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Pope Francis Is Wrong about the Death Penalty. Here’s Why.

In light of today’s news that the pope has “changed the Catechism of the Catholic Church about the death penalty, saying it can never be sanctioned,” we are reprinting this as a reference point for concerned Catholics.  –SS, 8/2/2018

When the first version of this column was originally published in March 2015, it was occasioned by comments made by Pope Francis to the effect that the death penalty is never justified. Since then, it has become necessary to revise and update it, due to additional comments on the topic from the pope. Of particular note, these appeared in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (83), which states: “[T]he Church not only feels the urgency to assert the right to a natural death, without aggressive treatment and euthanasia,” but likewise “firmly rejects the death penalty.”

This statement, which moved the pope’s position from the realm of personal opinion and into a document some perceive to be a part of his personal magisterium, was addressed by an eminent group of theologians as a potential heresy here [see A). 1).]. For illustrative purposes, here’s a screenshot the section in question:

The citations in the above make clear that the established teaching of the Church on the matter comes from both the Scriptures and the Magisterium. And yet, in an address given today, October 11, 2017, marking the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the pope has taken his position even farther, saying the Catechism needs to be revised to reflect the understanding that capital punishment “is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of whom, in the last analysis, only God can be the true judge and guarantor” (emphasis added).

The teaching of the Church on the permissibly of capital punishment, however, is taken from Divine Revelation; it is, in other words, infallible, and not subject to such changes – even by a pope. As the late Jesuit theologian Fr. John Hardon explained:

In the 20th century, Pope Pius XII provided a full doctrinal defense of capital punishment. Speaking to Catholic jurists, he explained what the Church teaches about the authority of the State to punish crimes, even with the death penalty.

The Church holds that there are two reasons for inflicting punishment, namely “medicinal” and “vindictive.” The medicinal purpose is to prevent the criminal from repeating his crime and to protect society from his criminal behavior. The vindictive is to expiate for the wrong-doing perpetrated by the criminal. Thus, reparation is made to an offended God, and the disorder caused by the crime is expiated.

Equally important is the Pope’s insistence that capital punishment is morally defensible in every age and culture of Christianity. Why? Because the Church’s teaching on “the coercive power of legitimate human authority” is based on “the sources of revelation and traditional doctrine.” It is wrong, therefore, “to say that these sources only contain ideas which are conditioned by historical circumstances.” On the contrary, they have “a general and abiding validity” (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 1955, pp. 81-2).

Behind this declaration of the Vicar of Christ is a principle of our Catholic faith. Most of the Church’s teaching, especially in the moral order, is infallible doctrine because it belongs to what we call her ordinary universal magisterium. There are certain moral norms that have always and everywhere been held by the successors of the Apostles in communion with the Bishop of Rome. Although never formally defined, they are irreversibly binding on the followers of Christ until the end of the world.

Such moral truths are the grave sinfulness of contraception and direct abortion. Such, too, is the imposition of the death penalty. Certainly Christianity, like Christ, is to be merciful. Certainly Christians are to be kind and forgiving. But Christ is God. He is indeed loving and in fact is love. But He is also just. As a just God, He has a right to authorize civil authority to inflict capital punishment.

What the Church Actually Teaches About Capital Punishment

The Church’s stance on capital punishment has always been more than merely permissive; the idea, for example, that “rendering harmless” those criminals deserving of capital punishment is sufficient to eradicate the need for such a sentence is simply not consistent with the teachings of Holy Scripture or the understanding of popes, doctors of the Church, and various apostolic pronouncements.

Whatever the present pope’s desire, therefore, to eradicate capital punishment, he can’t – because even a pope lacks the authority to make such a change. In order to advance his position, Pope Francis would have to declare several of his predecessors – as well as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Thomas More (who prosecuted heretics in an England where heresy was a capital offense), a papal decree, an apostolic constitution, and also divinely inspired Sacred Scriptures – in error.

We’ll begin with the Scriptures, leaving aside the more numerous examples that could be drawn from the Old Testament and focusing instead on passages taken from the New Testament:

  • “If then I am a wrongdoer, and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death” (Acts 25:11).
  • “Let every soul be subject to higher powers. For there is no power but from God: and those that are ordained of God. Therefore, he that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist purchase to themselves damnation. For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good: and thou shalt have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to thee, for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God’s minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil” (Romans 13:1-4).

We must also examine papal and magisterial pronouncements:

  • “It must be remembered that power was granted by God [to the magistrates], and to avenge crime by the sword was permitted. He who carries out this vengeance is God’s minister (Rm 13:1-4). Why should we condemn a practice that all hold to be permitted by God? We uphold, therefore, what has been observed until now, in order not to alter the discipline and so that we may not appear to act contrary to God’s authority.” –Pope Innocent I, Epist. 6, C. 3. 8, ad Exsuperium, Episcopum Tolosanum, 20 February 405, PL 20,495.
  • Condemned as an error: “That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.” –Pope Leo X, Exsurge Domine (1520)
  • “The power of life and death is permitted to certain civil magistrates because theirs is the responsibility under law to punish the guilty and protect the innocent. Far from being guilty of breaking this commandment [Thou shall not kill], such an execution of justice is precisely an act of obedience to it. For the purpose of the law is to protect and foster human life. This purpose is fulfilled when the legitimate authority of the State is exercised by taking the guilty lives of those who have taken innocent lives. In the Psalms we find a vindication of this right: ‘Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all evildoers from the city of the Lord’ (Ps. 101:8). –Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566, Part III, 5, n. 4
  • Even in the case of the death penalty the State does not dispose of the individual’s right to life. Rather public authority limits itself to depriving the offender of the good of life in expiation for his guilt, after he, through his crime, deprived himself of his own right to life.” –Pope Pius XII, Address to the First International Congress of Histopathology of the Nervous System, 14 September 1952, XIV, 328

And finally, some teachings from the doctors of the Church:

  • “The same divine authority that forbids the killing of a human being establishes certain exceptions, as when God authorizes killing by a general law or when He gives an explicit commission to an individual for a limited time. The agent who executes the killing does not commit homicide; he is an instrument as is the sword with which he cuts. Therefore, it is in no way contrary to the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ to wage war at God’s bidding, or for the representatives of public authority to put criminals to death, according to the law, that is, the will of the most just reason.” –St. Augustine, The City of God, Book 1, chapter 21
  • “It is written: ‘Wizards thou shalt not suffer to live’ (Ex. 22:18); and: ‘In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land’ (Ps. 100:8). … Every part is directed to the whole, as imperfect to perfect, wherefore every part exists naturally for the sake of the whole. For this reason we see that if the health of the whole human body demands the excision of a member, because it became putrid or infectious to the other members, it would be both praiseworthy and healthful to have it cut away. Now every individual person is related to the entire society as a part to the whole. Therefore if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and healthful that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since ‘a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump’ (1 Cor. 5:6).” –St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, II, II, q. 64, art. 2
  • St. Thomas even proposes that accepting a death sentence has an expiatory nature: “Even death inflicted as a punishment for crimes takes away the whole punishment for those crimes in the next life, or at least part of that punishment, according to the quantities of guilt, resignation, and contrition; but a natural death does not” (Summa Theologiae, Index, under the word mors [Turin, 1926], as cited by Romano Amerio in Iota Unum, p. 435).

In his apostolic constitution Horrendum illud scelus, Pope St. Pius V even went so far as to decree that actively homosexual clerics were to be stripped of their office and handed over to the civil authorities, who at that time held sodomy as a capital offense. He wrote: “We determine that clerics guilty of this execrable crime are to be quite gravely punished, so that whoever does not abhor the ruination of the soul, the avenging secular sword of civil laws will certainly deter.”

For some of us, these teachings could be construed, to borrow words from the New Testament, as “hard sayings.” But as Catholics, we are obligated to wrestle with these teachings – especially the ones we don’t understand or find ourselves interiorly opposed to.

The above citations alone should be sufficient to prove that the death penalty has always been viewed by the Church as more than simply morally permissible in certain circumstances. The traditional view was that, when carried out justly, the execution of criminals deserving of such penalties by the legitimate authority of the state positively serves the common good and even has the power to expiate temporal punishment on the part of the guilty.

Cardinal Ratzinger, before his election to the papacy, admitted that Catholics have room to disagree on this issue. He stated, as pertains to the question of capital punishment and the worthiness of an individual who supports it to receive Holy Communion:

Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. 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.

Prudential Considerations and Evangelium Vitae

Some will argue that the the Church’s moral position on capital punishment has evolved. As an irreformable truth on a matter of faith and morals, this is, of course, categorically false. Still, it is not difficult to understand how the faithful might come under this impression from a reading of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae:

Among the signs of hope we should also count the spread, at many levels of public opinion, of a new sensitivity ever more opposed to war as an instrument for the resolution of conflicts between peoples, and increasingly oriented to finding effective but “non-violent” means to counter the armed aggressor. In the same perspective there is evidence of a growing public opposition to the death penalty, even when such a penalty is seen as a kind of “legitimate defence” on the part of society. Modern society in fact has the means of effectively suppressing crime by rendering criminals harmless without definitively denying them the chance to reform. …

This is the context in which to place the problem of the death penalty. On this matter there is a growing tendency, both in the Church and in civil society, to demand that it be applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely. The problem must be viewed in the context of a system of penal justice ever more in line with human dignity and thus, in the end, with God’s plan for man and society. The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is “to redress the disorder caused by the offence”. Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfils the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people’s safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behaviour and be rehabilitated.

It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.

If one pays close attention to the language in the above citation, one sees not a reversal of the Church’s moral teaching on capital punishment or an untenable accusation that it is “contrary to the Gospel,” but rather a questioning of its prudence in application.

This is an important distinction.

There are certainly contexts in which a state – particularly considering that most modern states are secular and refuse recourse to the moral guidance of the Church – might make use of capital punishment unjustly. For an obvious example, one need only look to the communist regimes still operating in the world today, where minor offenses – some not even criminal in nature – result in summary executions.

Since the moral permissibility of the death penalty is not a teaching that can be overturned, such discussions of prudence in application leave room, as then-cardinal Ratzinger wrote, for debate and disagreement. Setting aside the obvious injustices committed under ideological regimes that do not value human life, we are at liberty to ask whether some of the assumptions of Evangelium Vitae are realistic. For example, E.V. asserts that criminals are rendered “harmless” by “steady improvements in the … penal system,” and yet the epidemic of modern prison violence – assault, rape, and murder – casts serious doubt upon this premise. Comprehensive statistics on prison homicides in America are difficult to come by, since they are broken down by federal and state jurisdictions. Moving the focus to the dehumanizing crime of prison rape, however, we see a vastly different and more horrifying picture. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that somewhere between 86,000 and 200,000 cases of sexual assault happen in American prisons every year.

This does not seem indicative of the “steady improvements in the organization of the penal system” that Pope John Paul II spoke about when declaring the need for executions “practically non-existent.”

Another common argument against the death penalty follows from E.V.’s assertion that “[m]odern society in fact has the means of effectively suppressing crime by rendering criminals harmless without definitively denying them the chance to reform.” This argument typically takes the form of a statement along these lines: “If criminals are executed, what chance do they have to repent and convert? The longer we keep them alive, the more opportunities there are for God’s grace to reach them.”

St. Thomas Aquinas addressed this claim specifically. He wrote:

The fact that the evil ones, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement.

They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so obstinate that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from malice, it is possible to make a quite probable judgment that they would never come away from evil. (Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III, chapter 146)

These examples suffice to demonstrate that there are real prudential aspects to the application of the death penalty that should be evaluated by competent civil and ecclesiastical authorities. The Church certainly never demanded that the death penalty always be carried out in certain cases. The decision was relegated to legitimate civil authority. This, too, was affirmed by no less than our Divine Savior Himself, Who said to Pontius Pilate – knowing full well He was about to be sentenced to an unjust death – “Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above” (Jn. 19:11).

Christ didn’t say that what Pilate was doing was just in those circumstances. But he did affirm that the authority rested with him to do it.

It is demonstrably false that capital punishment is morally impermissible or in any way contrary to the Gospel. This is confirmed by both the Scriptures and the perennial Magisterium of the Church. Any pope who wishes to overturn this teaching quite simply lacks the authority to do so and must be opposed.

Originally published on October 11, 2017.

338 thoughts on “Pope Francis Is Wrong about the Death Penalty. Here’s Why.”

  1. This Pope is giving me so much anxiety. What else can he reverse? What else can he make illicit that formerly was? Or licit what formerly wasn’t?

    This doesn’t seem like doctrinal development. Further narrowing when capital punishment is admissible I can clearly see as development. But this seems an outright reversal. This is not like usury, where the concept of money itself went through a wholesale change – this is our Pope telling us we have taught contrary to the Gospel for 2,000 years. Again, where else are we in error? Just war? Self defense?

    As a good Catholic I will think long and hard over what the Pope is trying to say.

    • Seeing that Islam mandates the death penalty for unrepentant apostates, could Pope Francis be accused of Islamophobia as he opposes the death penalty? Such a pity to waste all that hard work trying to get on good terms with the Religion of Peace. Like the hilarious occasion he met with el-Tayyeb, the chief imam of Al-Azhar University. The very learned imam explained that Islam is a Religion of Peace. He then went home to Cairo and called for the death penalty for apostates, including, I guess, anyone who converts to Catholicism.

      • If one did not laugh, one would certainly cry. Possibly with anger and despair. BTW, the Mahometan answer to your question is a resounding “Yes”. He is definitely an Islamophobe, because he dares to contradict the clear revelation of Allah in the Glorious Koran. Allah decrees death for certain groups of people, certain of whom he hates. PF disagrees with Allah.

        What is finally absurd, is that the CC claims that the pro-DP, anti-Christian, anti-Trinitarian god of Islam is the same as the God worshipped by Christians. So if God favours the DP, as the Koran shows he does, how can PF be against the DP ? Something fishy is going on, because this is incoherent.

  2. Steve explains it well. What of just war now? Self defense? This isn’t a teaching on usury when the entire concept of money had gone through a transformation. This isn’t the further narrowing of when capital punishment can be justified. No, this is full scale reversal of 2,000 years of teaching.

    What is debatable among Catholics in good conscience today that tomorrow will be a grave sin? What is illicit now that tomorrow will be admissible? We are the Rock and, so far as I know, alone teach the hard truths (on “paper” at least). But this Pope, this Pope…oh how he gives me such immense anxiety.

  3. We should be very careful not to confuse development of doctrine (better explication of unchanging truth) with novelties (no truth at all).

  4. The following quote from St. Vincent of Lerins (†450) has been haunting me of late:

    But whatsoever a teacher holds, other than all, or contrary to all, be he holy and learned, be he a Bishop, be he a Confessor, be he a Martyr, let that be regarded as a private fancy of his own, and be separated from the authority of common, public, general persuasion, lest, after the sacrilegious custom of heretics and schismatics, rejecting the ancient truth of the universal Creed, we follow, at the utmost peril of our eternal salvation, the newly devised error of one man. – Commonitory, 28:39(72).

    • Perhaps, you should read from a “Doctor of the Church,” who writes:

      “Once the crime is admitted at the very inception of this sinful act of parricide, then the divine law of God’s mercy should be immediately extended. If punishment is forthwith inflicted on the accused, then men in the exercise of justice would in no way observe patience and moderation, but would straightaway condemn the defendant to punishment. . . . God drove Cain out of his presence and sent him into exile far away from his native land, so that he passed from a life of human kindness to one which was more akin to the rude existence of a wild beast. God, who preferred the correction rather than the death of a sinner, did not desire that a homicide be punished by the exaction of another act of homicide.” (St. Ambrose of Milan, De Cain et Abel, 2.10.38).

      • Ellipses are wily things. The one in that passage from St. Ambrose you quote, for example: Hiding within those three little dots is another passage – one which throws additional light on St. Ambrose’s meaning. Allow me to supply the deficiency:

        “God in His providence gives this sort of verdict so that magistrates might learn the virtues of magnanimity and patience, that they may not be unduly hasty in their eagerness to punish or, because of immature deliberation, condemn a man in his innocence. This would serve as a precedent not to impose a harsh penalty on some troublesome defendant and at the same time not permit a person to go unpunished who has shown no indications that he is sorry for his crime.” (St. Ambrose, Cain and Abel, II, 10 [38])

        For when Our Lord said:

        And if he sin against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day be converted unto thee, saying, I repent; forgive him. (Luke 17:4)

        Was not the conversion and the repentance just as integral as the forgiveness?

        But let us ignore the ellipse. What does quoting St. Ambrose in the context of the above passage from St. Vincent of Lerins accomplish? It is no secret that St. Ambrose diverges in this matter from the otherwise constant teaching of the Church:

        Turning to Christian tradition, we may note that the Fathers and Doctors of the Church are virtually unanimous in their support for capital punishment, even though some of them such as St. Ambrose exhort members of the clergy not to pronounce capital sentences or serve as executioners. (Cardinal Avery Dulles, “Catholicism and Capital Punishment”, First Things (April 2001)

        Even if St. Ambrose were categorically opposing capital punishment – and not instead speculating upon the criterion for its just imposition – in what way would this have any bearing on the point being made by St. Vincent other than to illustrate it?

        • Yes, I guess, ellipses can be “wily things.” But, then, you can take that complaint up with my source: Pope St. John Paul II in his Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, no. 9. He’s the one who was, apparently, deficient in your view.

          You write:

          Allow me to supply the deficiency:
          “God in His providence gives this sort of verdict so that magistrates might learn the virtues of magnanimity and patience, that they may not be unduly hasty in their eagerness to punish or, because of immature deliberation, condemn a man in his innocence. This would serve as a precedent not to impose a harsh penalty on some troublesome defendant and at the same time not permit a person to go unpunished who has shown no indications that he is sorry for his crime.” (St. Ambrose, Cain and Abel, II, 10 [38])

          Well, thanks. You have not, however, exercised due exegetical diligence in showing how this “ellipticized” comment demonstrates any sort of wiliness or deception on either my part or on the part of Pope St. John Paul II.

          On the contrary, you have shown how the opinions of both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Francis I accord with Catholic Traditions, namely: The Church regards the death penalty as a permissible punishment for men. But, the “higher law” of God warrants the correction, rather than the death, of the guilty. In other words, while the death penatly may be justly used —
          and, N. B. Pope St. John Paul II’s important qualification: only in cases where a non-lethal alternative for the protection of society is unavailable — it need not be. And, the Church could — as Pope Francis I seems to do — completely reject its use in any and all circumstances.

          O. K., . . . I accept the legitimate use of capital punishment as per the Church’s teaching . . . but, I am willing out of filial respect for the magisterium of the Pope to give his OPINION on the matter pride of place in my moral judgment.

          As for your addition: I don’t see how it changes a thing in St. Ambrose’s meaning . . . unless, you want to show how it does . . . ?

          • Enough with your verbose and tortured explanations.

            . . . and, “off with my head,” I guess, if I don’t write in a manner of your liking? (Verbose and tortured? Well, I guess, I’m in good company with: Bl. John Henry Newman, Chesterton, et al.)

            As far as my comment above, I don’t recall giving any explanation; rather, I asked for Mr. (?) “Radical Catholic” to demonstrate how the omitted portion of St. Ambrose’s statement above tended to show a contradiction with Pope St. John Paul II’s use of St. Ambrose of Milan in the aforementioned Encyclical. In short, does the omitted portion show that, on the contrary, St. Ambrose REJECTED the Pope’s interpretation that God wanted the correction of guilty Cain, instead of his (just and rightful) death? If so, then “Radical Catholic” is correct in accusing Pope St. John Paul II and myself of manipulating St. Ambrose’s text. I, however, see nothing in the omitted portion which challenges the Pope’s view. Hence, I think “Radical Catholic” is wrong, and should, at least, apologize for implying some kind of wily deception.

            As for your question: The Church admits the permissibility of the practice of capital punishment, justly exercised. Jesus seems to assume the same during His Own trials. (Though, in His case the capital sentence of each was unjust.) Nevertheless, Jesus Himself commands His followers to forgive without limit (cf. Mt. 18:21 ff.). As a corollary, He also commands His followers to wish no harm on another — even upon someone who would harm him or her (cf. Mt. 5:38 ff. // Lk. 6:27 ff.).

          • From the catechism explained; 1899, 1923:The officers of justice, in as far as they stand in the place of God, have the right to sentence evil-doers to capital punishment. St. Paul says the higher powers bear not the sword in vain, but as avengers to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil (Rom. xiii. 4). The authority of the magistrate is God’s authority; when he condemns a criminal, it is not he who condemns him, but God, just as the sword is not answerable for the blow it strikes, but the hand is that wields the sword. Yet the judge must not act arbitrarily; he must only sentence the criminal to death when the welfare of society demands it. Human society is a body of which each individual is a member; and as a diseased limb has to be amputated in order to save the body, so criminals must be executed to save society. As a matter of course the culprit’s guilt must be proved; better let the guilty go free than condemn the innocent. It is an error to suppose that the Church advocates capital punishment on the principle of retaliation; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. This is a principle of Judaism, not of Christianity. The Church does not like to see blood shed, she desires that every sinner should have time to amend. She permits, but does not approve capital punishment.

          • “It is manifest how incorrectly many writers have judged concerning these matters because they were in the error that the Gospel is an external, new, and monastic form of government, and did not see that the Gospel brings eternal righteousness to hearts, while it outwardly approves the civil state.” (Apology of the Augsburg [Lutheran] Confession, article 16, section 60)

          • “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” (John 6:15)

            “Jesus answered [Pilate], ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ ” (John 18:36)

          • As Radical Catholic referenced, Cardinal Dulles offers some thoughts:

            “The death penalty, we may conclude, has different values in relation to each of the four ends of punishment. It does not rehabilitate the criminal but may be an occasion for bringing about salutary repentance. It is an effective but rarely, if ever, a necessary means of defending society against the criminal. Whether it serves to deter others from similar crimes is a disputed question, difficult to settle. Its retributive value is impaired by lack of clarity about the role of the State. In general, then, capital punishment has some limited value but its necessity is open to doubt.”

            Since we cannot separate the end from the thing itself, the ends of capital punishment are dubious and dubious enough in the mind of His Holiness to err on the side of caution and not have it. No one is debating that a State may use it according to the traditional criteria, but the modern nation state, a state wholly devoid of concepts of Divine Justice in its laws, was never in the mind of the Fathers and Doctors. Furthermore, the traditional criteria are dubious in today’s first world societies since it is clear that nonviolent means are capable of protecting the people.

          • Dulles reconsidered.

            Death Penalty Support: Modern Catholic Scholars
            Dudley Sharp, contact info below

            1) Avery Cardinal Dulles:

            In one of his final interviews (2006, published 2008), Dulles states that he thought the Church may return to a “more traditional posture” on the death penalty (and just war).

            “Recent popes, Dulles conceded, beginning with John XXIIII, seem to have taken quasi-abolitionist positions on both matters. Yet used sparingly and with safeguards to protect the interests of justice, Dulles argued, both the death penalty and war have, over the centuries, been recognized by the church as legitimate, sometimes even obligatory, exercises of state power. The momentum of “internal solidification,” he said, may lead to some reconsideration of these social teachings.” (1)

            Based upon the strength of the Catholic biblical, theological and traditional support for the death penalty as, partially, revealed, below, I think the Church will have to.

            2) Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., considered one of the most prominent Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century.

            “There are certain moral norms that have always and everywhere been held by the successors of the Apostles in communion with the Bishop of Rome. Although never formally defined, they are irreversibly binding on the followers of Christ until the end of the world.” “Such moral truths are the grave sinfulness of contraception and direct abortion. Such, too, is the Catholic doctrine which defends the imposition of the death penalty.” (2)

            “Most of the Church’s teaching, especially in the moral order, is infallible doctrine because it belongs to what we call her ordinary universal magisterium.” (2)

            “Equally important is the Pope’s (Pius XII) insistence that capital punishment is morally defensible in every age and culture of Christianity.” ” . . . the Church’s teaching on ‘the coercive power of legitimate human authority’ is based on ‘the sources of revelation and traditional doctrine.’ It is wrong, therefore ‘to say that these sources only contain ideas which are conditioned by historical circumstances.’ On the contrary, they have ‘a general and abiding validity.’ (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 1955, pp 81-2).” (2)

            3) Romano Amerio, a faithful Catholic Vatican insider, scholar, professor at the Academy of Lugano, consultant to the Preparatory Commission of Vatican II, and a peritus (expert theologian) at the Council.

            “The most irreligious aspect of this argument against capital punishment is that it denies its expiatory value which, from a religious point of view, is of the highest importance because it can include a final consent to give up the greatest of all worldly goods. This fits exactly with St. Thomas’s opinion that as well as canceling out any debt that the criminal owes to civil society, capital punishment can cancel all punishment due in the life to come. His thought is . . . Summa, ‘Even death inflicted as a punishment for crimes takes away the whole punishment due for those crimes in the next life, or a least part of that punishment, according to the quantities of guilt, resignation and contrition; but a natural death does not.’ The moral importance of wanting to make expiation also explains the indefatigable efforts of the Confraternity of St. John the Baptist Beheaded, the members of which used to accompany men to their deaths, all the while suggesting, begging and providing help to get them to repent and accept their deaths, so ensuring that they would die in the grace of God, as the saying went.” (3)

            Some opposing capital punishment ” . . . go on to assert that a life should not be ended because that would remove the possibility of making expiation, is to ignore the great truth that capital punishment is itself expiatory. In a humanistic religion expiation would of course be primarily the converting of a man to other men. On that view, time is needed to effect a reformation, and the time available should not be shortened. In God’s religion, on the other hand, expiation is primarily a recognition of the divine majesty and lordship, which can be and should be recognized at every moment, in accordance with the principle of the concentration of one’s moral life.” (3)

            Some death penalty opponents “deny the expiatory value of death; death which has the highest expiatory value possible among natural things, precisely because life is the highest good among the relative goods of this world; and it is by consenting to sacrifice that life, that the fullest expiation can be made. And again, the expiation that the innocent Christ made for the sins of mankind was itself effected through his being condemned to death.” (3)


            1) “An unpublished interview with Avery Dulles”, All Things Catholic by John L. Allen, Jr.,, Posted on Dec 19, 2008, at

            2) “Capital Punishment: New Testament Teaching”, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., 1998

            3) “Amerio on capital punishment “, Chapter XXVI, 187. The death penalty, from the book Iota Unum, May 25, 2007 ,

          • matthew:

            The factual and rational errors within EV’s death penalty teachings have been very well known since 1995 and then, somehow, they were placed within the CCC 2267 amendment (1).

            These are major issues with EV, the CCC, Francis and the Church that have, somehow, not yet been fixed.

            1) Catholic Church: Problems with Her Newest Death Penalty Position: The Catechism & Section 2267

        • It is interesting you quote Cardinal Dulles because he says the following regarding the death penalty in the article you referenced.

          “The death penalty, we may conclude, has different values in relation to each of the four ends of punishment. It does not rehabilitate the criminal but may be an occasion for bringing about salutary repentance. It is an effective but rarely, if ever, a necessary means of defending society against the criminal. Whether it serves to deter others from similar crimes is a disputed question, difficult to settle. Its retributive value is impaired by lack of clarity about the role of the State. In general, then, capital punishment has some limited value but its necessity is open to doubt.”

          The only Catholic doctrine that is clear to Cardinal Dulles is that the State has the right to exercise it according to certain criteria. Cardinal Dulles is skeptical, as is His Holiness, of the necessity and even morality of it.

      • “God deals with some according to that prayer, ‘Slay them not, lest my people forget; scatter them by thy power’ (Ps. 59:11). Had Cain been slain immediately, he would have been forgotten (Eccl. 8:10); but he lives a more fearful and lasting monument of God’s justice, hanged in chains as it were…. The Lord set a mark upon Cain, to distinguish him from the rest of mankind and to notify that he was the man that murdered his brother, whom nobody must hurt, but every body must hoot at. God stigmatized him (as some malefactors are burnt in the cheek), and put upon him such a visible and indelible mark of infamy and disgrace as would make all wise people shun him, so that he could not be otherwise than a fugitive and a vagabond, and the off-scouring of all things.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)

          • If one accepts an all knowing God, it is assured that God knew Cain could not be corrected and he was not.

          • “Moreover you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer who is subject to the death penalty; a murderer must be put to death.” (Numbers 35:31)

          • That single verse destroys the hierarchy’s attempt to substitute financial compensation for capital punishment.

          • Cain was, never, corrected. I think that was the issue.

            Here, we have the first murderer, who never repented, brought many more into sin.

            Possibly, that was the lesson and that was the message.

          • That is a great observation – bringing more into sin – especially when you keep in mind that the Flood did have to be used in the end.

          • Josephus says of Cain, “He did not accept of his punishment in order to amendment, but to increase his wickedness.” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, chapter 2, section 2)

      • And Cain just fell more into sin, certainly a much more disasterous outcome than execution, as the later passage:

        Genesis 9:6
        “Whoever sheds human blood,
        by humans shall their blood be shed;
        for in the image of God has God made mankind.

        Which may indicate that Ambrose was way of base.

        • Ambrose is wrong? Ambrose. Are you really comparing yourself to Ambrose? Presuming to have greater theological insight than Ambrose?

          • Fathers can be wrong. St Thomas differed from various Fathers on various occasions, just as they differed from each other, and just as theologians since St Thomas have on various matters differed from him. No Father or Doctor or group of them is infallible, inerrant, the entirety of Catholic theology, the last word on any doctrine or doctrines; nor did they think they were. There is absolutely no reason why Catholics should not differ from them, if there is sufficient reason to do so. There is no impiety or arrogance in doing so. It is impossible as well as silly to try to accept every word of St Augustine, for instance, when he himself disowned some of his conclusions – if he did not think his every utterance was infallible Divine truth, it is slavish to expect anyone else to think his writings as a Catholic are all infallible Divine truth. And the Church certainly thinks no such thing. So why should Catholics ?

            There is no gain in rejecting Biblical Fundamentalism if it is to be replaced by Patristic Fundamentalism – that would be to reject one folly for another. St Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, was no such thing in his lifetime, or for a good while after. He was Friar Thomas of Aquino, professor of theology – and as such, he was one theologian among many. So it was no impiety to differ from him, or to condemn some of the positions he took; as happened after his death. So it cannot be wrong to criticise or differ from him now. Criticism of ideas – one’s own, or those of others – is one of the principal means by which theology progresses.

          • Saint Paul said, “When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong” (Galatians 2:11). Now if Cephas (Peter), the first pope, was wrong about some particular matter, he cannot have been infallible.

          • Nearly all Fathers and Doctors of the Church, that spoke to this issue, disagreed with Ambrose.

            So, there is lots of support for Ambrose being in error, inclusive of my reference, which came, directly from God.

      • Ambrose is mistaken.

        It is well known that execution does not deny prior correction. No death can.

        In fact, Aquinas made that exact point, in the context of execution.

        This Quaker biblical scholar made the clear point, missed by Ambrose:

        Quaker biblical scholar Dr. Gervas A. Carey agrees with Saints Augustine and Aquinas, that executions represent mercy to the wrongdoer:

        “. . . a secondary measure of the love of God may be said to appear. For capital punishment provides the murderer with incentive to repentance which the ordinary man does not have, that is a definite date on which he is to meet his God. It is as if God thus providentially granted him a special inducement to repentance out of consideration of the enormity of his crime . . . the law grants to the condemned an opportunity which he did not grant to his victim, the opportunity to prepare to meet his God. Even divine justice here may be said to be tempered with mercy.” (p. 116).

        ” . . . the decree of Genesis 9:5-6 is equally enduring and cannot be separated from the other pledges and instructions of its immediate context, Genesis 8:20-9:17; . . . that is true unless specific Biblical authority can be cited for the deletion, of which there appears to be none.”

        NOTE: It is, astounding, that Ambrose missed this.

        “It seems strange that any opponents of capital punishment who professes to recognize the authority of the Bible either overlook or disregard the divine decree in this covenant with Noah; . . . capital punishment should be recognized . . . as the divinely instituted penalty for murder; The basis of this decree . . . is as enduring as God; . . . murder not only deprives a man of a portion of his earthly life . . . it is a further sin against him as a creature made in the image of God and against God Himself whose image the murderer does not respect.” (p. 111-113)

        “A Bible Study”, within Essays on the Death Penalty, T. Robert Ingram, ed., St. Thomas Press, Houston, 1963, 1992. Carey was a Professor of Bible and Past President of George Fox College.

  5. What is Pope Francis correct about?
    One would like to assume the basics of the faith, but we now know that is a card game.
    I would not trust the man to offer me the best route out of a paper bag. Fortunately I am not in need of directions.

    • Your trust and faith shall only be on Jesus. Every man will fall short of the “Glory of God”. Every man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverb 3:5-6

        • Brian, with all due respect, you’re being contentious for the sake of being contentious. Mary was a one-off because she had a very specific purpose. Ogni Momento is right about the rest of us. Besides, one can say that Mary did trust Christ as her savior. Who created humanity, in the first place? Who put the plan of redemption forward before the foundations of the Earth?

      • Yes, and HE founded a Church appointing St.Peter as its head…….which preserved HIS words that you in
        your life might hear them and you have……keep learning so as to appreciate the development of HIS Church and pray for guidance as I will.

        • And Peter merely confuses his brethren. Christ never guaranteed the perpetuity of the Papacy, only of His Church. And His Promise will be amply fulfilled, even if the CC goes under – as it probably will – and what survives is a handful of Evangelicals in a cave somewhere. Christ never guaranteed any particular kind of Church. And His words that promise the gates of will not “prevail” against the Church, nowhere say the Church will not lose many battles, even though she will win the war. He is not preaching a Prosperity Gospel to her. Christ Alone can be trusted. He does not engage in mindrape, or lie, or abuse His Authority, or domineer, or tyrannise, or make laws for others that he does not himself obey. He can be trusted, and is Wholly Good. Churchmen are a very shabby bunch compared to Him. Everyone is.

          • Bravo, James M. Bravissimo!

            As far as the gates of Hell not prevailing, the Book of Revelation makes that clear enough. However, the NT also prophesied massive apostasy in the “last days,” which technically began at Pentecost — and which are wrapping up more quickly than anybody imagines. Given not only the confusion coming from the Vatican for the past 40 years but mainline Protestantism’s complete surrender to the “progressive” political agenda and Russian Orthodoxy’s capitulation to Putin, I’d say the mass apostasy is going full speed ahead.

        • Barry and Brian, Ogni Momento is right. One doesn’t have to be Catholic, Protestant or anything else to see that. Sometimes we can get so infatuated with our respective theologies that we forget that Christ is the Author and Finisher of our faith — regardless of whether we are Catholics, Protestants or Eastern Orthodox. Given that the authors of the Epistles prophesied mass apostasy in the last days — which began at Pentecost and which are closer to the end than we realize — all who claim to be Christian must embrace Christ more firmly than ever.

    • Exactly the same can be said of JP2, and with far more justice. What beggars belief is that he was canonised. To say that Rome has lost its way is no more than the truth. The one sure protection against apostasy is to treat Rome as non-existent. The Papacy is doing an uncommonly good impression of being a house built on sand.

      • The See of Rome can never lose its way. It is the See of Rome. If it has fallen, then the Church is lie since Christ would be a liar. Unless you subscribe to the heresy of the Protestants and believe it was Peter’s statement and not Peter himself and his successors who would prevail against the powers of hell, then the Papacy was, is now, and ever shall be the visible sign of unity of the Church of Christ.

        • The Petrine function in the Church is permanent. The form of it known as the Papacy, is not. The possibilities in your post are not the only ones. The Church had no Papacy in the Apostolic age – what it did have, in some form, was the Petrine function. If the Papacy were to vanish – and there is no reason why it cannot, since the Church exists in time and space and is immune to neither, but is constantly influenced by both – the Petrine function would survive.

          The time may come when the Papacy belongs to the remote infancy of the Church, and to no later stage of the Church’s life. The Church has no absolute need of Popes, and there is no reason why Popes should not be heretics and apostates and infidels, or worse. There is no reason why Catholics should treat these possibilities as unimaginable – there is no dogma that Popes cannot lose the Faith, be false teachers, turn Mohammedan or atheist, or worship devils with human sacrifice. Human beings are capable of unspeakable depravities – one thinks here of priests who have offered the Mass to the devil, and of those Catholics complicit in genocide – and Popes are human beings; so there is no reason, especially given ghastlinesses like the Cadaver Synod of 897 and other dark pages in their history, why they should be exempt from losing or perverting the Faith. It would be very odd if they did not. Popes deserve respect for their position in the Church, and for no other reason – they are outstanding personally for nothing else: not wisdom, holiness, piety, purity of life, humility, goodness, spiritual insight, missionary zeal, kindness, mercy, prudence, graciousness or any other good quality. Some of them have been notable for one or more of these, but they are not all pre-eminent in any of them, let alone all of them. And many of them have been far from admirable. The Church could manage perfectly well without Popes if it had to – it can do or be absolutely no good without Christ.

  6. I would be very careful about blanket support for capital punishment, but for Our Lords intervention
    one of the greatest saints in Christian history ( Mary Magdalene ) would have been stoned to death.
    Considering the dearth of moral behavior pervading western culture today, I doubt such a judgement
    incurs Gods favor.
    Granted that Man must protect society and discourage outrageous crime its certainly not the ACTIVE
    WILL of GOD.

      • There is doubt……I follow the New Testament. One must be very careful about
        using Old Testament writings to ” fill in the gaps ” regarding what Our Lord did
        not teach in recorded scripture ( Gospels )

        Don’t misunderstand I don’t ignore its value but its a much darker glass and the
        New Law is the beginning of the Church.

          • You have been told an eye for an eye etc.. but I say love one another etc
            Very poor paraphrasing but I think you get my point, a fulfillment of the law
            more accurately.

        • Barry, do you realize why God ordered the Israelites to obliterate the Canaanites? God was using the Israelites as His means for judging the Canaanites, whose sins would make Harvey Weinstein’s and his Hollywood confederates’ actions tame by comparison. The “New Law,” aka the New Covenant, was never designed to overrule God’s holy nature and His demands for righteous. The New Law provided a way for humanity to enter into a relationship with God through Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. The New Law did away with the Mosaic Law’s system of sacrifices; that’s why the curtain separating the Holy of Holies in the Temple was torn asunder from top to bottom when Christ died. That act represented the fact that Christ paid humanity’s penalty for sin (which is death) and those who believe in Him have 24/7 access to His Throne Room of Grace.

          The New Testament does not contradict the Old. It complements the Old. Both are considered divinely inspired. If you ignore the Old Testament, you are essentially engaged in a heresy called Marcionism.

          • The notion that the new testament “complements” the old is as a sweeping statement misleading, and the New testament is not “inspired” by the Divine,
            IT IS DIVINE, it is the Word made flesh.
            There is no equality of testament. There is maturation to completeness.

            The old testament is critical reading regarding creation history but
            to assume that all records of warfare by the Israelites were willed by
            God is wrong. There is just war (recorded) and there is unjust war also
            recorded for material and political benefit.

          • Barry, read 2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is inspired by God…. When St. Paul wrote that, the NT had not been fully compiled (let alone canonized) so St. Paul meant the OT. Besides, when the Bereans in Acts 17 “searched the Scriptures” when St. Paul presented them with the Gospel, what do you think they searched, a NT that had yet to be compiled fully?

            Moreover, name for me the unjust wars in which the Israelites participated.

            Your argument isn’t with me but with St. Paul. Your argument also reflects the Biblical ignorance typical of all-too-many Catholics.

          • Considered engaging in a scripture-only based argument until I
            reflected on the last sentence in your reply and have deduced that
            I would be casting pearls….

          • Fine. If there’s no “equality of testament,” as you put it, then why does the Church bother considering the OT inspired? Moreover, why did Christ bother quoting from it? Christ was Jewish, not Catholic. Catholicism didn’t begin until Pentecost at the very earliest.

            The mere fact that Christ considered the OT divinely inspired destroys your entire argument. It also reinforces my sentence in the last post that you disliked.

          • The following is an example of the point I was making JOSH 7:11.
            And regarding OT equality with NT I offer MATT 5:7.
            That’s not equality, that’s maturation.
            Do you understand my point? Accuse me of semantics, but words
            are important and distinctions should be made.

    • There is not one place in the Bible that accurately says that Mary Magdalene was the women that they were going to stone. It is extremely important to be accurate when cite the Bible.

        • It does matter. This isn’t Bible buffet. That is why the church is in the condition it is today. It is the word of God. Think about that the next time you say “it matters not”. Maybe you’ll be treated by God that way, when asking for forgiveness. “It matters not” lol

          • Not interested in low-grade arguing, suffice to say I find your reply to be odd.
            Sola scriptura is the historic reason and beginning of why the Church is in the condition it is today.

          • You like to hear your own rhetoric. Tell you what. Study the Bible word for word, within different languages, then we can go toe to toe. You are so naive Barry. Your lack of education in Theology shows. Paul in Titus may hit a little to close to home for you. Low Grade. Perfect. Study, Barry Study. Then you can talk.

          • Barry, I disagree. The reason that the Church is in the condition it’s currently in is because it has substituted intellectual fashion — mostly Euro-centric, secular, intellectual fashion — for both Scripture and Tradition. The mainline Protestant churches made that substitution more than a century ago.

          • Ogni, we’re Catholics. We do not teach or adhere to the heresy of sola scriptura. If you keep insisting people adhere to that standard you’re going to be removed from this forum.

          • Yes you are the main stream Catholic. You don’t have to ask me to leave. I thought that this was based on Theology. It seems that you have a problem with the First Jesuit Pope. There was never one before, change seems hard for some. I pray for your enlightenment.

          • I would like to know why Catholics get defensive when it comes to somebody insisting on the integrity of Scripture. Do not Catholics believe that Scripture is divinely inspired?

            Ogni Momento is absolutely right. A major reason why so much confusion exists within Catholicism today is because Scripture is devalued, if not disregarded completely. Calling somebody who points this out a “protestant” or a “troll,” or claiming that somebody who points this out is an advocate of “sola scriptura.” is nothing but a defense mechanism that hides the real issue.

            If traditional Protestants advocate “sola scriptura,” then modern Catholics have effectively advocated “nunqua scriptura.” Where are Catholic Bible studies promoted? Who promotes them? How effectively are they being promoted? (The answer to the latter question should be obvious, given the quality of responses on this thread).

            The people who place prudential papal teaching over Scripture and Tradition — including those on this thread, even some moderators — are living dangerously. They are, in effect, nothing more than de facto ultramontanists, despite their claims of being “mainstream Catholics.” This, of course, has emasculated the Apologetics-Industrial Complex (Shea, Longenecker, Keating, Staples, Akin, Fisher et al) as a source of any credible information.

  7. You are wrong. The Death Penalty is against everything that Christ teaches. What was Jesus commandment “Love one another as I have loved you” John 13:34. Christ came and die for our sins. We are to listen to Jesus commandment, I don’t see how the death penalty would fit in that commandment. It doesn’t matter what everyone else said. The only thing that matters is what Christ said. Or less you are calling God a liar.

    • Ogri, do you understand that the very Church Jesus founded heard directly this quote of Jesus? Yet for 2,000 years that same Church has continued to teach capital punishment can be justified? Does that notion at all make you want to study the issue a little more deeply?

      • I am a student of Theology and study everyday towards my B.A. degree. I am unsure of what you are trying to say. We are to take the Bible as the truth that is timeless. Not the additions that the Catholic Church has added. Please explain what you are trying to say.

        • This discussion isn’t about the verity of the Catholic Church’s teaching with regard to capital punishment vis-à-vis non-Catholic interpretation of Sacred Scripture. That’s another discussion for another forum.

          • Why do I ask? Because your first comment in this thread jumps right over everything contained in the article – including Sacred Scripture, magisterial teaching and papal pronouncements, as well as the learned commentary of great Saints and Doctors of the Church – and busts down the door with “You are wrong” followed by the kind of sermonizing usually proffered by sola scriptura Protestants. That’s why I ask.

          • Sorry that I was misunderstood. All this going back and forth really means nothing. It goes back to the actual teachings of Christ and what God expected from us. No matter what denomination. Go back to ground zero.

          • The Catholic Church is not a denomination, it’s pre-denominational, you troll. The Protestant sects have denominations, not Catholics.

          • You clearly need to continue your studies. You seem to have missed the part where Jesus Christ entrusted the church to St. Peter and his successors, and the Holy Spirit’s guidance of the Church into all truth.

          • Ogni, you said this: “We are to take the Bible as the truth that is timeless. Not the additions that the Catholic Church has added.”

            You may have been born and raised a Catholic, but based on that statement you are an apostate.

          • LOL, you’re not a Catholic. You may call yourself a Catholic, you may attend Mass, you may sing Alleluia, you may chant amen, you may kneel at the Consecration, but you certainly aren’t a Catholic. You’re a heretic.

        • You will get nowhere with the traditionalists here. They believe everything taught by a pope before 1958 is certain truth. No development of doctrine, no reinterpretation of Scripture or tradition.

          • The thing is to be accurate you must look at the language of the original writings and move on from there. Otherwise is just turns into a mess. Word for word.

          • Imagine that……..believing what the Church has always taught!!

            We’re not “traditionalists”. We’re simply Catholics who don’t believe the Church was in darkness until 1962.

            Run along to the fast disappearing “Vatican II cafeteria” before it’s churches and seminaries empty completely.

          • You’re either Catholic or you’re not. The Church isn’t a political party where there are left wing, right wing and centrists. You either believe what the Church has always taught or you don’t.

          • I didn’t say anything about left and right. Do you think the bishops at Vatican II “believed what the Church has always taught”?

          • You used the word “traditionalist”. It’s meaningless in terms of the Catholic faith. If I believe what the Catholic Church has always taught then I’m a Catholic. If I have a problem with some or all of Catholic teaching then I’m not a Catholic. It’s that simple This isn’t the Democrat Party where there is room for a whole spectrum of views and opinions.

          • Again, I would never compare the Church to a political party. But the Church has been wrong about some things, such as religious freedom, and corrected itself. Such will continue to happen. Did the bishops at Vatican II “have a problem with some of Catholic teaching”? Yet the Church is still Catholic. The magisterium is alive: Francis and the bishops in communion with him. Not stuck in 1958.

          • Some of the bishops at Vatican II most certainly had a problem with Catholic teaching.

            Of course the Church is still Catholic and it will survive in some form.

            Is the magisterium alive? Bishops are asking him questions and he won’t answer them. That doesn’t sound like a magisterium.

          • So let’s stick to the death penalty for a moment, is Sacred Scripture wrong? Is that one of the things that can change? Have God’s views on morality evolved over the centuries?

          • Adam: How does doctrine develop in such a way as to run afoul of the law of non-contradiction; that is, to permit that X can become not-X? Is this more 2+2 = 5?

            As the article amply shows, the Church has always taught that the death penalty is both permissible and consistent with the Gospel, thus, X. Yet Francis is now saying not-X.

            This isn’t development; it’s a revolt.

          • It’s called change. The Church used to teach that non-Catholics automatically go to hell. The Church no longer teaches that. However, there was an underlying truth there, about how all salvation flows through Christ alone to the Church (CCC, 846-8, based on LG). That’s where the idea of “development” comes in, just as Francis says the truth of the inviolability of human dignity, always taught by the Church, underlies his teaching on the death penalty. Similar to religious freedom, rejected by popes (Lamentabili) but now Catholic doctrine (DH).

          • Of course not, that’s an absurd straw man. The Church grows in its understanding of truth, draws ever closer, as Dei Verbum ch. 2 plainly teaches.

          • Maybe it does grow in understanding of truth or, since it can be wrong, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it’s growing increasingly in falsehood, eh? Maybe Dei Verbum ch. 2 is actually wrong.

          • Changing Church teaching is not “development”.

            If the Church has been wrong in the past on the eternal salvation of non- Catholics and Communion for those living in adulterous relationships for instance, then the Church is not whom she claims to be. It’s that simple. She is not the Bride of Christ, spotless and without stain. She is a liar.

            And if the Church is wrong about these things, this automatically raises the question of what else is the Church wrong about? And if the Church has been wrong about a whole host of things, the obvious question is “what’s the point?” Why belong to a Church which changes its teaching from day to day and which contradicts itself? If the Church has been wrong in the past, why believe what she says today?

            There’s nothing new here. This mirage of “change” has already been tried by non-Catholic denominations. It’s the principle reason why the Episcopal Church is now on the verge of disappearing.

          • Okay, then I guess the Church is a liar since it manifestly did change its teaching on religious freedom, salvation outside the Church, and ecumenism at Vatican II. I don’t believe the Church is a liar just because it has sometimes been wrong on some fine points of doctrine. You accuse Protestants of a “mirage of change.” But why not use Catholicism as the example? Vatican II happened 55 years ago. This isn’t exactly new.

          • You can’t answer my question, can you?

            If the Church has been wrong in the past, how do we know that it’s right now? Why should I believe anything that it says if it has retracted previous teaching?

            Maybe tomorrow it will retract today’s teaching. Well?

          • We don’t. No authority or friend is right all of the time, yet most of us still manage to trust and believe someone. I have been wrong about lots of stuff, and no doubt still am-should I therefore give up the search for truth? We trust the magisterium like we trust our father and mother, imperfect and fallible though they be. To admit one’s past errors is a sign of maturity. JP II did it with the crusades, slavery, etc. “To live in this world is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” John Henry Newman. (Just read his essay, it’s all there!)

            The faith remains the same, however much doctrinal nuances change. Even the Nicene Creed has changed! But our faith in Father, Son, and Spirit remains constant.

          • So we can’t really trust the Church. Fail. This is precisely the sort of message which has emptied church pews over the last 50 years.

            Your human examples are worthless because the Church is Divine. The relationship between Jesus and the Church is a spousal relationship. Read Ephesians. The Church is the Bride of Christ and Jesus Christ is not a joker, a liar or a mistake-prone goofball. He doesn’t tell us one thing today and something different tomorrow. Jesus does not cheat on the Church and allow it to proclaim falsehood.

            If the Church can be wrong about the truths of the faith then so can Jesus.

          • V2, by its own admission, promulgated no new doctrines, which necessarily means that it left all existing doctrines in place, whatever contrary pastoral guidance it may have recommended.

          • It definitely didn’t solemnly define any new de fide DOGMAS, but it clearly makes many doctrinal statements. All the popes and bishops have treated its texts as doctrinal and magisterial. Three of the constitutions are even called “dogmatic,” making it clear they are doctrinal.

          • Changes is discipline and pastoral practice are not concomitant with a change in doctrine. As I’m sure you’re aware whither and what was changed at V2 has been a matter of considerable debate, a point betrayed by your matter-of-fact assertions to the contrary.

            RE: Religious liberty –

            RE: Ecumenism –

            What is certain, however, is that the Church has never taught doctrine X one day only to teach doctrine not-X the next. Thank goodness Francis is not the Church.

          • LOL…..this “Supreme Pontiff” disagrees with all of his predecessors, on this and a whole host of moral issues.

            How did we survive 2,000 years being so blind?

          • Yeah, and Paul VI disagreed with his predecessors on religious freedom, and JP II about Judaism and other religions, and the Lutheran formulation of the doctrine of justification. So you reject papal teaching after Pius XII, yes?

          • No.

            I reject pronouncements which contradict 2,000 years of Catholic teaching. I reject rupture. This is not about a date. It’s about heresy.

            As for Paul VI, he presided over a disaster. His “reforms” have emptied churches and seminaries all over the western world and caused two generations to lose the faith. As for the wonderful Francis, vocations tanked when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. His diocesan seminary is practically empty.

            It’s hard to believe that some fools actually think that this is all so wonderful and some sort of new “springtime”.

          • Religious freedom in the modern liberal sense is most certainly not Catholic doctrine. Dignitatis Humanae is an appalling document with contradictions on at least three levels. It contains internal contradictions, it contradicts other Vatican 2 documents and it contradicts centuries old Catholic teaching. It has been the subject of dozens of debates since 1965 as various apologists struggle to explain how it is compatible with Catholic teaching. I have a document which is two pages long listing the various writings on DH. I doubt that my list is comprehensive.

            Suffice to say that DH cannot be regarded as evidence of a change in Catholic doctrine; it signals merely a prudential policy change.

          • People have a psychological aversion to change. I resist change, too. The mysterious thing in discussions about Church history is not only that people resist change in their own time, but they want to deny that any change has ever happened in the past. Even when the Church has clearly changed over the centuries.

          • The Church has never taught that non-Catholics “automatically” go to Hell. So your whole argument collapses.

          • You don’t even know what development of doctrine is, nor apparently what the universal ordinary magisterium is. So step aside, because one shouldn’t discuss topics that one is not knowledgeable about, unless one is asking questions.

          • Rude! I’ve read Bd. Newman’s essay, DV 8, and what Francis said about it, so I’m not an ignoramus.

        • Ogni, you bring up “additions that the Catholic Church added.” Are you not aware that it was the Catholic Church that put the 73 books together in the first place?? Being created by the Church, it is their document! Just as the rightful interpreter of the Torah are the Jews, the rightful interpreter of the Bible is the Catholic Church! If you truly are a Theology student, surely you were taught that at some point…. no?!

          Understanding and/or clarification of things that are difficult are not “additions.”

    • LOL. “Death penalty is against everything Christ teaches.” Christ: “You, Pilate, have the authority to execute, and that authority was given by God.”

    • Life is lots more complex than a simple explanation for “loving one another”. You need to get your history book out and start with the Crimean War.

    • Ogni, read Genesis 9: 5-6. God demanded the execution of murderers through a system of just due process. Christ never abrogated that demand. Also, the correct translation of the Sixth Commandment is “you shall not murder,” not “you shall not kill.”

      Read this piece from “The Remnant” newspaper. It provides Biblical justification for capital punishment:

  8. Exactly. This is reversal not development. I must eat crow with all my Protestant friends that indeed Church teaching can be reversed wholesale. Or maybe it can’t – good grief I am utterly confused.

    • You are certainly not alone. Someone somewhere has probably been praying the following:

      Where there is serenity, may I bring confusion;
      Where there is clarity, obscurity;
      Where there is peace, conflict;
      Where there is trust, suspicion;
      Where there is love, hatred;
      Where there is zeal, weariness of heart and cynicism;
      Where there is confidence, demoralisation;
      Where there is communion, division;
      Where there is joy, despair;
      Where there is beauty, ugliness;
      Where there is order, chaos;
      Where there is strength, decrepitude;
      Where there is truth, untruth;
      Where there is light, darkness.

      Sounds disturbingly like the Church today.

  9. Holy Scripture is, in reality, a memoir of the Hebrrw people and their relationship with God. As such, iy contains verses and chapters that are more or less concerned with God (at least in the most diect sense). Thus, because Holy Scripture is inspired rather than dictated, the “secular” or “historical” verses of Holy Scripture may contain errors. Howrver, those which concern God and His teachings are absolutely inerrant and above doubt or question. Therefore, if God authorizes the JUST application of the death prnalty, there can be NO discussion or questioning of its legitimate and moral application. To do so would be to deny God’s authority or to question the reasoning of He who knows rverything — both of which arr very grsve errors. However, by authorizing the JUST use of capital punishment God dors not deny us the use of non-lethal alternatives to the death penalty. The opposition to capital punishment on reasoned grounds is, therefore, permitted. But those arguments, by Catholics, may not include moral grounds for God Himself has granted mpral permission for the use of the death penalty.

  10. Oh boy.

    Morality – what’s right and wrong – changes over the centuries. If you are honest you must acknowledge that. There might be arguments in favor of capital punishment. But – the argument that the death penalty is acceptable because it was acceptable in the past – does not fly.

    • I am honest, and I do not acknowledge it. God has known the end from the beginning. His commandments are always valid. He does not see Himself as evolving, learning from us. He would still destroy Sodom today, and He will.

      Whether sodomites have achieved their “The Overhauling of Straight America” or not, God crushes His enemy at the time of His choosing.

      God has told us (those who care to listen and those who don’t – equally) that the death of the body is nothing in comparison with the death of the soul.

      You can try to appear clever on this blog, but you don’t. If you did, your triumph would still be short-lived.

    • Apparently you don’t understand the difference between the argument “it was done in the past so it’s okay” and “It’s part of the universal ordinary magisterium and therefore is infallible.” If you can’t understand that difference then I don’t think anyone can help you.

    • Could one day rape become moral? What about murder? What about stealing? These are all up for grabs as potential virtuous acts one day?

      • And, if condign punishment for murder or for rape followed by murder is “inhuman,” how long before those espousing this lunatic notion decide that ALL punishment is “inhuman”? Opposition to the death penalty in all cases is not just wrong, it is crazy.

    • What does fly is that UN murder rate figures support the death penalty once you leave middle class cultures where murders are few. Brazil, non death penalty, has 50,000 murders a year while China has 11,000 murders a year with 7 TIMES THE POPULATION of Brazil. You are 26 times safer from murder in China than in the largest Catholic non death penalty population on earth…Brazil. By UN figures, the two worst murder rate regions on earth…are virtually non death penalty….northern Latin America and Africa. The safest from murder area on earth…with millions of poor….is death penalty dominant East Asia.

    • The church believes in Moral Absolutes and that these do not change. Advocating for something else is against the comment policy.

      6. Persistently advocating for unorthodox positions (ie., sedevacantism, the falsity of Catholicism, outright denials of doctrines or dogmas, etc.) will not be tolerated.

      Please read the policy in its entirety.

      If you have questions about what the Church teaches and/or how or why the church teaches these things, questions are welcome. Outright assertions, like the above, are not permitted here.

  11. I wrote this piece for “The Remnant’s” current edition (10/15/17):

    Ever since JPII’s arbitrary, revisionist approach to the issue in “Evangelium Vitae,” this day was inevitable. Francis’ step logically follows the abolitionist approach JPII set in motion.

    JPII is just as much of a “modernist” as Francis, the late pope’s “Amen corner” in the Apologetics-Industrial Complex notwithstanding.

    Like JPII, Francis disregards centuries of teaching from both Scripture and Tradition. Francis’ move shows Catholicism to be morally bankrupt and theologically apostate.

    One more thing:

    To Jim Scott IV/Ben Yachov/whatever you’re calling yourself these days: I. Told. You. So.

    • John Paul II’s development on this was indeed troubling; but he still left enough breathing room for the traditional teaching to survive intact, even if the thrust of ecclesiastical rhetoric too easily obscured this for many Catholics. Like, say, certain Patheos bloggers.

      • Athelstane, this comment from John Paul II in 1999 shows his abolitionist intent:

        “The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation. A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.” (emphasis added)

        As head of the CDF, Cdl. Ratzinger reformulated the CCC to provide the late Pope with wiggle room, but JPII intent always was outright abolition.

        • JP II was simply wrong about this, totally off base. But he made no move to inscribe this nonsense in the Catechism. Francis is (1) wrong about much, much more, and (2) determined to cast his many errors in stone.

          • Johnny, I quote from the link above:

            “The head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during John Paul’s tenure – Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI – changed the catechism to reflect the late pope’s view.

            ” ‘If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority must limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.” (emphases added)

            “Before ‘Evangelium Vitae,’ the catechism read, ‘If, however, bloodless means…authority should limit itself….’ (emphases added).

            “What is the difference between ‘should’ and ‘must’? ‘Should’ is advisory but ‘must’ implies a demand. With these substitutions, Ratzinger and John Paul changed the fundamental moral criterion from the divine image within humanity – a criterion imposed by inspired Scripture – to the State’s ability to incarcerate capital felons.

            “Though his written opinion allowed for capital punishment in limited circumstances, John Paul used the encyclical as intellectual cover for his personal campaign to abolish the death penalty worldwide.”

            Then, there’s this news. Francis wants the CCC re-written to reflect his views on capital punishment:


            Truth is not pretty. It never is.

          • I know JP II made some serious mistakes (e.g. kissing the vile Koran in public) but, when it comes to major mistakes, he can’t hold a candle to Francis. The latter never seems to miss an opportunity to make things more difficult for Catholicism. Not one.

          • Johnny, I don’t doubt that for one second. But on this particular issue, JPII started the confusion with his arbitrary, revisionist attempt to impose by stealth an abolitionist position regarding capital punishment. For more than two decades, the careerist bishops (same thing, I know) in the hierarchy treated that position as revealed truth without daring to do their homework. This is what careerism and enabling has gotten us: a papacy (if not a hierarchy) that is effectively apostate.

          • I don’t think we disagree very much here, Joe, but I don’t feel personally equipped to judge that someone is or isn’t an apostate. If you check all my posts, you’ll see that I often say a prelate or the pope is wrong, but I never use the words “apostate” or “heretic.” I’m not denying they may be one but am only saying I don’t feel able to make that judgment.

          • But, of course, with a chuckle hardly as hearty as most of your posts elicit. Many of us can’t thank you enough for that. According to medical experts, laughing is good for one’s health.

    • It is very good to see a post that recognises that the rot did not set in with Francis, but was at work in JP2’s time. Given the blatant liberalism of Paul VI, I would trace the rot to him. That liberals occasionally act like Catholics, as Paul VI did on occasion, was noted by St Pius X as a feature of Modernists. Luther behaved in a similar way before his revolt. IMHO, JP2 is one of the worst Popes the Church has ever had. How can one take seriously as Catholics Popes who disregard centuries of Tradition, as Paul VI and his successors have ? What they have done falsifies the Infallibility of the Church, so one has to wonder whether Catholicism is anything more than very fallible guesswork. Trying to square these Papal inventions with Tradition is a kind of mind-rape. And this is without mentioning Papal relativism.

      • James M., thank you so much.
        “IMHO, JP2 is one of the worst Popes the Church has ever had.”
        Exactly! When the smoke clears, people will begin to understand that.
        “Trying to square these Papal inventions with Tradition is a kind of mind-rape.”
        Now you know why the Apologetics-Industrial Complex’s credibility is decreasing by the nanosecond.

  12. Death penalty abolition is a key priority of the Soros funded “Open Society ” organisation.

    As always Bergoglio is simply aligning himself with and promoting the globalist leftist programme…

    • And you can bet it will be a temporary solution. Reinstated for those who are enemies of the State AKA Christians who are involved in “terrorist” activities like “proselytism” and other “subversive” activity.

      Of course, mention this in normal society and you will be laughed to scorn.

      Just like you would have been back in 1950 were you to suggest that the state would allow two men to “marry” some day…

      Who will be the most intransigent of “world citizens” under a global government.

      Those who bow before One King only, King Jesus. Pretty much all others will be catered to.

    • It’s a liberal secularist priority that long predates Soros, honestly.

      Francis has almost certainly held an abolitionist stance for many decades.

      • Perhaps he has. Nevertheless it is striking and I think significant how closely he is following the current well funded and active globalist leftist agenda – for example in relation to environmentalism and open borders.

  13. Edward Feser and Joseph Bessette have written the definitive study on this “By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed – A Catholic defense of Capital Punishment”.

    • Just so. This book demolishes the pope’s comments. There is more substance in that book than in everything Francis has put his name to over the last 4 years.

  14. Large numbers of clerics in the Vatican and elsewhere must be hugely relieved that Pius V’s approach to ordained sodomites is no longer applied. There would be an enormous number of vacancies.
    If Pope Francis is really preaching that voluntarily taking a human life is morally wrong, this is excellent news. It is another reason for every sane person to ignore his ramblings. Logically it abolishes the right to self defence. Not that logic has anything to do with the current papacy.

    Surely when the London police shot the three nutters in June 2017, they were voluntarily taking human life? Their commanders could easily have ordered them to exercise professional restraint and apprehend the nutters by some touchie-feelie method after a few more innocents had been butchered.

  15. It is a sign of the total enervation of UK society that there are 4 murderers in particular who are in jail because “we” haven’t the fortitude to hang them. They are ian huntley, levi bellfield, mark dixie and mark bridger. Monsters all, who should executed for their crimes against young girls.

    • Hear! Hear!

      Another glorious benefit of sparing the lives of murderers in modern Western prisons is that they can be converted to the Religion of Peace. Yes, Islam is alive and thriving and very actively recruiting in British prisons, unlike Christianity. The rapist, paedophile and serial killer Levi Bellfield is now serving his sentence under an Islamic name and is singing the praises of his new religion. Hardly surprising – the Prophet, after all, was also a rapist, paedophile and mass murderer.

      To demonstrate the bottomless stupidity and evil of the British government, Muslim prisoners get better food than their fellow infidel inmates. A definite incentive to convert, or pretend to convert, if you have 30 years of prison food in front of you. Also, as the brilliant essayist and retired prison doctor Theodore Dalrymple observed, criminals have an extra incentive to convert to Islam. With one stroke, you acquire the respectability of religious conversion (brownie points for the parole board!) and you increase the “respect” in which you are held. Inside or outside prison, people are instinctively fearful of Islam.

    • You forgot Peter Sutcliffe. And Harold Shipman ought to have hanged if anyone should. And the Moors Murderers. And the murderers of “Baby P”. Some people badly need a hempen tie.

      • The inhuman quartet I mentioned happened in my adult lifetime and I have very strong emotional reaction to their crimes.
        Sutcliffe, Brady and Shipman were too early for me to pay much attention. But if you want to hang them and others too, I will leave my gallows up.

  16. Further to the comments of Pope John Paul 2 that modern prisons remove the need for the death penalty in practice, other writers have pointed out that we are seeing deaths in prison anyway. In 2014 there were six murders and 100 suicides in UK prisons. USA statistics for federal prisons look suspiciously low in comparison – less than 15 murders a year, more recently single figures.
    Our most notorious inmate in the UK, Robert Maudesley, is a real life Silence of the Lambs horror story. Killed one person outside prison, then three inside, plus a report of cannibalism. So, in the absence of a death penalty, he is held in a unique hyper-secure isolation cell and let out once a day for exercise. Don’t ask how much this costs. True humanitarians would spend any amount to keep anyone alive.
    I note that our two worst child killers, Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, spent 86 years in prison at a cost of $5+ million. Google if you want further details of these charmers. They were very early beneficiaries of the abolition of the death penalty in the UK in the 1960s.

  17. Sorry , but POPE FRANCIS is right ,are we follow JESUS CHRIST ?or the old testament? Are we MUSLIM? Nobody’s as the right to Kill another human being. Jesus says to pray for the sinners ,and he is the one who will judge ,the Peoples that are in prison ,? Jesus Christ day to visit them.and they are paying for what they did,so , stop Persecute POPE FRANCIS,and let the HOLY SPIRIT Guide him and our church , Don’t FORGOT , TUO THOUSANDS YEARS AND GOING ⛪????.

  18. Aside from Scripture and Tradition, these last three Popes will get tens of thousands of largely poor people killed by murder through ignoring Romans 13:4 and thus through non deterrence. Executions have no noticeable effect in middle class dominant cultures but executions have a dramatically obvious effect in the less developed world when there are millions of poor involved.
    Reasonably timely done executions saves tens of thousands of murder victims’ lives in China which like Brazil has millions of poor but has a decimal of Brazil’s murder rate. Non death penalty Brazil has 50,000 murders a year while China has 11,000 murders a year with 7 times the population of Brazil. Your family then is much safer traveling in atheist/buddhist/taoist China than in the largest Catholic population on earth…Brazil.

  19. Honestly, I don’t know where we are now. It looks as if the Pope has contradicted the ordinary universal magisterium of the Church. And he did so publicly, saying that the Catechism should be changed. Doesn’t this mean he is no longer the Pope?

    • You don’t read him in this area. He has stated that the 5th commandment forbids the death penalty and he has stated that it is intrinsically wrong. Google both incidents easily.

        • You’re lazy. 5/11/2017 homily…death penalty intrinsically evil
          2/21/2016 from the papal window….5th commandment forbids
          the death penalty.

          • You’re seriously citing Conte? He’s a self-proclaimed “theologian” who, by his own admission, only has a bachelor’s degree and apparently no real graduate level theological training or certification. On Twitter (and probably his blog, which I refuse to read) he claims the signers of the filial correction have automatically excommunicated themselves and must go to confession and repent for their actions against the pope. He has no problem citing (twisting, actually) canon law when it suits his own interests (e.g., against those who criticize this pontiff) but is in violation himself of canon law by self-publishing his own Bible translation without imprimatur.

            Similar to Mark Shea, Conte repeatedly and routinely makes bizarre claims (such as his own ideas on eschatology) and twists them with actual Church teaching to make it appear said claims are what the Church, in fact, teaches. His self-published catechisms (including his “Catechism of Sexual Ethics”, published, again, without imprimatur or any type of ecclesiastical approval) likewise present his own personal opinions as established fact, even when they dissent from the approved theological manuals of such giants as Heribert Jone.

            In short, Conte is what one finds all too often on the Internet these days: a self-proclaimed “theologian” with no credentials to support that claim, who leads innocent Catholics into confusion and papolatry with his entirely unauthorized opinions and writings.

          • You should take the time out to actually read what he says. Imprimatur’s are known to error as well. People error all the time when giving what they believe to be true. I have been in error many times on Catholic Answers message board. Ronald Conte has helped me so much understand the faith. Do I agree with him on everything? No, but neither do I agree with every other book or author, or theologian out there. He is a very solid Catholic.

          • I’m well aware that some imprimaturs (e.g., the one for the New American Bible) aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. Nevertheless, I consider Conte a hypocrite. He has no problem accusing Catholics, such as the filial correction signers, of violating canon law, but refuses himself to submit to it (again, by self-publishing both Scripture translations [violation of canon 825] and catechisms [violation of canon 827] without approval). That is to say nothing of his truly unhinged “prophecies”.

            You’d be much better served reading the works of theologians whose works the Church has actually approved, particularly those published before Vatican II. I recommend Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (still in print by TAN Books) and Jone’s Moral Theology (no longer in print, sadly, but available on the secondary market).

          • I hugely enjoy Conte’s speculative theology – especially his idea that the Second Coming of Christ is tentatively scheduled for 2437 and that we can expect the Third Coming 1,200 years after that, i.e. sometime in the 37th century.
            He seems convinced that Pope Francis is a saint. Any competent Devil’s Advocate would destroy that claim in five minutes, if it were not for the fact that Saint JPII abolished the Promoter of the Faith to speed up his mass canonisations. So we may indeed look forward to a succession of Popes canonising their immediate predecessors with minimum interference.

          • I wish some orthodox interpretation could be gleaned from this position of PF, but alas, to do so requires the ignoring of his own words and their plain meaning.

        • Then you should guess again. An act that is “intrinsically wrong” is ALWAYS wrong, and ALWAYS unjust.

          Any act that is “contrary to the Gospel” is intrinsically wrong.

          The Pope is teaching error, because he is contradicting the Church.

          • I dont think that is what Pope Francis is saying. One could have the opinion that the death penalty is contrary to the Gospel at this period in time(not in all times and forever) since there are alternate ways to punish criminals.

          • You don’t get any of the nuances. Fr. Gheogan, who molested, was murdered by a lifer in prison in a no death penalty state. Jeffrey Dahmer, serial murderer, was murdered by a lifer in a no death penalty state. You can’t execute those who murder in prison in no death penalty states. It’s an almost free kill in prison….especially if the murderer doesn’t mind solitary…the most that can be done to him.
            Say you yourself enjoyed killing outside prison for the power trip of it. Now you are in prison and in a non death penalty state and you’re built like a defensive end in the NFL….and you dislike your cell mate. Presto…you can kill him and the no death state of New Jersey can’t execute you. You do a year in solitary and then come out and kill again in general prison population and go back to solitary again. Mexico and Brazil…the two largest Catholic populations…have hellish prisons as to violence unless near the capital and they have no death penalty allowed even to execute those gangmembers who repeatedly murder in prison. Brazil has had decapitations ordered by gang leaders outside of gang prisoners inside prison to be done on enemy gang members.
            Google “Brazil prison decapitation”…then press images. Then read ccc 2267 which imagines all prisons as being as orderly as those in Europe.
            Total delusion there in ccc 2267’s wording. Most prisons worldwide cannot stop gang murders in prison without the threat of execution.

          • The whole premise of Pope St John Paul’s notion that we are so civilized the death penalty serves no purpose is demonstrably absurd.

            It would be one thing to come out and simply deny the legitimacy of killing anyone for any reason, but JPII tries to accomplish the same thing with a ridiculous and ludicrous argument.

            Francis on the other hand simply spits it out.

            Only problem is that what he affirms is a denial of Church teaching.

            But that little roadblock has never stopped his parade in the past, so why should we suspect it’ll put the brakes on now?

          • Thanks for the reply. Those are things to think about, I’m not disagreeing with you. There is also solitary confinement for life. The point of my posts is to say that Pope Francis isn’t teaching heresy.

          • I know that he is teaching in this a heresy regarding scripture…but you to understand that would first have to experience all scripture not some as inspired by God as Aquinas and the Fathers did. If ten percent of the clergy believed that proper way, I’d be very surprised.

          • One of our worst murderers in England is now in a hyper-security isolation unit after killing three men in prison. There are murders in prisons every year even in England, which has a very low murder rate outside prison compared with the USA. There are far more suicides than murders in British prisons. The brilliant Theodore Dalrymple used to be a prison doctor who was summoned to several suicides in cells. He was sure that there were far more hangings in British prisons after the death penalty was abolished in the 1960s – only they were self-hangings rather than conducted by the Public Hangman.

          • If the Pope were next to you and said it was raining and you looked outside and saw that it was not raining, I guess you would say he meant that it was raining spiritually.

          • There have always been “alternate ways to punish criminals.” Again, though, who knows what this man is really saying. Clarity and intellect are not his fortes.

          • I can think of plenty of “alternative ways” of punishing criminals which would arouse the wrath of certain clerics. What about brain surgery, coercive aversion therapy as per “Clockwork Orange”, or the chemical cosh, as is widely used in various institutions?
            As Pope Francis has spoken against both the death penalty AND life imprisonment, governments lack papally approved methods of controlling the most dangerous criminals who cannot be released into society. So, fortunately, governments will simply ignore his advice. Democratic politicians want to be reelected and will not survive if they ignore the basic safety of their voters. And the dictators couldn’t give a fig for religious opinion anyway.

          • As you indicate, by constantly airing his extreme left-wing political views, Francis is slowly but surely making all Vatican suggestions irrelevant in the world’s political arena. He is wandering into areas where not only has he no expertise at all, but where he shows a shocking naivete unworthy of a good statesman.

  20. Pope Francis has made a number of wild pronouncements based on his personal opinion and without any type of valid debate. His intellect is not almighty and far from it. He does not have the answer for any and every topic which is not even theological in nature. The “death penalty” is only one topic which is open to valid argument. In time of war, the death penalty is always a valid option. When society reaches into anarchy, then you have a parallel situation in which the death penalty is warranted. Just look at what is happening in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. All have situations in which there has been a valid use of the death penalty in order to manage a semblance of a stable society. If America continues to degenerate, then you would have situations in which the death penalty would be warranted.

  21. The Pope is wrong? Of coarse he is. Ponder for a moment, he’s not declared a single new teaching, he has only approached issues with “suggesting” and “innuendo” hard statements of fact.

    In this, is seen the hand of the Holy Spirit. I believe Pope Francis so much wants to change teaching, but when he opens his mouth and his words form in the presence of the Almighty Truth, who is God… his words deflect of the solid rock of Divine Truth and come out as limp-wrested suggestions and innuendo. i.e. He is incapable of teaching error,his authority comes from God, and God can take care of himself.

    Does he create scandal? Yes, and that is simply the action of his free will, whereas teaching error requires the Divine Will explicitly.

    I don’t like being overly critical of Pope Francis, he has some pretty big shoes to fill. All the Popes in my life were saintly men and some are Saints. Compared to them, his flippant mediocrity appears larger than it is. God’s promise to Mother Church to protect Her and not even the gates of hell will be able to overcome Her.

    When Pope Saint John Paul II was Pope, we’d tell the more progressive factions in our Faith that which is found in Lumen Gentium 25, that we must respect everything the Bishop of Rome says, even when it’s not Ex Cathedra. The Holy Fathers authority is restricted to faith and morals, not science (climate change) or (social justice). Respect is not analogous to belief. Innuendo and suggestion are likewise not analogous to authoritative pronouncements. What our Pope is most dire in need of, is our prayers.

    • Milo Yiannapolis is right about one thing – this Pope needs to stop talking. I would add he needed to do that years ago. About the only thing he said that I wholeheartedly agree with was, “I ask you to pray for me, because I have need of it. Three ‘Aves’ for me.”

    • I don’t know but Christ affirms the death penalty for cursing one’s parents in Mark 7:10…defunct though after Pentecost.
      But who is Christ compared to a Pope who has children repeat…” immigrants are not a danger”….most aren’t…some are….he lied to children.

    • Is the death penalty a morally acceptable punishment for someone who has broken out of prison several times to kill and injure again? For a child killer that has a 0.02% of escape? In the chaos of anarchy or war when effective prison systems don’t exist? Why do the superficial thinkers on this issue always ignore society at large and its rights? How can there ever be an absolute injunction against the possibility of just capital punishment?

    • I think one will have to. After all, this notion is so extreme and irrational that reality will catch up with it and force it off the field. Never forget that in the back of this pope’s mind there also the quaint idea that even life imprisonment is somehow unjust. Never a word from him, though, about retributive justice or the innocent victims of the murderers and rapists for whom he shows boundless empathy. His is typical leftist thinking, full of emotional pleas and high-sounding rhetoric but short on sound reason.

  22. (such) change,… (this) change,… (that) change,… (so) change,… change,… change,… change,…
    The popes cannot change Church teaching on anything. Not even when they speak Ex Cathedra.
    All what popes can (and should) do is – clarify.

  23. At least Pope Francis was ‘arguably’ ambiguous with AL, but to change a catechism and give clear teaching on a clear error, is far more damaging to the faithful I would argue. He has let the ‘cat out of the bag’ and he must be opposed.

  24. The prudential problems with Evangelium Vitae include one more.

    How many criminals released from prison after serving relatively short terms even for very serious crimes go on to commit similar or worse crimes?

    How many convicted rapists and murderers should have been executed in the first place?

    It is hard not to lay at the feet of men like JPII and Francis some of the responsibility for the commission of such crimes, crimes that COULD HAVE BEEN prevented had proper punishment been meted out to the criminal in the first place. These Pope’s words carry great weight, and they have been used with their logical meanings to break down the administration of justice.

    • In the UK round 6 people are murdered each year by released murderers. You get innocent deaths whether you have a death penalty or not.

      • That’s exactly right.

        In fact, there is more justification for executing capital criminals in modern societies than in past societies.
        Just the opposite of JPII’s argument.

        For in the modern socieities we now have the technological forensic means to be most certain we are actually punishing a guilty party.

    • The Popes do bear some of the responsibility. It is long past time for the excuses for them to end. They should, as Lord Acton rightly pointed out, be judged more, not less, harshly than other men. When they lead the Church astray, people should say so, and clearly.

      I am strongly in favour of using the DP much more. And I think serious consideration should be given to restoring the use of torture. Nothing barbaric, but perhaps some use of the rack, and of waterboarding. If people dont want to be waterboarded, they should co-operate when questioned. If torture was not unChristian in the past, it cannot be unChristian now. If it was unChristian then, why did the Popes permit it ?

  25. For a proper Correctio of Francis we would end sooner by listing the few orthodox things that he says and question him about: Everything Else.

    • I felt the same way when I read the Correctio submitted to him recently. I found myself, at the end, scratching my head and realizing that the Correctio didn’t even scratch the surface.

  26. Pope Francis is flat out wrong regarding capital punishment. His statement contradicts sacred scripture. We need a new and real Pope with real Catholic knowledge and understanding!!!

  27. There are actually 2 forms of the death penalty or capital punishment, though most people equate the term with a form of execution. Indeed there is the execution form, and another form is imprisonment without the possibility of parole until death…or just imprisonment until death. I believe Saint John Paul II struck the right balance for today, and it does no good to ignore the very real possibility and history of error in condemning a wrong person by claiming God will take care of it in the after-life. This is an excuse for allowing some egregious errors to exist (always an attack on truth and the Truth – think about it) that are unnecessary if life imprisonment without parole is imposed. The error of imprisonment of an innocent person can be remedied to some degree depending on the length of the imprisonment, but a wrongful death cannot be remedied.

    {Of course the execution form can be used wisely if the person is found guilty without the possibility of any error whatsoever in the finding and he/she is a threat to society, etc.}

    And the possibility of repentance in prison is also real and should not be dismissed as casually as some seem intent on doing in their thirst for “justice.” Consider a person currently in the state of mortal sin in prison. While alive, the chance for repentance is in play, but execute that person prior to any repentance, and the chance for repentance is gone.

    Church teaching does indeed allow for execution, but it’s not necessary in order to impose a different kind of death penalty that accomplishes what needs to be accomplished while demonstrating at the same time the sincere hope that a repentance will come about like it has done for many in prison, sometimes after many years of incarceration.

    Having said all of the above, it is also clear that Pope Francis is clueless and wrong yet again.

    • With scientific advancements in DNA etc. we are probably killing a lot less innocents than ever before. The number is probably close to zero.

        • Actually if you read about Timothy McVeigh and the good thief on the cross….both repented because death was getting closer and the hour known exactly…..therefore God gave multiple death penalties in the Bible and never mentioned once an obligation to pause them and wait for repentance. In fact for the Jews, He wanted stoning to begin with the witnesses. The good thief is mentioned by Mark as abusing Christ in the early hours and it is later that he talks wisdom as death gets real near.
          Nor are you or the Popes permitting yourselves to picture lifers as doing masturbation or drugs thousands of times prior to death and thus increasing their eternal punishment. Romans 13:4 was affirmed by the Holy Spirit in the midst of a very imperfect Roman Empire who had just unjustly killed Christ and then James in Acts 12:2….and that empire had life sentences in the mines but Rom.13:4 affirms execution by the sword..machaira…which same machaira was used to execute James by Herod in Acts 12:2.

          • The examples of the “good thief” and McVeigh do no matter, and what they actually illustrate is that up until the moment of death, no matter what someone has done, repentance is possible.

            Can you possibly imagine others not so repenting just prior to execution, or is this of no concern to you – the chance to save some souls for Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven by not executing them prior when such executions are not necessary?

            Perhaps you should re-read the story about those who were in the process of stoning the sinful/adulterous woman because the death penalty was the crime. Seems like our Lord intervened, and the woman was indeed guilty since our Lord advised her to “go and sin no more.” He gave her a second chance and commuted her sentence; a reprieve from execution. And what did he have to say to those self-righteous people engaged in the stoning? He must have been wrong in letting her go. Perhaps she would have repented just prior to the fatal stone being struck, so he did not really help her, right?

            As for the crude imagining you want me to consider regarding other sins while in jail, perhaps we should just execute babies shortly after birth to prevent them from possibly sinning throughout their lives. Your example is meaningless in this regard because there are always possibilities to sin just like there are always possibilities to repent. In a way, you help make my point by your example because if such and such evil can still occur repeatedly, then so, too can the ultimate repentance. 🙂

            In any case, none of your arguments or the arguments of others are sufficient to overcome the reality that, since mistakes can be made and there is a possibility of redemption through time, it is not necessary to execute someone. The life imprisonment without the possibility of parole (unless later found innocent, of course) suffices for justice to be served without the possibility of making the ultimate mistake of wrongful execution. I stand with SAINT JOHN PAUL II in this regard.

          • Now check yourself and find what you avoided answering in my post. I always note what a long responder doesn’t answer. Christ in the woman caught in adultery was ending those death penalties that He himself had given to the Jews only ….for personal sin. Not only was He not against stoning for adultery for 1200 years…He as God gave those death penalties and He as God willed them for 1200 years. You’ll see Him affirm one of those death penalties in Mark 7:10…” die the death”. In the woman in the adultery incident, other things were going on. He was not only ending the Sinai covenant death penalties that He gave as Word. He was showing each accusing man why He was ending the Sinai covenant.
            He wrote each man’s secret worst sin in the dust in his second writing in the dust. Look at the text. Each man leaves totally alone and in order of descending age….and silently with no protestation further. The macro issue of the event was that the Sinai covenant didn’t give any of them…the woman and the accusers…sanctifying grace…Gal…” had there been a law that giveth life, salvation would be from the law”….Heb…” the law brought nothing to perfection”. Christ was ending His own stoning laws for the Jews because He was bringing the New Covenant which however included Romans 13:4 reiterating Gen.9:5-6…the sole death penalty to all nations for crimes not for sins like adultery.

          • Your admonition to me is better applied to yourself, long responder.

            Note carefully what I have written, and see that I did not say the death penalty could not be used; only that execution is not always necessary and does not need to be used….., and Christ made this clear in the exoneration he gave to the adulterous woman. A superb exception to the rule that you and the irrational Johnny Curedents et al. don’t want to acknowledge. Why would Christ provide such an exoneration for a law in existence for so long if such sentence commutation was not possible? Once again, an example you provide actually provides more support for my position. Also, did Christ actually end the Sinai Covenant with this sentence commutation? How do you know, and if he did, that’s even more evidence in support of not needing to execute everyone who commits a capital offense. Excellent.

            And of course, I also favor less use of execution in favor of the death penalty known as life in prison until death. Perhaps you simply missed this.

            Regarding personal sin, what other kinds are there in reality? Each person sins as an individual, even if he or she is part of a group that may sin together.

            But thanks for advising what Christ wrote in the dust. Wow! Such incredible insights. Do you have irrefutable evidence that this is precisely what he wrote? It must have taken him a long time to complete the task.

            Predestination, eh? And how do you know what that is for anyone?

            The more you provide supposed examples and reasons to refute my position, the more you strengthen it. Keep it up.

          • I believe in commutation and pray daily for a female pianist who killed her two children and doesn’t remember doing it. She should be in secured psychiatric care…not prison.
            As to Christ writing in the dirt….cool down after a month and actually look at the text….they departed from Christ in perfect order of descending age and each alone …though they had come as a mob.
            Jeremiah (17:13)
            ” they that depart from thee, shall be written in the earth.”

          • Too many non-sequiturs and assumptions in your claims. Cool down for 2 months and stop assuming you have special insights into the scriptures that you do not have, and note that many interpretations are possible in the application of OT scripture to various actions in the NT. Unless the Church has proclaimed your interpretation to be the only one possible, your position is not definitive. In fact, it looks like a major stretch in your application of Jeremiah 17:13 since it refers to people who reject God entirely; not just in doing a particular thing.

            However, ’tis good of you to pray for some commutations.

        • Nonsense. With your kind of thinking, we would ban automobiles since they kill so many every day. After all, if even one life….. Others here have put to rest your (equally faulty) argument concerning repentance.

          • Indeed you are possessed of nonsense. One is a direct killing that is unnecessary while the other one is an accidental killing.

            What you have done is make a false analogy to defend intentional killing by equating it with accidental killing. Back to logic 101 for you. Look up false analogy, and if you don’t like the examples you see, just use yours.

          • “Possessed of nonsense”? Your English degree is from where, Sears? As for logic, try this on for size: you and other fans of this arrant nonsense confuse the taking of innocent life with condign punishment of criminals. Repentance can come at any time and, as the authors of the book I recommended to you above point out, it is far more likely to be the path of those facing imminent death. So, tell you what, try reading that book and then get back to me. OK, friend?

          • As they say in the scientific community, you are so far off the mark that you are not even wrong. As I set forth in my very first post, there are 2 forms of the death penalty. You are only familiar with 1 of these as most people are, but imprisonment until death is also a death penalty. Try to expand your thinking to fully understand this.

            Also, there is no confusing the taking of innocent life with the condign punishment of criminals that goes beyond eye for an eye, etc. Again, are you incapable of objectively reading what I have actually written, and are you so threatened by my actual arguments that you have to stoop to false straw man arguments, knock those down and then falsely declare them to be my arguments that I never made? Try some honesty for crying out loud.

            Now, it does not matter what is speculated about concerning those who face imminent death, and what stats Feser actually has in this regard. The fact that you simply don’t want to encounter is the undeniable reality that there can indeed be many in a state of mortal sin who will not confess right away, but at least there is a chance while still alive.

            So again, if I can only save one this way (perhaps it would be you or one of your loved ones), it is worth it to save a soul for the Kingdom of Heaven – to win your brother or sister. If I kill the person prior to any such necessary repentance, the chances that did not have to be taken away are indeed taken away at that moment.

            Once more, I will stick with Saint John Paul II and seek to save a lost soul, and you stick with the executioners and take the chance away for those who don’t “focus” in time.

          • And your irrefutable evidence for this is what, exactly?

            Are you, perhaps, also suggesting the use of Euthanasia instead of letting people die naturally? After all, if you make an appointment to be put to death on a certain date, then according to you, you will be more likely to repent.

            Yet another would-be refutation of the non-execution approach that falls flat because it’s not something that is true for all even if true for many. The point of the no-execution is to provide every opportunity until death for repentance, and to also avoid the possibility of a wrongful execution due to prosecutorial error that is also real.

          • In Summa Contra Gentiles, Aquinas even argued that an impending execution can stimulate repentance:
            “The fact that the evil, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgment that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers.”

          • So? The possibility does not make it a fact, and the great Aquinas wasn’t any more of a perfect mind reader than you are. Now let’s take a look at the guiding statement from the Catechism:

            “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.

            Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

            Key point:

            “without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself”

          • The current Catechism is woefully inadequate in its grasp of why the Church allows the death penalty. Our understanding of the moral liceity of this punishment — and even its positive good — was never restricted simply to “defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”

            The quotes in the article above make this exceedingly clear.

    • You need to read By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment by Edward Feser and Joseph Bessette. In almost excruciating detail, the authors reveal that mistakes are almost never made in capital cases. Beyond that, the authors demolish every other argument made by those who oppose capital punishment, including those of our current leftist pope. They demonstrate that the point of view of Francis on this issue (and that IS all this is) is as sound as his thinking about European immigration policy. (In fact, it’s becoming clearer by the day that the political pronouncements of Jorge Bergoglio are similar in effect to the thinking that landed Venezuela in its current mess.)

      • I have read articles by Feser on the Death Penalty that are published on his blog, and according to him, he makes the same points in his book.

        A serious flaw in the argument is the notion that it is okay to accept even one mistake, and it’s supposed to be okay that “almost no mistakes” is acceptable morally even when such mistakes can be avoided entirely. What a shame. You can avoid all mistakes, but hey, let’s just go ahead and execute someone who may be innocent because it doesn’t happen often, and we can wash our hands of any innocent blood being shed by saying “Oops. At least our track record is excellent.”

        Let’s also try an illustrative example: An innocent father of 3 young children is wrongly executed because the evidence was considered overwhelming. He could have been sentenced to life in prison, but execution was desired by Johnny Curedents and like-minded vengeance seekers, and so it is carried out within a few years. A year later, evidence is discovered that completely exonerates the executed man. Johnny Curedents approaches the wife with the children who are still young and hands her a copy of Feser’s book while advising her that she should not be sad or angry, and the children will be fine in the long run. After all, mistakes in such cases almost never happen,…and God will take care of it in the end. The wife gladly accepts the book and says “this will replace my wrongly executed husband. Thanks ever so much. The book can also serve to comfort my children as they grow, and perhaps they will some day also brag like you and others that their father’s wrongful execution was one of the rarest mistakes possible. No need to be sad; it was just a mistake. On to the next execution!”………Yeah, Right.

        Also note carefully what I actually set forth, and also note what I clearly claim about the errors of Pope Francis, which makes your ranting about him and his errors completely off point regarding what I clearly stated since I do not support his erroneous teaching.

        I’ll stick with Saint John Paul II, and you stick with the self-righteous ‘we only make a mistake once-in-a-while’ executioners.

        • I’ll say again, read the book in its entirety. If the magazine articles you reference had sufficed, the authors wouldn’t have bothered with the book. Please refrain from your sentimental rants when answering me in the future. They’re boring because I’ve heard others far more gifted than you use them before. They didn’t convince me then and you’re going to be no more successful this time.

          • And I’ll say again, it was not a magazine article I read, but directly from Feser’s blog (check it out). Cannot you not read objectively and accurately? One thing for sure is that it is most apparent that you cannot think beyond what Feser dictates to you in the book, and so you are not even encountering the argument I set forth.

            According to Feser at his blog, he and his co-author put together a book to bring together in one place what they have written and spoken about elsewhere since they have been on the record for quite a few years. Perhaps you should contact him to let him know that you are now both authors’ self-appointed mind reader, and that the reason for writing their book as Feser stated is just wrong; you know better, and the “real” reason for writing it.

            Also be sure to let Feser know that his “articles” were inadequate, and that’s why he and his co-author had to the write the book according to you. Nice insult of the fellow you follow in goose-step fashion. All of his past articles and speeches were inadequate, right? That’s why they had to write the book. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

            As for the alleged “sentimental rants” that are brilliant illustrations of the weakness of your position, your response is an admission of defeat on your part, but such was inevitable since your position and the position of Feser et al. always collapses for the reasons I previously set forth that just don’t like. You cannot overcome their logic and so you simply dismiss them with an ad hominem or two thrown in. Pure intellectual cowardice on your part, but don’t worry. You can still consider yourself a real tough guy because you favor executing people when such is not necessary, and if a mistake is ever made, too bad for the wrongfully executed, right? Bravo!

          • I happily accept your resignation from the engagement since you and Feser et al. cannot refute the points I have made, and so you’d rather end with a limp ad hominem instead of coming to grips with the problems and flaws of your position.

          • You’ve made no irrefutable points. Do you think that because the death penalty can be misapplied that its moral liceity ceases to exist?

            The constant teaching of the Church is that it *is* morally licit. The purpose of the present discussion is not to find every possible pitfall or abuse in the application of the death penalty. It is to understand that any assertion that the DP is contrary to the Gospels is in fact a corruption of divinely-revealed truth.

            Beyond that, the discussion becomes a prudential one. And there is certainly plenty of room for disagreement in when it may be applied.

            Remember, too, that Our Lord Himself was the victim of a death sentence carried out unjustly against an innocent man. Nevertheless, he affirmed that Pilate had the power to do it — power given to him by His Father in Heaven.

          • Most unfortunate, Steve, because you have failed to accurately read what I actually wrote in my posts.

            Your first more or less rhetorical question:

            “Do you think that because the death penalty can be misapplied that its moral liceity ceases to exist?”

            I have not made this claim anywhere, so you are on the verge of setting up a straw man/false argument like others have, which I thought would be beneath you. A pity.

            Go back and look at my very first post, and note that I accept the liceity of the punishment, but it is not necessary to execute someone when it can be misapplied as it has. Perhaps it will help if you imagine yourself being brilliantly set up by a gaggle of liberals, and you look to be most definitely guilty of a murder, but you know that you are innocent. On your way to your wrongful execution, will you be preaching about the excellence and liceity of the death penalty or will you be protesting/maintaining your innocence, which makes the execution a miscarriage of justice?

            I am also in agreement with your second paragraph that I affirmed in my posts. What is the purpose of the asterisks? Perhaps you just missed what I have actually written in your zeal to falsely criticize me with unnecessary emphasis on what you wrongly assumed I claimed. Lucky for you there is no execution penalty for making the false accusation against me, but I would not exercise it against you anyway. 🙂

            Your third paragraph is precisely what I have argued, and I favor the approach of Saint John Paul II.

            I love the silly argument regarding the wrongful execution of Christ. You admit the error involved, and so the execution was wrongly applied. The power given by God to do something, as you know, does not mean that such should be done. Pilate was in error, and his leaving it up to the lynch mob to “decide” also supports that a more prudential approach is much wiser than just “crucify him.” Tell me you don’t also praise the lynch mob of the time that was exercising the power that was given to them by Pilate or the State.

            Do you really want to defend execution by claiming we should discount error and commit wrongful executions? After all, since Pilate et al. erred, it’s okay for us to also make mistakes, right?

            Once more, I will continue to stick with the prudential approach of Saint John Paul II…as I clearly stated in other posts. Oh, wait. The *prudential approach.” Now there is more emphasis on what I repeatedly stated, just in case you missed it again and need the asterisks to drive it home.

            I am indeed saddened to see that you have risen to the defense of an individual and others who will not objectively and honestly engage the prudential arguments I set forth. Will you continue to be a part of this “lynch mob” as well? I sure hope not.

          • You certainly enjoy hearing yourself talk.

            If you don’t disagree with the moral liceity of capital punishment (and the authority given by God to the state to make use of it) and you DO disagree that capital punishment contradicts the Gospel, what are you bothering arguing about here?

            Wrongful executions are a tragedy. Nevertheless, abusus non tollit usum. The prudential argument is a separate topic, and one which is a distraction from the main issue here: that by denying a divinely revealed truth, Francis has arguably put himself into a more overtly heretical position than at any point up to now.

          • For a person who has his own site so he can “talk” at length, it’s a bit much to protest another who expresses his views in substantive detail to respond comprehensively to cover all or most points set forth by others. It’s actually a more Catholic and more charitable and more honest thing to do than ignoring main points by others. Also, you are just wrong once again in yet another false accusation against me, and this sadly reminds me of many liberals who pretend to know the mind of others to support their view against this or that. (By the bye, I take my cue from St. Thomas Aquinas in how he covered various positions and challenges.)

            Your second paragraph above is a bit awkward, but it does appear to express my viewpoint that I have stated elsewhere. Please take the time to go back and read my very first post in response to your article. That is the reason for my initial comments that provide food for thought. Only when a few others jumped on my prudential preferences, etc., with faulty suggestions and false claims about what my position is, etc. did I deem it necessary to argue further and in more detail in defense of my unassailable position.

            Prudential arguments and considerations are not a distraction concerning the overall issue that goes beyond the erroneous statements of Pope Francis. It sure looks like your article also goes beyond the erroneous claims made by Pope Francis.

            Also note the detailed comment by Michael Murray above (perhaps he also likes to hear himself “talk,” right?) for some more food for thought. He makes many of the same points that I do, though I would disagree with a few of his conclusions that do not square with Church teaching.

            Wrongful executions are indeed a most serious and egregious tragedy. Imagine if one happened to you or a close loved one, and you might be a bit more concerned with such a tragedy that never has to occur…in Latin or any other language. 🙂


          • Yes, I like to talk about things that matter, but not just so that I can hear my own words and admire how pleasing they are. And after all, it is, as you say, my own site.

            Prudential arguments are, for the purposes of this piece, ancillary. I mentioned a couple of them to illustrate that I understand their significance, but the point is, and remains, that one CANNOT argue against the moral liceity of a state putting criminals to death, or claim that it is against the Gospel.

            This. is. a. heresy. Full stop.

          • How do I know you don’t just like to hear your own words? After all, you wrongly judged me on this, pretending to know my mind, so why can’t I suggest the possibility (crucial difference) that you are being hypocritical in this regard? After all, you have no qualms about making a false declaration, which is indeed sinful on your part, and you just doubled down on this. Very shameful indeed. Be sure to mention this in your next confession, that you wrongly judged another in a public forum. Calumny is the term you can use to explain your public false judgment.

            Oh yes, your toys as well. Nice whining on your part. I provided thoughtful and insightful commentary, but you just don’t like it, and so the false personal attacks.

            I see you also don’t want to come to grips with my unassailable prudential arguments, plus you still do not appear to grasp the points I made in my initial post.

            And one of my other unassailable points remains in play: Because something can be done does not mean it should be done. Think about it before setting the noose.

            What may only be ancillary to you is all-important regarding a complete appreciation of the issue. That is my true intention in writing what I wrote, but you’d rather accuse me of pride in my words, etc. Once more: Shame on you.

  28. Thanks for this Steve. This is an excellent piece that describes the Church’s teaching all in one place very well. It’s much appreciated! Well done!

  29. For Pope Francis to say that
    capital punishment “is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel” is blasphemous. In the very Gospel itself, we see the death penalty given approval and consent:

    Luke 23:40-41

    “But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing; thou art under the same condemnation?

    And we indeed justly: for we receive the due reward of our deeds. But this man hath done no evil.”

    • Asbury,
      Also look up Mark 7:10 and you’ll see Christ affirm the Old Testament death penalty for cursing one’s parents….watch the words ” die the death”.

  30. Murray, Jesus Christ SAY do not judge ,Love one another ,do not Kill . except for self defense, Pray for the conversion of sinners ,and you Anemy ,I live here . Jesus din’t argue with anyone ,I will do the same , PEACE to all of you.

  31. While leaving a criminal alive may allow him a longer period of time in which to repent perhaps he would have more motivation to repent with a death sentence. In the words of Dr. Johnson knowing that a man is going to be hanged in a fortnight wonderfully concentrates his mind.

    • Execution makes it more likely the man will repent….the goof thief and Tim McVeigh both did. And no one thinks of the multitude of sins that the lifer may commit until death….drugs, solitary sex, hatred, brawling, extorting from weaker inmates. No mention of that side of it by anyone in high places.

  32. While i strongly disagree and reject Amoris Laetitia regarding Adultery.
    This talk of Capital Punishment (Homosexuality/Heresy) sounds more like AntiChrist Islamic Doctrine then True Catholicism.
    Take note that St Thomas Aquinas says the Death Penalty is according to ‘Just Reason’ to protect the innocent. Whereas in this age we have adequate prison systems which make the death penalty NOT the only ‘Just’ option for Psychopathic Murderers etc.
    Justice is God’s domain, and he gives legitimate authority to men for peace, to prevent the wicked from doing more harm to the innocent.

    Jesus was the word made flesh. So no longer would we misinterpret God.
    Our God became incarnate of the Virgin Mary so that we might follow his Holy example.
    That same Jesus who said “Let he who is without sin cast a stone at her first.”
    Who while being tortured by his own murders said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
    In Romans it is written “Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”

    It was the Catholic Saints who were put to death by Protestants and Muslims regarding this same misinterpretation of Capital Punishment.

    The Irony is this; It is continually self evident that God both gave and continues to give free will to the good and the wicked (same as the rain) Matthew 5:45.
    This means that any doctrine which proposes forced obedience and capital punishment is contrary to the mind of God.
    Because God is omnipotent, why would he give man free will, just to tell his followers to wage Jihad so that they might take it away? They actually fight against the will of God.
    It’s also why we know that Jesus Christ is the only True God, because God cannot be at war with himself, he had to (while respecting man’s free will) be crucified to show us his love (he who is love and the origin of it) and by offering to take our sins upon himself…. Somehow, convince us to love him.
    Or as the great Venerable Fulton J Sheen would say “As the Roman soldiers cast lots for his tunic, Jesus Christ crucified was the biggest gambler of them all.”

    Remember St Dismas on the cross next to Jesus who exclaimed “We indeed deserve our punishment (Capital Punishment) but this man (Jesus) has done nothing wrong.”

    So our Lord was unjustly put to death by what this article is trying to call justice, and how many criminals in the modern age have been falsely charged and then later aquited as being innocent?
    Are Judges always Just?
    Can you pevert Justice for a Bribe?
    Is it possible to Bear False Witness?
    How many thieves are in prison?
    Truly greater in number and sum are those robbers and murderers who continue to walk around free.
    The ones who breathe temptation are more guilty then the easily seduced, who will no doubt feel the full force of human justice.

    Capital Punishment, especially when there are just alternatives is absolutely contrary to the mind of God.
    That same God who was crucified BY Capital Punishment, even though he was innocent.

  33. His Holiness Pope Francis I’s statement is just that: a statement.

    Nevertheless, it does conform with Catholic doctrine, which sees capital punishment as permissible . . . which those of an authoritarian turn of mind seem to always interpret as: “must.”

    No, we who are Christians are called not to do just what is “permissible,” but to do what is “impossible” without God’s grace: to forgive without limit. That doesn’t mean punishment — even the ultimate punishment — is necessarily out of the question, but it is severely limited by Christ’s commandment to forgive seventy-times-seven.

    As aptly stated in the Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, of Pope St. John Paul II, to wit:

    56. This is the context in which to place the problem of the death penalty. On this matter there is a growing tendency, both in the Church and in civil society, to demand that it be applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely. The problem must be viewed in the context of a system of penal justice ever more in line with human dignity and thus, in the end, with God’s plan for man and society. The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is “to redress the disorder caused by the offence”. Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfils the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people’s safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behaviour and be rehabilitated.
    It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.
    In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: “If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person”.

    • I’m glad to know that even Francis doesn’t dare contradict 2000 years of constant teaching; that, at least, is progress the current deplorable straights in which the Church finds herself. That said, the pope and other Catholics who opine as he does on this matter are simply wrong. For those who wish to know exactly why he is seriously mistaken here, read — please read the book and not simple reviews of same — By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment by Edward Feser and Joseph Bessette. After you have done so, return to the excuses for opposing capital punishment. I think you will find that they are more reflective of faulty modern thinking and liberal “niceness” than either of sound doctrine or simple common sense. And, yes, saints like JP II can be and frequently are dead wrong about social and political matters outside the purview of their expertise. It’s not surprising at all.

    • Evangelium Vitae’s death penalty sections are Euro centric and irrelevant to the prison security affordable outside Europe even in the United States where gang culture results in murders in prison which the above words by John Paul II do not face honestly. The saint talks about wonderful prisons which do not exist in the two largest Catholic countries or in the US state prisons where both Fr. Geoghan and Jeffrey Dahmer were murdered by lifers in non death penalty states…nor as I said in Catholic Brazil and Mexico whose murder rates are 24 and 20 per 100,000.. ( Europe with no post slavery poverty population is about 1 murder per 100,000….because it is middleclass dominant). Where the poor exist in the tens of millions the death penalty of Romans 13:4 and of the Holy Spirit is prolife.
      Brazil, non death penalty, has 50,000 murders per year. China, death penalty within a reasonable time after the crime, has11,000 murders a year. Brazil 50,000….China 11,000 with 7 times the population of Brazil. Both have millions of poor from whom most murders occur….USA inner cities have 31 murders per 100,000…USA as a whole has 4.7 per 100,000. Evangelium Vitae is entirely based on middle class Europe which has no post slavery crime like the USA and Brazil and no cartels like Mexico.
      Here’s a test. Look up God’s death penalty for murder…it’s Gen.9:5-6 and its given perfectly in ccc 2260 which Catholc media never quotes. Read that couplet from God…memorize it. Go to section 39 of Evangelium Vitae and look for it. JPII cites it….but in two pieces…the front and the back…and he never in all EV shows the middle, the death penalty mandate. How did you miss that up til now? You missed it because your narrative blinded you to intellectual dishonesty in a saint. I Peter says…” the just man will scarcely be saved.”
      Aquinas, you, me, JPII…are all scarcely saved. EV death penalty sections are awful writing. He tells you at length that God protected Cain from execution.
      He hides from you that the same God shortly after Cain gave a death penalty in Gen.9:5-6 when real governments were about to begin in Gen.10 under the first ruler, Nimrod. And JPII knew the passage which we know from sect.39. You were conned by a fibbing Pope who had good intentions….he wanted the Church to look nice to liberals because they rightly were repulsed by aspects of the Inquisition. But these good intentions are getting thousands murdered in Brazil going forward ( non death due to secular pols but now with papal help)…and in countries wherein poor are in the tens of millions. If China were to take over Brazil’s justice system, it would reduce Brazil’s yearly 50,000 murder victims to 1000 instead going by China’s murder rate of less than 1 per 100,000 people. Of course in reality with cultural problems, the success would be half that. China’s death penalty then at 50% efficacy in Brazil would save 24,500 lives a year instead of 49,000. That’s 24,500 people saved by China being serious about Romans 13:4 unwittingly. My wife is Chinese. They don’t play…
      pretty woman…but she hooks off the left jab…like Mayweather….word.

  34. While i strongly disagree and reject Amoris Laetitia regarding Adultery.
    This talk of Capital Punishment (Homosexuality/Heresy) sounds more like AntiChrist Islamic Doctrine then True Catholicism.
    Take note that St Thomas Aquinas says the Death Penalty is according to ‘Just Reason’ to protect the innocent. Whereas in this age we have adequate prison systems which make the death penalty NOT the only ‘Just’ option for Psychopathic Murderers etc.
    Justice is God’s domain, and he gives legitimate authority to men for peace, to prevent the wicked from doing more harm to the innocent.

    Jesus was the word made flesh. So no longer would we misinterpret God.
    Our God became incarnate of the Virgin Mary so that we might follow his Holy example.
    That same Jesus who said “Let he who is without sin cast a stone at her first.”
    Who while being tortured by his own murders said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
    In Romans it is written “Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”

    It was the Catholic Saints who were put to death by Protestants and Muslims regarding this same misinterpretation of Capital Punishment.

    The Irony is this; It is continually self evident that God both gave and continues to give free will to the good and the wicked (same as the rain) Matthew 5:45.
    This means that any doctrine which proposes forced obedience and capital punishment is contrary to the mind of God.
    Because God is omnipotent, why would he give man free will, just to tell his followers to wage Jihad so that they might take it away? They actually fight against the will of God.
    It’s also why we know that Jesus Christ is the only True God, because God cannot be at war with himself, he had to (while respecting man’s free will) be crucified to show us his love (he who is love and the origin of it) and by offering to take our sins upon himself…. Somehow, convince us to love him.
    Or as the great Venerable Fulton J Sheen would say “As the Roman soldiers cast lots for his tunic, Jesus Christ crucified was the biggest gambler of them all.”

    Remember St Dismas on the cross next to Jesus who exclaimed “We indeed deserve our punishment (Capital Punishment) but this man (Jesus) has done nothing wrong.”

    So our Lord was unjustly put to death by what this article is trying to call justice, and how many criminals in the modern age have been falsely charged and then later acquitted as being innocent?
    Are Judges always Just?
    Can you pervert Justice for a Bribe?
    Is it possible to Bear False Witness?
    How many thieves are in prison?
    Truly greater in number and sum are those robbers and murderers who continue to walk around free.
    The ones who breathe temptation are more guilty than the easily seduced, who will no doubt feel the full force of human justice.

    Capital Punishment, especially when there are just alternatives is absolutely contrary to the mind of God.
    That same God who was crucified BY Capital Punishment, even though he was innocent.

    • Capital Punishment, especially when there are just alternatives is absolutely contrary to the mind of God.

      Then how do you explain Genesis 9: 5-6? How do you explain capital punishment throughout the Mosaic Law? How do you explain St. Paul writing that “the wages of sin is death”?

      Do you realize that God’s justice and standards are absolute? Do you realize that His holiness cannot tolerate any sin of major or even minor degree? Do you realize that if it weren’t for Christ’s atoning death on the cross, the entire human race would be condemned for eternity, regardless of any “just reasons” hypothesized by Aquinas or anybody else?

      Why do you think Christ died in the first place? Yes, a corrupt judicial process put Him on the cross but do you not realize that He came to die in humanity’s place for its collective sin, thereby making redemption and a relationship with God possible — regardless of any judicial processes?

      Michael, with all due respect, your comment reflects the fact that the vast majority of mainstream, orthodox Catholics are Biblically ignorant. That shouldn’t be a surprise, since the vast majority of American Christians across the board are Biblically ignorant. Nevertheless, ignorance is never an excuse under either human or divine law.

      I strongly suggest you read the following:

      • “The wages of sin is death” St Paul rightly says this.
        It is because of sin (Original Sin) that death entered this world, and since it is impossible to legislate against all sins (sloth, gluttony etc.) St Paul also rightly says to “Live under grace, not under the law.”

        All have sinned, but the aim is to turn to Jesus Christ, who takes sin out of this world.
        Thus to eliminate sin while it is still venial, lest it become mortal and a total corruption of society. No longer by Capital Punishment but by the grace of Jesus Christ won for us on Calvary.

        Adultery is a Capital Offence to God, under Israel the penalty was also death. How then can you explain the ‘seeming’ contradiction of our Lord who said to the adulteress “Neither do I condemn you.”
        Or when Jesus offered this parable in Luke 7:42 “When they were unable to repay him, he forgave both of them. Which one, then, will love him more?” “I suppose the one who was forgiven more,” Simon replied. “You have judged correctly.” Jesus said.”

        Since Jesus Christ had not yet died to make atonement for sins, Capital Punishment was necessary to prevent a general depravity among the nation, without hope.

        Even with a strict law, and careful observance of forbidden foods, Sabbath etc. Isaiah says, “What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?
        Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?”
        (…) For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel
        And the men of Judah His delightful plant.
        Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;
        For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.”

        Even still our Lord lamented, Mathew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling!”

        This is why we live under the NEW covenant, not to do away with what is sin, and will lead to eternal death.
        But to fulfill all things in Christ Jesus, who while we were still sinners, died for us.
        Who while we were unfaithful, kept his promise to Abraham regarding our salvation through the offspring of his son Isaac.

        It is also worth noting that God did not repay the Murder of Abel by killing Cain, but rather banished him from Society.

        • Michael, do you realize that God’s command to execute murderers came after Cain’s murder of Abel — and came after a flood that destroy a morally chaotic world? Citing Cain’s reprieve after murdering Abel to support your position ignores the fact that humanity has devolved tremendously since that time.

          Also, do you realize that the “trial” of the woman caught in adultery was essentially a kangaroo court that was operating contrary to the Mosaic Law? Why wasn’t her lover brought to trial? If Jesus were to condemn her, then He would be violating the very Mosaic Law He came to fulfill!

          Do you realize that the New Covenant was not meant to do away with basic moral decision making or the State’s duty to protect citizens but to create a better way for humanity to have a relationship to God?

          While God does prefer correction and repentance to punishment and condemnation, that preference does not override His righteous nature that demands punishment and condemnation for the unrepentant. The same God who preserved Cain is the same God who demands that murderers be executed under a system of just due process. Is God schizophrenic? I don’t think so.

          Quoting verses as proof texts to support a position — one that effectively disregards centuries of Catholic teaching — does not, in and of itself, make one Biblically knowledgable.

          • So you think that if they brought forward the Adulteresses lover, Christ would have said “Now that its fair kill them both.” lol

            Being opposed to the death penalty in no way disregards Catholic teaching, the Church gave an exemption for Capital Punishment, it was never a rule, always preferring correction and mercy to those who accept it.

            Or better yet, how about this analogy.
            “Jesus answered, “It was because of your hardness of heart that Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but it was not this way from the beginning.”

            It can just as easily be said, it was because of your hardness of heart the Church allowed Capital Punishment, but from the beginning God desired the salvation of sinners.

            John 3:17
            “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

            In God’s eyes all who do not believe in him are already condemning themselves. Do you have any idea what this means according to Capital Punishment?
            But God himself permits them to live, so that they should turn and God would heal them according to Isaiah 6:10, quoted again by Matthew 13:15.

            You have still not provided anything substantial for your argument supporting the ‘Death Penalty’ except the Mosaic Law, and the Mosaic law can be summed up in this one quote,

            Exodus 21:24
            “But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” (Mosaic Law)

            Matthew 5:43
            “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ (…)
            You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
            (…) Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”

            As I quoted before I will quote again to finish….

            Romans 12:19
            “Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

            I understand your resistance believe me, and I shudder whenever Pope Francis mentions anything to do with change or says something like “Who am I to judge?”
            In this instance of the Death Penalty, he is not wrong here.
            Remember, Mercy Brother….. Mercy. Lord have Mercy on us poor banished children of Eve.

          • You speak of mercy. Who has mercy for the victims and their survivors? The Church? Really? Let me cite some examples from the article to which I linked:

            …the Church’s effectively abolitionist position creates a moral
            equivalence between murderers and their victims – and demonstrates
            outright disregard for the latter. In 2006, Bishop Samuel Aquila of
            Fargo, ND, used the following rationale to oppose the execution of
            Alfonso Rodriguez, who murdered a 22-year-old university student, Dru
            Sjodin: “Responding to this senseless act of violence with another act of violence through imposition of the death penalty … reinforces the false perspective of
            vengeance as justice,” Aquila told Catholic News Agency. “In doing so,
            it diminishes respect for all human life, both the lives of the guilty
            and the innocent.”

            When she heard the news about John Paul’s intervention on McVeigh’s behalf,
            Kathleen Treanor – who lost her daughter and two in-laws in the bombing –
            told Associated Press:

            “Let me ask the pope, ‘Where’s my clemency? When do I get any clemency? When
            does my family get some clemency?’ When the pope can answer that, we
            can talk.”

            In 1997, John Paul and Mother Teresa – another future saint – were among
            those advocating clemency for Joseph O’Dell, a Virginia man convicted of
            raping and murdering Helen Schartner in 1985. O’Dell’s fiancée
            manipulated public opinion in Italy to such a point that Gail Lee,
            Schartner’s sister, told Associated Press: “We’re all very fragile at
            this point. It’s just like the Italians hate us. They in essence have
            said to my family, ‘You are worthless. Helen’s life doesn’t matter.'”

            Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C. displayed his own self-righteous indifference when he spoke to the Washington Post in 2001 about McVeigh’s execution, which only victims’ relatives could see via closed-circuit television:

            “It is like going back to the Roman Colosseum. I think that we’re watching,
            in my mind, an act of vengeance, and vengeance is never justified.”

            McCarrick thus equated the grieving, vulnerable relatives of murder victims with the hardened, barbaric masses of ancient Rome who found the bloody agony of gladiators and religious martyrs entertaining.

            (end of citations)

            This is how authorities — and even future saints — in the Catholic Church view “mercy.” Such people sacrifice the grieving and the innocent on the altar of their academic, narcissistic pseudo-piety.

            This is why I left Catholicism. It has become evil. Not misguided. Not merely apostate. Evil. The people who manipulate God’s name to promote their false mercy — whether they’re named Francis, JPII, McCarrick or even Mother Teresa — will have much to answer for to a holy, righteous God who is far from amused.

          • Joseph:

            Such demonstrate the exact type of factual and rational errors made within the amended CCC 2667, whereby from PJPII errors with the EV were simply transferred into the CCC, with zero fact checking or any understanding of the reality of the modern criminal justice systems, worldwide, all of which, constantly put more innocents are risk.

            The problems could hardly me more onvious. It is frightening that they could be so irresponsible, as detailed:

            Catholic Church: Problems with Her Newest Death Penalty Position: The Catechism & Section 2267

          • Wow, Dudley, simply wow. Sr. Prejean is distorting facts and doctrine to promote her own agenda — not unlike the current Pope and one of his two immediate predecessors.

            I have become convinced that Catholicism is beyond saving. When the Antichrist reveals himself, Francis and his hierarchs will support him and will encourage Catholic laity to do likewise — and the laity will do so out of their own ignorance, naivete and misplaced trust. This is because the people who are responsible for teaching the faith have forfeited their responsibility and, instead, bought into intellectual fashion. This is true from the Vatican down to the smallest parish RCIA class.

          • “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.” (Genesis 9:6)
            “If a man takes the life of any human being, he shall surely be put to death…. If a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, just as he has injured a man, so it shall be inflicted on him.” (Leviticus 24:17-20)
            “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for his is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. FOR HE IS THE SERVANT OF GOD, AN AVENGER WHO CARRIES OUT GOD’S WRATH ON THE WRONGDOER.” (Romans 13:1-4)
            “It is another part of the office of magistrates, that they ought forcibly to repress the waywardness of evil men, who do not willingly suffer themselves to be governed by laws, and to inflict such punishment on their offenses as God’s judgment requires; for he expressly declares that they are armed with the sword, not for an empty show, but that they may smite evil-doers…. This is a remarkable passage for the purpose of proving the right of the sword; for if the Lord, by arming the magistrate, has also committed to him the use of the sword, whenever he visits the guilty with death, by executing God’s vengeance, he obeys his commands. Contend then do they with God who think it unlawful to shed the blood of wicked men.” (John Calvin, COMMENTARY ON ROMANS)

          • ‘John Calvin’ father of Calvinism?

            Is anyone here a Catholic?
            We do not condemn people but teaching, we desire the salvation of souls and leave vengeance to the wrath of God.
            Our duty is to prevent the wicked from doing more harm to the innocent, and this is why the Church gave an exemption for Capital Punishment, but it was never a rule.

            Please re-read what I wrote.

          • Yes.

            A thorough rebuttal to any effort to end the death penalty, based upon Catholic teachings.

            By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment (2017), Edward Feser & Joseph Bessette

          • If you’re not sure how to interpret the Sermon on the Mount (or the Sermon on the Plain), start by rejecting the impossible interpretations. If Jesus abolished all punishment, that would mean that the state is completely annihilated. A law with no punishment for breaking it is a nothing.

        • As is clear, Cain was never corrected and, constantly, rejected God.

          By mentioning Cain, in the wrong context, as well as forgetting the later Flood, you make the common error of looking at biblical instruction atomistically, as opposed to as a whole.

          It is interesting, that in His last moments in life, Jesus forgave St. Dismas, the good thief, requiring the lesson that it is not the matter of our death, but the matter of our eternal salvation, which matters.

          • I have not rejected the Flood at all, and if I recall correctly, that’s why we have a rainbow, the sign and promise to Noah that no matter how evil mankind becomes he would not flood the world again.
            (However he obviously permits chastisements).

            This is why (knowing or unknowingly) Sodomy has taken the rainbow as its symbol…. to mock God’s mercy.

            If a criminal was of no harm to society (incarcerated), and I was not acting in self defence… I would not kill him, and since I would not kill him I would certainly not expect another to do so in my place. That’s cowardly. It’s also vengeance…. and “Vengeance is mine, I will repay. Says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

  35. As the Catholic Church says, “Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.” — #2267

    Regarding the ‘redeeming’ qualities of the prison experience (and the majority of these are American. Just think of Africa (or Italy), et al.–prison_officer-sex_charges-4e65cad181.html

    Redeeming, indeed.

  36. All Catholics May Support The Death Penalty

    “There is a very robust debate countering both the Church’s 20 year old anti death penalty teachings (CCC, amended 1997) and the statements by Pope Francis, both of which are contradicted by fact, reason, the Gospel and 2000 years of Catholic teachings, through today”, as detailed.

    All Catholics May Support The Death Penalty

  37. Well, if Pope Pius XII said it. Perhaps this should be the standard for everything? Instead of examining the social doctrine on the subject produced by his immediate predecessors–Benedict XVI, Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Blessed Paul VI, Pope St. John XXIII–let’s go back to Pope Pius XII. But if such is to be the standard for social issues, then what becomes of Humani Vitae? Are we now permitted to use artificial contraception?

    Of course not. That is not how the Magisterium works. Just as Pope Stephen I has no comments on nuclear proliferation, Pope Pius XII does not have documents on artificial contraception. The Magisterium is not static. It does not speak once on an issue and never revisits it. Clearly the numerous Ecumenical Councils dealing with the nature of Christ prove that to be the case.

    It is the gift Christ gave to the Church: a constant teacher who could teach on issues throughout time. So yes, at one time, capital punishment may have been morally permissible just as it was morally permissible for the Israelites to divorce their wives. The social doctrine of the Church, the Catechism, and the bishops in the US exercising their ordinary magisterium have said that the permissibility of capital punishment is dependent on several factors. It does not take too much looking to see that these factors are not met in today’s society.

    • Semper Incipit, you forget that God demands murderers be executed through a system of just due process because murder is the ultimate violation of the divine image, and execution is the only appropriate, proportional punishment. See Genesis 9: 5-6. Christ never abrogated that demand when it came to murder. If you’re going to cite John 8 and the adulteress, be advised that not even Sister Helen Prejean, perhaps the foremost non-papal opponent of capital punishment, used that as a justification for abolition.

      Murder is not adultery. Murder is not divorce. The Magisterium might not be static, but it’s certainly not called upon to the the second coming of the Ministry of Truth from Orwell’s 1984.

      When the Magisterium contradicts divine revelation, it destroys its credibility and, worse, offends a holy, righteous God Who demands a higher standard from those who claim authority in His name.

      I strongly suggest you read this:

      • If that is the case, capital punishment should be performed according to the Law i.e. with stoning.

        We should recall the abrogation of the bill of divorce. Christ abrogates this law, though it was given by God, since under the law of grace, it is no longer necessary nor was it the intent of God to continue it. We should further recall that the Law has been fulfilled and the New Law established. Thus, to rely solely on the Old Law for precedent is impossible as the New Law has been established and certain provisions are no longer enforceable.

        God also says, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay,” and “I do not desire the death of the wicked,” and “I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” Since it is known through revelation that vengeance belongs to God, that he does not desire the death of the wicked, and that he desires that all have life abundantly, it is clear that, under the New Law, God does not make this demand. He made the demand of the Israelites as part of his covenant with them, but no such demand was made in the New Covenant and just as the necessity of circumcision was subject to the judges of the new law–the Apostles and their successors–so also is the subject of capital punishment.

        I think you should trying reading “Principles of Christian Morality.” Benedict XVI is a better theologian than either of us and the Remnant.

    • Justice-thirsty would be the proper description of death penalty supporters.

      The murderer are the bloodthirsty ones, as is obvious, to most.

      Please review:

      The Death Penalty: Mercy, Expiation, Redemption & Salvation


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