Showing posts with label Death Penalty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Death Penalty. Show all posts
Monday, June 26, 2006
Philippines Abolishes the Death Penalty
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Photo: Pope Benedict XVI blesses her personal Rosary. Source: REUTERS/Max Rossi (VATICAN) 

Update (June 24, 2006): President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines has signed the bill into law! She met with Pope Benedict XVI on June 26, 2006.

Original Post:

The Philippines Government decided to abolish the death penalty last Wednesday. AsiaNews reported Bishop Pedro Arrigo, chairman of the Episcopal Commission of Prison and Pastoral Care, said: "It is very important that both the Senate and the House of Representatives approved separate bills to abolish the imposition of the 1994 death penalty law." According to the International Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral Care, around 124 countries have stopped executions. Though, it is not a mortal sin to excommunicate a criminal, nor even a sin at all.

Reflection:

"Even in the case of the death penalty, the State does not dispose of the individual’s right to life. Rather public authority limits itself to depriving the offender of the good of life in expiation for his guilt, after he, through his crime, deprived himself of his own right to life" (Pope Pius XII, Address to the First International Congress of Histopathology of the Nervous System, 14 September 1952, XIV, 328)
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Monday, July 11, 2005
The Catholic View on Capital Punishment
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Capital punishment is derived from the Latin word "caput" meaning "head," indicating that the crime was committed was so severe as to warrant that the criminal deserved to lose his head. 

Current Legal Status of the Death Penalty (as of 2004)

In 2004, there were 3,797 executions in 25 countries with China performing at least 3,400. The United States committed 59. Throughout the world, 89 countries have abolished the death penalty with 74 still using it. All countries in Europe, except Belarus, have abolished the death penalty, as of the time of this writing

In the United States, 38 states allow the death penalty with two of them, Maryland and Illinois, having a moratorium on it. As of Jan. 2005, Texas had 337 executions and accounted for the most in the United States, but California has the most death-row inmates. The United States has a reversal rate of 67% in death row convictions. The most common method is lethal injection at 82% of the total executions. As of February 2005, the United States stopped executing juveniles and now only 7 countries in the world do it. (Source with additional information)

The Catholic Teaching on the Death Penalty

"Under what circumstances may human life be lawfully taken? A. Human life may be lawfully taken: 1. In self-defense, when we are unjustly attacked and have no other means of saving our own lives; 2. In a just war, when the safety or rights of the nation require it; 3. By the lawful execution of a criminal, fairly tried and found guilty of a crime punishable by death when the preservation of law and order and the good of the community require such execution" (Baltimore Catechism #3 Q. 1276).

People will often ask how we are supposed to understand war and legal recourse to the death penalty in light of the Fifth Commandment. The Church recognizes that there are times when war is necessary to prevent a grave evil. If undertaken for just reasons, a war is called a Just War. Many wars are not considered just, which compounds the difficulty soldiers face when they are in a situation that requires them to kill. In these cases, it is important to seek the counsel of your priest to help reconcile the Fifth Commandment and the demands sometimes required of the honorable duty of military service.

The Church also recognizes that legal recourse to the death penalty is a legitimate option for seeking legal justice. Capital Punishment helps the person who committed serious and heinous crimes with a means to atone for their sins. The death penalty should only be exercised against a criminal if there is no legitimate doubt that they are guilty of their atrocious crime.

"Even in the case of the death penalty, the State does not dispose of the individual’s right to life. Rather public authority limits itself to depriving the offender of the good of life in expiation for his guilt, after he, through his crime, deprived himself of his own right to life" (Pope Pius XII, Address to the First International Congress of Histopathology of the Nervous System, 14 September 1952, XIV, 328)

Catholic Teaching (Updated in 2017):

The American TFP does a good job indicating the constant teaching authority of the Church that the death penalty is admissible and that the opinions of Pope Francis to change this are incorrect. Read Is the Death Penalty Contrary to the Gospel?

Work for the Salvation of Every Human Soul

Our ultimate goal is to work for the salvation of every human soul. As Fulton J. Sheen once remarked, "If souls are lost, everything is lost." There is something worse than death - that is eternal death in hell, a death that will go on for all eternity. So let us work for the conversion and salvation of everyone, especially those on death row and those serving prison sentences of any term. The story of the conversion of Claude Newman and the Miraculous Medal from the 1940s is something everyone should read.
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