Actually no, we have no obligation to assent to anyone’s opinion, not even the pope’s. We do have an obligation to assent to doctrine whether it is ordinary or infallible, but that is not true of prudential judgments.
Beyond that, his assertion is not accurate: "The commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty,” The church has never taught this; in fact she has always taught that there are three exceptions to that command. If it was true that the commandment not to kill was absolute it would disallow not only capital punishment, but killing in a just war and even in self defense. It is really mystifying how he could assert such a thing.
What matters is not the pope’s personal opinion about capital punishment but the church’s doctrine on the matter. Disagreeing with an opinion is always an option.
Cardinal Ratzinger had said at one point that it was okay for a Catholic to disagree with the pope on the application of the death penalty. That was under the pontificate of Pope St. John Paul 2, who, in my opinion, was not as forceful on this issue. Now that Pope Francis has been so clear and strong in his declarations on this subject, it is my opinion that Lumen Gentium 25 applies to this issue, and Catholics must sincerely adhere to his judgments about the modern use of the death penalty.
Lumen Gentium applies to doctrinal statements. It does not apply to prudential ones, and it certainly does not apply to statements that actually conflict with church doctrine. His assertion does not accord with the doctrinal statements laid out in the catechism.
Setting aside the death penalty for a moment, until you understand that your support for immigration is no more just or righteous or aligned with Church teachings than the so called right wing Catholics you decry, the question is pointless. The Church is in favor immigration and charity for those less fortunate. They have not said your more loose approach is safer, more fair, or better than some random right-wing Catholic’s approach that may differ.
Until you get that, the discussion will never bear fruit. You do not have any moral high ground on your fellow Catholics with regards to immigration.
With regard to the death penalty, as in most things, Jewish teaching based on Torah, Talmud, and community is complicated. For some insight into this issue, log onto My Jewish Learning: The Death Penalty in Jewish Tradition.
I don’t think the pope’s comments conflict with the Catechism. The Catechism appears to limit the use of the death penalty to cases that are “very rare, if not practically non-existent.” CCC 2267.
I think you’re saying that just wars, capital punishment, and self-defense are Exceptions to “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” I might be misunderstanding you here, so correct me if I’m wrong. The Catechism suggests that they are not exceptions. The fifth commandment does not say we can’t Ever kill, only that we can’t Murder. CCC 2263 says that legitimate defense is not an exception to the prohibition of murder. See also CCC 2268. It would seem to follow that war and the death penalty are not exceptions either.
I think you’re saying that the pope’s comments on the death penalty are only a prudential judgment. Again, I might be misunderstanding you. I think part of the purpose of Lumen Gentium 25 is to help us discern what’s a prudential judgment and what’s binding, and it doesn’t say we get to use our own private judgment to determine whether a pope’s comments are in accord with tradition or not. In my opinion, leaving that determination Entirely up to us would be dangerous. (That’s not what you’re suggesting we do, so we’re probably in agreement at least partly on this particular aspect of this question.) Lumen Gentium 25 directs us to the strength, repetition, and type of documents in which the pope makes his statements. In my fallible, could-be-wrong opinion, the pope’s comments on the death penalty match the characteristics given in Lumen Gentium 25 for a binding statement demanding our religious assent.
One possible way out of that conclusion is this: Lumen Gentium 25 mentions “the character of the documents” primarily, and I don’t think the pope’s denunciations of the death penalty have appeared in either of his encyclicals. They appear in documents of lesser authority, and often in mere speeches to interested parties. Thus, perhaps they don’t meet the criteria mentioned in Lumen Gentium 25. I think that is a defensible position.
No, there are “right wing” Catholics and “left wing” Catholics who may hold beliefs that fly in the face of Church teaching. Not sure what your point was? There is one agreed upon opinion in either party that you can point to, so using a label seems to add little value.
The Catechism of the Council of Trent did refer to them as ‘exceptions’, but that, or course might just be an item of translation.
The Prohibitory Part of this Commandment
The Killing Of Animals
With regard to the prohibitory part, it should first be taught what kinds of killing are not forbidden by this Commandment. It is not prohibited to kill animals; for if God permits man to eat them, it is also lawful to kill them. When, says St. Augustine, we hear the words, “Thou shalt not kill,” we do not understand this of the fruits of the earth, which are insensible, nor of irrational animals, which form no part of human society.
Execution Of Criminals
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. The just use of this power, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this Commandment which prohibits murder. The end of the Commandment* is the preservation and security of human life. Now the punishments inflicted by the civil authority, which is the legitimate avenger of crime, naturally tend to this end, since they give security to life by repressing outrage and violence. Hence these words of David:* In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land, that I might cut off all the workers of iniquity from the city of the Lord*.
Killing In A Just War
In like manner, the soldier is guiltless who, actuated not by motives of ambition or cruelty, but by a pure desire of serving the interests of his country, takes away the life of an enemy in a just war.
Furthermore, there are on record instances of carnage executed by the special command of God. The sons of Levi, who put to death so many thousands in one day, were guilty of no sin; when the slaughter had ceased, they were addressed by Moses in these words: You have consecrated your hands this day to the Lord.
Killing By Accident
Again, death caused, not by intent or design, but by accident, is not murder. “He that killed his neighbor ignorantly”, says the book of Deuteronomy, and who is proved to have had no hatred against him yesterday and the day before, but to have gone with him to the wood to hew wood, and in cutting down the tree the axe slipt out of his hand, and the iron slipping from the handle struck his friend and killed him, shall live". Such accidental deaths, because inflicted without intent or design, involve no guilt whatever, and this is confirmed by the words of St. Augustine: God forbid that what we do for a good and lawful end shall be imputed to us, if, contrary to our intention, evil thereby befall any one.
There are, however, two cases in which guilt attaches (to accidental death). The first case is when death results from an unlawful act; when, for instance, a person kicks or strikes a woman in a state of pregnancy, and abortion follows. The consequence, it is true, may not have been intended, but this does not exculpate the offender, because the act of striking a pregnant woman is in itself unlawful. The other case is when death is caused by negligence, carelessness or want of due precaution.
Killing In Self* Defense
If a man kill another in self *defense, having used every means consistent with his own safety to avoid the infliction of death, he evidently does not violate this Commandment.
One allows for a lifetime of repentance, the other doesn’t. Also killing someone for killing someone else is not the teachings Jesus instructed us in. “Love your neighbors. Pray for them who persecute you.” Did not Jesus do the same on the cross? “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.”
A small amount is merciful, yes. For instance even if we execute a person for having murdered another person(s), we don’t do so in an eye for an eye way. Most murders are committed in brutal and heinous ways, but our justice system is merciful and as a result the convicted are humanely put to sleep as a mercy. But the level of mercy you’re speaking of is forgiveness. It’s not the place of the justice system to forgive criminals but to punish them and bring them to justice (even if with some level of mercy).
Not exactly. Even within the justice system, there are degrees of culpability, often dependent on mitigating circumstances which may drastically reduce the punishment. This is the legal equivalent of forgiveness.
From a religious perspective, punishment endorsed in the Written Law of the Hebrew Bible has often been mitigated by the Oral Law. As I noted in my prior post, it is a complicated history and tradition within Judaism, as My Jewish Learning describes. Even before its inception, the State of Israel has been mindful of this.