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November 09, 2006

Comments

Jeff

I agree with your analysis, but my sense is that the whole "culture of life" approach works against it. I wish I could say otherwise, but my sense is that both John Paul and Benedict would say--if you could speak to them frankly--that death as punishment may not be excluded today, but in a small world of spiralling violence and cheap human life, it works in the wrong direction no matter who is being executed.

I don't agree, I think. But that's what I think the sense of our teachers is. That's not "magisterial" per se, but it's sobering and it's something.

I think these kinds of questions are not unconnected with the torture discussion that you posted on not long ago. And I would like to know, not just if you think Mark Shea's position is consonant with Catholic teaching, but if Fr. Harrison's position on how torture, on the meaning of "intrinsic evil" as applied to it in Veritatis Splendor, and his position on how to analyze Church documents is also consonant with Catholic teaching. And if Cardinal Dulles understanding of the teaching on slavery is consonant with Catholic teaching.

I think this is the nub. Not who is right, Shea or Harrison? But can Harrison, Dulles and others be read out of the conversation as bad Catholics? And I think this has implications for the capital punishment discussion as well. A "maximalist" reading won't take you QUITE as for on that issue right away. But reading the quotation from the Catechism AS IF it says, "The Church unhesitatingly condemns all executions not carried out when the protection of the society is not clearly and universally accepted as justified under the circumstances," is not far behind, I believe.

"...when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor" (CCC 2267).

I think the death penalty should seldom be used in general, and not at all in the U.S. in particular. But, based on the above teaching, it might be necessary in order to protect the Iraqi people from Saddam. As long as he is alive, there is no way to guarantee he will not come back into power.

Phil M.

That was my post. Forgot to put a name to it.

Realist

Give Saddam a bottle of Lunesta and let the "butterfly" have at him. He should have been fragged by the US troops that captured him. One of the great mistakes of this war!!

As per Rule 1, I am gone.

Are some exempt from Rule 1?? The Famous Chicken Bowl discussion had some significant Rule 1 violators. Although, another discussion with significant violations, I see got completely deleted.

Tim J.

The views of Cardinal Martino and Fr. Simone should not be represented in any way as THE Official Vatican perspective. If the Pope has a strong opinion on the matter of Saddam's execution, I'm sure he will make that VERY clear.

This is a decision that belongs to the government of Iraq. If Saddam remains a danger, it is not Cardinal Martino to whom he will BE a danger. The Cardinal does not stand to be tortured or see his family kidnapped if Saddam's Baathist lackeys somehow succeed in breaking him out of prison.

This reminds me of a story I heard on Catholic radio the other day;

The lead-in was something like "A Vatican official has spoken out against a proposed security fence along the U.S./Mexico Border"

Well, immediately, that made me think, "Gee, if this is a Vatican official, he may be articulating the thoughts of the the Pope on the subject, so I had better listen up..."

The story went on;

"Building a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border is a shortsighted move that may hurt the U.S. economy and shows a serious lack of respect for the dignity of Mexican workers, said a Vatican official.

'This wall, together with the fact that this border is patrolled by thousands of armed men ready to shoot on sight those who try to cross it, certainly is not respectful of the dignity of the human person,' said Mexican Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan.

The cardinal, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, spoke about the fence in an Oct. 29 interview with Avvenire, the Italian Catholic daily newspaper."

So, I find out that the Cardinal IS a Vatican official, but his office has nothing to do with immigration. He is not speaking in his capacity as a "Vatican official", but clearly as a Mexican Cardinal. He does not explain how building a border fence "does not respect the dignity of human persons". He does not explain how he knows that the U.S. will initiate a shoot-on-sight policy... HIGHLY unlikely, in my opinion.

And yet, we have this "news" story. It is extremely misleading to present the views of Cardinal Barragan as the views of the Vatican on the issue.

Joy Schoenberger

We should all follow the example of St. Therese the Little Flower, who prayed for the salvation of a convicted mass murderer in France, a man who who turned, on the way to the scaffold, to touch a crucifix, an action which the great saint interpreted as a sign from God that her prayers had been answered.

Sadam does not seem, from all the recent newscasts, remotely near the point of repentance. Just or not, should his execution occur while he is in a state of mortal sin, it will send him straight to Hell. There is nothing worse, not even Jimmy's (disturbing) idea of perpetual torture.

I understand Jimmy's consternation with sloppy reporting, but instead of using this combox to debate the merits of the death sentence, let us please pray for Sadam's salvation, and for all of his victims to attain the peace of forgiveness.

Esau

Sloppy, bad journalism -- is it really all that surprising?

I even heard someone say that the Vatican (itself) not only denounced Saddam's death sentence but also called it a throwback to "an eye for an eye". Although, this was not the case at all and, as Jimmy has mentioned, it was the opinion of an individual there.

________

Also, Realist, this is Jimmy's blog and, therefore, he can do what he wants to do!

SDG

Joy, I agree that we should pray for Saddam's salvation; however, I have to agree with C. S. Lewis that I see no reason in general to assume that a man is more likely to die in a state of grace thirty years from now in a prison hospital bed than two months from now on a scaffold.

Anyway, it's the good of the Iraqi people and Saddam's victims that must be given first consideration.

Inocencio

Esau,

Also, Realist, this is Jimmy's blog and, therefore, he can do what he wants to do!

Modern looney tunes tell us that there is no Jimmy and if there was his was body was eaten by wild dogs.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Esau

Modern looney tunes tell us that there is no Jimmy and if there was his was body was eaten by wild dogs.

ROFL!!!

Thanks, Innocencio! I needed that laugh.
Especially after recent events...

ManAlive

"I have to agree with C. S. Lewis that I see no reason in general to assume that a man is more likely to die in a state of grace thirty years from now in a prison hospital bed than two months from now on a scaffold."

to wit;

"Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

- Samuel Johnson

Jimmy Akin

As per Rule 1, I am gone.

Are some exempt from Rule 1?? The Famous Chicken Bowl discussion had some significant Rule 1 violators. Although, another discussion with significant violations, I see got completely deleted.

Realist: I think there may be a misunderstanding regarding Rule 1.

Rule 1 means be polite, and I've authentically interpreted politeness as requiring that one not bring up the same subject all the time (e.g., John Dominic Crossan, liberal theology).

This doesn't mean that a person can't comment on something more than once or have more than one entry in a combox, it just means that he shouldn't try to bend *every* discussion to his favorite topic.

Because of how much JDC and liberal theology have been brought up in your comments in the past, I'd ask you not to keep bringing them up (unless I do a post specifically about them, in which case it's entirely fair to do so).

I'D ALSO ASK *EVERYBODY* NOT TO TAUNT REALIST BY BRINGING THEM UP TO HIM. THAT'S NOT FAIR TO HIM.

But you're more than welcome to hang out in comboxes and make more than one comment, as long as you're talking about a diversity of things and not bringing up the ones mentioned above.

David Tarvin

There is a very plain reason why execution of Saddam is necessary according to the Magisterium. If Saddam is imprisoned in Iraq or in a nearby country, and if the Baathists succeed in driving democracy out of Iraq, Saddam will likely be released and will start killing anew. Such a scenario may not be likely in the US or even a European country, but with the state of Iraq and the Middle East, there is no guarantee that either imprisonment or exile would be permanent. Of course, he could perhaps be imprisoned in another area of the world, but I thing the uproar from the Arab street would be cacophanus.

Inocencio

I stand corrected, Jimmy does exist! And I accept my correction whole-heartedly.

I will now sit in the corner of this post and bite my tongue.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Esau

I will now sit in the corner of this post and bite my tongue.

Okay, then... I'll join you and be the one on the other end wearing the "dunce" cap! ;^)

I stand corrected, Jimmy does exist!

T.G.F.J.! (Thank God for Jimmy!)

Jimmy Akin

Actually, the "correction" wasn't aimed at anyone in particular. I was typing my comment before I'd seen the remarks. Apparently we cross-posted.

ajesquire

I'd concur with this analysis, if we could get George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld on the waterboard. Justice!

David

The analysis here is, as I read it, correct but insufficient. How this all reflects on the state of journalism on religion and careless ststements by those who should be more circumspect is dead on, but the defense of the sentence falls short.

The Catechism leaves room for arguement over death sentences in individual cases, but I think it clearly places the burden on those who argue in favor of it. He can be held securely until a life sentence (or "death by incarceration" as a local D.A. called it) comes about in God's time. I will concede that I think hanging is too good for him form my human perspective, but we are about respecting life that God created and should always be mindful that the central act of our salvation was a misapplication of capital punishment.

Brian Day

Re: Sloppy Journalism

Reuters quotes the Italian news agency Ansa who quotes Cardinal Martino. Would it have been too hard for Reuters to ask Cardinal Martino directly about the quote in Ansa?

Christine

I agree 100%.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly acknowledges the rights of governments to enact the death penalty, as you pointed out.

"The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor" (CCC 2267).


Yet, whenever there is a high-profile death penalty case in the news, a 'Vatican official' expresses their opposition.

Christine
TheWorld...IMHO

bill912

"Would it have been too hardfor Reuters to ask Cardinal Martino directly about the quote in Ansa?"

Yes, it would have required effort. Atleast a phone call.

bill912

"I'd concur with this analysis, if we could get George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld on the waterboard."

Speaking of Hobby Horses...

Esau

David:

First off, there’s nothing in Catholic Church Teaching that will ever contradict Scripture and even Scripture tries to make it very clear that capital punishment by a legitimate authority is okay. Moreover, in paragraph 2266 of the Catechism, I believe that’s exactly what the Church’s Teaching is and that it allows for Capital Punishment by a legitimate public authority.

But then, through a better understanding of our Christian Faith, it goes on to say in 2267 to talk about that if there’s a better way, if there’s a bloodless means that’s sufficient, authority should try to limit itself to such means if possible.

The state has the right to use Capital Punishment – that’s certainly true; and the Catholic Church acknowledges that. The question is under what circumstances is it to be used. And this is something where there has been a development of thought over the centuries.

The previous Holy Father, John Paul II, in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, looked at the situation in terms of modern social conditions and he judged, in his opinion, the conditions under which Capital Punishment should be used would be quite rare.

He didn’t eliminate it all together. He didn’t say there are none, but he said he thought that they would be quite rare. He thought that it should only be used when society has no other way of defending itself. Now, there’s a significant amount of ambiguity in what he said because he only devoted a small number of words to this subject and he left a lot of questions unanswered which is then the job of Theologians to try and elaborate. One question, for example, what do you mean by the only way to protect society? That would be an example. Also, there are questions that could be raised about whether or not putting someone in prison for life, given the way modern prisons are; whether that really gives them a better chance of moral reformation than a quick and clear confrontation with their own mortality.

There’s an open question about whether prisons really foster repentance or whether they foster vice; and some folks have raised that question. But, subsequently, to the encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, Cardinal Ratzinger, now, Pope Benedict XVI, issued a memorandum in which he pointed out that presumably because of the ambiguities that are around this question, there can be a legitimate diversity of opinion among Catholics regarding when Capital Punishment should be used. And so, there would seem to be room for discussion on this issue and that could be indicated by the fact that the Holy Father – the previous Holy Father – phrased himself in a very tentative way on this subject. He was clearly not trying to settle all the questions that are in this area. Furthermore, he was making a sociological judgment based on his estimation on the current world scene and, while Popes are protected in matters of Theology, and can even teach theological premises infallibly if they choose to do so, their understanding of the social realities all over the world and how to apply moral principles to all of those complex situations is not similarly guaranteed.

There are contingent factors around the world sociologically that kind of go beyond the Pope’s teaching sphere and, so, there’s kind of a fuzzy border between the moral principles and how they get applied in concrete individual situations, and its in that area that the limit of the Church’s Teaching Authority is reached in that fuzzy area, because the Church intends to propose basic principles for us but then it’s up to the laity who are on the ground, in concrete circumstances, to try to figure out how to apply those in particular cases.

Leo

"Today, in fact, given the means at the State's disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender 'today ... are very rare, if not practically non-existent.'[John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56.] CCC 2267. www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P7Z.HTM

The Teaching is clear, capital punishment is no longer the norm for civilized states, except perhaps in 'very rare' cases. Saddam may be one, but only because of the difficulty of safe incarceration in Iraq. If he were tried at an International Court such as at the Hague - the balance of probability would allow safe incarceration.

Note that the general moral principle/norm/presumption is clearly against capital punishment. The only room for argument is a practical judgement about whether someone can be sufficiently neutralised without lethal force.

SDG

Note that the general moral principle/norm/presumption is clearly against capital punishment. The only room for argument is a practical judgement about whether someone can be sufficiently neutralised without lethal force.

That is an extrapolation from the text; the Holy Father does not state that this is the "only" consideration, though he strongly implies that it is an overwhelmingly important consideration.

Eric

Jimmy seems to have quoted selectively from the Catechism in regard to capital punishment. The two paragraphs following the one he quoted state:

"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 with 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 definitively 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 non-existent.'"

These paragraphs are part of the modifications of the first edition.

It is clear from the Catechism that the criteria for evaluating the death penalty is the protection of society. Thus, Jimmy's four points concerned with vengeance are not part of what we as Catholics should consider in determining the propriety of the application of the death penalty. The question is: Is it absolutely necessary to kill the person to prevent that person from harming society again? As the Catechism states, today this necessity is very rare, if not practically non-existent.

This is certainly the case in the United States, where a life sentence secures society from people killing again. This is why I am a strong opponent of the dath penalty in all cases here. I do not admit of any exceptions in our society.

Curiously, however, I can see a case for a possible exception in Iraq that would be in keeping with Church teaching. In a state of civil war, it is entirely possible that an attack on wherever Saddam might be held for life could free him to harm society again. The palce is a mess and marauding factions could try to set him free.

In this particular case, I see a far more tenable argument for an exception to the rule rather than a general argument in favor of capital pnishment in all cases, which is clearly opposed to Church teaching, particularly when the grounds for such an argument are to extract vengeance.

bill912

"This is certainly the case in the United States, where a life sentence secures society from people killing again."

Almost, but not quite. There are inmates who are already serving life sentences who have murdered fellow prisoners and guards.

Inocencio

Eric,

This is certainly the case in the United States, where a life sentence secures society from people killing again.

What about the correctional officers or other prisoners that get killed by murders in prison?

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Inocencio

Oops I forgot to close the link, sorry.

Augustine

A few years back, in Rio, a couple of muggers spotted an old lady and her granddaughter in a car and decided to rob it at gun point.

After a couple of blocks, the old lady told the perpetrators about her son, a drug-lord. The thieves immediately turned around and dropped the old lady and the girl at her apartment, then come back later to return the car, exquisitely detailed.

What changed their hearts? The death penalty.

Jo Riley

Eric

You raise an important issue. But is this danger predominantly caused by those who would otherwise be executed, other criminals or by an insufficient staffing/regime? Most European & Canadian prisons are not so dangerous despite housing many more offenders of the type who would be executed in the US.

I don't know of any evidence to suggest that unexecuted 'capital offenders' are more likely to commit murder in prison than '3 strikes' or the violently mentally disturbed. And I'm sure you're not arguing that that it would be safer to kill them all - just in case.

Shalom

Jo Riley

Apologies

I meant to say Inocencio not Eric. I misread the lines.

Sorry

Augustine

But I have to say that if abolishing the death penalty fosters the criminalization of abortion, I'm all for exchanging the lives of close to 50 million babies for those hundreds of low-lives executed in the same period.

Esau

The question is: Is it absolutely necessary to kill the person to prevent that person from harming society again? As the Catechism states, today this necessity is very rare, if not practically non-existent.

Eric:

As stated in an earlier post, even John Paul II, in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, didn't eliminate the need for capital punishment all together. Further, then Cardinal Ratzinger also allowed for such a possibility.

Now, there has been the question raised, for example, what's meant by "the only way to protect society"?

Others have been raised about whether or not putting someone in prison for life, given the way modern prisons are -- whether that really gives them a better chance at moral reformation than a quick and clear confrontation with their own mortality (i.e., their ensuing death persuant to capital punishment).

There’s also the question about whether prisons really foster repentance or whether they foster vice.

There are those who claim even that such a consequence would only serve to exacerbate the situation and allow for the hardening of the criminal element and, therefore, could only turn out for the worse for society. Those who even claim that the death penalty serves as a deterrent to crime and, thus, helps to keep society in check.

Certainly,

Augustine

I'd say that executing Saddam is the only way to guarantee that he'll kill no more nor inspire his insurgents...

Esau

...Going back to what I said about life in prison as perhaps the only consequence as opposed to having the death penalty as well -- that is, There are those who claim even that such a consequence would only serve to exacerbate the situation and allow for the hardening of the criminal element and, therefore, could only turn out for the worse for society. )

Certainly, the criminal element may more so be emboldened if the worst case scenario might only be time in the joint than the ominous confrontation with his own mortality!

Thus, to some, as far as a legitimate authority of the state is concerned, it becomes a necessary available deterrent that the state should have the option of using in certain cases.

bill912

I agree, Augustine; alive, Saddam's a potential bargaining chip and a cause to fight for.

bill912

"And I'm sure you're not arguing that it would be safer to kill them all-just in case."

You are correct; Inocencio wasn't arguing anything. He was pointing out facts.

Ryan Herr

While I agree that there is currently legitimate diversity of opinions allowed on capital punishment, I really wish that Catholics at least would admit it when they disagree with the opinion of Pope John Paul II on the matter.

Ryan C

Esau,

One could turn the discussion around though, and ask if a society that is too quickly in favor of using the death penalty is sufficiently interested in rehabilitation, or having better conditions in its prisons.

Furthermore, comparing the United States to the many other modern countries without the death penalty, as Jo does, is a good way of looking at the issue.

That being said, the death penalty is allowable in some circumstances, as Innocenio points out, and Eric makes a good point about Iraq vs. the United States and the prudence of executing Sadaam.

BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

Evangelium Vitae might apply to some poor kid from the Gietto who lived in dire poverty & was driven to a desperate act but not to someone who is the moral equivelant of Hitler. Sadaam should die.

Esau

One could turn the discussion around though, and ask if a society that is too quickly in favor of using the death penalty is sufficiently interested in rehabilitation, or having better conditions in its prisons.

Good point -- but, like I said, it should still be a recourse available to the state to use in certain circumstances and not completely eliminated all together, which is something even Pope John Paul II and then Cardinal Ratzinger did not do.

Kevin Jones

Saddam's trial was a show, its result predetermined. I don't know how it was just to lie about what we were doing by encouraging pretensions to due process.

Also, if we automatically execute every cruel dictator whose country we successfully invade, and if we automatically put on trial any dictator who voluntarily steps down, we create incentives for dictators to fight to the death rather than arrange for a more peaceful transfer of power through promises of immunity.

Esau

One could turn the discussion around though, and ask if a society that is too quickly in favor of using the death penalty is sufficiently interested in rehabilitation, or having better conditions in its prisons.

Good point -- but, like I said, it should still be a recourse available to the state to use in certain circumstances and not completely eliminated all together, which is something even Pope John Paul II and then Cardinal Ratzinger did not do.

Esau

Whoa!
Sorry folks for the double-post!
There seemed to have been some Type-Pad error...ack!

ManAlive

"Saddam's trial was a show, its result predetermined. I don't know how it was just to lie about what we were doing by encouraging pretensions to due process."

And you know this HOW?

Ryan C

Well, Esau, I think we agree in principle, but I also think if a people came to decide that the death penalty was no longer prudent in their society per EV they would be within their rights to abolish it and constrain the state to other means of punishment.

If a ballot referendum came up in my state during an election year to abolish the death penalty, or keep it abolished, I would vote for it.

Ryan Herr

BenYachov wrote, "Evangelium Vitae might apply to some poor kid from the Gietto who lived in dire poverty & was driven to a desperate act but not to someone who is the moral equivelant of Hitler. Sadaam should die."

While currently there can be legitimate diversity of opinions allowed on capital punishment for Catholics, this is not one of them. (Meaning, perhaps Saddam should be executed, but not for the reasons that you just gave. Capital punishment is about protecting society, not about revenge.)

Patrick

It's a bummer when doctrine interfers with our national emotions isn't it!

horatio

Jimmy's statements:
"1) It will at least partially serve upon him the justice that he deserves,
2) It will serve the families who are still aching after what Saddam did to them and their now-dead relatives,
3) It may well serve to pacify Iraq in the long run, and
4) It will serve as a warning to other dictators of what can happen to them."

My responses:
1) Fine. I don't think you can really speak to this in totality, but fine. He's a monster.
2) You cannot say this definitively. If the victims' families are against CP then it will do little for them. Much in the same way families after 9/11 did not support aspects of our nation's reaction.
3) Complete speculation from someone that (like most of us) knows very little about what is going to happen in Iraq. In the past, you have appeared smarter than that.
4)Well, probably not. The invasion did that. Dictators don't want to be deposed. Once deposed, they might as well be a "martyr" for their cause. Way to help them out with that by giving Saddam one last victory.

horatio

In addition, anyone could use the spirit of these arguments to justify the killing of any murderer in America. 1) to provide justice. 2) to serve the victimized and their families. 3)
to pacify society over the long run. 4)to warn potential criminals of the dire consequences.

Doesn't seem like so rare an application now, does it? We shouldn't seek out reasons to kill people. We should seek out reasons not to.


Jeff

"The Teaching is clear, capital punishment is no longer the norm for civilized states, except perhaps in 'very rare' cases."

The problem with this as a "teaching" is that it involves a prudential judgment. In fact, it involves several. And it leaves open the door for minimalist and maximalist readings of what "the necessity for protection involves."

I think a good case can be made that the Church wants us to "do better" than capital punishment even though it's not an intrinsic evil. After all, stoning women for adultery isn't intrinsic evil either, but Jesus kinda nixed it and left a sour taste in our mouths about it for ever more.

I fully admit that the opposite case can be made, too, and that's where I tend to stand, with the hang 'em high crowd. But it's worth listening carefully even to the prudential judgments of the Popes. The Holy Spirit doesn't GUARANTEE anything, but He gives a lot of assistance even in non-guaranteed ways.

It's worth noting that the President of Iraq--a Kurd--is against executing the former dictator and wants to abolish capital punishment. Most Kurdish leaders--who suffered more than anyone from Saddam and have the most to lose should he somehow return to power one day--are also against capital punishment.

Mike Petrik

"Also, if we automatically execute every cruel dictator whose country we successfully invade, and if we automatically put on trial any dictator who voluntarily steps down, we create incentives for dictators to fight to the death rather than arrange for a more peaceful transfer of power through promises of immunity."

How does this apply to Saddam? Did he voluntairly step down? What did I miss? Isn't it reasonably clear that he would not be facing the death penalty if he had agreed to a peaceful transfer of power? In fact, wasn't he even offered asylum? I am generally opposed to the death penalty, uncertain about Saddam given the bargaining chip risk, but I honestly don't understand Kevin's logic. Indeed, do not the incentives work the other way? Why not fight to the death (the soldiers' and civilians', not Saddam's), as Saddam basically did, if you know you'll survive if you lose?

Mary

This is certainly the case in the United States, where a life sentence secures society from people killing again.

Certainly false. The man recently executed in California was serving a life sentence when he contracted the death of all the witnesses to his crime.

So, we do not need a life sentence. We need a life sentence in solitary confinement, with NO communcation to the outside.

Mary

I note that the correlation between abortion and death penalty need not be on the life/death axis. It can also be the responsible/irresponsible axis. Those who think that acts should not have consequences such as the death penalty or babies think that no one should insist on it.

Ryan Herr

"I note that the correlation between abortion and death penalty need not be on the life/death axis. It can also be the responsible/irresponsible axis."

The axis you've chosen is at odds with how the Church sees it.

Ryan Herr

I'd edit or delete my last comment if I could. What I meant to write just a moment ago was "The axis you've chosen is at odds with how John Paul the Great saw it." I just want people to admit when they disagree with a Pope.

I think I'm just very disheartened to see posts and comboxes like this one. All the dissent and all the vengence when supposedly these are some of the most orthodox Catholics in America.

Jeannette

"...when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor" (CCC 2267).

In the U.S.: how likely is it that an idiot judge will free him? Or will an ethically challenged president pardon him? (Did anyone else scan Clinton's "pardon" list for Mumia's name in January 2001?)

In the Middle East: how likely is it that Israeli soldiers will be taken hostage and the captors demand that Saddam be freed in exchange? Or the abovementioned raids on a prison?

I've lost a lot of interest in the death penalty since watching Terri Schiavo's slow execution, but judges and witnesses have been targeted during Saddam's trial. He still has power, and they aren't safe from him until he's safely in Hell. (just a guess. Yes, I pray he repents)

bill912

"In the U.S.: how likely is it that an idiot judge will him?"

I can't speak to idiot judges, but, here in NY, some years back, our former governor, Mario Compassionate, pardoned a convicted cop-killer who had been sentenced to life in prison. Mario Compassionate's son was just elected our Attorney general. (When I retire, I'm getting out of this liberal la-la-land and heading south).

Dudley Sharp

This type of nonesense has become quite common in Catholic leadership.

It stems from the errors of Pope John Paul II, on this topic.

Please review.

Pope John Paul II: a pro-death penalty essay
by Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
(contact info, below)
October 1997, with subsequent updates thru 8/06
 
SEE ADDITIONAL REFERENCES AT THE END OF THIS DOCUMENT
 
In 1997, the Roman Catholic Church decided to amend the 1992 Universal Catechism to reflect Pope John Paul II's comments within his 1995 encyclical, The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae). Therein, the Pope finds that the only time executions can be justified is when they are required "to defend society" and that "as a result of steady improvements . . . in the penal system that such cases are very rare if not practically non existent."
 
This is, simply, not true.  Murderers, tragically, harm and murder, again, way too often.
 
Three issues, inexplicably, escaped the Pope's consideration.
 
First, in the Pope's context, "to defend society" means that the execution of the murderer must save future lives or, otherwise, prevent future harm.  
 
When looking at the history of  criminal justice practices in probations, paroles and incarcerations, we observe countless examples of when judgements and procedures failed and, because of that, murderers harmed and/or murdered, again. History details that murderers murder and otherwise harm again, time and time again -- in prison, after escape, after improper release, and, of course, after we fail to capture or incarcerate them. 
 
Reason dictates that living murderers are infinitely more likely to harm and/or murder again than are executed murderers. 
 
Therefore,  the Pope could err, by calling for a reduction or end to execution, and thus sacrifice more innocents, or he could "err" on the side of protecting more innocents by calling for an expansion of executions.
 
History, reason and the facts support an increase in executions based upon a defending society foundation. 
 
Secondly, if social science concludes that executions provide enhanced deterrence for murders, then the Pope's position should call for increased executions. 
 
If  we decide that the deterrent effect of executions does not exist and we, therefore, choose not to execute, and we are wrong, this will sacrifice innocent lives and also give those murderers the opportunity to harm and murder again. 
 
If we choose to execute, believing in the deterrent effect, and we are wrong, we are executing our worst human rights violators and preventing such murderers from ever harming or murdering again - again, saving more innocent lives.
 
No responsible social scientist has or will say that the death penalty deters no one.  Quite a few studies, including 8 recent ones,  find that executions do deter. 
 
As all prospects for negative consequence deter some,  it is a mystery why the Pope chose the option which spares murderers and sacrifices more innocent lives. 
 
If the Pope's defending society position has merit, then the Church must actively support executions, as it offers an enhanced defense of society and greater protection for innocent life.
 
Thirdly, we know that some criminals don't murder because of their fear of execution.  This is known as the individual deterrent effect.  Unquestionably, the incapacitation effect (execution) and the individual deterrent effect both exist and they both defend society by protecting innocent life and offer enhanced protections over imprisonment. Furthermore, individual deterrence assures us that general deterrence must exist, because individual deterrence could not exist without it.  Executions save lives. 
 
Therefore, the Pope's defending society standard should be a call for increasing executions. Instead, the Pope and other Church leadership has chosen a position that spares the lives of known murderers, resulting in more innocents put at risk and more innocents harmed and murdered --  a position which, quite clearly, contradicts the Pope's, and other's, emphasis on defending society.
 
Contrary to the Church's belief, that the Pope's opinion represents a tougher stance against the death penalty, the opposite is true. When properly evaluated, the defending society position supports more executions.
 
Had these issues been properly assessed, the Catechism would never have been amended  --  unless the Church endorses a position knowing that it would spare the lives of guilty murderers, at the cost of sacrificing more innocent victims. 
 
When the choice is 1) sparing murderers, resulting in more harmed and murdered innocents, who suffer through endless moments of incredible horror, with no additional time to prepare for their salvation, or 2) executing murderers, who have on average, an additional 10 years on death row to prepare for their salvation, and saving more innocents from being murdered,  the Pope and the Catholic Church have an obligation to spare the innocent, as Church tradition, the Doctors of the Church and many Saints have concluded. (see reference, below)
 
Pope John Paul II's death penalty stance is his own, personal prudential judgement and does not bind any other Catholic to share his position. Any Catholic can choose to support more executions, based upon their own prudential judgement, and remain a Catholic in good standing.
 
Furthermore, prudential judgement requires a foundation of reasoned and thorough review. The Pope either improperly evaluated the risk to innocents or he did not evaluate it at all.
 
A defending society position supports more executions, not less. Therefore, his prudential judgement was in error on this important point of fact.
 
Furthermore, defending society is an outcome of the death penalty, but is secondary to the foundation of justice and biblical instruction.
 
Even though Romans and additional writings do reveal a "defending society" consideration, such references pale in comparison to the mandate that execution is the proper punishment for murder, regardless of any consideration "to defend society."  Both the Noahic covenant, in Genesis 9:6 ("Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed."), and the Mosaic covenant, throughout the Pentateuch (Ex.: "He that smiteth a man so that he may die, shall be surely put to death."  Exodus 21:12), provide execution as the punishment for unjustifiable/intentional homicide, otherwise known as murder.
 
These texts, and others, offer specific rebuttal to the Pope's position that if "bloodless means" for punishment are available then such should be used, to the exclusion of execution. The Pope's prudential judgement does not trump biblical instruction.
 
Most telling is the fact that Roman Catholic tradition instructs four elements to be considered  with criminal sanction.
1.  Defense of society against the criminal.
2.  Rehabilitation of the criminal (including spiritual rehabilitation).
3.  Retribution, which is the reparation of the disorder caused by the criminal's transgression.
4.   Deterrence
 
It is a mystery why and how the Pope could have excluded three of these important elements. In doing so, though, we can confirm that his review was very incomplete and, thus, improper. 
 
At least two Saints, Paul and Dismas, faced execution and stated that it was appropriate. They were both executed.
 
The Holy Ghost decided that execution was the proper punishment for two devoted, early Christians,  Ananias and his wife, Saphira,  for the crime/sin of lying. Neither was given a moment to consider their earthly punishment or to ask for forgiveness. The Holy Ghost struck them dead.
 
For those who erroneously contend that Jesus abandoned the Law of the Hebrew Testament, He states that He has come not "to abolish the law and the prophets . . . but to fulfill them."  Matthew 5:17-22.  While there is honest debate regarding the interpretation of Mosaic Law within a Christian context, there seems little dispute that the Noahic Covenant is still in effect and that Genesis 9:6 deals directly with the sanctity of life issue in its support of execution. (read "A Seamless Garment In a Sinful World" by John R. Connery, S. J., America, 7/14/84, p 5-8).
 
"In his debates with the Pharisees, Jesus cites with approval the apparently harsh commandment, He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die (Mt 15:4; Mk 7:10, referring to Ex 21:17; cf. Lev 20:9). (Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, 10/7/2000)
 
Saint Pius V reaffirms this mandate, in the Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566), stating that executions are acts of "paramount obedience to this [Fifth] Commandment."  ("Thou shalt not murder," sometimes improperly translated as "kill" instead of "murder").  And, not only do the teachings of Saints Thomas Aquinas and Augustine concur, but both saints also find that such punishment actually reflects charity and mercy by preventing the wrongdoer from sinning further.  The Saints position is that execution offers undeniable defense of society as well as defense of the wrongdoer.
 
Such prevention also expresses the fact that execution is an enhanced defense of society, over and above all other punishments.
 
The relevant question is "What biblical and theological teachings, developed from 1566 through 1997, provide that the standard for executions should evolve from 'paramount obedience' to God's eternal law to a civil standard reflecting 'steady improvements' . . . in the penal system?".  Such teachings hadn't changed.  The Pope's position is social, not biblical nor theological. 
 
If Saint Pius V was correct, that executions represent "paramount obedience to the [Fifth] Commandments, then is it not disobedient to reduce or stop executions?
 
The Church's position on the use of the death penalty has been consistent from 300 AD through 1995 AD.  The Church has always supported the use of executions, based upon biblical and theological principles.
 
Until 1995, says John Grabowski, associate professor of Moral Theology at Catholic University, " . . .  Church teachings were supportive of the death penalty.  You can find example after example of Pope's, of theologians and others, who have supported the right of the state to inflict capital punishment for certain crimes and certain cases." Grabowski continues: "What he (the Pope now) says, in fact, in his encyclical, is that given the fact that we now have the ability, you know, technology and facilities to lock up someone up for the rest of their lives so they pose no future threat to society -- given that question has been answered or removed, there is no longer justification for the death penalty."  (All Things Considered, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, 9/9/97.)
 
The Pope's position is now based upon the state of the corrections system -- a position neither biblical nor theological in nature.  Furthermore, it is a position which conflicts with the history of prisons.  Long term incarceration of lawbreakers in Europe began in the 1500s.  Of course, long term incarceration of slaves had begun thousands of years before --  meaning that all were aware that criminal wrongdoers  could also be subject to bondage, if necessary - something that all historians and biblical scholars -- now and then and in between --  were and are well aware of. 
 
Since it's inception, the Church has issued numerous pronouncements, encyclicals and previous Universal Catechisms.  Had any biblical or theological principle called for a replacement of the death penalty by life imprisonment, it could have been revealed long before 1995. 
 
There is, finally, a disturbing reality regarding the Pope's new standard.  The Pope's defending society standard requires that the moral concept of justice becomes irrelevant.  The Pope's standard finds that capital punishment can be used only as a vehicle to prevent future crimes. Therefore, using the Pope's standard, the moral/biblical rational -- that capital punishment is the just or required punishment for murder -- is no longer relevant to the sin/crime of murder. 
 
If defending society is the new standard, the Pope has decided that the biblical standards of atonement, expiation, justice and required punishments have all, necessarily, been discarded, with regard to execution.
 
The Pope's new position establishes that capital punishment no longer has any connection to the harm done or to the imbalance to be addressed.  Yet, such connection had always been, until now, the Church's historical, biblically based perspective on this sanction.  Under a defending society standard, the injury suffered by the murder victim is no longer relevant to their punishment.  Executions can be justified solely upon that punishments ability to prevent future harm by the murderer.
 
Therefore, when considering executions in regard to capital murder cases, a defending society standard renders justice irrelevant.  Yet, execution defends society to a degree unapproachable by any other punishment and, therefore, should have been fully supported by the Pope.
 
"Some enlightened people would like to banish all conception of retribution or desert from our theory of punishment and place its value wholly in the deterrence of others or the reform of the criminal himself.  They do not see that by doing so they render all punishment unjust. What can be more immoral than to inflict suffering on me for the sake of deterring others if I do not deserve it?" (quote attributed to the distinguished Christian writer C. S. Lewis)
 
Again, with regard to the Pope's prudential judgement, his neglect of justice was most imprudent.
 
Some Catholic scholars, properly, have questioned the appropriateness of including prudential judgement within a Catechism. Personal opinion does not belong within a Catechism and, likely, will never be allowed, again. I do not believe it had ever been allowed before.
 
In fact, neither the Church nor the Pope would accept a defending society standard for use of the death penalty, unless the Church and the Pope believed that such punishment was just and deserved, as well.  The Church has never questioned the authority of the government to execute in "cases of extreme gravity," nor does it do so with these recent changes. 
 
Certainly, the Church and the Pope John Paul II believe that the prevention of any and all violent crimes fulfills a defending society position.  And there is no doubt that executions defend society at a level higher than incarceration. Why has the Pope and many within Church leadership chosen a path that spares murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives, when they could have chosen a stronger defense of society which spares more innocents?
 
Properly, the Pope did not challenge the Catholic biblical and theological support for capital punishment.  The Pope has voiced his own, personal belief as to the appropriate application of that penalty. 
 
So why has the Pope come out against executions, when his own position -- a defense of society -- which, both rationally and factually, has a foundation supportive of more executions?
 
It is unfortunate that the Pope, along with some other leaders in the Church, have decided to, improperly, use a defending society position to speak against the death penalty.
 
The Pope's position against the death penalty condemns more innocents and neglects justice.
 
-------------------------------------------
 Please also refer to:


(1)  "Catholic and other Christian References: Support for the Death Penalty", at
homicidesurvivors(DOT)com/2006/10/12/catholic-and-other-christian-references-support-for-the-death-penalty.aspx
 
(2)  "Capital Punishment: A Catholic Perspective" at
www(DOT)sspx.org/against_the_sound_bites/capital_punishment.htm
 
(3) "The Purpose of Punishment (in the Catholic tradition)", by R. Michael Dunningan, J.D., J.C.L., CHRISTIFIDELIS, Vol.21,No.4, sept 14, 2003
www(dot)st-joseph-foundation.org/newsletter/lead.php?document=2003/21-4
 
(4) "MOST CATHOLICS OPPOSE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT?", KARL KEATING'S E-LETTER, Catholic Answers, March 2, 2004
www(dot)catholic.com/newsletters/kke_040302.asp
 
(5) "THOUGHTS ON THE BISHOPS' MEETING: NOWADAYS, VOTERS IGNORE BISHOPS" , KARL KEATING'S E-LETTER, Catholic Answers,, Nov. 22, 2005
www(dot)catholic.com/newsletters/kke_051122.asp
 
copyright 1997-2006 Dudley Sharp
 
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail sharp(at)aol.com, 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas
 
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
 
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.
 
Pro death penalty sites
www(dot)cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm
www(dot)clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
www(dot)dpinfo.com
joshmarquis(dot)blogspot.com/
www(dot)lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm
www(dot)prodeathpenalty.com
www(dot)prodeathpenalty.org/
www(dot)yesdeathpenalty.com/deathpenalty_contents.htm  (Sweden)
www(dot)wesleylowe.com/cp.html


Esau

Please review.

What's this???????


Since when did this blog become an Academic Review Board for Essays and Other Scholastic Works?


Jimmy,
Did you convert your blog into an arm of the Ivory Tower??? ;^)

I feel like I'm in school again!

Puzzled

Genesis 9:6

bill912

Hey, Dudley: Read "DA RULZ", will ya!

Esau

REPORT CARD for Essay Submitted by Mr. Sharp:

Effort: A-
Form: D-
Grammer: C+
Research: B-

Fr.Benoit

To quote a (unpopular it seems) saying of Our Lord :

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:38-44).

Love them. Bless them. Do good to them. Pray for them.

Yes, I think it even applies to monsters such as Saddam or Hitler. I personally don't see hanging the guy accomplishing much...

Perhaps I'm too soft-hearted and not "justice-seeking" enough (could very well be). But doesn't the Lord also say : "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy" and "If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you."

But - hey!- I'm Canadian. :-)

(Sorry about the sarcastic tone of this comment. I think I'm just flabbergasted at seeing so many good Catholic readers of this blog in such a hurry to defend the death penalty--in this case or any other...) I guess I'll have to pray and meditate (and read more) on the subject.

Realist

And one grenade down that hole Saddam was hiding in would have saved us from all of this!! The US Military must have new rules of engagement in searching for creeps like Saddam. Rule 1- Always throw a grenade down a suspicious hole, then ask if anyone is home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

muslim= saddam= Church haters=death penalty

Some Day

Perhaps I'm too soft-hearted and not "justice-seeking" enough (could very well be). But doesn't the Lord also say : "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy" and "If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you."

But - hey!- I'm Canadian. :-)

God sending a person to Hell is an infinetly merciful act.
Did you know that?
So killing Saddam will prevent him from sinning against God and humanity, lessening his punishment in Hell or maybe even Purgatory.
He wasn't as hard on Catholics in proportion to the other Muslim leaders.

Elijah

Report Card for Esau's last post:

Spelling: B

Esau

Father Benoit,
With the deepest respect, if you personally witnessed the horrors of 9/11, then you might understand why some folks have such an opinion -- particularly Americans; specifically, those who actually witnessed the tragedy of 9/11 and especially the ones who suffered tremendously as a result.

Yes, mercy is indeed what Christ preached and that, too, was the very thing that made St. Francis the awesome saint that he was. Mind you, this was the same guy who formerly tried to become a gallant knight and win for his family a code of arms. Of course, Christ had other plans for him.

Yet, some of us do not have the same blessing that Francis had. Instead, there are those of us who suffered the horrible personal losses such as family members and other folks close to us, and to allow even the slightest chance that such tyrants and terrorists may escape justice and in the future commit such acts against us and, above all, our loved ones (and here I'm not speaking of Saddamm) and the possible magnitude of destruction that may ensue if they're even allowed any such leeway, it could be quite understandable why even the Catechism itself and even in Scripture, capital punishment is allowed in those certain cases when they're found absolutely necessary.

Esau

Report Card for Esau's last post:

Spelling: B

Thanks Elijah!

I knew I forgot something!

Esau

Corrigendum:
...there are those of us who suffered the horrible personal losses such as family members and other folks close to us, and to allow even the slightest chance that such tyrants and terrorists may escape justice so that they can commit such acts against us once again and, above all, our loved ones in the future (and here I'm not just speaking of Saddam) and the possible magnitude of destruction that may ensue if they're even allowed any such leeway for escape, it could be quite understandable why even the Catechism itself and even in Scripture, capital punishment is allowed in those certain cases where they're found absolutely necessary.

charles R. Williams

Few people have noticed that CCC2267 is not the latest magisterial teaching regarding captial punishment. Rather it is paragraph 405 of the Compendium of Social Doctrine.

Paragraph 405 states that bloodless forms of punishment are "preferred" and that the Church looks favorably on the increased reluctance to employ the death penalty. This is a considerable softening of the wording of #2267 and, I think, should be viewed as a clarification of problematic language in the Catechism.

It is, by the way, a defined heresy to say that for the state to inflict capital punishment is a mortal sin.

The Western Confucian

Let's keep Saddam alive. So says Saywan Barzani, Kurdish representative in Europe:

Saddam’s trial must be an education for the whole world. The US and the USSR played out the Cold War in Iraq; Middle Eastern dictatorships helped Saddam in the war against Iran, but also against the Iraqi people; all Western country, the Vatican being perhaps the only exception, sold weapons, poisonous gas, chemical bombs, anti-personnel mines to him.

Let's remember that the famous Rumsfeld-Saddam handshake took plave a year after the crime for which the latter is sentenced to hang.

See: Saddam and Us.

Tim M.

Esau -

um... you are absolutely right about the horrors of 09.11

but what does this truth have to do with the execution of Saddam Hussein?

there is absolutely no evidence that Saddam had anything to do with 09.11 - and he was convicted for crimes against Iraqis, not for terrorism against USA.

your comment is mixing apples and automobiles.

Esau

TIM M:

My post was addressing Capital Punishment in general which Fr. Benoit (understandably) has a problem with.

That's why I stated: ...to allow even the slightest chance that such tyrants and terrorists may escape justice... and that (and here I'm not just speaking of Saddam)

guest

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Guest

guest

Italics Off????

Esau

TIM M:
To clarify, there are those of us who seek justice (be they American or Iraqi), who have suffered tremendously at the hands of such individuals (be it Saddam or Bin Laden), who seek justice and do not want to suffer the same tragedies at their hands once again (should we allow any leeway for possible escape) or any who should come to follow in their footsteps.

Thus, Jimmy's view can be quite understandable in the eyes of those of us who suffered such overwhelming tragedies:
1) It will at least partially serve upon him the justice that he deserves,
2) It will serve the families who are still aching after what Saddam did to them and their now-dead relatives,
3) It may well serve to pacify Iraq in the long run, and
4) It will serve as a warning to other dictators of what can happen to them.

MaryC

Personally, I don't think Saddam is any worse than Bush, Blair or the psychopaths who run the criminal state of Israel

Esau

Speaking of which:

Al-Qaida in Iraq: We're Winning

CAIRO, Egypt - Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed in a new audiotape on Friday to have mobilized 12,000 fighters and said the group was winning faster than expected.

“The al-Qaida army has 12,000 fighters in Iraq, and they have vowed to die for God’s sake,” said Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, in an audiotape made available on militant Web sites.

Also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri, al-Muhajir became the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed by the U.S. military in June.

The al-Qaida leader also described President Bush as “the most stupid leader that America, the country of slaves and narcotics, has ever known.”

He said Bush’s policies had allowed Iran to spread its influence in Afghanistan and Iraq after Washington toppled their Sunni rulers, and expanded Iran’s reach into Syria and Lebanon.

“I swear by God we shall not rest from jihad until we ... blow up the filthiest house known as the White House,” he added.

Challenging the Bush administration, he said: “I tell the lame duck do not rush to escape as did your defense minister ... stay on the battleground.”

“The American people have taken a step in the right path to come out of their predicament ... they voted for a level of reason,” he added.

Tim J.

"Personally, I don't think Saddam is any worse than Bush, Blair or the psychopaths who run the criminal state of Israel"

I wouldn't brag about that, MaryC. It is a bit like insisting that the sun is really a giant egg yolk because both are round and yellow. If you really don't see the difference, I doubt any amount of evidence would convince you, and I detest even the thought of wasting my time and energy in such a useless enterprise.

Tim J.

Esau -

Your post highlights what is, to me, possibly the most damaging effect of handing control of Congress to the Dems; the message sent to the Jihadis. They have no reason not to read the election results as saying "Americans are tired of fighting. We are wearing them down. We are winning".

If they Dems are smart, they will put duct tape over the mouths of the usual suspects on the anti-military fringe (Howard Dean, John Kerry, et al) and close ranks with the GOP to send a clear message to Al Qaeda - we don't intend to lose in Iraq, and we will not allow the new Iraqi government to be overrun. They should say this loudly and often - in the same way that Charlie Rangel recently blasted Hugo Chavez for insulting the President. Then, they should back it up with action.

It may be, in these times, that only a Democrat president can lead the U.S. to war and maintain support for it. Only Nixon could go to China. Anyone remember how the war in the Balkans was covered by the MSM? No daily death counts, no bad news, no questioning of the strategy, no griping about unilateralism (Clinton did not even bother with the pretense of asking permission from the U.N.). It was something happening to other people, halfway around the world. Unfortunate, but - you know - necessary.

So, let the Dems lay out their plan, and just watch all the good news that starts pouring out of Iraq. NOW we will find out about all the humanitarian efforts that our soldiers have been risking their lives for... we will see the hospitals, roads, water lines, power plants... its okay to report on those things NOW, because the GOP is on the way out, and the President is neutered.

Esau

...close ranks with the GOP to send a clear message to Al Qaeda - we don't intend to lose in Iraq, and we will not allow the new Iraqi government to be overrun.

Tim J, my Brutha in Christ!
Just as a female Military Officer that was interviewed on the News yesterday evening said (and I wished I had taped it!) -- that she refuses to leave Iraq without fulfilling the very mission they all came out there to do and have the deaths of all those brave fellow soldiers who served with her be in vain!

Eric

The poster who still thinks that Saddam masterminded 9/11 is one example of the school of thought that says that if someone only knew of how awful a crime really was, we would make an exception in this particular case in favor of capital punishment. We see this all the time in news reports of capital cases, when someone inevitably says, "In general I'm against the death penalty, but in this case...." One also sees it in discussions such as these (which thankfully has not happened in this discussion) where someone inevitably posts -- usually in ALL CAPS -- graphic details of what the killer did, with the assumption that should win converts to their cause.

However, to claim to be opposed to something but always in favor of the latest exception to the rule means you are really in favor of it. Example: war. People will always say, "I'm opposed to war, but..." and then they go on to say why this latest war is the 100th straight exception to their strongly held anti-war beliefs.

So if we are to "choose life," then we must begin with that stance. As one commenter pointed out, the burden of proof -- at least for those who claim to adhere to the teachings contained in the Catechism -- is on those who favor capital punishment, not on those who oppose it.

Now some commenters have said the death penalty is the only way to keep someone from killing again. The murder of fellow inmates was cited. However, this is not a reason to execute all murderers. It is a reason to improve prison security. Even if that means, as a last resort, isolation from others, as one commenter also pointed out.

One should not legislate from the exceptions. To do so would only provide a better case against capital punishment, because people on death row have been found to be innocent. So if these wrongful convictions are the exception, should we not make that the cause for legislation? You can't have your cake and eat it too, in this regard. Which is why the Church teaching wisely avoids mere pragmatism. (For the record, I would be inclined to say that wrongful convictions are a valid argument against capital punishment, although I will not go there because I don't like people who spew out 101 reasons for or against something -- I much prefer one or two central reasons well-stated because I think that's more honest.)

As for deterrence, one poster says some studies show it works. Others show it does not. When asked about the efficacy of the death penalty when he was governor of Texas, George W. Bush said, "I know the studies show it's not a deterrent. But I just believe it is." Whatever you think of him, you will have to admit gut feelings are not a good basis for legislation.

So back to Saddam. While I've complained about those who see exceptions everywhere they turn, I am willing to make this one exception due to the state of civil war in that nation. I don't think the war was justified, I don't necessarily think the trial was an exemplar of stellar international jurispridence, I don't even necessarily think Iraq is better off now than it was under Saddam. But the guy clearly did kill people and was convicted. There is a strong possibility that a life sentence could be undermined.

The principle of Roman law is to legislate the ideal and then deal with exceptions. That's our approach as Catholics -- not the other way around as some here have argued, legislating by the exceptions and then dealing later with ideals.

Eric

"I'm opposed to war, but..." and then they go on to say why this latest war is the 100th straight exception to their strongly held anti-war beliefs.

In re-reading this, I realize I give the impression I am talking about Iraq in this line. I am not. I meant to refer to whatever the latest war is. Hope that clarifies things and avoids a heated digression!

Esau

The poster who still thinks that Saddam masterminded 9/11...

ERIC:

I don't believe anyone here ever stated that they believed, either implicitly or explicitly, that Saddam masterminded 9/11!


However, to claim to be opposed to something but always in favor of the latest exception to the rule means you are really in favor of it. Example: war. People will always say, "I'm opposed to war, but..."

Okay, I guess then when your family is attacked or threatened with murder or rape and the only way to prevent this is to defend yourself and kill the assailant, you'd probably say: "Well, since I'm against murder, have at it with my family and do what you want with them!"

Also, I guess since the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI and even Scripture itself didn't eliminate the need for Capital Punishment all together, then, really, based on your statement, they're actually, in truth, all pro-murder!

Esau

AL-QAIDA IN IRAQ: WE'RE WINNING

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15652670/

MSNBC News Services
Updated: 11:06 a.m. PT Nov 10, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed in a new audio tape Friday to be winning the war faster than expected in Iraq and said it had mobilized 12,000 fighters, while the U.S. military reported the deaths of four more American troops.

Three U.S. soldiers and a Marine were killed Thursday in Iraq, the U.S. military said, bringing the number of Americans who have died in the country so far this month to 25. At least 105 U.S. forces died in October, the fourth highest monthly toll of the war.

Since the war started in March 2003, 2,845 members of the U.S. military have died, according to an Associated Press count.

On the audio tape made available on militant Web sites, the al-Qaida in Iraq leader also welcomed the Republican electoral defeat that led to the departure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

(Excerpt)

Esau

Al-Qaida in Iraq claims 12,000 fighters
Tape cites U.S. elections, vow made to blow up White House

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15652670/

Mary

Love them. Bless them. Do good to them. Pray for them.

And the best thing for Saddam Hussein is repentance, and doing things to him which lead him to recognize the evil of his deeds is therefore the best good we can do to them. Punishing him severely would therefore be the best thing we can do for him.

That is what hanging can accomplish. What better thing can we do?

Death is far from the greatest evil he faces!

Sr Lorraine

If capital punishment is ever justified, it would certainly be in the case of Saddam. I think the most compelling reason for it would be that if he ever escaped from prison, he might very well come back to power and continue to kill thousands of innocent people. He is a brutal, ruthless murderer and society has to be protected from his likes.
One particular horror story that I read of: a young woman who refused the advances of Saddam's son was thrown into prison in a remote desert location. She was beaten and tortured. Finally, she was stripped, covered with honey, and put out as food for a pack of dogs that had been starved for over a week.

Tim

Once again Jimmy cuts to the chase and brings clarity where others have fogged things up.

MaryC

Well Tim J, thankfully, I haven't been brainwashed by Fox News and other Zionist 'news' outlets as you seem to have been. What precicsely was the war in Iraq about? Can you enlighten me? It seems we were just doing Israel's dirty work as per usual

Vince

Bravo, Jimmy, you have put into prose what ive been thinking about the Vatican wussies for years. Please keep on them!

ruth

It concerns me that those who would rail against the Picking and choosing of morals disregard what the Catholic Church's teaching is about the D.P. Thank God Jimmy went by the book on this one.
And yes I do believe that S.H. poses a threat to his people and his country and so falls under the exceptions to the rule. We must guard against and eye for an eye. Of course many people disagree with me on this; including my own husband. It makes him so angry when I tell him that if anyone ever murdered me I would not want that person to get the D.P. . We have the ability to protect society, incarcarate for life those that murder others.
Pro-life all the way. One never knows what wonders God can work on a lost soul.

ruth

when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor" (CCC 2267).
That's the Teaching of the Church folks.

Tom

Jimmy,
All I can say in response to this is YOU ROCK!!! One more in a long list of lucid and well-reasoned discourses. Keep 'em comin'.

Matt McDonald

MaryC,

you're right, Saddam was just a good ol' boy having some fun, he should have been left alone to gas some more Kurds... (Kurds are not Israeli by the way).

John

Esau says

"First off, there’s nothing in Catholic Church Teaching that will ever contradict Scripture"

Well how about "Nostre Aetate , October 1965"

(2) "Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing "ways," comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth.."

Reverence for these false faiths as taught by the Council fathers where scritpure says:

"If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, God speed you." (2 John 1:10).

Or Matthew as far as salvation:
7.13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 7.14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Or the Gospel of Luke

"Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, 'The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.' Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum, 'Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.'" Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me." The seventy (-two) returned rejoicing, and said, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name." Jesus said, "I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power 'to tread upon serpents' and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in Heaven."

Hmmm...Seems like a clear contradiction to me ESAU?

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