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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pope Francis and the Death Penalty: More Contradiction on Church Teaching

Hey Lord, I love abortionist Emma Bonino, but
can you please do something about those rigid
Catholics who support the "inhumane" death
penalty that "humiliates...human dignity?"
Here we go again. Pope Francis has come out in an address October 11th to members of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization saying, that treatment of the death penalty now requires, “leav[ing] out positions in defense of arguments which now appear decisively contrary to the new understanding of Christian truth. ... It is necessary to reiterate that, no matter how serious the crime committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attempt against the inviolability and dignity of the person.” [Read articles here and here.]


Pope Francis is adamant in his condemnation saying:
  • “It must be strongly confirmed that condemning a person to the death penalty is an inhumane measure that humiliates, in any way it is pursued, human dignity.”
  • and also, the death penalty -- “is in itself contrary to the Gospel because it is voluntarily decided to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of which God only in the final analysis is the true judge and guarantor.”
  • And again -- “No one, therefore, can have their life taken from them, nor the possibility of a moral and existential redemption that goes back in favor of the community.”
I'm not quite sure what that last statement means, but there's no question Pope Francis opposes the death penalty. Absolutely! No exceptions! Nothin' doin'!

Actually, in view of his honoring abortionists like Emma Bonino and population controllers like Paul Ehrlich, I'd say he's a lot more opposed to the death penalty than to either abortion or population control. Ah well, some lives are more equal than others.

The USCCB while adamantly against the death penalty was more nuanced than Pope Francis raising this qualification:  "No matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so." I suggest that's a big IF. And the Catechism of the Catholic Church reflects that. It does NOT  agree with the pope's opinion. Here's a portion of what the catechism says that the pope wants to change:
2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people's safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.

2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
I'd like to be opposed to the death penalty, and for the most part I am, but with qualifications. I don't believe the death penalty should be used as revenge. People can repent in jail and many have including St. Maria Goretti's killer. But that doesn't change the fact that government has a serious moral obligation to protect the common good. And in some cases the only way to do that is to use the death penalty. 

Let's raise some real situations. If a murderer is in prison for life what does he have to lose by killing other prisoners, or murdering guards in an escape attempt or, if he does escape, killing anyone who gets in his way? There are many documented cases of murderers who escape or get out of prison and kill again. Check out this website and this one and this one and this one. Do the lives of these victims have no value? Shouldn't a murderer who murders again during and after an escape face the death penalty? Is sending him back to jail to possibly escape and kill again protect society? 

There are murderous psychopaths who if they get a chance will kill again. Certainly any convicted murderer who murders while in prison or escapes and murders witnesses in revenge or murders people who threaten his freedom is a menace to society. Allowing these killers to continue to rampage against the innocent, those "sacred in the eyes of the Creator," is a serious injustice. How many murders does one person get before he forfeits his own life?

And now a last question. If the pope "develops" the doctrine of the death penalty to the point where it is labeled as an unequivocal moral evil, and I refuse to accept his opinion as valid, can I be denied Holy Communion? 

What do you think?


Alan said...

Life is a gift from God. I believe capital punishment is as wrong as abortion - seamless cloth. There are ways to deal with violent, escape-prone inmates. No one has ever escaped from supermax.

Friend of St. Joseph said...

I believe it was from this blog that I reviewed the older catechisms' acceptance of the death penalty: 3 of them! As you observed: society has a duty to protect its' citizens, and besides escape possibilities there are our idiot parole boards and purchasable presidential pardons to worry about! Society does not have a duty to spend $100K+ per year guarding an amoral criminal to protect society; then there is the deterrent affect of justice delivered.
Pope Francis is not speaking ex cathedra; I have no problem dismissing his opinions on this as well as Laudato Si ("It is not our expertise to offer scientific opinion", followed by 30 pages of drivel predicated on anthropogenic global warming) and Amoris Laetitia (challenged by 4 Cardinals in the Dubia and now by over 100 theological scholars in the Filial Corrections). As someone else has observed: "He is from Argentina; he picked up his anti-Capitalism [and a lot of his other opinions, including his sense of how to administer his office] in his mother's milk."

Cog said...

In the new Francis religion currently being developed, your pre-Francis rigidity about the death penalty would not only disqualify you from Holy Communion but your soul could eventually be annihilated as an act of divine mercy. .

Ronald Sevenster said...

My guess is that this move of Bergoglio is just an attempt to demonstrate that the Pope has power to change Church doctrine. And if change is accepted on this issue (the death penalty), then why not on other issues, e.g. communion for the civilly divorced and remarried and open homosexuals, &c. &c. The death penalty was chosen to initiate these changes, because popular opinion, including Catholic popular opinion, is supportive of Bergoglio's position. It is the old trick of creating a fait accompli.

Justina said...

How many murders? Any number at all. Consider the worldwide predations of Communism during the last century. Consider the ongoing scourge of abortion. Consider Terri Schiavo and poor little Charlie Gard, and the countless others like them. Consider the fact that Pope Bergoglio just stated, in no uncertain terms, that the West must continue "welcoming refugees" even at the cost of national security. What this man means by "mercy" goes way beyond the occasional admission of the divorced-and-remarried to the Catholic sacraments. The substitution of good for evil, and evil for good, is more like it.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Alan, to compare capital punishment to abortion is to trivialize the murder of the innocent, which is one of the four crimes the Bible says "Cry out to heaven for justice." The guilty have their day in court, and another day in court, and another day.

As for no one escaping from max security prisons, escapes are rare but they happen.

And even if no one ever escapes, how do you prevent the murder of fellow prisoners or guards within the prison? What does the prisoner have to lose if he is already sentenced to life without parole? So what is your solution to protect the guards and fellow inmates?

Nicholas Anthony Rodriguez was killed during a prison riot in California in 2015. He was nearly cut in half and disemboweled. He was one of about 160 prisoners in California murdered while incarcerated during the past 15 years. How do you propose dealing with those prisoners' murders when the killer is already a lifer. Take away his commissary privileges? Government has an obligation to protect its citizens -- even the ones in jail.

Alan said...

I (belatedly) appreciate your response. I think we are more in agreement tham perhaps I am able to articulate. Keep up the good work & God Bless

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Thanks Alan. We all struggle don't we? May God's will be done in all things.