National Catholic journals unite: ‘Capital punishment must end’

| March 10, 2015 | 9 Comments

The following commentary was originally issued jointly by America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor. It was published online March 5 by each publication and is appearing in the printed versions of each journal. 

Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Glossip v. Gross, a case out of Oklahoma that challenges the most widely used lethal injection protocol as being cruel and unusual punishment.

The court took up the case in January after a year of three high-profile, problematic executions in three states. The court will likely issue a ruling by June. Our hope is that it will hasten the end of the death penalty in the United States.

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, of Miami, and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, praised the decision saying, “The use of the death penalty devalues human life and diminishes respect for human dignity. We bishops continue to say, we cannot teach killing is wrong by killing.” The chair of the pro-life activities committee, Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, also praised the court’s decision to hear the case. “Society can protect itself in ways other than the use of the death penalty,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “We pray that the court’s review of these protocols will lead to the recognition that institutionalized practices of violence against any person erode reverence for the sanctity of every human life. Capital punishment must end.”

We, the editors of four Catholic journals — America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor — urge the readers of our diverse publications and the whole U.S. Catholic community and all people of faith to stand with us and say, “Capital punishment must end.”

The Catholic Church in this country has fought against the death penalty for decades. St. John Paul II amended the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church to include a de facto prohibition against capital punishment.

Last year, Pope Francis called on all Catholics “to fight … for the abolition of the death penalty.” The practice is abhorrent and unnecessary. It is also insanely expensive as court battles soak up resources better deployed in preventing crime in the first place and working toward restorative justice for those who commit less heinous crimes.

Admirably, Florida has halted executions until the Supreme Court rules, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has postponed all seven executions in the state scheduled for 2015 pending further study. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf declared a moratorium on the death penalty until he has received and reviewed a task force’s report on capital punishment, which he called “a flawed system … ineffective, unjust, and expensive.” Both governors also cited the growing number of death-row inmates who have been exonerated nationwide in recent years.

In a statement thanking Wolf, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said: “Turning away from capital punishment does not diminish our support for the families of murder victims. … But killing the guilty does not honor the dead nor does it ennoble the living. When we take a guilty person’s life we only add to the violence in an already violent culture and we demean our own dignity in the process.”

Archbishop Chaput reminds us that when considering the death penalty, we cannot forget that it is we, acting through our government, who are the moral agents in an execution. The prisoner has committed his crime and has answered for it in this life just as he shall answer for it before God. But, it is the government, acting in our name, that orders and perpetrates lethal injection. It is we who add to, instead of heal, the violence.

Advocates of the death penalty often claim that it brings closure to a victim’s family. But advocates who walk with the families of victims, like Mercy Sister Camille D’Arienzo, tell a different story.

“I think of mothers who attend our annual service for Families and Friends of Murder Victims,” a program the Mercy sisters have sponsored for 18 years. “Asked what they want for their children’s killers, no one asks for the death penalty,” she said. “Their reason: ‘I wouldn’t want another mother to suffer what I have suffered.’ Their hearts, though broken, are undivided in their humanity.”

The facts of the case in Oklahoma — which echo reports from Ohio and Arizona — were especially egregious. Last April, the drug protocol failed in the execution of Clayton Lockett. Lockett moaned in pain before authorities suspended the execution; he would die of a heart attack later that night. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City said at the time, “The execution of Clayton Lockett really highlights the brutality of the death penalty, and I hope it leads us to consider whether we should adopt a moratorium on the death penalty or even abolish it altogether.”

The Supreme Court has agreed with Archbishop Coakley and will consider the issue. We join our bishops in hoping the court will reach the conclusion that it is time for our nation to embody its commitment to the right to life by abolishing the death penalty once and for all.

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Category: Commentary

  • dudleysharp

    #1 Rebuttal to the Op/ED

    Hendel stated that she did forward to the other publications.

    ———- Original Message ———-
    From: Sharpjfa

    To: chendel@ncronline.org

    Subject: Rebuttal: End to Capital Punishment

    Date: Fri, 6 Mar 2015 15:52:13 -0500
    To: Caitlin Hendel, CEO/President, National Catholic Reporter

    Please forward to the Editorial Boards of America magazine, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, and Our Sunday Visitor

    bcc: All editors NCR

    Re: Part #1 Rebuttal to:
    Editorial: Catholic publications call for end to capital punishment, NCR Editorial Staff, ncronline, Mar. 5, 2015

    From: Dudley Sharp

    One of the major problems with the Church’s newest teachings on the death penalty is that neither the Bishops, nor any other Catholics, opposed to the death penalty, appears to fact checksanything the anti death penalty movement produces, resulting in error after error presented to the flock, undermining the truth. You must fact check and consider opposing facts (1) to find the truth. As a rule, on this topic, the Church will not do that.

    The Bishops have accepted anti death penalty claims, as gospel (small “g”), even when they conflict with Church teachings, as described.

    “NCR” is for quotes from the referenced op/ed, with my reply as “Sharp reply”.

    NCR: “Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will hear arguments in Glossip v. Gross, a case out of Oklahoma that challenges the most widely used lethal injection protocol as being cruel and unusual punishment.”

    Sharp reply: That is untrue. as found within Glossip, Oklahoma has adopted many new additional protocols, which are unique to Ok – not the most “widely used” and are those which will be the areas of contention at SCOTUS.

    NCR: “Our hope is that (the Glossip v. Gross case) will hasten the end of the death penalty in the United States.

    Sharp reply: SCOTUS will only look at the specific new protocols, within Glossip. All different protocols, of other jurisdiction will survive, be that alternate lethal injection methods, gas, hanging and firing squad, which exist in other states, the federal government and the military.

    Based upon the facts, detailed within the 10th Circuit ruling (1/12/15), against the plaintiffs, it appears most likely that SCOTUS will reject their appeals, as well, and accept Ok new protocol.

    In addition, it appears possible, if not likely, that Ok will adopt a nitrogen gas (NG) protocol, prior to the SCOTUS decision. NG has already been approved in an Ok legislative committee. NG has none of the downsides of any other method, NG is a completely painless execution method, as well as providing an endless supply, which cannot be withheld (1) and which may be adopted by all states, which wish to minimize delay, legal challenge and costs.

    NCR: Archbishop Thomas Wenski, of Miami stated, “… the use of the death penalty devalues human life and diminishes respect for human dignity. We bishops continue to say, we cannot teach killing is wrong by killing.”

    Sharp reply: For about 2000 years the Church has taught that the death penalty is based upon the value of innocent life and an abiding respect for the dignity of man (2).

    What the Archbishop is, now saying, is that for 2000 years the Church supported that which devalued human life and that which diminished respect for human dignity, a claim which no knowledgeable Catholic can or should accept.

    The Archbishop is just repeating standard anti death penalty nonsense which has no respect for Catholic teachings and tradition.

    One wonders – why he raises false anti death penalty teachings above Catholic teachings, a common problem for many of the bishops.

    The Archbishop states: “We bishops continue to say, ‘we cannot teach killing is wrong by killing’. ”

    Sadly, they do.

    The Bishops are just repeating, again, common anti death penalty nonsense.

    We all know that murder is wrong, even if there is no sanction.

    The Bishops are unaware that sanction doesn’t teach that murder is wrong – Church morality and tradition, as well as clear biblical texts teach that murder is wrong.

    Sanction is the outcome of that moral teaching. Those are the rational and traditional teachings, which, somehow, the bishops have discarded and replaced with this anti death penalty nonsense. How and why?

    Execution of murderers has never been declared immoral by the Church and never will be (2). The foundation for the death penalty is justice, just as with all sanctions for all crimes.

    These inexplicable gaffs may cause good Catholics to wonder when reason and tradition vanished.

    NCR: Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley stated: “Society can protect itself in ways other than the use of the death penalty,”

    Sharp reply: Cardinal, the proper standard is what sanction is most just for the crime committed, what the Church has called the primary consideration (CCC 1995, 2003) and what sanction provides greater protection for innocents.

    The death penalty provides greater protection for innocents, in three ways, than does a life sentence (3).

    One example:

    There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since the 1930s (3).
    Just since 1973, from 14,000 – 28,000 innocents have been murdered by those known murderers that we have allowed to murder, again – recidivist murderers ( two recidivism studies covering two different periods) (3).

    My guess is that none of the Bishops are aware, because they haven’t looked, as with EV and CCC.

    NCR: “the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church . . . include a de facto prohibition against capital punishment.”

    Sharp reply: First, the de facto prohibition is based upon several errors (4).

    Secondly, as the most recent death penalty teachings have been confirmed, by the Church, as being a prudential judgment, any Catholic may reject the Church’s latest teaching on the death penalty (4), honor the Church’s teachings of the previous 2000 years, and seek more executions, based within justice and the fact that executions offer greater protections for innocent lives (4).

    1) Intro. Basic pro death penalty review:

    The Death Penalty: Justice and Saving More Innocents
    http(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2013/05/the-death-penalty-justice-saving-more.html

    2) For more than 2000 years, there has been Catholic support for the death penalty, from Popes, Saints, Doctors and Fathers of the Church, church leadership, biblical scholars and theologians that, in breadth and depth, overwhelms any teachings to the contrary, particularly those wrongly dependent upon secular concerns such as defense of society and the poor standards of criminal justice systems in protecting the innocent.

    The Death Penalty: Mercy, Expiation, Redemption & Salvation
    http(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2013/06/the-death-penalty-mercy-expiation.html

    See Catholic references within:

    New Testament Death Penalty Support Overwhelming
    http(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2014/01/new-testament-death-penalty-support.html

    3) The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter? A Review of All Innocence Issues
    http(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2013/10/the-death-penalty-do-innocents-matter.html

    4) Current Problems: Catholic Death Penalty Teaching

    Most recent Catechism (last amended 2003)
    http(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2014_10_26_archive.html

  • dudleysharp

    Part 2: Rebuttal to:

    Editorial: Catholic publications call for end to capital punishment, NCR Editorial Staff, ncronline, Mar. 5, 2015

    NCR: “(The death penalty) is also insanely expensive as court battles soak up resources better deployed in preventing crime”.

    Sharp reply: It is all but guaranteed that the publications editors blindly accepted the anti death penalty material on the costs of the death penalty and fact checked
    nothing, just as with the bishops.

    Since 1976, Virginia executed 108 murderers (70% of those sent to death row), within 7.1 years, on average, a protocol that would save money in all jurisdictions (1).

    It is irresponsible not to fact check in any public policy debate, especially one where a religious flock is depending upon the truth, Fact check the cost claims and the studies, next time (1).

    NCR: “Admirably, Florida has halted executions until the Supreme Court rules”

    Sharp replies: Of the many options that Ok has for execution protocols, one of those. primarily, being considered, in the Glossip case, is nearly identical protocol in Florida, which is why Florida suspended executions.. Florida has had no problems with that protocol.

    NCR: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf declared a moratorium on the death penalty until he has received and reviewed a task force’s report on capital punishment, which he called “a flawed system … ineffective, unjust, and expensive.” Both governors also cited the growing number of death row inmates who have been exonerated nationwide in recent years.”

    Sharp reply: Virtually all of the problems that Pa. has had are based upon a judiciary, which has no respect for the death penalty law. Only three executions have occurred within Pa, since 1976, all of whom were “volunteers” who waived appeals. allowing executions. The judges will, otherwise, not allow any executions and/or will overturn the cases, also stopping executions. See Virginia, above, in contrast.

    The Governor only made official what everyone knew that the judges had already done.

    You may be happy with the judges, but be careful what you wish for, with judges that flaunt the law, simply because they don’t like it, becoming dictators in robes, not ruling guided by the law, but, instead, ruling to spite the law.

    NOTE: Politics at play. The five Governors who have suspended executions are all Democrats, as, additionally, were/are the Governors that, in recent years, signed laws to repeal the death penalty, after Democratic majority legislators passed the bills. I believe all those governors support abortion, an intrinsic evil within Catholic teaching, whereas the death penalty is not and any Catholic can support more executions and remain a Catholic in good standing, the opposite of those who support abortion.

    NCR: “In a statement thanking Wolf, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said: “Turning away from capital punishment does not diminish our support for the families of murder victims. … But killing the guilty does not honor the dead nor does it ennoble the living. When we take a guilty person’s life we only add to the violence in an already violent culture and we demean our own dignity in the process.”

    Sharp reply: The Archbishop is factually wrong on all points. It appears that about 95% of murder victims families, in death penalty eligible murder cases, support the death penalty (2). The Church’s lack of support is obvious. The Church has a 2000 year history of support for the death penalty (3), which means support of the executed party, that mercy and expiation are crucial in that process, offering the greatest of restoration – salvation, as reviewed in detail (4). As Church teaching makes clear, executions counter a violent culture and fully recognizes the dignity of both the innocent victims and the unjust aggressors, which is why the Church’s 2000 year history of death penalty support completely overwhelms any rejection of it (3).

    Here, again, a bishop neglecting Catholic teachings, which, specifically, conflicts with his dependence upon secular anti death penalty positions.

    NCR: “Archbishop Chaput reminds us that . . . (it is death penalty supporters) who add to, instead of heal, the violence.” Very much like “Mercy Sister Camille D’Arienzo: (mothers of murdered children) wouldn’t want another mother to suffer what I have suffered.’ Their hearts, though broken, are undivided in their humanity.”

    Sharp reply: This is common anti death penalty speak which is contrary to Catholic tradition, as well as the facts.

    From 14,000 – 28,000 additional innocents are murdered by those known murderers that we have allowed to murder, again – recidivist murderers, since 1973, in the US (two different recidivism studies, from two different periods) (5). Countless murders and other violent crimes are committed, worldwide, every day, by those known unjust repeat aggressors that criminal justice systems have not properly restrained (Google search: crime recidivism)., both in complete contradiction to CCC 2267’s “. . . very rare, if not practically non-existent” claim.

    By not executing murderers we are encouraging and receiving more violence, more innocents harmed and murdered (5) and, quite clearly, have put the unjust aggressors much more at eternal risk (4), by allowing so many to harm, again, as we know many often do, and as per St. Thomas Aquinas and historical facts.

    NCR: “Advocates of the death penalty often claim that it brings closure to a victim’s family.”

    Sharp reply: It is unquestioned that execution brings closure for many (6); the closure of the end of the case, the appeals, with the accomplishment of justice in the cases and, from a compassionate standpoint, we all know that only execution provides the closure of preventing any possibility that the murderers will never harm and/or murder, again, as recognized within the latest CCC. Such is not only a great relief for those who wish to protect more innocents, but it is also a large step for those who care about the eternal salvation of the unjust aggressor, the most important restorative consideration.

    NCR: ‘The facts of the case in Oklahoma — which echo reports from Ohio and Arizona — were especially egregious.”

    Sharp reply: This is completely false (7) and just represents another example of the Bishops and these publications not fact checking, instead, blindly accepting anti death penalty nonsense, showing disrespect for the truth, as well as for the serious nature of the discussion.

    Oklahoma’s problems were ones of complete incompetence, not the drugs, as is well known. The evidence, in Ohio and Arizona, is that both executions took a long period of time, as per the nature of the drugs used (7), and that there is no evidence of suffering on the part of either murderer (7).

    It is astounding how little these four publications and the Bishops care about the truth, a real problem for their readers and flock.

    NCR: “We join our bishops in hoping the court will reach the conclusion that it is time
    for our nation to embody its commitment to the right to life by abolishing the death penalty once and for all.”

    Sharp reply: Again, just a thoughtless parroting on anti death penalty nonsense, with no recognition of Catholic teaching. Is this good for the Church and any Catholic?

    The Church’s death penalty teachings are that the execution of murderers is based within reverence for life and recognition of the dignity of the murderer, facts never mentioned anywhere within this op/ed, but well known by all those contributing to the op/ed.

    The right to life, as the right to freedom, are based within a recognition of our commitment to the social contract, of being responsible citizens, who obey the law.

    Violation of the law by unjust aggressor may result in incarceration or execution.

    All sanctions are based upon that which we treasure – execution and life, incarceration and freedom, fines and money, community service and time/labor.
    ===========

    Summary

    Catholic leadership, inclusive of both Bishops and publications, has a unique responsibility to Catholic teachings and tradition, making this op/ed just another of many that have avoided both, along with fact checking.

    Neither ignorance nor deception are welcome in any public policy debate. Both are, particularly, troubling when dealing with eternal matters.

    How often has the Church taught that Truth is paramount? When has She not.

    You have the means at your disposal to teach and discuss the Truth, That means has no value if you do not exercise them.

    1) Saving Costs with The Death Penalty
    http(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2013/02/death-penalty-cost-saving-money.html

    2) 86% Death Penalty Support: Highest Ever – April 2013
    World Support Remains High
    95% of Murder Victim’s Family Members Support Death Penalty
    http(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2013/11/86-death-penalty-support-highest-ever.html

    3) New Testament Death Penalty Support Overwhelming
    http(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2014/01/new-testament-death-penalty-support.html

    4) The Death Penalty: Mercy, Expiation, Redemption & Salvation
    http(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2013/06/the-death-penalty-mercy-expiation.html

    5) The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter? A Review of All Innocence Issues
    http(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2013/10/the-death-penalty-do-innocents-matter.html

    6) IS EXECUTION CLOSURE? Of course.
    http(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2013/04/is-execution-closure-of-course.html

    Murder Victims’ Families Against The Death Penalty: More Hurt For Victims Families http(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2012/04/victims-families-for-death-penalty.html

    The Death Penalty: Fair and Just
    http(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2013/12/is-death-peanalty-fairjust.html

    7) No “Botched” Execution – Arizona (or Ohio)
    http(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2014/08/no-botched-execution-arizona-or-ohio.html

    • Charles C.

      As in almost all areas, people will accept without checking, any opinion which happens to agree with theirs. The Church has to be above that. If there is one essential, fundamental characteristic of the Catholic religion, it is that it is true.

      I notice that the objections to the death penalty always seem to avoid the question of whether the punishment is just. Of course that’s the only good reason why any penalty can be imposed on anybody. Until there is a good case for saying that life in a cell is the most severe sentence any society can justly extend to any criminal, the death penalty has to remain an option.

      The Church, and it’s organs, owe believers more than a knee-jerk reaction to this particular issue. Unfortunately, paying less attention to the truth than to the societal correctness of a position is an increasing phenomenon.

      Dudleysharp, you have performed a great service, thank you.

      Charles

      • dudleysharp

        Charles:

        That service appears to have had zero effect on these publications being more responsible.

        My prediction to the cases outcome and the signing into law of nitrogen gas as a execution method were as I predicted.

        The popes recent discussion on the death penalty falls fully into the secular and is, highly, questionable, from that position, the Pope just repeating common and false secular anti death penalty positions.

        Here is a Catholic theologians deconstruction of this samewriting.

        Four Catholic Journals Indulge in Doctrinal Solipsism
        http://thomistica.net/commentary/2015/3/5/mutationist-views-of-doctrinal-development-and-the-death-penalty

        • Charles C.

          Dear Mr. Sharp,

          I’ve been struck temporarily speechless by the feast you have provided. I had not heard of Thomistica.net, nor seen your writings before these posts. I would be saddened to learn that you are not a close adviser to some Bishop or group of Bishops.

          America already has an abundant supply of denominations with flexible doctrines determined by the members or by society every generation or so. Catholics, for much of our history, have attempted to maintain the Church’s teachings. This is partly out of an acknowledgement of objective truths, but primarily out of respect and love for the Church’s Founder.

          There is not any doubt in my mind that the Church allows the prudential option of the exercise of the death penalty. I’ve come to wonder more about why the opposition to it exists. It’s not because Church teaching has consistently been opposed to the death penalty, it hasn’t.

          I wonder if C.S. Lewis had it right when, in answer to the question, “Which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness?” He gave this now famous reply:

          “While it lasts, the religion of worshiping oneself is the best. I have an elderly acquaintance of about eighty, who has lived a life of unbroken selfishness and self-admiration from the earliest years, and is, more or less, I regret to say, one of the happiest men I know. . . .

          As you perhaps know, I haven’t always been a Christian. I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel
          really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity. I am certain there must be a patent American article on the market which will suit you far better, but I can’t give any advice on it.”

          I wonder if some who object to the death penalty do so because it gives them the “happiness” of feeling “nice,” or “Socially conscious,” or some other warm, politically correct term.

          It’s tough, no doubt about that. There are times when justice requires that a man forfeits his life for a horrendous crime. Still, it would be wrong for us to enjoy it, or mete out such a punishment without the most serious thought, prayer, and judgment.

          It’s been a joy reading your work. If you have interests beyond this particular subject, I’d like to invite you to join a discussion group which has respect for it’s members and polite discussion on a vast array of topics as it’s goals.

          Charles

          • dudleysharp

            Charles:

            It’s time consuming, but if you look at all the primary points for death penalty repeal, they are easily neutralized or rebutted.

            What is left? The irrational foundation – all murderers must live.

            Beyond exclusion as a foundation, there is this:

            a) Well known anti death penalty scholars “(Charles) Black and (Hugo Adam ) Bedau said they would favor abolishing the death penalty even if they knew that doing so would increase the homicide rate by 1,000 percent.” (5).

            They both chose sparing the lives of 1300 guilty murderers (executed from 1973-2013) over saving an additional 6.3 million innocent lives, taken by murder.

            Anti death penalty. academic leaders make that argument. Astounding.

            b) Pro death penalty scholar Ernest van den Haag interviewed well known anti death penalty activists, asking them, if it was proven that 100 innocent lives were spared per execution, via deterrence, would you still oppose the death penalty. All said yes (5).

            Based upon our 1300 executions (1973-2013), those anti death penalty folks would chose sparing the lives of 1300 guilty murderers over saving the lives of 130,000 innocents from murder.

            Saving guilty murderers, no matter the cost in innocent lives.

            Anti death penalty folks make that argument.

            from

            The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter? A Review of All Innocence Issues
            http(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2013/10/the-death-penalty-do-innocents-matter.html

            Dudley

          • Charles C.

            Dear Dudley,

            The only thing I can conclude is that the sole anti-death penalty argument is that killing anyone is immoral.. But that argument completely ignores the role of justice as well as Church teaching.

            Therefore it seems to me that this can be labelled as another irrational belief which can only be combated on an irrational basis. That is not something that Catholic scholars, or even thoughtful people, are comfortable with.

            Is this issue just another one requiring a new generation and the hope that they will approach the issue with reason? Or, more likely, the Supreme Court will put the issue out of reach before reason can prevail.

            Sorry, but I’m feeling a little discouraged tonight.

            Charles

          • dudleysharp

            Charles:

            Reconsider.

            At the Congress, Pope Francis did not give a speech about killing of the eternally innocent, abortion, occurring about a million times a year in the US and identified as an intrinsic evil which no Catholic may support.

            He did give a speach about the death penalty, with guilty murderers being executed, about 38 times per year in the US, and identified as a moral sanction, within 2000 years of Catholic teaching and which remains a sanction that any good Catholic can support, which support may extend to calling for more executions, based upon those 2000 years of teachings and the rational, factual conclusion that innocents are more protected when the death penalty is retained and used.

            Anti death penalty Archbishop Charles Chaput: “Both Scripture and long Christian tradition acknowledge the legitimacy of capital punishment under certain circumstances. The Church cannot repudiate that without repudiating her own identity.” “Archbishop Chaput clarifies Church’s stance on death penalty”, CNA, Catholic News Agency, Oct 18, 2005, Chaput is, now, archbishop of Philadelphia

            2105, Pope Francis calls for the end of capital punishment, in all cases.

            Saint (& Pope) Pius V, “The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder.” “The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent” (1566).

            Paramount obedience.

            From the newest Catechism

            CCC 2260 “If ANYONE sheds the blood of man, by man SHALL his blood be shed.” “This teaching remains necessary for ALL TIME”

            From the Noahic Covenant, Genesis 9:6

            An eternal command, for all peoples and all times.

  • dudleysharp

    EVANGELIUM VITAE, ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, AND THE DEATH PENALTY
    STEVEN A. LONG, The Thomist 63 (1999): 511-52

    Clearly, then, punishment must first be essentially just and only then may it rightly serve social and deterrent functions.One might deem this merely to indicate that retributive justice is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the imposition of penalty. In response, the proposition that punishment “is proportionate to sin in point of severity, both in Divine and in human judgments” (STh I-II, q. 87, a. 3, ad 1) clearly makes no essential reference to medicinality for the common good.

    Hence the text appears to suggest that even though medicinal concerns may always be present, it is justice that makes penalty necessary. But this issue is obviated by the dual realization that medicinal considerations are further considerations of justice, and that the manifestation of the order of retributive justice is in itself medicinal insofar as it manifests the truth of right order in society.

    Yet this medicinal purpose is natural to retributive justice, only

    Clearly, then, punishment must first be essentially just and only then may it rightly serve social and deterrent functions. One might deem this merely to indicate requiring prudential modulation in accord with the contours of particular circumstance.

    The primal truth that punishment ought to be proportional to the severity of crime is not merely a necessary condition for punishment; for chief among medicinal considerations is the manifestation of the order of justice within society.

    Further, given the condition of humanity, medicinal purposes will always be sought through punishment as part of the wider teleology of acts of justice.

    Hence (St.) Thomas writes that: “In the infliction of punishment it is not the punishment itself that is the end in view, but its medicinal properties in checking sin; wherefore punishment partakes of the nature of justice, in so far as it checks sin. But if it is evident that the infliction of punishment will result in more numerous and more grievous sins being committed, the infliction of punishment will no longer be apart of justice.” (STh II-II, q. 43, a. 7, ad 1)

    Further, Thomas argues that:

    “All who sin mortally are deserving of eternal death, as regards future retribution, which is in accordance with the truth of the divine judgment. But the
    punishments of this life are more of a medicinal character; wherefore the punishment of death is inflicted on those sins alone which conduce to the grave undoing of others.” (STh II-II, q. 108, a. 3, ad 2.)

    Clearly in this life all penalty is medicinal, in the wide sense that the manifestation of a transcendent norm of justice is necessarily instructive and to some degree
    a deterrent. By comparison with Hell, terrestrial penalties certainly are“more of a medicinal character” (albeit even damnation is medicinal for those in this life who contemplate its nature). Yet the presence of two purposes—retributive and medicinal justice—ought not obscure the priority of assigning punishment proportionate to the crime (just retribution) in sofar as the limited jurisdiction of human justice allows.

    The end is not punishment, but rather the manifestation of a divine norm of retributive justice, which entails proportionate equality vis-à-vis the crime. While this end is in the wide sense medicinal, its form is retributive—for the divine order
    participated by temporal penalty has both medicinal and retributive aspects.

    The medicinal goal is not tantamount merely to stopping future evildoing, but rather entails manifesting the truth of the divine order of justice both to the criminal and to society at large. This means that mere stopping of further disorder is insufficient to constitute the full medicinal character of justice,which purpose alike and primarily entails the manifestation of the truth. Thus this foundational sense of the medicinality of penalty is retained even when others drop away. That is, even if we hypothesize that society would be secure were a felon released, and on the most unlikely supposition that no deterrent function as such is necessary for that particular crime, some element of penalty would still be rationally assignable to correct the criminal’s fault—both to check his sin, as Thomas puts it, and to manifest a transcendent norm of justice for the sake of heightening the bonds of justice and the instruction of society.

    While a heightened sense of justice implicitly includes a deterrent aspect, it is a good thing in itself even apart from deterrence, and despite the evil that is its occasion: just as, for Thomas, the directive authority of the state is a positive aspect of its natural charge over the common good, and not merely a necessitated response to evil as in Augustinian political theory.

    Social recognition of the reign of justice is good not just for deterrent reasons, but because it purifies society, lifts the social conscience higher, and directs the mind to final justice. It bathes the wound suffered by society in that divine justice which all right social order participates.

    For Thomas it is indeed the task of the state within its limited jurisdiction to vindicate the transcendent moral principles that define the common good.