Capital punishment...again


Well no one has ever suggested that. It could be immoral for many reasons, but only in a specific case. Capital punishment is always a moral option for a government, so it cannot be immoral in and of itself, but it can be immorally applied. The option itself is not evil, but the application may be. However, the application cannot be universally immoral to any government. Every government at all times has the authority and moral right to apply capital punishment to many different crimes.


Is your position that all of the many countries in the world that have abolished the death penalty, and the Catholic Church calling for abolition of the death penalty, are actually the dissenters to Gods Will?


To respond, I would need to see the Scripture or Jewish teaching you interpret as Gods ‘command’ to use capital punishment.


Dissent from Catholic teaching? Really? How so?

If something was not evil for a long time but now is then we have relativism.

How would capital punishment feed a ‘disrespect of life’? Capital punishment was traditionally viewed as respecting life by providing justice for crimes that ended or seriously harmed a life.

Well, you are bringing up the other troubling issue that I’ve never seen adequately explained.


Just saw this. This man couldn’t get his execution because of people who want to do anything possible to stop executions. So he killed himself. How do people against the death penalty respond to this?

This man didn’t want to live life behind bars and so committed a murder. That murder happened to be his own which is a grave sin from which one does not have the opportunity to repent. This is somehow better?

Also, it is yet more proof that even in the best prisons on the planet people in prison still murder contradicting claims about protection on which proclamations against the death penalty are predicated.


To oppose capital punishment is to demonstrate a Eurocentric mindset; the developing world doesn’t have the resources as we do to keep criminals in prison for life, etc, to protect society. Certainly, the living conditions in countries such as Africa today are comparable to the living conditions of medieval Europe, so if capital punishment was okay in Europe then, it should still be allowed in some countries today. To call for a complete abolition of the death penalty is not only contrary to the constant Tradition of the Church (was the Magisterium wrong until August 2018?), but is also completely impractical.


[quote=“exnihilo, post:254, topic:526294”]
How do people against the death penalty respond to this?[ quote]

That inevitable death and no hope may render somebody sick in the mind and spirit.
That he may by then have lost all support from outside.
That he may by then not having had support and strength inside prison so as to be able to face life differently.
That stretching the death of somebody for years and years just to know from the start that whatever you do you will be executed is probably beyond what one can comprehend.
That ultimately he was a person who did what he could in his misery and killed himself.
That having children outside and a father in prison and the message that no matter how or what or the effort or the regret you will be killed in the end must be very difficult to understand for the children.And a heavy burden for the father.
That though some few societies are familiar with the sight of that stretcher and the needles , for most of societies is incomprehensible.

As henious crimes are incomprehensible.
As what a person may be going through inside may be incomprehensible .
Any person.


Have you not read the Old Testament Emeraldlady? First there is Genesis 9:6. This principle is reformulated for murder in the revealed Divine Law or Old Law given by God to the Israelites through Moses and capital punishment is prescribed for various other crimes and sins too. See Exodus 21: 12-35; Leviticus chapter 20 for starters.


And where is the command do not kill left?
Aren’t we trying to be perfect as the Father is perfect and striving towards that end.

We are our brothers’ keepers and that also we will account for.

What are we in God’ s eyes?
Who are we in God’s eyes?


We are made in the image and likeness of God principally in our immortal spiritual soul with the spiritual faculties of intellect and will. The preservation of human bodily life is obviously a natural great good and death is in a certain manner a great evil. But neither bodily life or death are our highest good or highest evil. The life of our soul, namely, the divine life of grace which is a participation in the divine nature and eternal life, is a much greater good than the life of our body which in this life is temporal. And mortal sin which deprives the soul of the divine life of grace is a much greater evil than death of the body. And so Jesus says “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).

Jesus himself gave the example that there is a higher good than the life of the body by sacrificing his own life on the cross for the redemption of the human race. And so Jesus says “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Following the example of Christ, the Christian martyrs through the ages show that there is a higher good than bodily life in this world. Soldiers sacrifice their lives for their country and fellow countrymen from love, justice, righteousness, and self defense.


[quote=“Richca, post:259, topic:526294”]
The life of our soul, namely, the divine life of grace which is a participation in the divine nature, is a much greater good than the life of our body which in this life corrupts and dies. And mortal sin which deprives the soul of the divine life of grace is a much greater evil than death of the body]

Why are you substracting importance of life on this earth?
Our view of life on this earth isn’t irrelevant. We just do not let flow as if it were about karma. And reincarnation.
Living isn t lasting, it is living .
God broke into History . Jesus is the Lord of History. He picked a place and time and spent His life healing and till the last second struggled to live and breathe in the Cross.
Life is worth living… wasn’t t that Fulton Sheen? How much my mom praised his books and named him…


It is my contention that a State has just as much right to refrain from using the death penalty as they have to use it.


It is one thing to disagree with abolition based on a scholarly belief that it’s good to human dignity outweighs is harm. Though to hold that position in opposition to the State and to the moral guidance of the Church would warrant a fairly high degree of expertise.

It is outright dissent to hold that the Church is wrong to endorse abolition and that they are going against 2000 years of tradition on the issue.

Relativism is the belief that there is no objective evils. Not that there are no circumstantial evils. There’s a number of biblical practices that once served a godly purpose but are now condemned as evil. Torture, slavery, polygamy, concubinage.


The USCCB answers that.

"Catholic teaching on the common good commits each of us to pursue the good of everyone and of society as a whole.13 When the state, in our names and with our taxes, ends a human life despite having non-lethal alternatives, it suggests that society can
overcome violence with violence. The use of the death penalty ought to be abandoned not only for what it does to those who are executed, but for what it does to all of society.

The pursuit of the common good is linked directly to the defense of human life. At a time when the sanctity of life is threatened in many ways, taking life is not really a solution but may instead effectively undermine respect for life. In many ways the death penalty is about us: the actions taken in our name, the values which guide our lives, and the dignity that we accord to human life. Public policies that treat some lives as unworthy of protection, or that are perceived as vengeful, fracture the moral conviction that human life is sacred. Catholic teaching on the death penalty should not be oversimplified, distorted, or minimized by supporters or opponents of capital punishment.

The death penalty presents Catholics with an unavoidable moral challenge. The Church’s teaching, as expressed clearly and authoritatively in the Catechism and The Gospel of Life, should not be ignored or dismissed as just one opinion among others. Rather, Catholics are called to receive this teaching seriously and faithfully as they shape their consciences, their attitudes, and ultimately their actions." (A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death. USCCB 2005)


The commandment is actually more precise than simply speaking of “killing”; it refers to the unjust taking of innocent human life. God can’t contradict Himself; if in Gen. 9:5 He explicitly commanded the deaths of those who unjustly killed others, then capital punishment cannot be inadmissible.

Oh, and while the Covenant with the Israelites has been revoked, capital punishment was commanded earlier than the promulgation of the Mosaic Law, and as such, Gen 9:5 is still applicable.


That is a very narrow idea of relativism. Regardless, in this case it would be a relativistic judgment.

That is a bald assertion that doesn’t ring true to me or historical thinking.


You argument against the position of Catholic teaching using Judiasm would hold some weight were it not that Judiasm has consistently resisted the practical use for the death penalty and has a history of establishing roadblocks in law to its use.

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, which is the Jewish conservative law body has gone on record opposing the death penalty.

“The Talmud ruled out the admissibility of circumstantial evidence in cases which involved a capital crime. Two witnesses were required to testify that they saw the action with their own eyes. A man could not be found guilty of a capital crime through his own confession or through the testimony of immediate members of his family. The rabbis demanded a condition of cool premeditation in the act of crime before they would sanction the death penalty; the specific test on which they insisted was that the criminal be warned prior to the crime, and that the criminal indicate by responding to the warning, that he is fully aware of his deed, but that he is determined to go through with it. In effect this did away with the application of the death penalty. The rabbis were aware of this, and they declared openly that they found capital punishment repugnant to them… There is another reason which argues for the abolition of capital punishment. It is the fact of human fallibility. Too often we learn of people who were convicted of crimes and only later are new facts uncovered by which their innocence is established. The doors of the jail can be opened, in such cases we can partially undo the injustice. But the dead cannot be brought back to life again. We regard all forms of capital punishment as barbaric and obsolete.”

If not even the Jewish conservative legal scholars find abolition unscriptural, by what authority outside Judeo Christianity can you base your position?


That is rather off track in respect of the topic. The Church has always addressed the death penalty under the subject of the 5th Commandment and that specifically focuses on preservation of the physical body. Legal justice and human punishments can only be given in regard to crimes and sins that injure physical persons and communities.


“May Christmas reinforce the consensus in the world on urgent and adequate measures to stop the production and trade of arms, to defend human life, to banish the death penalty, to free children and adolescents from all forms of exploitation, to stop the bloody hand of those responsible for genocide and war crimes, to lend to environmental issues, especially after the recent natural catastrophes, the indispensable attention they deserve in order to safeguard the creation and dignity of man.“

Italic is mine.
This was Saint John Paul in a speech for Christmas in 1998.
Safeguard the dignity of man.


I do believe capital punishment and most if not all other punishment/judgement at the hands of the mortals is evil because as it was said, Let he who has no sin cast the first stone.
That being said, Jesus did not say give them a reason to screw you up more because your already going to kill them for what you did, he said show them the other cheek to strike you again.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit