Capital Punishment is Pro-life


#1

My Friends–

I’ve brazenly started a new thread from the one on Republicans and the Death Penalty since it was correctly pointed out on that thread that both parties supported Capital Punishment.

The question is: isn’t support of Capital Punishment a pro-life position?

I’m afraid that the possibility, however remote, that an innocent man might be put to death by accident has no bearing on the question of whether or not Capital Punishment is just, as some on the earlier thread suggested. You could say that our whole penal system should be abolished because an innocent man might be accidently incarcerated.

The fact is that the Church has always taught that Capital Punishment is moral. Clerics (like JPII) can beseach political authority for mercy on behalf of the condemed; that’s fine. Mercy is a good idea, but it doesn’t mean that justice is a bad one.

Interestingly, the Trent Catechism lists “punish the guilty” as the first reason for the legitimate use of Capital Punishment. It reads: “Far from being guilty of breaking this [the fifth] commandment, it is precisely an act of obedience to it.”

In other words, a society that values life seeks to balance justice when life has been wrongly taken. I would argue that crimes that threaten death (rape, eg.) are worthy of Capital Punishment.

I’ve always taken Christ’s words to Pilate regarding his (Pilate’s) authority to sentence to death as coming from God to be approval of the Death Penalty.

I lke the Trent Catechism (The Roman Catechism), BTW. It’s easy to read. One wonders why JPII felt the need to write a whole new one when an update would have served. I am happy to be schooled on this point–perhaps in another thread?

Chris C.


#2

I didn’t read the other thread Chris but ‘death’ and ‘life’ seem to be opposites of a spectrum and saying ‘death penalty’ is ‘pro-life’ seems to be an oxymoron.

Just my 2 cents


#3

The idea that capital punishment is pro-life is a preposterous oxymoron!

Please don’t take offense. Your position favoring capital position is certainly a legitimate one, and it is shared by many in and outside the Church.

But let’s not equate the taking of human life with the pro-life philosophy.


#4

I think it would be better to say that a Catholic can be pro-life and support the death penalty.


#5

[quote=Chris C.]My Friends–
I’m afraid that the possibility, however remote, that an innocent man might be put to death by accident has no bearing on the question of whether or not Capital Punishment is just, as some on the earlier thread suggested. You could say that our whole penal system should be abolished because an innocent man might be accidently incarcerated.

[/quote]

Just my 2 cents, but sadly I don’t think the possibility that innocents might be put to death is all that remote. In Illinois, more men on death row were recently exonerated of their crimes than were ever put to death in that state. That’s recent history, with DNA and all that. Isn’t one innocent life taken one too many?

I’m against the death penalty in most cases, it’s not easy, but Jesus never said following Him would be. :frowning:

Didn’t JPII say that in most cases the DP isn’t necessary and would be contrary to a pro-life position? :confused:


#6

Sure, a catholic can be pro-life and for the death penalty…but I know Jesus would not have been. The choice is yours…either you respect life and not murder whenever possible (defending oneself is different) or you don’t. Jesus turned the other cheek…so should we. Use the Holy Father as an example. He went to the one who caused him harm and forgave him. That doesn’t mean setting him free…it does mean forgiving and loving him as Christ so loved the world!


#7

[quote=Jennifer123]Didn’t JPII say that in most cases the DP isn’t necessary and would be contrary to a pro-life position?
[/quote]

Yes, he did. He said that there could be a circumstance where such a penalty would be appropriate, but modern penology has effectively eliminated the need to execute anyone.

In other words, we have the technology to lock them up and keep them locked up. We don’t have to resort to the noose in the 21st Century.


#8

[quote=Jan Wakelin]I think it would be better to say that a Catholic can be pro-life and support the death penalty.
[/quote]

Jan–

What do you mean by support the death penalty? As a political law (a matter of practical politics) or as a teaching of the Church? I think one can say that he thinks the death penalty is bad policy, but an RC who supports the teachings of the Church has to accept the so-called “hard teachings” too.

Can someone hold that the death penalty is morally wrong and consider himself faithful to the Magisterium? How does opposition to the death penalty on moral grounds square with the passage from the Trent Catechism which calls Capital Punishment obedience to the 5th Commandment.

Chris C.


#9

I wonder how many people would be for the death penalty if one of their immediate family was murdered or raped? I think perceptions change depending on the circumstances.
I would like to think that I will always be against the death penalty, but if one of my sons is murdered how will I think then?


#10

[quote=Chris C.] Can someone hold that the death penalty is morally wrong and consider himself faithful to the Magisterium?
[/quote]

You are correct. “Morally wrong” is the wrong term. Even the Pope did not call it “morally” wrong. He did characterize it as “wrong” and unnecessary in light of the alternatives available.

There is simply no longer any need for a death penalty in the 21st century.


#11

[quote=Jennifer123]Just my 2 cents, but sadly I don’t think the possibility that innocents might be put to death is all that remote. In Illinois, more men on death row were recently exonerated of their crimes than were ever put to death in that state. That’s recent history, with DNA and all that. Isn’t one innocent life taken one too many?

I’m against the death penalty in most cases, it’s not easy, but Jesus never said following Him would be. :frowning:

Didn’t JPII say that in most cases the DP isn’t necessary and would be contrary to a pro-life position? :confused:
[/quote]

Jennifer–they were taken off death row by a gangster governor looking for good pr as he was about to be indicted for a host of scandals. They were not exonerated of their crimes. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

JPII’s argument against the death penalty is motivated by mercy. That–as I said–is fine. I like mercy and I need a lot of it.

But the justice of capital punishment does not spin on the availibilty of modern locks. They could lock 'em up pretty good back in the 16th Century when the Council Fathers at Trent wrote that the death penalty was an act of obedience to the 5th Commandment–the prolife commandment.

Chris


#12

[quote=pkmksk]I wonder how many people would be for the death penalty if one of their immediate family was murdered or raped? I think perceptions change depending on the circumstances.
I would like to think that I will always be against the death penalty, but if one of my sons is murdered how will I think then?
[/quote]

I’ve already told my husband that if murdered I wouldn’t want the murderer to have the DP. I would hope he’d follow my wishes, but you’re right it would be hard for him but I think he’d respect that.


#13

[quote=Dandelion_Wine]I didn’t read the other thread Chris but ‘death’ and ‘life’ seem to be opposites of a spectrum and saying ‘death penalty’ is ‘pro-life’ seems to be an oxymoron.

Just my 2 cents
[/quote]

Could it not be said that if you supported the death penalty for murderers you are thereby protecting the lives of other potential victims? In that case pro-death panalty = pro-life.
However I feel there are probably better ways of protecting the innocent. :twocents:


#14

[quote=Chris C.]Jennifer–they were taken off death row by a gangster governor looking for good pr as he was about to be indicted for a host of scandals. They were not exonerated of their crimes. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

[/quote]

I think we’re both right. I think some were taken off death row and some were actually pardoned. I do remember at least some being released from prison.


#15

[quote=Southernrich]You are correct. “Morally wrong” is the wrong term. Even the Pope did not call it “morally” wrong. He did characterize it as “wrong” and unnecessary in light of the alternatives available.

There is simply no longer any need for a death penalty in the 21st century.
[/quote]

Southernrich–

this to me gets to the heart of the matter and the confusion concerning the Pope’s teaching. I’m starting to sound like a broken record, I’m sure, but the first reason for the death penalty–the metaphysical reason, if you will–is to serve justice where life itself has been unjustly taken. The second reason is to protect society. That is a practical and lesser reason.

Chris C.


#16

[quote=Chris C.]They could lock 'em up pretty good back in the 16th Century when the Council Fathers at Trent wrote that the death penalty was an act of obedience to the 5th Commandment.
[/quote]

And back then, and until the end of the 18th century, nearly all crimes were felonies, and all felonies were capital offenses. As late at the 1770s in England, children could be hanged for stealing something worth a few cents - and were! One 7 year-old girl was hanged for stealing a green ink bottle that she thought was pretty, It was worth less than the equivalent of a dollar!

We’ve come a long way since, and whether you want to attribute it to mercy or to better locks, we don’t need the death penalty any more.


#17

[quote=Southernrich]And back then, and until the end of the 18th century, nearly all crimes were felonies, and all felonies were capital offenses. As late at the 1770s in England, children could be hanged for stealing something worth a few cents - and were! One 7 year-old girl was hanged for stealing a green ink bottle that she thought was pretty, It was worth less than the equivalent of a dollar!

We’ve come a long way since, and whether you want to attribute it to mercy or to better locks, we don’t need the death penalty any more.
[/quote]

And one Lincoln’s Inn Pamphleteer had has hands cut off for questioning Queen Elizabeth’s “chastity.” Terrible stories all, but they don’t address the question. Obviously the Trent Fathers are talking about capital crimes that take life.

Chris C.


#18

[quote=pkmksk]I wonder how many people would be for the death penalty if one of their immediate family was murdered or raped? I think perceptions change depending on the circumstances.
I would like to think that I will always be against the death penalty, but if one of my sons is murdered how will I think then?
[/quote]

Very true…but then Christ didn’t say following would be easy. Sometimes doing what is right isn’t what we want to do. Whenever possible killing someone needs to be avoided. One sin always leads to another.


#19

[quote=Chris C.]Obviously the Trent Fathers are talking about capital crimes that take life
[/quote]

As is Pope John Paul II.


#20

[quote=pkmksk]I wonder how many people would be for the death penalty if one of their immediate family was murdered or raped? I think perceptions change depending on the circumstances.
I would like to think that I will always be against the death penalty, but if one of my sons is murdered how will I think then?
[/quote]

This is exactly the problem with the death penalty. If you change your mind based on emotions, then the reason you are changing your mind is because you want to see that dirty so-and-so get his. There can be no other explanation. If you have thought about the moral question before and concluded that you cannot support it, and then subsequently change your mind, I just don’t think that’s right.

I can understand and agree with certain arguments for the death penalty. My major problem with it is the vengeful attitude of those who really really want to see the guy get killed for what he did. That certainly is no attitude of forgiveness.


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