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:

Continue reading...

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.

Res et Explicatio for AD 9-7-2009

Monday, September 7, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in the world of Catholicism:

1. Sadly most of us will miss the Catholic Report blog run by Dave Hartline.  Due to pleasant new circumstances of a new member of the family, Dave will be rolling back some of his extra-curricular activities to attend to his growing family.  In addition Dave will be the newest contributor to the American Catholic website and joining our family of writers.

2. Since First Things began gobbling up good bloggers such as Spengler, Wesley J. Smith, and Elizabeth Scalia and adding writers such as the American Catholic’s own Christopher Blosser, Jay Anderson, and Joseph Bottum under the First Thoughts blog, their website has gotten a WHOLE lot better.  Many interesting stories and newsbites all neatly marketed in a spiffy new look.

I suggest you all check it out here.

Continue reading...

One Response to Res et Explicatio for AD 9-7-2009

Res et Explicatio for AD 8-25-2009

Tuesday, August 25, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!Ketef Hinnom Silver Amulet

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in Catholicism:

1. An interesting find of Biblical proportions has been announced.  Silver amulets predating the Dead Sea Scrolls by 400 years was found with Biblical inscriptions, the Book of Numbers 6:24-26:

24 The LORD bless you and keep you:
25
The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you:
26
The LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

Written in Hebrew script, the pure silver amulets were discovered in the ancient tomb complex of Jerusalem’s Ketef Hinnom.  Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay wrote the discovery in the Biblical Archeology Review.

Continue reading...

6 Responses to Res et Explicatio for AD 8-25-2009

  • Just by way of interest, your no. 1, the two tiny silver amulets were discovered by Dr Barkay way back in 1979 (in Chamber 25 of Cave 24 at Ketef Hinnomin). They are inscribed with portions of the apotropaic Priestly Blessing which is found in the Book of Numbers (6:24-26). They are the earliest known citations of texts that are also found within the Hebrew Bible.

  • Stephen,

    I haven’t done any research on this, but I’ll take your word for it.

    It could be that they verified the age and the inscription on the silver amulets only now, but that is just a stab in the dark on my part.

    Nonetheless, I do find this fascinating and intriguing since this is another piece of the puzzle that continues to provide evidence and verification of the validity of the Holy Bible.

  • Yes, ‘fascinating and intriguing’ indeed. That is why I have such a passion for Biblical Archaeology. The amulets were fully re-examined in 2004. The latest news is that BAR in its 200th copy (this month) reviewed it as one of the most significant finds in Biblical archaeology thus far… and it truly is! I am constantly examining archaeological finds, and that, in light of the Scriptures… If you like, you can visit my blog and have a look…

    Many blessings to you and your readers,

    Stephen.

  • Oops, I almost forgot, I blog at http://biblicalpaths.wordpress.com/

  • Looking forward to parousing your blog when I have time, good stuff!

  • Pingback: Res et Explicatio for AD 9-7-2009 « The American Catholic