Mary M comparison of CCC on Capital Punishment versus stilbelieve.
Posted by Mary M on Friday, Apr 15, 2011 6:05 AM (EDT):
@stilbelieve - The following is the official teaching (which corresponds with my beliefs)of the Catholic Church excerpted from the Cathechism’s Second Edition. Anything that you or anyone else removes or adds to this is error. John Paul II does not have the definitive word by himself. The Pope in union with the Bishops make prudential decisions. It was because of Pope JPII that the death penalty was revisited and ultimately the text revised in the Cathechism’s Second Edition.
2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not.“65
2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:
If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s..66
2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.
2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people’s rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people’s safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.67
2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.“68
Stilbelieve’s reply to Mary M. The text in 2263, 2264 and 2266 will be covered in my responses to the text in 2265 and 2267. All 5 of these texts represent your position for opposing capital punishment and because the Church now says so. The following represent why I think the new teaching is incorrect.
2265 says: “Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.”
My response. There are authorized people who have the right to defend the civil community from harm by unjust aggressors with the use of arms. In other words, there are authorized people who can use capital means to defend the civil community if that is needed.
I agree with everything in 2265, above. It states there is a “legitimate defense” that is not only “a right” but “a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others.” It expands on that right by stating “the defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm.” It acknowledges that there are people who “legitimately hold authority” for “the defense of the common good” and have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.”
Paragraph 1 of 2267. “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”
My response to paragraph 1 of 2267
The death penalty, traditionally, has been an approved means of defending human lives against the properly identified person fully determined to be the unjust aggressor IF “this is the only possible way of effectively defending” against their doing further harm to the civil community.
Paragraph 2 of 2267. “If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.”
Response to paragraph 2 of 2267
“IF.” That is the question. “IF, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend AND protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means” for reasons stated. The use of Lethal Means IS permitted if “Non-Lethal Means” are NOT Sufficient To Protect Society. The object is to PROTECT SOCIETY against any further harm from properly identified capital offenders.
Paragraph 3 of 2267. “Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity ‘are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”68
Response to paragraph 3 of 2267
“Today, IN FACT.” What evidence did/do those who wrote this have that what they are about to state is in fact, A FACT? Has anybody seen THIS EVIDENCE that enables them to state it as a FACT? I don’t know the answer to that; but anything they say after that required them to present the evidence to prove what they say is, in fact, a fact. If it is imperative that the judicial system apprehend the correct person identified for committing the capital offence(s) and present all the honest evidence leading to that person’s conviction and subsequent punishment; it is equally imperative that before anybody changes centuries of Church approval for a rational disposition of punishment, that if that change is based on a statement of “FACT,” then that “FACT” should be presented as the evidence. That is what I am asking for. The Church should show us “the fact” she is referring to so that we can in turn give our obedience to the new teaching. Civil society deserves to know the facts of a criminal judicial trial. That is what is done in a trial in order to determine the correct ruling of the case that the judge will be ruling on. So, too, we the faithful should have the right to know the FACTS supporting the about-face change in a teaching that has existed for tens of centuries if we are being expected to go along with it unquestionably.
The following paragraphs express my reasoning for the Church to return to her historical position on this issue and continue to support Capital Punishment as a prolife position.
The CCC text does not give the evidence for what it said was a “FACT,” but instead presents a CONJECTURE that the state ABSOLUTELY has ways of “rendering one who has committed an offense INCAPABLE of doing harm,” again. They say this WITHOUT presenting any proof for what they are saying. They make only an assumption of how the state can make the capital offender “INCAPABLE” of doing harm.” They say “as a consequence of possibilities” the offender will be made INCAPABLE to do harm. That would be like the prosecution saying in court about the accused; “He COULD have done this” without presenting the proof of HOW HE DID or COULD HAVE DONE IT.
The ASSUMPTION being made by the Church leadership is: - In a high-tech, modern prison in an advanced society, the “aggressor” can be kept in solitary confinement, away from other prisoners, confined 23 hours a day in a cell with clear glass for walls with constant round the clock surveillance by prison guards, with nothing going in or out of the cell without examination, with nothing in the cell having removable parts, with the prisoner let out only 1 hour a day for exercise in a private court yard with no other inmates around. Based on these assumptions, which actually are factual, the writer of this new Church position on the death penalty concludes their case using MORE ASSUMPTIONS saying, “The cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.” They offer no evidence to support this statement.
It would have been helpful for their new teaching to have investigated high-tech, modern prisons in advanced societies and talked with those at the highest levels of responsibility for the protection of the civil society, as well as to the wardens responsible for the day to day operation of running the prisons, to find out if their assumptions about such prisons are correct. They may have learned what the Department of Corrections in California said about its newest, most advanced, high-tech prison for the worst of the worst offenders housed in over 1,000 solitary confinement cells which I described above as the “probable assumptions” they had in mind for such a prison. They would have learned that both the head of the Department of Correction of the state as well as the warden of the most advanced prison in the state said there is no way to stop such offenders from continuing to do the public harm by such acts as murders, robberies, and drug trafficking, etc.
This new CP teaching would be like the Church wanting us to believe a teaching that Jesus rose from the dead because she said so, without presenting any evidence to that claim, which in fact, would only be – a claim in that case. But Jesus did rise from the dead, and there are eye witnesses to that having happened. That fact IS what gave the disciples the will power to become martyrs for their beliefs and teachings – after hiding in fear for their own lives when Jesus was arrested and crucified. Facts are what provided belief in the truth of her teaching on the resurrection – not assumptions. Facts are what are needed in her new teaching on CP.
The change in the Church’s teaching on capital punishment is based on a false assumption, presented without any evidence. Yet, there is recent, solid historical factual evidence to prove her assumptions are wrong. My question is why did this change in the teaching on CP come about without checking for evidence, first, to support the assumption being made? The only rational explanation why this wasn’t done was because it was more important to the Church, i.e., the bishops, to remove a criticism from the left on a hole in her teaching on “a consistent ethic of life.” How could she claim to be prolife when she supports capital punishment? It is a shame how the pro-abortion left have been able to keep the Church off-balance on the issue of abortion with such criticisms. But it’s the Church’s, i.e., the bishops, fault for opening the door for such claims when they expanded the definition of prolife to include issues that have nothing to do with the murdering of unborn, and sometimes, born innocent human beings. Capital punishment is prolife in that it renders unjust aggressors, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be guilty, from further harm to the public, and in so doing, it promotes the common good. There is no evidence of ever executing an innocent capital punishment prisoner. If there was such an execution, we would have surely heard about it by now by those working so tirelessly to end CP, especially for that reason. But there is PLENTY of EVIDENCE that locking unjust aggressors away in solitary confinement in the most advanced society with the highest technology available, CAN NOT prevent such criminals from continuing to do harm to the public. Again, only about 2% of those CP aggressors eligible for the death sentence actually receive a capital punishment sentence. So, CP is NOT wholesale execution; it’s “very rare” (like stated in the 3rd paragraph in CCC 2267) but still necessary to “provide for the common good,” and to protect the public from further harm.