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Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Little Flower and the Death Penalty

In her famous biography, The Story of a Soul (selling millions of copies even today), St Therese of Lisieux (affectionately referred to as "The Little Flower") recounts a time in her life when she first became conscious of her duty to look out for the salvation of her fellow citizens:
In order still further to enkindle my ardour, Our Divine Master soon proved to me how pleasing to him was my desire. Just then I heard much talk of a notorious criminal, Pranzini, who was sentenced to death for several shocking murders, and, as he was quite impenitent, everyone feared he would be eternally lost. How I longed to avert this irreparable calamity! In order to do so I employed all the spiritual means I could think of, and, knowing that my own efforts were unavailing, I offered for his pardon the infinite merits of Our Saviour and the treasures of Holy Church.

... I said in all simplicity: "My God, I am quite sure that Thou wilt pardon this unhappy Pranzini. I should still think so if he did not confess his sins or give any sign of sorrow, because I have such confidence in Thy unbounded Mercy; but this is my first sinner, and therefore I beg for just one sign of repentance to reassure me." My prayer was granted to the letter.

The day after his execution I hastily opened the paper, La Croix, and what did I see? Tears betrayed my emotion; I was obliged to run out of the room. Pranzini had mounted the scaffold without confessing or receiving absolution, and the executioners were already dragging him towards the fatal block, when all at once, apparently in answer to a sudden inspiration, he turned round, seized the crucifix which the Priest was offering to him, and kissed Our Lord's Sacred Wounds three times. . . . I had obtained the sign I asked for, and to me it was especially sweet. (Chapter 5)
Look at this beautiful act of Love and Mercy that brought true Peace to all parties involved! This "little giant" of a Saint sure knew how to put things in perspective and bring justice and peace to society! But how can this be if she stood by and let him receive the death penalty? How could this Doctor of the Church fail to uphold the sanctity of life? Something must be wrong.

Maybe another Doctor of the Church can help explain St Therese's thoughts and actions; let's take St Thomas Aquinas:
In Romans (13:4) it is said of earthly power that “he does not carry the sword in vain: for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon him who does evil.” And in 1 Peter (2:13-14) it is said: “Be subject therefore to every human creature for God’s sake: whether it be to the king as excelling, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of the good.” Now, by this we set aside the error of some who say that corporeal punishments are illicit to use
The fact that the evil [men], as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at the critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgment that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers. (Contra Gentes 3:146:6,7,10)
Not only does St Thomas put the primary focus on the salvation of the soul, he upholds the legitimacy of the death penalty while doing so!

There is unfortunately a lot of confusion surrounding the subject of the death penalty, particularly in light of the Pro-Life movement over the last few decades. The argument usually comes in a form such as this: "You cannot be Pro-Life if you support the death penalty, because killing someone at any stage of life is intrinsically wrong." This argument is not only terribly erroneous, one of the most dangerous applications of this bogus argument is that Pro-Abortion advocates will argue that a Pro-Abortion candidate for elected office is just as viable as a Anti-Abortion advocate who also supports the death penalty. This not only serves to confuse the general public, it falsely puts abortion and death penalty on equal footing. And one of the most embarrassing issues about this subject is that many otherwise reasonable Catholics will engage in such argumentation.

As already noted above, Romans 13:1-6 and 1 Peter 2:13-14 already establish that the death penalty is a legitimate God-given right to those in authority. This teaching is based upon Natural Law (specifically that government is natural part of life and ultimately derives its authority from God), which precedes even the Church's further views on the subject. Now if one wants to claim the death penalty is intrinsically evil, they must claim Natural Law permits something intrinsically evil, which is absurd. And to further drive home this point, St Paul reaffirms this as perfectly applicable to the Christian community, meaning the its gone beyond just Natural Law to Church sanctioned law.

Even a brief look at the Old Testament Scriptures, particularly the Torah, shows that the death penalty is not only not intrinsically evil, but that it's fully sanctioned by express rules and regulations given by God to the Israelites through Moses. Consider some examples from Exodus: Ex 21:12; Ex 21:15; Ex 21:16; Ex 21:17; Ex 22:18; Ex 31:15. There are numerous other examples throughout the Old Testament of God commanding his leaders to make use of the death penalty for a variety of sins and crimes. Again, if the death penalty were intrinsically evil, God could not favorably sanction it at any time in history.

I will now address some common objections to the death penalty for those who reluctantly admit the mountain of evidence in Scripture and Tradition for its legitimacy but that none the less the death penalty "option" should be eliminated today.
  • "The Pro-Life cause will be weakened". On the subject of abortion, nowhere in Scripture or at any time in Church history do we see it permitted under any circumstances. And the reason why is because it is intrinsically evil because it is the deliberate taking of innocent life. In every single instance where the death penalty is invoked, it is never in reference innocent life, but instead guilty persons who have committed serious crimes. This is all elementary and quite plain; it is unfortunate that Satan has managed to confuse so many millions. The Pro-Life cause is only weakened in so far as people either cannot think straight or are deliberately trying to confuse the subject.
  • "Though the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2267 says that 'the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty,' it goes onto quote Pope John Paul II's Encyclical Evangelium Vitae and explain that 'the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.'" The context from which this quote is being given in the Catechism is under the heading of "Legitimate Defense," which explains: "The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing," (#2263) and "those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility." (#2265) So the context of unnecessary need to execute is only speaking in so far as someone poses a violent danger to society and must be subdued, because jails are sufficient for subduing a dangerous person. The Catechism is arguing something different and basically side-steps the 'traditional' rational for the death penalty, which was to punish the wicked for committing a monstrous crime (not just protect society).
  • "Many people who are in favor of the death penalty are also in favor of war, which takes innocent life." This argument suffers from the same flaws as the first two. First of all, war does not require the taking of innocent life, because as the above quote from the Catechism shows, authorities have a duty at times to defend their citizens, and this includes "the right to use arms to repel aggressors" (CCC#2265). So there can be instances of legitimate moments of defense, which by definition is not taking innocent life. Now where things get complicated is when individuals are in favor of wars where defense is not the primary motive, and innocent life is being taken. In such a case, that individual is not genuinely Pro-Life. However, a person's rationale for going to war must be considered on a case-by-case basis, to distinguish the legitimate, illegitimate, and even difficult war scenarios.
  • "Sometimes innocent people are unfortunately found guilty (for whatever reason, e.g. bad evidence) and are put to death." This is truly lamentable and unfortunate, but that doesn't automatically make the practice evil or impractical. A similar argument could be made for eliminating any number of laws or rules because innocent people can end up getting hurt. All this is due to the fact we live in a fallen world. By that same argument, even putting someone in prison would have to be considered wrong, because people are wrongly imprisoned all over the world, even life sentences. It would be quite a stretch to say a life sentence of an innocent person in prison is proportionally more "humane" than the death penalty for an innocent person.
My final reflection will be on the practical benefit of the death penalty compared to life in prison. In my opinion, most of modern society's drive for eliminating the death penalty is not done with some intent to reform the person, but in a perverted sense justice. Keeping someone locked up for numerous years is extremely inhumane if you stop and think about it, they're effectively forced to live as a caged animal for the rest of their days. That's not "living life" by any means and is in fact a form of torture (the very thing those same people oppose!). It's totally dehumanizing to be reduced to watching TV all day and eating low grade cafeteria food, all the while knowing you can never leave the confines of a small area. If you have a family, you've effectively missed out on them and cannot catch up or get your 'real life' back. Second, the cost to keep someone guarded and 'cared for' over the course of many years is a total waste of resources and tax dollars. Someone who is put to death has the blessing of not having to worry about Perseverance because they can repent that moment, they don't have to agonize the rest of their life going nowhere, it saves lots of tax dollars, and the funeral can put immediate closure to an unfortunate situation.

27 comments:

Mark P. Shea said...

You wanted my take:

http://www.crisismagazine.com/2011/death-penalty-magisterium-vs-left-and-right

scotju said...

Oh Nick, now you've gone and done it! You've become a death penalty maximumist! Oh the horror,oh the horror! Mark Shea will solemnly damm you! Misguilded pro-lifers will turn their backs on you for ripping the seamless garment! And guys like me will slap you on the back and say,"Thank God, somebody has some courage, common sense, and good knowledge of traditional moral theology to tell the truth!"

Nick said...

Mark,

I agree with quite a bit of what you said, but I'm saddened and turned off and offended by the way you brush off any opposing evidence and turned the second half of your post into one big rant. In particularly I'm alarmed at the way you disregard or minimalize Tradition.

I agree with the notion that we should never be pushing for 'maximum' application of the death penalty, but there is a middle ground between that and minimalism.
Leo XIII even said in an Encyclical that one amazing demonstration of the Gospel and mercy is when a murder repents and is not only forgiven of his sins by a priest, but when the governing body fully pardons him as well.

Where I think you've gone to far is suggesting the death penalty should be reduced to zero, which is simply a reaction in the opposite extreme and not something I see as official Catholic teaching. The Church cannot tell Caesar he cannot use his God-given sword. Your argument for 'minimalism' is also totally ignoring the traditional grounds for the death penalty, which is not to protect the public (as you're focused on), but rather to punish the criminal and be a deterrent for others.

Your argument would be equivalent to saying God shouldn't send people to hell, because if he puts them on the Star Kolob they cannot do any harm to the Saints. Instead, God should only throw sinners in hell if Kolob becomes an impractical alternative.


Another problem in my book is your dictum "mercy rather than strict vengeance for the crime is the better course." You seem to define "mercy" as a life behind bars, which I'd hardly classify as "mercy". I don't see anywhere where the Church has defined "mercy" as life behind bars, and until you prove that, I'd say you're not arguing for "mercy" by the same token.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Nick, thank you for your analysis! It's tremendously needed and well-argued. But the problem with a lot of the current teaching on capital punishment is that JPII himself was an abolitionist, as are many of the cardinals (especially in the Vatican). In fact, Amnesty International cites the Vatican as abolitionist regarding its own law.

Here are some examples of JPII's activism against capital punishment:

During his 1999 trip to the United States, the late pope successfully convinced Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan to commute the death sentence issued to Darrell Mease, who was convicted of murdering three people – including a disabled 19-year old.

In 2000, John Paul asked Rome’s city officials to let the Colisseum’s lights shine continuously in memory of those who received death sentences. In 2001, the late pope wrote a personal request to President George W. Bush for clemency for Timothy McVeigh, who murdered 168 people in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

John Paul revealed his true opinion about capital punishment at a large Mass in St. Louis on January 29, 1999, two days after Carnahan commuted Mease’s sentence:

“The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation. A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.”

The italicized section comes from this commentary: http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=1463

So JPII not only was at odds with his own Church's catechism but with centuries of teaching from both Scripture and Tradition.

The upshot of all of this is that prelates and priests are becoming more sympathetic toward the perpetrators of evil than the victims of evil. Paste the link into your browser to see examples but here's one from Cdl. Martino regarding Saddam Hussein's execution:

“For me, punishing a crime with another crime – which is what killing for vindication is – would mean that we are still at the point of demanding an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. God has given us life and only God can take it away. Life is a gift that the Lord has given us, and we must protect it from conception until natural death. The death sentence is not a natural death.”

Martino's comments demonstrate the current Catholic confusion between vigilante justice and due process, deny God's prerogative to delineate the circumstances under which human life may be taken, rely on cliches to make the point and exhibit an embarrassing poor use of logic.

When any church begins to sympathize more with the perpetrators of evil than with the victims of evil, its dissolution is certain...at least as an expression of divine judgment.

Mark P. Shea said...

Nick:

I don't disregard or minimize Tradition. That's because the function of the Magisterium is to conserve the tradition. And the Magisterium of the Church, in it's teaching organ, the Catechism, says, "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 non-existent."

That last quote comes from Evangelium Vitae and is, like it or not, an open invitation for Catholics to work to abolish the death penalty, something JPII, Benedict, and the bishops of the US agree on.

Your argument therefore really boils down to claiming that the Pope and the bishops of Holy Church are wrong about how to interpret and apply the Tradition and you are right. I will go with the Magisterium on this. You don't *have* to agree to work for the abolition of the DP. But you are really not in a position to claim that those who are are ignoring the Tradition. They are listening to it, as it is articulated and developed by the Magisterium.

As to the rest of your point, I'm afraid I couldn't decode your meaning about the Kolob stuff.

Mark P. Shea said...

Seriously, it's not just JPII's pet cause. It's not just them damn librul American bishops we can all safely ignore when they aren't talking about abortion. Benedict is on board with this too. He'd like to see the death penalty abolished:

http://www.cacp.org/vaticandocuments.html

Deal with it, Nick. This is the guidance of the Magisterium. Face that, or manfully say, "I dissent from the teaching of the Catholic Church."

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Mark, at least you finally admit that abolition of capital punishment is the goal of the Church. If it is, however, then it flatly and blatantly contradicts Church teaching before JPII. It also contradicts the demands of God as revealed in Scripture when it comes to dispensing punishment for murder.

This revisionism means that the Church has changed the fundamental moral criterion for punishment. For centuries, the criterion was that murder is the ultimate desecration of the divine image in humanity. Now, it's the state's ability to protect the populace. The focus has shifted from a law regarding the fundamental nature of humanity and its relationship to God to the ability of any particular nation's judicial system to protect its citizens. This is going from moral bedrock to moral sand.

Mark, have you ever considered the possibility that, if states took the Church's position seriously, that convicted murderers serving life sentences can arrange hits from prison? It's happened before. Indeed, it happened in California when one such convict put a successful hit on one of the people who testified against him. This position has the potential to put more innocent people at risk! Is that what the Church wants, all for the sake of a false rhetorical consistency?

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

One more thing, Mark. You can say "this is the teaching of the Magisterium and you must assent if you're a good Catholic" all you want. That doesn't make it sound teaching. That doesn't make it moral teaching. Indeed, this teaching has resulted in Catholics not only confusing vengeance with due process, but in showing more sympathy for the perpetrators of evil than the victims of evil.

This revisionism is nothing less than the Ministry of Information in Orwell's 1984 going from saying that Oceania has always been at war with East Asia to saying that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

If you are saying that this is genuine Catholic teaching, Mark, then you are saying that the Church has abandoned divine revelation for its own intellectual vanity. If JPII and Benedict have been the chief promoters of this revisionism, as you suggest, then they will face severe judgment from a Higher Authority...as will you for supporting it (and them) blindly and arrogantly dismissing all who dare to see and tell the truth.

scotju said...

Well, I see Mr Shea has graced us with his presence, to define the gospel according to Mark. Mr Shea loves to proclaim that he's in line with the magisterium, but what magisterium is it that he's in line with? One can read the Old and New Testament, the Church Fathers and all Papal Encyclicals prior to 1962 in vain to find something close to what Pope Mark is teaching. So where does this anti-death penalty garbage come from? It comes from the gospel of liberalism. The anti-death penalty stance has always been a part of the secular, liberal magisterium. Liberalism believes man can achieve perfection in this life, the true magisterium says no to such an idea, orginal sin and man's fallen nature prevents that from ever happening. You can throw all the 'reform programs' in the world you want at a criminal, but unless God grants repentance, they have no power to change his heart. And no reform program can restore a murder victim's life. As centries of tradition prove, life must be taken for a life taken. The modern teaching has no organic connection with the the historical Catholic Magisterium, those who teach it, are ignoring the truth.

Nick said...

Joseph,

I'm troubled by the attempt to co-opt the abolitionist stance with the Pro-Life cause. At the very least it's a confused and erroneous argument. My theory is that JPII and BXVI were anti-dp because they lived through an age of so much bloodshed that they couldn't stand the thought of 'encouraging' anymore. But the sad result is that there are statements made that are essentially incoherent, especially when some lip service must be paid to the 'traditional' teaching of the Church and Scriptures, affirming it is not a matter of intrinsic evil. Unless the attempt is to overturn tradition and make DP an intrinsic evil (something that wont happen), any claims to abolish it must fall on the purely pastoral realm.

Nick said...

Mark,

We all agree that the purpose of the Magisterium is to conserve tradition, as well as clarify things at times. In this case though, it's hard to see how tradition is being conserved when the traditional view is being sidestepped and we're given a vague and subjective 'guideline' in its place via CCC2267.

Break down the sentence and see the ambiguity:

Quote: "Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime"

What is "today" in reference to? A limited window of time between the mid 1990s and mid 2000s? Or is this "today" a point of no return in human development when circumstances will *never* be the same *anywhere* in the world ever again? That's a pretty strange reading, especially considering the tools that the state has for "preventing crime" can vary widely, and we know for sure most third world nations don't have advanced prison systems.

Further, what exactly are these new and improved tools for preventing crime? Prisons have always existed throughout history, and crimes have been committed in them throughout history.

Lastly, I see nothing indicating that this is in reference to prison, much less a life sentence, so the individual is stuck scratching their head as to just what "today" has to offer. Solitary confinement for life is just as non-violent as forced heavy labor for life, but I can't see how that opens the door to for improvement or upholds man's dignity.

Quote: "the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent."

In what context is execution "an absolute necessity"? And why is the subject speaking on public safety and not personal punishment? And what exactly is "very rare" and "practically non-existent," especially in the context of dogmatic teaching? Those terms are by nature subjective.

And while everyone knows this comes from Evangelium Vitae, the same examination and critique applies as with the CCC comments. There is mere lip service paid to tradition, while the whole rationale is subsequently sidestepped in the response, and with total ambiguity on what the alternative and more 'merciful' approach entails.

So this isn't a scenario of me ignoring the Magisterium, but rather indicating this subject is beyond open-and-shut and actually needs some clarification. Catholics have always been able to voice their concerns and thoughts, particularly on conflicting interpretations. My take is that JPII doesn't conserve tradition here because he's speaking on a different subject, which is a *pastoral* take on protection of society and that the wording of his comments cannot make sense in regards to formation of dogma.

At the end of the day, you seem to be putting your own dogmatic spin on the issue, without building any case from the actual text itself as to it's applicability and ambiguous language. The case I've presented requires no such "dissent" from Church teaching, since I showed it (a) has a subjective application and interpretation, and thus (b) is pastoral rather than dogmatic.

At the very least, I ask you to clearly demonstrate the "merciful alternative" the Church has in mind is life in prison. If that cannot be shown, then it's proof that your whole approach needs to be reconsidered.

Larry said...

I can't believe you people are letting Shea get away with claiming that there is a "Magisterial" component to the nonsense both JP2 and B16 have uttered about the death penalty in general.

Popes have throughout history tended to err on the side of mercy, and there is nothing wrong with Benedict's coming down on the side of the condemned in any individual case.

In a similar way, bishops and groups of bishops might well wish to take up the same thread, and throw their weight behind de-fanging or completely abolishing the death penalty. Fine. This sort of activism is another "tradition" (small t) which we find throughout the history of the Church.

What is new and abominable is the attempt by ideological fanatics to confuse and to mislead the faithful by throwing abortion, and murder generally, into the argument and using this tactic to win supporters.

The deep truth here is that clerical whining about the death penalty is part of a spirit of worldliness which has infected the Church off and on for centuries, but most terribly since the early 20th Century. Unlike the Little Flower, our quivering Curia members are wholly centered in this world, and therefore shudder at the thought of anyone's being kicked out of it. St. Therese knew what mattered: the Last Things. She knew that death itself was no danger, no evil, and that only the Judgment mattered.

When the state dispatches some malefactor it merely moves him on to the next stage, to which we all must go. The Church is there to assist him in preparing for his journey, and that is the end of Her appointed role.

Nick said...

Larry,

I am arguing that the claims of JPII and B16 are pastoral rather than dogmatic, and I show that a variety of ways, including (a) referencing big-T tradition, (b) 'exegeting' the CCC and EV quotes, and (c) challenging Mark to show life imprisonment is what the CCC and Pope had in mind instead.

Nick said...

Wow, big find on the Catholic Answers webpage.

Here is Karl Keatings E-Letter where he address the very issues we've been discussing. He clearly supports what I've been saying, and he's quoting from a theological conference from which this issue was examined. For brevity, I will quote only bits and pieces.

=============================

Hasn't the Church fine-tuned her teachings in recent years so that Catholics now are obliged to oppose the imposition of capital punishment except is cases so rare that they may be considered to be almost non-existent? Last September, at the annual Fellowship of Catholic Scholars convention, several talks were given on capital punishment.

The article, by canon lawyer R. Michael Dunnigan, closely paralleled what was said at the FCS convention. The complete article may be read at:
www.st-joseph-foundation.org/newsletter/lead.asp?document=2003/21-4

He says, "The key issue in the debate over the death penalty is whether the recent statements of the Magisterium contradict previous teaching on the purposes of punishment."

"The 'Catechism' seems to recognize only a single purpose of capital punishment--the physical safety of persons. It seems not to recognize retribution as a legitimate purpose."

Section 2266 acknowledges the traditional three-fold purpose of punishment and lists retribution as the first purpose...

Section 2267 does not flow smoothly from section 2266. It does not analyze the death penalty in terms of punishment but in terms of legitimate defense

"By contrast, when the death penalty is analyzed in terms of traditional teaching on punishment, legitimate justifications include not only physical safety but also retribution and deterrence."

In short, there is an ambiguity in the "Catechism." Other punishments are looked at not just in terms of legitimate defense but under all three purposes of punishment in general. The death penalty, for some unexplained reason, is looked at only in terms of one of the three purposes, protection of innocent parties.

INSERTING A PRUDENTIAL JUDGMENT INTO THE CATECHISM

Avery Cardinal Dulles has noted (in a letter to the "National Catholic Register") that a denial of retribution as a legitimate purpose of capital punishment would be contrary to the traditional teaching of the Church, but this is not, he thinks, what the magisterium is doing in the "Catechism."

Dulles believes that section 2267 and "Evangelium Vitae" are not Church teaching, in the proper meaning of the term, but reflect the "prudential judgment" of John Paul II.

Whether a society's penal system is capable of protecting its citizens adequately without recourse to the death penalty is not really a matter of doctrine. It is a matter of the evaluation of the existing social situation. One can make a case that our current penal system succeeds in this--or that it fails in this.

The conclusion that the circumstances justifying the death penalty are 'practically non-existent' is based on a prudential judgment about the state of the penal system.


You can be a good Catholic and think that the death penalty should be done away with entirely, and you can be a good Catholic and think that it should be applied more often than "rarely."

Larry said...

Yes. I think the actual argument is completely settled. There has been no declaration that opposition to the death penalty is De Fide. There is no contest, Tradition is unanimous, period.

Nevertheless, the crusade to convince Catholics of the opposite of this truth proceeds unchecked, led by a crowd of idiot intellectuals, pansy priests, bibulous bishops, and their simpering sycophants (like the one appearing in these comboxes).

I think this mess cannot be reversed by appeals to logic, history, and tradition, because the great mass of Catholics is and shall forever remain ignorant of these. What we need is for solid bishops and priests to stand up and speak the truth, and to tell the faithful that they are being misled. Until then, we are just going around in circles in a debate which we've already won.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Larry and Nick, I believe that putting a "prudential judgement" into the Catechism was a deliberate attempt by both JPII and Ratzinger to "persuade" Catholics to adopt at least a quasi-abolitionist approach, if not an outright one. Let's be honest: How many Catholics will do the research necessary on this issue, whether it's studying Scripture, Tradition, the views of people like Dunnigan or Dulles, whatever. The vast majority of Catholics merely will read the CCC and come to the conclusions that JPII and Ratzinger want them to reach. This will be especially true in the future, when a lot of the furor will have died down and the "prudential," "pastoral" teaching will have been ossified into quasi-infallibility -- which seems to be the result of many papal pronouncements, these days.

I'm sorry to sound so conspiratorial. But one can't reconcile either Scripture or Tradition with the most recent "teaching." Doing so is like saying that a naked emperor is finely attired.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Moreover, just look at JPII's remarks from his appearance in St. Louis, which I quoted earlier on this thread. Those tell you what he really wanted, catechism be damned!

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Finally, look at these words that Absp. Chaput applied to Supreme Court Justice Scalia when the latter questioned the revised "teaching":

“when Catholic Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia publicly disputes Church teaching on the death penalty, the message he sends is not all that different from Frances Kissling disputing what the Church teaches about abortion. Obviously, I don’t mean that abortion and the death penalty are identical issues. They’re not, and they don’t have equivalent moral gravity. But the impulse to pick and choose what we’re going to accept is exactly the same kind of ‘cafeteria Catholicism’ in both cases.”

I'm sorry but equating Scalia w/Kissling is reprehensible, if not libelous. It shows

1)Chaput is totally ignorant of his own Church's history regarding the issue

2)Chaput is a careerist who wants a red hat and a big see, and will kiss Rome's posterior to get both.

Well, I hope you're happy, Philadelphia.

This is why I have no respect for Chaput, and won't until he apologizes publicly for his remarks.

This is also what I mean by people believing that papal pronouncements are (at least quasi) infallible by their very nature. I thought we were done with Ultramontanism.

Word verification: rogrin.

I could use one, right now.

Nick said...

I'm not advocating any conspiracy stuff, but the insertion of the "prudential judgment" was agenda driven.

It was an agenda that might not have been malicious (since even St Thomas Aquinas mentions the same confused arguments back then), but the fruits of which certainly are. The fruits are a rampant 'muddying of the waters' when it comes to the abortion issue, and fosters a distorted Pelagian-Liberal view of justice.

Like I said, I can totally understand if the carnage JPII had to live through from Europe's wars in some sense 'scarred' him and resulted in an extremist pacifist attitude.

Larry said...

Yes; JP2 and B16 are free to teach what they believe, as are the other bishops.

But if Chaput is really running around comparing those who disagree with these Popes on this issue to dissenters from Catholic dogma, he needs to be reigned in.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Nick, I wouldn't be surprised about JPII being emotionally scarred because of his experiences under Nazi and Communist tyranny. But keep in mind two things.

First, relying on Scripture and Tradition for revelation is supposed to reduce the possibility of prelates "making stuff up out of whole cloth," for lack of a better way of putting it.

Second, the Nazis and Communists used capital punishment as an instrument of state terror, which is not what Scripture dictates. The revisionist teaching's focus has been on the nature of the punishment, not on the nature of the crime. That emphasis, again, changes the moral criteria the Church uses.

Jim Paton said...

"the traditional teaching of the Church DOES NOT EXCLUDE recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effictively defending lives against an unjust aggressor." [CCC, 2267]

The traditional teaching of the Church. What is that old saying that goes that if something has always been taught? Hmm!

I would seem that the words "traditional teachings of the Church" simply don't apply to hippies. Traditional is bogart, man, and it really gets in the road of a good kumbaya jamming session :)

I said...

Dear Nick,

The Church always taught death penalty was normal. In spite of all falsified history, in the middle ages there were few or no prisons ! If somebody had murdered, the community had to be protected and given an example.
And what about the criminal ? He was invited to confess, receive H. Communion, then he died in God's love, doing penance with the sacrifice of his life.
Keeping him alive for 50-70 years in prisons costs society more than 1 million dollars. And the criminal who has to stay in prison for tens of years without any hope suffers more from this, than being killed at once. In this manner death penalty can be more merciful than prison until death.
We know JP II thought otherwise, but as a pope he had to teach what every pope had always taught. JP II was guided by personal feelings. But feelings must obey to reason, and reason has to obey to holy faith. Tony

I said...

Just have a look at supernatural reality, that exists without any doubt, next to natural reality.
All about true one true religion and faith has been revealed by God, and Jesus gave the "depositum fidei" (the deposit of all whe have to believe) in the hands of St Peter and his successors. One God, one Faith, one will of God. It can't change, God's love is perfect and could never change. Can it be more "simple"? So all discussions of protestants, modernists, orthodoxe, heretics etc. are completely useless and... silly.
Who knows better than God ?
Who is like God (MI - CHA - EL) ?
You don't want to be a Catholic ?
Then you put your own will above God's will.
Once again, isn't this clear and simple for everyone ? Tony.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

"I," when the Church actually starts teaching what Christ taught, then I'll respect it, let alone return to it. As it stands now, it's nothing more than a religious Mafia that's Hell-bent (literally speaking) on seeking secular influence and prestige, and maintaining the kind of institutional arrogance that causes it to think that Popes have the right to change revelation unilaterally. The Church's revisionist attitude toward capital punishment not only illustrates that arrogance, but also gives the lie to the "doctrine" that the Holy Spirit preserves the Church from theological error.

Don't believe me? Research the vision of Pope Leo XIII and you'll see what the Church's future really is.

Word verification: prette

Not.

I said...

no pope can ever change the official Catholic depositum fidei. Even if the 2 latter ones imposed their personal feelings. A pope is not infallibale in all. For my part I see no ground to continue "dialogue". Tony

If death penalty would be an objective sin "in se", than all the previous popes were wrong ? Use a bit, a tiny bit of common sense.

Anonymous said...

Be aware of it. You're a living tabernacle. God lives in your body and soul. Be pure. Tony