10 Responses

  1. carn says:

    “The old position of the Church only “appeared” to be just. Rather than defending the older view, he simply says that it was “more legalistic than Christian.” He sees the errors of the past as somewhat understandable due to both limited “means of defense” and a lack of “maturity.””

    Ok, and if i simply say, that the new position of the Church only appears to be just and is due to a lack of maturity?

    I miss there some argument, especially in what regard anybody today is more mature than anybody in former times.

    “In this way, Francis has closed the “loophole” of the JP II/Ratzinger view that allowed for at least the theoretical possibility of the DP (so often exploited to claim that the Church did not really oppose the DP, even while the pope called for its abolition!).”

    So Pope Francis teaches that even if executing the murderer would be really the absolute only single way to prevent him from committing further murders and any other course of action would guarantee another dead innocent, that even then a catholic should oppose the death penalty for such a murderer in such circumstances?

    I am just asking, to understand it correctly.

    • carn says:

      Nobody willing to answer my question:

      So Pope Francis teaches that even if executing the murderer would be really the absolute only single way to prevent him from committing further murders and any other course of action would guarantee another dead innocent, that even then a catholic should oppose the death penalty for such a murderer in such circumstances?

      Cause i am really, really lost regarding what the answer would be. Have arguments for both yes and no and for an argument, that the question itself is considered wrong/sinful and by Pope Francis and therefore deemed to be not worth any answer.

      • Mike Lewis says:

        Your hypothetical is a bit convoluted for a couple of reasons. We can’t see the future, therefore we cannot predict with certainty that a murderer is going to murder again. You are insisting that there are no other alternatives other than lethal means based on a situation that in reality has an uncertain outcome.

        There is a line where the protection of self or another is no longer considered “capital punishment,” but self-defense. If a person actually poses an immediate deadly threat to someone (as opposed to being restrained or behind bars), then using lethal force could be legitimate.

        But not under the principle of the death penalty. The principle of self-defense.

        I hope this answers the question.

        • carn says:

          In a sense you did answer the question; and the answer you suggest is: Yes, Pope Francis does teach that.

          “Your hypothetical is a bit convoluted … has an uncertain outcome.”

          “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.”

          The CCC so far presumed that there might be criminals and situations in which the only effective way to prevent further aggression by the criminal is execution.

          Call my questions convoluted and unrealistic, but Church teaching till last week presumed the question to be realistic.

          I just find it bizarre, that discussing a situation, that according to the catechism till last week was well within the realm of possibility and described in the catechism, is somehow problematic.

          Because in discussing any development of teaching it is of course logical and rational to discuss scenarios that were relevant for the teaching from which the development started.

          Also note, that i read from other sources who claim otherwise, that Pope Francis does not teach that in my hypothetical the death penalty is to be opposed, but that Pope Francis presumes that my hypothetical is in the world of today no longer in any way realistic and therefore irrelevant.

          And i also have that claim from a priest being very positive about the change in 2267.

          I think i should ponder the idea i had some time ago: i should try to avoid or at least reduce reading and considering what Pope Francis says/writes. His use of language is not my thing.

          • Mike Lewis says:

            I think you are probably right that the Church did consider some sort of “worst case” situation that would justify the death penalty because all other options were impossible. But imagining such a situation playing out in the real world is difficult.

            Some people use a “desert island” hypothetical, where there are 4 people on an island, and one murders another, and threatens to murder another. Since lifelong incarceration would be impossible in such a scenario, would the death penalty be licit?

            This scenario is problematic, at least for me, because 2 people hardly constitute a state with the power to execute. Also, depending on the situation, self-defense may come into play.

            But I think the new explanation makes it clear that non-lethal means should be sought, and abolition of the death penalty should be written into civil law.

  2. Chris dorf says:

    The National Review just completely trashed Pope Francis and his teachings. Wow.


    The trashing of Pope francis’s teachings

    “Only the most warped mind could maintain that endorsement of capital punishment per se could develop into a ban, as if an acorn could grow to become a cactus.”

  3. LD says:

    Thank you, clear and compelling.

  4. Christopher Lake says:

    Chris Dorf,

    I saw the National Review article that you mention, and as a longtime reader of NR (who, as a Catholic, has somewhat of a “lover’s quarrel” with the magazine!!), unfortunately, the article was no real surprise to me.

    Going back at least as far as the early 1960s, even practicing, vocally Catholic writers at NR (including, it pains me to say, its late founder, William F. Buckley, Jr.!) have had a history of being highly supportive of Church teaching on certain issues, while strongly opposing Church teaching on other issues. This has been a problem within American political conservatism, generally, *and* political liberalism in the U.S. (Neither “side” is innocent here.)

    There are writers at NR who have been much more open-hearted, and, at least to some degree, supportive, of the development in Church teaching on the death penalty. Here is one example: https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/08/pope-francis-death-penalty-catholic-teaching-evolves/

    I’ve noticed that the respective politically conservative *and* politically liberal movements in this country, at times, each make appeals to U.S. Catholics, claiming to be “more faithful to” Catholic teaching than their “opponents.” This has become a sort of political game in this country, trying to capture the votes of Catholics.

    I have been, at different points in my life, a radical leftist and secularist for whom the Democratic Party was too “centrist,” and, then, later, as a Catholic convert, a vocal and “stright-ticket-voting” Republican. I’m still a Catholic convert who leans politically conservative, but especially over the last few years, I’ve come to have to admit to myself that the social teachings of the Church are not captive to, and can’t really be *captured iwithin*, either American conservatism or liberalism. For this reason, I don’t publicly identify myself as a Democrat *or* Republican anymore. I’m a Catholic, which puts me both at odds with, and in some sympathy with, both Parties in different ways.

    To be painfully honest, I do find it harder and harder, though, even to find individual Republicans and Democrats for whom I can vote in good conscience, as a Catholic. I haven’t given up, but it’s hard. I hope that eventually, a strong, viable, third Party will be able to *effectively challenge* the two “major Parties” for American Catholics.

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