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Is the Death Penalty Morally Equal to Abortion? Bishops Preach Politics Rather than Gospel Truth
CCI NEWS SERVICE ^ | 12/16/2003 | Dr. Brian Kopp

Posted on 12/18/2003 10:38:18 AM PST by ckca

Is the Death Penalty Morally Equal to Abortions? US Bishops Preach Politics Rather than the Gospel Truth

12/16/2003 8:49:00 PM
By Dr. Brian Kopp - CCI NEWS SERVICE

Bishop John H. Ricard: Abortion, death penalty... What's the difference?
 
Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas: "If a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since 'a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump' (I Cor. 5:6)"
During the recent U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall general meeting, the bishops created a task force to examine the Church's relationship with Catholic politicians who openly defy Church teachings on various moral issues. Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, of Pensacola-Tallahassee is chairman of the new task force. During the meeting, he stated:

"We face a serious pastoral challenge, Some Catholic politicians defy church teaching in their policy advocacy and legislative votes, first and most fundamentally on the defense of unborn life, but also on the use of the death penalty, questions of war and peace, the role of marriage and family, the rights of parents to choose the best education for their children, the priority for the poor, and welcome for immigrants...."

The task force is charged with creating guidelines to aid our bishops in making distinctions between "respect for the office and approval of the officeholder ... to distinguish between fundamental moral principles and prudential judgments on the application of those principles, between essential substance and tactics," according to Bishop Ricard.

This rhetoric creates a false moral equivalence between support for the death penalty (which has been seen as morally licit in well defined circumstances for the entire history of Christianity) and support for abortion (which has always been taught to be inherently evil, with no exceptions.) This misrepresentation of fundamental Catholic beliefs has grown increasingly common to the frustration of faithful Catholics who identify the political agendas behind the confusion.

Another example of this intentionally misleading approach is by Michael L. Shields, writing in the August 1, 2003, National Catholic Reporter article, "Double standard in public life hurts Catholic credibility," states:

"In March 1995, Pope John Paul II issued his encyclical Evangelium Vitae stating that the death penalty is nly appropriate "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 improvement in the organization of the penal system, such cases are rare, if not practically nonexistent." … In spite of this declaration by the church, so-called "true" Catholic Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was able to reconcile his views on the permissibility of the death penalty with church teachings. Scalia argued that since the pope’s teaching on the death penalty in Evangelium Vitae did not come ex cathedra (i.e., with formal infallibility) he is not obligated as a Catholic to accept it, only to give it "serious consideration." Using Scalia’s logic, it is just as easy for a pro-choice Catholic to justify his belief in the right of a woman to choose because Humanae Vitae also did not come ex cathedra. However, the pro-choice Catholic would be considered more reprehensible than Scalia simply because well-entrenched conservative … consider abortion to be the greater of the two evils and thus they turn a blind eye to Scalia’s inconsistent views."

Tim Francis-Wright, writing for the self-declared Marxist/Leftist web magazine "Bear Left," states in his May 6, 2003 column, "Acta Santorum,"

"Santorum has criticized Catholic politicians who espouse liberal views on social issues, while praising President Bush as "the first Catholic president of the United States." Bush is a Methodist, unlike former President John Kennedy … He is, however, an unwavering conservative, and that is good enough for Santorum.

"Santorum is free, as he should be, to use his religious beliefs to guide his political beliefs. His problem is that the complete tenets of Roman Catholicism are awfully hard to reconcile without some cognitive dissonance. If Santorum took a hard line against abortion and euthanasia and homosexual acts, but also against the death penalty and nuclear weapons and wars of retribution, as do "seamless garment" Catholics, then his views on sexuality and homosexuality would reflect the odd amalgam of radical and puritanical within the teachings of his church.

"But Santorum is hardly a critic of the death penalty or of any war. Like many Catholics-and many non-Catholics-he has chosen from his religion's dogma what he wants to hear and ignored the rest. He may not want to admit that he, too, is a cafeteria Catholic, but his public pronouncements belie him. Ultimately, Rick Santorum is no better a Catholic than myriad Catholics who attend only Christmas and Easter services."

For left wing hypocrites to twist the truth for their own ends is one thing, but for a Catholic bishop to compare defying the Church's stance on abortion, which is intrinsically evil, to a prudential judgement on the death penalty, which the Church still admits the State has a right to impose (though it should be rare) simply provides the desired fodder for the enemies of political conservatism and the Christian morality.

ABORTION IS EVIL

Abortion is by its very nature, i.e., intrinsically, evil. No circumstances, no application of "situational ethics," can change its intrinsically evil nature.

On the other hand, the Catechism of the Catholic Church does not exclude the possibility that a state could justifiably use capital punishment in cases "of extreme gravity," but adds: "If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means..." [#2266, 2267]

In Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II wrote that punishment should not include the death penalty "if it is not a case of absolute necessity, in which the defense of society would not otherwise be possible." The Pope continued, "such cases are now very rare, if not practically non-existent." However, the Holy Father added that the principles put forth in the Catechism remain valid.

So a case can be made that from the perspective of charity, and within the framework of justice in modern society, that Capital Punishment should be so rare as to be non-existent. This is the thinking of the current Pope, the Catechism now reflects that thinking, and many pro-life activists are indeed personally opposed to Capital Punishment.

But recourse to the death penalty is not intrinsically evil. A Catholic who supports the death penalty commits no sin. To compare the two is disingenuous at best, and a direct attack upon conservative pro-life Catholic politicians and activists at worst. It would seem that certain factions within the USCCB are upset that lay Catholic activists and faithful Catholic politicians have forced them into addressing an issue they would much rather continue to ignore.

(Furthermore, Catholics in the pro-life movement tend to share a 95% crossover identity with "orthodox" or conservative Catholics. Certain bishops may see these orthodox lay Catholics as a real threat to their overall liberal agenda. This Jesuit bishop’s comment may also have been intended as a shot across the bow, i.e "push us on this too hard and we might excommunicate your political heroes --like Santorum and Scalia-- also.")

Pope John Paul II coined the terms "Culture of Life" and "Culture of Death." The four components that are traditionally named as the four pillars of the Culture of Death are 1)the contraceptive mentality (from which springs legalized abortion and the current destruction of marriage and the family), 2)abortion, 3)homosexuality and 4)euthanasia.

Christian moral theology has condemned these four pillars of the Culture of Death, constantly and definitively, since the times of the apostles themselves. For instanc e, all of Christianity unanimously taught contraception to be inherently evil (i.e., no circumstances can make it acceptable) until 1930, when the Anglicans caved to pressure from the Margaret Sangers of the early 1900’s and permitted contraception, but only in carefully defined circumstances. The ensuing decades saw all mainstream Protestant sects fall into grave error on these issues until the present time, when only Roman Catholicism remains steadfast in its adherence to the continual teaching of Christianity against contraception.

Likewise, Christianity has always condemned abortion, homosexuality, and Euthanasia as inherently evil, with some denominations falling recently to the pressures of the modern world to change.

JUSTICE IS NOT EVIL

Unlike these four pillars of the Culture of Death, Capital Punishment has continuously been regarded as morally licit, for the vast majority of the history of Christianity, with some modern changes in thinking.

St. Thomas Aquinas sums up the thought of Christian tradition on the subject,

"If a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since 'a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump' (I Cor. 5:6)"

"The life of certain pestiferous men is an impediment to the common good which is the concord of human society. Therefore, certain men must be removed by death from the society of men.... Therefore, the ruler of a state executes pestiferous men justly and sinlessly in order that the peace of the state may not be disrupted.... [However], the execution of the wicked is forbidden wherever it cannot be done with out danger to the good. Of course, this often happens when the wicked are not clearly distinguished from the good by their sins, or when the danger of the evil involving many good men in this ruin is feared" (Book III, ch. 146).

Clearly, the continual teaching of Christianity has been that Capital Punishment is not only necessary but also just and licit. The recent changes in Church teaching regarding Capital Punishment are finely nuanced and situational.

The constant teachings regarding contraception, abortion, homosexuality and euthanasia simply cannot and will never be changed.

Is Opposition to Capital Punishment an essential Part of the Culture of Life? Is it a seamless garment, whereby if one opposes the 40 million abortions of innocent babies over the last several decades, one most equally oppose the death by capital punishment of several hundred murderers during that same time?

NO!

More importantly, does not the current practice of equating opposition to Capital Punishment with opposition to abortion itself cheapen and trivialize the grave crime of abortion?

In a world that is post-Christian, where even practicing Christians fail to have the reasoning and critical thinking to separate that which is inherently evil from that which is only made evil by current circumstances, the danger lies in more Christians failing to comprehend the crucial distinction between that which by its very nature is inherently evil (abortion) and that which is morally licit in general (death penalty) but currently should be rare due to circumstances.

Keeping Capital Punishment alongside these other issues leads many to conclude that like Capital Punishment, these other Culture of Death issues also can be made situationally acceptable due to our changing societal circumstances. Persisting to lump these disparate issues together threatens to destroy any efforts to teach the inherently evil and unchangeable nature of true Culture of Death issues.

Situational ethics have won the day in too many battles in the Culture Wars already. We cannot afford to lose the overall war between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death because some cannot or purposely will not "distinguish between fundamental moral principles and prudential judgments on the application of those principles, between essential substance and tactics."

Lumping opposition to capital punishment alongside the true Culture of Death issues of contraception, abortion, homosexuality, and euthanasia is scandelous and wrong. It also demonstrates an example of how the demise of Catholicism in America is due, at least in part, to Bishops more concerned with preaching politics than the Gospel truth.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: badandy; catholiclist
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1 posted on 12/18/2003 10:38:19 AM PST by ckca
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To: .45MAN; AAABEST; AKA Elena; al_c; american colleen; Angelus Errare; Antoninus; aposiopetic; ...
Pinging Dr. Kopp's (Polycarp's) ping list
2 posted on 12/18/2003 10:39:12 AM PST by ckca
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To: ckca
To think the death penality is equal to abortion is too liberal a definition. Abortion is the killing of innocent and unsuspecting quary, while the death penality used to mean the execution of someone who themselves committed just such an offense.
3 posted on 12/18/2003 10:45:16 AM PST by Jumper
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To: ckca
Didn't Archbishop Chaput address this?
4 posted on 12/18/2003 10:45:55 AM PST by nickcarraway (www.terrisfight.org)
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To: ckca
The EXECUTION of INNOCENTS is NOT morally equivalent to the EXECUTION of MURDERERS proven to be GUILTY. Anything said to the contrary is idiocy!
5 posted on 12/18/2003 10:51:46 AM PST by PISANO (God Bless our Troops........They will not TIRE - They will not FALTER - They will not FAIL!!!!!)
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To: ckca
Thank you for the ping.

I respectfully disagree with one point of the article that the death penalty should (now) be rare due to circumstances. The number of murders belies that proposition. I think that Genesis 9:6 still holds and that justice demands it. There is a difference between killing the innocent and killing the guilty. Nowadays though, it seems that the innocent are strangely condemned by the very same people who want the guilty to go free.

Cordially,

6 posted on 12/18/2003 10:54:19 AM PST by Diamond
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To: PISANO
And the innocent don't even get the right of a trial.
7 posted on 12/18/2003 10:58:44 AM PST by Blood of Tyrants (Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn’t be, in its eyes, a slave.)
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To: ckca
Is the Death Penalty Morally Equal to Abortion?

No.

8 posted on 12/18/2003 11:05:01 AM PST by Mark17
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To: ckca
the fact that this guy even asks the question illustrates his moral vapidity.

how can you equate the killing of the innocent with the killing of the guilty? Unless you don't beleive in guilt.
9 posted on 12/18/2003 11:07:20 AM PST by camle (keep your mind open and somebody will fill it with something for you))
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Comment #10 Removed by Moderator

To: ckca
I have always thought it such a juxtaposition; one group crying it is okay to kill millions of babies but not a single murderer; on the other side it is okay to kill murderers but not babies?
11 posted on 12/18/2003 11:23:20 AM PST by SF Republican
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To: ckca
Can't these morons tell the difference between the punishment for a crime and the doing away with consequences of irresponsible behavior?

Come on now, for St. Pete's sake....
12 posted on 12/18/2003 11:25:21 AM PST by JustPlainJoe
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To: Momus
Who are the innocent? Aren't we all born with original sin? What good is a "trial" when you're condemned from inception to be guilty?

You ask a good question, you should be able to answer it too.
13 posted on 12/18/2003 11:28:32 AM PST by vigilo
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To: camle
the fact that this guy even asks the question illustrates his moral vapidity.

Which guy? The bishops who make the moral equivalence between the two, or this author pointing out their moral vapidity for doing so?

(You'll note the author is criticizing the moral vapidity of certain bishops and is obviously in agreement with you.)

14 posted on 12/18/2003 11:29:00 AM PST by ckca
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To: ckca
"We face a serious pastoral challenge, Some Catholic politicians defy church teaching in their policy advocacy and legislative votes, first and most fundamentally on the defense of unborn life, but also on the use of the death penalty, questions of war and peace, the role of marriage and family, the rights of parents to choose the best education for their children, the priority for the poor, and welcome for immigrants...."

They seem to be getting a lot of these wrong lately.

15 posted on 12/18/2003 11:33:12 AM PST by biblewonk (I must try to answer all bible questions.)
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To: ckca
the bishops, obviously.
16 posted on 12/18/2003 11:35:08 AM PST by camle (keep your mind open and somebody will fill it with something for you))
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To: nickcarraway
In remarks he made to a catechetical conference in 2002 Archbishop Chaput addressed it very well:
Second, if we say we're Catholic, we need to act like it. When Catholic Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia publicly disputes Church teaching on the death penalty, the message he sends is not so very different from Frances Kissling (of "Catholics for a Free Choice" fame) disputing what the Church teaches about abortion. I don't mean that abortion and the death penalty are equivalent issues. They're not. They clearly do not have equal moral gravity. But the impulse to pick and choose what we accept in Church teaching is exactly the same kind of "cafeteria Catholicism" in both cases.
Of course, this would never satisfy someone who treats Church teaching on the death penalty as a matter of "personal opinion" but regards homosexuality as one of the four great pillars of the Culture of Death. That's not Catholicism; it's a made-up right-wing religion.
17 posted on 12/18/2003 11:36:04 AM PST by madprof98
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To: camle
Thanks.
18 posted on 12/18/2003 11:36:21 AM PST by ckca
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To: Momus
The innocent are the unborn. However, God is a infinitely just and I have complete confidence that the unborn and children not old enough to understand the concept of sin will be completely forgiven and in heaven when I get there.
19 posted on 12/18/2003 11:38:28 AM PST by Blood of Tyrants (Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn’t be, in its eyes, a slave.)
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To: ckca
Well, first of all, abortion is performed on an innocent, unborn child, whereas the death penalty is applied against an adult with free will who has committed a heinous crime. Secondly, from what I've read on the subject, and admittedly I'm not an expert, but the commandment "Thou shall not kill" refers to murder, not any killing in general. Now, mortgaging an archdiocese's property in order to stay solvent and start paying restitution for various scandals and cover-ups may be a subject the church should spend some conference time discussing...
20 posted on 12/18/2003 11:39:09 AM PST by HenryLeeII
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To: madprof98
That's not Catholicism; it's a made-up right-wing religion.

BS. You obviously do not grasp basic principles of moral theology. Church teaching on the death penalty is STILL 1) it is the right of the State to impose it, and 2) in modern societies it should be rare.

You are guilty of exactly that which the author is illustrating here. Therefore, its not surprising that you would try to spin this in the manner you are here.

21 posted on 12/18/2003 11:41:01 AM PST by ckca
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To: madprof98
Archbishop Chaput addressed it very well

Chaput was unequivocally wrong to make this moral equivalence. He did NOT address it well.

Otherwise he is an excellent archbishop.

22 posted on 12/18/2003 11:43:22 AM PST by ckca
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To: ckca
To take the life of a those guilty of heinous crimes is moral and just to society as a whole. To take the life of an innocent baby is murder and murder is immoral. This is written in the Bible. An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth!
23 posted on 12/18/2003 11:44:06 AM PST by Lucky2 (Before I die, I want Bill and Hillary tried for treason and jailed (executed) for their crimess.)
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To: Lucky2
This is written in the Bible. An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth!

Thought Jesus said something about that teaching . . . but perhaps he was unduly influenced by the leftists of His day.

24 posted on 12/18/2003 11:46:16 AM PST by madprof98
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To: madprof98
The Church's teaching on the death penalty is muddy right now, made even muddier with the Pope and bishops standing against ANY imposition of the death penalty, when the Catholic Catechism says otherwise.

Catholics, therefore, can take either side, morally.

25 posted on 12/18/2003 11:49:34 AM PST by sinkspur (Adopt a shelter dog or cat! You'll save one life, and maybe two!)
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To: madprof98
Thought Jesus said something about that teaching . . . but perhaps he was unduly influenced by the leftists of His day.


Funny how the teachings of the Lord have been so turned around! I think I'll stick to what the Bible says...
26 posted on 12/18/2003 11:52:20 AM PST by Lucky2 (Before I die, I want Bill and Hillary tried for treason and jailed (executed) for their crimess.)
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Comment #27 Removed by Moderator

To: sinkspur; madprof98
Catholics, therefore, can take either side, morally.

Definitely. And to say that a faithful Catholic who takes the 2000 year old side is somehow a "bad" Catholic --and then to compare them, in the same sentence, to someone already excommunicated like Kissling-- is not only wrong but immoral itself.

28 posted on 12/18/2003 11:56:05 AM PST by ckca
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To: Lucky2
Funny how the teachings of the Lord have been so turned around! I think I'll stick to what the Bible says...

Sounds like you and ckca were in the same class in "moral theology"! (BTW, sometime when you'e looking at what the Bible says, try Matthew 5:38-39.)

29 posted on 12/18/2003 11:58:55 AM PST by madprof98
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To: Lucky2
Oh, I see Sinkspur was in your class too. (But I think he must have flunked out 'cause he gets a lot of his morals from NCR.)
30 posted on 12/18/2003 12:01:03 PM PST by madprof98
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To: madprof98; sinkspur
Please read this VERY carefully:

http://www.ncregister.com/Register_News/031902rut.htm

Death Penalty Symposium

Scalia's Right: Catechism's Problematic

by
Fr. George Rutler

National Catholic Register
March 24-31, 2002

Many Americans dismissed Alexander Solzhenitsyn when he criticized the decadence of Western Culture. Others more recently ignored his plea for a restoration of the death penalty: "There are times when the state needs capital punishment in order to save society." This is Christian doctrine. Since popes are preserved from essential error by "grace of state," none has wrongly claimed authority to call capital punishment morally evil.

"Development of doctrine" does not apply here.

As the Church's teaching on contraception cannot "develop" in a way that would declare its intrinsic evil to be good, so the right of a state to execute criminals cannot "develop" so that its intrinsic good becomes evil. For Cardinal John Henry Newman, development of doctrine involves "preservation of type." Changes in the way a doctrine is expressed and applied cannot alter its essence.


Some Catholics, who once pointed out the flaws in the "seamless garment" argument, now rush to put on that garment as though there has been a sudden development. By definition, the development of doctrine cannot happen overnight. The new edition of the Catechism revises the section on capital punishment. This was not a development of doctrine. It was, however, problematic for placing a prudential judgment in a catechetical text, more problematically so than in an encyclical like Evangelium Vitae. Paragraph 2266 of the Catechism names the primary consideration of retribution, but No. 2267 ignores it.

That the vast majority of opinion has turned against capital punishment is irrelevant to the case and is not universally so. Nor is it universally so that penal systems have improved in a way that renders capital punishment unnecessary. There are many very different systems.
There has been a development, not in essential doctrine, but in moral criticism. Here, I am edified by the fine scholastic logic of Justice Scalia, as when he identifies the mistaken modern equation of private morality and governmental morality.

Catholics have distinguished between peace and pacifism. They disserve systematic theology when they fail to make a parallel distinction between the dignity of life and a total ban on capital punishment. The cogency of Catholic apologetics crumbles when reason is abandoned for sentimentality in consequence of philosophical idealism and subjectivism. We also may be witnessing here some tension between personalist phenomenology and Thomist realism.

Absolute rejection of capital punishment weakens the cogency of pro-life apologetics. Some churchmen cite skewered statistics on the execution of innocent victims.

Since 1973 the present U.S. system has overturned about 33% of all convictions, although only .6% of those criminals were found to be factually innocent. DNA testing makes justice ever more secure, and capital offenders receive due process far more deliberately than other offenders. In numerous instances, e.g. the defeat of Senator John Ashcroft, strongly anti-abortion politicians have lost elections to pro-abortion candidates who were against capital punishment. This gets worse when criminals, freed in response to ecclesiastical appeals for mercy, kill again.

The pastoral commentary of the Church guides moral method, but the prudential calculus, in punishment as in the declaration of war, rests in the civil government whose authority pertains to natural law and is not granted by the Church. To propose otherwise under the guise of doctrinal development would be a species of clerical triumphalism that post-Enlightenment humanists claimed to abhor. Few see this as clearly as a distinguished Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Father Rutler is pastor of the Church of our Saviour in New York.

31 posted on 12/18/2003 12:01:20 PM PST by ckca
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Comment #32 Removed by Moderator

To: Javelina
Ah. The thing is that Jesus says that private individuals shouldn't take revenge. He doesn't say anywhere that Centurions should quit their jobs or that magistrates should not enforce the law.

If someone hits you, you have a private Christian duty to try to resolve the matter. That can be tough, but it's still quite different from public justice. If someone threatens to murder your family or your neighbors, on the other hand, you have a duty to defend them. Most of all, political leaders have a duty to defend them.
33 posted on 12/18/2003 12:12:37 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: ckca
Offing a proven murderer the same as slaying an innocent, unborn child? It was just this kind of mush-headed thinking that always drove me nuts about Catholicism when I belonged to the RCC.
34 posted on 12/18/2003 12:14:16 PM PST by TonyRo76 (I think, therefore I FReep.)
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Comment #35 Removed by Moderator

To: Cicero
The thing is that Jesus says that private individuals shouldn't take revenge. He doesn't say anywhere that Centurions should quit their jobs or that magistrates should not enforce the law.

A point clearly illustrated in Romans 13:1-6.

36 posted on 12/18/2003 12:16:45 PM PST by TonyRo76 (I think, therefore I FReep.)
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Comment #37 Removed by Moderator

To: TonyRo76
Avery Cardinal Dulles wrote an article for First Things on capital punishment. He provides NUMEROUS biblical citations demonstrating that nothing in either the Old or the New Testaments argues that Christians have no right to defend themselves and build just societies. Defensive war and capital punishment are two of the necessary tools for keeping a just peace.

Another passage in Acts, for instance, has the Holy Spirit telling Peter to visit the pious centurion and baptize him. Nothing about telling him to quit his job. Nor did Jesus tell the centurian to change his line of work when He cured his daughter from a distance.
38 posted on 12/18/2003 1:02:33 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: madprof98
Please refute this from Fr. Rutler's article. Otherwise acknowledge your error.

As the Church's teaching on contraception cannot "develop" in a way that would declare its intrinsic evil to be good, so the right of a state to execute criminals cannot "develop" so that its intrinsic good becomes evil. For Cardinal John Henry Newman, development of doctrine involves "preservation of type." Changes in the way a doctrine is expressed and applied cannot alter its essence.

39 posted on 12/18/2003 1:06:29 PM PST by ckca
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To: madprof98
Archbishop Chaput addressed it very well:
When Catholic Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia publicly disputes Church teaching on the death penalty, the message he sends is not so very different from Frances Kissling (of "Catholics for a Free Choice" fame) disputing what the Church teaches about abortion.
Chaput is slandering Justice Scalia. Scalia was NOT disputing Church teaching on the death penalty. He was defending the Church teaching on the validity of the death penalty which has been part of Christian tradition for many hundreds of years. It is Pope John Paul II who is disputing Church teaching when he tries to pretend that opposition to the death penalty is required for Catholics. It is not. The quote from St. Thomas Aquinas in the above article was not just his own opinion -- it represents perennial Catholic doctrine which was applicable 800 years ago and is still applicable today. Nothing said by JPII or Chaput can change that.
40 posted on 12/18/2003 1:24:08 PM PST by Maximilian
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To: ckca
Church teaching on the death penalty is STILL 1) it is the right of the State to impose it, and 2) in modern societies it should be rare.

Point 1 is true. Point 2 is only a personal opinion of the pope which he has no right to impose on any of the faithful. More prudent popes of the past did not go around confusing the faithful by making their private opinions seem comparable to Church doctrine.

How after all could a statement referring to "modern society" enter Church doctrine? Will it still be "modern society" in 100 years? Will it still be necessary for the death penalty to be rare at that time? Or will we have entered post-modern society? And will it be appropriate for the death penalty to be "common" in post-modern society?

The absurdity of confusing prudential opinions with doctrine is evident.

41 posted on 12/18/2003 1:29:07 PM PST by Maximilian
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To: Maximilian
Also from the article above:

But recourse to the death penalty is not intrinsically evil. A Catholic who supports the death penalty commits no sin. To compare the two is disingenuous at best, and a direct attack upon conservative pro-life Catholic politicians and activists at worst. It would seem that certain factions within the USCCB are upset that lay Catholic activists and faithful Catholic politicians have forced them into addressing an issue they would much rather continue to ignore.

(Furthermore, Catholics in the pro-life movement tend to share a 95% crossover identity with "orthodox" or conservative Catholics. Certain bishops may see these orthodox lay Catholics as a real threat to their overall liberal agenda. This Jesuit bishop’s comment may also have been intended as a shot across the bow, i.e "push us on this too hard and we might excommunicate your political heroes --like Santorum and Scalia-- also.")

I'm convinced the author is on to the real agenda here.

42 posted on 12/18/2003 1:29:46 PM PST by ckca
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To: sinkspur
The Church's teaching on the death penalty is muddy right now, made even muddier with the Pope and bishops standing against ANY imposition of the death penalty, when the Catholic Catechism says otherwise.

Unfortunately, this is true. One more example where post-conciliar catechism has led to mass confusion.

43 posted on 12/18/2003 1:30:28 PM PST by Maximilian
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To: ckca
I'm convinced the author is on to the real agenda here.

You are clearly correct. That was the entire purpose of Cardinal Bernadin's "seamless garment" -- to make it seem that you weren't truly pro-life unless you supported a range of left-wing causes such as opposition to the death penalty and more welfare payments. "Pro-life is not about abortion" was the 1-sentence summary, as though the slaughter of tens of millions of innocent, defenseless unborn children was somehow equivalent to the righteous execution of duly convicted murderers.

This quote regarding Scalia shows that it was not just the known leftists like Bernadin who were supporting this agenda, it was also the supposed conservatives like Chaput. I heard a priest from "Priests for Life" give a presentation at a communion breakfast in which the entire talk was focused on the "seamless garment" which he mentioned by name, and Cardinal Bernadin by name also. So the moral confusion has penetrated everywhere.

44 posted on 12/18/2003 1:38:19 PM PST by Maximilian
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To: ckca
It is this "Father Rutler" (whoever he is) who finds killing people to be an "intrinsic good." The UNrevised Catechism of the Catholic Church said that "bloodless means" of protecting the public "better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person."

I would also suggest that anyone who says Cardinal Avery Dulles is on the same page as "Father Rutler" should read the article in FIRST THINGS to which Cicero alluded.

What we have in this thread is a good example of right-wing "cafeteria Catholics" exactly like those Archbishop Chaput cricitized in the remarks I cited. They even claim the Holy Father is taking a stand against Church teachings! And they ignore the very clear sense of Scripture when it suits them--the very thing they denounce the Episcopalians for doing!

45 posted on 12/18/2003 1:40:20 PM PST by madprof98
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To: camle
Actually, there are some on both sides who do not equate the two. One side objects to Saddam being executed, but defends the "Right to Abortion". The other side exactly the opposite.

And the issue of guild, of whether there is Good and Evil, defined by a power higher than us mortals, is at the heart of this strange result.

Those who believe in a Higher Power understand that we should use the power vested in us by that Higher Power, to further Good and fight Evil. There are crimes worthy of the death penalty, and surely if anyone is guilty of such crimes, Saddam is.

Those who don't so believe, the secularists and amoral atheists, conclude that it is Wrong to make such Moral Judgements. Taking the life of an unborn child is acceptable, because it is simply an act of convenience for the mother, not a moral judgement on the child. Taking the life of Saddam is wrong, for the very reason that it is being justified on Moral grounds.

Strange - one side finds that the more guilty the victim, the more justified the murder, while the other side finds that the more innocent the victim, the more acceptable the murder.

46 posted on 12/18/2003 1:55:56 PM PST by ThePythonicCow (Mooo !!!!)
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To: madprof98
What we have in this thread is a good example of right-wing "cafeteria Catholics"

Spin it however you like, Rutler (and this author) is correct. You have not refuted the excerpt of Rutler's that I posted.

It is this "Father Rutler" (whoever he is)

You're just a little bit out of touch with important Catholic commentators in our age.

47 posted on 12/18/2003 1:58:05 PM PST by ckca
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To: madprof98
Fr. George Rutler
48 posted on 12/18/2003 1:59:48 PM PST by ckca
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To: Momus
Aren't we all born with original sin?

Catholics believe that, right?

49 posted on 12/18/2003 2:02:38 PM PST by stands2reason
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To: ckca
"Is the Death Penalty Morally Equal to Abortions?"

It would be if we executed two million people a year for being an hindrance to our lifestyle and a drag on society:

"That nitwit cut me off in traffic, hang him! This guy is collecting unemployement, off with his head! That single mom is getting welfare for her 4 kids. To the oven with all of 'em!"

50 posted on 12/18/2003 2:05:25 PM PST by atomic conspiracy ( Anti-war movement: road-kill on the highway to freedom.)
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