"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"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."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Vatican: "Saddam is the Real Victim"

So the powers that be in the Vatican don't think Saddam Hussein should be hanged. His lengthy trial and sentence are an "unjustifiably vindictive reaction", according to Cardinal Renato Martino , who also expressed disappointment that Iraq has "not yet made the civilised choice of abolishing the death penalty."

Remember, now, they're going to bat for a guy who was sentenced to hang for committing crimes against humanity by ordering the deaths of 148 Shi'ites from a northern Baghdad village, after a 1982 assassination attempt against him. But Cardinal Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said that "punishing a crime with another crime - which is what killing for vindication is - would mean that we are still at the point of demanding an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."

This is a perfect example of how the Church's teaching on the death penalty has become distorted beyond recognition. The short story is that the Church always viewed the death penalty not in terms of societal self-defense (the premise of the "modified" teaching of John Paul II and the modern Catechism) but upon the twin principles that the sacredness of life is best vindicated by following the Divine command to punish murder by having the murderer forfeit his own life ("For whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed for in the image of God made He man") , and by the observation that "justice demands that the offended moral order be repaired and restored by a congruent satisfaction."

John Paul II and the authors of the recent Catechism understood that this teaching was of such antinquity, of such weight, and so universal that it could not be simply wished away. Thus they only modified the rationale offered for the legitimacy of the death penalty, from a moral vindication of the sacredness of life and the requirements of justice, to a mere "defense of society" rationale. This neat trick allows them to conclude that if there is no self-defense issue in a particular case (i.e., the prisoner can be effectively "neutralized" through incarceration), there is no rationale for execution. Et viola! Practically no executions are permitted under this line of reasoning.

Never mind that this is not the traditional teaching of the Church: the end for these innovators (fewer executions) apparently justifies the means (distorting and misstating the traditional teaching of the Church about the death penalty).

Needless to say, there are plenty of people, like Papa Shea, who don't care about this highjacking of tradition, and behave as if the pope is infallible in his every act and utterance. In fact, a pope's primary function is simply to guard the deposit of Faith and hand it down intact to his successor, not to refashion whatever in that Deposit he (or the zeitgeist) doesn't personally care for.

The reaction to Hussein's sentence shows these people for what they are: radicals who really favor outright abolition but could not accomplish that "officially" so they must voice their opposition in every case where someone is sentenced to death. To my knowledge, there has not been a case in the last 20 years in which the Vatican has pronounced that a sentence of death was justified; the examples are legion of pronouncements about how so-and-so should not be executed because the death penalty should be abolished and civilized counries have already done so.

So Rome "officially" allows that the death penalty is permissible, but in practice acts as if it never possibly could be, even in the limited circumstances laid out in their "modified" teachings: it must be abolished entirely in a civilized nation.

Bizzarely, under this morally bankrupt teaching, Hitler, Stalin, and Hussein avoid death because we can squirrel them away for life in some prison, while your garden-variety sociopath convicted murderer who vows to kill his guards or escape confinement could actually be executed as an ongoing threat to society.


Anonymous said...


Well said, Tom. You are the first Catholic blogger that I know of who calls this "development of doctrine" what it is: theological revisionism based on intellectual fashion that contradicts Scripture and Tradition.

What the late pope and his "rotweiler" did to moral understanding within Catholicism cannot be excused.

Mr. Evil said...

This is all I have to say...

Roger H. said...

Looks as though you've got under Mr. Magisterial Fundy's skin. I'm especially amused by some of the comboxers who admit to not having read your blog yet blindly agreeing with Mark's assessment of you. Talk about drinking the Kool-Aid.

Anonymous said...

I love seeing you fools at one another's throats. None of you has any influence outside a relative handful of busybodies and crackpots. But wait, what do "Gerald Augustinius" and Rich Leonardi have to say on the subject? Are they sufficiently hate-filled for you?

The Democrats will be here for a long time; it's going to be great watching you bigots and sycophants implode.

roger h. said...

Are they sufficiently hate-filled for you?

No, but you are.

Donald R. McClarey said...

"The Democrats will be here for a long time; it's going to be great watching you bigots and sycophants implode."

Brave Anonymous troll, your insults are as pathetic as your cowardice. How empty and bitter your life must be to prowl web sites to spill your bile. I truly pity you.

Anonymous said...


Tom, you should also notice that Shea accused me of calling the late pope "Poop John Baal," which I did a few years ago and for which I have apologized -- and Shea knows that I've apologized. The point is that Shea is so controlled by his anger that he will use anything to strike back at those who disagree.

And, no, Mark, if you're reading this, I do not forgive you. You should know better. The fact that you choose to behave as if you don't is just another reflection of your "character" (or, more appropriately, lack of same).

coalitionforfog said...

This note is utterly hilarious:

Shea continues to presuppose his own rightness.

The man is a complete maroon. He literally cannot even describe a disagreement without using loaded terms, framings and descriptors of the "have you stopped beating your wife yet" variety.

This latest crime against reason is in his saying to Christopher Blosser that "this is the second time I've pointed out that someone is spitting on the Church, and you're more concerned about my pointing this out that the person spitting on the Church." Does one laugh or cry at the clueless self-righteousness on display?

joeh said...

Actually, on the latest changes to the death penalty, I kind of agree if the following could be found true. One, that a person put in jail for life was going to serve all their life in a place that is not a country club which means we have to end the ACLU domination and end the left wing judges that say they need cable and recreation facilities. A good solid 4-8 box does fine. Of course Mark would call this torture. Second, you would have to insure that this person could not get out by means of escape, left wind reasoning for release or new trial, or being set free by force of arms. In Iraq, this is far from certain. And so, we need to allow the Iraqi government the freedom to hang this useless SOB.
By the way, I was blocked from posting on Mark's site because I tried to point out his desire to have a democratic outcome in the congress by encouraging others to throw away their vote. In making the argument, he was offended because I used logic to point out his lies.

Anonymous said...

What's hilarious is that you guys are too nutty even for a right wing busybody like Mark Shea.

By the way, this just in from the Sanctimony Party: Rove off the hook as party blames Iraq.

“Nobody thinks that Karl is in charge of the occupation of Iraq,” said Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, who has close ties to Mr Rove. “I haven’t heard any complaints about him. In a conference call with conservative groups no one faulted the turnout effort" . . .

“Bob Sherwood’s seat [in Pennsylvania] would have been overwhelmingly ours, if his mistress hadn’t whined about being throttled,” said Mr Norquist. Any lessons from the campaign? “Yes. The lesson should be, don’t throttle mistresses.”

Yeah, the nerve of her, huh? Didn't she know what an honor it is to be the mistress of a member of the Hypocrisy Party? And then to go complain when he choked her! She's going to hell, for sure, right, guys?

Donald R. McClarey said...

"What's hilarious is that you guys are too nutty even for a right wing busybody like Mark Shea."

Brave Anonymous troll, your insults are as pathetic as your cowardice. How empty and bitter your life must be to prowl web sites to spill your bile. I truly pity you.

A repeat I know, but trolls deserve no other response.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, that's generous of you, Donald (if indeed that's your real name). Meanwhile, though, your G.O.P. is on the ropes, and its nominee for President will almost certainly be someone who's not a big enough busybody for you, like John McCain or Rudy Giuliani. I know you don't perceive it, but that's very, very funny.

I will chuckle about it as I cast my November '08 vote for Sen. Clinton.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous, what does the Republican Party's loss of Congressional seats have to do with capital punishment?