"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

Monday, February 12, 2007

Vatican Reaffirms Morality of Death Penalty

... while simulataneously claiming that capital punishment is "a clear offense against the inviolability of human life... and, for Christians, an affront to the evangelical teaching of forgiveness."

Uh, whatever. This interesting schizophrenic exercize took place recently when the Vatican issued a statement for the "world congress on the death penalty" held in that bastion of Christian values, France, earlier this month.

The part of the statement the press ignored reaffirms that "The Catholic Church continues to maintain that the legitimate authorities of State have the duty to protect society from aggressors."

At the same time, and in direct contradiction to what it just affirmed, the statement alleges that capital punishment is "a clear offense against the inviolability of human life ... and, for Christians, an affront to the evangelical teaching of forgiveness."

So one must ask which teaching is Rome positing? Either the death penalty is part of the legitimate aresenal of the State to defend against aggressors, or it's an affront to human dignity and the right to life which, it is claimed, is "inviolable" and extends "from conception to natural end," a radical claim that eliminates not only the death penalty but the just war doctrine!

And as for the "evangelical teaching" of forgiveness, where is the principled attempt to reconcile the radical (and heretical) pacifism of this statement with the clear teaching of both Scripture and Tradition on the morality of both the death penalty and the just war?

The situation is not helped by the addition of a smattering of extremely ignorant statements about how other non-lethal means of punishment "offer[] the accused stimuli and encouragement" and therefore obviate the need for the death penalty (an argument that would get an "F" in a high school sociology course).

And people wonder why the Church is ignored.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tommy, my boy, can't you read? The Vatican is clearly saying that it is against the death penalty, as all Catholics should be. Society can be "protected from aggressors" by a life in prison sentence. Why are you trying to spin the words of the Vatican towards death? You disappoint me. Seems that legal education of yours may have been wasted, eh?

Anonymous said...

JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO SAYS...

Tom and "anonymous," you forget the most important reason for executing murderers (which, in our day and in this country, is the only use for the death penalty) : God commands it!

In Genesis 9:5-6, God tells Noah that "if a man sheds another man's blood, then (the perpetrator's) blood must be shed" because murder is the ultimate desecration of the divine image in humanity. Moroever, that command implies that Noah's descendants establish courts to adjudicate fairly based on due process. This command is reinforced in Exodus and Deuteronomy, and is never countermanded anywhere in the New Testament.

The Church, "anonymous," in its opposition toward capital punishment, is reversing centuries of teaching based on Scripture and Tradition.

If the Church is so self-satisfied that it sees fit to countermand a direct, uncomplicated divine command, then it not only deserves not to be listened to. It deserves to be scourged, if not destroyed, for its high-minded, high-handed arrogance.

Barbara's Journey Toward Justice said...

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