Death penalty

Capital punishment and the ordinary magisterium of Pope Francis

I desire mercy, not sacrifice (Hos 6:6; Mt 9:13).

Several conservative Catholics in the United States of America are up in arms against the latest declaration of Pope Francis in relation to the death penalty and its inadmissibility. They are particularly miffed that he has “dared” to make sure that the Catechism of the Catholic Church accurately reflects the needs of our times. The below, therefore, bears repeating as many (wilful traditionalist clerics included) believe that to be Catholic, they do not need to follow what the Pope says, but only what he says if it happens to agree with whatever their particular religiopolitical-ideological stance might be.

Pride and spiritual arrogance at their best.

So, here goes:

Public statements by the Pope that do not qualify as ordinary and universal magisterium also have an authority that Catholics are not free to dismiss. They are required to give such teachings religious submission in accordance with the declaration of Vatican Council II as follows: Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking (Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, §25).

Many American Catholics, some clerics included, keep confusing the ordinary magisterium of Pope Francis for his ordinary and universal magisterium; to speak only of parts of the ordinary part, not the extraordinary part, of the teaching office of the Catholic Church.

They are wrong.

The Pope, like all other Popes before him, has both the ordinary magisterium and the ordinary and universal magisterium. It is under the former that the death penalty issue has been addressed, not under the latter, and this magisterial route, as shown above, also requires acceptance of it and religious assent – if you want to be, at the very least, minimally Catholic (let alone hard-identity Catholic).

A different route, however, is always possible for the wilful, the stubborn, the spiritually proud (non)cognoscenti: those who believe they know God’s mind and will more than anyone else, and His desires for all humanity since prior to the beginning of time. The route is this:

Go and set up your own church like Fr. Martin Luther, O.S.A., did in 1517. After all, it’s not like setting up one’s own church, with one’s own particular magisterium, and one’s own cult of personality (and followership) is not in the ‘best’ traditions of American church life, since the nation’s inception over 250 years ago! Then you can be your own (little p) pope. You can lay down whichever law you want, however you want it, with whatever stipulations and ‘membership requirements’ you want, in wherever ‘refuge’ you want, and no one will contradict you. You will be the head honcho and, as the saying goes, everyone will live happily ever after.

You will be in ‘good’ company – the company of the most famous, spiritually rebellious ‘church’ father. Just do not expect to attain Heaven and life with the Holy Trinity for eternity, unless you genuinely turn back to God and His One, True Church, because extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

New litmus test and the de facto schism in the Catholic Church in America

Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia, ibi Deus.

Given the Pope’s declaration of the inadmissibility of the death penalty in all cases and his instruction to revise the Catechism of Catholic Church in this regard, the de facto schism in the Catholic Church in the United States is now coming to the fore. It is going to be very easy for everyone to know who is truly still a faithful son or daughter of the Church and who is, in effect, part of the parallel church, the false church, that has been so undeniably set up, together with its parallel magisterium.

Already, overt rebellion is in the ranks, because many American Catholics refuse to accept that you do not kill people, no matter what they might have done. What is common sense even for children these days just seems to keep flying right over the heads and hearts of said Catholics, because they keep rejecting the humility needed to understand God and His desires for humanity – desires since the very beginning of time.

Thus, instead of admitting that God Himself preserved Qayin, the first human murderer, from capital punishment, they prefer to pridefully blame the Pope for “heresy” or a “rupture with continuity,” neither of which claims are grounded in any kind of hermeneutical reality. Such Catholics concurrently keep refusing to understand the workings of the prevenient grace of God, which at its most basic means that no validly-elected Pope, from the time of Peter through the Pope at the very end of all time, can ever fall into heresy (papal indefectibility). You can learn more about that here.

Ego sum cum Papa semper (Saint George Preca).

The acceptance of the above inadmissibility of capital punishment in this day and age is, therefore, going to be, for at least American Catholics (and many other Catholics primarily in the Anglo-Saxon world), the litmus test of their fidelity or infidelity to God and to the Catholic Church as founded by Jesus Christ.

If you want to discern whether someone belongs to the real Church or to the false church, just ask them if they support the death penalty. There is no confusion any more on this issue (Pope Francis has closed the loopholes), except for those who deliberately insist on remaining spiritually blind. You will be surprised at some of the responses you may get.

Pope Francis declares the death penalty inadmissible in all cases

Whosoever shall kill Qayin, shall be punished sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Qayin, so that whoever found him should not kill him (Gn 4:15).

Pope Francis, elaborating the teachings of the Catholic Church on capital punishment and developing the teachings of Saint John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on the issue, has at last declared openly that “The Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.” He has also instructed that the Catechism of the Catholic Church be accordingly updated (§2267).

To understand more about this long-due elaboration of the Faith and its grounded hermeneutic of continuity with previous teachings, you can read more at Is the Death Penalty Just? This addresses the issue of capital punishment from Blessed Paul XVI through the teachings of the Church up to the end of 2017.

The declaration of Pope Francis is of particular importance and implication in this day and age, given the barbaric nature of capital punishment that is still meted out without hesitation (if not with actual sadistic glee) in the United States – a punishment cheered-for by many American Catholics and White Evangelicals alike “in the Name of God” – because the US is still supposed to be the most ‘civilized’ country in the world.

The mind of the Catholic Church on capital punishment – From Blessed Paul VI through Pope Francis

YOU SHALL NOT KILL

Pope Blessed Paul VI

“Go out into the world and make every effort possible in every way to restore the dignity of man, and all that it implies! I stand foursquare with modern theologians who hold that prudentially and historically capital punishment does not fit into the greater contemporary theological awareness of the worth of each individual on earth” (Speech to the Bishops at closing of Vatican Council II, Vatican City, 1965).

Note: Paul VI removed capital punishment from the fundamental law of Vatican City in 1969.


Pope Saint John Paul II

“On this matter there is a growing tendency, both in the Church and in civil society, to demand that it be applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely. The problem must be viewed in the context of a system of penal justice ever more in line with human dignity and thus, in the end, with God’s plan for man and society. The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is “to redress the disorder caused by the offence”.46 Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfils the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people’s safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behaviour and be rehabilitated.  (more…)

Is the death penalty just? – Response to a question

The question has been repeatedly asked, “Is the death penalty just?” Here is the response from the mind of the Church.

YOU SHALL NOT KILL

Pope Blessed Paul VI

“Go out into the world and make every effort possible in every way to restore the dignity of man, and all that it implies! I stand foursquare with modern theologians who hold that prudentially and historically capital punishment does not fit into the greater contemporary theological awareness of the worth of each individual on earth” (Speech to the Bishops at closing of Vatican Council II, Vatican City, 1965).

Note: Paul VI removed capital punishment from the fundamental law of Vatican City in 1969.


Pope Saint John Paul II

“On this matter there is a growing tendency, both in the Church and in civil society, to demand that it be applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely. The problem must be viewed in the context of a system of penal justice ever more in line with human dignity and thus, in the end, with God’s plan for man and society. The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is “to redress the disorder caused by the offence”.46 Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfils the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people’s safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behaviour and be rehabilitated. 

“It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent. In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: ‘If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person’” (Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae ¶56, 1995).  (more…)

The hypocrisy of some in the pro-life movement in the United States

o-DEATH-PENALTY-facebook

Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, You have driven me this day away from the ground; and from Your face I shall be hidden; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will slay me.”

Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If any one slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.”

And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who came upon him should kill him. Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden (Gn 4:2-16).

Some claim to be ‘pro-life.’ In fact, they will stop at nothing to hold back a mother-to-be from aborting her baby-in-the-womb, for abortion is manslaughter-by-another-name at the very least. And rightly so.

It should be noted, however, that the many of those who call themselves pro-life these days and actively belong to that movement in the US are not genuinely pro-life. They are simply pro-birth and pro-rationalization of whatever will quieten their conscience in the moment, to retain their personal and public delusions of being ‘a true Christian’ or ‘a faithful Catholic,’ despite the intractable beliefs with different intent which remain deeply in their hearts.

You shall not kill (Ex 20:13).

Specifically, these individuals defend capital punishment – the death penalty; another name for homicide – tooth and nail, despite the fact that only God and no one else has the right to take the life of another human person, no matter the actions, honorable or dishonorable, of the latter. In a celebratory manner reminiscent of that of a herd of fools rather than that of a herd of sheep, these individuals and this movement disregard the teachings of the Church and the repeated calls of Saint John Paul II, among others, to end this “cruel and unusual” punishment. It is a punishment that only declared barbarians, irrevocable sadists, radical extremists, and those possessed by Satan would ever endorse in this day and age.

Here are some excerpts of Saint John Paul II’s calls in relation to the death penalty:

Human life belongs only to God: for this reason, whoever attacks human life, in some way attacks God Himself . . . Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God Himself pledges to guarantee this . . . God, who preferred the correction rather than the death of a sinner, did not desire that a homicide be punished by the exaction of another act of homicide (Evangelium Vitae, 1995).

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 (Homily at the Papal Mass in the Trans World Dome, St. Louis, Missouri, January 27, 1999).

May the death penalty, an unworthy punishment still used in some countries, be abolished throughout the world (Prayer at the Papal Mass at Regina Coeli Prison in Rome, July 9, 2000).