Abortion, Euthanasia and Capital punishment

Why are Catholics opposed to Euthanasia and Abortion but allow capital punishment?

If every life is sacred how can we have the right to terminate the life of a murderer?

I believe both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Pope JPII’s Encyclical *Evangelium Vitae *speak out against capital punishment (getting ready for work, don’t have time to look up the exact quotes), but do consider it acceptable in circumstances when it is the only way to protect society. However, in modern society those circumstances would be rare, if not non-existent.

Exactly. Capital punishment is to be used as a last resort to protect society; for example a murderer who is a life-threatening menace to guards and other inmates.

But if life is sacred what right do we as humans have to terminate it? If we do have a right to terminate it why is euthanasia unacceptable?

Because life is sacred we can prevent the loss of life by eliminating people who dispose of the life of others ( as mass murders, serial killers, warring rulers). We only perform this when we cannot find a way for all parties to live. Euthanasia and Abortion are lives terminated without purpose.

Actually, the church is opposed to all three.

Please read the Catechism on the topic of Respect for Human life beginning here.

Church teaching includes acknowledgement of those times when intention killing is not prohibited.

victims of abortion and euthanasia are innocent
those who merit capital punishment have been duly convicted of a crime that warrants such a punishment for the greater good of society (not the whim of one person). Catholic teaching makes it very clear that the circumstances in which the maximum punishment would be merited or necessary are extremely limited, if they even exist, in modern society.

This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say on punishment and the death penalty:

[LEFT]Legitimate defense
The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. "The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not."65
Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.66 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.
The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people’s rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people’s safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.67
Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
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.” (Paragraphs 2263-2267) [/LEFT]

[LEFT]

This is what Pope John Paul II writes in his Encyclical Evangelium Vitae (paragraph 56) :

It is clear that…the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go into the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible to otherwise defend society. Today however, as a result of the steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.

In other words, the death penalty is a last resort when it is the only way to prevent a criminal from causing further harm.

[/LEFT]

Boy I hate to say this (I don’t agree with this), but women who agree with abortion believe the baby has “committed a crime” in using their body against their will - can you believe THAT?!?!?!

The failure here is to make any distinction between the private killing of the innocent and the state execution of the guilty. There are other issues here than just the sacredness of life.

First, We know that not all killing is banned: soldiers may justly kill enemy combatants and individuals can defend themselves and others against attack even to the point of killing the attacker. This alone establishes the principle that, depending on the circumstances, killing another human being is not always immoral.

Second, the execution of the guilty by the state is a completely different situation from killing by individuals. The state has the obligation to impose penalties proportionate to the crimes committed, and for some crimes it seems to me that the only proportionate penalty is the execution of the criminal.

Third, it is not the state that disposes of the individual’s right to life; the criminal has already done that to himself.

*“When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live.” *(Pius XII)

Fourth, the primary objective of all punishment is the repair of the disorder caused by the sin, that is, the sin must be expiated by the punishment it deserves. The protection of society is not the primary goal, it is a secondary objective.

Fifth, the right to take a life has been granted by God to the state.

Another kind of lawful slaying belongs to the civil authorities, to whom is entrusted power of life and death, by the legal and judicious exercise of which they punish the guilty and protect the innocent. (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Ender

This is just my personal opinion but I suggest someday sitting in on a death penalty trial in your local courts. You will see pictures and hear details you don’t see in the newspaper in the everyday articles. The heinous things that one human being can do to another human being will shock you…you can’t imagine. I used to be very anti-death penalty until having this experience. It it a real eye-opener to see the pain someone can inflict, the selfishness it must involve, and the ripple effect that person’s actions have on the surviving family members.

This experience goes to the question of deterrence. It is often remarked that the death penalty does not deter anyone from killing another person because of heat-of-the-moment passions or the belief that someone who would deliberately kill another must be mentally unstable, a kind of partial insanity. What exposure to the details of these crimes reveals is the cold deliberateness with which they are committed, a kind of pull-the-wings-off-flies meanness raised to the level of human beings. This is not insanity, it is evil and if we expect that smaller evils can be deterred by lesser punishments then there is no reason to believe that greater evils cannot similarly be deterred, not perhaps in all cases but in a number sufficient to commend the practice.

Ender

It would seem teaching violence and an acceptance of violence does not work

    1. There is no credible evidence that capital punishment deters crime. Scientific studies have consistently failed to demonstrate that executions deter people from committing crime anymore than long prison sentences. Moreover, states without the death penalty have much lower murder rates. The South accounts for 80% of US executions and has the highest regional murder rate.*deathpenalty.org/article.php?list=type&type=13

Capital punishments justification does not include deterence. It can be an effect to rational people.

Capital punishment is about legitimate defense - no more no less.

Actually there is quite a bit of evidence that capital punishment deters murders just as there is a lot of evidence that it does not. In neither case does evidence constitute proof so the issue is still up for debate. There is proof, however, that when faced with the possibility of execution, criminals will frequently confess to their crimes and accept lengthy prison sentences rather than accept the risk of losing at trial and being sentenced to death.

[quote=buffalo]Capital punishments justification does not include deterence. It can be an effect to rational people.

Capital punishment is about legitimate defense - no more no less.
[/quote]

Deterrence is an objective of all punishment, a secondary one to be sure, but a valid one nonetheless. The defense of society is also a valid objective of punishment but it too is a secondary consideration. The Church teaches that the primary objective of punishment is to “redress the disorder caused by the offense”; that is, it is the retribution owed by the sinner that can only be expiated by the punishment he endures. This is why the state has not just the right but the obligation to “inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime.” (CCC 2266)

Punishment is primarily about justice, not deterrence, defense, or rehabilitation - important as those considerations may be - and capital punishment is not an exception to this teaching.

Ender

Actually there is quite a bit of evidence that capital punishment deters murders …

Hidden where?

…………………There is proof, however, that when faced with the possibility of execution, criminals will frequently confess to their crimes and accept lengthy prison sentences rather than accept the risk of losing at trial and being sentenced to death.

100% wrong, The evidence is people under torture or threat of death often confess to A CRIME (any crime) NOT their crime

… The Church teaches that the primary objective of punishment is to “redress the disorder caused by the offense”…

which is not done with capital punishment, as JPII taught capital punishment often prevents opportunity to expiated the sin

Punishment is primarily about justice, not deterrence, defense, or rehabilitation - important as those considerations may be - and capital punishment is not an exception to this teaching.

Nowhere does the Church teach a need to kill for justice. That accusation is accepted by some individuals but not a teaching of the Church

There is plenty of evidence available if you simply look for it. Here is a summary of some papers on the subject. google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=2&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.goccp.org%2Fcapital-punishment%2Fdocuments%2Fcap-pun-deterrence-resources.doc&ei=LVnxSIyGOojkeq7c1c0H&usg=AFQjCNEFzoihg5IVyvYYGTLnfxLm9g7Fog&sig2=POFG0ZOIPJws7ZVoPBZm6g

100% wrong, The evidence is people under torture or threat of death often confess to A CRIME (any crime) NOT their crime

This would be an example of an assertion with no evidence whatever to support it.

which is not done with capital punishment, as JPII taught capital punishment often prevents opportunity to expiated the sin

Execution may prevent a person from being rehabilitated but it does not prevent expiation, which is accomplished not by repenting of the sin but by accepting the punishment.

Nowhere does the Church teach a need to kill for justice.

The Church has not always been quite so ambivalent on the subject as she is now but I am not aware that she has explained away God’s words to Noah that “whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.”

Ender

There are several threads regarding the Church’s stance on these moral issues, especially abortion in regard to the stance of the Presidential candidates and their political platforms and the upcoming election. Although the Church’s stance on Capital Punishment is as has been said, to be carried out as punishment only in extreme cases, the Magisterium has stated there are such moral evils that are intrinsic evils and are non-negotiable. These evils are 1.abortion 2. Euthanasia 3.Embryonic Stem Cell research 4.Cloning 5. Homosexual Marriage

Each human life is precious, but in the instance of Capital punishment, it is never approved by the church, but may be used to protect the public if deemed that necessary.

Data regarding the effectiveness of Capital Punishment does not in any way inform the foundational moral principles at the core of the Church’s teaching on Capital Punishment.

Capital Punishment is regarded as a right of the state to be exercised only as a means of directly protecting the lives of innocent human beings from a particular harm.

Capital Punishment can only be morally justified in cases where the particular individual is not only intent on severely hurting others, but also cannot be safely contained, such that the only possible way to stop this person from doing more harm is to execute them.

Therefore, the Church’s stance on this issue is not in any way linked to the value of CP as a primary means to achieving justice, whether it punishes the offender, or whether it deters others from committing crimes. While these may be positive secondary effects of CP, they are not ever sufficient reasons to justify the use of CP in cases when the criminal can be safely contained and/or is not intent on committing future harm.

To return the the OP’s question-

Whereas CP is regarded as the last possible resort to preserve the lives of innocent human beings (see my previous post)…

Neither abortion nor euthanasia have, as their primary ends, the potential to preserve life.

Euthanasia’s primary action is to end life, and there is not any possibility that it can ever preserve life. That’s pretty straightforward, I think.

In regard to abortion: Even in cases when a pregnant woman’s life is at risk, - there is no such thing as a life threatening condition that can only be “cured” by an abortion. However, there can be conditions where the death of the unborn child may be an unfortunate and unavoidable result of a procedure which is the undertaken as the only possible way to preserve the mother’s life. In these cases, however, the death of the child is not specifically sought out as an end unto itself, and it is presumed that every effort is made to preserve the lives of both the mother and child. It is also presumed that failure to take any action would result in the deaths of both the mother and the unborn child. Also, when applicable, it would be morally acceptable for the mother to forego treatment for the purpose of preserving the life of her child, even if that meant giving up her own life.

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