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Abp. Chaput: "End the Death Penalty."

Archbishop Chaput urges America to end the death penalty.

Let’s end the death penalty, now

Capital punishment, euthanasia, abortion and war: All these issues raise profound questions for Catholics as we reflect on the sanctity of human life. But while they all touch on human dignity, they don’t all have the same moral content.

Euthanasia and abortion are always, intrinsically wrong because they always involve an intentional killing of innocent human life. War and capital punishment, in contrast, can sometimes be morally acceptable as an expression of society’s right to self-defense.
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4 comments:

sarah said...

woo hoo!

johnclubvec said...

From Cardinal Avery Dulles's reply to invited responses to his 2001 article on capital punishment:

"Mr. Riga, echoing the very language of John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae and the Catechism, says that improvements in the penal system make it possible for society to defend itself without executing offenders except in very rare cases. I do not personally follow this argument because it is subject to two objections that I have not been able to answer.

"The first objection is that the proposal adverts to only one of the four ends of punishment, passing over the other three (retribution, deterrence, and rehabilitation) in silence. Why is only one of the four purposes discussed in connection with the death penalty? Here lurks an ambiguity that, as Prof. McInerny recognizes, needs to be cleared up."

Archbishop Chaput, far from clearing that ambiguity up, passes over it in silence -- almost as if did not exist. Thus, I lift Cardinal Dulles's words in another place in the same article out of context to give my own response to Archbishop Chaput:

"Until someone can show me what was wrong with the previous teaching I will continue to uphold it."

Cardinal Dulles avers, and I agree, that we must be responsive to the prudential judgments of the Holy Father and bishops. However, the prudence of prudential judgments is tested and proved by the determination of the magisterium to respond to reasonable requests to address unclear or ambiguous matters in its teaching and to resolve them -- to take the moral and sacramental responsibility of addressing and resolving them. Otherwise one may reasonably, and faithfully, conclude that the prudence of the particular magisterial prudential judgment may itself be in issue.

Archbishop Chaput's remarks do nothing to resolve the ambiguity noted by both a philosopher, Ralph McInerny, and a theologian, Cardinal Dulles. To the contrary, his remarks perpetuate that ambiguity.

In the same place, one of the respondents, Professor Charles Rice, tells the following story. I wonder if any Catholic could still shout "woo hoo!" after reading it:

"When I ask groups of students, prior to reading the relevant paragraphs of Evangelium Vitae, how many consider the death penalty justified, the answer is overwhelmingly negative. Eventually, as the discussion proceeds, it becomes clear that that view is based on the notion that no human person, being made in the image and likeness of God, can ever lose the right to life, no matter how serious his crime. When, against this background, I raise the question of eternal punishment, an uneasy silence falls."

Anonymous said...

Catholic Leaders need also to be Catholic readers. And they might begin with the catechism. To teach, or to call for, something contrary to the catechism is to lead astray.

John Hetman said...

I would glady end the death penalty in the United States save for three heinous crimes...parish music directors who play Haugen, Haas, Joncas, Duck or the St. Louie Jesuits, et al; priests who ad lib the mass; and sugary welcoming comments before mass...oh and a fourth one; celebrants who cannot just make the sign of the cross at the start of mass but must add their own fatuous welcoming comments which are totally irreverent.

I volunteer for the firing squad...took an expert badge in the Army...one shot and it's over, folks!!


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