Death Penalty


#1

I’ve seen Catholics strongly on both sides of the argument, and my Theology teacher said the Church doesn’t have a doctrine one way or the other. Granted, my “catholic” high school is extremely relativist. So what does everybody here think on the issue?


#2

There have been some looooong threads on this issue.

Here’s one I put out just after the Jessica Lunsford case in FL.

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52652&highlight=Death+Penalty

Personally, I’m situational. For murderers, Rapists, & Child Molestors I’m pro-death penalty. The punishment should fit the crime… :mad:

You might want to do a forum search on this topic…


#3

i personally am completely against the death penalty. there have been too many who have later been proven innocent (or at least their guilt has come into serious question) that is shows me that we can never, 100% know for sure therefore we cannot kill. this is just my opinion but i feel that the death penalty is more for revenge and dissuasion than it is about justice.


#4

I am on the fence. I am somewhat inclined that it is still needed, but wish it was unneccesary. There have been long threads on it, but it has been a while and I knew a new one would start soon.


#5

[quote=cardenio]I’ve seen Catholics strongly on both sides of the argument, and my Theology teacher said the Church doesn’t have a doctrine one way or the other. Granted, my “catholic” high school is extremely relativist. So what does everybody here think on the issue?
[/quote]

The Church does have a doctrine on it, in fact the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has started a campaign against the death penalty and they’re trying to convince all Catholics to be against it.

Here’s the Church’s teaching of it:

**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 are 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 non-existent.”

-Catechism of the Catholic Church

Source: scborromeo.org/index2.htm

Of course today in developed nations we are capable of non-lethal means to protect society, there is no justification of the death penalty in these circumstances. The Death penalty in the book of Exodus is Mosaic Law and no longer binding.

Here’s the USCCB’s official site campaigning against the death penalty: usccb.org/sdwp/national/deathpenalty/

**There is interesting literature there. I am against the death penalty. I was once unsure. **All faithful Catholics should try to convince others to oppose the death penalty. You can print or order the brochure of the campaign and spread the word.


#6

[quote=Roman_Army]**All faithful Catholics should try to convince others to oppose the death penalty. **
[/quote]

I would agree that we should encourage adherence to Church teaching, but as you have quoted in the catechism, “the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty.” Most of my difficulty with the position of the US bishops centers around whether it is unnecessary. As with many socialogical, psycholological or scientific issues, this may fall outside the realm of theology. Do we really have the possibility to incarcerate someone forever and prevent them from continuing a life of violent crime? This is not a theological issue.


#7

[quote=Roman_Army]Of course today in developed nations we are capable of non-lethal means to protect society, there is no justification of the death penalty in these circumstances. The Death penalty in the book of Exodus is Mosaic Law and no longer binding.
[/quote]

The pro-death-penalty argument that I still struggle with is that although we have the means to lock these unjust aggressors away forever, our liberal American courts refuse to use them!

Therefore, given that the alternative is to release these aggressors to prey again, I have a difficult time being upset when one of these aggressors is executed.


#8

[quote=Nan S]The pro-death-penalty argument that I still struggle with is that although we have the means to lock these unjust aggressors away forever, our liberal American courts refuse to use them!

[/quote]

It is not just a question of locking them up forever. Our courts have expanded the definition of cruel and unusual to afford prisoners so many rights, that safely controlling them is not possible. In or out of prison, some will continue to hurt others.


#9

[quote=pnewton]It is not just a question of locking them up forever. Our courts have expanded the definition of cruel and unusual to afford prisoners so many rights, that safely controlling them is not possible. In or out of prison, some will continue to hurt others.
[/quote]

You may want to change that to ‘Most’, or in the case of sex offenders ‘Almost All’.

If we were actually able to truly give them life w/o parole, and extremely limited contact (Mail & Phone calls, censored of course, along with visitation for family only w/the presence of a guard) with the outside world, I might change my mind. Until that point, the only 100% sure way to prevent them from hurting another person is to execute them. Especially pedophiles, rapists, & murderers. :mad:


#10

**It seems I’m going up against everyone here, lol. Oh well here goes: **

[quote=Nan S]The pro-death-penalty argument that I still struggle with is that although we have the means to lock these unjust aggressors away forever, our liberal American courts refuse to use them!

Therefore, given that the alternative is to release these aggressors to prey again, I have a difficult time being upset when one of these aggressors is executed.
[/quote]

Very interesting, in that case in addition to fighting against the death penalty we must also fight for giving them life in jail without possibility of parole. That is obviously the aim of this campaign. No one said being a Christian was easy. Especially, for those Christians who hold the fullness of Truth.

[quote=pnewton]I would agree that we should encourage adherence to Church teaching, but as you have quoted in the catechism, “the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty.” Most of my difficulty with the position of the US bishops centers around whether it is unnecessary. As with many socialogical, psycholological or scientific issues, this may fall outside the realm of theology. Do we really have the possibility to incarcerate someone forever and prevent them from continuing a life of violent crime? This is not a theological issue.
[/quote]

It very much has to do with theology as well. We are in the Richest nation the world has ever seen! We have the capabilities, but we need the will.


#11

The catechism clearly states that the only time that the death penalty could be even remotely excusable if there is absolutely no other way to prevent him from being a threat. Just because we are to lazy or apathetic to do our duty and humanely prevent these people from being a threat, our sloth does not justify murdering them.

Our very Lord and savior was unjustly slaughtered via “capital punishment.”

Perhaps you should rethink your stance.


#12

cardenio, please get a copy of Sister Helen PreJean’s book Dead Man Walking. Forget the movie, if you’ve seen it; read the book. The movie covered only a portion of what the book goes into.
Any question in my mind about the death penalty was resolved after reading her book and hearing her speak a couple years ago at a local Parish.


#13

The Church has always taught that the death penalty for crimes that are grevious is intrinsically just and that it is up to the state to determine the appropriate application of the penalty.

The primary purpose of all punishment, including capital punishment, is retributive. Paul says clearly in Romans,

“For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”

Notice that the state is God’s agent of wrath. This is the teaching of the New Testament. In Genesis, God establishes the death penalty for murder. Notice that God establishes the death penalty with all of humanity, not just Israel. It is part of the universal Noadic covenant never revoked by the New Testament.

The Church’s current fixation on opposing the death penalty is highly mistaken in my opinion. It has no basis in Scripture or tradition. The Catechism’s elevation of “self defense” to the primary purpose of capital punishment has no good warrant. Therefore, it cannot bind on conscience. Were the Church someday to say that one may not use the death penalty, then the Church would be doing the equivalent of saying that one may use contraception. In either case, the Church would be violating Scripture, Tradition, and natural law.

With all due respect to the late Holy Father Pope John Paul II (who is a Saint and was a great Pope), his view on the death penalty can only be considered a private opinion when it is not backed by Scripture and Tradition.


#14

Here is an article by Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. on capital punishment. It is very good.

firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0104/articles/dulles.html


#15

Cardinal Dulles is always a good source. Also remember that it is not necessary to have absolute certitude to put a person to death but rather what is needed is relative certitude and the distinction betweent he two is great. Further it is a misnomer that in the modern criminal system we are ableto protect society from all the criminals. Yes, one could make the arguement that someone who is a terrorist such as with the guy in Oklahoma should not be put to death because we can safely seperate him from society so that he cannot do harm any further. However, there are those such as John Gotti who were still a danger to society while in solitary. Due to the imperfect nature of the human state there will always be a way for the criminal to circumvent the constrants of his prison so that he can continue mayhem if that is his desired end. Therefore, for such persons it is the right and actually the duty of the state to execute the individual for the sake of its role of protecting the family for which it exists. The reason why this is not denied by the Church to the state is because the Church does not have the authority to deny this to the state as it is a natural right just as an individual person has the natural right to defend himself or his family.


#16

[quote=catsrus]cardenio, please get a copy of Sister Helen PreJean’s book Dead Man Walking. Forget the movie, if you’ve seen it; read the book. The movie covered only a portion of what the book goes into.
Any question in my mind about the death penalty was resolved after reading her book and hearing her speak a couple years ago at a local Parish.
[/quote]

Its too bad that the good Sister misrepresents the teaching of the Church and also does not stand up for innocent unborn the way she stands up for foul murderers. I’ve heard Sr. speak as well in person. I wasn’t impressed.


#17

[quote=mosher]Cardinal Dulles is always a good source. Also remember that it is not necessary to have absolute certitude to put a person to death but rather what is needed is relative certitude and the distinction betweent he two is great. Further it is a misnomer that in the modern criminal system we are ableto protect society from all the criminals. Yes, one could make the arguement that someone who is a terrorist such as with the guy in Oklahoma should not be put to death because we can safely seperate him from society so that he cannot do harm any further. However, there are those such as John Gotti who were still a danger to society while in solitary. Due to the imperfect nature of the human state there will always be a way for the criminal to circumvent the constrants of his prison so that he can continue mayhem if that is his desired end. Therefore, for such persons it is the right and actually the duty of the state to execute the individual for the sake of its role of protecting the family for which it exists. The reason why this is not denied by the Church to the state is because the Church does not have the authority to deny this to the state as it is a natural right just as an individual person has the natural right to defend himself or his family.
[/quote]

Amen, very good thinking.


#18

[quote=Roman_Army]Very interesting, in that case in addition to fighting against the death penalty we must also fight for giving them life in jail without possibility of parole. That is obviously the aim of this campaign. No one said being a Christian was easy. Especially, for those Christians who hold the fullness of Truth.

It very much has to do with theology as well. We are in the Richest nation the world has ever seen! We have the capabilities, but we need the will.
[/quote]

IMHO, you’ve got it exactly right. As I study the Holy Saints I read about those who converted even the most apostate through the power of prayer, though it took a lifetime to do, and those former apostates became pinnacles of the Holy Church! So, again IMHO, life without the possibility of parole is the way to go for the most vile of aggressors. Their “second chance” is to contemplate their sins and whether God belongs in their lives until natural death takes them.

The problem is that America is not, and never will be, a majority-Catholic country. And that means that we will probably always be outvoted by others who seem to feel that the only choices are the death penalty, or giving a violent aggressor his “second chance” out of prison and back in public. NIMBY (not in my back yard), I hope.


#19

[quote=Nan S]IMHO, you’ve got it exactly right. As I study the Holy Saints I read about those who converted even the most apostate through the power of prayer, though it took a lifetime to do, and those former apostates became pinnacles of the Holy Church! So, again IMHO, life without the possibility of parole is the way to go for the most vile of aggressors. Their “second chance” is to contemplate their sins and whether God belongs in their lives until natural death takes them.

The problem is that America is not, and never will be, a majority-Catholic country. And that means that we will probably always be outvoted by others who seem to feel that the only choices are the death penalty, or giving a violent aggressor his “second chance” out of prison and back in public. NIMBY (not in my back yard), I hope.
[/quote]

Actually the most recent sociological statistics on this point say that 24% of the US are catholics or those who claim to be practicing catholics. This number is mostly based on the official counts done by the USCCB and by private investigation by Sociologists of religion. This number is the single highest “denomination” (please note the quotations for this term being applied to Catholics) in the US. All other religions, sects and cults are much smaller than us Catholics. Thus, it could be said that if the Bishops were to manifest their authority in unison and actually lead the faithful instead of droning on in conference meetings and writting documents and none read nor are canonically binding this nation could truly be changed for the benefit of truth. This combined with the existing institutions such as the Kof C’s and Catholic League and others there is more than enough weight and power to move this jaugernaught in the right direction.


#20

I am against death penalty. People still have the time to change.

I was strucked by the movie “the last dance”.


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