Death Penalty Question


#1

I’ve heard that the Church reluctantly approves use of the death penalty under some circumstances. What are those circumstances? Would Ted Bundy have qualified? Charles Manson?


#2

Here’s an article. But check the CCC (Catechism) and the Papal Encyclicals. Basically, the Church recognizes a state’s right to protect their citizens. However if the state has the capability to lock the person up for life, that should be the chosen alternative. Hope this helps a little. Thanks and God Bless.

st-joseph-foundation.org/newsletter/lead.php?document=2003/21-4


#3

from the CCC

**2265 ** 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.

**2266 ** 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

**2267 ** 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."68

67 Cf. Lk 23:40-43.
68 John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56. 69 Cf. Gen 4:10


#4

From a theological and theoretical statdpoint, I am in complete agreement with the Church’s position - down to the last paragraph. The problem occurs when some activist judge overturns a life sentence based on some minor legal technicality five or ten years after the conviction, then turns the felon loose on society. It has happened more than once and this causes me to have doubts about “rarely” imposing the death penalty. If a life sentence truly meant that, I would be in complete agreement.


#5

[quote=geezerbob]From a theological and theoretical statdpoint, I am in complete agreement with the Church’s position - down to the last paragraph. The problem occurs when some activist judge overturns a life sentence based on some minor legal technicality five or ten years after the conviction, then turns the felon loose on society. It has happened more than once and this causes me to have doubts about “rarely” imposing the death penalty. If a life sentence truly meant that, I would be in complete agreement.
[/quote]

It is the court or legal system that must be fixed, by not allowing a reasonably convicted person to be freed on a technicality. This is not something the Church can fix.


#6

[quote=geezerbob]From a theological and theoretical statdpoint, I am in complete agreement with the Church’s position - down to the last paragraph. The problem occurs when some activist judge overturns a life sentence based on some minor legal technicality five or ten years after the conviction, then turns the felon loose on society. It has happened more than once and this causes me to have doubts about “rarely” imposing the death penalty. If a life sentence truly meant that, I would be in complete agreement.
[/quote]

I would consider that more of a STATE discrepency than the CHURCH’s.

I ran this discussion by a Mormon friend the other day. We were talking about some “accused” person and he remarked, "…they should just put him out!"
I used to support capital punishment for several reasons. Most of the reasons were because of taxes and false beliefs that they were sub-human. I remarked that putting somebody to death because of the amount of tax money spent on a convict is a sin in itself. Humanity has found a way to put a price on somebody’s head, and this is scary. What’s next? Allowing bounty hunters to kill for 75% of the negotiated price to bring them in? I cannot support the death penalty, while trying to grow in my Christian values. To me, deep inside, it’s hypocracy.


#7

I never meant to imply thay the Church’s position on the death penalty was necessarily wrong, just that it did not take into consideration the discrepency in our judicial system. Until it is fixed, the possibilities cause me to have mixed feelings on it.


#8

So, should we kill people because our judicial system is problematic? I think not. The Church’s belief and doctrine is not to be based on the politics of the world.


#9

The point is that the Church’s position is based on the assumption that evildoers can be safely kept away from the general polulace. Absent that, for whatever reason, a case could be made for the imposition of the death penalty that would still be within Church guidelines.


#10

[quote=geezerbob]The point is that the Church’s position is based on the assumption that evildoers can be safely kept away from the general polulace. Absent that, for whatever reason, a case could be made for the imposition of the death penalty that would still be within Church guidelines.
[/quote]

This is an area of belief that can be very dangerous. Can you make up an example that would allow you to believe that the death penalty is infact a just case? I’m curious and want to see why it is that you would believe that there is such a circumstance.


#11

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