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Pope Francis changes catechism to declare death penalty ‘inadmissible’

Pope Francis prays during an audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on July 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

(RNS) — Pope Francis has ordered a change to the catechism of the Catholic Church, altering existing language to read “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.” It vows that the church will work “with determination for its abolition worldwide.”

Although Catholics have been generally opposed to the death penalty for some time — St. John Paul II updated the catechism in 1997 with stronger language criticizing capital punishment — Francis’ change clarifies that the church fully opposes the act.

“The new text, following in the footsteps of the teaching of John Paul II in ‘Evangelium Vitae,’ affirms that ending the life of a criminal as punishment for a crime is inadmissible because it attacks the dignity of the person, a dignity that is not lost even after having committed the most serious crimes,” said Cardinal Luis Ladaria when announcing the change, according to the Catholic News Service. Ladaria, who is the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, noted that Francis approved the changes on May 11.

Francis has long been a vocal opponent of the death penalty, and he hinted at a possible change during a 2017 address to church leaders, where he also called the practice “inadmissible.”

In addition, Francis endorsed abolishing the practice in the United States during his 2015 address to Congress.

“Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty,” Francis said. “Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”

According to a 2016 Pew Research poll, U.S. Catholics are more opposed to the death penalty than most major religious groups. Only 43 percent of Catholics supported capital punishment, compared with a majority of white mainline Protestants (60 percent) and white evangelical Protestants (69 percent).

The same poll showed that 49 percent of Americans overall support the death penalty, the lowest in more than four decades.

About the author

Jack Jenkins

Jack Jenkins is a national reporter for RNS based in Washington, covering U.S. Catholics and the intersection of religion and politics.

250 Comments

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  • o “Now Rome which developed the Church of Dogma (rather than metanoia) dared to add things which have scant basis in scripture like the Trinity, Individual priesthood, Auricular Confession, Transubstantiation, Infallibility, Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. None of these are present in scripture nor can they be deduced. Matthew 16:18 was discovered to apply to the papacy by Damasus I who had over a hundred of his rival’s supporter’s killed to gain the bishopric of Rome. It is after this time that the phrase from Matthew is more and more centered on Rome. The bishops of Rome committed many crimes. The biggest one was to ascribe their malfeasance to the Holy Spirit. Still is.”

    Bottom line: Francis has no moral authority to sit in judgement about secular affairs.

  • A man who cannot clean up his own house should not be telling other people how to clean up their house.

  • What good news! The white pro-life Christian voters who empowered the current U.S. regime by their votes in 2016 will now have something good to say about Pope Francis. Like them, he’s strongly defending the ethic of life.

    Oh, wait,there seems to be a wrinkle in the U.S. “pro-life” white Christian agenda:

    As PRRI reported in 2015, some 6 in 10 white evangelical Protestants — the most ardent supporters the “pro-life” president now occupying the White House has — favor the death penalty. They’ve told pollsters that they voted for that man because he and they are “pro-life.”

    https://www.prri.org/spotlight/support-for-death-penalty-by-religious-affiliation/

    But it appears the phrase “pro-life” doesn’t mean pro-life at all, when the choose for it not to do so. Those white Christian voters are “pro-life” when they aren’t, it seems. If it’s a matter of opposing the death penalty, seeing that poor people have access to healthcare coverage, seeing that immigrant children aren’t taken from their parents and placed in baby prisons — well, pro-life not so much.

  • So the surprises just keep on coming from Mr. Francis, don’t they? Oh yes they do.

    But, just like Mr. Francis’s other surprises, you fall right off a major cliff: the surprise always contradicts Scripture.

    “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed, for in the image of God has God made mankind.”
    — Gen. 9:6

    “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment, but also as a matter of conscience.” — Romans 13:4-5

  • is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person
    What about the dignity of the rape victim or the victims of murder???
    Catholicism = BANKRUPT!

  • I’m no fan of the RCC but I’ll give them credit where it’s due. They are pro-life across the board unlike their Evangelical brethren. They’re both against abortion but at least the RCC is for social welfare so the newly born don’t starve to death and they’re against the death penalty.

  • So I guess it’s time for conservative prelates to start withholding communion from all politicians who support capital punishment just as they did for those who support abortion, right?

  • Yes, I think you’re right. But that doesn’t make the insidious effect of racism any less real, does it?

  • They are pro innocent human life. That’s their get out of hell free card.

    Innocent.

    The rest of us, lost innocence, are simple garbage.

  • Was that what you told the warden of the Terre Haute Federal Pen on the day Tim McVeigh was executed? Was that the headline of the anti-DP protest letter you wrote in your local newspaper on that specific day?

    Or did you simply lay low and stay quiet that day, like most of the other pious death penalty opponents?

    Hmm?

  • Only the White race is racist. Sort of weird when one accepts the lie that Race is just a social construct.

  • Wow Ben, you had me at pro innocent. I thought you could actually articulate the position accurately without throwing the sarcasm in.
    It’s interesting that most of the posters here rip the conflicts christians have being pro-life and pro-death penalty; yet as usual, no one expresses their own position lest they be ripped back.
    I’ll explain it slowly to those of you who are anti-fetus….
    A pro-life Christian will distinguish between the innocence of the unborn and the filthiness of the murderer. The innocent unborn is worthy of defense and protection; the filthy murder has made many, many choices where they have lost their innocence; and are deserving of whatever punishment is placed upon them.
    That being said, if we are really sticking to our Christian principles, we are to forgive; even the murder. That is the issue that most Christians struggle with.
    You and the other anti-Christians and atheists can mock that moral dilemma; but again, at least we have a dilemma based upon something.
    I would love to see them post their rational and position one way or the other.
    Remember Ben, you’re not garbage. Just a sinner. We all are.

  • What say I about what matter, Parker?

    One cannot with any credibility claim to support an ethic of life when one does not oppose the death penalty, or when one opposes access to healthcare coverage for those on the margins of society, or when one approves of ripping immigrant children from their parents’ arms and placing them in baby prisons, or when one attacks social safety nets for people on the margins of society, or when one attacks programs designed to curb ecological destruction.

    One might like to have the illusion that one’s pro-life and like to use that nifty slogan when one applies that term only to pre-born human life, but as for me, illusions don’t much attract me as a way to live my moral, spiritual, or intellectual life. I’m more interested in reality.

    Is that the matter about which you were asking me.

  • The supreme pontiff of the church which once thought that it controlled life and death for untold numbers, tortured and murdered, but now believes that he can stand in moral judgement over everyone else.

    Has Rome ever pleaded for forgiveness for those it tortured and murdered?

  • “Has Rome ever pleaded for forgiveness for those it tortured and murdered?”

    I don’t know the answer, but the Church will be quick to note that while it did the condemning to death, it was the State that did the killing itself.

  • I still vacillate on whether capital punishment is good or not, and lean toward where he is going. That said, as he is pushing against it, that leads me to think maybe I am wrong and it is good. I don’t trust the man, nor his motives.
    I cannot think of an area of the New Testament where Christ endorses capital punishment.

  • You are not garbage Ben, Christ values you and died for you also. You just choose to treat yourself like garbage

  • How is the unborn child “innocent”?

    Regarding the murderer, was he “lost” before or after committing murder?

  • The analyses supported by rigorous historic testing was published by the Westar Institute.

  • “A lot of words to not answer my question”: again, what question are you asking me.

    I asked you twice in my reply, and now, rather than telling me what your question is, you want to slam me for not answering it — when I have no idea what the question is?

    Peculiar way of engaging in a conversation.

    P.S. I’m not a liberal. I’m someone who tries to walk in the way of Jesus along with others doing the same.

  • “Now Rome which…dared to add things which have scant basis in scripture like the Trinity, Individual priesthood, Auricular Confession, Transubstantiation, Infallibility, Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. None of these are present in scripture nor can they be deduced.”

    What do you mean by “scant”? An online dictionary defines the term as “barely sufficient in amount or quantity; not abundant; almost inadequate; limited; meager; not large; barely amounting to as much as indicated”.

    In other words, the bottom-line meaning of “scant” is “basically if not abundantly sufficient”. (I don’t think such is what you meant.)

    There is a basis in Christian scripture for the Trinity, individual priesthood, auricular confession, transubstantiation, and infallibility. Justification may be “scant”, but it’s there, nonetheless.

  • Let us begin with auricular confession:

    The sacrament of reconciliation/ confession
    con:

    Matt 16: 19

    See:http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb073.html
    (passage is not authentic)

    Matt 18: 18

    Said passage is not authentic. e.g. see Professor Gerd Ludemann’s review in
    his book,

    Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 205-206

    John 20: 23

    From many studies by contemporary NT scholars,
    John’s gospel has been shown to be historically nil.

    e.g. From Professor Bruce Chilton
    in his book, Rabbi Jesus,

    “Conventionally,
    scholarship has accorded priority to the first three gospels in historical work
    on Jesus, putting progressively less credence in works of late date. John’s
    Gospel for example is routinely dismissed as a source……

  • And the Last Supper (transubstantiation ) It was not an historic event. See
    http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php/016_Supper_and_Eucharist

    An excerpt:

    “At the same time, Luedemann concludes that the portrayal of Jesus celebrating such a ritual on the night
    before his death is not historical. He is clear that there is “no generic
    relationship” between any actual final meal and the Lord’s Supper
    understood in cultic terms. He also denies the Passover character of the supper
    as a Markan creation. Like Meier (below), Luedemann does accept the saying
    (Mark 14:25) about drinking wine in the kingdom of God as authentic. He concludes:
    (this saying) “hardly came into being in the early community, for in it
    Jesus does not exercise any special function for believers at the festal meal
    in heaven which is imminent. Only Jesus’ expectation of a the future kingdom of
    God stands at the centre, not Jesus as saviour, judge or intercessor.”

  • I think it’s a good reply, starting with your last line (which is really the most important line, the personal connection, just like Sandi’s line there) and simply working upwards. Well-written.

    I found your next-to-the-last-line very perceptive. Exactly what IS the atheist position on capital punishment? Or is DP yet another of the many issues that Atheism offers NO guidance for?
    Anyway, each line had food for thought. I like stuff, Christian or Atheist, that forces me to think.

    Christians do disagree on the DP, so yes I get that. Sometimes DP opponents, try to contrast DP and Pro-life, and I get that too. But in the end the Scriptures never go away, and thus God DOES gives human governments (not individuals) the right to do a DP, although only with justice & fairness (and God is the Accountability Judge of all governments & nations, all the time).

    This governmental right to do a DP, is never repealed by God, not even after Christ’s crucifixion, (which was the biggest totally messed-up injustice of them all). So, via Scripture, I do NOT oppose the DP (for states that have DP), and I do think it’s biblically appropriate for the Tim McVeighs and the Mass Shooters. ( Plus I’m REALLY gittin’ kinda tired of all these Domestic Abusers shooting and killing their wives and GF’s in front of the kids.) But I do not complain about those states where the human government has chosen NOT to do a DP, but instead life-sentences.

  • Trinity:

    :Although the word “Trinity” does not occur in the Bible, the theological concept of the One God consisting of Three Divine Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is founded upon variouhttp://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Trinity.htms

    Matthew 28:19 (conclusion of the Gospel) – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
    (2) Matt 28:16-20
    (3) Easter
    Night 2.3.1 (3a) Luke 24:36-40
    (3b) John
    20:19-21

    2.4 (4) IgnSmyr 3.2b-3

    See http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb018.html
    and the following from Professor Luedamann:

    “Matt 28:16-20 The description of Jesus’s appearance is minimal, as attention is focused on the content of Jesus’ message
    to the Eleven. Luedemann notes:

    that “the historical yield is extremely meager.” He accepts the early
    tradition that various disciples had visionary experiences, most probably
    located in Galilee, and that these experiences led to the founding of “a
    community which preached the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus as the
    Messiah and/or the Son of Man among their Jewish contemporaries.” [Jesus,
    255f.]

    Luke 24:36-53 The emphatic realism in the
    recognition scene that begins this appearance story mans “one can hardly
    avoid seeing this as a thrust against docetism. Evidently in this verse Luke is
    combating the same challenges to the bodily reality of Jesus as Ignatius, To
    the Smyrneans 3.2, does at the beginning of the second century.” Luedemann
    concludes, “The historical yield is nil, both in respect of the real
    historical event and in connection with

    the visions which were the catalyst for the rise
    of Christianity.” [Jesus, 413-415]”

    –Rev 1: 12-20 (a reboot of Daniel 7:13)

    And then there is this:

    “Nineteenth-century agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll branded Revelation “the insanest of all books”.[30] Thomas
    Jefferson omitted it along with most of the Biblical canon, from the Jefferson
    Bible, and wrote that at one time, he “considered it as merely the ravings
    of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of
    our own nightly dreams.” [31]

    Martin Luther once “found it an offensive
    piece of work” and John Calvin “had grave doubts about its
    value.”[32]

    –Appearance to James et al

    1 Cor 15: 7a

    4/ and that he was buried, and that he was raised
    on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, /5/ and that he appeared to
    Cephas, then to the twelve. /6/ Then he appeared to more than five hundred
    brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some
    have died. /7/ Then he appeared to
    James, then to all the apostles. /8/ Last of all,
    as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

    See http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb030.html-
    i.e. historically nil.

  • “A pro-life Christian will distinguish between the innocence of the unborn and the filthiness of a woman”

    FTFY

  • How does killing the murderer or rapist restore the dignity of the victim?

    There is little evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent, while a stronger argument holds that it’s certainty of punishment, not severity, that criminals take into account.

  • I’ve expressed my own positions on both issues many times. I am anti death penalty. I am not pro-abortion. I am pro choice. I would like to see abortion safe, legal, and rare. I would like to see the anti-abortion industry step up to the plate and support what will reduce abortion, per Father Reese a few weeks ago. A position he was roundly damned for by the hyper conservative Christians, who CLAIM to be moral absolutists, that post here. But they are not really anti abortion. Who wants to kill off that gravy train?

    Why do you have a conflict if you are pro-life? Obviously, your pro-life position is like my pro-choice position. Why is it my fault, or the fault of atheists? A pro-life Christian ought to be a pro-life Christian. I’m not mocking your dilemma, I’m underlining it. Your dilemma mocks your position, not me. Finding the exceptionsto what you claim are your absolute, non-negotiable moral positions is what makes you the moral relativists that you claim not to be.

    You said it yourself: “if we are really sticking to our christian principles…” but ya ain’t, Blanche. ya ain’t. And you know it. Thus you have your dilemma. You want revenge— thus your diatribe on the filthiness of the murderer, followed by the more benign “we’re all sinners here”. Quoting Frank— quoting Jesus, for that matter— who are you to judge who is filthy and who is not? Sin leveling when it’s useful, no sin leveling when it’s not. There’s a moral dilemma for you. And it was solved For you in your vote for that dime store anti christ that lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Morals are important, except when they are not. Adultery is a sin, but only for Bill. Divorce is evil but not if you need one, says Kim Davis. vote for Scott Desjarlais— he’s pro life.

    Calling us anti-fetus? What a load of crap, and immoral crap at that. I know of no one, not least of all myself, who is pro abortion, let alone anti-fetus, whatever the hell that means. It is reviling and slanderous to use that term, something that Paul roundly condemns in the very same passages which certain people are happy to claim damn gay people.

    While we’re on the subject of Paul, and Going back to one of my favorite topics, it’s very much like damning gay people for being gay, telling every disgusting filthy lie about us, like Sandimonious immediately above you has done for years— and did right there— that so many of your fellow moral policemen are happy to repeat ad nauseam, and then telling us how much you (not you personally, but a generic you) love, love, love us.

    I know I’m not garbage. I’ve never thought so. I’ll leave the calling of that to Floyd, the Mouth of Bob, Sandimonious, and Shawnie, and quite a few others, in front of whom, who-am-I-to-judge Christians are dead silent. There is nothing wrong with me, or any other gay person, that ending the bigotry that hides behind faith won’t cure.

    Think about it. Please.

  • When they hopped into bed with right-wing white evangelicals following the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to form the “Religious” “Right,” the U.S. Catholic bishops knew what they were hopping into bed with. They knew the full score about this unholy alliance: that it was grounded in resistance to civil rights breakthroughs for people of color. Paul Weyrich, who helped found this alliance, has stated this explicitly. As he has said, abortion was nowhere on the radar screen of right-wing white evangelicals when this bed-hopping began. It was an add-on to the original alliance based in resistance to the civil rights breakthroughs of the 1960s.

    When white evangelicals then began parroting the Catholic party line about “pro-life” issues, it was clear from the get-go that they did not buy or intend to buy into the pro-life agenda if it meant endorsing a consistent ethic of life. Nor did a large number of white Catholics in the U.S. who have been deeply swayed by evangelical piety.

    What we are seeing now in the alliance of white Catholics, white evangelicals, and Mormons that placed the current occupant of the White House there, and has continued to applaud him, are the limits of the unholy alliance the U.S. bishops made when they began their bed-hopping with white evangelicals. The only thread now holding the two groups together is resistance to civil rights — now, in particular, to the rights of women and LGBTQ human beings. Nothing about this agenda has proven to be pro-life in any meaningful sense at all. Built on a foundation of racist resistance to rights for people of color, it’s now all about gay-bashing and restricting women’s rights.

    If any U.S. Catholic bishops remain under the illusion that white evangelicals truly welcomed them into that bed into which they hopped in the 1960s and 1970s, they need only look at threads at religion news sites discussing all of these issues. The ugly anti-Catholicism that has always been there in the white evangelical world is out of the closet now, on starker display than ever, as top Catholic leaders (if not the U.S. Catholic bishops) move in a pro-life direction that “pro-life” white evangelicals do not intend to take and never intended to take.

    This alliance has borne the bitterest fruit possible for American culture, political life, and religion.

  • Been discussed before.

    S1utshaming is the driver for your view. Not morals, not concern for life, not respect for people. Simply a demand to control others.

    Your outrage and concern for the unborn is phony posturing. There is nothing honest, sane or moral about your position.

  • There is little evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent
    You’ve got to be smoking a good Indica. If the law allowed for “justifiable homicide” for every father to kill the rapist of his daughter; you bet your bu%$ rape would decline in a heartbeat.

  • What about it. Races don’t all emerge from the loins of ONE homogenous couple. If you want to claim the races emerge from Monkeys……….be my guest.

  • Yes……………..and I’m sure the rapist, as he is taking a 14 year old girl’s virginity is thinking the same thing!!!

  • I am a 51 year old man. I’ve lived in a half-dozen states in my lifetime. I have never met ONE SINGLE racist in my life.
    Racism hardly exists, if it exists at all.

  • “[Pope John Paul’s] ‘Evangelium vitae’ uses noteworthy tricks. Genesis 9:5-6 is cited in support of the inviolability of life (secs. 39, 53), but the words, ‘WHOEVER SHEDS THE BLOOD OF MAN, BY MAN SHALL HIS BLOOD BE SHED,’ are omitted from the quotation…. Pope Francis has condemned the use of capital punishment in any circumstances whatsoever, on the grounds that it is ‘vengeance’ (i.e., punishment in kind) and ‘an offence against the inviolability of life.’ He explained that when criminals are deprived of their liberty, the threat they pose is neutralized. But the pope went on to condemn life imprisonment because it ‘entails for the prisoner the impossibility of planning a future of freedom.’ He also condemned confinement in high security prisons as ‘torture,’ since it might lead to anxiety, depression or weight loss…. John Paul and Francis have presumptuously imagined that they can annul the commands of God, and have taught that THE COMMENSURATE PUNISHMENT OF CRIME ORDAINED BY GOD IS MORALLY EQUIVALENT TO CRIME ITSELF…. Regarding abuse of the papal office, the Treatise says this: ‘The canons also clearly teach that a heretical pope is not to be obeyed…. The pope does not want to be judged by the church or by anyone, and puts his own authority ahead of the decision of councils and the entire church. But to be unwilling to be judged by the church or by anyone is to make oneself God. This being the case, all Christians ought to desert and execrate the pope and his adherents as the kingdom of Antichrist.’ ”
    (from “A Refutation of the ELCA Social Statement on the Death Penalty,” p. 9, note 26) http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/pdf/Death_Penalty_Lutheran.pdf

  • Want to cite any evidence that disputes my point about the lack of the deterrent effect of the death penaly? Or explain how killing the offender restores the dignity of the victim?

    Your call for vigilante action and lynchings has been tried. It failed, but it sure did allow white bigots to kill inconvenient minorities.

  • You are just one ignorant person. Study “Lynchings”. Whites were lynched too. And I’ll bet hardly a man was lynched unjustly.
    Mary Phagan is the perfect example.

  • Dude – talking about the death penalty here.
    FYI – it’s YOU who use the term slut-shaming; not me.
    If you read the conversation I had with Ben awhile ago about my experience in the Middle East; you would know my pro-life position has nothing to do with women at all.
    After seeing dead and burned bodies, I am pretty much a pacifist – we don’t even kill spiders in my house if I can help it.
    Life is very precious my friend. Something to be cherished, protected and defended at all costs. It may be shitty at times; but better to be alive with a fighting chance then not.

  • Swell. Change the whole conversation because you don’t consider abortion murder. That’s not the point of the conversation. The point of the conversation is reconciling the fact that some Christians are very pro life and very pro death penalty.
    You need to stay on topic or start a new one

  • It isn’t. One has to be born to be murdered.

    Especially if you are going to compare it crimes where capital punishment is employed.

    Your whining and huffing doesn’t change that. Nor does dishonestly citing “fetal murder” statutes, which by the way they are written do not consider abortion the same thing.

  • “One cannot with any credibility claim to support an ethic of life when one does not oppose the death penalty, or when one opposes access to healthcare coverage for those on the margins of society, or when one approves of ripping immigrant children from their parents’ arms and placing them in baby prisons, or when one attacks social safety nets for people on the margins of society, or when one attacks programs designed to curb ecological destruction.” is feel-good hogwash.

  • The actual Catholic teaching on the death penalty was briefly but thoroughly summarized by the late Avery Cardinal Dulles in a 2001 article in “First Things” entitled “Catholicism & Capital Punishment”:

    https://www.firstthings.com/article/2001/04/catholicism-amp-capital-punishment

    There are four reasons why the death penalty can be levied: rehabilitation, defense against the criminal, deterrence, and retribution (justice).

    The entry in the Catechism at 2267 dealt SOLELY with “defense against the criminal”. But the entry immediately preceding it at 2266 explains retributive justice:

    “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.”

    For example in the case of Timothy McVeigh the death penalty could still be levied not to defend against the criminal but to provide retributive justice – the punishment should fit the crime.

    The levying of the death penalty in any case lies with the civil authorities, not with the Church. The Church provides the definitive framework (teaching) within which the legitimate public authority ascertains facts and – considering those facts – makes a prudential judgment in the application of the teaching.

    The Church cannot substitute its prudential judgment for the civil authority’s, nor can it take upon itself the role that is properly that of the legitimate civil authority.

    That’s why in 2004 when the Catholic bishops were debating censuring pro-abortion politicians then head of the CDF Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out that Catholics could morally and without censure disagree with the advice in CCC 2267. The new version carries no more weight.

    So, the Catholic Church has no choice but to allow for the possibility that the death penalty may be legitimately imposed.

    The National Catholic Reporter incorrectly stated today that the Church had changed its teaching. On the other hand the BBC correctly reported that it had revised that entry in the Catechism.

  • Speaking for myself, I’d never live in a glass house. Imagine the expense of all them curtains!

  • By definition, lynching is unjust. And unlawful.

    And mob violence. And vicious. and murder.

  • Well, if you are sure of it…

    Then please stay away from nieces, my god daughter, and my grand niece..

  • “They are pro-life across the board”

    Why must we give equal weight to an unrepentant mass murderer as we do to an unborn child?

    To the extent we are talking about protection of society, the argument the Pope makes is fair: You would find it very difficult to locate a society that didn’t have the ability to incarcerate someone, and even more difficult to find a society that neither had that capacity nor the ability to develop that capacity. If you could find such a society, well, then we’d probably have to reason that, since this update is predicated on having other options, it has only limited application if no other options exist.

    My concern here is justice. And I can’t fathom how we can truly be considered a just society if even the most barbaric and unspeakable crimes, that permanently rob one or even multiple people of their lives and futures, can be punished by nothing greater than a lifetime of housing, food, and medical care on the taxpayer’s dime.

  • OMG — I thought you truly didn’t know the meaning of “Idk”!!! My UP arrow is belated :o)

  • I thought it might be remotely possibly that I would get you with that one.

    And I did! I WIN!

  • That,s Becuase, these days, only an ever dwindling minority, safe as snowflakes within their compounds in the rugged west, Still think it is ok to announce that fact to decent people.

  • “…rapist, as he is taking a 14 year old girls virginity…”

    You really might want to think about how you present the inner workings of your mind. People might get ideas.

    And yes, please, still…stay away from my nieces, my goddaughter, and my grand niece.

  • Nope, he might get infected with progressive Catholicism were he to do so — (which ain’t necessarily a bad idea, now that I think of it :o)

  • (my sheepish reply follows)

    Idk = “I don’t know”. Thank you (where’ve you been, Jaglowicz???)

    Now, to my reply: The word ‘innocent’ in this moral context indicates that one is capable of moral discernment. Unborn child is incapable of such judgment. It is neither innocent nor guilty. Unborn child simply is.

    Regarding the murderer, I am taking my cue from Luke 15’s three parables about the “lost” sheep, “lost” coin, and “lost” son. Like the “lost” sheep and the “lost” coin, the prodigal son “was lost and has been found” (v. 32). He has been restored to wholeness, i.e., holiness (both words share the root idea of one’s being healthy, intact). He is back where he should be, just like the sheep and the coin upon being “found”. Because we are made to be whole/holy, any supposed “decision” to be otherwise indicates one’s being “lost” in the process. One who is “lost” cannot find his or her way out of the wilderness of sin. God does the “finding” and resulting “healing”. It is then — and only then — that one can express his/her repentance to God.

  • Wow. Impressive response. I wish I had your knowledge.
    Now where do you stand on the discussion at hand? Specifically to bens comments…

  • It doesn’t require a theology degree to live Jesus’ teaching. (It probably will require shoe replacement from time to time.)

  • They don’t emerge from the loins on ONE homogenous couple…

    But ROy! Roy! Roy!!! According to no less an authority than the HOLY BIBLE— they did exactly that.

    Right. Floyd?

  • Wrong. The Bible says nothing about the races all emerging from the loins of ONE homogenous couple. The Bible is for Adamites………..only. Although there are certainly benefits for the other races.

  • “This governmental right to do a DP is never repealed by God, not even after Christ’s Crucifixion…”

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth…’But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil…” (Mt 5:38-39).

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Mt 5:43-45).

    Per the USCCB commentary, “[5:43–48] See Lv 19:18. There is no Old Testament commandment demanding hatred of one’s enemy, but the ‘neighbor’ of the love commandment was understood as one’s fellow countryman. Both in the Old Testament (Ps 139:19–22) and at Qumran (1QS 9:21) hatred of evil persons is assumed to be right. Jesus extends the love commandment to the enemy and the persecutor. His disciples, as children of God, must imitate the example of their Father, who grants his gifts of sun and rain to both the good and the bad.”

  • The RCC has had a longer time to think about it and seek forgiveness for their mistakes, well, sins, actually.

  • I know. I read through it twice and thought about imposing a character limit on you.. 🙂
    I just got done with a run. I’ll respond in an hour or so.

  • Yes, I am. And I find it a gross evil to deny justice to the victims of the most unspeakable and horrific crimes. You’re free to argue against the death penalty. But in doing so, You need to present a convincing case that justice can still be effectively served, in every case, through nothing more severe than life imprisonment.

    To say that the death penalty is “inadmissible” is to say either that you believe justice can be served to those up to and including the likes of Hitler and Bin Laden without it, or that justice is not really that much of a concern.

    Which is it?

  • “I wish I had your knowledge.”

    Copy & clip my replies, and you will have my knowledge at hand. I responded, btw, to an earlier comment of yours, to wit, “A pro-life Christian will distinguish between the innocence of the unborn and the filthiness of the murderer…”

  • Of all bloggers, my dear Roman Catholic adversary, you would know “feel-good hogwash”. You bathe in it, drink it, eat it, sleep in it, ad nauseum. Unfortunately, what you’ve quoted is not “hogwash”, whether “feel-good” or otherwise. It’s based in large part on Matthew 25:31-46, i.e., Jesus’ social justice teaching. It’s not “hogwash”.

  • Regarding retribution as justification for capital punishment:

    A. Avery Dulles writes, “The purposes of criminal punishment are rather unanimously delineated in the Catholic tradition. Punishment is held to have a variety of ends that may conveniently be reduced to the following four: rehabilitation, defense against the criminal, deterrence, and retribution…..
    ************
    “Retribution. In principle, guilt calls for punishment. The graver the offense, the more severe the punishment ought to be. In Holy Scripture, as we have seen, death is regarded as the appropriate punishment for serious transgressions. Thomas Aquinas held that sin calls for the deprivation of some good, such as, in serious cases, the good of temporal or even eternal life. By consenting to the punishment of death, the wrongdoer is placed in a position to expiate his evil deeds and escape punishment in the next life. After noting this, St. Thomas adds that even if the malefactor is not repentant, he is benefited by being prevented from committing more sins. Retribution by the State has its limits because the State, unlike God, enjoys neither omniscience nor omnipotence. According to Christian faith, God ‘will render to every man according to his works’ at the final judgment (Romans 2:6; cf. Matthew 16:27). Retribution by the State can only be a symbolic anticipation of God’s perfect justice.

    “For the symbolism to be authentic, the society must believe in the existence of a transcendent order of justice, which the State has an obligation to protect. This has been true in the past, but in our day the State is generally viewed simply as an instrument of the will of the governed. In this modern perspective, the death penalty expresses not the divine judgment on objective evil but rather the collective anger of the group. The retributive goal of punishment is misconstrued as a self-assertive act of vengeance.

    “… Its retributive value is impaired by lack of clarity about the role of the State…”
    ************
    “… I should like to propose, as a final summary, ten theses that encapsulate the Church’s doctrine, as I understand it.

    1) The purpose of punishment in secular courts is fourfold: the rehabilitation of the criminal, the protection of society from the criminal, the deterrence of other potential criminals, and retributive justice.

    2) Just retribution, which seeks to establish the right order of things, should not be confused with vindictiveness, which is reprehensible.”

    B. The CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH states:

    “2266 The State’s effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. the primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense. When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation. Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender.”

    CCC-2266, in other words, states the general purpose of all punishment, namely, “preserving public order and the safety of persons,” what Catholic doctrine subsumes under the general goa of promoting “the common good”.

    I’m not prepared to dispute Avery Dulles’ statement that one of the purposes of punishment in the “Catholic tradition” is retribution. However, the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH has no entry for “retributive justice”. Instead, the CCC (USCCB online edition) defines justice as “[t]he cardinal moral virtue which consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and to neighbor (1807). Original justice refers to the state of holiness in which God created our first parents (375). Commutative justice, which obliges respect for the rights of the other, is required by the seventh commandment; it is distinguished from legal justice, which concerns what the citizen owes to the community, and distributive justice, which regulates what the community owes its citizens in proportion to their contributions and needs (2411).”

    As written, CCC-2266 does not justify retribution, and Dulles’ description of “retribution” focuses on punishing the offender, not promoting the common good (the only exception being a reference to Aquinas, to wit, “St. Thomas adds that even if the malefactor is not repentant, he is benefited by being prevented from committing more sins.)

  • I am going to comment point by point as I read through your comment:
    1) you are anti- death penalty but pro-choice. Interesting, as I am the opposite. You would kill the unborn but save the murderer. How do you reconcile that.
    2) you are pro-choice, not pro-abortion. That a semantic cop out. Kind like saying I’m not anti-gay, I’m straight.
    3) I explained the moral dilemma- the unborn is without sin; those who have murdered deserve punishment. I’d love to hear how you disagree with that.
    Btw, I’ve changed my position on the DP over the years to agree with the holy father. I hate murderers and think they deserve to die a horrific death, but my job is to forgive. I will let God impose justice.
    4) I have said before, we are all filthy sinners. You call it sin leveling; I call it sin. Sorta the same way you told me homosexuality isn’t a lifestyle, it’s a life. Sin is sin in the eyes of the Father. I think of you often as you fail to see sinfulness. I am more filthy than you will ever know.
    5) I’m not sure what the trump comment means other than a bitter outburst. To explain yet again, I voted for trump because I was never, ever going to vote for HRC. Yep, trump is not presidential, but I am glad he’s not (I can explain that some other time). The fact is 1/2 of the country didn’t like Hillary. You easily point out trumps lying, sexist ways; yet you overlook Hillary’s lying and the sexist ways of her husband that she condoned.
    6) anti-fetus; you know exactly what I mean; you know my position. A smart guy like you knows damn well that two cells in a woman’s body left alone eventually turns into a human being.
    7) you made the garbage comment while trying to be sarcastic. We’ve had this conversation. I don’t have a problem with your life(style). I have a problem with those who believe they are without sin. You may or may not fall into that category. God will judge us accordingly.

  • “When the crimes stop, lynching will stop.”

    You, sir, are in La-La Land. You’d be a good huckster for the west coast orange bridge I want to sell if you accept the clap-trap quoted.

  • No seminary background. No ministerial background. Have been blogging on religion for more than a dozen years since my retirement nearly 19 years ago. Used some of that time to research topics and issues raised in comments. All informal.

  • Why?

    Revising 2267 in the Catechism does not raise what was previously non-binding to binding. In 2004 then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect for Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote then Theodore Cardinal McCarrick:

    https://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfworthycom.htm

    “Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

  • I find it hilarious that you write “I’ll leave the calling of that to Floyd, the Mouth of Bob, Sandimonious, and Shawnie, and quite a few others, in front of whom, who-am-I-to-judge Christians are dead silent.” when hardly a day goes by that I don’t read one of your rocks hitting this, that, or the other – “I’ll leave the calling of that to Floyd, the Mouth of Bob, Sandimonious, and Shawnie, and quite a few others” being a very good example.

    The saddest lying is lying to one’s self.

  • While you have demand that no one be controlled – except of course those controls YOU like, YOU demand, and YOU approve.

    There is nothing honest, sane or moral about your position.

  • The teaching on the death penalty is based on natural law.

    Scripturally Jesus references that when he says that we are to render to Caesar that which Caesar’s, and when he tells Pilate that he would have no power over him except that it was given him from above.

    We also see the so-called Good Thief who – accepting his death as the just penalty for his sins, thus expiating his debt – is promised paradise.

  • One of the four reasons why the legitimate civil authority can levy ANY penalty is retributive justice.

    The revision deals with 2267 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That entry is discussing the death penalty used to protect society. It is silent on retributive justice.

    The entry right before it, 2266, reads:

    “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.”

    So, exercising its duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense, the state could and in fact did execute Timothy McVeigh.

    The Holy Father’s comments cannot change the morality of inflicting punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense because that arises from the natural law.

  • “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.”

    It does not require Chief Justice Roberts to note that punishing capital murder with a $50 fine does not accomplish justice, nor does a sentence of death by electrocution for going 10 mph over the speed limit.

    The agency responsible for making those judgments is the legitimate civil authority.

  • Love requires – among other things – obedience to the laws of the Creator (see Thomas Jefferson in “Declaration of Independence”).

    The natural law provides the legitimate public authority the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense, punishment having the PRIMARY aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense.

    Love does not dispense from the law, it requires adherence to the law.

  • What part of “THOU SHALT NOT KILL” do fundamentalist goons not understand? That is a prime commandment, but they want to parse it according to their feelings. Hypocrites all.

  • It’ ironic that Christians moan and groan about the death sentence for Jesus Christ, but they’re willing to step up and pronounce death on anyone they think deserves “justice”. What goddamned evil is that?

  • Hi, Joseph! Remember me? It’s been a long time. Some of the folks from NCR (of happy memory) have asked me to help with a new site to get te Old Guard back together. Please contact me if you’r interested monicadeangelis@aol.com. Hope you hear how you’re doing – Monica.

  • So Pope Francis believes that “the inviolability and dignity of the person” trumps Justice. It’s odd that God disagrees. In fact He disagrees so strongly that He needed His Son to suffer for the sins of the world so that Justice might be satisfied. I can’t think of a greater “attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” than what Jesus went through in our stead so that we could be extended Mercy.

  • The commandment is better translated as “Thou shalt not murder”. Neither judicial executions nor killing in war are murder, and are allowed in the Torah. I guess even those fundamentalist goons understand more than you!

  • What insufferable BS is this? You can be all for killing and still receive communion, but if you support your brother’s same-sex marriage, forget it.

  • Changing the subject when you’re shown to be wrong demonstrates you had no real argument to begin with. But everyone knows that’s why you did it, don’t they?

  • Well, the Pope says “inadmissible”, but you know better than he? This just goes to show that self-righteous religious believers will justify any behavior that serves themselves.

  • Why am I against the death penalty? I didn’t used to be, but watching the antics of that little twerp, John Briggs, as he attempted to ride the issues of the death penalty andthe place of gay people in our society to the governorship— he lost— convinced me. So,e of this I simply don’t see in the arguments below.

    I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t want the state to do it in my name.

    We know that there are innocent people convicted of capital crimes. There are innocent people convicted of ordinary crimes. I cannot imagine a greater wrong than killing someone becuase of a time he did not commit.

    I believe that deprivation of freedom, coupled with a long life, is a far more suitable punishment. A neoNazi killed a young gay man named Blaze Bernstein. I’d like that neoNazi to spend the next 70 years lamenting his hate. It won’t bring blaze back.

    6 Million jews, my people, were executed by the third Reich, as were at least 250,000 gay people. Also my people. The Nazis had the legal imprimatur to do so, as well as the support of Christian Germany. Neither might nor self proclaimed righteousness justified those murders.

  • There is no biblical basis for the pope’s opinion in the case of putting to death a murderer. However, it would have been nice if before the various wars of religion, the Spanish Inquisition, persecution of perceived heretics, pogroms, etc. the RCC had thought of this new stance.

    However, capital punishment is out of date for any society in this day and age. It accomplishes nothing.

  • And now an ad hominem attack to try to cover up that you never had a real rational argument to begin with!

    As if you ever took the pope as some sort of moral authority! How droll! Enjoy your new found life as an RC!

    He has NEVER been any sort of authority to me. But now, because you agree with him, I have to obey him also? Fugehdaboutit!

  • It saves the tax payers a ton of money if they don’t have to provide food, housing, and medical care over many decades of a life imprisonment. Law abiding citizens won’t be bumped off transplant lists by convicted criminals. I think capital punishment accomplishes a great deal.

  • No it doesn’t. Studies have shown death penalty cases cost more than life in prison. The housing and legal costs of death penalty cases are much larger.

  • “I cannot fathom seeing Jesus pushing the button, pulling the levers, or squeezing the trigger to execute a condemned person. Jesus did, however, sanction the “beating”, even the “severe beating”, of disobedient slaves.”
    I completely agree with the first sentence, and I wonder why anyone would call themselves a Christian if they did not hold the same position. As for the beating of slaves, someone is going to have to point out to me where he sanctions it. I know he uses it as an example in one or more of his parables, but there he is not saying that that is something he condones, but he is using it as an example of the punishment unjust rulers mete out.

  • Playing word games is not going to change the truth. War is murder and judicial executions are murder.

  • Regarding your question about the beating of slaves, the best example I can give is from Luke 12:45-48 wherein Jesus justifies the “beating” or even “severe beating” of disobedient slaves, depending on the severity of their wrong behavior, namely, whether they knew or did not know the master’s wishes. Slavery was an acceptable practice in Jesus’ time and place, and the Romans recommended humane treatment of slaves to encourage production and discourage rebellion. Nonetheless, Rome upheld the right of a master to punish disobedient slaves. The “flip side” of Jesus’ sanctioning corporal punishment of slaves would be his approval of their humane treatment . References in the New Testament to “servants”, etc. are references to slavery. For nearly the next two thousand years, the Church of Rome would approve of slavery by recourse to both natural law (philosophy) and divine law (revelation). According to the late jurist and historian John T. Noonan, Jr., the Church would not “categorically” condemn slavery until late 1965 at Vatican II (J. Noonan, A CHURCH THAT CAN AND CANNOT CHANGE: THE DEVELOPMENT OF CATHOLIC MORAL TEACHING).

    In short, by accepting the punishment of slaves, Jesus accepted their humane treatment at other times. The Church would do likewise.

  • Thank you, Monica. A fellow blogger of ours, rockchalkwombat, mentioned being in contact with you about getting this project underway. I replied I’m interested. I’ll give you my e-mail later.

  • It’ll be up to Catholic theologians to determine if Francis’ pronouncement constitutes infallible teaching. In the meantime, I wonder if his condemnation of capital punishment might undo him (so to speak) as Humanae Vitae did to Paul VI. Lots of conflict in the Church of Rome right now between progressives and reactionaries.

  • Thanks for the reply. I do not doubt that Jesus would acknowledge that natural law sanctions the right to punish a slave. I just suspect that if we could call Jesus into the room to discuss this with us now that he would point out that he was using natural law as a metaphor for the need to be vigilant, but the time was coming when we would recognize that divine law holds us to a higher standard.

  • I think Jesus *did* use his parable in Luke 12 to stress, as you observe, “the need to be vigilant”. Would Jesus today support slavery, i.e., their humane treatment? I think not, but the question raises other questions about the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church of Christ (and not just the RCC), development of and change in Christian/Catholic doctrine, etc. Life, which ultimately comes from God, is change, but the latter, we believe, occurs within the larger picture of God=Love, and human love, which should ideally mirror divine love, has been defined/described as self-sacrifice, i.e., expending one’s energy to meet the legitimate needs of others. I believe Jesus’ earthly ministry including his passion, crucifixion, and death was one of self-sacrifice. I do not believe the Father=Love would condemn the Son=Love to an ignominious and gruesome death. Our earliest ancestors in the Christian faith saw sacrifice as the challenge to help others in need; they regarded priesthood as that conferred by baptism. It would be later, albeit not much later, that Christian apologists would portray Jesus as both cultic priest and victim on the altar, i.e., language borrowed from Judaism after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.

  • Jesus never actually cited the natural law.

    As a Jewish rabbi the closest he would have come is what St. Paul describes as the law written in the gentiles’ hearts.

  • Yes, in the United States death penalty cases cost – on average – more than in life in prison because of the endless appeals and legal maneuvers that can drag cases on for two or three decades.

    In a case like Timothy McVeigh’s, where there was absolute proof, zero doubt, and the defendant was man enough to take the punishment, the numbers reverse.

    The solution would appear to be better police work, better trials including better funding for public defenders, and more obstacles to appeals.

  • It certainly punishes the offender and, if properly applied, provides for retributive justice.

  • The Nazis had “the legal imprimatur” of positive law to do so.

    What they did not have is the legal imprimatur of natural law to do so.

    This illustrates the trap you create when, like the Nazis, you favor positive law like Obergefell v. Hodges and reject natural law.

    It becomes the petard on which you are hoisted.

  • Because they get dragged out for years and years. Prompt execution of sentence would reduce those expenses to the cost of a few bullets and a last meal.

  • Yes, Jesus did not use 21st century concepts in speaking to a first century audience and the context he used was Jewish, not gentile. But I cannot help believing that the law that Paul describes as written in the gentiles’ hearts was closer to divine law than was the views being spread by many of the rabbis of the time.

  • The truth is that war is killing, and judicial executions are killing, but neither of those is murder. You do not seem to know the definition of murder, which is: the unlawful premeditated killing of another human being. Neither judicial execution nor war are necessarily unlawful.

    Before accusing others of playing “word games”, it is best to actually know the definitions of the words themselves.

  • He doesn’t understand the concepts of innocence before the law and adjudicated guilt.

    I don’t blame you for being confused, though. “S1utshaming” is something that’s generally off the male radar — an activity just about exclusively engaged in and complained of by women.

  • Not being a biblical scholar, I’ll defer to the USCCB commentary on Mt 16:19, to wit:

    “[16:19] The keys to the kingdom of heaven: the image of the keys is probably drawn from Is 22:15–25 where Eliakim, who succeeds Shebna as master of the palace, is given ‘the key of the House of David,’ which he authoritatively ‘opens’ and ‘shuts’ (Is 22:22). Whatever you bind…loosed in heaven: there are many instances in rabbinic literature of the binding-loosing imagery. Of the several meanings given there to the metaphor, two are of special importance here: the giving of authoritative teaching, and the lifting or imposing of the ban of excommunication. It is disputed whether the image of the keys and that of binding and loosing are different metaphors meaning the same thing. In any case, the promise of the keys is given to Peter alone. In Mt 18:18 all the disciples are given the power of binding and loosing, but the context of that verse suggests that there the power of excommunication alone is intended.”

    RE: scriptural roots of confession, see https://catholicexchange.com/deep-biblical-roots-confession. Based on some other reading, I understand that Christian communities would excommunicate a sinner whose behavior harmed or otherwise discredited the assembly/ecclesia/church. The sinner might be reconciled but only in a very public way (the Church of Rome now officially refers to confession as the Rite of Reconciliation in recognition of earliest Christian practice). It was in the 5th or 6th century that Irish monks, responding to the waywards’ reluctance to “go public” with their sins, developed the kind of confession we know today, i.e., between presbyter and penitent, to preserve privacy. The presbyter, whose ancient counterpart presided at reconciliation services, today represents the local Catholic community in forgiving the sinner and effecting reconciliation. The challenge to initiate forgiveness comes from Jesus himself to Peter and other listeners in scripture. What I find interesting is that, of four references to forgiveness in the canonical gospels, only one mentions the sinner’s need to “repent” first, suggesting that Jesus encouraged his followers to exercise the initiative to forgive without waiting for the sinner to step forward first. From psychology, we know that the act of forgiving benefits the person doing the forgiving, not necessarily the person being forgiven. Forgiving is crucial to healing oneself.

    I subscribe to the view that references to “church” in Mt 16:18 and 18:17 are interpolations, i.e., material added later to the original oral or earliest written narrative. Whether a passage, word, or phrase is “authentic”, in my opinion, is irrelevant. Fact is we have what we have and must try to make sense of it in relation to how we should live our lives.

  • Innocent in the sense of not having been adjudicated guilty of a crime and therefore still possessing the right to life.

  • I myself do not interpret the Last Supper in cultic terms, i.e., with Jesus as a “priest”. In the four canonical gospels, Jesus never identifies himself as any kind of “priest”. Instead, he says he is a “prophet”. Other New Testament writings demonstrate, where mentioned, that his followers likewise regarded Jesus as a “prophet”, not as any kind of “priest”. The reference to Jesus as a “High Priest” in HEBREWS is pure typology, and typology proves nothing in terms of basic Gospel teaching. CCC-125 is relevant here. In addition, Wikipedia has an entry for “Typology (theology)” that correctly identifies it as a “doctrine or theory concerning the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament. Events, persons, or statements in the Old Testament are seen as types pre-figuring or superseded by antitypes, events or aspects of Christ or his revelation described in the New Testament.” Typology can appeal to a target audience and even convey meaning valued by that audience, but it proves nothing.

    It is ultimately by faith that one believes Jesus is Savior. Even the latter term can be construed as one who teaches us how to save ourselves from one another.

  • RE: Infallibility, I recommend the late theologian Richard McBrien’s “Ten Theses on Infallibility” at 74.220.215.208/~richars0/Documents/essays.php?articleID=714 (it’s a short read). The concept of infallibility is from John 14:16-18 ,15:26, and 16:13-15.

    The key doctrine on papal infallibility, found in Vatican I’s “Pastor Aeternus”, Chapter 4, contains a critical reference to the infallibility *of the Church itself*, to wit: “We teach and define that it is a divinely-revealed dogma: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex Cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of Pastor and Teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the Universal Church, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility WITH WHICH THE DIVINE REDEEMER WILLED THAT HIS CHURCH SHOULD BE ENDOWED for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals” (caps for emphases). Vatican II’s “Lumen Gentium”, #12 addresses this matter: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when ‘from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful’ they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is NOT JUST THE WORD OF MEN but truly the word of God” (caps for emphases).

    The pope teaches infallibly only under specified conditions enumerated in “Pastor Aeternus”. It is the Church, protected by the Holy Spirit, that is infallible at all times. On this point, the 1983 Code of Canon Law is clear: “No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident” (c. 749.3). The burden of infallible teaching, in other words, is on the pope and fellow bishops. The last twp infallible pronouncements were in 1870 and 1950.

  • Regarding the Trinity, the doctrine is found in the New Testament as you’ve noted. Regarding visions, etc., I cannot comment one way or the other. One source has said that the entire Gospel is metaphor. We know the canonical gospels were not written while Jesus was alive (and I think he was a real human being), nor were they likely written in the immediate years following. They were stories likely passed down initially and orally from one generation to the next and perhaps “massaged” at times to reflect the concerns of the story tellers in various communities. (By “story”, I do not mean “fiction” but narrative.)

    An excellent website is at http://catholic-resources.org/.

  • RE: priesthood, primitive Christians, i.e., those believers closest in time and place to Jesus and disciples, regarded it as conferred by one’s baptism into the local church/ecclesia/assembly. In this respect, the liturgical presider — known as a presbyteros or episkopos, term depending on local usage and not to be confused with our understanding of “priest” and “bishop” today — was a priest just like all other members, male and female. The presider was not ordained to any different kind of priesthood. Jesus did not see himself as any kind of “priest”, high or low. He said he was a “prophet”, and followers regarded him likewise. These Christians did not have *altars*, much less a cultic/sacrificial “victim”. They had a table, instead, at which the presider stood. Their understanding of “sacrifice” was that of service to others, particularly people in need.

    My recommended references (not all by any means) are:

    + Kenan Osborne’s PRIESTHOOD: A HISTORY OF THE ORDAINED MINISTRY IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH,

    + Francis Sullivan’s FROM APOSTLES TO BISHOPS: THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EPISCOPACY IN THE EARLY CHURCH, and

    + Robert Egan’s “Why Not? Scripture, History, & Women’s Ordination”, which appeared in COMMONWEAL a few years ago and is available free online at https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/why-not (also see “Continuing the Conversation: Women and the Priesthood” linked at the end of Egan’s article).

    The cultic priesthood with which we’re familiar today, including related terms of “altar” and “victim”, were later (albeit not much later) doctrinal developments following the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE. Seeing as how Jesus himself never identified himself as any kind of “priest” and his followers followed his lead, I no longer use the term “priest” to refer to Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican clerics. The term ‘presbyter” is apt.

  • Yawn. I’m still waiting for you to come up with some evidence of adjudicated or vigilante death penalty being a deterrent. And an explanation of how killing the offender, or convenient stand-in the mob comes up with, restores the dignity of the victim?

  • No, it is something that is deeper and more profound than the Noahide Law. Hebrew prophets spoke of it, and those who know Jesus experience it today.

  • Romans 2

    “12 All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.”

    ≈ Noahide Laws ≈ natural law

  • Get back to us after perusing the following studies:

    1. Historical Jesus Theories,
    earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html – the names of many of the
    contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the titles of their over 100 books
    on the subject.

    Early Christian Writings,
    earlychristianwritings.com/

    – a list of early Christian documents to include the year of publication–

    30-60 CE Passion Narrative

    40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q

    50-60 1 Thessalonians

    50-60 Philippians

    50-60 Galatians

    50-60 1 Corinthians

    50-60 2 Corinthians

    50-60 Romans

    50-60 Philemon

    50-80 Colossians

    50-90 Signs Gospel

    50-95 Book of Hebrews

    50-120 Didache

    50-140 Gospel of Thomas

    50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel

    50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ

    65-80 Gospel of Mark

    70-100 Epistle of James

    70-120 Egerton Gospel

    70-160 Gospel of Peter

    70-160 Secret Mark

    70-200 Fayyum Fragment

    70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs

    73-200 Mara Bar Serapion

    80-100 2 Thessalonians

    80-100 Ephesians

    80-100 Gospel of Matthew

    80-110 1 Peter

    80-120 Epistle of Barnabas

    80-130 Gospel of Luke

    80-130 Acts of the Apostles

    80-140 1 Clement

    80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians

    80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews

    80-250 Christian Sibyllines

    90-95 Apocalypse of John

    90-120 Gospel of John

    90-120 1 John

    90-120 2 John

    90-120 3 John

    90-120 Epistle of Jude

    93 Flavius Josephus

    100-150 1 Timothy

    100-150 2 Timothy

    100-150 T-itus

    100-150 Apocalypse of Peter

    100-150 Secret Book of James

    100-150 Preaching of Peter

    100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites

    100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans

    100-160 Shepherd of Hermas

    100-160 2 Peter

    4. Jesus Database,
    http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html –”The JESUS DATABASE is an
    online a-nnotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings
    of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era.
    It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to
    the traditions found within the Christian New Testament.”

    5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm

    6. The Jesus Seminar, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar

    7.
    http://www.biblicalartifacts.com/items/785509/item785509biblicalartifacts.html
    – books on the health and illness during the time of the NT

    8. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman,
    Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.

    9.The Gnostic Jesus

    (Part One in a Two-Part Series on A-ncient and Modern G-nosticism)

    by Douglas Groothuis:
    http://www.equip.o-rg/articles/gnosticism-and-the-gnostic-jesus/10. The
    interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission

    Presented on March 18, 1994

    ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.HTM#2

  • 11. The Jesus Database- newer site:

    wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?title=Jesus_Database

    12. Jesus Database with the example of Supper and Eucharist:

    faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb016.html

    13. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:

    mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm

    13. http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/jesus.htmm- Historical Jesus Studies

    14. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/

    15. D-iseases in the Bible:

    http://books.google.com/books/about/The_diseases_of_the_Bible.html?id=C1YZAAAAYAAJ

    16.
    Religion on- Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches,
    theologies, theologians, ethics, etc. religion-online.org/

    17.
    The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgate-way.com/

    18
    Writing the New Testament- existing copies, oral tradition etc.

    ntgat-eway.com/

    19. JD Crossan’s c-onclusions about the authencity of most of the
    NT based on the above plus the c-onclusions of other NT exegetes in the last
    200 years:

    http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?title=Crossan_Inventory

    20. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by title with the
    complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html

  • 21. Luke and Josephus- was there a connection?

    in-fidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html

    22. NT and beyond time line:

    pbs.org/empires/peterandpaul/history/timeline/

    23. St. Paul’s Time line with discussion of important events:

    harvardhouse.com/prophetictech/new/pauls_life.htm

    24. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan’s books and
    those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and
    selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at
    Google Books.

    25. Father Edward Schillebeeckx’s words of wisdom as found in his
    books.

    27. The books of the following : Professors Gerd Ludemann, Marcus
    Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.

    28. Father Raymond Brown’s An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY,
    1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.

    29. Luke Timothy Johnson’s book The Real Jesus

    “Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument
    for Jesus of Nazareth [Hardcover]

    Bart
    D. Ehrman (Author)

  • And here Is what prompt execution will accomplish— and perhaps the biggest reason I am against the death penalty.

    156 individuals have been exonerated from death row–that is, found to be innocent and released – since 1973. In other words, for every 10 people who have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in the U.S., one person has been set free.
    Innocence | National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

  • I think it actually is relevant. The fact that we don’t approve of it, and think of it rightfully as a horrible, horrible wrong, does not obviate the fact that it was done legally by the properly constituted authorities. When these properly constituted authorities are only murdering one or two people at a time, people who have committed heinous or not so heinous crimes, then we— well, not me— can feel good about it. According to the German authorities at the time, and the vicious antisemites who post on these pages, the Jews WERE guilty of crimes against the state, or humanity, or whatever other fanatasy they were engaged in to justify “legal murders.

    This is one of the reasons I am against the death penalty. Either the right to life is inviolable— and I’m not getting into the abortion question here, so please don’t start— or it is not. If you can execute one or two people for reasons of state, you can execute 10, or 20, or 30. There is no upper limit.

    But then, I’m an atheist.

  • Just because one may be against the death penalty, does not give one the right to redefine the word “murder”. One cannot Humpty-Dumpty like change the meaning of words to suit oneself. The word means what it means, even for atheists.

  • It’s called common sense. In regards to ‘dignity of the victim’;
    You won’t get it; but Scripturally — Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39

  • But I didn’t redefine it, not at all. Murder is the illegal or unlawful taking of human life. If it is done legally or lawfully, then it isn’t murder.

    MURDER, From dictionary.com: Law. the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law.

    From Merriam Webster: Murder definition is – the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought.

    From Wikipedia: Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification or valid excuse,

    In each case, the common word is UNLAWFUL. Not natural law or someother nonsense, but LEGAL law.

  • The following vitiates anything Francis has to say:

    The Apostles’ Creed 2018: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

  • My point precisely! Canis in the initial post of this thread (which has been the context of my subsequent comments) was referring to all killing -both lawful and unlawful – as murder. The definition of murder cannot simply be changed on whim, as Canis was doing.

  • Who then is the arbiter of what is legal?
    Countless millions of unborn children have been legally executed all over the world during the last half century.

  • As “LEGAL law” varies hugely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, one has to ask, “What does ‘legality’ mean?”

  • Pope Francis heads a Church which teaches that God allows unrepentant sinners to suffer the torments of hell for all eternity. Now, set this against a judicial execution which only deprives one of life yet not necessarily of eternal life. The suspicion here is that Pope Francis is an ‘universalist’, i.e. he believes in universal salvation whereby every human creature is saved. This, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church is an heresy.
    ‘Universalism’ can be traced back to an interpretation of the documents of Vatican II.

  • In the UK recently an inmate murdered another inmate because he was convicted paedophile. Serving a life sentence he received a further life sentence. This gives the murdering offender carte blanche to commit murder whenever he feels like.

  • The right to live is NOT inviolable.

    For example, an aggressor attempting to kill you forfeits her or his life if your defense takes it.

    Since humans live in societies, and societies require laws, and laws ought to be just (the punishment should be proportionate to the offense), it follows that a sufficiently grave offense may require the maximum punishment.

    The “10, or 20, or 30” bit is completely irrelevant. The question is did “10, or 20, or 30” commit sufficiently grave offenses to merit a sufficiently grave punishment?

    Since you lack a proper framework to analyze the question, you wind up with patchwork of illogical positions.

  • Which fact indicates the system is flawed and needs to be remedied, not that injustice should be enshrined to be cheap.

  • This question arose at the end of WWII when a basis for war crimes trials was sought.

    One prominent American jurist called for trials based on natural law, which is the basis for most international law.

    The Soviets, for obvious reasons, balked.

    The main Soviet judge, Iona Nikitchenko, presided over some of the most notorious of Joseph Stalin’s show trials during the Great Purges of 1936 to 1938.

    The Soviet prosecutor, Roman Rudenko, later became commandant of NKVD special camp Nr. 7. By the time the camp closed in the spring of 1950, at least 12,000 prisoners had died due to the catastrophic prison conditions, hunger and psychological or physical exhaustion.

    Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court Harlan Fiske Stone called the Nuremberg trials a fraud since it applied ex post facto laws on the defendants.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_trials#American_role_in_the_trial

    So, in response to the Nazi rejection of natural law, the victors rejected natural law.

    Natural law, of course, provides the criterion for judging legality.

    The Nazi laws intended to persecute opponents and other targets were not legitimate because they did not serve the legitimate purpose of the state.

    Your correspondent, a secular Jew among other things, has never been able to explain a basis for minority rights since he rejects natural law.

  • No, Paul is not talking about the Noahide Law here, nor the natural law. The Noahide law and natural law are not the same, either. By conflating them, thee is contradicting what thee said yesterday.

  • Paul is actually talking about the Noahide Law, which is essentially the same thing as the natural law.

  • The term “natural religion” is normally used to refer to the use of reason to understand the role of humans in Nature’s creation. It is a form of deism, placing Nature above the god of revelation. To best understand it, think Thomas Jefferson, the age of reason, classic unitarianism. Noahide law is something argued about by the rabbis over the centuries that was supposedly revealed by God to Noah. While there are similarities, the two are not the same.
    Interestingly, some formulations of Noahide law make clear that all taking of human life is forbidden, not just what the state would consider murder. So, perhaps the pope is just going back to Noahide law.

  • Paul did not use the term “natural religion”. As a devout Jew he was referring to the Noahide laws.

    Six of the seven laws Noahide laws are exegetically derived from passages in Genesis.

    The natural law describes the inherent rules of the creation, inherent in the nature of things, plants, animals, and persons.

    The Noahide laws are a subset of the natural law, and Maimonides (Moses ben Maimon), the 12th century Sephardic Jewish philosopher more or less the Jewish Thomas Aquinas, discusses them as part of the laws of nature.

    Utilitarianism is not a subset of natural law theory, and one could be a utilitarian and reject natural law altogether.

  • What Paul was preaching was neither natural law nor Noahide law, and if thee cannot understand either of them, how can thee be expected to understand what Paul was preaching. And what is this about utilitarianism? How is it related to this discussion?
    But more important to this discussion, thee is choosing to ignore the fact that both the so called Noahide law and the law of Christ show us that all taking of human life is sin.

  • What Paul was preaching was the law written in the hearts of men.

    Any Jew – and Paul was a devout Jew speaking to Jews – would take that to mean the Noahide laws.

    Any student of natural law would take that to mean the natural laws.

    Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, not abolish it.

    “Utilitarianism” was introduced by you in this sentence:

    “To best understand it, think Thomas Jefferson, the age of reason, classic unitarianism.”

  • I’ve used the “earlychristianwritings” link in times past as a resource in my blogging. I’ve also used the “Internet History Sourcebooks Project” website. So far as I can remember, I’ve used these sites to peruse orthodox Judeo-Christian scriptures and certain non-canonical writings of interest to me. I value the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s document on interpretation of scripture. One of my favorite websites is catholic-resources.org .

    To the extent that contemporary groups/resources provide information about the Near and MIddle East of two thousand years ago, I value their contributions. I do not endorse any work that challenges or tends to diminish the orthodox doctrine about the divinity of Jesus (hence, my general avoidance of the “Jesus Seminar” and related).

    Although Catholic, I also use non-Catholic academic resources from respected scholars of church and related history.

    You wrote, “Get back to us…”

    Who is “us”?

  • Those of us who not believe in the divinity of Jesus, or angels or satan or miracles or papal infallibility or 90% of what is in the NT, or Abraham or Moses.

  • As a progressive Catholic, I fully embrace Vatican II’s teaching on freedom of conscience and religious freedom (albeit not the bastardization of the latter in hopes of frustrating the common good as has been done by the U.S. Catholic bishops, i.e., their so-called “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign of a few years ago and continued efforts to deny women their access to those contraceptives that only prevent conception.

    I acknowledge your right to believe or not believe as your conscience dictates. To me, that recognizes your dignity as a fellow human being, whether you believe or don’t believe in God.

  • Sure…..when the number of deaths of the guilty from capital punishment (about 35 a year) gets up to the innocent deaths of 1,000,000 a year.

    More left-wing moral relativism.

  • Go join the Episcopalians if you don’t like it. Nobody is barricarding the doors keeping you in.

  • Lots of conflict in the Church of Rome between loyal faithful Catholics and left-wing Protestants camoflauged as Catholics.

    They are a cancer, and cancer needs to be removed.

  • Right, because social welfare has been such a winner in the poor and black communities.

    Look at how great Detroit functions.

  • I’ve already showered — in my residence. Perhaps you’ve got me confused with somebody else you’ve seen out and about.

  • Right, I trust you’ve rejected your Social Security benefits. That would be the patriotic thing to do.

  • You should post on the “Cat In The Hat” message boards then. Why are you here ? GO take care of your Golden Retriever.

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