Okay, what about Catholics and the Death Penalty?

by Steve Ray on March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015 By Dr. Ed Peters, Canon Lawyer   (see also The Stream’s: “Should Catholics Oppose the Death Penalty?“)

“Dr. Steven Long beat me to it. His rejoinder to the “Capital punishment must end” editorial of America, National Catholic RegisterNational Catholic Reporter, andOur Sunday Visitor is essential reading even if, in some places, Long’s essay, “Four Catholic Journals Indulge in Doctrinal Solipsism”, needs to be translated into readable English.*

Worse, though, than the four journals editorial itself—which for the most part only repackages and recycles prudential arguments against the death penalty as if they were arguments in principle—have been some of  the “pile-ons” published in its wake, with Pathos administering an especially condescending tongue-lashing to Catholics who, tsk-tsk, can’t understand that opposition to the death penalty is demanded “for the simplest of reasons” and then walks Catholic troglodyte death-penalty enthusiasts through four reasons why they are (supposedly) so utterly and embarrassingly wrong, beginning each reason with “We are Catholic”.

Like, you know, I’m not.

As a Catholic squarely in line with the Catholic tradition that, as Long accurately if turgidly sets out, supports the just administration of the death penalty for capital crimes, I have grown used to having my motives for such support reduced to: my thirst for vengeance, my disdain for mercy, my obliviousness to Christ’s salvific will, my despair about conversion, and my contempt for compassion. I apparently do not understand that the death penalty does not bring murder victims back to life (gee, whodathunkit?) but that’s not to worry, because my support for the death penalty can be excused (and then dismissed) on purely demographic grounds (I am, after all, white, male, middle-aged, and usually vote conservative, so who cares what a heartless jerk like me thinks about anything?)

But, besides venting, there are two substantive points I would like to add to this discussion, the first, concerning how some seem to read the much-vaunted language added to the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty.

For the whole article, with which I agree completely, CLICK HERE.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Aida March 9, 2015 at 7:36 PM

An excellent lecture at Audio Sancto that speaks on the death penalty which has been recognized by the Church throughout the Church’s history. It’s a must listen to. As a Pro-life activist for over 40 years, I totally agree, barring innocents being railroaded. The current use of DNA is a wonderful tool.
Download Link: http://www.AudioSancto.org/auweb/20121006-Capital-Punishment-is-Consistent-with-Dignity-for-Life.mp3
The preacher’s name is withheld by his request:
[The Bible, Church Fathers and Doctors, many Popes and Catechisms, and even Christ Himself while He was on earth have asserted that civil authorities have the right to execute criminals, and that doing so is CONSISTENT with respecting the dignity of human life. Such action by the state isn’t just retribution for the crime of the condemned, but a merciful opportunity for the criminal to expiate for his crimes in this life so that he may live eternally in the next.] http://www.audiosancto.org/sermon/20121006-Capital-Punishment-is-Consistent-with-Dignity-for-Life.html

Gabriel March 9, 2015 at 10:33 PM

“Peath penalty”?

STEVE RAY HERE: Yes, the death penalty.

Brian copeland August 2, 2018 at 6:40 PM

In light of todays change in the catechism by the Pope (aug 2nd 2018) how does this change everything

STEVE RAY HERE: Let’s see if it is actually a real thing first. I haven’t studied this matter yet since I’m heading to Ireland but I don’t think this changes anything in the constant tradition of the church. Scripture and tradition have always supported capital punishment under certain circumstances. I find it hard to believe that this can be changed into anything dogmatic.

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