Pope Francis, Death Penalty, and Life Imprisonment

And I’m saying, I can accept sparing their lives, but it does not follow that they should not be locked up in a maximum security prison. I’m all for rehabilitation, too, but the simple fact is that the criminal has to want to be rehabilitated. There are some who give themselves over to evil so fully that they treat mercy as an opportunity to do even greater evil. There is no sin too great for the Lord to heal, but the sinner has to allow himself to be healed.

There are many factors. Perhaps there is wisdom in allowing a repentant murder to live in a less secure facility. We already know that our current facilities (especially solitary) literally drive people mad.

I’m not saying that severe punishment isn’t in order, but we know much more about the human development and psyce than we did decades ago so there may be morally permissible outlets than previously presented.

Which is why solitary confinement is reserved for those who commit crimes while in prison, or those who request it for their own protection.

Unfortunately, that’s not true. In short, being annoying and breaking a minor rule (like not folding your blankets) can get you solitary as well as the prison just wanting more money and not having enough traditional rooms.

Justice demands a life for a life.


The Church’s stance against unfettered use of the death penalty when nonlethal methods are available disagrees.

As for Pope Francis being against life imprisonment, do you have any documents to support that? I want to know the context.

I would guess he’s referring to this recent news story: Imprisonment without hope for the future is torture, pope says

Or perhaps the news reports at issue in this 2014 thread: Pope Francis calls for abolishing death penalty and life imprisonment

Of course we will all remember our Lord and Savior dying on the cross and crying out, "Justice! Avenge me! His final and most poignant statement being, “A life for a life!”

What forum is this, honestly? forums.PagansTramplingAllOverTheSacrificeofChristandEspousingTheMythofRedemptiveViolence.com?

In my home county in Indiana, the police regularly bring people into the county jail with mag-light shaped dents in their foreheads and covered in blood. People so badly beaten the jail cannot accept them, regardless of their crime. We know about the effect of traumatic brain injuries in sports, but apparently that doesn’t apply when someone’s dad is beating their developing brain like a drum or the cops are trying to beat you to death for drug possession. This is a county facility, owned and operated by the Sheriff’s department, that is still somehow contracted with a private prison company. They are contracted to maintain a certain population in the jail. How can we honestly say we want less crime while handing over taxpayer dollars to private companies who then demand a body count regardless of crime rates?

You live by the sword, you will die by it. Every time our society exacts it’s just vengeance, it informs the young about the world in which they live. For most people living in our penal system, the idea that their actions were justified because of the injustices they themselves have suffered is reinforced everyday.

Abuse moves in cycles, and Christ taught us there is only one way to end the cycle. Of course we can’t release dangerous people into the public. You wanna know what though? The truth is our jails our mostly just torture chambers for the mentally ill. My brother had to quit his job as OIC of the county jail because he couldn’t handle being sent into cells to beat people who needed mental health care anymore. He left a $50,000 a year salary and benefits to deliver pizzas. He is an agnostic, and a man of violence, but his heart is more Christian then some in this thread. For some Christ is merely the chieftain of their tribe. Pagan philosophy as usual.

Edit: I got pretty riled up before realizing I was chastising a whole thread of people over one endorsement of redemptive violence. I apologize for that, but I stand by everything else I said.


Give that a listen and then talk to us about justice Hammurabi.

A mother that abuses and neglects her children, and then turns to your ‘justice’ when she discovers that her children are abusing one another. Not a bad analogy for our criminal justice system.

You can pull up any horrible example you want to of some monster or other in our prisons, We live in the most stable and prosperous nation in the world with 4% of the total world population, and imprison a quarter of the worlds inmates. That does not add up.

It really depends on the particular murderer. I can think of several high-profile murderers who were recently paroled. They committed their crimes when they were teens or early 20s, in concert with other people, and in at least one case, while high on drugs. They have behaved well in prison and, since they are now more like 60 rather than 20 and in a different place in their lives, it seems quite unlikely that they will kill anyone else.

I would add that one of these people was originally sentenced to death row, but his case was among a large group of cases where the sentence was thrown out some decades ago due to a sudden ruling by the US Supreme Court, so he was resentenced to life with a possibility of parole. It took him something like 40 years to get parole and they tried to keep it quiet to avoid controversy…there was no news coverage about the parole and I only found out because I have a particular interest in the old murder case and happened to read the year-end report of the parole board listing everyone who got out.

Needless to say, there are plenty of other murderers who, whether due to psychopathic tendencies or just general personality and lifestyle, I would be afraid to ever have out on the street, so I am certainly not saying let them all out, and I am also a big supporter of life without parole as the alternative to a death sentence. But the Pope is right that some murderers can probably return to society at some point later in their lives, without creating a big risk that someone else will be killed.

I may be wrong about this but I believe the doctrine of the Church has always allowed the death penalty. St. John Paul II did not overturn this doctrine but took the policy view that modern conditions meant that it would be rarely used. As I understand it, St. John Paul’s position is based on policy rather than principle. Justice Antonin Scalia was a devout Catholic who supported the death penalty; he argued that John Paul II’s position did not change doctrine and that he was free to disagree.

Regarding Pope Francis, I understand that he is trying to be merciful but I disagree with his ideas on sentencing and punishment. I don’t think the Pope is qualified to make these recommendations on criminal justice. I think it would be best if the Roman Pontiff lobbied to improve conditions inside the prisons or suggested ways to prevent reoffending - or he could focus on protecting and explaining Catholic doctrine so that Catholic lawyers and politicians will reform the legal system from within.

No, but do you recall the martyrs in Revelation 6 begging the Lord to avenge their blood?

Are we the Lord? Is the U.S. government the Lord? Where in the scriptures are we told to assume the role of our Lord? I see a distinct lack of humility and faith in those who look to scripture to justify assuming the authority of God. Were the martyrs crying to you? To our modern government? Many people in this country today do not realize the gravity of demanding their government do things to other people. Do you want to while your days away in a stinking pit harming the pitiful for no gain? Is it better to have someone else do it for you? How would you answer the charge? There are no mitigating circumstances for those that make sweeping condemnations. They will be judged the same as they have judged. I will plead for mercy for all. Even those that have harmed me and my kin throughout the ages. Christ proclaimed that we know not what we do. Do you intend to retract his statement in favor of something more “just”? Are we more just than our Lord?

If I were an atheist, then I would say that the statements of fundie nut protestants in the US, the Pope in Italy, the roc in the Russian Fed., the imams in arabia, etc on death penalty would be excellent evidence that religion is just the “hearts and minds” division of governments.

Whosoever shall shed man’s blood, his blood shall be shed: for man was made to the image of God.
Genesis 9:6

The death penalty was established by God himself as the just punishment of murderers. Contrary to populat belief, Christ never abbrogated this commandment. In fact, he recognized and canonized the Good Thief St. Dismas when St. Dismas claimed that he deserved his punishment.

Mercy might demand that we spare a murderer, but Justice demands their blood. Sometimes mercy can outweigh justice, but sometimes it cannot. Unrepentant murderers should be executed.


I’m saying that if souls in Heaven can demand the blood of their murderers, it is no sin to do so.

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And you have Repent-o-Meter to,determine the state of another person’s soul to see if they’re repentant or not and if they ever will be repentant?
He also said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

If they show no signs of repentance then we should administer the proper and God-ordained punishment for their crimes. If they are truly repentant then this will not ultimately harm them because God knows their heart and will judge them accordingly. If they are truly unrepentant then it will also not harm them because while they will go to Hell, they will have been prevented from committing even more sins and perhaps be spared a deeper level of suffering than if they had been allowed to live.

If they are not repentant now, but would be in the future, then again, the God of hidden knowledge will see this and act according to His particular knowledge. And perhaps the reality of their impending death will spur them on to repentance they would never have known had they been allowed to live (which has happened many, many times in history). In that case, by punishing them we would have literally been the deciding factor in saving their soul.

If they show signs of true repentance then perhaps we should stay the execution. Depending on the nature of their repentant actions and the nature of their crime. Though a truly repentant man would also accept his execution willingly, because a truly repentant man would understand that his crime deserves punishment, so perhaps not. It would depend on whether or not we can see some value in perserving the person’s life.

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Repentance allows us to receive forgiveness for our sins, but it does not eliminate the punishment we are due for having committed them. We may well forgive a murderer for his action, but that forgiveness does not extend to exempting him from his just punishment. There may be justification for reducing the severity of a penitent’s punishment, but penitence alone is not sufficient.

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