Someone brought up a very good point to me. The church is against it because it takes away the chance for that convict to turn away from evil and embrace Jesus. God wants to give his gift to everyone and if we kill that person before they have a chance to get right with God so to speak, we mess with their possible salvation.
The bottom line is this - who, other than God, has the right to take someone’s life?
I seem to remember Jesus writing in the sand with His finger while people were asking Him to support stoning a woman to death…:shrug:
The direct taking of a human life – innocent or guilty – is wrong; there is no case for doing so to “teach” someone or to set an example. Only God, the author of all life, has the authority to take a life.
However, just as a person can defend himself from an unjust aggressor, even to the point of lethal force, the Church teaches that a society can sometimes use lethal force on an aggressor (the criminal) if there is no alternative such as secure incarceration.
I am against the death penalty because our society is perfectly capable of providing secure incarceration.
I’m for it, if a case comes up where an obvious sociopath who has killed many times before, and will obviously kill again, whether incarcerated or not (prison doesn’t stop him murdering other inmates) and society has no way to protect society from harm of that person, then they have forfeited there right to life.
The Church is actually for the death penalty :
[quote=“Catechism of the Catholic Church”]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
At 54 years old I have yet to land with both feet in one camp or another. When I surrendered my “opinions” to the Church, I was hoping that I would be relieved of this internal question as a part of my submission and obedience to Catholic teaching, but alas, it is not decided for me, so I still don’t know. I believe I’m leaning towards being against it. But Lord forgive me, I didn’t lose a lot of sleep when Tim McVeigh or Saddam Hussein were executed, (for instance). On the other hand, I didn’t rejoice either. I guess, I accept that state has the right to decide it’s own stance on the issue. Seems like it ought to be applied rarely, and to crimes of appropriate gravity. Every opportunity should be given a condemned man for Christian conversion. Not to reduce the sentance, but so that he may receive God’s mercy and forgiveness, and obtain heaven, after the temporal punishment of death which he will receive. I leave this topic with the Jesus prayer:
Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins.
Save us from the fires of hell,
and bring all souls to Heaven,
especially those in most need of thy mercy.
The State does not execute murderers to “show that murder is wrong.” Rather, the State conducts the execution to prevent the murderer from doing more harm. The above statement has nothing to do with it. Though people do talk that way, even in the public forum.
In modern, first-world countries, it is possible to incarcerate such people permanently so they would not be able to cause direct harm. Insofar as that is possible, the State should limit itself to that recourse. However, some people actually present a greater threat for their ideology and charisma (terrorist leaders, for example). For such people, the potential for public harm could be greater if they are alive and locked up than if they were dead.
No, I am against it. Well Jesus was put to death and he was innocent, right? We can’t be completly sure if the person is a criminal or not, even some societies have unethical views on what a crime is and sanctions that may never fit with the crimes, and if the person was truly a criminal, we can’t correct a crime by murder, also by condemning a person to death, you are causing an extreme pain to his family too. In my opinion, there is always alternative ways.
Oh, that it were that simple. It’ s really something I wish the Church WOULD definitively declare on, to relieve me of bouncing this thing around in my head so much.
See, I’m reading the same passage you’re reading from the ccc, and I don’t take away from it that the Church is FOR the death penalty at all. That’s just not what I’m reading from the same identical words you’re reading.
I guess it’s one of those things that depends on the lenses we’re reading through? To me, it reads that we really shouldn’t have a reason to be using this penalty in the 21st century, however, in the end, the Church, (after a not so subtle little morality jab), leaves it squarely in the lap of the state to decide.
This claim is not correct. The Church has never opposed capital punishment for this reason.
[quote=IrishRush]The bottom line is this - who, other than God, has the right to take someone’s life?
According to the Church, the State has that right.
[quote=surritter]The direct taking of a human life – innocent or guilty – is wrong; there is no case for doing so to “teach” someone or to set an example. Only God, the author of all life, has the authority to take a life.
This isn’t true people. From the very beginning the Church has recognized that the State has the moral right to execute criminals for certain crimes.
Q. 1276 Under what circumstances may human life be lawfully taken? A. Human life may be lawfully taken: 1) In self defense … 2) In a just war … 3) By the lawful execution of a criminal … (Baltimore Catechism)
In all honesty some of it is i failed to communicate properly what the Church teaches, the Church is FOR capital punishment, in certain circumstances, however she states that these circumstances are extremely rare in the western world in the 21st century, to the point that it’s almost never justified, however in certain under developed countries, the death penalty would be warranted and just, as they would not have the prison systems that the west do, so less stopping criminals escaping and wreaking more havok.
The justness of a punishment has nothing to do with whether it is necessary for protection; it is just if and only if the severity of the punishment is comparable with the severity of the crime. If capital punishment is just in undeveloped countries then it is equally just in ours, and the question of whether or not it is needed for protection doesn’t change that. It is justice, not protection, that determines the appropriate severity of the punishment.
That’s where the warranted bit comes in ;), we have ways in the west to incarcerate 99% of those that have committed serious offenses and to stop them offending again, at least on the inside, however in undeveloped countries this just don’t happen, therefore these people who have killed, and shall kill again, and the state has no other means to stop them, but to enact capital punishment.
But brother, you are preaching to the choir, I support CP myself, just that I realize in the West, it may not be warranted, or needed to protect society from harm.
Wait a minute… No one – not even the State – can ever directly kill a human for the purpose of killing a human (that’s what I meant by “direct” in bold text). The cases that you mention are for defensive purposes, and the loss of human life (even an agressor’s) can be seen what as the Church calls a “double effect.”
This all goes back to the idea that if there is any other method possible to defend oneself or a society, that method should be used, and the lethal options always saved until last, and even then, the lethality is not the desired result.
I think we’re saying the same thing … I’m just balancing it with other established Church teaching about just war and self-defense so that everyone sees that the death penalty is not a true means of punishment in itself.