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Archbishop Chaput on Justice, and the Death Penalty

It's just great knowing Archbishop Chaput is our guy in Philadelphia. Here he writes about the death penalty. I am against the death penalty but I could see how it could be justified in some cases, especially when our justice system seems intent on releasing even the hardest of criminals and endangering all of us:

Even when a defendant is well defended, properly tried and justly found guilty, experience shows that capital punishment simply doesn't work as a deterrent. Nor does it heal or redress any wounds, because only forgiveness can do that. It does succeed though in answering violence with violence -- a violence wrapped in the piety of state approval, which implicates all of us as citizens in the taking of more lives. Turning away from capital punishment does not diminish our support for the families of murder victims. They bear a terrible burden of grief, and they rightly demand justice. Real murderers deserve punishment; but even properly tried and justly convicted murderers – men and women who are found guilty of heinous crimes -- retain their God-given dignity as human beings. When we take a murderer's life we only add to the violence in an already violent culture, and we demean our own dignity in the process.
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TerentiaJ said...

I am a practicing Catholic, emphasis on "practicing." I am willing to be taught by the Church in all matters. And I have no knowledge of the particular case Archbishop Chaput was discussing so nothing of what I am going to write here pertains specifically to that case.
It seems to me that when the "punishment" is separated from the crime by years or even decades, it is hard to address with any accuracy whether there is a deterrant effect or not.
Yes, repentence is the goal but nothing concentrates the mind quite so effectively as the fear of imminent death. I see this all the time as a nurse. Someone can be told repeatedly by their Dr, family, the surgeon general, that certain actions are causing health problems but that person does nothing to change until after the heart attack. "Dead Man Walking" portrayed this very well. Patrick Sonnier finally came to some understanding of the heinousness of his crime only as his own death neared. Many criminals live out their lives in prison never coming to a state of true repentence, at least judging by their actions. I have sympathy for the guards who deal with the continuing violence some of these people commit even in prison. And also for the other prisoners who suffer and die at the hands of their fellows. For some the only way to protect others from their violence would be to place the offender into permanent solitary confinement and allow them no human contact. How is that merciful?

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Chaput's comments reflect JPII's arbitrary, revisionist position that contradicts both Scripture and Tradition -- and has become the teaching norm today.


Mary De Voe said...

The victim’s humanity deserves equal punishment, or retribution, not called vengeance, not called violence but retribution and vindication. Retribution is what the nation owes to each of its sovereign constituencies. The Catholic Church can only forgive the capital one crime of murder if the murderer is repentant. There still remains the temporal punishment due to sin. Capital punishment is the temporal punishment due to capital one homicide. An unrepentant murderer is the risk of double jeopardy of life to every person breathing, the doctors, the guards, the other inmates. A risk of double jeopardy of life the state and the Church are not free to make. Double jeopardy is more than the state and the church were obeyed in their codes and canon laws against the taking of innocent human life. I can forgive my murderer. I cannot forgive your murderer without becoming an accessory after the fact and an accomplice in the next capital one taking of innocent human life by the murderer. JUSTICE. Mercy cannot be extorted from any person, not even the state. Mercy is freely given on a voluntary basis upon examination of each and every case. To remove capital punishment from the law, for all capital one murder, implies that the victim deserved to be put to death for a capital one homicide, without any vindication possible. If mercy is to “droppeth as the gentle dew from heaven”, capital punishment is necessary to define our culture as the culture of life with JUSTCE and MERCY. In short, who needs mercy if homicide is morally and legally acceptable? Can a deterrence factor be counted without zero homicide? To ban Capital Punishment, capital one homicide must be banned. The Fifth Commandment.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Very well stated, Mary.

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