Capital punishment...again


How to sum up the traditional understanding of this matter so far? Maybe thus: If it’s not extraordinary, it’s at most ordinary, but if it’s ordinary, it requires popes and bishops around the world and over a long, long time , and not just a pope in a claim or two. (Edward Peters J.D. J.C.L.)



[lawyer with blog don’t qualify.]

See a difference?



Why do you feel the Last 3 popes have been calling for it’s abolitionment?

Are they just mistaken?


But this is my point. If an execution is wrong based on its circumstances then it is the circumstances that are judged inappropriate, not the execution itself. That was true before, and seems no less true today.

Are you saying executions are now judged to be objectively immoral? That is, they are intrinsically evil?


92 “The whole body of the faithful. . . cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of faith (sensus fidei) on the part of the whole people, when, from the bishops to the last of the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals.”

“Manifest” means to demonstrate, to show. It does not mean being silent. Silence is not assent.





I suggest that all readers of this thread analyse your history of posting on this forum concerning this topic, which goes back more than a decade, and what you have written that favours the death penalty.

When one reads post after post after post, year after year after year, it is abundantly apparent that what one is reading is not a search for understanding – it is agenda posting.


Frankly, I consider this to be a farce at this point. Ambiguity? That is ridiculous to the point of absurdity.

From one of your American dictionaries:


[in-uh d-mis-uh-buh l]

See more synonyms for inadmissible on


  1. not admissible; not allowable: Such evidence would be inadmissible in any court.




adjective: unacceptable

  1. not satisfactory or allowable.

“unacceptable behavior”

A conversation really becomes fruitless if the party being spoken to is incapable of understanding what the words of the Holy Father and of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith say…to wit:

The Holy Father has engaged the Ordinary Magisterium of the papacy.

The Church’s teaching has been authoritatively refined concerning the death penalty.

Today. recourse to the death penalty would be immoral. It is unacceptable. And that is a binding teaching to which the faithful are obliged to submit to.

The Pope has determined that a development of doctrine has occurred. That is his prerogative because he – and he alone – individually possesses supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church.

By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.

In fulfilling the office of supreme pastor of the Church, the Roman Pontiff is always joined in communion with the other bishops and with the universal Church. He nevertheless has the right, according to the needs of the Church, to determine the manner, whether personal or collegial, of exercising this office.


Again I will put to you the issue of slavery which has been legal and acceptable in biblical cultures and therefore not ‘intrinsically evil’, but is now ‘inadmissible’ and therefore abolished as criminal in today’s society.

I’ve cited the philosophical difference between intrinsic and extrinsic evils earlier in the thread. Capital punishment is extrinsically evil within the culture we now live.


Do you agree that there are circumstances that can warrant abolition of the death penalty? Or do you claim that there can never be extrinsic conditions which warrant the abolition of the death penalty? You have accused the Magisterium of being ‘ambiguous’ so please be direct yourself in responding to this question.

Do you believe that there can be extrinsic circumstances warranting the abolition of the death penalty, similar to the abolition of slavery today?


You seem insulted by having your own position misrepresented but equally entitled to misrepresent our position and the position of the Magisterium. Very telling.

No doctrine has been reversed. No doctrine has been reversed. Within the doctrine which capital punishment serves it has previously been permitted in the interests of promoting the sanctity of human life. It is now inadmissible to preserve the doctrine of the sanctity of human life. Were it really an unChristian or ungodly move to abolish the death penalty, the many Christian based countries that have abolished it over the last century would surely have been admonished by the Magisterium. But they haven’t been. They have been supported and blessed by the Magisterium.


Peters own lawyer colleagues take issue with his assertions and advise caution.

"My colleage, Dr. Ed Peters, provides some good insights, but I can see that he’s struggling with this issue. I would advise those who have difficulty with Pope Francis’s teaching on the death penalty to follow the guidance of the CDF given in Donum Veritatis, 27-31. Some of Dr. Peters’ comments about the ordinary papal magisterium need clarification because they could be interpreted as challenging the universal ordinary teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, which is affirmed by three ecumenical councils: Florence (D-H, 1307); Vatican I (D-H, 3064), and Vatican II (Lumen Gentium, 22 and 25). It’s also not clear that Pope Francis’s position on the death penalty is devoid of episcopal support. The Synod of Bishops in 2015 endorsed proposition 64, which states that the Church “firmly rejects the death penalty.” In Amoris Laetitia, 83, Pope Francis simply confirms this position of the Synod bishops.

I give Dr. Peters credit for trying to show some of the canonical implications of the revision of CCC 2267 on the death penalty. From an ecclesiological perspective, however, I think some of his statements need clarification." - Robert Fastiggi


Thank you @Emeraldlady that is good to know. I had realized as much about the author around 10 months back…


Interesting that you think there is now a FE, a new category. So, is it that the first world is killing the criminal for a different reason than the developing world? Or is it that killing the criminal requires years of focused, concentrated effort, and hence poisons those who must carry out the will of the state? Or is it the reason I oppose killing the criminal in my neck of the woods, that it has proven to be a travesty of justice, reason, and sense, among other things?


I disagree that there is a ‘new sub type of State killings’. Experience in the many countries that have abandoned the death penalty is that it no longer manifests justice, but the right to kill ie. murder.

However, if you compare the maps, that is, death penalty countries and developing countries, the correlation isn’t there. What they show is (apart from the US) Islamic and practicing anti Christian cultures protect the right to execute. Cultures recognisably harbouring systemic prejudices who dangerously misuse their ‘divine right’.



Actually, Robert Fastiggi is an American who is a theologian. I come across his articles in theological journals from time to time. If he is a civil lawyer and/or a canon lawyer as well, I do not know. What matters here is his credential as a theologian because his remarks are ultimately ecclesiological.

In any event, Dr. Peters is the American canonist who made what can only be termed remarkable assertions concerning obligations under canon law that married permanent deacons had assumed. That episode was so far beyond the pale that it caused me not to bother reading anything he authored thereafter. It was absolutely credibility destroying.

When a canonist writes that he is correct and that the Holy Father, the dicasteries of the Holy See, and the Bishops exercising governance in their dioceses around the world on so fundamental an issue are in error…well that person should be regarded as being in serious need of help.

Actually, having followed the topic of capital punishment for years, I have often remarked how the thoughts of the Bishops, most especially in the United States, have become ever clearer as they have reflected on this matter with and under the head of the College of Bishops. In no small part, this was due to Pope Saint John Paul II who led the College on this issue.

Archbishop Chaput, for example, who has been cited in this thread, has become a very vocal voice in the United States for the complete abolition of the death penalty in recent years.

The Bishops of the United States are quite vocal in expressing the Church’s teaching that the death penalty is not to be employed. In my part of the world, the elimination of the death penalty is universally acknowledged as good.

It is astonishing that Dr. Peters would assert that the Bishops are not with the Pope on this issue. They most assuredly are, in fact.


I stand corrected. Fastiggi and Peters are colleagues on the faculty at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit. A theologian.


I wouldn’t. The death penalty is a just punishment. Why would we abolish a just punishment? In fact if it is a just punishment and we abolish it then it seems likely we would have unjust punishments.


By that logic, the abolition of torture as a sentence means that unjust punishments are left. Do you have problems with the Church’s teaching regarding torture also?


Just a punishment…
When one spends just some time ministering or visiting and after a few hours one leaves,maybe goes to the Supermarket, takes a shower, dines with the family, there is this lingering sense that those whom you get to appreciate and whose company we get to enjoy after weeks or months of peaceful conversation and prayer , are missing all of those little things , even the changing of the seasons.
People change .And something also changes in us.

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