When did executing heretics become immoral?


And yet, in most Western countries, some degree of free expression exists, and most blasphemy laws, if not outright removed, are not enforced. You have no right to impinge upon my freedom of expression simply because you view me as a blasphemer.


I’m pretty sure I said the exact same thing to CM last week regarding the same topic.
I’m relieved to see other Catholics saying the same.


I don’t think it as me dodging questions so much as me refusing to defend strawmen attacks that are posed as questions. If I take what you say at face value then my understanding is that you haven’t read a thing I’ve written and don’t care to understand anything at all. So in the best case, you’re intellectually lazy concerning my arguments, and most probably dishonest.

Why not? Because the government says so? What if the government changes? Then I guess we would have the right.


I thought that the papal states were run by clergy?


Let’s assume I’m a coach or teacher and I have my own child in my class/team. My child gets an F on the test (or misbehaves at practice) and I ground my child for a week for his/her poor grades (or behavior at practice).

Did I punish the child in my role as the teacher (coach) or as a parent?

Parent, of course, because I didn’t punish anyone else.

Now let’s flip the situation. Let’s assume I’m a baseball coach and I have a standing rule on my team that says you have to run a lap every time you strike out and 2 laps if you strike out looking. And my child strikes out twice (once looking) and needs to run 3 laps.

I’m I punishing my child in my role as father or coach?

Coach of course.

Also let’s look at Barron Trump. If President Trump punishes Barron for bad grades or foul language, did the Office the Presidency just punish Barron? Of course not.

Some times people have multiple roles and can have multiple jobs at the same time. When you have more than one job, you actions in one job do not necessarily reflect the other job.

So, my point is, it is very complicated. But I would agree that you could say the Pope had Bruno executed, but not the Church.


Because most Western societies have come to the point of view that governments suppressing fundamental liberties because “God says so” is simply tyranny. If you don’t like blasphemy, don’t speak it, and don’t listen.


And it sounds so tedious trying to punish or kill other people over differences of religious belief or lack thereof, what with them not wanting to be killed and all.

And nowadays, people can shoot back and stuff, so that makes it a lot harder to bring them in for examination of their beliefs. And sometimes groups of folks organize around those heretical beliefs so trying to enforce all that just leads to civil unrest, and nobody likes that. Just imagine how much trouble it would be to round up Baptists, for example. Almost all of them are armed, even at their church services.

And when you get down to it, aside from some enthusiasts like chunkmonk, very few people are all that into the idea of prosecuting religious heretics here in the West these days. Most of us have just gotten lazy and would rather play video games or watch football or something.

Not like the old days, that’s for sure.


I thought that the papal states were run by Catholic clergy and the Pope? Weren’t they in control and in charge of the laws in effect at that time? If the laws were immoral or contrary to Catholic teaching, why did the Catholic clergy and the Pope approve of them? It seems more likely that the laws in effect in the papal states were laws that were acceptable to the Catholic Church?


The Church has never believed that Capital Punishment (itself) was immoral. The debate is regarding the type of crimes that would be considered a Capital offense. Pope Francis is the first Pope to use extremely harsh language against Capital Punishment, though both John Paul II and Benedict XVI both believed that the death penalty was not really needed in the modern world, with modern prisons.

Back in the past, if you viewed as a person who endangering people’s souls which would lead them to hell, then you were seen as a danger to society.

Just because the Papal States were run by the Pope and other clergy does not mean that THE CHURCH (aka the Mystical Body of Christ) condoned their actions. Popes can make mistakes in prudential judgement.

The death penalty was historically been considered a matter of prudential judgement.

It can be argued that the death penalty used to be considered more humane because prisons of the past used to be inhumane and very primitive. People died in prison with all sorts of illnesses, bug bites, rat/mouse bites, etc… The living conditions in prisons used to truly be hell on earth, so a sentence of death was sometimes more preferable.

Also, a death sentence often resulted in confessions right before death.

As a child, St. Therese prayed for a prisoner in France who was being put to death. The news paper had stated that he was refusing confession. So Therese prayed. In the last seconds before his death, he quickly turned around and grabbed the priests crucifix and kissed it. The newspapers ran the story about him grabbing the cross at the last moment and kissing it… St. Therese felt a joy in reading this because she knew the man (while still not going to confession) had just pleaded for Jesus to have mercy on him.

This was the mindset and world view of people in those days.

How many people today, do you know who would rejoice at hearing a man on death row kissed the Cross before being put to death? Not many, because our view of death and of criminal justice has changed.

Today, we can humanely put someone in prison for 20 years to life. Again, that’s not something that was common/possible in the past.




Point is: if you want to make the argument the Pope and clergy of the Papal States were wrong in their prudential judgment to use the death penalty, that would be a valid opinion. But to say that The Church was wrong or that The Church executed prisoners would be incorrect.

One more analogy. If the State of Texas sentences someone to death, did the Federal Government execute him? No, the State of Texas did.

Popes can be prudentially wrong. And just because a Pope says something or allows something to happen does NOT automatically mean that it is Church teaching or Church sanctioned. Popes are human and sometimes they have done things that are against Church teaching. The difference is whether they have ever forced the Church to believe that doing something is Catholic believe as Dogma.

I know this is nuanced, but you can’t look at it using our eyes. You need to look at it from the eyes of someone who would rejoice at the news of a criminal repenting just before being executed. If you can’t do that, you will never understand their worldview.


Call me weak but if I was brought before those roaring flames i’d pretty much say anything you want me to.


Which would be totally fine, because the reason for the death sentence and recant was to keep others from following the same heresy. If you recant, then others would be less likely to follow that heresy.

Furthermore, the confession would not get you out of non-heresy/blasphemy capital crimes. If your crimes included things other than heresy, the death sentence would still move forward. This is more of what I was referring to.


Oh really? There are several articles in the local Catholic newspaper which say that a Christian cannot accept the death penalty. In fact Pope Francis has taught that the death penalty is “inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed.” Further, Pope Benedict XVI has taught that torture is immoral and when you burn a person alive you are torturing her to death. There are methods of capital punishment which do not amount to torture, but certainly, burning a person alive is not one of them. And the papal states were under the direct rule of the leader of the Roman Catholic Church and no one else. So I don;t see how it would be wrong to say that the head of the Catholic Church was responsible for the laws of the papal states.



You are failing to understand my point.

  1. Pope Francis is the first Pope to say that Capital Punishment is totally
    wrong and against the Gospel. No one said that before.

  2. in regards to burning someone alive, I never said that was a moral,
    ethical or licit way to execute someone.

You will never hear me say that burning people at the stake is ok. But you
hear me try to explain their worldview and explain how people at that time
saw things.

But you have to understand the context… in order for Capital Punishment
to be a deterrent, potential criminals need to fear it. Now whether
Capital Punishment should be used as a deterrent is a different debate, but
many throughout history believed it should be used as both a deterrent and
application of justice.

While burning at the stake is a HORRIBLE application of justice, it was an
effective form of deterrent. But that doesn’t make it just. Truth is,
thoughout human history, govts have struggled to balance justice and
deterrent- which is why the US Founding Fathers added to the Constitution
the requirement that the punishment must fit the crime, and no cruel &
unusual punishment.

  1. again - I never said that the Pope didn’t allow the sentencing of death
    in the Papal States. I said the Church never killed anyone. I never said
    the Pope or Bishops didn’t execute someone in their secular role. It’s a
    kin to a US Congressmen who are also Chair of their party. Sometimes they
    do things in their role as National Party Chair, and other times they do
    something in their role as US Congressman.

Or like the US Speaker of the House… sometimes Speaker Ryan does
something in his role as US Speaker and sometimes he does something in his
role as Represenative from his Congressional District.

It’s possible to have multiple jobs and it’s also possible that multiple
jobs can have conflicting interests.

Point is, I will never say that Priests, Bishops, Cardinals and Popes were
sinless. They have been filled with scandal though the years.

But it was the sinful actions of men in power, no the Church, which is the
Mystical Body of Christ.

God Bless


First you say:

Now you say that the Vicar of Christ and the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church teaches that “Capital Punishment is totally wrong and against the Gospel”.?


It appears you unleashed an objective morality conundrum.


Not me, Pope Francis did :slight_smile:

Look, I’m not a fan of Capital Punishment… Before Pope Francis said anything, I was totally in line with Pope John Paul II. My feeling was that the death penalty should be reserved for criminals who are still a threat to society even in prison.

For example:
– Some big time drug lords who can still recruit and execute orders from prison
– select terrorists and war criminals (people like Bin Laddin and Hitler)

But the average criminal should be able to receive a long sentence or life in prison instead of death.

HOWEVER, with all that said, I will not argue that the Death Penalty is wrong 100% of the time, but I will argue that it’s usually not the prudent option.

Also, what I will not agree with, is judging past generations on their use of the Capital Punishment, because they didn’t have the level Criminal Justice research that we have today, nor did they have humane prisons in the past.

God Bless


But burning was “okay”?



Did you read any of my previous posts? I already answered that. I said
previously that I think burning was wrong in hindsight and I would never
support such a cruel punishment.

But I also understand why society used burning, because it was an effective
deterrent, but it was an unjust punishment.

It was a misbalance of justice and deterrent, and obviously lacked all


burning nor beheading were ever prescribed in The Old Testament. If any ‘capital punishment’ was to have been done, it was by ‘stoning’… However the reason why The Spirit is against the ‘killing’ of heretics is because The Spirit was sent to Earth after Jesus’ Ascension to remind all of the words which Jesus Christ spoke… The Old Covenant of sacrifices and offerings and burnt sacrifices and offerings were done away with. And with no such sacrifice still being accepted by The Father of Christ, it is only through HIS Son in which we can receive any atonement or forgiveness. As far as the penalty for a crime is concerned, crimes towards God, or sin, has to be dealt with in the same Light. Do you get involved with someone who is committing a sin which may be leading to death or do you stay away? Do you pray for everyone who is living with ‘sin(s)’ which may be leading to death or do you not? But as far as killing by fire and sword are concerned, The Old Testament never said to put a person to death by fire or sword… With stoning, yes, but not with fire or sword…

Such ‘doctrines’ and ‘commandments’ of men which many might take as God’s Law(s) can lead many astray from serving The True and Living God. It is always wiser to keep with God’s Written Word than it is to blindly put your trust and faith in an Organization, even The Established Church(s). It is man which runs those organizations, not God. And these ‘men’ should relay the Truth of The Word, both Old and New Testament, to those who may not have the time needed to study The Holy Bible for themselves.

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