really is a vengeful and, I would even go so far as to say, an uncivilized outlook. In a day and age where we have the affluence that we have, I don’t think that there’s any but a handful of good reasons to resort to execution as a primary punishment – least of all based on the possibility that otherwise the offender may not get punished “enough.”

    I still agree that the particular occasion for the Cardinal’s comments was…chosen poorly; however, I think that there is a kernel of rather unpleasant truth in the words.

  • Again with the Protestant bashing.

    I expected so much more from the post-councilar “we are the world” ecumenicists of liberal Catholicism.

  • “That really is a vengeful and, I would even go so far as to say, an uncivilized outlook.”

    Not at all. Both Church, the Catholic Church, and the State, almost all States, believed that the death penalty was an appropiate penalty under certain circumstances until the day before yesterday in historical terms. If putting someone to death is vengeful, I fail to see why locking someone up for the rest of his life is not. The papacy of course used to understand this, which is why the Vatican had the death penalty until 1969, not to mention the fact that while the popes ruled the papal states they ordered executions for capital crimes until the dissolution of the papal states in 1870.

  • “Who spills man’s blood, by man shall his blood be spilled. For man is made in God’s image.” Or, something to that effect. See Genesis.

    State punishment, constrained by justice and law, is not vengeance.

    Once upon a time, every sentient person knew that if he/she killed (also rape, armed robbery, etc.) another person, he was liable to hang. Things are so much better since mercy displaced justice. Are things better for murder victms? Oh, they’re already dead . . .

  • I would refer you to Daniel Moloney’s piece on mercy a few years back in First Things. It offers an understanding of mercy as not opposed to justice, but a refinement of justice – the adaptation of general rules of conduct to the particulars of each situation. IIRC, one point advanced by the author was that institutions run by fallible human beings were not notably reliable in the application of mercy.

    A while back, Peter Kreeft offered some remarks on how what is called ‘compassion’ is a degenerate version of charity – charity shorn of some crucial elements. That would seem to apply here. We would rather our clergy advance the view of the Church and not the zeitgeist. We are disappointed about two-thirds of the time.

  • @ Mr. Hargrave:

    I didn’t see any “liberal” Catholics laying about. As far as Protestants go, I don’t have much use for them.

    @ Mr. McClarey:

    I imagine the popes also had torture chambers at their disposal back in the day. I further imagine that they were put to use. Civilization and civilized sensibilities evolve. I don’t think that the fact that a thing used to be done is a particularly strong case for continuing to do that thing. By such logic, the rack would still be a valid form of information gathering.

  • DW,

    “Imagine” is the operative word. How easy it must be to form opinions based on imagination rather than facts.

    And re use for Protestants, just to be clear: I doubt that any reader of this blog cares who you have use for — and I doubt our Lord cares either.

  • Mike,

    I don’t conceive of God being nonchalant, generally. A comment was made, and then responded to, which I’m pretty sure happens on blogs. Kind of like trolling, rather than actually engaging in argument.

    To that point, “imagine” is not the operative word, in fact. The mental operation undertaken was more logical than that. Given that sundry popes of the medieval and Renaissance eras were far better temporal rulers than pontiffs – see, e.g., Julius II or any given Borgia – and given that the Papal States, as a secular entity, had the same interests and goals as any other European power, it does not require any noticeable stretching to the fabric of reality to infer that the Papal States would have used the same tools to further those interests and goals. That would include the torture of prisoners for information. Since such treatment had been the norm for centuries, if not millennia, I see no strong reason suggesting that the presence of Popes in the equation at this moment would change anything. I’m certainly open to evidence to the contrary.

    I should again elaborate, as well, as I sense your sensibilities may have been rankled by the Prot comment: I see no reason to bring them to the party, because I see no purpose served by bringing incomplete truth to a place where the fullness of truth resides. Given the name of the blog, I anticipated that understanding having some commonality. I apologize if you do not share it, and if I caused you offense.

  • Cardinal O’Brien’s repeated references to capital punishment are particularly gamy red herrings and about the clumsiest sleight of hand I’ve seen in a while.

    The senators aren’t demanding Megrahi be executed. Though that would have been a just punishment, given the crime. What they are *actually* demanding are answers as to why this remarkably hale terrorist received “compassionate” clemency when it is clear he is going to live for years. The Cardinal’s studious determination to avoid what looks, walks and quacks like a corrupt bargain is part of the problem.

    And, really, Mr. Wingley–excoriating America for a Protestant mindset while defending Calvinist-bathed Scotland is…risible.

  • As near as I can tell, that is *the* problem.

  • “I didn’t see any “liberal” Catholics laying about.”

    They know who they are.

    “As far as Protestants go, I don’t have much use for them.”

    Wonderful spirit of ecumenism there. This virulent anti-Protestant bigotry emanating from the Catholic left is amusing and sad at the same time.

    I mean, you don’t have “much use” for them? What does that even mean? And here I thought people were ends, not means. Tsk tsk.

  • Mr. Hargrave,

    Let me join you in pummeling this cadaverous filly.

    Having had no recourse, at times, but to fulfill my canonical obligations in the dens of liberal Catholicism, I can claim some familiarity with their ways and means. I think they more resemble than despise Protestants. As far as anti-Protestantism, I take that to be wrapped up in the definition of “Catholicism,” at least insofar as the latter is the fullness of truth and the former is a repository of fragments deluded into the conviction that they are all. Full truth must be against half-truth, so I suppose to be orthodoxly Catholic one might have to be anti-Protestant. But I wouldn’t call that bigotry…just being right.

    Hence, incidentally, why I do not have much use for Protestants qua Protestantism. I have seen nothing of value there that is not present in my own religion, whereas I have seen many things of no value being osmosed from them by liberal Catholicism – the adherents of which I similarly have little use for.

  • Der,

    I made an important distinction between Protestants, and Protestantism, in this post:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/07/26/of-protestants-and-priorities/

    It is one thing to oppose the ideas. No one is more opposed to the “Protestantization” of theology, the liturgy and aesthetics than myself.

    It is another thing to insult and degrade actual people, many of whom are sincere in their desire for a spiritual life. To even find people who take seriously the existence of God and what it means for their lives, I think, is a blessing in today’s society, which is weighed down with materialism and consumerism.

    A fair number of the Protestants I have met don’t even know what they’re missing in Catholicism. They are ripe for conversion, provided bigotry and pretension can be put aside.

  • What a despicable character the Cardinal is. He should be absolutely ashamed of himself as should be the people of Scotland. This is a mass murderer we are talking about!

  • Very interesting reading through the comments here. I thought I’d add my two cents, though I almost never comment.

    The primary reason the death penalty should be allowed, at least according to the catechism, is for the protection of society: “If…[it] is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.” (CCC 2267)

    This actually gives us a way to reconcile the practices of the past with renewed desire to limit the death penalty. We have more advanced means of insuring that those who commit heinous crimes do not escape. There has been much talk of “punishment”; I’m not sure why Catholics should be worried about this sort of thing, particularly when it will handled most effectively in the afterlife by a most qualified judge. When used in the negative sense it can also tempt one to thoughts of vengeance. There is, of course “punishment” in a positive sense: punishment which has as its aim rehabilitation and correction. The catechism speaks of this type: It “has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense” it can “assume the value of expiation”, and “it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.” (2266)

    Of course, in contrast to the Cardinal, I think it would actually be more compassionate to leave a mass murderer in prison. One who has committed such deeds needs to have a complete sense of the consequences of his actions, and life in prison could more effectively provide a context for and a desire for “expiation”.

    In the pro-life sphere, I think it is very appropriate to advocate sparing the life of such men. Not so much because of a social sense of “compassion” (a concept which can be grossly misconstrued), but because we acknowledge that everyone has the right to life, and moreover, should be afforded ample opportunity for repentance and penitence.

    I have a great respect for the work of the contributors at American Catholic, and I really appreciate the posts and the perspectives. Hope this contributes to the discussion. God bless.

  • Mr. Hargrave,

    I can cop to the same experience, and I hope that my Protestant friends come to the realization of their situation and come back into the fold.

    I should probably have thrown the “qua” in there from the get-go. Although bigotry might be a slightly strong choice of word. I’ll definitely confess to being biased, though.

  • You prove the cardinal right. Justice has nothing to do with the victims. What you talk of is revenge.

  • Der,

    The initial comment, for clarification, was directed at a certain person who posts here under rotating identities, and who used to post for a certain blog that is well known for its undisguised contempt for Protestants and Americans in a constant game of “more-Catholic-than-thou” one-upsmanship.

  • I am tempted to introduce a cog in the wheel of this discussion… I find it strange that Catholics, who certainly do believe in the afterlife, are still arguing “a life for a life” in the case of murder. Sending a murderer to his or her death without getting a chance to repent does not seem Christian to me. And if the murderer does get a chance to repent, he or she will eventually get the reward we all hope for, eternal life. All we would be doing with the death penalty in this case would be to allow this person to get to this goal faster (even before us in time!) A better “punishment” would then seem to be holding this person in prison for the rest of his or her human life… Just a thought.

  • Though that seems to be part of the problem. The “compassion” that the Cardinal refers to releases a mass murderer from a life sentence. I’m not sure how much repentence one has when one if free to live as a hero in one’s home country.

  • “A better punishment would then seem to be holding this person in prison for the rest of his or her human life.”

    But *that’s the problem*–he was set free to a hero’s welcome and a long life. Where is there a hint of justice in that?

  • Marthe Lepine,

    It strikes me as utterly strange to take the approach of saying that life in prison is more of a punishment because it forces the criminal to remain in prison longer before receiving his eternal reward. Seriously?

    Honestly, I think part of the problem is that many on the “compassion” side of this have come to believe only vaguely in the concept of life after death. From a traditional point of view, earthly punishment and eternal punishment are fully separate questions. From an earthly point of view, certain serious crimes simply merit death, at a basic retributive level. Nothing personal, not because it will make any feel better, not because the families of the victims will have “closure” or some such nonsesne, but simply because there is an imbalance that has been created and this is how it is to be righted in the earthly sense. One might exert mercy or clemency in certain circumstances, but this would clearly be a matter of setting aside the demands of justice, the demands of justice do not themselves change.

    We, as Christians, have the duty to forgive and to help give someone facing capital punishment every opportunity to receive God’s forgiveness. What happens when an executed criminal faces God is, clearly, something between those two. It is not something for us to know, and indeed we may very much hope that each such person embraces God and recieves salvation.

    However, in the last sixty years or so, most people have lost this balanced approach.

  • “From an earthly point of view, certain serious crimes simply merit death…”
    But even the Pope is not that categorical… And I thought that we, as disciples of Christ, were supposed to be “in the world” but not “of the world”. Are really we supposed to be basing our judgment on “an earthly point of view”?
    On the other hand, my arguments are not directly linked to the case at hand but to the principle surrounding capital punishment. It is certainly reasonable to say that the Lockerbie bomber should have remained incarcerated, both as punishment and as a way of ensuring he does not get involved in similar crimes, which is certainly not impossible. And other prisoners around the world have been kept in prison while dying of cancer.
    And to come back to the possibility of repentance: It is unfortunate that the Lockerbie bomber has been freed for “business” reasons, but he may still meet opportunities for repentance. It is my understanding that God is tirelessly pursuing sinners to bring them to Himself (what is the expression? “the Hound of Heaven”?) and we will never know the real end of the story…

  • DarwinCatholic,

    Although I very much respect your opinions, I’m afraid I too have to disagree with your line of thinking. (And my disagreement has next to nothing to do with “compassion”.)

    When I read Evangelium Vitae (paragraph 67 deals with the death penalty), JPII makes it pretty clear that execution should be avoided if at all possible. Now, clearly there are exceptions, but the exceptions should only derive from practical considerations (eg., keeping society safe).

    As I read it, punishment alone is not a valid reason to administer the death penalty.

    Perhaps you have a different interpretation…?

  • “Mr. McClarey:

    I imagine the popes also had torture chambers at their disposal back in the day. I further imagine that they were put to use. Civilization and civilized sensibilities evolve.”

    Actually the popes did have official torturers and executioners. The name of the gentleman who performed this task for Pio Nono was Giovanni Battista Bugatti. He performed 516 executions for Pio Nono and his predecessors.

    “Civilization and civilized sensibilities evolve.” Considering the bloody Twentieth Century, the bloodiest by far in human history, and also considering the 44,000,000 and counting unborn children put to death by legal abortion in this country, I will assume that comment was meant humorously.

  • Two wrongs do not make a right. Certainly, a very large part of the Twentieth Century evolution of civilization and civilized sensibilities was not positive. But abortions and bloodshed during that century do not justify maintaining capital punishment… Given that even the Pope now teaches that it has to be avoided if at all possible, I think that some of us, among Catholics and followers of Christ, would be well advised to seriously examine their positions on that matter. If they are not willing to seriously consider current Papal teachings in this matter and avoid arguing that, due to the fact that previous popes in previous centuries thought and acted differently, JP2’s teaching is only a matter of opinion and can be disregarded because “we know better”. Founders of groups that separated from the Church and are now called Protestants also did think that “they knew better”!

  • John,

    I would agree with you that John Paul II pretty clearly thought that the death penalty should basically never be used in the modern world. A part of me would wish to contextualize that, given that he lived in a country which, through most of his adult life, far more often used the power of execution against innocent “polical criminals” than it did against actual offenders of any sort. However, contextualization is often the easy way out.

    Frankly, one of the reasons I don’t discuss the topic of capital punishment often is that it seems to me that the recent statements of our popes have been pretty directly in tension with the rest of Church tradition. And as that troubles me greatly, I tend to think it best to not express my opinion overmuch and to allow time and the Holy Spirit to sort things out in ways better than are known to me.

    That said, I think this tension in Church tradition is well summarized by the tension between the two paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church addressing the issue. On the one hand we have this:

    2266 The State’s effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. The primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense.

    That seems to me to be saying exactly what I expressed above. And then in the next paragraph we have this:

    2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor. “If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.”

    Here the purpose of secular punishment is no longer to redress the disorder caused by the offense, but rather to hold it in check for a while. Secular “justice” now serves not actually to punish, but simply to hold people in restraint until a threat has passed.

    I don’t know how to resolve these, but it seems to me that to take only the latter and not the former is to have an unbalanced view of earthly justice, and one largely out of keeping with our history. Perhaps much of this is — being of a strongly conservative temperment — I find it next to impossible to believe that conditions now are substantially different from how they were in the past. It doesn’t seem to me that there is one justice for today and another for yesterday. Nor that we have really got much better at restraining people from committing crimes than we were in the past.

  • “paragraph 67 deals with the death penalty”

    Whoops. The paragraph in question is actually 56, not 67.

    Sorry.

  • DarwinCatholic,
    I am afraid you may be confusing Tradition and tradition… I think that the Tradition would be indicating that the Pope has the authority to teach and guide his flock according to the needs of the times. In earlier centuries, many things were accepted that are considered questionable nowadays, an example would be slavery. Therefore, if the Church had a different attitude towards capital punishment in earlier times, there is no “rule” against a certain evolution in the Church teaching, but there seems to be a rule, even a tradition, towards doing our best to respect the Pope”s teachings, because such teachings most probably express the will of God for our present times.

  • Within the context of John Paul II’s formulation — I guess I’d say that I disagree as to the extent to which society can be protected from certain types of crimes without recourse to the death penalty, in part because I think that protecting society goes more widely that simpy, “Making sure that particular person is not practically able to kill someone else in the future.”

    That said, this is not an issue that I’m passionate about in the US context. I think we use the death penalty so poorly, so late, and so inconsistently that there’s very little point, and certainly if there were some sort of principled trade-off available (“We’ll agree to restrictions on abortion if you’ll agree to abolishing the death penalty.”) I’d be happy to support such a compromise. I just get annoyed by some of the absolutist and a-historical rhetoric that gets rolled out by anti-death-penalty activists.

  • “But abortions and bloodshed during that century do not justify maintaining capital punishment… Given that even the Pope now teaches that it has to be avoided if at all possible, I think that some of us, among Catholics and followers of Christ, would be well advised to seriously examine their positions on that matter.”

    Ah, but the predecessors of John Paul II, certainly up to Pius XII, had an opposite view of capital punishment as did Saint Paul. When Popes and Saints are in conflict, I would tread cautiously, especially when a novel papal teaching happens to coincide with a secular movement against capital punishment. That is a strong indication to me that perhaps what is being pronounced is not part of the eternal teaching of Christ, but perhaps the reaction of a pope to intellectual trends of his time. Popes make many pronouncements during their reigns, most of which end up being forgotten or ignored by future popes. A good example of this is The Syallabus of Errors of Pio Nono.

  • That is a strange argument. You mean to say that whenever the Pope happens to hear about some secular movement against something like capital punishment, and happens to express some teaching that gives it validity, we are allowed to think that his judgement – or his discernment supported by the Holy Spirit sent by Christ who said that He would be with His Church till the end of times – has been weakened?

  • Please allow me an editorial change:
    …we are justified to think that his judgement…

  • DarwinCatholic,

    Well said. I actually see it from your point of view very clearly.

    It seems to me our late Holy Father had a confidence in modern technology and political good will that that I’m not so sure a lot of conservatives share. On the one hand, there is the issue of protection of society, on the other hand the issue of taking a life when it seems as though modern society has sufficient means of otherwise protecting itself. (read: advanced prison security)

    Which brings up the interesting question (which I think Don alludes to in the article): Is practical security (bars, gates, fences) the only consideration here? I think even the strongest advocates of the death penalty might admit that there are problems with the justice system in our society. Could it be argued that the death penalty is necessary because our justice system is not perfect? I don’t know.

    I do disagree, however, that even though “the punishment should fit the crime” that that punishment by necessity has to be the death penalty. I think this is the point which JPII makes most strongly. However, I do think that this topic can be validly debated from many angles.

    On an unrelated note, I do enjoy this blog. I especially enjoy Don’s unique perspective on all things political/historical and DarwinCatholic’s cultural and philosophical perspectives.

    Let’s continue to fight the good fight and remain united in our love for the Church and the faith!

  • “Let’s continue to fight the good fight and remain united in our love for the Church and the faith!”

    Amen!

  • “That is a strong indication to me that perhaps what is being pronounced is not part of the eternal teaching of Christ, but perhaps the reaction of a pope to intellectual trends of his time.”

    Boy, you’re a lot bolder than I am when interpreting papal documents.

    Do you mean that there is a fundamental theological contradiction (death penalty as means of punishment vs. dp as strictly a means of protection)? Or simply that different popes see different ways of applying the same principles?

  • “You mean to say that whenever the Pope happens to hear about some secular movement against something like capital punishment, and happens to express some teaching that gives it validity, we are allowed to think that his judgement – or his discernment supported by the Holy Spirit sent by Christ who said that He would be with His Church till the end of times – has been weakened?”

    When a Pope does an almost 180 on previous longstanding Church teaching, and the change happens to coincide with developments in the secular world, or be a reaction against developments in the secular world for that matter, it is proper I think to wonder if the Pope is giving us a valid new teaching or expressing a personal opinion. Of course, I assume that most popes must adhere to this belief, considering how many of them have ignored or reversed what previous popes taught. John Paul II did this more than most popes, but he was by no means unique in this regard. The Holy Spirit uses time to sort things out as Darwin observed earlier in this thread. That is why the Syllabus of Errors, or the papal condemnation of Magna Charta, or a thousand and one other items that could be named, are now historical curiosities rather than considered part of Church teaching. To some this fact might be considered disturbing. I do not find it so. The Church is a divine and human institution that proceeds through History with its many ups and downs. It does not surprise me that it can take a very long view to sort the wheat from the chaff, even in regard to Papal actions and teachings.

  • Just a minute, I had another thought. Did not St-Paul also instructed slaves to respect their masters and serve them as they would serve the Lord? But slavery was abolished in the US… This contradicts Paul, no?
    Different popes have lived in different times with different sensibilities, and responded to them.
    Some of the arguments I have read here about whether the Pope’s opinions do not always have to be accepted remind me too much of a time when I was much younger and Humanae Vitae was just published. Many people argued then that the Pope did not really understand the realities of having children in our times and that therefore his teaching about contraception was not absolutely binding. I even heard it during sessions organized by my parish. Sure, this teaching was part of an Encyclical Letter, but I have been led, particularly after listening to Father Corapi’s explanations, that the Catechism of the Catholic Church also contained official teachings of the Church. Some paragraphs of that book bearing on capital punishment have been quoted in earlier posts…

  • Actually Saint Paul’s admonition regarding slaves to obey their masters is a good example of a very high authority indeed in the Church giving a teaching that coincides with the reality of his times. It is not part of the eternal teaching of Christ.

  • Don,

    Fair enough. There is also, however, the distinction between popes disagreeing with each other, especially across different periods of history, and laymen taking an official current papal document with a grain of salt.

  • “with a grain of salt”

    I’m not accusing you of this, I’m speaking generally.

  • It seems to me that even if the Pope is expressing his personal opinion, it has much more weight that the personal opinions of each of us, members of the Catholic Church. He has been by God the authority to teach us, and again, I would refer back to what I said before about a lot of people using exactly the same argument when Humanae Vitae was published. I clearly remember that the question was raised of whether or not Humanae Vitae was infaillible teaching, and the opinion expressed that if it was not infaillible teaching, people were still allowed to “follow their conscience” (I did hear it in those exact words!) in making their own choice about contraception. I remember wondering at the time (I was not married, therefore it was not a serious concern for me) how it could happen that some people’s consciences could be going against the Pope’s teaching. Is it not the same Holy Spirit that is supposed to inform our consciences?

  • True John. It can easily become an all purpose excuse to ignore Papal teaching that one finds uncongenial. Although I find anti-death penalty arguments, including those made by John Paul II, to be fairly unconvincing, the death penalty, either pro or con, has never been a hot button issue for me like abortion. If clerics wish to make anti-death penalty pronouncements, that matters little to me so long as they are not dunderheads about it, and I believe Cardinal O’Brien went way across that line on Sunday.

  • I do agree wholeheartedly with that. The issue of the death penalty pales in comparison to abortion. It’s a tragedy when bishops and other Catholics don’t see likewise.

  • What’s wrong with the Syllabus of Errors.

  • The embarassment that many Catholics felt at the time in regard to the Syallabus is well demonstrated in this letter of Newman linked below.

    http://www.newmanreader.org/works/anglicans/volume2/gladstone/section7.html

    “Here I am led to interpose a remark;—it is plain, then, that there are those near, or with access, to the Holy Father, who would, if they could, go much further in the way of assertion and command, than the divine Assistentia, which overshadows him, wills or permits; so {280} that his acts and his words on doctrinal subjects must be carefully scrutinized and weighed, before we can be sure what really he has said. Utterances which must be received as coming from an Infallible Voice are not made every day, indeed they are very rare; and those which are by some persons affirmed or assumed to be such, do not always turn out what they are said to be; nay, even such as are really dogmatic must be read by definite rules and by traditional principles of interpretation, which are as cogent and unchangeable as the Pope’s own decisions themselves. What I have to say presently will illustrate this truth; meanwhile I use the circumstance which has led to my mentioning it, for another purpose here. When intelligence which we receive from Rome startles and pains us from its seemingly harsh or extreme character, let us learn to have some little faith and patience, and not take for granted that all that is reported is the truth. There are those who wish and try to carry measures and declare they have carried, when they have not carried them. How many strong things, for instance, have been reported with a sort of triumph on one side and with irritation and despondency on the other, of what the Vatican Council has done; whereas the very next year after it, Bishop Fessler, the Secretary General of the Council, brings out his work on “True and False Infallibility,” reducing what was said to be so monstrous to its true dimensions. When I see all this going on, those grand lines in the Greek Tragedy always rise on my lips—

    [Oupote tan Dios harmonian
    thnaton parexiasi boulai],—

    {281} and still more the consolation given us by a Divine Speaker that, though the swelling sea is so threatening to look at, yet there is One who rules it and says, “Hitherto shalt thou come and no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed!”

    But to return:—the Syllabus then has no dogmatic force; it addresses us, not in its separate portions, but as a whole, and is to be received from the Pope by an act of obedience, not of faith, that obedience being shown by having recourse to the original and authoritative documents, (Allocutions and the like,) to which it pointedly refers. Moreover, when we turn to those documents, which are authoritative, we find the Syllabus cannot even be called an echo of the Apostolic Voice; for, in matters in which wording is so important, it is not an exact transcript of the words of the Pope, in its account of the errors condemned,—just as is natural in what is professedly an index for reference.”

    Newman was quite wrong. From first to last the Syllabus was the project of Pio Nono, a fact that became very clear soon after Newman wrote his letter. It was the cranky blast of a Pontiff who truly hated most of the developments of the nineteenth century.

    A few samples:

    11. The Church not only ought never to pass judgment on philosophy, but ought to tolerate the errors of philosophy, leaving it to correct itself.—Ibid., Dec. 21, 1863.

    15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.—Allocution “Maxima quidem,” June 9, 1862; Damnatio “Multiplices inter,” June 10, 1851.

    17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ.—Encyclical “Quanto conficiamur,” Aug. 10, 1863, etc.

    21. The Church has not the power of defining dogmatically that the religion of the Catholic Church is the only true religion.—Damnatio “Multiplices inter,” June 10, 1851.

    22. The obligation by which Catholic teachers and authors are strictly bound is confined to those things only which are proposed to universal belief as dogmas of faith by the infallible judgment of the Church.—Letter to the Archbishop of Munich, “Tuas libenter,” Dec. 21, 1863.

    24. The Church has not the power of using force, nor has she any temporal power, direct or indirect.—Apostolic Letter “Ad Apostolicae,” Aug. 22, 1851.

    27. The sacred ministers of the Church and the Roman pontiff are to be absolutely excluded from every charge and dominion over temporal affairs.—Allocution “Maxima quidem,” June 9, 1862.

    38. The Roman pontiffs have, by their too arbitrary conduct, contributed to the division of the Church into Eastern and Western.—Apostolic Letter “Ad Apostolicae,” Aug. 22, 1851.

    55. The Church ought to be separated from the .State, and the State from the Church.—Allocution “Acerbissimum,” Sept. 27, 1852.

    63. It is lawful to refuse obedience to legitimate princes, and even to rebel against them.—Encyclical “Qui pluribus,” Nov. 9, 1864; Allocution “Quibusque vestrum,” Oct. 4, 1847; “Noscitis et Nobiscum,” Dec. 8, 1849; Apostolic Letter “Cum Catholica.”

    75. The children of the Christian and Catholic Church are divided amongst themselves about the compatibility of the temporal with the spiritual power.—”Ad Apostolicae,” Aug. 22, 1851

    76. The abolition of the temporal power of which the Apostolic See is possessed would contribute in the greatest degree to the liberty and prosperity of the Church.—Allocutions “Quibus quantisque,” April 20, 1849, “Si semper antea,” May 20, 1850.

    I will not debate whether Pius was right in condemning these propositions. I would argue that the position of the Church has changed from that pronounced by Pius in the Syllabus, and that this work is usually simply ignored.

  • The difference I would see in regards Humanae Vitae is: with Humanae Vitae Paul VI put himself in agreement with the entire history of Christian teaching on the topic.

    The thing which makes me a bit uncomfortable with the absolute condemnation of the death penalty (and note, John Paul II was clearly cognizant of this, and he did not unconditionally condemn the death penalty) is that in this case the long history of Christian tradition is on the other side of the issue: holding that the death penalty is acceptable in certain grave circumstances, and is not a contradiction to (or obstruction to) God’s mercy.

  • I have a different reason for supporting Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi’s release. I’m not convinced he did it. The evidence was flimsy. The judge later admitted that the prosecution’s main witness was unreliable. The UN observer reported that it was not a fair trial. His case was on appeal after it was ruled that a “miscarriage of justice” had occurred. His appeal was halted only by his release fueling speculation that he was released so that Scotland would not have to admit to convicting an innocent man and reimbursing the compensation that Libya paid the victims’ families.

  • “Nine years for the 270 victims works out to slightly more than twelve days imprisonment per victim…”

    A monstrous act of terrorism so lightly dealt with may not serve as a powerful disincentive towards future acts. Unless al-Megrahi spent the nine years hanging upside down over a tank of angry sea bass or something. Or am I buying into the…er… Culture of Vengeance, is it?

  • Well Restrained Radical here is the pertinent portion of the decision of the three judge panel that convicted him:

    “86] We now turn to the case against the first accused. We should make it clear at the outset that the entries in the second accused’s diary can form no part of any case against the first accused. The entries fall to be treated as equivalent to a statement made by a co-accused outwith the presence of the first accused. If both accused had been proved by other evidence to have been acting in concert in the commission of the crime libelled, then these entries could perhaps have been used as general evidence in the case as against any person proved to have been acting in concert. As we are of opinion however that it has not been proved that the second accused was a party to this crime, it follows that the normal rule must apply and the entries cannot be used against the first accused. We therefore put that matter entirely out of our minds.

    [87] On 15 June 1987 the first accused was issued with a passport with an expiry date of 14 June 1991 by the Libyan passport authority at the request of the ESO who supplied the details to be included. The name on the passport was Ahmed Khalifa Abdusamad. Such a passport was known as a coded passport. There was no evidence as to why this passport was issued to him. It was used by the first accused on a visit to Nigeria in August 1987, returning to Tripoli via Zurich and Malta, travelling at least between Zurich and Tripoli on the same flights as Nassr Ashur who was also travelling on a coded passport. It was also used during 1987 for visits to Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and Cyprus. The only use of this passport in 1988 was for an overnight visit to Malta on 20/21 December, and it was never used again. On that visit he arrived in Malta on flight KM231 about 5.30pm. He stayed overnight in the Holiday Inn, Sliema, using the name Abdusamad. He left on 21 December on flight LN147, scheduled to leave at 10.20am. The first accused travelled on his own passport in his own name on a number of occasions in 1988, particularly to Malta on 7 December where he stayed until 9 December when he departed for Prague, returning to Tripoli via Zurich and Malta on 16/17 December.

    [88] A major factor in the case against the first accused is the identification evidence of Mr Gauci. For the reasons we have already given, we accept the reliability of Mr Gauci on this matter, while recognising that this is not an unequivocal identification. From his evidence it could be inferred that the first accused was the person who bought the clothing which surrounded the explosive device. We have already accepted that the date of purchase of the clothing was 7 December 1988, and on that day the first accused arrived in Malta where he stayed until 9 December. He was staying at the Holiday Inn, Sliema, which is close to Mary’s House. If he was the purchaser of this miscellaneous collection of garments, it is not difficult to infer that he must have been aware of the purpose for which they were being bought. We accept the evidence that he was a member of the JSO, occupying posts of fairly high rank. One of these posts was head of airline security, from which it could be inferred that he would be aware at least in general terms of the nature of security precautions at airports from or to which LAA operated. He also appears to have been involved in military procurement. He was involved with Mr Bollier, albeit not specifically in connection with MST timers, and had along with Badri Hassan formed a company which leased premises from MEBO and intended to do business with MEBO. In his interview with Mr Salinger he denied any connection with MEBO, but we do not accept his denial. On 20 December 1988 he entered Malta using his passport in the name of Abdusamad. There is no apparent reason for this visit, so far as the evidence discloses. All that was revealed by acceptable evidence was that the first accused and the second accused together paid a brief visit to the house of Mr Vassallo at some time in the evening, and that the first accused made or attempted to make a phone call to the second accused at 7.11am the following morning. It is possible to infer that this visit under a false name the night before the explosive device was planted at Luqa, followed by his departure for Tripoli the following morning at or about the time the device must have been planted, was a visit connected with the planting of the device. Had there been any innocent explanation for this visit, obviously this inference could not be drawn. The only explanation that appeared in the evidence was contained in his interview with Mr Salinger, when he denied visiting Malta at that time and denied using the name Abdusamad or having had a passport in that name. Again, we do not accept his denial.

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    [89] We are aware that in relation to certain aspects of the case there are a number of uncertainties and qualifications. We are also aware that there is a danger that by selecting parts of the evidence which seem to fit together and ignoring parts which might not fit, it is possible to read into a mass of conflicting evidence a pattern or conclusion which is not really justified. However, having considered the whole evidence in the case, including the uncertainties and qualifications, and the submissions of counsel, we are satisfied that the evidence as to the purchase of clothing in Malta, the presence of that clothing in the primary suitcase, the transmission of an item of baggage from Malta to London, the identification of the first accused (albeit not absolute), his movements under a false name at or around the material time, and the other background circumstances such as his association with Mr Bollier and with members of the JSO or Libyan military who purchased MST-13 timers, does fit together to form a real and convincing pattern. There is nothing in the evidence which leaves us with any reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the first accused, and accordingly we find him guilty of the remaining charge in the Indictment as amended.”

    http://www.terrorismcentral.com/Library/Legal/HCJ/Lockerbie/LockerbieVerdict.html