The death penalty - right or wrong


What he presented was not his personal interpretation of Scripture; it was nothing less than what the church taught for two millennia which is certainly something worth considering.

The dilemma here is real.

The new doctrine, based on a recent insight, would be in competition with a magisterial teaching that has endured for two millennia—or even more, if one wishes to count the biblical testimonies. Would not some Catholics be justified in adhering to the earlier teaching on the ground that it has more solid warrant than the new? The faithful would be confronted with the dilemma of having to dissent either from past or from present magisterial teaching. (Edward Feser)


Respectfully opinion only along with pondering on his Spoken Word and Moral Laws …Ten Commandments…Thou shall not…death penalty wrong…just ones own opinion right or wrong…:thinking:

And written through out within his spoke Word…All Life in the blood is sacred unto me, destroy it not. :thinking:

Did our Heavenly Father put to death Cain when he killed his brother Abel?
No… God did not take or put to death…Cain did he, for his crime… but let Cain…wonder on his own…God separated himself from Cain, not hearing his cries unto him? :thinking:

But God hears the cries of Cain’s brother… Abel… God stating …Your brother’s blood cries unto me from the ground? :thinking:

Peace :thinking::slightly_smiling_face:


In self defense, I believe it is permissible to take a life.


Ok. Say it is a prudential judgement.
What I do not understand in your reflecting is why you stress intrinsic evil when that something has turned evil or its use,about to or almost or already by far, is more than enough to consider particularly when three Popes have very clearly asked for its abolishment.
Intrinsic evil is bad, but cruel is already evil, and when aware than unnecessary ,worst still…
It is like an abuse of a permission…until it turned cruel.
You seem to make “ binding” only a sort of carved in stone ageless monolith( and I do not mean to be rude, it is how I sometimes express ideas through images…) and leave aside the whole of the Magisterial documents of more recent times and how the Church develops .
The Social Doctrine of the Church is doctrine…and as new magisterial documents are written they are added to this Social Doctrine for example.
And so what ? Since it isn t dogma then non binding…
I believe it was St John Paul who explained about how we were to assent to the magisterial in Veritatis Splendor but I should read it again. If it wasn’t t there maybe it is another document he wrote . I will check it out when I can.
Anyway, if it is about a question of Holy Communion and conscience, then of course, the best for whoever has an issue with it is to ask the priest.


If it is a prudential judgment then this implies certain things. This makes all the difference in how we understand what has been said. As I posted before (Dulles):

“Prudential” has a technical theological meaning…

We have to understand this technical theological meaning because it applies to this new teaching and how we respond to it.

prudential judgment, while it is to be respected, is not a matter of binding Catholic doctrine.

A teaching is either binding or it isn’t, and prudential judgments are not. This new teaching, being a prudential judgment, is not binding:

To differ from such a judgment, therefore, is not to dissent from Church teaching.

Note that all of my comments here are solely about prudential judgments and what the church teaches about them. So, if the teaching on capital punishment is a prudential judgment then everything that is true of prudential judgments in general is also true of this new teaching as well.



Catechism of the Catholic Church

2267 Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.

Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”,[1] and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.

[1] Francis, Address to Participants in the Meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, 11 October 2017: L’Osservatore Romano, 13 October 2017, 5.


This implies that since all life is sacred God himself refrained from killing Abel, but if that is true then how do you explain the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira?

Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. (Acts 5:9-10)

The church does not use the example of Cain to oppose capital punishment. In fact, the church has always taught that its recognition of the validity of capital punishment is based on scripture.

If the Pope were to deny that the death penalty could be an exercise of retributive justice, he would be … contradicting the teaching of Scripture (Cardinal Dulles 2002)

Both Scripture and long Christian tradition acknowledge the legitimacy of capital punishment under certain circumstances. (Archbishop Chaput, 2005)

It is lawful for a Christian magistrate to punish with death disturbers of the public peace. It is proved, first, from the Scriptures… (St. Bellarmine, c1600)

How doth the Scripture teach that willful murder is revenged? In most grievous manner doubtless, as Almighty God sheweth in these words, wherein he rebuked Cain the first man: (a) What hast thou done? saith he, the voice of the blood of thy brother crieth to me from the earth. Now therefore shalt thou be cursed upon earth. And in another place God’s own voice doth testify. (b) Whoever shall shed man’s blood, his blood shall be shed also, for to the image of God was man made. (St. Canisius, c1590)

Note that Canisius referred to Cain in that section, but did not hold that his example showed a rejection of capital punishment.


Do the moral evaluation.
What is the good end of your moral evaluation? The sacredness of human life.
If a nation invades another nation and is killing people, we have a duty to protect human life. The aggressor should be stopped. If there are other means than military action we should take those means.


Q. Are there cases in which it is lawful to kill?

“It is lawful to kill when fighting in a just war; when carrying out by order of the Supreme Authority a sentence of death in punishment of a crime; and, finally, in cases of necessary and lawful defense of one’s own life against an unjust aggressor.” (Catechism of St. Pius X)


My position which is the Church’s position is not contradictory. Cruel does not automatically mean intrinsically evil. Aquinas used the example of an infected limb having to be amputated in order to preserve the whole body. That was an appropriate remedy when there was no other way of preserving the life of the body. Today modern medicine means that the limb can be cured and restored preserving the wholeness of healthy body. A surgeon who continues to use amputation as the only remedy for an limb is doing something cruel and unnecessary. Once amputation was good. In modern times it is both cruel and unnecessary if the wholeness of the body can be preserved with modern treatment.

You start by imputing to the Church ‘concepts’ it never expressed. The death penalty is not a doctrinal necessity for society. That is never expressed anywhere. It has only ever been addressed under the umbrella of the 5th Commandment as being allowed by Scripture if a civil state requires it for the sake of the common good.

We know perfectly well that the Church has not stepped in for the last century as Christian countries have been abolishing the death penalty from their laws, because it is prudent to abandon what has become inhumane when less lethal remedies are suitable. How do you account for the Church’s silence over the last century if the death penalty is a doctrinal necessity? The silent Popes in that time were many. Not just post Vatican II Popes.

What is so unsavory is that you know you are directly opposing the Church. You aren’t disagreeing with the need to abolish the death penalty in the US which is what then Cdl Ratzinger was addressing when he wrote regarding reception of Communion. You have claimed that abolition itself is against Church teaching. That is where the duplicity, slight of hand, goal post shifting serves you to hide from your real position.


Respectfully, opinion only…pondering.:thinking:.
First…One does not take the Bible literally… and there is too many Biblical verses of His Spoken Word,… where he clearly defines …who he is his character image .
He is Truth not a liar…
He is the fullness of Love
He is Righteous, Just
He seeks not to destroy but to save…
He is Merciful, Compassionate, long patient, tolerant, forgiving, provides a way of return to him> repent his personal character within his own Spoken Word defines clearly who he is, to know who is not of him, right? :thinking:

Abraham. his son…Angel of our Heavenly Father stops Abraham from putting to death his son, :thinking:
We have Cain who our Heavenly Father does not give him the deathly penalty, right? :thinking:
Noah The Covenant of Noah…9:5-8…speaks about… not…destroying human beings, does it not? :thinking:
King David?? no death penalty for him by God?
Ten Commandment…Thou shall not?
To many bible verses to list.

God would not transgress his own laws now would he?:thinking:
God would be a liar? A hypocrite? We were created in his image? :thinking:

Our Heavenly Father has provided the way of return to him?:thinking:
Acts 3:19 Repent then and turn to God.:thinking:
Colos 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive :thinking:
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another.:thinking:
Luke 23:34 Jesus said: Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing…:thinking:
Romans 5:10 For if while we were God’s enemies we were reconciled to him…:thinking:.

Jesus does not stone the woman in adultery, putting her to death did he, which the Torah calls for why? :thinking:
Why was Jesus so angry seeing innocent animals on the Temple porch being sold … put to death thinking it would take away what?:thinking:
His Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, to name a few…speak clearly on those who shed blood…destroy life and simple repent return?

Taking biblical verses here/ there, does not give us a clearer understanding of our Heavenly Father personal Will and Desires for us, choosing this way becomes confusing, meanings lost?

His Spoken Word/Scripture seems to be over whelmingly stating the opposite, would be against the death penalty, does it? :thinking:

In pondering our Heavenly Father seeks not our money does he?:thinking:

Yet Our heavenly Father. would not stop those who killed men/woman/children in such horrific acts taking their innocent lives, but Our Heavenly Father. in stead choose to take the life of …Ananias and Sapphira,…who hid some of their money,$ not to render all to him…really? :thinking:

Our heavenly Father needed money and thought money was so important, but sought not to punish those who destroy innocent life?

Yet our Heavenly Father immed…would give no mercy, forgiveness, love, compassion, to the weakness of Ananias and Sapphira, over money? really? :thinking:

Ten Commandments make’s that very clear…Thou shall not :thinking:.



Capital Punishment is justified in the Bible (Luke 23:39-43; Romans 13:4, and too many other passages to mention). and was upheld by all the Doctors of the Church, including St Thomas Aquinas, who said that-
“if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good” ( Summa Theologica II, II, 64, 2).

The Waldensians, who regarded capital punishment as intrinsically evil, were required to take an oath to be readmitted to communion with the Catholic Church that stated inter alia-
“Concerning secular power we declare that without mortal sin it is possible to exercise a judgment of blood as long as one proceeds to bring punishment not in hatred but in judgment, not incautiously but advisedly”. (DH 795)

In the Roman Catechism the section dealing with the Fifth Commandment states that-
Another kind of lawful slaying belongs to the civil authorities, to whom is entrusted power of life and death, by the legal and judicious exercise of which they punish the guilty and protect the innocent. The just use of this power, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this Commandment which prohibits murder. The end of the Commandment is the preservation and security of human life. Now the punishments inflicted by the civil authority, which is the legitimate avenger of crime, naturally tend to this end, since they give security to life by repressing outrage and violence.
Hence these words of David: In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land, that I might cut off all the workers of iniquity from the city of the Lord. {Ps. 100:8).

Pope Pius XII stated in respect of capital punishment that-
“Even when there is question of the execution of a condemned man, the State does not dispose of the individual’s right to life … by his crime, he has already dispossessed himself of his right to life.” Address to the First International Congress of Histopathology of the Nervous System, 14 September 1952, XIV, 328

The Church’s current opposition to the death penalty is for prudential reasons, not because it is viewed as intrinsically evil. Pope St John Paul II, although he prudentially opposed the use of the death penalty, did not deny the state has the right to impose it and specifically stated in Evangelium Vitae that capital punishment does not carry the same weight as abortion or euthanasia.

Pope Benedict XVI (also prudentially opposed) stated that-
“[I]f a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. … [I]t may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia (Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion, To USCCB, 2004)


Aquinas’ example is not in fact an example of cruelty. Cruelty involves the willful infliction of pain and a lack of concern for having done so, neither of which describes this action. It is not merely inflicting pain or hardship.

I am quite willing to debate pretty much anything with anyone, but I am not willing to cover the same ground over and over with someone who refuses to accept what I say as an expression of my own position. I have rejected this description repeatedly. You ascribe to me something I don’t believe and have never said, and no matter how often I point this out you continue making the same argument. I’m uninterested in this. When you stop inventing nonsense and attributing it to me, and deal with what I actually say perhaps we can continue. Until then my participation is clearly unnecessary. Invent whatever you will and debate yourself.


The death penalty was instituted by God, for a moral, just society and people, even His people. Uncivilized, immoral, corrupt governments and people should not have it.


Very true, and I have not presented my interpretations of Scripture. What I do is cite others (bishops, popes, Fathers, Doctors) giving their interpretation.

Of course not, but here is how this is understood.

Some have held that the killing of man is prohibited altogether. They believe that judges in the civil courts are murderers, who condemn men to death according to the laws. Against this St. Augustine says that God by this Commandment does not take away from Himself the right to kill. Thus, we read: “I will kill and I will make to live.” It is, therefore, lawful for a judge to kill according to a mandate from God (Aquinas)

This is not my opinion. It is the understanding of Scripture expressed by the two greatest theologians in church history, Aquinas and Augustine. And they were not alone: every Doctor of the Church and virtually every Father (who spoke on the subject) took the same position. Every catechism, every pope (prior to last year) accepted this. Are we now to ignore all of that?

What are you asking? Whether this incident really happened? And no, it wasn’t about the money.

But a man named Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property; with his wife’s knowledge, he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. “Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to us but to God!” (Acts 5:1-4)


The passage from Luke is cited in the catechism (2266) as an example of a punishment that “contribute(s) to the correction of the offender.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


Interesting passage in relation to the topic of this thread from today’s gospel reading for Mass taken from Mark 7: 1-13. Jesus says in the last half of the gospel reading:

"Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites,
as it is written:

This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition."
He went on to say,
"How well you have set aside the commandment of God
in order to uphold your tradition!
For Moses said,
Honor your father and your mother,
and Whoever curses father or mother shall die.
Yet you say,
'If someone says to father or mother,
“Any support you might have had from me is qorban"’
(meaning, dedicated to God),
you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother.
You nullify the word of God
in favor of your tradition that you have handed on.
And you do many such things” (Mark 6:13).

In the commandment of God, “Whoever curses father or mother shall die” (verse 10), Jesus is citing Exodus 21:17: “Whoever curses his father or mother shall be put to death”,

and Leviticus 20:9:
“For every one who curses his father or his mother shall be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother, his blood is upon him”.


That is your opinion and certainly not a Christian one. If a doctor having the means to preserve an infected limb and restore the wholeness of the body, but decides it is his divine right to go with the traditional method of amputation, it qualifies as not only cruel and unnecessary but boardering on psychopathy. The first rule of medicine is to heal. The first rule of human law is the common good. Neither a doctor or state has any divine right to decide there is another end.

If the Church has never stated that the death penalty is a doctrinal necessity for society, on what basis do you argue that abolition is not consistent with Church teaching? Abolition has happened in the majority of the world in the interests of better serving justice. The Church has never demanded that it is a necessary for the State to serve justice. What authority makes you believe that abolition is against Church teaching?


This is one of several instances where it is difficult to reconcile Jesus’ words with the idea that he opposed capital punishment. There are also several parables where he speaks of the evil people do where their punishment is death. Again, if he actually disapproved of it it is hard to understand why he would use it as an example.

Parable of the Ten Pounds: Lk 19:11-27
I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.’” (26-27)

Parable of the Wicked Tenants: Lk 20:9-19
What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” (15-16)

And if Jesus did oppose capital punishment, the apostles clearly didn’t get that message.

Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death (Rom 1:29)

If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. (Acts 25:11)

If any man is for captivity, into captivity he goeth: if any man shall kill with the sword, with the sword must he be killed. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. (Rev 13:10)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit