The Ecumenical Progressives Want To Do Away With The Death Penalty Too
The Church traditionally stands behind the death penalty BUT not the heretical Novus Ordites...
Archbishop Gomez: It's time to end the death penalty.- Californians should vote for Proposition 62, a ballot measure to end the death penalty, the Archbishop of Los Angeles has said in a reflection on justice, Catholic teaching and American society.
“It is time for us to end the death penalty – not only in California but throughout the United States and throughout the world,” Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said Sept. 21.
“In a culture of death, I believe mercy alone can be the only credible witness to the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person.”
His essay is part of a special issue of the Los Angeles archdiocese's newsweekly Angelus dedicated to the Church and the death penalty.
Rather than condemn criminals to death, he said, Christians “should pray for their conversion and encourage their rehabilitation and ultimate restoration to society.”
Those who seek an end to the death penalty must not forget the victims of crime and their loved ones.
“We entrust them to the Father of mercies and we pray that he grant them healing and peace,” the archbishop continued.
California’s ballot measure Prop. 62, which is on the November ballot, would replace the death penalty with lifetime in prison without parole.
Public opinion survey results have been mixed.
A Sept. 1-8 online poll of 1,909 registered voters sponsored by the USC Dornslife College and the Los Angeles Times found that only 40 percent of registered voters would approve the proposal. Another survey, run by the Field Poll, polled 942 likely voters Sept.7-13. It found support from 48 percent of voters and opposition from 37 percent.
Another ballot measure, Prop. 66, would limit the appeal process for death row inmates and shorten the time from sentencing to execution.
Archbishop Gomez cited St. John Paul II’s words in his final U.S. visit in 1999, in which the Pope called the death penalty “cruel and unnecessary.”
“The reason is that every life is sacred and every person has a dignity that comes from God,” the archbishop explained. “This is true for the innocent and it is true for the guilty. It is true even for those convicted of the most violent crimes.”
He acknowledged historical Catholic support for the death penalty.
“The Catholic Church has always taught that legitimate governments have the right to impose the death penalty on those guilty of the most serious crimes. This teaching has been consistent for centuries — in the Scriptures, in the writings of the Church Fathers and in the teachings of the Popes,” he said.
“But in recent years, there has been a growing consensus that the use of the death penalty can no longer be accepted.”
Archbishop Gomez cited a “strange appetite for violence” in American culture, violent video games, demeaning music and entertainments.
“In this cultural context, I do not see how the death penalty can ever again express society’s ultimate value for human life. In this cultural context, the death penalty can only function as one more killing.”
A. Human life may be lawfully taken:
- In self-defense, when we are unjustly attacked and have no other means of saving our own lives;
- In a just war, when the safety or rights of the nation require it;
- By the lawful execution of a criminal, fairly tried and found guilty of a crime punishable by death when the preservation of law and order and the good of the community require such execution.
In Favor of the Death Penalty
Most of the American secular media, as well as many progressivist religious authorities and left-wing movements, are trying to strike down the legislation of the States that carry the death penalty as punishment for certain crimes.
Catholic doctrine as it was taught until Vatican II does not support this liberal position. On the contrary, it clearly states that the death penalty is legitimate. As a contribution to support the correct position, today we bring to the attention of our Readers one excerpt from St. Augustine and two others from St. Thomas defending capital punishment.
The same divine authority that forbids the killing of a human being establishes certain exceptions, as when God authorizes killing by a general law or when He gives an explicit commission to an individual for a limited time.
The agent who executes the killing does not commit homicide; he is an instrument as is the sword with which he cuts. Therefore, it is in no way contrary to the commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill' to wage war at God's bidding, or for the representatives of public authority to put criminals to death, according to the law, that is, the will of the most just reason.
(The City of God, Book 1, chapter 21)
St. Thomas Aquinas
It is written: "Wizards thou shalt not suffer to live" (Ex. 22:18); and: "In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land" (Ps. 100:8). …
Every part is directed to the whole, as imperfect to perfect, wherefore every part exists naturally for the sake of the whole. For this reason we see that if the health of the whole human body demands the excision of a member, because it became putrid or infectious to the other members, it would be both praiseworthy and healthful to have it cut away. Now every individual person is related to the entire society as a part to the whole. Therefore if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and healthful that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since "a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6).(Summa Theologiae, II, II, q. 64, art. 2)
The fact that the evil ones, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit 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 obstinate that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from malice, it is possible to make a quite probable judgment that they would never come away from evil.”
(Summa contra gentiles, Book III, chapter 146)
We have received objections to our previous posting of St. Augustine and St. Thomas defending the death penalty. “To be in favor of capital punishment is against Catholic charity,” the objectors argued. “These Saints were just giving their personal opinions on the topic, so they do not reflect the official teaching of the Church. Therefore, they need not be followed,” they concluded.
Since we did not have the time to make a long research, we respond to these objections by presenting some texts of Popes justifying the death penalty. They follow below.
The first Pope to take a stand in favor of the death penalty was Innocent I in the year 405. In response to a query from the Bishop of Toulouse, Pope Innocent I based his position on Paul’s Letter to the Romans. He wrote:
It must be remembered that power was granted by God [to the magistrates], and to avenge crime by the sword was permitted. He who carries out this vengeance is God’s minister (Rm 13:1-4). Why should we condemn a practice that all hold to be permitted by God? We uphold, therefore, what has been observed until now, in order not to alter the discipline and so that we may not appear to act contrary to God’s authority.
(Innocent 1, Epist. 6, C. 3. 8, ad Exsuperium, Episcopum Tolosanum,
20 February 405, PL 20,495)
The secular power can without mortal sin carry out a sentence of death, provided it proceeds in imposing the penalty not from hatred but with judgment, not carelessly but with due solicitude.
(Innocent III, DS 795/425)
Even in the case of the death penalty the State does not dispose of the individual’s right to life. Rather public authority limits itself to depriving the offender of the good of life in expiation for his guilt, after he, through his crime, deprived himself of his own right to life.
(Pius XII, Address to the First International Congress of Histopathology
of the Nervous System, 14 September 1952, XIV, 328)
Catechism of the Council of Trent
The power of life and death is permitted to certain civil magistrates because theirs is the responsibility under law to punish the guilty and protect the innocent. Far from being guilty of breaking this commandment [Thy shall not kill], such an execution of justice is precisely an act of obedience to it. For the purpose of the law is to protect and foster human life. This purpose is fulfilled when the legitimate authority of the State is exercised by taking the guilty lives of those who have taken innocent lives.
In the Psalms we find a vindication of this right: “Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all evildoers from the city of the Lord” (Ps. 101:8).
(Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566, Part III, 5, n. 4)