Pope repeats Church opposition to death penalty [CWN]

Pope Francis has reiterated Vatican opposition to capital punishment, in a message of support to the 5th World Congress Against the Death Penalty. In a message to the meeting, being …

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Regardless of our Holy Father’s opinion regarding the death penalty, faithful Catholics are still free to be for or against it. Personally, I am torn on the issue, especially with the way it is applied in the U.S., but the Church has always supported the use of capital punishment in the past.

Here’s the best article I’ve ever read on the subject:
crisismagazine.com/2011/can-the-church-ban-capital-punishment

I am a firm supporter in the death penalty when the accused is definitely guilty of a capital crime with no doubt, and there is no other option, and I am thankful the Church allows me to believe this way regardless of what the Pope or the Bishops say personally.

I’m wondering if the above few comments could sound any more Protestant.

It also comes across as extremely relativist to say “Well, maybe the Pope says capital punishments is not ok, and that’s fine for him but for me I am in favour of it”.

As with Popes John Paul and Benedict, people make it a matter of ‘opinion’ and take liberty to disagree. What they fail to produce, to support their ‘opinions’, are statements from any of the men of the Church, in recent times, that support the death penalty.

what you haven’t done and can never do is produce any authoritative statements that overturn the exceptions to the prohibition against the DP in Evangelium Vitae.

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

The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes the above, from Evangelium Vitae.

Some crimes are so heinous that the death penalty is the only appropriate option.

Anything less does no justice to the victims.

But that is in opposition to what is stated in the Catechism, and the guidance offered by the last two Popes, and our current Holy Father.

There are some uncomfortable similarities between pro-death penalty catholics and pro-pill catholics. Both claim that the pope’s opinions can be dismissed if one’s own reasoning comes to a different conclusion.

Pill defenders claim that Tradition is silent on the matter of adusting a woman’s hormone cycle to use the same hormonal effects as in nature to suppress ovulation. Thus, they claim Paul VI and subsequent popes are in error for having lumped that in with older forms of contraception. It’s nonviable logic, but they persist in it.

Death penalty defenders have a somewhat better case in that the church was not previousy silent on the matter of the death penalty, but historically has explicitly confirmed that the state has the right to utilize capital punishment under certain circumstances. However, these folks usually fail to differentiate between the state having the authority to use the death penalty and the state having a necessity to use it. There really is little to no Tradition supporting the assertion that death penalty is preferable to secure life imprisonment. Only that it is permitted. That leaves it entirely up to the jurisdiction of the pope to determine when civilizational circumstances have changed to the point where the DP is no longer warranted. It is not viable to simply dismiss his authority in that regard in favor of one’s own reasoning. It’s not QUITE protestant in outlook, but it’s perilously close.

Even if it is an entirely prudential judgement, one has a rather big ego to put his own moral reasoning up against the pope’s and to judge one’s own to be superior. I made that mistake myself after 9/11 when I dismissed the pope’s warnings about hasty entry into war when the justice was far from certain. I was a supporter of that war. He was right, I was wrong. Go figure. :wink:

I will quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church, hopefully this is good enough for you…

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.”

Now, this is exactly what I said, ‘if there is no other way’ I fully support the death penalty when capital crimes are committed.

The Church fully supports the death penalty in these cases, thats what the ‘official’ teaching says…if the Popes are not aware of it, maybe they themselves need to read it…

The Catechism says, the Church DOES NOT EXCLUDE recourse to the death penalty, sigh there was nothing protestant in what I said…

So what is the alternative? Let them live?

Should that guy who shot up the theater in Colorado be allowed to live (upon conviction)?

Or that guy in Arizona who shot the congresswoman and killed so many others?

John Wayne Gacy? Ted Bundy? John Allen Muhammad?

Saddam Hussein? Mommar Ghadafi?

Do you really think these people are/were redeemable?

If there is no other way to protect society from them, the Church says they can be executed, just as some of them were. :thumbsup:

Of course they were redeemable. It is an insult to our Lord and a denial of the efficacy of his sacrifice to suggest otherwise.

I agree that you’re sounding like a protestant by substituting your judgment for that of the CCC. you can’t deny the plain language of the CCC where it accepts certain exceptions to a general rule against the DP.

What the Catechism says is that it is not excluded, but has restrictions to where society cannot protect people’s safety except through the death penalty.

Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope John Paul II have all made it very clear the there is no need for the death penalty in 1st world countries.

Let’s be clear. The Church does not say “the death penalty is ok in capital crimes” or “the death penalty is ok for murder”. The Church says “the death penalty is ok if this is the** only possible way** of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”

Let’s have a grammar lesson. “Only possible way” by it’s very nature means that all all methods have been tried and found lacking in “effectively defending human lives”. When’s the last time a somebody convicted of 1st degree murder has broken out of a maximum security prison? “Only possible way” should be read as “use only as a last resort”.

Yet people here think it’s totally ok to have the death penalty to be used as a matter of course when other options have not been tried or as a first option. I have news for you. The Church finds those views repugnant and anti-life.

I find this especially ironic considering your username.

The lost sheep are those who have gone so astray from Christ that they don’t even know up from down. Of course they can be redeemed. To say otherwise is to deny that Jesus was crucified for the sins of all and is heresy.

So tell me. Why does society need protection from the Colorado theatre shooter if he is locked up in a maximum security prison? Isn’t society already sufficiently protected?

In theory, perhaps. In actuality, probably not.

Since God usually isn’t very forthcoming in doling out justice, what else are we supposed to do? “Oh, God will take care of it. This person is redeemable. We’ll just let him run free until God gets around to it.”

I was disappointed that the actual message from Pope Francis was not included, nor a translation. Only John Paul II’s encyclical was linked to.

I would like to read Pope Francis’ message in its entirety, not just the lines the article chose to quote.

Also, for me, the death penalty is not only about punishing the criminal, although that is part of it. “Protecting society” does not only mean, at least to me, from that individual person. It also means maintaining a sense of justice.

For example, I think Kermit Gosnell should be executed. Not because we can’t keep him away from his surgical instruments to kill more babies.

But because if he goes to prison there is the possibility he will give interviews or write books or have things written about him, or just the fact that he was not executed, makes a statement to other would-be abortionists who might do, or perhaps are now doing, just what he did: That the most that can happen to you is to go to prison and have all your meals provided on time each day, get 8 hours of sleep a night, etc. That’s a lot more than most people in the world get. It’s simply a travesty of justice. It is no punishment at all given the crime he committed.

[quote=dnar opening statement]I am a firm supporter in the death penalty when the accused is definitely guilty of a capital crime with no doubt, and there is no other option, and I am thankful the Church allows me to believe this way regardless of what the Pope or the Bishops say personally.
[/quote]

[quote=dnar clarifying statement]…Now, this is exactly what I said, ‘if there is no other way’ I fully support the death penalty when capital crimes are committed.

The Church fully supports the death penalty in these cases, thats what the ‘official’ teaching says…if the Popes are not aware of it, maybe they themselves need to read it.
[/quote]

Why did you feel the need to clarify that you are thankful the Church allows you to believe this way regardless of what the Pope says?

Did the Pope say there were no exceptions? I looked at the article looking for a statement that is contrary to Church teaching and couldn’t find it. What point were you trying to make by pointing out that you can disagree with the Pope on this issue? Your statement gives the impression that Pope Francis said something contrary to Church teaching which he did not.

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