The mounting opposition to the death penalty in Europe since the Enlightenment has gone hand in hand with a decline of faith in eternal life.
We are called to reflect on what the Lords command, You shall not kill Ex Answered by Colin B. In the nineteenth century the most consistent supporters of capital punishment were the Christian churches, and its most consistent opponents were groups hostile to the churches.
In Holy Scripture death is regarded as the appropriate punishment for serious transgressions. Only after the Church was legalized and the state influenced by its teaching would Catholics be allowed such offices.
Many pacifist groups, such as the Waldensians, the Quakers, the Hutterites, and the Mennonites, have shared this point of view. In enforcing the law, they may take comfort in believing that death is not the final evil; they may pray and hope that the convict will attain eternal life with God.
This new teaching of the church did not come about all of a sudden. It seems to me quite obvious that such officeholders can carry out their duty without hatred for the criminal, but rather with love, respect, and compassion.
Nevertheless, the prerequisites of legitimate personal defence are not applicable in the social sphere without the risk of distortion. Paul holds that the ruler is God's minister in executing God's wrath against the evildoer Romans It is simply becoming harder and harder to argue that a particular act of capital punishment is circumstantially necessary the third element of a good moral act.
The change in Catholic teaching does not take this away. But, as John Paul II remarks in Evangelium Vitae, modern improvements in the penal system have made it extremely rare for execution to be the only effective means of defending society against the criminal.
Does that means that any and all uses of force to defend oneself against a criminal, or a criminal nation, are justified.
He writes to the Romans, with an apparent reference to the death penalty, that the magistrate who holds authority "does not bear the sword in vain; for he is the servant of God to execute His wrath on the wrongdoer" Romans Considering the practical circumstances found in most States Jesus commends the good thief on the cross next to him, who has admitted that he and his fellow thief are receiving the due reward of their deeds Luke This is manifested in the malfeasance of justice, by police, juries, prosecutors and judges at all levels of the justice system.
Ambrose exhort members of the clergy not to pronounce capital sentences or serve as executioners. When death came to be understood as the ultimate evil rather than as a stage on the way to eternal life, utilitarian philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham found it easy to dismiss capital punishment as "useless annihilation.
Their primary obligation is toward justice, but under certain conditions they may exercise clemency. But, like pacifism itself, this absolutist interpretation of the right to life found no echo at the time among Catholic theologians, who accepted the death penalty as consonant with Scripture, tradition, and the natural law.
Showing forth the divine forgiveness that comes from Jesus Christ, the Church is deliberately indulgent toward offenders, but it too must on occasion impose penalties. Another objection observes that the death penalty often has the effect of whetting an inordinate appetite for revenge rather than satisfying an authentic zeal for justice.
In addition, it is agreed that the State has authority to administer appropriate punishment to those judged guilty of crimes and that this punishment may, in serious cases, include the sentence of death.
It is appropriate, I contend, when it is necessary to achieve the purposes of punishment and when it does not have disproportionate evil effects. In the Middle Ages a number of canonists teach that ecclesiastical courts should refrain from the death penalty and that civil courts should impose it only for major crimes.
During the time of pagan Rome, Catholics could not hold civil or military office if they could be obliged to judge capital crimes or execute capital punishment.
Respect for life applies to all, even the perpetrators of terrible acts. In this case it is reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned person of the enjoyment of life in expiation of his crime when, by his crime, he has already dispossessed himself of his right to life.
It does not rehabilitate the criminal but may be an occasion for bringing about salutary repentance. Defense against the criminal - Capital punishment is an effective way of preventing the wrongdoer from committing future crimes and protecting society from him.
Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae declared that "as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system," cases in which the execution of the offender would be absolutely necessary "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.
A commission of eminent theologians supervised by three cardinals produced a catechism, which was published in Rome under Papal authority, after the Council had concluded, under the Latin title "Catechismus ex decreto Concilii Tridentini ad parochos Pii V jussu editus, Romae, " [in-folio].
Nations have the right to just war and individuals have the right to self-defense. In the Papal States the death penalty was imposed for a variety of offenses.
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. Since it is altogether likely that some innocent persons have been executed, this first objection is a serious one.
The death penalty should not be imposed if the purposes of punishment can be equally well or better achieved by bloodless means, such as imprisonment. The fourth objection, dealing with forgiveness, is relatively weak. Augustine writes in The City of God:.
Aug 05, · Catholics On Capital Punishment Pope Francis has declared that the death penalty is unacceptable in all circumstances. NPR's Don Gonyea speaks. The Church and Capital Punishment. Tim Staples. May 29, SHARE. Years ago, my wife and I were at a fundraiser for a candidate who was then running for President of the United States, and I struck up a conversation with a Catholic attorney who does great work for.
Punishment, CAPITAL, the infliction by due legal process of the penalty of death as a punishment for crime. The Latins use the word capitalis (from ca put, head) to describe that which related to life, that by which life is endangered.
The Catholic Church's position on capital punishment has varied through the centuries following the Church's establishment, evolving from somewhat supportive to largely apathetic to anti-capital punishment.
On August 2,the church adopted the view that capital punishment is "inadmissible" as it violates the dignity of mankind. The Catechism of the Catholic Church proclaims that "in the. Capital punishment is the right of the state. This is the principle taught by the Church.
The Pope does not deny it, but neither St. Thomas or any Magisterial text presumes this gives the state an unlimited right to make capital laws and carry them out.
Aug 05, · Catholics On Capital Punishment Pope Francis has declared that the death penalty is unacceptable in all circumstances. NPR's Don Gonyea speaks .Capital punishment and catholics