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The 5 Fallacies in the Catholic Pro-Death Penalty Argument

T

here has been a great deal of talk in recent years about whether the death penalty is still necessary or not. From Pope Francis to Joe Catholic, good people from all sides have had something to say about important matters; and they’ve had something to say about it for thousands of years.

I have noticed that Catholic Pro-Death Penalty Apologists (CPDPA) all tend use the same arguments in favor of the death penalty. Their arguments are not only imbued with the same invalid reasoning, but their counter-arguments against those who find the death penalty unnecessary always offers a false distinction between justice and mercy, and attempts to caricature their opponent as ’emotional’ and ‘illogical’.

Even in a world where no one has super-powers to break out of maximum security prison the CPDPA still prefers to have someone else kill the sinner. They’d rather see someone else kill a sinner because of their crime, rather than allowing the sinner time to discover the love of God. They’d rather someone else kill a prisoner, rather than they themselves visit the sinner in prison. They call that justice in their counter-arguments.

Below, I’ve taken the time to respond to the Five Errors that the Catholic Pro-Death Penalty Apologists (CPDPA) repeatedly make in their appeals in favor of the death penalty.

1. False Appeal to the Magisterium and False Assignment of Teaching

Generally, the first argument of CPDPA is to appeal to part of the first sentence (cherry-pick) of Paragraph No. 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states:

    “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.

    Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent” (John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56).

The Fallacy of False Appeal to the Magisterium and False Assignment of Church Teaching arises here when the CPDPA attempts have all or a very small portion of the paragraph above rise to level of being a Catholic Dogma, or a Solemn Doctrine, or a Definitively Proposed Doctrine, or an Infallible Pronouncement, when all that Paragraph No. 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is is an Authoritative Teaching.

As an Authoritative Teaching it is not part of the Divine and Catholic deposit of faith (i.e. what has been formally revealed by God), nor does the said paragraph mean to take a position, without deciding it by proposing it as a revealed or definitive. Yet, as an Authoritative Teaching, Catholics should respect it and give it religious obedience of intellect and will, but they are not required to give it an assent of faith, such as a Dogma would require.

The CPDPA attempt to turn an Authoritative Teaching into something more than that is misleading and false. No CPDPA can refute these errors they make. The best they can do is return to their false distinction of justice and mercy and caricature me as emotional and illogical.

2. Pharisaic Cherry-Picked Appeal to Authority

What the CPDPA will often appeal to next is a number of quotes from all the saints that they can find who were in favor of the death penalty, without offering up quotes from those saints who were against it. In his article, Fr. McCloskey’s offers up quotes from Saint Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Saint Paul. Then for good measure he throws in Pope Pius XII, Catholic convert and evangelist Frank Sheed, and a quote from the Catechism of the Council of Trent, which he notes was composed under the supervision of St. Charles Borromeo.

Knowing that the saints have been wrong about issues not related to the Dogma of the Catholic Church and knowing that humans are limited to the science, technology, common knowledge, and circumstances of their own time, the CPDPA can never prove whether the saints who they quote would be in favor of the death penalty as it is applied in our times, or whether their position on this issue would not have changed if their time, knowledge, technology, and circumstance would have.

Not only does the CPDPA fail to offer up saints who were against the death penalty, but they simply ignore that Christ Jesus was against killing anyone, let alone people in prison. We can’t escape the fact that there is no space for the death penalty in Christ Jesus’ mission, except when it was used against Him. What you’ll never hear a CPDPA appeal to is Matthew 25:36-44. “When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’”

When Jesus encountered a woman who, according to the Mosaic law, should have been stoned to death for having been caught in adultery, He tells her would-be Pharisees executioners, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).

While the CPDPA argues for the death of those who they ought to be visiting in prison, they’ll never admit that according to Jesus’ own words, killing a prisoner is like killing Him all over again. They’ll never admit that they themselves are guilty of the same self-righteousness that afflicted the Pharisees.

It is true; nearly 2,000 years after our Lord and Savior was a victim Himself of the death penalty, we still don’t get it. Yet, we go to Mass every Sunday, glare at what the death penalty did to God, and then have the audacity to go write an illogical article that sides with those who killed our King.

3. Argument from Inertia

The CPDPA believes that we must stay the course on the death penalty. This fallacy is tied to their two earlier fallacies, because they believe that if the Church changes course on this issue it somehow inveighs against the Authoritative Teaching that they assigned to be a Dogma or a Doctrine, and against the saints who they appealed to as sources of authority.

What they fail to recognize is life of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Over the course of nearly 2,000 years what the Holy Spirit has been during is purifying and liberating the Church for the purpose of her being able to more freely execute her duties to (1) proclaim the word of God, (2) celebrate the Sacraments, and (3) perform works of charity. Not long ago the Church thought herself to be a landholder, an agent of the state, a military power, and several other worldly things. Yet, over time, the Holy Spirit has guided the Church away from its worldly interests and temptations.

When we read Paragraph No. 2267 above it seems as if what the Church is doing is offering the state an ‘allowance’. That is, it is telling the state what it can and cannot do. For surely, not one single prisoner is being executed at the Vatican. That being said, it seems that the Argument from Inertia; that the Church must stay the course on this issue; seems to run contrary to work of the Holy Spirit to continue to set apart His Church from concerns of state, so that she can more freely execute her duties; one of which is not to kill prisoners.

4. Argument for Immorality

There is the immoral action of objectification of persons that CPDPA is promoting.

In 1994 the leader of a fraternal order that I was about to be initiated into asked me, “What do you think about the death penalty?” I was only 22 at the time, and he was a prison Corrections Officer. No one had ever asked me that question before then, but I remember my answer to this day. I said, “I don’t have a problem with it really. My problem is when they wait twenty years to execute them. If they got the death penalty, they should just get it over with.” A little over a decade after that answer, I was a prisoner myself, and working as a Chaplain’s Assistant at a corrections medical center where it was my job to care for, pray for, and coordinate hospice prayer vigils for men and women who had committed some of the worst crimes against women and children.

You know what I saw when I talked with that man who was probably going to die of cancer before the state got their chance to execute him? You know what I saw on the face of that man who had raped countless children, but laid there in a diaper that was falling off of him because cancer had reduced him to all bones? You know what I saw when I helped a nurse wash a man who had killed his wife and children? You know what I saw on the face of that woman who had let her boyfriend molest her children? I saw the face of Christ Jesus. I saw the Lord’s face because I took the time to visit with those people and pray for them and get to know them. I met them where they were and I met Jesus there.

The CPDPA doesn’t get that. They remind me of those young men that saw a Catholic Church and decided to use it as a target to drop an atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki. They were able to drop that bomb because they didn’t love any of the women or children below. For, if they did, they would have never objectified them as persons – as mere things to be destroyed.

We cannot get around the fact that no one who loves God would kill a person they love just because they sinned. To the contrary, Christ Jesus has called us to love all, included those who have sinned. What love does is desire the best for its object of love. In the Chistian context, the best we can desire for someone is their salvation. Executing a person who is of not of immediate threat to you is in no way desiring the best for them.

While the judicial system in the United States usually executes people who are actually guilty of a grave sin, the same can’t be said about how the death penalty is applied in places like North Korea, China, Iran, and Myanmar. Indeed, there are places in this world where the application of the death penalty is intrinsically evil, but the CPDPA failure to make this distinction leaves them guilty of condoning this immorality of grave objectification.

Moreover, while the CPDPA is only interested in the killing a person for sins they committed in the past, their lack of concern for the person who actually has to carry out the execution exposes their lack of Christian concern. One person may die as a result of sins they committed in the past, but another person has to live with that sinner’s blood on their hands. Where is the spiritual care for that person?

5. The Fallacy of Merits of Execution Over Life-Time Imprisonment

This final fallacy of the CPDPA appeals to the logic and cares of the world. The notion is that there are benefits for the executed person and society for a criminal to be executed rather than spend their life in prison for the crime they committed. Some of these claimed benefits are listed below:

  1. The Death Penalty is a Deterrent: There are so many problems with this idea. The first is that it’s unproven. There is no connection between past-sentencing and future crimes, because, in the first place, people who intentionally commit crimes do not think they are going to get caught – that’s why they are committing the crime, and the people who commit unintentionally commit crimes are not thinking about consequences – they are just reacting to emotions and brain chemicals. SEE: A study by Professor Michael Radelet and Traci Lacock of the University of Colorado found that 88% of the nation’s leading criminologists do not believe the death penalty is an effective deterrent to crime.
  2. Better to Kill a Person than Feed them For Life: Here the CPDPA makes an appeal to the cares of the world when they opine about how horrible it is for taxpayers to have to feed, clothe, and shelter a sinner. They might even go so far as to talk about how much better prisoners in the west have it over poor people – how they have entertainment and education opportunities and etcetera. Anyone who has visited people in prison or have been to prison know that the food isn’t all that great. Moreover, the opportunities that prison provides are solely purposed for the rehabilitation of the prisoner. Even if that person is doing a life sentence, it is still good for them and society that they be rehabilitated. Indeed, there may be some creature comforts afforded to some prisoners, but these comforts in no way mitigates the loss of freedom that the prisoner suffers.
  3. Knowing Death is Imminent Speeds of the Conversion Process: According to the logic of the CPDPA, there are no atheists in foxholes. That is, people who know that their death is imminent turn to Christ Jesus for redemption. Therefore, a merit of the death penalty is that it more quickly turns people to their Savior. Again, I’ve worked in a prison hospice; I’ve sat right next to people when they took their last breath. Some of them did turn to a God/god – some didn’t. There is not enough guarantee here for us to forsake the great commission to actually preach and Baptize, in lieu of a foxhole. I’m not sure why anyone would place their hope in something that isn’t certain when it comes to something as necessary as Salvation.

Altogether, the grave problem with this Fifth Fallacy is that it relies on lies, rumors, empirical data (which isn’t true for all), scare tactics, and cares of the world, rather than cares of the Kingdom.

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The 5 Fallacies in the Catholic Pro-Death Penalty Argument
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The 5 Fallacies in the Catholic Pro-Death Penalty Argument
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This is a response to Catholic Pro-Death Penalty Apologists argument in favor of killing people in prison.
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Saint Dominic's Media, Inc.
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  • Clare

    Which saints were opposed to the death penalty?

    • Saint Martin of Tours opposed it for heretics.

      • Clare

        Does that imply he was opposed to it in all cases?

        • Correct. I don’t think we can say that St. Martin would be against the death penalty as it is applied today in the USA or in North Korea. Nor can we say that all those other saints would be in favor of it as it is applied today in the USA or in North Korea.

          • So you object to particular applications of the death penalty, not to the supposedly intrinsic wrongness of a state-sanctioned death penalty?

          • No! I’m completely against ALL forms of humans deciding when people die. I’m also 100% for keeping people safe from dangerous people (ref. Para. No. 2267 of the CCC). And until people evolve into mutants with superpowers, I know that can be achieved in maximum security prisons. Moreover, I just don’t see how the DP falls into the purview of the duties of the Church.

            And yes, I think the DP as practiced in some counties is demonic.

          • So, do you claim that anyone who endorses the right of the state to execute criminals for capital crimes is endorsing un-Christian heresy? Do you contend that it is intrinsically immoral (i.e. always and everywhere) to impose a death penalty?

          • Absolutely not to the first question. I may wonder if there is an issue of objectification of the human person there, but that’s not something I can judge. As for the second question, absolutely not as well. While the USA is clearly more interested in a supposed ‘just’ application of the death penalty than North Korea, we can never be 100% sure 100% of the time that a person is guilty of their crime – at least with current technology. Therefore, while our application of it in the USA isn’t intrinsically evil, neither is it always applied correctly; thereby creating an unintended injustice. That is a concern.

          • Since when did “100% sure” omniscience factor into jurisprudence?

            Essentially, you’re calling for a reform of sentencing procedures and standards of evidence, and a moratorium on death sentences until we reach the Evidential Omega Point, yet, meanwhile, you use quite inflammatory rhetoric to paint supporters of the Church’s uncontested traditional teaching as immoral lackeys of civil injustice. I can and do support always improving sentencing procedures/standards, while also supporting the right of the state to impose the death penalty justly.

            Incidentally, if you are totally opposed to humans deciding when other humans die, I assume you are also a total pacifist, yes?

          • —Since when did “100% sure” omniscience factor into jurisprudence?

            Why would you want to risk killing an innocent person? DNA was a great introduction into criminal investigation. Many people have been freed from person, who were put there on false testimony. I hope it continues to get better.

            I hope that is not what I painted. I look at you supporters as just people with hard hearts. You’re like the people Moses allowed to divorce their wives. You’re not bad people at all. Many of you are great Catholics. We both believe in justice, but I find the greatest justice to be mercy, because that is what God showed me when I deserved death. As I said above, I use to be different.

            And no I’m not a total pacifist. I will defend with my life what God has given me to defend.

          • Fair enough, and thank you for your biographical background. Unfortunately, by saying that those are hard-hearted who affirm the Church’s constant teaching about the legitimacy of the death penalty, you are saying that the Church’s Magisterium has been the effective source of Catholic hard-heartedness, which is… awkward.

            I wouldn’t want to risk harming any innocent persons, but the fact of the matter is, just as parking tickets meet the crime, so there is a meet punishment for certain very grave crimes. Omniscience is not an option. Sound jurisprudence and authoritative judgment are.

          • Christ Jesus didn’t reveal the Trinity to Jews. YHWH didn’t reveal His Son to Moses. When did we realize slavery was wrong? Saint Thomas Aquinas thought that a pre-natal child didn’t have a soul at the moment of conception. Some things are better learned over time, and the Magisterium has always guided to know what we are called to know when we are called to know it. In the world we live in, with all these evil, how can we not want some people to receive what they have given out? We are a people who don’t really embrace the words we say at Mass, ‘Peace be with You.’

            I agree with you about just punishment. I just think the death penalty is close to condemnation than punishment. Punishment seems to offer a conclusion – it’s remedial. No?

          • Clare

            I would be quite happy if the Church had never condoned the death penalty, but She has done, and in principle. So, much as I’d like to say it is always wrong, I can’t. I like your appeal to Our Lord’s words about what we do to the least of His brethren. I have wondered about that myself, and how it fits with someone who is an executioner. Yet, have any saints reflected on the seeming conflict between imposing the death penalty and seeing Christ in prisoners.

            Come to think of it, is putting people in prison in the first place consonant with seeing Christ in them?! Yet, I don’t think we’re expected *not* to punish criminals. So maybe that’s how we can see Christ in a criminal *and* execute him.

            (Just thinking aloud in this comment!)

          • I think justice can demand a just imprisonment – even solitary confinement. God can meet that person there and they can be transformed. It’s merciful. I once knew a Muslim who was on death row. I’d talk to him often. I think he was starting to wonder once he saw good Christians care about him. I don’t know what happened before he was executed, but he left our facility still a Muslim.

          • Strife

            Killers freed to kill again:

            Nearly 30 killers released from jail have gone on to kill again on Britain’s streets in the last decade, figures show.

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/7147662/Killers-freed-to-kill-again.html

            You know what would absolutely cure this in a fail-safe way? The Death Penalty.

          • Ever heard of a maximum security prison?

          • Strife

            Ever heard of over-crowding, limited funds, and a corrupt legal system?

          • Not for maximum security. The one in Youngstown Ohio is a perfect model. No human contact. Even their mail is displayed on a TV screen.

          • Strife

            How in the world could the over-burden tax-payer possibly afford an adequate number of those facilities? How? We’re already bankrupt as a nation.

          • Laurence Charles Ringo

            I wasn’t aware that the death penalty falls under the purview of Church duties; I thought the States assumed those”duties”. Although we all know that there was a time when the Church had no problem handing people off to the State to be executed,no?

      • Laurence Charles Ringo

        Yeah…But Thomas Aquinas approved of heretics being put to death,so there’s that.

  • Christopher Fleming

    With all due respect, you are fundamentally wrong. The Catholic Church, from day 1, has always taught that the death penalty is appropriate and in no way immoral. You point to the current Catechism, but you could have a look at any other Catechism approved by Rome, and you would see a clear justification of the DP. Or do you believe that what the Council of Trent or St. Pius X taught is no longer valid? To paint traditional catholics who favour the DP as “hard-hearted” is to side with liberals and heretics, and to place onself against the Magisterium.

    Your argument about the so-called progress os Mankind (which I fail to see), is a modernist one. Church law is binding forever, and no changing situations can make what was good 100 years ago intrinsically evil nowadays. This argument also fails to see that those pushing for the abolition of the DP are mostly liberals and abortionists. If you read about the origins of the abolitionist movement, you will discover that its roots are evil. This movement arose from the godless “Illustration”, and was championed by such men as Voltaire and Bentham. The liberals jumped on this bandwagon (see the vile Dutch Catechism of 1970), and eventually succeeded in overturning the law of the Vatican soon after the Council. Nowadays the christophobic European Union is the biggest force in the abolitionist movement.

    So with your progressivist argument you are essentially saying that for nearly 2000 years the Church had it all wrong; that CANONIZED kings and princes of Christendom executed criminals because they were heard-hearted; that Rome only understood Christ´s message of mercy after the Second Vatican Council; that doctors and saints of the Church (including notably the two greatest theologians ever, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine) were completely wrong about the issue, whereas God-haters such as Voltaire were more merciful and reasonable.

    I´m sorry, but I don´t have enough faith to believe something as crazy as that!

    • 1. Who said the DP was immoral? Did you read a subtitle and not content?
      2. Authoritative Teachings are not binding forever. Dogma and Infallible Pronouncements are forever binding.
      3. Again, no one is saying the church has been wrong for nearly 2,000 years. I’m really questioning your reading comprehension skills. Dude let me find out that you are one of those people who skim an article and jump down into the combox.
      4. St. Aquinas believed that a pre-natal child didn’t have a soul until 3 months after conception. St. Augustine believed that the world was flat. Neither are here today to inform us whether they think how the DP is applied in North Korea or China is cool.

      • Christopher Fleming

        1. I read the entire article, as well as another article of yours on the DP entitled “3 Reasons why Capital Punishment is always Unnecessary”. In this article you state: “If the death penalty can never be safely rendered with absolute certainty and righteousness in every case, then there is no reason for us to have comfort in it being rendered justly in any case.” This applies to all times, not just now. So you are essentially saying that ALL the states of Christendom, according to Pope Leo XIII the perfect embodiment of the Gospel, were wrong to apply the DP.

        2. What has been believed always, everywhere, and by all, IS infallible, because it is considered part of Divine Revelation, according to the Commonitorium of St. Vincent of Lerins. Show me a saint who was categorically against the DP, as you are. There is none. All the rulers of the Christian world applied the DP in good conscience, including the Popes. St. Pius V explicitly favours the DP for sex offenders amongst the clergy. That is a Pope of untouchable orthodoxy (unlike your beloved John Paull II), who is a canonized saint.

        • 1. I see you what you are concluding here based upon what I’ve written, but it’s just not what I would have hoped you would have concluded. No. I don’t believe that all the states of Chistendom were wrong. No more than I believe they were wrong about slavery. I don’t believe ‘truth’ changes, but I do believe that we mature in truth. The Church has matured about truth in many other ways – on the Trinity, Conception, Slavery, a number of Christological questions. That doesn’t mean we were once wrong. It simply means that our understanding of things weren’t as mature. This is the work of the Holy Spirit is it not? To guide us towards ALL truth? His work comes with the presupposition that we don’t ALWAYS know ALL truth.

          2. The Authoritative Teaching on the ‘allowance’ for states to kill prisoners is not part of what God has ‘formally revealed’, such as He formally revealed the Incarnation or the Sacraments. It is not part of the deposit of faith. In Jesus’ ONLY reference to prisoners, He tells us that they are Him. In a sense they are In persona Christi. I’d be very cautious about killing them. It’s strange to me that only the living are in favor of abortion, and people who would never execute a person favor the death penalty.

          3. You ask me to show you one Saint who was categorically against the DP as I am. There are a few leaps you are making here right? The first is that the saints who were in favor of it, would still be in favor of it in ‘our’ modern times. The second is that we know what all the saints views on the DP were or would be today. The third is that I am categorically against it, which I am not. I believe that if maximum security prisons cannot keep the public safe from someone dangerous, then YES execute him. This is an issue of defense and safety – not retribution or vengeance. That being said, we don’t live in a world with people who have mutant superpowers or aliens who can’t be confined. Should our ability to keep people locked away change, I will be in favor of executions for the of safety and defense.

          • Tony Jokin

            Not shove my head in a discussion, but I would like to point out the following.

            1. While the Church can mature in truth, the Church cannot do so in a manner that the newest position contradicts the old one. This is something many forget. This is also why Catholics usually shy away from using the word “evolution” to describe such maturation as well.

            Now there are Church documents that explain the issue with such forms of “maturation” as you describe (Pascendi by Pius X for an example) and I think you should give them a read.

            But I would like to highlight the following issue that might be evidence through common sense. If the Church can mature in such a manner, there is no telling that she might not mature more in the future to oppose the very view you now advocate. So in other words, the Church destroys all her credibility in giving moral advise.

            2. This is a very radical claim. In the Old Testament, God says the following:-

            “Whoever strikes a person mortally shall be put to death. If it was not premeditated, but came about by an act of God, then I will appoint for you a place to which the killer may flee. But if someone wilfully attacks and kills another by treachery, you shall take the killer from my altar for execution.” (Exodus 21:12-14)

            “Anyone who kills a human being shall be put to death. One who kills an animal shall make restitution for it; but one who kills a human being shall be put to death.” (Leviticus 24:17,21)

            Wouldn’t that count as divine revelation? How is it possible that the Church never taught that “God’s mercy” no longer requires the above while speaking on everything else in the Old Testament?

            3. Quiet interestingly, you hold the same position I held sometime ago and still continue to hold with some added caveats. I do agree with you to the extent that we add that it also ensures that such a punishment acts as a deterrent (that is my main caveat).

            As long life imprisonment can act as a successful deterrent, I think capital punishment is no longer required. What I think can perhaps be said today is that many are likely to not take a life in many premeditated cases without the death penalty. I would be happy to see, and I would even join such movements, if they adopt that sort of reasoning to request that death penalty no longer be practiced.

            But as a Catholic, I cannot join the movements today because their basis is actually problematic.

      • Christopher Fleming

        3. I can read perfectly well. In the comments section In response to Elliot Bougis´ question of whether you object to PARTICULAR applications of the DP, rather than to the principle of the state-sanctioned execution of criminals, you write: “NO. I’m completely against ALL forms of humans deciding when people die.” This sounds exactly like what I wrote: you believe the DP is immoral. If this is not a correct reading, please explain.

        4. What St. Thomas believed about the infusion of the soul was not a received doctrine of the Faith. I repeat, the DP was practised for centuries by holy christian kings and princes. St. Thomas´ idea on the soul was also due to a lack of scientific knowledge about the development of the human foetus. This cannot apply to his judgement of the DP.

        Finally, the practical use of the DP in Korea or the USA is not the issue here, rather the principle. Church teaching is that the DP is a good thing when properly carried out, because it gives retribution for the offense caused. This notion of retribution is entirely absent in all modernist considerations about the DP. All the emphasis is on the protection of society and the deterrent effect. Yet this is not the main justification for the DP. The main reason is JUSTICE. In this era of false mercy, justice is always the first casualty. No surprise that the DP is attacked.

        • 4. The point being made was that the saints are slaves to their time, which you affirm. We don’t know whether he would be in favor of the DP today.

          Your last paragraph makes me tremendously sad. I truly pray that you discover the mercy of God one day. There was a time in my life when I deserved the same death that you wish on people who commit grave sins. Even I thought my life wasn’t worth any value and I tried to commit suicide, but right when I was in the process of tightening that rope around my neck I heard a voice that said, “I love you. I am here.” I didn’t believe in Jesus, but when I asked the question in my hear ‘Who is that,’ I instantly knew. The God who I rejected, mocked, ridiculed, and persecuted, had just come to me and told me that He loved me.

          How could I ever show anyone else anything less than that same mercy shown to me? I hope you don’t discover the mercy of God the same way I did, but I hope with all me that you do discover it. Your heart seems dark to me.

          Blessings and Shalom.

          • Christopher Fleming

            Do the hearts of St. Augustine, St. Thomas, St. Alphonsus Ligorio and St. Pius V also seem dark to you? I am merely repeating Church teaching. It is not my opinion you object to, but Catholic Tradition.

            Because I believe what catholics always believed (at least up to the post-conciliar cataclysm), you assume I need to “discover the mercy of God”. That is quite a rash judgement! So now you presume to know the state of my soul!

            You make the typical mistake of opposing mercy and justice. They are two sides of the same coin. Mercy without jusctice is mere sentimentalism. There is no contradiction between being in favour of the execution of criminals and wishing their eternal salvation. In fact, as St. Thomas says, the DP may often HELP criminals who are sentenced to death to repent and thereby save their souls. He also says it has the effect of expiating for the crime committed. Dying a natural death in prison, as you write about in another article, does not expiate for anything.

            Your story about Jesus is very touching, but irrelevant to the topic. I am also a convert, but that has nothing to do with the DP.

          • Strife

            David said – “4. The point being made was that the saints are slaves to their time, which you affirm.”

            Wrong. Saints are slaves to Truth. And Truth is timeless because human nature is timeless.

            The false premise of your argument is dangerous. Because ALL heresies, sins, and Doctrines can be relegated to the mere relativism of their historic age of discernment.

            You are now delving into the fallacious reasoning of the heresy of Modernism and its deceptive rationale has no foreseeable limits – because the “moral” progression of every age has no foreseeable limits. Human nature is not progressing.

  • kcthomas

    A secular Govt. may make a rule based on some mundane considerations. But the Catholic Church with its spiriual authority says ” if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor ” . This will be the rarest of rare cases. And we should not forget the ” Father who is waiting for the return of the prodigal son ” Taking all these into consideration we can safely say that the Church is not for death penalty. I do not know whether the subject deserves a controversial discussion.

    • Good point! The Church is not FOR the Death Penalty.

  • Tony Jokin

    I think there are two key issues with your position.

    1) You seem to ignore the invaluable secondary effect of executing criminals. For an example, the death penalty can act as an effective deterrent. Lots of people might be OK with even doing life in prison (at least now one gets free meals as some say). After all, when a person is having a hard time having one meal a day, life in prison can look like a life-long vacation. But any person (religious or not) will think twice about taking a life if their own life will be cut short.

    2) You rightly see Jesus in the death row criminals in prison. But you have not defined with any precision as to what this should really mean. The way you have defined it (as broadly as you have in the article), leads to certain absurdities.

    For an example, when the person was raping countless children, do you think the children should have also seen Christ in the person who is violating them? Or when a husband was thrusting a knife through her and her kids, should the wife have seen Christ in her husband? Those are absurd and I am sure any sane person will not concede that they should.

    More importantly, this is not what the Church teaches when they say we should see Christ in eve n those who are sinners. What we are to see is that every person has the potential to be like Christ. It is this potential person who they can become that we love. NOT the person in their sins.

    Now it so happens, that the Church has taught that one way of bringing persons to the point of conversion is the death penalty. When faced with immediate death, it can force a person to repentance of their sins. In fact, there are countless examples in history of such a thing happening and persons making a good confession before they died.

    I think that you have not given the above two points that much of an analysis in your article. That is a problem.

    • Tony I think you are right about what I life out of these articles on the DP. I amended the article to include a fifth error.

      About the Christ as …. issues. Obviously when Christ asks us to see Him as a person who is sick, without clothes, sustenance, and in prison, He was asking us to see Him as to person in ‘need’. I think we can also agree that that is His point here based upon the correct response to those in need, which He cites. When you ….

      Therefore, the person in the process of committing a crime isn’t in need of help in committing the crime. They are in need of help in other ways. Yes, how many saints prayed for those who were killing them?

      What is the person on death row in need of? Death? Of course not. They have many needs, and when you go into prison and evangelize to them, you’ll be answering a number of those needs. When you become an executioner, you’ll be answering none of those needs.

      • Tony Jokin

        I reread your amended article together with the comment.

        1) I am not sure you can simply say that having the death penalty does not do anything to deter premeditated crimes. The fact that a negative consequence deters people from making bad choices is not really unproven in social psychology. So what I think you are trying to say is that there has been no specific studies on the death penalty itself. That too is something I personally haven’t researched so I cannot fully concede. But even if that were the case, that is not really relevant. As long as know that punishment deters individuals, that is sufficient together with the fact that the alternate life imprisonment is indeed an improvement in living conditions for some (rather than a punishment).

        2) Your accusation that imminent death does not bring about conversion is also a bold claim. I am sure you can read the stories of people who were facing death (including those who became saints), they are more likely to think about the actions they committed in their lives. It is this taking an account of ones life that leads to repentance. When faced with imminent death, there are no distractions of wondering “what to do to survive tomorrow etc”.

        3) I think your misunderstand still remains with an incorrect view of what it means to love the sinner. I think you may also have a view that is unorthodox in regards to what it means to say that God loves even sinners as well.

        Without delving too much into it, you should see that your view leads to absurdities. For one, even God himself is guilty of lacking “compassion” (as you have defined it) in taking out even children of the Canaanites by divine command. For another, there is no reason to use capital punishment even when security cannot be provided for society. How does our inability to provide security for society suddenly make the criminal unlike Jesus?

        In other words, if you saw Jesus in a child rapist at one point in time, how can you not see him anymore when the prison system is unable to confine him in jail? (a time in which you say that even you would approve of the death penalty)

        So I think, as you can see, your view of all of this proves too much.

        4) The person in death row is in need of repentance. Moreover, there is a demand by the natural order (not the person in prison), that justice be restored. How do you suggest justice be restored?

        5) Was God wrong to call for the death penalty in the old testament? Christ never said that it as due to hardness of heart (like when he spoke of divorce).

        • 3. Of course if maximum security prison can’t insure safety there has to be other means applied. I’d even medicate a dangerous person before killing them.
          4. Justice is God’s business. Man’s version of it through government has anyways been a problem itself.
          5. God’s justice is perfect. He gives life and takes it away.

          • Tony Jokin

            Ok perhaps it is better to overcome one disagreement at a time. So let me restate my “first” objection that has so far not been addressed. I will lay it down in an argument form for convenience.

            a) You have stated here that if the State cannot contain prisoners harmful to society, they should be given the death penalty. — verifiable fact
            b) You have asserted, as a main reason for your opposition to the death penalty, that you see the face of Christ in the faces of criminals — verifiable fact
            c) Now regardless of whether the prison system can confine these individuals or not, you should see the face of Christ in them — logically true
            d) Therefore your position in regards to opposing the death penalty because of “seeing the face of Christ in prisoners” is incoherent and likely an erroneous understanding of the theological concept itself.

            How would you respond? After we overcome this issue, we can move on to discussing the other objections I would like to raise.

          • A. Correct.

            B. I wouldn’t say main reason. I think in the conclusion of the parent article to this one ‘3 Reasons why DP is Always Unnecessary (http://www.davidlgray.info/blog/2010/09/three-reasons-why-capital-punishment-is-always-unnecessary/)’ I summarize my POV. In fewer words here I say that the DP doesn’t value the dignity of human life and undermines that person’s journey towards salvation.

            C. Correct

            D. You made a jump here. Seems non-sequitur, but it’s based on ‘B’ that isn’t the crux of my argument.

          • I was not able to reach the article cited in ‘B’.

          • Sorry about that. Looks like you found it.

          • Tony Jokin

            David & Leo,

            I would like to point out that the 3 reasons can be easily shown to be lacking.

            REASON #1 – Capital Punishment is Never Fool-Proof:The death penalty is rendered by humans who are quite fallible.
            Why is this flawed? Humans are fallible regarding all judgement, for an example, medical treatment. According to David’s argument, we should refrain from funding or receiving things like medical treatment because it is not fool proof. In other words, David’s reason #1 is based on an absurd principle.

            REASON #2 – Capital Punishment is Always Unnecessary: It is never necessary to kill criminals to keep the public safe
            Why is this flawed? The issue here is that David has to take on God himself with this reasoning. For God commands:-

            “Whoever strikes a person mortally shall be put to death. If it was not premeditated, but came about by an act of God, then I will appoint for you a place to which the killer may flee. But if someone wilfully attacks and kills another by treachery, you shall take the killer from my altar for execution”(Exodus 21:12-14)

            “Anyone who kills a human being shall be put to death. One who kills an animal shall make restitution for it; but one who kills a human being shall be put to death.” (Leviticus 24:17,21)

            Since David believes that it is always unnecessary, then he must explain why God commands it in Exodus and Leviticus to Israel. But David cannot do so because David has already asserted that it is always unnecessary.

            REASON #3 – Capital Punishment Inveighs Against the Desire of God:
            Why is this flawed? David here is picking and choosing from Scripture. As shown above, there is much that God says that can be interpreted as being in favor of the death penalty.

            Moreover, David makes the assertion that the death penalty is against God’s will because it prevents the sinner from being saved. But if David is right, it would mean that we may not kill a criminal even if we cannot confine him. So he has proved too much.

          • #1 You compared the act of trying to save a person;s life with the act of not trying to save their life?
            #2 Good job cheery picking from the Old Testament. LOL
            #3 Good job reference back to your cheery picking from the Old Testament.

          • Tony Jokin

            David,

            I am not accusing you of dishonesty here but you did say the following in a reply to a comment by Christopher Fleming below:-

            “I believe that if maximum security prisons cannot keep the public
            safe from someone dangerous, then YES execute him. This is an issue of
            defense and safety – not retribution or vengeance. That being said, we
            don’t live in a world with people who have mutant superpowers or aliens
            who can’t be confined. Should our ability to keep people locked away
            change, I will be in favor of executions for the of safety and defense.”

            Now I would also like to provide a more detailed argument since you were under the suspicion that the conclusion did not follow. Here is that argument:-

            a) David asserts that we should not kill criminals guilty of despicable crimes because he sees Christ in them
            b) David asserts that we should kill criminals guilty of despicable crimes if we cannot confine them
            c) But, whether or not a person can be confined should not affect David because Christ is either there to be seen or not. Confinement does not alter what David should see.
            d) Therefore, David’s position is incoherent or based on a misunderstanding as to what it means to see Christ in the face of criminals

            So just to clarify once more, what is being said here is not that your sole argument against the DP is the “face of Christ in criminals…….”. Rather, what is said here is that the fact that you see, (or that you should see) Jesus in the face of criminals cannot imply that they should therefore not be given the death penalty. You must concede that there is a different principle that overrules this fact.

            Once we are in agreement, we can move onto the other arguments you present.

          • I’ll explain it this way. If a person broke into my house and was trying to kill me and my family, I’d do everything I could to restrain him, but if I could not I’d kill him. I’d take that extreme measure in spite of his human dignity, because of the loss of life that is likely to occur if he isn’t killed. Again, not because I want to punish him; not because I have forsaken his needs, not because he is made in the same image and likeness as I, but, rather, because, I have chosen to address all of those things in regards to the people he is trying to kill.

            We must always take into consideration that Iin the beginning it was not so. We arrive at these choices we have to make because of the consequences of humanities original sin. The very first command, that was reiterated in every covenant, was to be fruitful and multiple. It was never to kill and practice eugenics. Therefore, as new creations through Baptism, our whole self ought to more inclined towards life.

            It is true that sin in the world makes the promotion and preservation of life difficult, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t fight for it.

            So much effort is being spent on deciding on who to kill or who not to kill. If we spent our time just doing the great commission, we’d have to worry about that a lot less. Faith comes by hearing; and hearing by the word of God.

          • Tony Jokin

            Aah, David, now we are talking.

            As you have very aptly stated. human dignity or “seeing the face of Jesus in others” does not trump everything else. In your example, the need to preserve life trumped human dignity and “seeing the face of Jesus”.

            So have you considered the fact that there are other things beside “preservation of life” that trumps human dignity and “seeing the face of Jesus”?

            As Catholic tradition teaches…. Justice and deterrent force, for an example?
            Isn’t it true that your reluctance to punish can be simply equated to what we attribute to emotionalism?

            I mean other than an appeal, you haven’t really got an argument or a principle that you can safely say trumps other reasons FOR applying the death penalty, yes? Both your reasons, human dignity and “seeing the face of Jesus” were seen to be subservient to other principles like “preservation of life”. So there can be more similar principles.

          • Let’s just stay focused here and not get off on extreme examples and wild tangents. LOL People who are executed in THIS COUNTRY have typically exhausted a series of appeals, lasting on an average of 15 years. That puts the time of their crime back at least 16 or more years, given that trials for capital offenses take about a year. Most of these people have not committed any further capital offenses while they were in prison. At this point, a punishment for their crime has been served, and killing them is not a punishment – it’s condemnation.

            I am not interested in killing a person for something they did 16 years ago and are not of any danger to anyone else. Now, IF that person has proven that they are currently still a danger to people’s lives EVEN IN PRISON MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON, perhaps we need to permanently medicate them. If that doesn’t work (don’t know why it wouldn’t), perhaps we need to look at other options, including executing them.

            Emotionalism? LOL Funny! You should get to know me better. Nevertheless, my reluctance to kill people is attributed to the HOPE I have for people’s salvation. I believe in grace and the power that the word of God has to turn the hardest of hearts. I’m an optimist, but not emotionally so. It’s based on my own experience of knowing what I did merited by death, but Christ decided to give me life in instead. I hope that for everyone.

            The Church teaches that in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, each end of the tube can be cut, but the embryo is left unharmed. It is left to God’s care. I don’t want us to circumvent God’s care.

          • Tony Jokin

            David,
            I think you might have gotten a tad carried away in your reply for me judging by the big “LOL”‘s 🙂

            Let me point out the following. Every thing you would like to base your argument against death penalty are either anecdotal evidence (how you feel from your own experience) or subordinate principles (like human dignity or “I see the face of Jesus in that man”).

            The anecdotal form of arguments are very weak. They tend to be subjective rather than based on a principle.

            With respect to the arguments from subordinate principles, the key issue here is that you fail to grasp the other principles that govern them (like Justice and Deterrent effects). Instead, you make it look as if the only thing that matters when considering punishment is the preservation of further damage to life by the individual. That is an error, right?

            As for ectopic pregnancy, cutting the tube does kill the child. So I am not really sure what you mean by “embryo is left unharmed”. The Church teaching in this case is based on the principle of double effect and certainly acknowledges that harm occurs when saving the mother’s life in this manner. But I am not entirely sure why you even brought it up. What are you suggesting? That the Church should force the mothers to not have a procedure and give it into God’s hands?

          • I disagree with your summation how my argument is grounded.

            Ectopic. It is left to God’s care. That is the point.

          • Tony Jokin

            David,

            Surely, I hope you can appreciate me asking you to demonstrate that your argument is grounded. Can you? Can you give me a deductive argument (list of premises followed by logical conclusions) to arrive at your position?

            As I have repeatedly pointed out to you, your premises are based on subordinate principles raised above all other principles. So you often prove too much.

            On the matter of ectopic pregnancies, the argument can be made from it FOR the death penalty too. One can argue that in those circumstances, the person’s salvation is left to God’s care.

            Anyway, my point here is not that you are completely wrong. I personally think that what you say has an element of truth in it. However, I also think that in not rigorously building up your argument, you have also embraced some unreasonable elements in the position.

            So I think your conclusion that the death penalty is always unnecessary, or especially that it is unchristian, is a dangerous error. I think the reasonable position for a Catholic is that death penalty is a good and valid form of punishment. However, perhaps we can pursue a greater good today with an alternate means of punishment.

            But the way you are trying to pursue this alternate punishment to the death penalty at the moment leaves much to be desired. No seriously informed Catholic will agree with you. You will also sabotage your efforts because Catholics who are well informed of the traditional Church teaching will identify the modernist line of thought in your theological argumentation. They will then oppose you. Others may see that you have completely ignored even considering the demands of justice. They will then oppose you too.

            All of this is unnecessary if you just really took the more reasonable position like the one I mentioned in the bold text above.

          • Ahhh expectations. I now see what you are looking for Tony. This article is a simple rebuttal to the arguments made by Catholics who are pro-Death Punishment. Out of this it isn’t intended, nor should be it expected, to demonstrate why the death penalty is always unnecessary.

            Although it may not be as rigorous as you’d like – the actual parent article to this one is ‘Best 3 Reasons Why Capital Punishment is Always Unnecessary’ http://www.davidlgray.info/blog/2010/09/three-reasons-why-capital-punishment-is-always-unnecessary/

            As far as the claimed modernist line – there has to be an agreement on whether this teaching on the death penalty is an authoritative teaching. If it is, then it resolves the other problems you mentioned concerning ‘traditional teaching’. If you hold the position that this teaching is part of the body of what God has ‘formally’ revealed, then we cannot agree. For, we have numerous examples of authoritative teachings that the Church has ‘set aside’ regardless of the ‘traditional teaching’ on that issue.

          • Tony Jokin

            David,

            If you have never presented a rigorous argument for your position, is it not quiet possible that you have this all wrong? That your position is constructed upon false of highly doubtful premises?

            As for the “best 3 reasons” article, I have read it and I did not raise my concerns here before because I felt it might cloud our current topic of discussion at the time.

            I would like to take a moment to address your listed “3 reasons” now.

            REASON #1 – Capital Punishment is Never Fool-Proof: The death penalty is rendered by humans who are quite fallible.
            Why is this flawed?: Every decision made by humanity is never fool-proof. Surgery is not fool-proof. But no one would argue that one should therefore not opt to have surgeries or that they are “always unnecessary”.

            Furthermore, Scripture encourages us to judge rightly (1 Cor 6:3, 1 Cor 5 etc.). So your principle invoked in this reason (which is that what is guaranteed to be not foolproof is unnecessary).

            REASON #2 – Capital Punishment is Always Unnecessary: It is never necessary to kill criminals to keep the public safe.
            Why is this flawed? The weakness of your assertion is that it only requires ONE case to dismiss your entire claim.

            But more importantly, you base your argument (that keeping the public safe is the sole criterion) on Paragraph 2267 which derives it’s particular assertion from Evangelium Vitae which only dedicates a SINGLE line to this issue. You ignore the repeated teaching occasions in the history of the Church to embrace a one liner in an encyclical to justify your position. Does that sound reasonable?

            Furthermore, you don’t even need teaching on Capital punishment itself to see that your starting premise (sole end of death penalty is to safeguard the public from the criminal) is wrong. A punishment can also be used for restoring justice and as a deterrent for others to engage in the same act.

            So here again we see an assertion based on doubtful premises.

            REASON #3 – Capital Punishment Inveighs Against the Desire of God:
            Why is this flawed? This is perhaps the most absurd reason you give.

            If one were to read Scripture, one can easily see that God himself commands Israel to enforce the death penalty:-

            Exodus 21:12: Whoever strikes a person mortally shall be put to death.

            Genesis 9:6 Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind.

            Romans 13:1-4 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer.

            So it seems to me like you went and did a lot of picking and choosing from Scripture and then gave your own interpretation to what is meant by “God wants everyone to be saved”.

          • Q: If you have never presented a rigorous argument for your position, is it not quiet possible that you have this all wrong? That your position is constructed upon false of highly doubtful premises?

            A: Uhm, because I haven’t had a reason to or time to keystroke a dissertation on why the DP is unnecessary I could have it all wrong? You presuppose that people have to write an article about something they know to be true for them to know it is true. That’s an odd finding ….

            RE: #1 – Life is so sacred that we should be certain before we execute someone, especially when life imprisonment is an available option. It would be like cutting off your big toe because you think it is causing you to lip. Better for you to goto the doctor and get an x-ray or something first. You make a false contrast to surgery, which COULD lead to death, versus something that WILL lead to death.

            Yes, judging right demands the presence of the Holy Spirit, which guides us towards all truth.

            RE: #2 – It would take a person or alien with super hero powers to escape our best prisons.

            RE: #3 – Looks like cherry picking from the Old Testament.

            These three BEST points for the DP are married. It’s not unnecessary because of 1 or because of 2. It’s a body of things in opposition to the reason from the CPDPA. But, AGAIN, it all comes down to where you fall on it being merely an authoritative teaching or not.

            Thank you for the dialogue Tony. Blessings and Shalom.

          • Asbury Fox

            “Justice is God’s business. Man’s version of it through government has anyways been a problem itself.”
            I think part of your error in regards to your position on the death penalty, is an erroneous view of government and the state. Government is a natural good. The state has the means to preserve the common good and derives authority from the natural law and divine positive law. All of its authority is from God. The state is God’s minister. the justice of the state is the justice of God. God has given the state the right to carry out his justice on Earth.

          • Man is inclined to sin, but govt is good? Okay.

  • Strife

    The very first person to enter into Heaven that we know of with certainty – was St Dismas (The Good Thief) who hung on the cross beside Our Lord. He was paying for his crimes (theft and murder according to legend) with his own life.

    Now then, when Dismas made his confession to Our Lord – why didn’t Christ free him from his death penalty? Instead, Our Lord saved the criminal THOUGH the finality of his capital punishment.

    “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” – Luke 23:43

    There is only one explanation. And if it is a True explanation – then it must be unchangeable and timeless: Mercy must be fulfilled through Justice – Not in spite of it or as a substitute for it. Christ did not fulfill the Law in order to destroy it. He did not conquer Death in order to spare us from it. But rather, His Passion, Death, and Resurrection gave our own sins sufferings and injustices redemption through our own death. His Mercy is completely relevant to our fallen human nature. And our human nature does not change. It is the same now as it was 2000 years ago. To falsely assume otherwise at the behest of modern circumstances, then you must allow that same false assumption to rule over all sins of human nature: abortion, homosexuality, incest, lying, stealing, adultery, fornication… etc….etc….

    “Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.” – G.K.Chesterton

    “There are two kinds of paradoxes. They are not so much the good and the
    bad, nor even the true and the false. Rather they are the fruitful and
    the barren; the paradoxes which produce life and the paradoxes that
    merely announce death. Nearly all modern paradoxes merely announce
    death.” – G.K.Chesterton

    “A fad or heresy is the exaltation of something which even if true, is
    secondary or temporary in its nature against those things which are
    essential and eternal, those things which always prove themselves true
    in the long run. In short, it is the setting up of the mood against the
    mind.” – G.K.Chesterton

    Oh and, The Feast Day of St Dismas is in four days on Wednesday March 25th. Perhaps the irony of that timing should sink in to everyone.

    • The problem with your logic is that you are taking one example and suggesting that it is sure to happen in every case. I’ve worked in a prison hospice – not every prisoner turns their face to Christ as St. Dismas did. Not every prisoner encounters Christ as St. Dismas did.

      This is why it is important to go into prisons to minister to prisoners so that they do have that opportunity and so that they will encounter Christ through you. Their conversion make take a moment as St. Dismas’ did, or it may take a lifetime. That is not your concern to want either for them. That’s not even the purview of what Christ has called you to do. That is not even your job. Your job is one thing – share what Christ Jesus have given you to share. Leave the time and hour of their death alone.

      • Strife

        On the contrary, the problem with your logic is that you’re ignoring Christ’s example as if it never applies to any case at any time in our current age.

        And by extension of your flawed premise, your predictably flawed rationale progresses: Their conversion is NOT predicated upon you. That’s your first extended flaw. It is ultimately a gift of God’s Grace. But then – you turn around and admonish me and tell me I shouldn’t be concerned about any of that?

        Well, then who are YOU to be concerned with that, much less to assume that you have any real effect on their reconciliation and redemption in the first place? And where in scripture did Christ ever tell us that the death of the guilty was ever unjustified – either by the laws of man OR by His own Laws of Mercy?

        And more-so, what exactly is it that YOU think YOU know about the human condition in this age, that suddenly changes after 2000 years of discerned Truth and inspired Wisdom? Why exactly wasn’t your very same rationale valid from the first century and through every century to today? Because you’ve really not introduced anything new to the argument – except modern sentiment limited to mere “feelings”.

        And nothing more.

        • Are you a Protestant? Did you just ask me where in Scripture . . . ? I don’t believe in Scripture alone. I will say that the ONE TIME Jesus talks about people in prison, He makes Himself equal to them. Also, if you want to use St. Dismas, go ahead and use Cain as your example when God could have given the death penalty, but gave Cain life.

          As I said above, you fell into the trap of thinking my argument has something to do with ‘feelings’. LOL

          Let me ask you this friend. Would you kill someone on death row? I mean can YOU be an executioner. I find that people who are for abortion are the living, and people who are for the death penalty couldn’t kill a fly. So tell me – has God called you to be a person who kills people on death row. If not, then just shut up about it, and go do what God has called you to do. 😀

          • Strife

            I don’t believe in Sola Scriptura either – and I also believe in Sacred Tradition – and BOTH of those timeless Truths validate the unchangeable justice of capital punishment.

            But tell me, is Jesus is equal to the released murderer who beat his mother to death two days after he was released?

            http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Convicted-Murderer-Accused-of-Killing-Mom-2-Days-After-Being-Released-From-Prison-278953781.html

            Really?

            And did Cain professes his contrition before God? Did he even seek any reconciliation with God at all? Was it even possible? Was their even a chance for true reconciliation before Christ?

            Would I carry out my duly appointed legal duty as an state executioner? Yes.

            Your turn: would you kill the enemy if you were serving the uniform of your country? Would you kill a criminal in the line of duty if you were wearing the uniform of a police officer?

            And then tell me – has God called you to provide chance of unjust release of murderers who will kill more innocent victims? Do you not have the blood of those innocent victims on your hands?

          • I’m not a pacifist lol. I’ll defend myself and others. Maximum security prisons work.

          • Strife

            If you’re not a pacifist then your flawed premise even contradicts its own rationale. And maximum security prisons do not solve over-crowding, limited funds, and a corrupt legal system. If anything – they exacerbate those problems.

          • Over crowding is easily fixed. Govt does it all the time. What corrupt legal systems do is convict innocent minorities to prison and death. Long long history of that in this country.

          • Strife

            Over crowding is easily fixed? Are you kidding? What planet are you living on? Most states are bankrupt. And the Federal Govt is definitely bankrupt. And you seriously think that our corrupt legal system only errors on the side of innocent convictions? Oh-boy. And there we have it. There’s the inherent bias in your argument that I suspected. You’ve done some prison time yourself – so of course you’re sympathetic to the criminals. But of course – you completely ignore the documented fact that guilty murderers are also released – only to kill again. Of course you turn a blind eye towards the victims loved ones. Your heart bleeds only for the brutal killer who obviously is beyond any reform. Perhaps you need to spend some of your efforts among the families of the victims and preach to them about this fallacious “MercyJustice”. Maybe meet them at the grave-site of the victim and then look them in the eyes and lecture them about compassion and tolerance. And then remind them that no-one has the right to end life – and oh by the way – “Sorry for your loss – it sucks to be you. Now you must remember, at this point it’s all about the murderer. We must concern ourselves with his spiritual welfare!”

            Yeah, let me know how that works out for you. And please, don’t even attempt tell me that you’ve done this. I’m not buying it.

          • Strife you deal in far extremes I notice. It is very difficult to converse with you because of that. If I say it is raining, you’ll reply with something talking about a hurricane. Let’s be measured and reasoned.

            About the easy fix to overcrowding in prisons. I don’t know if you know or not, but the prison system has become an industry. If you want to fix it, just stop making it an industry. What this means is that you stop putting everyone in prison for every little thing. Leave prison for serious offenses. JUST THIS will reduce your prison population in this country by 75% or more. This is not a novel idea. Every other country in the west already does this. The USA prison population per capita is a scandal.

            There are issues that lead people to prison, such as low education, community cyclical factors, unemployment, drug use and etc. Address these issues. The broken window practice.

            I don’t really need to go here, just google ideas on prison reform. Not hard to do, just hard to convince people to do it when they are profiting off the prison industry.

            As for the rest of your post – *sigh* just more silly extremes that have nothing to do with what I actually believe.

          • Strife

            So convicted murderers aren’t really responsible for their crimes because circumstances made them do it. That’s a pathetic moral justification. So there is no such thing as guilt when it comes to murder apparently *sigh* were going down the rabbit hole pretty deep at this point…..

            And the prison system is an industry? Well that would only make sense since hard-core crime is an industry in many parts of this country. But again, the corruption in the legal system also allows murderers to go free – regardless of the prison industry.

          • Again. Where did that far extreme come from? No one said that.

          • Strife

            I’m not trying to intentionally misconstrue your words David, but the implication of that premise certain seemed apparent in your rationale.

            And I don’t understand your reluctance to address “extremes” in this case. After all, we’re talking about life and death and the justice of guilt and innocence as the ultimate moral guide.

            Does it get any more extreme than that?

            And more to the point: Christ Himself, was, is, and ever shall be, the ultimate extremes of all justice and temporal morality.

            The proven fact of the matter is – the death penalty is an absolute necessity in a truly free society. But is seems that your resistance to it may be derived from your natural fear of death and the inability to truly surrender to God’s redemptive Grace is all death. Even a supposed unrepentant death. But of course – you and I can’t possibly know what happens to the soul in those final moments of death. But there is certainly a chance for the person to have one final chance of reconciliation when they gaze upon the Light. There have been numerous Saints who have stated that it is so. And maybe death itself is the only thing that can reconcile these lost ones. But of course – the ultimate goal is to make sure that these people do no further harm to anyone else. And justice demands that that be the primary concern always.

            Look David, I’ve always enjoyed your work. You’ve always been one of the few voices of theological sanity in this runaway world of confused sentimentalism. I didn’t mean to contest you so personally and so brashly. Please forgive me. It’s just that everything in this world that is even vaguely sound and moral is quickly melting down. The inmates are now running the asylum as it were. In fact, Satan himself seems to have unprecedented powers in this age to deceived and sway the hearts of well-meaning souls. Our innate fears seem to feed his deception. None of us are worthy of salvation and IF we are smart then we will naturally fear death. But then, God isn’t calling us to be smart in a temporal sense. He’s calling us to be trusting in our surrender to Him. And that will naturally cause us great pain and confusion. But it is necessary. And we must risk everything even our own lives. But here’s the thing: we have NO RIGHT to risk the lives of the innocent. And if we truly care about the souls of the lost in this world – we wouldn’t deny them the justice of a necessary death. To assume that God’s will wouldn’t involve the temporal price of Caesar’s Law, isn’t scriptural. In fact, it’s antithetical to Scripture. AND it’s antithetical to the Sacred Tradition. And both of those comprise the Deposit of Faith. So I would ask you, please reconsider this. My heart broke when I read this piece. I thought, “Oh no. Not you too Davis…”

            I know you mean well, but God’s Mercy is often far more painful than his condemnation. And his condemnation is always His Mercy. Death awaits us all. It is inescapable. But don’t assume that all outwardly “unrepentant” deaths are doomed to damnation. We do not know the power of Purgatory. And we do not know the beginning process in those final moments of temporal death. But then, this is no different than our own deaths – we must simply Trust in Christ in all things – especially the dying away of all things.

            But IF these souls are truly unrepentant even unto death (and I’m not sure many are) – then what difference would another 5 seconds or another 500 years make? A soul that does not surrender to God in death certainly won’t surrender to God in life.

            But then – we have no reason to doubt the far-reaching Love of God’s Mercy, especially in those necessary last moments of temporal twilight as mans last breath escapes him and Gods light envelopes him. That is were our faith should ultimately rest. Not in our own efforts, but in Gods Mercy.

            And IF these souls were truly swayed by influences beyond their control,
            then don’t you think God would consider that? After all, if that is
            true – then God would certainly know and understand it better than you or I. And His Mercy would extend through that reality.

            Please consider these possibilities, David.

          • LWC

            And just who would Jesus stone, Genius?

          • Good point. When Jesus encountered the one person who deserved death, the caused her would-be executioners to look at themselves. It is true; we all deserve the death penalty due to our sins against God.

          • LWC

            I’m truly stunned by those who justly defend the life of the unborn, and yet as easily defend the execution of the condemned.

            The application of CCC 2266 practically (and logically) would apply only in acts of ‘just war’ in that most US prisons efficiently render “the aggressor unable to inflict harm.”

            The ‘need’ for execution is therefore negated.

            Francis has it right–again.

          • Strife

            Oh brilliant. Because convicted murderers are just as innocent as the unborn. *facepalm* Do you even understand the theological concept of Justice?

          • LWC

            Taking life is taking life, Precious.

            It would appear those exhortations beyond abortion and gay marriage are a bit too inconvenient for many.

            Jesus clearly exclaimed, “…he who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).

            Those executioners then were no less acting on behalf of the ‘State’ than is any death chamber and its attendants today.

          • Strife

            Well precious, you’re clearly illiterate when it comes to scripture. The passage you cite (John 8:7) is not an admonishment of capital punishment – but rather, it is an admonishment of condemnation without redemption. And the adulteress did not take another persons life – nor was she a threat to another persons life. Therefore – the justice of stoning her did not fit the offense. You’re clearly an idiot.

          • LWC

            Interesting.

            Is stoning not capital punishment?

            Francis has a cure for that Pharisee Complex. It truly appears to be a matter of distant spiritual metastasis upon your soul.

          • Strife

            Uhm no bright boy – stoning was not a capital punishment- it was a religious punishment meted out by the religious leaders – not the state.

            And let me clue you and pope flatulence in on this libtard definition of “pharisee”. The pharisees were in fact, very similar to the liberal/progessives of this age. Because you see – they were always parsing out special exceptions to the laws for their own advantage. And if you doubt that – then look no further than their confrontation with Jesus over divorce. You see, it was actually the scribes and pharisees who were diddling over new and varied exemptions allowing divorce. Oh but, Jesus lays down the heavy hammer of orthodox purity on their sorry arses:

            He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” – Matthew 19:8-9

            Like I said before – you’re clearly an idiot. And this current pope isn’t far behind you.

          • LWC

            Interesting.

            Can only imagine the joy in your home.

            Anywho, it appears you know very little about stoning / lapidation; past, present, or otherwise.

            Please cite any occasion in which stoning is/was not a form of capital punishment.

            It’s the penalty, Stupid. Not the crime.

            Hypocrisy is not too unlike intractable urticaria.

            If nothing else, at least you can make claims of stigmata to your Pharisee Phriends.

          • Strife

            “Capital punishment” is a legal process carried out by the state – dumbass. Cite the actual “State” officials who were present during the attempted stoning of the adulteress, you moron. Go ahead – point them out. Because the scribes and pharisees did not represent a State. Now Rome was the proper “State” (for lack of a better word because actual “states” did not exist at that time) that ruled that region.

            As an example – Jesus’ Crucifixion WAS capital punishment administered by the “state” or governing officials.

            As far as the rest of your convoluted gibberish in a veiled attempt of pretentiousness – I have no idea what you’re babbling about. Nor do I care at this point – because you’re just a natural idiot.

          • LWC

            Precious, if you’re this overly exacting in semantics in regard to ‘capital,’ I’m only curious how you persist in not understanding the invariable consequence of such punishment.

            Perhaps Francis will eventually crush that hardness of heart, Sweetie.

            If he can’t, perhaps Jesus Christ will.

            God Bless!

          • Strife

            It’s not semantics numbskull. Are churches allowed to execute people? Uhm….no. Render unto Caesar – you know. But there is the ultimate safety of society to consider. Because little inconvenient mishaps like this often occur in a free society:

            Convicted Murderer Accused of Killing Mom 2 Days After Being Released From Prison

            http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Convicted-Murderer-Accused-of-Killing-Mom-2-Days-After-Being-Released-From-Prison-278953781.html

            And rinse and repeat:

            Killers freed to kill again: Nearly 30 killers released from jail have gone on to kill again on Britain’s
            streets in the last decade, figures show.

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/7147662/Killers-freed-to-kill-again.html

            And as far as Pope Flatulence – his personal opinion cannot override settled doctrine. And the justification of Capital Punishment IS settled doctrine. So he’s basically a heretic. But what’s new.

            Now go to bed dipsh*t. You’ve spread enough stupidity for one lifetime.

          • LWC

            Not quite, Sweetie.

            Jesus’ admonition was an unambiguous command to anyone seeking to impose (or participate in) the ultimate penalty.

            His crucifixion was no less an affront to that same exhortation (thus “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do).

            The Church itself has an established (and regrettable) history of abusing Christ’s exhortation when remanding those found ‘guilty’ by inquisition (of doctrinal ‘crimes’ no less).

            Surely you recall the fabulous (and infamous) BBQ in honor of Joan of Arc.

            Simply because the Magisterium has sought to employ theological acrobatics does not negate Jesus’ clear opposition to the death penalty.

            Chew on that, Precious.

            If nothing else, your handle perfectly captures the relationship between you and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

          • Strife

            “Jesus’ admonition was an unambiguous command to anyone seeking to impose (or participate in) the ultimate penalty.”

            Prove it. Cite the context in scripture. Cite it in any theological doctrine of the Catholic faith that ever confirmed that.

            Oh but you can’t because it is settled doctrine. And all you’re citing are unjust secular abuses from the inquisition that were never based on doctrine. But then – you’re an idiot.

            But what scriptural/theological expertise do you think you possess that 2000 years worth of scholars lacked? Riddle that for us you mental midget.

          • LWC

            LOL

            John 8:7, Precious.

            It flows from there.

            But before spending too much time scrolling through those Pharisee Phun Phacts of yours, I’d use that time healing what appears to be a broken and angry soul.

            Let the Holy Spirit do his job by transplanting that hardened heart into one more fitting of Christ’s Love and Mercy.

            God Bless!

          • Strife

            Hey uhm – moron, you’re extrapolating an interpretation that was never held by 2000 years worth of discerned and settled doctrine. Because your interpretation lacks any accurate (much less credible) context whatsoever. You’re simply citing – nothing. You’re just returning to your own vomit once again.

            And the Holy Spirit doesn’t change settled doctrine – any neither can you or the pope. That’s the whole infallibility thing you liberal idiots never seem to grasp.

            Unlike Paul – I don’t suffer fools gladly.

          • LWC

            Someone needs a hug.

            You cite 2000 years of ‘doctrine’ (invariably based on Scripture and ‘tradition’).

            Interesting.

            You wouldn’t argue the universe is of God’s creation, right?

            The Church held for centuries the earth was indeed the center of that universe–as a matter of doctrine.

            The Church went so far as to submit the uppity-scientist to an inquisition, only to vindicate him centuries later.

            If Church doctrine could err in such a fundamental, the door is certainly open to error in other matters.

            But that’s really neither nor there. Jesus’ admonition stands.

            And that’s good enough for me.

            Now, let me hug you good-night.

            XO

            “It’s never good to go to bed angry” –paraphrasing Pope Francis

          • Strife

            Good God you libtards are tiring.

            First of all the pope NEVER TRIED to make an infallible ruling concerning Galileo’s views at the time. NEVER. The Church has never claimed ordinary tribunals, such as the one that
            judged Galileo, to be infallible. Church tribunals have disciplinary and juridical authority only; neither they nor their decisions are infallible.

            I suggest you actually educate yourself:

            The Galileo Controversy: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-galileo-controversy

            Like a typical libtard-progressive in the pharisaic mold, you’re attempting to create your own parsed doctrines for your own support. You reject settled doctrine. So why are you even bothering with the Roman Catholic Church?

            Oh and – not surprisingly, you completely ignored the salient points of my last post. Which proves you’re arguing from a disingenuous rationale. You’re clearly not interested in any objective truth, you simply want the Church to accommodate your own personal beliefs.

            So go to sleep moron. You do your best work when your not trying to think. Besides, thinking is not your forte.

            Good night nitwit.

          • LWC

            “Salient”?!

            I’m impressed.

            Anywho, Galileo’s inquisition was based on his assertions that countered Church doctrine.

            Am I debating Bob Sungenis or Rick Delano here?

            To re-focus, Jesus Christ did not endorse the death penalty and neither should any Christian.

            Deal with it.

            XO

          • Strife

            There was never any infallible church doctrine that was violated by Galileo’s theory. So again, you’re an idiot.

            And again, nowhere in scripture does Christ refute the already established moral justification of the death penalty. And yes, he obviously did recognize the justice of it in the passage I cited in Luke 23:39-43

            Oh and, I remember debating you in the past, I also recall that you’re an atheist as well as a libtard/progressive. You’re the trifecta of stupid. So it’s no surprise that an atheistic hack like you would attempt to bastardize scripture and doctrine. Because your entire motive in here is to stir sh*t.

            Plus, you’re a hopeless idiot who would like to pretend that you actually know something. But as your mindless rambling and irrational thought process shows – you just can’t disguise stupid.

            heh

          • LWC

            Interesting.

            So then, what was the ’cause of inquisition’ for Galileo?

            And indeed I’m a Roman Catholic.

            Chew on that, you child of God.

          • Strife

            The cause was the same old cause for most of the Church’s problems over these last two millennia: Namely, misguided and deeply flawed clerics in the Church who insisted on their own personal versions of doctrine.

            And if you need a contemporary example – I suggest you merely gaze upon the current heretic on the Throne of Peter. He serves only himself by appealing to the world’s popular sentiments.

            “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.” – Luke 6:26

            But of course Our Lord stated two specific intentions for this world:

            1) He came to divide the world his uncomfortable Truths – NOT to unite it with its own versions of “truths”:

            “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.” – Matthew 10:34

            2) He came to bring unity to the Church:

            “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in
            us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” – John 17:20-21

            Now any rational person can discern that those two intentions are diametrically opposed to one another. And any rational intelligent person with eyes, ears, and a brain governed by common sense in search of Christ’s Truth can readily see that this current pontiff takes great delight in fostering the exact OPPOSITE of both those intentions.

            “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I tell you, unless your
            righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:17-20

            “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on
            earth?” – Luke 18:8

            Indeed you might THINK you’re “Catholic”, but only by your own justifications based on your OWN versions of doctrines. Just look at your justifications and rationales: they’re entirely based upon the supposed fallibility of malleable doctrines. You’re not following timeless immutable Truth – you’re simply following your own self-centered feelings and a misguided notion that the Gospels only result in flowery nice feelings of tolerance.

            “Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.” – St Augustine of Hippo

          • Buster Keaton

            Luke 19:27 “but as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.”

            To whoever tries to deny mankind the life that IS IN Jesus, Jesus will deny them eternal life.

          • Strife

            What does that even mean?

  • Bro Raphael Pattarozzi

    The end should never justify the means.

  • Michael Burmeister

    Something else in regards to how people tend to disregard the Pope and bishops’ opposition to the death penalty…

  • Buster Keaton

    David,
    One important note on the illustration you chose for this article. If I am not mistaken it is an image that may originally belong to the Watchtower. Two problems with those images, number one, they have a vicious legal department that can slap you with a copyright lawsuit. Second, often they have been accused of placing subliminal content in some of their imaged. That kind of content is said to be aimed at demeaning the figure of Christ and exalting the devil. If you are not sure of the origin of that image I would advise you to change it. I suggest you use any classic public domain image of the same theme. God bless you!

    • Thanks for the note Buster. I never heard that about their aim of these images other than promoting the ‘European-looking’ Christ. I think the image is edited enough to avoid copyright infringement, and DavidLGray.INFO is incorporated. Not concerned about that issue.

  • I may as well leave this here.
    ———
    Mr. Gray, let me begin by noting how well you embody the principle of the development of doctrine. Why, in just a week, the number of supposed fallacies has swelled from four to five!

    As for the substance of your criticisms:

    The first fallacy you cite is not a fallacy. No defender of the Church’s teaching on capital punishment has ever claimed that it is a de fide matter. By propping up up such a straw man, you are echoing the longstanding dissident tactic of reducing “what Catholics believe” or “binding Catholic teaching” to only the most rigorously and explicitly defined dogmas. This is how dissidents get around birth control, male-only ordination, etc., and how you get around the Church’s teaching that a just application of capital punishment by the proper authorities is ordained by God. Thus, what you cite as a fallacy is in fact nothing more than an appeal to the universal and ordinary Magisterium.

    The second fallacy you criticize is in fact what is known as citing evidence. In response you commit a genuine fallacy by subverting patent evidence with appeals to hypothetical responses of those auctores if they were alive in our day. We don’t know how past authors and saints would react to life now, so, fortunately, we have to rely on things they actually said and did. That you call this adherence to actual vs. hypothetical evidence “cherry-picking” says more about your rational honesty than it says about the Church’s teaching.

    The third fallacy you claim to have found is not an appeal to inertia, but rather an appeal to doctrinal consistency. The problem is NOT that if the a Church changes on this issue, she might change on anything else (which is, again, a hypothetical concern), but rather that rejecting the death penalty in principle would AMOUNT TO a formal doctrinal corruption by the Magisterium.

    With the fourth so-called fallacy we reach the nub of the issue. By saying that imposing the death penalty on already convicted and incarcerated criminals is positively IMMORAL, you are saying that the Church has always condoned what is positively immoral as a function of the common good. This is a monstrous conclusion for a Catholic to arrive at, but it is the logical terminus of your “fresh” perspective. If killing criminals is morally equivalent to murdering Christ, and if the Church has always defended in principle the legitimacy of executing criminals, as a God-given power of the state, then you are asserting that the Church has always defended murdering Christ.

    Finally, the fifth “fallacy” that you want to criticize, which I suspect you added in response to comments I and others have been making on my own blog, once again misses the essential moral point. The basis of justice is retribution, not pragmatic appeals to deterrence and reform. This is why your fifth rebuttal focuses on pragmatic statistics, without ever addressing the Church’s teaching that in some cases fitting moral restitution can only come by way of depriving the wrongdoer of his life. The common good is secured by respecting and protecting the transcendent moral order, so, even if earthly goods are secured by mere deterrence and reform, rejecting retribution in principle is to reject the basis of why such measures are necessary in the first place.

    By the way, you consistently confuse the debate by saying that the death penalty has no place in the Church’s mission. Yet another huge red herring. The Church’s mission includes teaching the nations of their rights and duties before the Gospel, one of which has always been capital punishment. Aquinas defended it while rejecting the idea that clerics themselves should execute wrongdoers. The State, not the Church, carries the sword not in vain, as God has always willed.

    • I really don’t see a criticism of the content here. I see a criticism of your spin on the content. No, the fifth error was recommended below.

“Living the Dogma” Mug

Summary
The 5 Fallacies in the Catholic Pro-Death Penalty Argument
Article Name
The 5 Fallacies in the Catholic Pro-Death Penalty Argument
Description
This is a response to Catholic Pro-Death Penalty Apologists argument in favor of killing people in prison.
Author
Publisher Name
Saint Dominic's Media, Inc.
Publisher Logo