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December 11, 2006

Comments

Rosemarie

+J.M.J+

Oh goody. A discussion on whether a pope can apostatize.

How long do you think it will it take for this combox to be hijacked?

In Jesu et Maria,

Josiah

I'm just glad you waited to post this until *after* the Pope got back from Turkey.

Mary Kay

From the little I've read of the early Church, it seems chancy to base too much unless one has very solid sources.

Benedict and John Paul entrusted themselves to Mary which seems as good an inoculation as you can get.

"Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it." Mt 16:18 That verse links the Pope and the Church so closely that it seems very unlikely, if not impossible, for the Pope to apostasize.

Having said that, I'll have to dig up all the information about the bad popes, but I think this is one of those rhetorical questions that contradicts faith.

Jeff

I think you are wrong about "infallible papal canonizations."

The theological underpinning for the universally taught doctrine (itself infallible under the ordinary magisterium, I would argue) is simply that God would not permit the Church to raise someone not in Heaven to its altars.

God would not permit the Church, in other words, to COMMAND believers to give the worship of dulia and publicly invoke the intercession of someone who was in Hell or even in Purgatory. This is not the Faith, but it is proximate to the Faith.

This is why the doctrine doesn't apply to Blesseds, who have also been declared by the Pope to be in heaven. But since only a local cult is fostered, there is no universal command. Here we can speak of probability, even extremely HIGH probability, but not infallibility.

This is the key question: Has the Church raised a person to its altars universally? If so, the person IS a saint, no doubt about it. St. Augustine, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Ambrose and so many saints, were never canonized by the Pope. But we can rely on the Church which, following tradition, commands us to honor and invoke them on certain days. They are just as certainly saints as Terese of Lisieux or Pius X. They are more certainly saints than Mother Teresa or John XXIII (in theological terms at least.)

How long do you think it will it take for this combox to be hijacked?

You mean by someone saying it the pope apostasized in 1969 when Lutheranism was injected into the Holy Church under the guide of the Novus Order Missae thereby fulfilling Luthers words "Destroy the Mass, destroy the church"

Esau

Out, Italics Heretic, Out!

Esau

Anon:

Please post a name or 'something'.
That way, we could respond to your concerns via this handle.

Thanks.

closing italics.

Tim J.

"...when Lutheranism was injected into the Holy Church"

Care to back that up? Sounds like a personal opinion, to me... and an unfounded one, at that.

If you really want to destroy the Church, just refuse to submit to Papal authority, and encourage others to do the same.

That's what Luther did.

Esau

Anon (whoever you are):

Are you the same one who posted the following under the thread "Making Torture Discussions Less Torturous":

Jimmy, Catholics would have a pope if the pope would command that it is immoral to fight in the war on terror given that the war on terror is immoral. But catholics do not have a pope, they have a right-wing politician who is more concerned with having a christo-centric europe and catering to a rightwing Christo-fascist faction of his base than to a consistant truth. Being a soldier involves killing people in the name of a state power, which is murder. He needs to crap or get off the pot!

Are you such a coward that you can't even post a fake name as your handle?

For someone whose comments (assuming these are yours -- since it's difficult to tell if they are since there are no names attached to each of these comments; yet, the tone in each of these seems to indicate that they are yours) seem to proclaim the need to maintain the very 'Catholic' nature of the Catholic Faith; your comments show a great lack of it!

patrick

I'll only offer a prayer for the Pope:

O Saint Peter, Pray to the Lord Christ Jesus for your servant, Benedict, that he will not be led astray, that he may continue to teach and uphold the Doctrines of the Church and that even in the midst of desrtuctive criticism and prejudice directed against him, he might be firm in his faith and continue to lead the Church. Amen.

Leigh

It could be even worse than just torture -- suppose you were dealing with a group that was a little above the usual brute-thug mentality of "beat them up until they break," and instead used pharmacological means to bring about the desired statement for their video.

I'm neither a neurologist nor a neuropharmacologist, so I don't know if it's even physically possible to design a drug that would leave a person completely compliant to suggestion, but not visibly impaired (ie no slurred speech, distorted expression or other signs typical of a drugged state), but if it were possible to create such a will-suppressing drug and some group of terrorists kidnapped the pope (or any other major religious leader) and compelled him to go through the motions of a public act of apostasy, and it were subsequently revealed that the act was in fact the result of will-suppressing drugs, there'd be no end of the questions of what degree the victim should be considered culpable, or even how to deal with him after he's rescued from his captors. (Although it's likely that a wise religious leader would realize that such a coup would make him such a liability that even if he isn't morally culpable for his victimization, it would be in the best interests of everyone involved for him to resign and leave public life permanently).

Not to mention that the public demonstration of the existence of a drug that can effectively "turn off" the will while leaving all the rest of a person's faculties unimpaired would be a social nightmare. If the drug is at all easy to manufacture and doesn't require super-rare ingredients or very difficult processes that can't be scaled up to industrial volumes, every important or contested social interaction will come under a shadow of suspicion. Even if every decent country bans it and puts severe penalties on manufacture, sale or possession, our experiences with methamphetamine and other manufactured illegal drugs leaves me with little or no confidence that illegal manufacture isn't going to happen. Its use as a "date rape drug" alone would make such a drug incredibly valuable to the criminal syndicates that are already entrenched producing and distributing illegal drugs.

I sincerely hope that it turns out the human brain is hardwired in such a way that it's physiologically impossible to suppress the will chemically without impairing other functions in a way that is visible to an observer, and interferes with malefactors' abilities to use the person.

Esau

that even in the midst of desrtuctive criticism and prejudice directed against him, he might be firm in his faith and continue to lead the Church. Amen.


AMEN, Patrick!

Esau

Now, all you B16 & JPII Persecutors, just bugger off!

Jimmy Akin

Let's not use the phrase in bold italics, please.

NewTrollObserver

The pope is guided by the Holy Spirit, and when he speaks ex cathedra he is protected from binding the consciences of the faithful to believe error (i.e., he's infallible), but this so far as we know there is not a charism that prevents--absolutely prevents--the pope from embracing error outside of ex cathedra situations.

We may hope that the Holy Spirit would never allow a pope to apostatize from the Christian faith, but we do not have the assurance of faith that he would not allow it to happen. The pope still has free will, and we do not have doctrinal assurance that he would be absolutely prevented from using this free will to commit the grave sin of apostasy (i.e., the total repudiation of the Christian faith).

May we deduce that if a pope apparently speaks heresy/apostate within a clearly ex cathedra statement (i.e., he uses clearly definitive language that binds all Catholic consciences), then he was no longer actually speaking ex cathedra, and in fact might not even be pope any longer?

Esau

Leigh,

I'm neither a neurologist nor a neuropharmacologist, so I don't know if it's even physically possible to design a drug that would leave a person completely compliant to suggestion, but not visibly impaired (ie no slurred speech, distorted expression or other signs typical of a drugged state), but if it were possible to create such a will-suppressing drug and some group of terrorists kidnapped the pope (or any other major religious leader) and compelled him to go through the motions of a public act of apostasy, and it were subsequently revealed that the act was in fact the result of will-suppressing drugs, there'd be no end of the questions of what degree the victim should be considered culpable, or even how to deal with him after he's rescued from his captors. (Although it's likely that a wise religious leader would realize that such a coup would make him such a liability that even if he isn't morally culpable for his victimization, it would be in the best interests of everyone involved for him to resign and leave public life permanently).

Even in the far-fetched scenario you've presented, the Pope wouldn't be guilty of apostasy since it was all done against his will.

Also, mind-altering ('will'-altering) drugs couldn't have the effect of thwarting the actual will of a person without the physical manisfestations that often accompanies it as a consequence.

Esau

Let's not use the phrase in bold italics, please.

Apologies, Jimmy.

Tim J.

"May we deduce that if a pope apparently speaks heresy/apostate within a clearly ex cathedra statement (i.e., he uses clearly definitive language that binds all Catholic consciences), then he was no longer actually speaking ex cathedra, and in fact might not even be pope any longer?"

I think not. The Pope either speaks ex-cathedra or he doesn't. The Holy Spirit either keeps the Pope from teaching error, or He doesn't.

If one believes that the Pope is capable of solemnly proclaiming error from the Chair of Peter, then one does not accept that the Pope is protected by the Holy Spirit.

SDG

I think not. The Pope either speaks ex-cathedra or he doesn't. The Holy Spirit either keeps the Pope from teaching error, or He doesn't.

If one believes that the Pope is capable of solemnly proclaiming error from the Chair of Peter, then one does not accept that the Pope is protected by the Holy Spirit.

Makes sense to me.

Mary Kay

Tim J, thanks for articulating what I so clumsily was going for earlier.

NewTrollObserver

I think not. The Pope either speaks ex-cathedra or he doesn't. The Holy Spirit either keeps the Pope from teaching error, or He doesn't.

Tim J

Does this mean that the Holy Spirit keeps the Pope from apostasizing?

SDG

Does this mean that the Holy Spirit keeps the Pope from apostasizing?

I think not -- at least, it doesn't necessarily follow, no. Granted that the pope cannot apostacize ex cathedra, as it were, that's not to say he can't apostacize at all.

I would like to think that he can't. But reality is messy. I would like to think that the likes of the Western Schism could never happen either, but it did.

I firmly believe that the Petrine ministry is absolutely essential to the life and constitution of the Church. But it is not a magic bullet.

David B.

wikiality is sooooo popular!

Esau

think not -- at least, it doesn't necessarily follow, no. Granted that the pope cannot apostacize ex cathedra, as it were, that's not to say he can't apostacize at all.

I would like to think that he can't. But reality is messy. I would like to think that the likes of the Western Schism could never happen either, but it did.


SDG,
The Western Schism, although unfortunate, is still a far cry from actual apostasy by a genuine Pope.

SDG

The Western Schism, although unfortunate, is still a far cry from actual apostasy by a genuine Pope.

Oh, heck yes. It's just an illustration, not of papal apostasy, but that reality is messy and what we would piously wish to be the case isn't always so.

God is faithful, and by the power of the Holy Spirit we can be sure that the Church's Teaching Authority cannot solemnly define error as truth. I am not sure the Holy Spirit provides that the Bishop of Rome cannot abandon the Teaching Authority, the Church and Jesus Christ. That even seems to me potentially to pit the Holy Spirit against human moral freedom.

Esau

They say Pope Honorius was a Monothelite and taught Monothelitism as Pope, and, therefore, a 'heretic'.

However (although this regarding Honorius is continued to be debated even unto today by several factions in and outside the Church), even if the Pope was teaching the Faith in error, the Catholic Church has never claimed that every word of Catechesis or Theology that comes from the Pope’s mouth is infallible.

The Church’s actual position is that Popes are protected from speaking error in very limited circumstances. The fact that it has to do with Faith and Morals is only one of them.

There are multiple other circumstances that have to be fulfilled and so merely the fact that a pope at some time in history says something about theology that is wrong does not violate the idea of Papal Infallibility in the slightest because the Church’s claim regarding Papal Infallibility is not that Popes can’t do that. They can – at least, as far as the Church is concerned. The Church has not said otherwise.

Folks can look back in history and find that there were some popes out there who may have indeed said some things that were, in fact, wrong. But so what?

Is it actually the case that in order for papal infallibility to be true, it must be true that every pope throughout the Church's long history has never said anything about theology that was wrong? That bears little, if any, significance on the Church's actual teaching on Papal Infallibility.

Dr. Eric

Pedro de Luna was certainly an interesting guy though.

He never let go of his belief that he really was the Pope. Even calling on God to confirm it while he was at sea during a storm. "If I am not the true successor to St. Peter, may this ship sink!"

Then, the clouds parted and the storm ceased.

My only reference for the above quote is from a Church History Program on our local Catholic Radio Station WRYT and KHOJ both out of St. Louis.

Mangy Donkey

There is more than one way for the Holy Spirit to protect the Pope from apostasy and none of them would involve the removal of the Pope's freedom of will. For instance, death. In fact, hasn't this happened before that a Pope died before making a proclamation?

John

Sounds like the plot to Tim Powers next novel:

"It could be even worse than just torture -- suppose you were dealing with a group that was a little above the usual brute-thug mentality of "beat them up until they break," and instead used pharmacological means to bring about the desired statement for their video.

I'm neither a neurologist nor a neuropharmacologist, so I don't know if it's even physically possible to design a drug that would leave a person completely compliant to suggestion, but not visibly impaired (ie no slurred speech, distorted expression or other signs typical of a drugged state), but if it were possible to create such a will-suppressing drug and some group of terrorists kidnapped the pope (or any other major religious leader) and compelled him to go through the motions of a public act of apostasy, and it were subsequently revealed that the act was in fact the result of will-suppressing drugs, there'd be no end of the questions of what degree the victim should be considered culpable, or even how to deal with him after he's rescued from his captors."

Esau

"It could be even worse than just torture -- suppose you were dealing with a group that was a little above the usual brute-thug mentality of "beat them up until they break," and instead used pharmacological means to bring about the desired statement for their video.

Actually, this has been used as a plot already in a B-movie. No doubt, that wasn't the first time it was utilized.

SDG might know of some more movies. I can't think of any other at this point.

bill912

Well, it wasn't a B-movie, but "To Have And Have Not" comes to mind. Bogey alternately tunes up two Vichy gendarmes until one of them cracks and phones in an order to release Walter Brennan ("Was you evah bit by a dead bee?").

Esau

Whoa! A Bogey film!
Also, a Howard Hawks film!

The guy who did both Ball of Fire and the musical version of it with Danny Kaye, A Song is Born!

Nutcrazical

I haven't read all of the comments, so I don't know if anybody has pointed this out yet. But...

Really, abbreviating "century" into "cent"? I mean, really.

Esau

Nutcrazical:

I haven't read all of the comments, so I don't know if anybody has pointed this out yet. But...

Really, abbreviating "century" into "cent"? I mean, really.

You should've done "A Public Service Announcement"! ;^)

Esau

... to authorize one of his deacons, Severus, to carry out certain structural modifications...

Isn't Severus a Harry Potthead character?

Slowboy

I don't think it's quite the same thing, even if true, of St. Marcellinius, under the sword, apostosizing (or prophetizing) as the concept of a Pope in cold blood so to speak leaving the Church. The latter I find unimanageble. The first as beliveable as my bad spelling.

Elias

The real question is not so much "apostasy" as it is "heresy"; heresy is the basic common denominator, while apostasy is a serious degree of heresy. It is the Church's teaching that a person ceases to be a Catholic if he rejects only ONE teaching of the Church while willfully knowing that the Church of Christ teaches it. For that ONE denial, a person loses the divine virtue of "Faith" and is no longer Catholic. Nobody is exempt from abusing their free wills by committing such an act. If a man who is pope commits this even in his private chambers in the Vatican, he would immediately cease being a true pope. The Catholic books say plainly and categorically that we would know a man ceased to be pope if he became a "manifest" heretic. The Catholic Encyclopedia says it in several places.

Look at the definition of "papal infallibility" and you will see that this is merely one rarely exercised aspect of the greater "Infallibility of the Church". The Church, however, is always protected, which is a mystery of our Faith. You will also notice that the definition stated that in an ex cathedra pronouncement a pope would be prevented from "erring", that means making a mistake. Yes, conceivably the Holy Ghost could even have a pope die to prevent such a mistake, and we just don't know if any premature deaths of popes in history were because a serious mistake was about to be made and the man wasn't being attentive to other preventative signs of Divine Providence.

But what do we conclude if a Pope was not prevented from doing so? The dogmatic conclusion is that he was not pope when he did so but lost the Faith some time before the pronouncement.

The sedevacantists say this occurred in 1965 when Paul VI gave his official approval to Vatican II for the whole Church. I plan to write more about this soon for www.catholic-dispatch.com.

Tim J.

Well, the Pope just doesn't pull ex cathedra statements out of his papal ear after breakfast... these things are crafted over a period of time, and normally involve input from a number of people.

Seems like if the pope were in the process of apostacizing, it would become apparent before he had the chance to promulgate such teaching.

AnonnyMouse

What a wonderful thought. NOT!
My husband and I had played with the idea/thought of this happening. Maybe he got the plot out of a book or something, etc. But it is scary.
And it is sad. If a pope were to slowly apostisize, or convert to another religion, I would expect RED flags waving all over the place. As a matter of fact, I would be MORE worried if we all of a sudden didn't hear from our beloved pope and what he was doing. Maybe I am wrong, but those would be just gut feelings on my part.

Esau

Tim J. and AnonnyMouse:
Whose posts are you guys responding to???

Also, Tim J.:

Well, the Pope just doesn't pull ex cathedra statements out of his papal ear after breakfast...

Where did this come from???
I would certainly think that whatever the Pope would pull out of his ear, it would actually be EAR WAX just like the rest of us! ;^)

doug

Clearly, Apostles and Archishops can apostasize.

I'm thinking, of course, of Judas Iscariot and the the sad case of Archbishop Millingo. Not sure if one might go so far, but perhaps a case could even be made for the existence of an intermittent "anti-sucession" in the Judas line...

Also, there have arguably been "bad" Popes, in some sense of the word. And even anti-Popes...

So, bishops and even Apostles have the free will to turn against The Lord. Hard to see that the bishop of Rome would be prevented from doing so, unless The Lord sets aside free will in special cases. Doesn't appear that He has done so in the past.

What would happen to the Church if a Pope did apostasize? It would go on, despite the turmoil and misery of the times, because "the gates of hell will not prevail against it". Hell won't stop trying, though. Hell made the ultimately stupid mistake of crucifying The One and that turned out to be to our eternal blessing. "Crucifying" the Church by corrupting a Pope would have a similar impact, I bet.

God would turn it to his glory and our good.

Popes are always asking for our prayers. I can sure see why.

Esau

... perhaps a case could even be made for the existence of an intermittent "anti-sucession" in the Judas line...

Didn't Judas commit suicide?

Unless you meant that due to the wrongful nature of the acts committed by an Archbishop (as that in Judas' case), succession would then become null and void in the case of an Archbishop who became a schismatic and attempted to further ordain other clergy by their power as bishop.

Although, I don't believe that's possible given current Canon Law, but I would defer to the experts here like Jimmy.

Esau

...to authorize one of his deacons, Severus [Snape], to carry out certain structural modifications in the cemetery of CALLISTUS [Flockhart].

doug

My apologies. I was thinking half-wryly of a spiritual "anti-succession of bad bishops". Didn't mean any real insight by the remark and shouldn't have made it. A better way to say it might be that the successors of the apostles are apparently just as human (flawed) as they were. Hence, probably not "protected" against turning their backs on The Lord.

I don't know if the Pope, as a special case, is "protected" in some special way against doing something as sad as what Judas or Archbiship Millingo have done. It doesn't look like it to me, but I do not have a well-informed opinion, I admit.

Kris

This is a bit off topic. Just thought y'all might be interested.

Over at romancatholicblog.typepad.com, they have done a good job of updating about the Malingo issue. Archbishop Peter Brenan, of Married Priests Now!, has found out and is putting in his 2 cents.

Anyway, back to finals studying. Would appreciate from St. Thomas Aquinas prayers if you could spare them!

CaeliDS

So, did St. Peter apostasize when he denied Christ 3 times?

From Merriam-Webster:

apostasy:

1: renunciation of a religious faith
2 : abandonment of a previous loyalty

Is he in the same category as Marcellinus, because he denied Christ under duress (i.e. did he apostasize?). Or was is OK, since he eventually "turned back," and did not actually renounce the faith or completely abandon his loyalty to Jesus?

Seems that Peter's denial was the worst possible thing that could've happened at the time, given the circumstances described in Jimmy's post. And yet the Church survived it.

Joseph D'Hippolito

Ladies and gentlemen, all these esoteric theological distinctions are academically interesting but they miss one important point:

If any Pope converts to Islam of his own free will (and not under terrorist duress), then that Pope has adopted Muslim theology concerning Jesus; that is, that Jesus is not divine ("God has no son," says the Koran), that Jesus did not redeem humanity through the shedding of his blood (which is what the Mosaic Law required for atonement for sin) and, most of all, that Jesus did not rise from the dead.

In short, any Pope who willingly converts to Islam would be denying Christ's messianic nature and character, as well as denying God's revelation of Himself through Scripture and the reinforcement of that revelation through Tradition.

This is far more serious and radical than any sedevacantist rant. This goes to the heart of what the Christian faith means.

It seems that some Catholics are so infatuated with the papal office and the Church as an institution that they've forgotten what the faith really stands for.

good night

It seems that you have forgotten or ignore the fact that it was Christ Himself who instituted His Church upon the Rock of the papacy.

Joseph D'Hippolito

This hypothetical differs from Peter's denial in several important ways:

1. Peter was in a moment of emotional duress when he issued his denials. He essentially retracted them in his heart when he saw Jesus being led away from one of his trials.

2. Peter, when confronted, denied knowing Jesus personally. He did not deny Jesus' role as Messiah and did not convert to any other religion. A convert to any other faith automatically makes such a denial.

3. Jesus took pains to forgive, restore and rehabilitate Peter. It appeared to be among his earliest concerns upon his resurrection. Jesus had to make sure that His appointed successor as the apostles' leader had a sure footing before ascending. A risen Christ will make no such efforts to rehabilitate any apostate Pope, at least not in the same manner.

This isn't just an esoteric exercise. Given the increasing Muslim influence in Europe through unchecked immigration, given the Orthodox Churches' traditional dhimmitude regarding Islam, given the mainline Protestants' embrace of an intellectually fashionable, sloppy sense of ecumenism -- and given the Catholic Church's current indulgence toward all things Muslim (thanks a lot, JPII!) -- a papal conversion to Islam seems more and more likely. Not with Benedict, certainly, but perhaps with one of his successors.

If that should happen, then European Christianity and the Catholic Church as a whole would be dead.

Joseph D'Hippolito

good night, the fact that Christ instituted the papal office (or any other office, for that matter) doesn't in and of itself guarantee against any irresponsibility on the part of the officeholders. Just look up Pope Alexander VI. Just look up the Babylonian Captivity of the Church (aka the Avignon Papacy). For that matter, just look at the behavior of the American episcopocracy during the clerical sex-abuse crisis.

Cory

Isn't Severus a Harry Potthead character?

Yup, Severus Snape, the Potions Master who really wants to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. The one whose true colors were at last revealed in The Half-blood Prince.

I read Stephen King and J.K. Rowling. What the heck is wrong with me??? What kind of apologist am I? More importantly, what kind of Christian am I?

*ahem* And now for something completely on topic:

Even as a Protestant, I consider the possibility of the Pope converting to Islam (or any other religion) extremely unlikely. My reasons?

First, the Holy Spirit Himself: check here and especially here. I will never believe, in my wildest imagination, that a person who is not truly of Christ could make it all the way to the papacy--even if I disagree with the biblical foundations of that institution. Without a doubt, the leader of the Catholic Church is a leader visible to the entire world and as such I refuse to entertain the notion that an imposter was blessed so bountifully by God. This position is not one that God would allow to be filled by a theif, by someone who entered the flock without the Good Shephard's knowledge.

Second, only a cleric so committed to God and to his faith that even receiving a cardinalate would entail such great personal devotion to and conviction in his faith in Christ that I believe it unlikely a Pope chosen from these ranks would apostasize.

Okay, there's my two cents. :)

Esau

good night, the fact that Christ instituted the papal office (or any other office, for that matter) doesn't in and of itself guarantee against any irresponsibility on the part of the officeholders. Just look up Pope Alexander VI. Just look up the Babylonian Captivity of the Church (aka the Avignon Papacy). For that matter, just look at the behavior of the American episcopocracy during the clerical sex-abuse crisis.


Joseph D'Hippolito:
What else is new? These offices were held by human beings, so bad clergy is expected to be found here and there as in the case of the one among the apostles, Judas.

However, your citing of Pope Alexander VI actually all the more demonstrates that protection of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Regardless of the heinous actions of Alexander VI, there was not one doctrine of the Church that he tainted, not one teaching on Faith and Morals.

I should know. If you really would like more Anti-Catholic facts, I can give you more severe than your mere Alexander VI.

When all is said and done, in spite of the tainted history of the Church, the Holy Spirit has yet preserved its Catholic teachings even unto today in spite of the malevolence of the certain individuals who were/are in it!

Pseudomodo

As Fr. J.D. Conway puts it "The Holy Spirit hovers even closer when the helm is in wobbley hands".

Joseph D'Hippolito

Esau, Pope Alexander VI may never have officially contradicted a single teaching on faith and morals, but that doesn't mean that his lifestyle didn't contradict them. The same goes for the "more severe" examples. Jesus himself said that "you shall know (believers) by their fruits."

Besides, if what you say about the Holy Spirit is true, then how do you explain the Church's wholesale revisionism concerning capital punishment for murder -- a revisionism led and encouraged by the late pope?

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=25568

SDG

Esau, Pope Alexander VI may never have officially contradicted a single teaching on faith and morals, but that doesn't mean that his lifestyle didn't contradict them.

AYPI? The Holy Spirit guarantees Church doctrine, not hierarchy lifestyles.

Jesus himself said that "you shall know (believers) by their fruits."

If you want to personally judge Alexander VI, have at it. If you want to see the infallibility of the Church in action, you have to look at what the Church teaches.

Besides, if what you say about the Holy Spirit is true, then how do you explain the Church's wholesale revisionism concerning capital punishment for murder -- a revisionism led and encouraged by the late pope?

"Wholesale revisionism" of Catholic doctrine simply is not possible and has not occurred. JP2 never said "Capital Punishment is Wrong," full stop, and the Church does not, never has, never will, and in fact cannot teach that.

P.S. Jimmy already blogged on the comments your article deals with. Sloppy language from a bishop or two does not make Church teaching.

bill912

"Sloppy language from a bishop or two does not make a Church teaching." But it might feed a Hobby Horse or two.

Brother Cadfael

Bill912,

"Sloppy language from a bishop or two does not make a Church teaching." But it might feed a Hobby Horse or two.

LOL!

SDG,

JP2 never said "Capital Punishment is Wrong," full stop, and the Church does not, never has, never will, and in fact cannot teach that.

On what basis do you say that the Church cannot teach that? Cardinal Schonborn seems to indicate to the contrary in this article about the purpose behind the revisions to the Catechism on the death penalty. ("The Holy See has given a number of signs that seem to indicate a development in the direction of a veritable moral exclusion of the death penalty.")

My understanding (for what it is worth) is that while the Church has certainly allowed for the death penalty in certain circumstances, the requirements for the infallibility of a teaching allowing the death penalty have not been met. There would thus be no absolute prohibition on a seemingly contrary position later.

SDG

Brother C,

A "veritable moral exclusion" is precisely not saying "Wrong, full stop."

(BTW, "moral" here s/b understood in the sense of "moral certitude," not "moral absolutes.")

Esau

The same goes for the "more severe" examples.

Hippo:

Actually, the "more severe" examples I have goes far beyond just that.

At any rate, SDG had already done a great job in replying to you, there's nothing more I could say that he hadn't already said so eloquently!

Brother Cadfael

SDG,

Thanks. Would it be possible to articulate the difference between moral certitude and moral absolutes for me?

For example, if Cardinal Schonborn is correct, and he is speaking in terms of moral certitude, would you be saying that the Church could legitimately teach with moral certitude that the death penalty is wrong? It seems to me that that is not what you're saying, so I'd appreciate whatever clarification you could offer.

Joseph D'HIppolito

JP2 never said "Capital Punishment is Wrong," full stop, and the Church does not, never has, never will, and in fact cannot teach that.

SDG, you are just plain wrong. Here are the late pope's comments from his Mass in St. Louis during his 1999 visit to the U.S.:

The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation. A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.

Cdl. Renato Martino reinforced those words during an address to the UN later that year:

Abolition of the death penalty … is only one step towards creating a deeper respect for human life. If millions of budding lives are eliminated at their very roots, and if the family of nations can take for granted such crimes without a disturbed conscience, the argument for the abolition of capital punishment will become less credible.

Those statements directly contradict the following assertions made by other Popes and Church Doctors:

St. Augustine: "The same divine law which forbids the killing of a human being allows certain exceptions. Since the agent of authority is but a sword in the hand, and is not responsible for the killing, it is in no way contrary to the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ for the representative of the State’s authority to put criminals to death, according to the Law or the rule of rational justice.”

St. Thomas Aquinas, part one: “If a man is a danger to the community, threatening it with disintegration by some wrongdoing of his, then his execution for the healing and preservation of the common good is to be commended. Only the public authority, not private persons, may licitly execute malefactors by public judgment. Men shall be sentenced to death for crimes of irreparable harm or which are particularly perverted.”

St. Thomas Aquinas, part two:“The fact that the evil, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgment that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers.”

Pope Pius XII, 1952: “When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live.”

SDG (et al), this is not a question of a couple of ignorant remarks by a few bishops. Those remarks reflect a fundamental change -- if not outright revisionism -- concerning the Church's view of capital punishment.

Mary

Another point about Peter's denial: Pre-Pentecost.

"On this rock I will build my church." And when did the Church begin? At Pentecost.

And furthermore, it is the Holy Spirit who prevents the Pope from formally teaching error. And when did the Holy Spirit descend on Peter and the other apostles? At Pentecost.

Infallibility is not retroactive, and I think you can't say that Peter was pope in Jesus's lifetime.

SDG

SDG, you are just plain wrong. Here are the late pope's comments from his Mass in St. Louis during his 1999 visit to the U.S.

If you were familiar with the whole of JP2's teaching on the subject, you would realize that these spoken remarks carry unstated qualifiers pursuant to a cultural and civilizational particulars, and do not amount to "Capital Punishment is Wrong, full stop."

In Evangelium Vitae JP2 urged that the state "not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity." Any moral principle that admits an "except" of any sort is not a moral absolute.

JP2 then went on to express the view that in modern society "such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent." Even if he is right in this prudential judgment, "very rare if not practically non-existent" is not the same as "non-existent."

And as Jimmy demonstrated in the post already linked, the CCC articulates this same non-absolute stance.

Hostile, Fundamentalist-style proof-texting bereft of context and attention to the whole will not get you the blanket moral condemnation of the death penalty that for whatever reason you would like to believe the Church is willing to embrace, when in fact the Holy Spirit will not permit this to happen.

Ryan C

Just to add to SDG's great point:

Actually, Joseph, since John Paul II emphasizes, as does Aquinas, the purpose of the death penalty in protecting the community, while also acknowledging that this can be performed in other ways, his line of thought is in organic continuity with Thomist though.

Jordan Potter

". . . . a papal conversion to Islam seems more and more likely. Not with Benedict, certainly, but perhaps with one of his successors. If that should happen, then European Christianity and the Catholic Church as a whole would be dead."

Even assuming a Pope would ever convert to Islam, as harmful as that would be to the Church (and as Jimmy has said, it would be very harmful), it's nothing but hyperbole to claim that it would mean the end of the Catholic Church.

Unless, of course, Jesus wasn't telling the truth when He said the gates of hell would never prevail against the Church. But it Jesus wasn't telling the truth, what difference does it make whether a Pope converts to Islam, Hinduism, Moonie-ism, or Scientology?

Brother Cadfael

Hippo,

By your rationale, it would seem, a plea for an end to all war would contradict the notion that some wars are just and must be fought. If one fully considers the subject, the two are not contradictory at all.

SDG,

I agree with you that Pope John Paul II did not say that the death penalty is absolutely wrong, in that, as you point out, he allowed for exceptions. My question goes to your statement that the Church could not teach that.

I read Cardinal Schonborn's statement somewhat differently than you do. He seems to believe (contrary to the majority of solid, orthodox Catholic moral theologians, I would hasten to add) that we are witnessing a development of doctrine with respect to the death penalty, such that one day the Church might teach that capital punishment can no longer, under any circumstances be allowed.

My question is not so much whether Cardinal Schonborn is right in that observation, but whether what he alludes to is even possible. I believe that it is possible for the Church
to adopt such a position because it does not involve a reversal of any truth previously understood to be infallible. (And, incidentally, I believe they can do so without contradicting the authorities listed by Hippo, but there is certainly some nuance involved there.)

Whether the Church will do so or even should do so are matters that I would leave in the more capable hands of Benedict XVI, his brethren, and their ultimate successors.


SDG

Brother C,

I'm not entirely sure what it might mean to say, as you think Schonborn may be indicating the Church might teach in the future, that "capital punishment can no longer, under any circumstances be allowed."

What does it mean to say both "no longer" and also "under any circumstances"? "No longer" seems to indicate a change in situation or circumstances -- in which case "under any circumstances" would be inapplicable, at least in an unqualified way.

If I give more weight to "no longer," then "under any circumstances" would seem to mean "under any circumstances that might obtain given the state of the world and how society has developed, etc." But in that case the Church wouldn't be teaching "Capital Puishment is Wrong, full stop," i.e., it has always been wrong, the Church was wrong to permit it in past ages, etc.

If I give more weight to "under any circumstances," then "no longer" would seem to mean "The Church can no longer teach what it once did, because it is now clear that the traditional view was wrong, i.e., capital punishment is wrong, full stop, it has always been wrong, the Church was wrong to permit it in past ages, etc."

However, in the first place, it doesn't seem possible to read Schonborn that way. A "veritable moral exclusion" is not the same as "wrong, full stop."

In the first place, "veritable" is a crucial qualifier that denotes genuineness but often connotes virtual, non-literal or otherwise inexact applicability. Google turns up such examples as "a veritable smorgasbord," "veritable weapons of mass destruction," "a veritable juggernaut." None of these things is exactly what the words advertise.

In the second place, given the Catechism's restatement of the Church's traditional allowance for the death penalty under at least some circumstances, it seems clear to me that a "moral exclusion" of the death penalty cannot be an exclusion of the death penalty as contrary to moral absolutes, but an exclusion of moral certitude in the circumstances that obtain today.

If the Church were really moving toward abandoning its traditional allowance of the death penalty under at least some circumstances, the Catechism would be silent on the subject, rather than continuing to support the traditional teaching.

It seems credible to me that the Church's traditional teaching on this subject rises to the level of an infallible exercise of the ordinary magisterium -- though I will defer that to Jimmy and others better equipped to consider such questions.

Brother Cadfael

SDG,

I agree with much of what you say, particularly if "under any circumstances" is understood in the manner you have described. I believe that any "development" in this sense would be more focused on the current use of the death penalty and foreseeable future uses, and given circumstances that currently exist, the death penalty is not (currently or in the future) to be used "under any circumstances" (a much more limited use of "under any circumstances" than what you have offered).

Such an "absolute" prohibition would not speak at all to the rightness or wrongness of past uses of the death penalty (and thus would not be "absolute" in the absolute sense).

As for what Cardinal Schonborn intended, I think you have to read all of what he said. I only lifted one sentence that I viewed as representative, but it seems pretty clear to me that where he is going (and where he thinks the Magisterium is going) is a complete and absolute (in the limited sense) prohibition of the death penalty. In that regard, the only definition for "veritable" in my dictionary is: "being in fact the thing named and not false, unreal, or imaginary."

Joseph D'Hippolito

Regarding papal apostacy: If any Pope converted to a non-Christian faith, the institutional Church would either have to follow or stage a rebellion. Likely, both would happen. Pockets of lay Catholics who reject the Pope's conversion also would arise. All this would mean schism; hence, the de facto death of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

If a Pope converted to Islam -- especially considering the growing influence of Islam in Europe and the waning of Christian influence -- the Roman Catholic Church would be nothing but a walking cadaver. Don't believe me? I suggest you google "Brussels Journal" and "Belgian bishops." Those bishops are allowing illegal Muslim immigrants to reside in their churches as squatters to pressure the Belgian government to grant them amnesty -- with Vatican approval. In the process, Muslims have covered statues and staged worship to Allah.

This is only the latest in a long line of Catholic indulgence toward Islam.

more to come...

Jordan Potter

"The authors of the Catholic Encyclopedia's best argument seems to be that if Marcellinus had apostatized then it would have been more loudly trumpeted by pagans,"

To clarify, the Catholic Encyclopedia didn't just argue that pagans would have more loudly trumpeted the apostasy, had it occurred, but that Christians would have talked about it too. There would be more than the silent omission of his name from the lists and the rumors of Donatist heretics 100 years after the death of Pope Marcellinus.

The Catholic Encyclopedia article does allow, however, that Pope Marcellinus may not have acquitted himself honorably or courageously during the persecution, taking measures to save his own life that would have been seen as moral questionable or cowardly and that would have left the Roman church to fend for itself without its shepherd.

guest

Out Italics, Out!

SDG

In that regard, the only definition for "veritable" in my dictionary is: "being in fact the thing named and not false, unreal, or imaginary."

This is denotatively correct, but the connotative usage I indicated is well established. E.g., see here and here.

Jordan Potter

"If any Pope converted to a non-Christian faith, the institutional Church would either have to follow or stage a rebellion. Likely, both would happen. Pockets of lay Catholics who reject the Pope's conversion also would arise. All this would mean schism; hence, the de facto death of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church."

So, are you arguing that God will never allow a Pope to convert to Islam because such would mean the falsification of Jesus' promise in Matt. 18, or are you arguing that Jesus didn't know what He was talking about in Matt. 18 because the Church will cease to exist if a Pope converts to Islam? Because if Jesus didn't know what He was talking about, why not convert to Islam, or atheism for that matter? Who cares if the Catholic Church dies if she is not who Jesus said she is?

Joseph D'Hippolito


Regarding capital punishment:

these spoken remarks carry unstated qualifiers pursuant to a cultural and civilizational particulars, and do not amount to "Capital Punishment is Wrong, full stop."

Then why did the late Pope call capital punishment "cruel and unnecessary"? Why whould he even bother to intervene on Timothy McVeigh's behalf, or on behalf of others convicted of murder? Why would he take a personal stake in the issue at all? Why not leave the decision-making to the competent authorities on the ground, as the Church did for centuries?

In Evangelium Vitae JP2 urged that the state "not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity." Any moral principle that admits an "except" of any sort is not a moral absolute.

Then why was it not an absolute necessity to execute McVeigh, who murdered 163 people?

JP2 then went on to express the view that in modern society "such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent." Even if he is right in this prudential judgment, "very rare if not practically non-existent" is not the same as "non-existent."

JPII is trying to make this "prudential judgement" de facto doctrine by his activism. How many intelligent Catholics, let alone non-Catholics, can tell the difference between papal activism and papal documents as teaching devices? And if there *is* a difference, then the Pope is, at best, inconsistent -- and, at worst, intellectually and ethically schizophrenic.

Hostile, Fundamentalist-style proof-texting bereft of context and attention to the whole will not get you the blanket moral condemnation of the death penalty that for whatever reason you would like to believe the Church is willing to embrace, when in fact the Holy Spirit will not permit this to happen.

The context, my dear SDG, is the history of the Church and the fact that two Doctors of the Church disagree with the late Pope's stance. No amount of name calling can keep you from ignoring that fact.

As far as the Holy Spirit is concerned, let me remind you that that the Holy Spirit is permitting this to happen because 1)humanity has free will 2)God allows those who reject his prinicples to experience the consequences of their folly. In this case, the consequences are the remarks of various ignorant bishops, whom the Vatican fails or refuses to discipline publicly -- and a general disregard for the innocent survivors of murder victims.

Ryan C

Joseph,

As relates to McVeigh, it was possible to keep him from harming society by putting him in jail, thus the death penalty was not "absolutely necessary." Furthermore, there were many people (victims even I believe) saying that he shouldn't be executed, because that was what he wanted - to be a "martyr." The issue is not as black and white as you make it out to be, as you continue to ride your hobby horse.

As to the charge that the Pope was schizophrenic - well, some arguments don't deserve responses.

Ryan C

Oh, and as to Doctors disagreeing with the Pope, Aquinas and the Pope are in complete agreement about the death penalty existing for the protection of the common good, as your own citations demonstrated.

SDG

All this would mean schism; hence, the de facto death of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Yawn.

Yaaaawwwwwwwn.

Schism? Been there, done that. The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is built on something firmer than our poor human ability to maintain alliances and communion.

Predicting the Death of the Catholic Church is second only to predicting the Second Coming in Completely Futile Armchair Prognostication. Actually, it's more futile, since Jesus actually will return someday, but the Church will never die.

I like the Chesterton aphorism lately alluded to, "Seven time over the Church has gone to the dogs; on each occasion it was the dog that died."

Joseph D'Hippolito

More on the possible death of the Church:

Chesterton never contemplated a Pope converting to an anti-Christian religion that currently is overruning Europe -- a religion for which Chesterton himself had profound contempt.

More on capital punishment for murder:

God himself commands that murderers be executed. In Genesis 9: 5-6, God commands Noah and his descendants to execute murderers because murder is the ultimate violation of the divine image in humanity, and killing the perpetrator is the only proportional punishment.

The rest of the Torah reinforces that command, and the NT doesn't countermand it. Indeed, Sister Helen Prejean herself admitted as much in her book, Dead Man Walking, when discussing Jesus and the adulteress in John 8:

"It is abundantly clear that the Bible depicts murder as a capital crime for which death is considered the appropriate punishment, and one is hard pressed to find a biblical ‘proof text’ in either the Hebrew Testament or the New Testament which unequivocally refutes this. Even Jesus’ admonition ‘Let him without sin cast the first stone,’ when He was asked the appropriate punishment for an adulteress (John 8:7) – the Mosaic Law prescribed death – should be read in its proper context.

"This passage is an ‘entrapment’ story, which sought to show Jesus’ wisdom in besting His adversaries. It is not an ethical pronouncement about capital punishment."

Esau

HIPPO:

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 meant 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.

SDG

Jhen why did the late Pope call capital punishment "cruel and unnecessary"?

Because, that is what the Pope believed capital punishment to be -- "except in cases of absolute necessity," where it is warranted. That's the nature of an unstated qualification.

Then why was it not an absolute necessity to execute McVeigh, who murdered 163 people?

Evidently, in the Pope's prudential judgment, life in prison was a sufficient and just response.

JPII is trying to make this "prudential judgement" de facto doctrine by his activism.

"De facto doctrine" is a meaningless combination of words, comparable to "de jure activism." It doesn't mean anything. Doctrine doesn't happen de facto. What happens de facto is not doctrine.

The context, my dear SDG, is the history of the Church and the fact that two Doctors of the Church disagree with the late Pope's stance.

I wasn't aware that any Doctors of the Church had a stance on Timothy McVeigh.

As far as the Holy Spirit is concerned, let me remind you that that the Holy Spirit is permitting this to happen because 1)humanity has free will 2)God allows those who reject his prinicples to experience the consequences of their folly. In this case, the consequences are the remarks of various ignorant bishops, whom the Vatican fails or refuses to discipline publicly -- and a general disregard for the innocent survivors of murder victims.

Let's say for the sake of argument that all this is true. Ignorant bishops, Vatican failure to discipline, etc., and the consequences thereof are all certainly within the realm of what the Holy Spirit does permit to happen in the Church. And yet, the Catholic Faith and the Church founded by Jesus Christ have weathered worse. The Faith remains pure, the Church indefectable.

Brother Cadfael

Hippo,

The context, my dear SDG, is the history of the Church and the fact that two Doctors of the Church disagree with the late Pope's stance. No amount of name calling can keep you from ignoring that fact.

No amount of calling something a fact can make it so. Inasmuch as the two Doctors of the Church pre-dated Pope John Paul II (by several centuries, no less) you are wrong in saying that they disagreed with Pope John Paul II. At most, you could say that the late Holy Father disagreed with them, but you would be wrong there, too.

SDG

God himself commands that murderers be executed.

God also granted mercy to murderers, from Cain (who AFAWK wasn't even sorry) to Moses to King David to Saul of Tarsus.

"This passage is an ‘entrapment’ story, which sought to show Jesus’ wisdom in besting His adversaries. It is not an ethical pronouncement about capital punishment."

Quite right. Capital punishment remains just in principle. But not necessarily obligatory, and not necessarily better dispensed with in many cases.

Esau

Scoreboard

SDG, Ryan C. & Br. Cadfael: 12
Hippo: 0


(Only kiddin', folks, only kiddin'!)

Esau

[slowly walks out of the room...]

Joseph D'Hippolito

1. Regardless of the reasons why God granted mercy to Cain and to David, those should be regarded as unique instances. God did not intend for just societies to act in such a manner in all cases; otherwise, he would not have issued his command to Noah and he never would have given to Moses a law that encourages the execution of murderers through due process.

2. Jesus did not participate in the execution of the adultress because that execution would have been illegal according to the Mosaic Law. If you recall the story, the Pharisees "caught her in the act" without bringing her before a legal tribunal and without any witnesses to testify. In short, this was equivalent to a lynching. It would be equivalent to policemen catching a murderer in the act and, instead of trying to take him into custody, killing him without making an attempt to arrest him. The officers involved would have been dismissed from the force.

Moreover, Jesus' words, "Let he who is without sit cast the first stone" was a direct rebuke to the Pharisees, who claimed to love the law above everything else yet were willing to violate it to entrap Jesus.

3....(the late Pope)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.

If applying such a principle depends on the nation and the circumstances, then the principle itself is based fundamentally on transient and materialistic considerations, such as the existance of "super-max" prisons and a nation's ability to construct or afford them, for example (whether such a principle in mere individual opinion or Church teaching is a secondary consideration; the emphasis here is on the foundation for and consequences of such an opinion).

The sanctity of a murderer's life, therefore, is in *direct* proportion to a nation's physical and financial ability to incarcerate prisoners. So a murderer who would be incarcerated in a country that could afford "super-max" prisons with security that would make a Gulag commandant envious would be executed for the same crime in another country that couldn't afford them. This is merciful or just?

Basing a punishment on a nation's physical and financial ability to provide "bloodless means" for such a punishment (as defined by EV) directly violates the principle of proportional punishment enunciated in Scripture, a principle that is based on the nature of the offense itself, regardless of materialistic or cultural considerations.

Tim J.

Joe D'H say, "Mercy is for chumps!".

SDG

So a murderer who would be incarcerated in a country that could afford "super-max" prisons with security that would make a Gulag commandant envious would be executed for the same crime in another country that couldn't afford them. This is merciful or just?

Why not? Frontier justice doesn't look like third-world justice. Third-world justice doesn't look like first-world justice. This by you is a problem?

Basing a punishment on a nation's physical and financial ability to provide "bloodless means" for such a punishment (as defined by EV) directly violates the principle of proportional punishment enunciated in Scripture, a principle that is based on the nature of the offense itself, regardless of materialistic or cultural considerations.

So you would be in favor of bringing back stoning? Or is it better given our state of development to execute criminals more humanely?

And would you bring back stoning for such offenses as adultery -- and disrespect to parents? Since the "nature of the offense itself" is the only relevant consideration...

Brother Cadfael

Hippo,

If applying such a principle depends on the nation and the circumstances, then the principle itself is based fundamentally on transient and materialistic considerations,....

Why? You're logic doesn't add up. Principles remain firm, yet application of principles changes depending on circumstances. That fact does not alter the principles, and it says nothing about what the principles are based on.

The Holy Father said nothing about super-max prisons or gulags. You have based an entire argument on a supposition that is false, and then declared your straw man to be unjust.

Esau

Joe D'H say, "Mercy is for chumps!".

From the distance, you can actually hear the Rocky theme starting up...

The SDG&E (no, not San Diego Gas & Electric but SDG et al.) Crew is just warming up for a knock-out!

(Okay, that was some lousy refereeing... back to the other posts!)

Esau

(Okay, that was some lousy refereeing... back to the other posts!)

refereeing... I meant, sportscasting, if you can even call it that!

Never mind... and on the subject of:

"So you would be in favor of bringing back stoning?"

Hopefully, it's not stoning stoning but actual stoning! Nix that, now it sounds like I'm stoned! ;^)

Joseph D'Hippolito

Frontier justice doesn't look like third-world justice. Third-world justice doesn't look like first-world justice. This by you is a problem?

If justice is supposed to be consistently applied according to the fundamental principles revealed by God, then yes.

So you would be in favor of bringing back stoning? Or is it better given our state of development to execute criminals more humanely?

And would you bring back stoning for such offenses as adultery -- and disrespect to parents? Since the "nature of the offense itself" is the only relevant consideration...

First, the issue is executing convicted murders, not people who work on the Sabbath, disobey their parents or engage in homosexuality. On that basis alone, Genesis 9: 5-6 applies without any amplification from the Mosaic Law.

Second, the Mosaic Law was intended for a theocratic society, into which Yahweh hoped to model Israel as His "royal priesthood." IOW, Yahweh intended Israel to be His oracle to the world. That witness included a legal system that demanded due process and proportional punishment for criminal offenses; murder was the only offense in which the victim's relatives were legally obligated not to accept monetary compensation.

Finally, the Mosaic Law reveals God's moral mind and ethical demands. God demands perfect righteousness at all times from all people; God will not tolerate sin. Unfortunately, humanity can't generate such righteousness all by itself; that's why Christ came to atone for human sin.

4. Principles remain firm, yet application of principles changes depending on circumstances. That fact does not alter the principles, and it says nothing about what the principles are based on.

When applied to the late pope's views on capital punishment, that statement is just plain wrong. By stating that the community can be sufficiently protected when capital convicts are imprisioned (and by acting on that conviction in McVeigh's case), the late pope directly contravened teaching from both Scripture and Tradition. By allowing for variances based on cultural and economic considerations, the late Pope contradicted the Scriptural teaching that murder is a crime whose only fitting punishment is execution.

5. The Holy Father said nothing about super-max prisons or gulags. You have based an entire argument on a supposition that is false, and then declared your straw man to be unjust.

The late Pope didn't have to say anything in his letters; he said it in his activism, especially in the case of McVeigh. He believes that imprisonment alone is sufficient to punish murder. That directly contradicts Scripture and Tradition.

Scriptural principles on justice and mercy cannot be discounted without engendering intellectual and moral chaos. We vividly see that chaos within the Church on this issue. While the Church has the authority to interpret Scripture, it does not have the authority or the right to ignore or disregard wholesale the rationale behind certain principles that Scripture enunciates as inspired.

Brother Cadfael

Hippo,

When applied to the late pope's views on capital punishment, that statement is just plain wrong.

Perhaps you are having difficulty discerning principles from application. But don't let a little thing like that get in the way of a good argument.

By stating that the community can be sufficiently protected when capital convicts are imprisioned (and by acting on that conviction in McVeigh's case), the late pope directly contravened teaching from both Scripture and Tradition.

I believe that the Holy Father likely had a broader context in mind than bigger, stronger prisons when he is speaking of society being protected. Physical harm is only one type of difficulty against which society must be protected.

Are you seriously arguing that Scripture and Tradition required Timothy McVeigh's execution? I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it seems as if you are. And if so, that is a seriously distorted brand of Catholicism or Christianity you're practicing.

By allowing for variances based on cultural and economic considerations, the late Pope contradicted the Scriptural teaching that murder is a crime whose only fitting punishment is execution.

Tradition itself -- at least your apparent understanding of it -- would also contradict Scripture on this point, since the Church has never taught that all murderers must be executed.

Where do you get this stuff?

Ryan C

Regarding the contradiction of Scripture...here's Aquinas on capital punishment and the New Testament:

"The other reason is because clerics are entrusted with the ministry of the New Law, wherein no punishment of death or of bodily maiming is appointed: wherefore they should abstain from such things in order that they may be fitting ministers of the New Testament."

Looks like the Pope is in line with Aquinas once again!

SDG

If justice is supposed to be consistently applied according to the fundamental principles revealed by God, then yes.

But what is required by those fundamental principles in different circumstances differs. In a civilized country, a criminal has a right to due process and jurisprudence; in frontier country that may not always be possible. What would be criminal vigilanteism in one scenario may be acceptable frontier justice in another. Likewise, what might be acceptable jurisprudence in one age might be unnecessary and cruel in another.

First, the issue is executing convicted murders, not people who work on the Sabbath, disobey their parents or engage in homosexuality. On that basis alone, Genesis 9: 5-6 applies without any amplification from the Mosaic Law.

If your argument is predicated on the claim that justice is "supposed to be consistently applied according to the fundamental principles revealed by God," then it is fair game to cross-examine this claim by inquiring whether bringing back stoning would be a good idea, or whether we should stone people for such offenses as adultery or disobedience to parents.

Mark P. Shea

One gets the distinct impression that Hippo's Bible consists of about three verses, all of them calling for death.

"I am come that they might have death and that abundantly." - The Gospel According to Joseph.

It really is an obsession for him: as though the main point of the gospel was to make sure that as many people as possible are killed and that any variation from that Presiding Goal is a disgusting perversion of the Faith.

You go, SDG!

SDG

You go, SDG!

Thanks, Mark! We try.

One gets the distinct impression that Hippo's Bible consists of about three verses, all of them calling for death.

"I am come that they might have death and that abundantly." - The Gospel According to Joseph.

Oh, well, I don't know, he did have that bit in his last post about "Unfortunately, humanity can't generate such righteousness all by itself; that's why Christ came to atone for human sin." That sounds tolerably like the gospel to me… though his "death of the Church" / "wholesale revisionism" / "murderers must be executed" stuff certainly won't stand up.

David B.

When I read Hippo's posts, I can only think of one response:

Esau

And that is????

Esau

Well, I ain't saying anything.

Hippo's already upset with me for my calling what he was doing to Mark Shea "bullying" and I don't even know Mark Shea, except for that little encounter I had with him awhile back!

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