Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hot-button issues: The death penalty

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in our Catholic Herald addresses Wisconsin's upcoming advisory referendum on capital punishment. I didn't know that Church teaching on this issue was indistinguishable from that on abortion.
The only path to a sane, healthy, safe, respectful society is to safeguard all life, from conception to natural death, from the baby in the womb to the prisoner guilty of a capital crime.

The reason I didn't know it is because it isn't true, as our Archbishop grudgingly concedes.
Granted, according to the teaching of the Church (c.f. Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2267), the death penalty is not "intrinsically evil." (That means "always and everywhere wrong by its very nature").

This is in contrast to Church teaching on abortion, see Catechism sections 2322, 2271, 2272, and 2274.

Archbishop Dolan elaborates.

However, the same Catechism, bolstered by the indefatigable preaching of the late John Paul II, is clear that the strict conditions that could justify the moral use of the death penalty "are very rare, if practically non-existent," (John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 56), so that those means "... more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person" are much, much more appropriate.

Given what the Church teaches, it would be more persuasive to show how circumstances have changed so that capital punishment has become unjustifiable. Our Archbishop does just the opposite.
Might it be more convenient, less of a burden on society, less expensive, safer, to execute a criminal? Probably so ...

Given the Catechism says
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means.

and Archbishop Dolan concedes executing certain criminals is probably safer, isn't that an argument for voting in favor of re-establishing capital punishment?


Blogger Mike, the Faithful Catholic said...

I think it was your line of months ago (or I saw it elsewhere)... I wonder if all of those priests who, on every anniversary of Roe v. Wade constantly said, and still say, "I can't preach on abortion without also talking about the death penalty" will now have the consistancy to say that they can't preach on the death penalty without talking about abortion too?



6:25 AM  

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