Living with Heresy?

Tis_Bearself, thanks for your posts on this thread. I’ve been rolling this one around for a few days, starting from a position of head scratching much like the OP, and your posts have been very helpful in moving forward and feeling more at peace.

I have always been entirely pro-life, death penalty included, so I ‘agree’ with this announcement. But I was a little perturbed by the idea of the church changing doctrine because that just ain’t right. I feel I understand it all a little better now. Cheers.


And thank you @JoyToTheWhirled .

Your comments show that forums can be positive and for the good . :smile:

Also see Catholic Encylopedia from 1911 A.D.:

The punishment, whether capital or other, was both prescribed and inflicted by civil government. The infliction of capital punishment is not contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church, and the power of the State to visit upon culprits the penalty of death derives much authority from revelation and from the writings of theologians. The advisability of exercising that power is, of course, an affair to be determined upon other and various considerations.

Willis, J. (1911). Capital Punishment. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

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For all we know dogmatic errors have not occurred previously because popes spoke in accord with the Tradition of the Catholic faith, not contradicting it.

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Did the current presidents of China, Iran and Iraq say to themselves last Friday, “Oh, now he’s put it into the CCC! That means we’re now under an obligation to rewrite our laws and put an end to the death penalty here in China (Iran, Iraq). Get me the Justice Minister on the phone immediately!”


'Let he that is without sin cast the first stone." Pope Francis doesn’t sound like he’s teaching heresy at all.

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That’s really a silly thing to say. Just because atheist and Muslim majority nations don’t accept Catholic teaching? What does that have to do with it?

The thing I feel at peace about is that god promised his church he would protect it throughout the years. This doesn’t mean that some years aren’t terrible or confusion for us as Catholics, it means that in the end the church will stand. I don’t mean to be a negative, but feeling peaceful about how things are going doesn’t mean that the right things are happening in the church. It’s ok to feel uneasy about things, question things, and fight to keep truth truth. This has been done throughout the ages by Catholics who somehow, through the grace of god, preserved the church up to today. It’s our jobs to preserve the church for tomorrow. Our Pope’s, although vicars of Christ, are not perfect, they are men just like the rest of us.

Now this just isn’t true or fair.

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Why would anti-death penalty Catholics care?
It’s my understanding that this action of the Pope did not really make the news in Europe.


There are those actually concerned with the Church’s consistency and apologetics and not just their own personal partisan politics on both sides, too. I’ve reconciled my concerns such that I don’t think there is an issue, but not everyone who has issues simply wants the death penalty to be legal.


Standing ovation over here.

I’d also take a long look at history.

See, for instance, how the Church teaching on Usury has developed over time.


I appreciate your viewpoint, but I feel that in this case, the change is so miniscule and is not a matter of a fundamental doctrine (other than “Thou shalt not kill”, with which it complies even more strongly after the change) . Therefore, to me, the people making a big deal out of it are largely those trying to catch the Pope in some error or manifesting a general distrust of the Pope’s ability to lead or the Vatican’s discretion in addressing social issues.

I don’t think we should consider any church changes to teaching as minuscule. I would wager that most of the people who are worried are not simply trying to catch the pope in error, but are completely ncerned with protecting the consistency of church teaching. Teaching throughout the past two thousand years has been done so to clarify, or to expound upon church teachings of the past. This is one of the first or ,maybe the first, where changes have been made that directly oppose prior teaching, or make what was once considered just now unjust.

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Check out the CCC on torture. Much bigger change in doctrine.

Respect for bodily integrity

2297 Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations , mutilations , and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.91

[2298] In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood. In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors.

Will it help to read the list of prior changes/clarifications/corrections to the current Catechism?

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The language in the revision could be worded better, as some of it seems to suggest that the DP has always and everywhere been inadmissible, which would be a change in Catholic teaching. After further review I don’t have that concern. But otherwise you’re simply splitting it down partisan lines. “People in favor of the DP hate this revision and people opposed to it don’t care!” That’s ultimately meaningless, is something that can be hurled in both directions, and is just a dismissive strawman and a poisoning the well fallacy.

And I write all that as someone who sees it as consistent with past teaching. The statement from you I quoted just left a bad taste in my mouth.

In 2000 years there has never been any kind of change that could be perceived in opposition to prior teaching?

How about when the Church changed the practices and rules for receiving the Holy Eucharist numerous times? I seem to recall it was once considered heretical for lay people to receive in two forms, to the point where there was great infighting in the Church about it. Now, we routinely receive in two forms. I seem to recall that once people were typically considered so unworthy that they would perhaps receive Holy Communion once per year. Now, many people receive every week or even every day. The age for First Communion was also significantly lowered by Pope Pius X.

How about when the Church changed the attitude towards Protestants so now you can have your mixed marriage in a Church and even have a Mass, and the Protestant spouse in some cases can receive Holy Communion, and we no longer have to immediately give Protestant Bibles to a priest or burn them, but can keep them around the house to read?

These areas of Church teaching to me are much more significant than a change in how the Church regards the civil death penalty, which is a social justice area not directly concerned with the Holy Eucharist or the sacraments. And yet these essential areas of Church teaching have evolved over time as social situations change and perhaps as the wisdom of those running the Church evolves through the grace of the Holy Spirit.

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Sorry if it seems dismissive to you. There may be rare exceptions, and you are likely one of them, but frankly, what I see is a bunch of Amurricans all riled up because the Pope is messing with a perceived ability to execute people that has already been on its way out in the USA for at least 10 years.

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