The Death Penalty


#1

Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman catholic nun ( according to CNN), was protesting outside of a prison in California yesturday in hopes of stopping an inmate from being executed.
She voiced that she was apposed to the death penalty and related it to “gang justice”.
My question is…what is the chuches postion on this?
Is she in accord with the church?


#2

[quote=allisonP]Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman catholic nun ( according to CNN), was protesting outside of a prison in California yesturday in hopes of stopping an inmate from being executed.
She voiced that she was apposed to the death penalty and related it to “gang justice”.
My question is…what is the chuches postion on this?
Is she in accord with the church?
[/quote]

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.”


#3

You forgot to include the preceding sections from the Catechism:

2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people’s rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people’s safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.

That the state has the obligation and right to inflict capital punishment (if necessary) is outlined in Romans 13:1-6:

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.


#4

[quote=allisonP]Sister Helen Prejean … voiced that she was apposed to the death penalty and related it to “gang justice”.
My question is…what is the churches postion on this?
Is she in accord with the church?
[/quote]

You don’t have to know what the Church’s position is to know that this sentiment (if in fact this is what she said) is nonsence.

Ender


#5

well…the position of many in the Church is that the maintainance of the life and comfort of the body (of anyone’e body: rapists, killers, child molestors…whoever) is of paramont importance and trumps all considerations of justice.

When Jesus said: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” He of course meant that is was.


#6

[quote=liberal friend]well…the position of many in the Church is that the maintainance of the life and comfort of the body (of anyone’e body: rapists, killers, child molestors…whoever) is of paramont importance and trumps all considerations of justice.
.
[/quote]

This is news to me—care to cite the Catechism paragraph wherein it states that the “life and comfort of the body” is paramount?


#7

The Church’s stance boils down to this:
Killing of another person is only allowed in self-defense.

This can be on personal level or society level. In modern countries, the death penalty is NOT consistent with church teachings. However, in a country where a murderer cannot be safely locked away from society and is a legitimate risk, then capital punishment IS permitted for the good of the society—that is, preventing further deaths. Life in all its forms is precious.

In no instance should capital punishment be used for “final justice.” Justice is God’s alone. To think we are worthy of judging another person’s life is very presumptuous. Our ways are not God’s ways. And God’s ways are not our ways. Common sense would say kill the murderer, get revenge. But that is not God’s way. Our call is to give the offender time to learn the error in his ways and repent. This is difficult. But Jesus never promised His way would be easy.


#8

In the 25 countries of the European Union the death penalty has been abolished.


#9

[quote=liberal friend]well…the position of many in the Church is that the maintainance of the life and comfort of the body (of anyone’e body: rapists, killers, child molestors…whoever) is of paramont importance and trumps all considerations of justice.
[/quote]

Can you give a citation or are you just making it up.


#10

The death penalty has many problems. One is this; The courts are not perfect and it occationally kills innocent people.

How many innocent people does God say it is ok to kill to punish say 1000 people?

Looking forward to your answer!

Athrond


#11

My understanding is that the death penalty is allowed in severe cases…such as serial murders/rapists whose crimes are so ingrained into their psychies that there is no hope for reform…it has become who they are and would not change…and therefore could never re-enter society again safely.

The man who was executed yesterday was Tookie Williams (I think that was his last name) and he had shown signs of rehabilitation…such as writing childrens books against gang violence and speaking up loudly to try and stop the gang that he was actually the founder of (the crips I think)…and some people thought that he was truly reformed. Gov. schwarzenager thought otherwise because he had never admitted that he actually killed the people he was accused of killing and never expressed any remorse.

I Believe this Nun thought the man was reformed, and so she was doing what she thought was morally good. She is not acting against the church…she made a personal observation and might have been correct…he might have been rehabilitated…but it is really hard to know, to judge such a thing…


#12

Lillith:

The Church states that the death penalty is allowed in cases where the offender is a threat to society. Therefore solitary confinement or incarceration provides the conditions for society’s safety. On escape it then could be used and he could be killed outright.

The principle follows from examples of the fig tree and other parables in NT.

The offender’s usefullness is a difference of perpective. Since God still gives him the grace of life, he can presume he is of some value, as if he weren’t, then this tree would be cut.

It is not uncommon for man to enclose himself in solitary to carry on virtuous works of God. We have evidence of cloistered people dedicated to the service of God. A man incarcerated for life is in a position to completely turn is life around by the dedication to prayer for his fellow man. He can fill Our Mother’s surroundings with roses through the Rosary, and through Christ can cause great works to be realized outside his walls. We have then a perceived hopeless position turned into one of hope for that future that matters for all of us.

Andy


#13

Actually, any claim that the death penalty is opposed to the laws of God, or is in any way presumptuous or sinful, is heresy, no matter who makes it.

The infallible Ordinary Magisterium has always, for 2000 years, approved the death penalty. No church teaching can EVER, LEGITIMATELY, be REVERSED.

Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans, under the inspiration of the holy Spirit, clearly accepts the death penalty, and the magistrate is the one who bears the sword on behalf of God.

That being said, recent statements by John Paul II and most bishops request that the death penalty not be used in modern society unless it absolutely cannot be avoided.

God bless,
Jaypeeto3


#14

[quote=allisonP]Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman catholic nun ( according to CNN), was protesting outside of a prison in California yesturday in hopes of stopping an inmate from being executed.
She voiced that she was apposed to the death penalty and related it to “gang justice”.
My question is…what is the chuches postion on this?
Is she in accord with the church?
[/quote]

I am adamantly opposed to capital punishment-under any circumstances. However it is in error to state or even imply that this is the position of the Church, It is not. The Church has ALWAYS allowed for the death penalty.

When a friend of mine was ordained i took the oportunity at the receptionthat followed to ask our Bishop about this. I quoted to him the condemnation of captial Punishment as expressed by John Paul the Great. He told me one could correctly assume that John Paul the Great was opposed to Captial Punishment but one would be in error to assume this was the position of the Church.

It is important that those of us who oppose capital punishment dont try to bolster our arguments by falsley stating it is also the position of the Church. When we do this we lose moral authority when deabting with others about things that really are valid teaching of the Church. The idea that the Church opposes Capital Punishment and that it opposes the Iraq war are two of the most oft repeated and grevious mistatements of Church teachings one sees these days.


#15

[quote=Athrond]The death penalty has many problems. One is this; The courts are not perfect and it occationally kills innocent people.

How many innocent people does God say it is ok to kill to punish say 1000 people?
[/quote]

Interestingly, I just ran across a study today that claims that in the USA every execution of a murderer saves 18 innocent lives, mostly through deterrence. The deterrent effect disappears whenever a criminal recognizes that “there’s nothing more they can do to me” (no death penalty) and thus kills witnesses and others in his way. Lack of a death penalty then results in a very strong incentive for a criminal to kill innocent people in order to get away with the original crime. I’ll see if I can find the reference.


#16

[quote=Athrond]The death penalty has many problems. One is this; The courts are not perfect and it occationally kills innocent people.

How many innocent people does God say it is ok to kill to punish say 1000 people?

Looking forward to your answer!

Athrond
[/quote]

This is an objection based on application. While I may agree that the death penalty is perhaps applied unevenly in cases or in circumstances where the justice is imperfect, that does not in and of itself constitute an objection to the death penalty in principle. This objection is in many cases accompanied by a reference to DNA evidence ‘proving’ that there have been individuals placed on death row who were innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. To me, this is evidence that actually reconfirms the existence of the death penalty. We now have another line of evidence that can further demonstrate the culpability of those convicted.

People are also imprisoned unjustly. Many more than are put to death. Should we do away with prisons because there are some innocent people there?

Peace to you,
Richard


#17

[quote=VociMike]Interestingly, I just ran across a study today that claims that in the USA every execution of a murderer saves 18 innocent lives, mostly through deterrence. The deterrent effect disappears whenever a criminal recognizes that “there’s nothing more they can do to me” (no death penalty) and thus kills witnesses and others in his way. Lack of a death penalty then results in a very strong incentive for a criminal to kill innocent people in order to get away with the original crime. I’ll see if I can find the reference.
[/quote]

I’m trying to think of cases in the UK where a criminal has killed innocent people in order to get away with the original crime.

I can’t think of any.

Even without a death penalty there is something that the courts can do to a criminal. Stick them in prison for a very long time, or for the rest of their lives.

How could anyone know that 18 murders are prevented through one execution? Have they been around doing a survey with questions like “Were you ever seriously going to murder someone but then thought otherwise in case you were executed? Would you have murdered if you would have been thrown in prison for life rather than executed?”

I for one have never been asked that sort of question. And none of the criminals I’ve known (which was rather a lot in one church) have participated in a survey like this.


#18

From Estesbob: I am adamantly opposed to capital punishment-under any circumstances. However it is in error to state or even imply that this is the position of the Church, It is not. The Church has ALWAYS allowed for the death penalty.

When a friend of mine was ordained i took the oportunity at the receptionthat followed to ask our Bishop about this. I quoted to him the condemnation of captial Punishment as expressed by John Paul the Great. He told me one could correctly assume that John Paul the Great was opposed to Captial Punishment but one would be in error to assume this was the position of the Church.

It is important that those of us who oppose capital punishment dont try to bolster our arguments by falsley stating it is also the position of the Church. When we do this we lose moral authority when deabting with others about things that really are valid teaching of the Church. The idea that the Church opposes Capital Punishment and that it opposes the Iraq war are two of the most oft repeated and grevious mistatements of Church teachings one sees these days./

As one who is adamantly opposed to the death penalty and equally supportive of the liberation effort in Iraq, I couldn’t agree more. In both cases, Catholics are free to exercise well-formed prudential judgment on these issues resulting in legitimate diversity of views among Catholics.

What gets my goat is that these two issues are linked to the abortion issue which there is no room for individual prudential judgment.


#19

From the USCCB’s A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death:

Twenty-five years ago, our Conference of bishops first called for an end to the death penalty. We renew this call to seize a new moment and new momentum. This is a time to teach clearly, encourage reflection, and call for common action in the Catholic community to bring about an end to the use of the death penalty in our land.

In these reflections, we join together to share clearly and apply faithfully Catholic teaching on the death penalty. We reaffirm our common judgment that the use of the death penalty is unnecessary and unjustified in our time and circumstances.


#20

[quote=Orionthehunter].

What gets my goat is that these two issues are linked to the abortion issue which there is no room for individual prudential judgment.
[/quote]

I agree. I hate it when I see some try to claim their is a moral equivalency between a politican who opposes abortion and supports the death penatly and one who supports abortion and opposes the death penalty.


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