Every Monday, the WoW! community and our invited guests weigh in at the Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week’s question:Pope Francis Now Opposes Capital Punishment. What Say You?
Scott Kirwin: As I’ve gotten older and become more mistrustful of government, I’ve had to reconcile that with my support of capital punishment. Giving the State that power when you don’t completely trust it seems contradictory, and the number of people exonerated after years on Death Row should give everyone pause.
I still support it at this time, but it’s not a strongly held, non-negotiable position like my support of Israel or gun rights is. The fact that this dippy Pope, who I have little respect for, opposes it really doesn’t affect my decision one way or another.
Jeffrey Avalon Friedberg : I was once blessed by a Pope when he came to visit Atlantic City, waayyyy back in the 1950’s, and blessed the entire ocean—with me in it.
I liked the just-previous Pope, and others prior to him. I like benign religion that gives people happiness and hope. Solace. A good and creative life. A beneficent Way to be. Order out of chaos.
I have been following the diatribes and rants of this current Pope. Catholics, have you had enough yet?
Without reading his statement on capital punishment I am going to disregard anything he says—based on his past performance as Pope. To me he is irrelevant in wisdom or religion. To me he is irrelevant as a thinker. He is irrelevant as a man. He is irrelevant.
To me, he is a foreign-born, socialist fraud. How he got to be Pope is a mystery—at least—to me. I speculate he was handpicked to help destroy America and bring the Church down further than it had already fallen.
At any moment I expect him to order Catholics to celebrate Ramadan. And some ancient Aztec feast.
Don Surber: Capital punishment was pivotal in the story of Christ. No execution, no resurrection. Life imprisonment is cruel, but sadly no longer unusual.
Patrick O’Hannigan: The reading I’ve done asserts that Pope Francis has modified the Catechism of the Catholic Church to say that the death penalty is “inadmissable.” This in contrast to what it had said, which was basically that the death penalty could only be legitimately applied in extreme circumstances where there were no other means of safeguarding the public. In the old days, the Papal States (precursors to Vatican City State) applied the death penalty.themselves, and even employed an official executioner. I fear that the change in perspective is a concession to self-proclaimed social justice warriors rather than an honest development of doctrine.
Death penalty opponents typically say that the problem with that is its finality. They mean that when you’re dead, it’s too late to repent of your sins, and preserving at least the chance for repentance is a recognition of inherent human dignity. That’s true as far as it goes, but it ignores potential similarities between capital punishment and the “death bed conversions” that you sometimes read about. Repentance need not take long. It need not come at the expense of justice, either.
Latin remains the official language of Church documents. That said, the word choice (in English) as it has been reported is telling, because it seems to leave a little wiggle room, in a kind of embarrassed acknowledgement of what the Catechism used to say. “Inadmissable” is a lawyerly word, not something typically found in moral theology texts. I’m reminded of the difference between “right” and “legal” (or “evil” and “illegal”). It’s a stretch that lay Catholics should not have to make, but something can be “inadmissible” without being “intrinsically evil.”
I also can’t help but wonder what this pope would make of “By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment,” which is a book that came out just last year. Edward Feser, one of the two people who wrote that scholarly but accessible book, has pointed out that popes have explicitly endorsed the death penalty on several occasions. He was also brave and smart enough to point out that slapping the label “development” on a contradiction does not make the so-called development a non-contradiction.
Laura Rambeau Lee: I suspect at least one reason my ancestors left Germany to come to the Colonies in the 1700s was to escape Catholicism, as they were Protestants and members of the German Reformed Church. Protestants believe no mortal man is a direct conduit to G-d and that our relationship with our Creator is a personal one, as is our interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. Pope Francis is advancing a globalist Marxist agenda under the guise of a holy man. His beliefs may very well bring about the destruction of the Catholic Church.
When there is no doubt of the guilt of the person and the crime was premeditated, capital punishment delivers justice and brings much needed closure to the loved ones of the victim. The reality is every one of us is going to die. Why should a murderer be permitted to take breath and enjoy this precious gift of life when they callously and cruelly chose to deprive another human being of this gift? Let the guilty repent and receive redemption from G-d in the afterlife, but here on earth they should be required to pay the ultimate price.
Well, there it is!
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