When did executing heretics become immoral?


What is more charitable? To let a man speak evil things, or to protect the ignorant from being tricked?



I think you are stuck on the Old Covenant’s Economy; Yahweh’s Salvific Plan was in effect Before the Beginning; yet, it was not till the appointed time that God’s Full Measure of Mercy would be Revealed:

3:16 Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. 3:17 For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved. 3:18 No one who believes in him will be condemned; but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already, because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son. (St. John)
4:4 but when the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, 4:5 to redeem the subjects of the Law and to enable us to be adopted as sons. (Galatians)

The Law only pointed to and demanded death as the means to rescue a sinner from sin.

In Jesus God’s Full Measure of Justice and Mercy are found. We live not under the curse of the Law, death:

3:10 On the other hand, those who rely on the keeping of the Law are under a curse, since scripture says: Cursed be everyone who does not persevere in observing everything prescribed in the book of the Law. (Galatians)

Yet, we (Christians) and the world at large live not under the Law but under Grace:

3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by being cursed for our sake, since scripture says: Cursed be everyone who is hanged on a tree. 3:14 This was done so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might include the pagans, and so that through faith we might receive the promised Spirit. (Galatians)

So after Receiving the Grace of the New Covenant we cannot turn back to the limits of the Old Covenant’s Law.

While we cannot inoculate against evil men and their failures (by imprisoning and killing them because their rejection of God), we can instruct the ignorant with the Gospel and through our Obedience to God’s Call for Holiness.

Maran atha!



Tradition disagrees. We can and did inoculate the ignorant from the influence of evil men with imprisonment and death.


Well, someone did…

Whoever you include besides yourself in “we” has been long dead as that sort of temporal authority to punish heresy has long been lost as political systems have changed.

These days, would-be Inquisitors are reduced to snarking on Facebook and discussion boards.


I need some additional context with this statement. Are you advocating outright killing heretics?


Christendom. Since I am a practicing Catholic, I can refer to it as “we”.

Do you find Catholicism and Islam to be moral equivalents? Do you believe the Koran is inspired truth?

Did I say I supported the outright killing or heretics? The Church allowed for it in the past, could even be said to have implicitly supported it, but I don’t remember specifically advocating for it myself. Imprisonment and corporal punishment, sure I would support that for certain persons, but not execution. Mostly on prudential grounds.

My point is that capital punishment is not an intrinsic evil, and heresy and blasphemy can sometimes do more damage than murder, so it makes sense that authorities throughout history have taken a dim view of heretics and blasphemers and made the prudential judgement that executing the heretic and blasphemer was necessary to ensure the continuing safety of their nations and people.


No. We cannot!

Salvation must be gained through freewill; no amount of coercion can Save a single person.

Maran atha!



I must concur with this statement.

Just as in the past “doctors” prescribed blood-letting for all that ills you; we have come into a different understanding of things.

When the Church and the state coexisted and the toppling of the state meant civil disrest and prolonged war/battle through challenging the state’s authority, such were the terms of the day.

Yet, we’ve come too far, removed from Church and state entanglements, to return to the feudal times.

Maran atha!



So in order for a man to be saved, we have to let the lions into his home? We have to watch our societies make Sodom and Gomorrah look like a Sunday School or we’re guilty of coercion? How far does this tolerance go? At what point can the State decide to prevent the purposeful and designed moral degradation of our citizens?

Freedom of speech is a secular principle. Only good insofar as it bears good fruit. The suicide pact of allowing any sicko say anything he wants to anyone is insane. Jesus cast out the demons, he didn’t sit around saying mature people can handle a little demon infestation. Jesus drove the money-changers out of the Temple with a whip. He didn’t sit around self-righteously saying it wasn’t his job to “legislate morality.”


This is a very sad post! (As many of your other Catholic brethren on here would agree) Is this the same tradition you wish all other Christians will embrace or is it at least "t"radition?


It is Tradition as in it was taught infallibly to be, at the minimum, not against the Will of the Spirit to execute heretics.

What I think is sad is that the temporal life of an evil person is being considered as having higher value than the immortal souls of his victims.


First of all for all the other posters I am aware this would not be the Catholic position but a handful of them.

But North Korea and Nazi Germany followed/follow the same idea and did/do very well.


Got it. Thanks.

Side note: Any Catholic on this thread who agrees? Is this the Sacred Tradition, 1 of the legs of the Gospel that is being advocated?


More false equivalency. Nazi Germany was, at best, somewhat tolerant of Christianity, and mostly hostile to it. They did not execute a single person for “heresy against the Catholic faith”.

North Korea is openly hostile to Christianity and has executed and persecuted many Christians. They also have never executed a single person for preaching against Christ.

Christianity and false religions are not equivalent. The argument does not hold.


I thought its about speaking “apparent” evil things and influencing the “ignorant”?

Guess we can make the situation VERY specific and then yes, you have a point.

Side note: I obviously still think its relevant but you said its not so let’s leave it there.


Brother, we are not Jesus!

Yet, we must, as you have stated, do more than deliberate… yet, how we Bring the Gospel to the world must be according to Jesus’ Commands:

10:16 Remember, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be cunning as serpents and yet as harmless as doves. (St. Matthew)

So yeah, lets teach those heretics and atheists something… but lets do it in Christ’s Love and Peace.

Maran atha!



Hi, Michael!

I’m a born Catholic and I do not understand that position to be the Apostolic Teaching nor the Apostolic Tradition.

However, we all have the right to form our opinion… and sometimes our opinions are dosed with inflammatory and contradicting elocution.

The beauty of being able to express one’s self is that we can both learn something new and remove the hurt and burden that we may have been harnessing.

Maran atha!



That’s why I asked for the definition of the terms… it is best when we come to the same meaning of things in order to address the issues…

Maran atha!



Thanks. I know this is not the Catholic position. And if I believed it was considered Sacred Tradition as it was stated I would close this account and start to help save those “poor Catholics”. It’s just sad to see these posts.



I agree! Mr CMonk is very specific in this and if it’s not the person wearing the blue hat it isn’t relevent to this discussion.

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