‘the death penalty is inhumane
because it is an attack on
the dignity of the person’
“It is not enough to find a new language in which to articulate our perennial faith; it is also urgent, in the light of the new challenges and prospects facing humanity, that the Church be able to express the “new things” of Christ’s Gospel, that, albeit present in the word of God, have not yet come to light.”
“Along these same lines, I would like now to bring up a subject that ought to find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a more adequate and coherent treatment in the light of these expressed aims. I am speaking of the death penalty. [...] It must be clearly stated that the death penalty is an inhumane measure that, regardless of how it is carried out, abases human dignity.”
“Tradition is a living reality and only a partial vision regards the “deposit of faith” as something static. The word of God cannot be moth-balled like some old blanket in an attempt to keep insects at bay! No. The word of God is a dynamic and living reality that develops and grows because it is aimed at a fulfilment that none can halt.”
Francis' speech for the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum of St John Paul II, a text accompanying the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
I offer a warm greeting to all of you and I thank Archbishop Fisichella for his kind words of introduction.
The twenty-fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, by which Saint John Paul II, thirty years after the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church, offers a significant opportunity for taking stock of the progress made in the meantime. It was the desire and will of Saint John XXIII to call the Council, not primarily to condemn error, but so that the Church could have an opportunity at last to present the beauty of her faith in Jesus Christ in language attuned to the times. “It is necessary,” the Pope stated in his opening address, “that the Church should never depart from the sacred patrimony of truth received from the Fathers. But at the same time she must ever look to the present, to the new conditions and new forms of life introduced into the modern world which have opened new avenues to the Catholic apostolate” (11 October 1962). “It is our duty,” he continued, “not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves, with an earnest will and without fear, to that work which our era demands of us, thus pursuing the path which the Church has followed for twenty centuries” (ibid.).
It is in the very nature of the Church to “guard” the deposit of faith and to “pursue” the Church’s path, so that the truth present in Jesus’ preaching of the Gospel may grow in fullness until the end of time. This is a grace granted to the People of God, but it is also a task and a mission for which we are responsible, that of proclaiming to our contemporaries in a new and fuller way the perennial Good News. With the joy born of Christian hope, and armed with the “medicine of mercy” (ibid.), we approach the men and women of our time to help them discover the inexhaustible richness contained in the person of Jesus Christ.
In presenting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Saint John Paul II stated that it should “take into account the doctrinal statements which down the centuries the Holy Spirit has made known to his Church. It should also help illumine with the light of faith the new situations and problems which had not yet emerged in the past” (Fidei Depositum, 3). The Catechism is thus an important instrument. It presents the faithful with the perennial teaching of the Church so that they can grow in their understanding of the faith. But it especially seeks to draw our contemporaries – with their new and varied problems – to the Church, as she seeks to present the faith as the meaningful answer to human existence at this moment of history. It is not enough to find a new language in which to articulate our perennial faith; it is also urgent, in the light of the new challenges and prospects facing humanity, that the Church be able to express the “new things” of Christ’s Gospel, that, albeit present in the word of God, have not yet come to light. This is the treasury of “things old and new” of which Jesus spoke when he invited his disciples to teach the newness that he had brought, without forsaking the old (cf. Mt 13:52).
One of the most beautiful pages in the Gospel of John is his account of the so-called “priestly prayer” of Jesus. Just before his passion and death, Jesus speaks to the Father of his obedience in having brought to fulfilment the mission entrusted to him. His words, a kind of hymn to love, also contain the request that the disciples be gathered and preserved in unity (cf. Jn 17:12-15). The words, “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (Jn 17:3), represent the culmination of Jesus’s mission.
To know God, as we are well aware, is not in the first place an abstract exercise of human reason, but an irrepressible desire present in the heart of every person. This knowledge comes from love, for we have encountered the Son of God on our journey (cf. Lumen Fidei, 28). Jesus of Nazareth walks at our side and introduces us, by his words and the signs he performs, to the great mystery of the Father’s love. This knowledge is strengthened daily by faith’s certainty that we are loved and, for this reason, part of a meaningful plan. Those who love long to know better the beloved, and therein to discover the hidden richness that appears each day as something completely new.
For this reason, our Catechism unfolds in the light of love, as an experience of knowledge, trust, and abandonment to the mystery. In explaining its structure, the Catechism of the Catholic Church borrows a phrase from the Roman Catechism and proposes it as the key to its reading and application: “The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 25).
Along these same lines, I would like now to bring up a subject that ought to find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a more adequate and coherent treatment in the light of these expressed aims. I am speaking of the death penalty. This issue cannot be reduced to a mere résumé of traditional teaching without taking into account not only the doctrine as it has developed in the teaching of recent Popes, but also the change in the awareness of the Christian people which rejects an attitude of complacency before a punishment deeply injurious of human dignity. It must be clearly stated that the death penalty is an inhumane measure that, regardless of how it is carried out, abases human dignity. It is per se contrary to the Gospel, because it entails the willful suppression of a human life that never ceases to be sacred in the eyes of its Creator and of which – ultimately – only God is the true judge and guarantor. No man, “not even a murderer, loses his personal dignity” (Letter to the President of the International Commission against the Death Penalty, 20 March 2015), because God is a Father who always awaits the return of his children who, knowing that they have made mistakes, ask for forgiveness and begin a new life. No one ought to be deprived not only of life, but also of the chance for a moral and existential redemption that in turn can benefit the community.
In past centuries, when means of defence were scarce and society had yet to develop and mature as it has, recourse to the death penalty appeared to be the logical consequence of the correct application of justice. Sadly, even in the Papal States recourse was had to this extreme and inhumane remedy that ignored the primacy of mercy over justice. Let us take responsibility for the past and recognize that the imposition of the death penalty was dictated by a mentality more legalistic than Christian. Concern for preserving power and material wealth led to an over-estimation of the value of the law and prevented a deeper understanding of the Gospel. Nowadays, however, were we to remain neutral before the new demands of upholding personal dignity, we would be even more guilty.
Here we are not in any way contradicting past teaching, for the defence of the dignity of human life from the first moment of conception to natural death has been taught by the Church consistently and authoritatively. Yet the harmonious development of doctrine demands that we cease to defend arguments that now appear clearly contrary to the new understanding of Christian truth. Indeed, as Saint Vincent of Lérins pointed out, “Some may say: Shall there be no progress of religion in Christ’s Church? Certainly; all possible progress. For who is there, so envious of men, so full of hatred to God, who would seek to forbid it?” (Commonitorium, 23.1; PL 50). It is necessary, therefore, to reaffirm that no matter how serious the crime that has been committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and the dignity of the person.
“The Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes” (Dei Verbum, 8). The Council Fathers could not have found a finer and more synthetic way of expressing the nature and mission of the Church. Not only in “teaching”, but also in “life” and “worship”, are the faithful able to be God’s People. Through a series of verbs the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation expresses the dynamic nature of this process: “This Tradition develops […] grows […] and constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth, until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her” (ibid.)
Tradition is a living reality and only a partial vision regards the “deposit of faith” as something static. The word of God cannot be moth-balled like some old blanket in an attempt to keep insects at bay! No. The word of God is a dynamic and living reality that develops and grows because it is aimed at a fulfilment that none can halt. This law of progress, in the happy formulation of Saint Vincent of Lérins, “consolidated by years, enlarged by time, refined by age” (Commonitorium, 23.9: PL 50), is a distinguishing mark of revealed truth as it is handed down by the Church, and in no way represents a change in doctrine.
Doctrine cannot be preserved without allowing it to develop, nor can it be tied to an interpretation that is rigid and immutable without demeaning the working of the Holy Spirit. “God, who in many and various ways spoke of old to our fathers” (Heb 1:1), “uninterruptedly converses with the bride of his beloved Son” (Dei Verbum, 8). We are called to make this voice our own by “reverently hearing the word of God” (ibid., 1), so that our life as a Church may progress with the same enthusiasm as in the beginning, towards those new horizons to which the Lord wishes to guide us.
I thank you for this meeting and for your work, and to all of you I cordially impart my blessing.
The “dignity of the human person” is becoming so sacred that it is further overriding the laws of God, both natural and supernatural. It’s already affecting how people view the salvation of souls, and now it hammers the death penalty.ReplyDelete
This is thanks to the personalism of 20th century philosophers and theologians who reacted heavily against Nazism and Communism murdering so many people. You can’t argue the faith to Nazis and Communists (because everything these days is about arguments or dialogue, instead of grace). As a result, you must make the “dignity of the human person” and absolute principle which no one can lose no matter how horrible the crime. You can thank pseudo-saint John Paul II for pushing these concepts so hard.
Sin and evil are ignored, because if you just dialogue and talk enough, everyone will realize the value of the human person apart from God and the Catholic faith. Then, the dignity of the human person becomes a god itself. A reactionary extreme against the other extreme of the culture of death.
As a murderer bloody assaults the dignity of the one murders.ReplyDelete
Pope Francis is wrong. The death penalty can actually be lighter than staying alive and in jail because it gives you an exact time when you know you will die and you can get ready. pope Francis is the worst heretic ever.ReplyDelete
from site CatholicLane 9 Oct 17:ReplyDelete
They can Take the Buildings,
I'll Keep the Faith
They have the buildings,
We, the handful, have the Faith.
They have the media,
We have The Light.
They have the pulpits,
We have The Word.
They have heresy,
We have The Truth.
They have our money,
We have our souls.
They have themselves,
We have The Lord.
They have the offices,
We have The Church.
They have the buildings,
We have the Faith.
Copyright © GM 2017
The poem in my previous comment was inspired by a letter of St. Athanasius, nicknamed Athanasius Contra Mundum, when he was one of the few bishops to oppose the Arian heresy.ReplyDelete
Thank you, St. Athanasius:
Letter of Saint Athanasius; 4th Century AD, Bishop of Alexandria To His Flock: “May God console you! … What saddens you … is the fact that others have occupied the churches by violence, while during this time you are on the outside. It is a fact that they have the premises — but you have the Apostolic Faith. They can occupy our churches, but they are outside the true Faith. You remain outside the places of worship, but the Faith dwells within you. Let us consider: what is more important, the place or the Faith? The true Faith, obviously. Who has lost and who has won in the struggle — the one who keeps the premises or the one who keeps the Faith? True, the premises are good when the Apostolic Faith is preached there; they are holy if everything takes place there in a holy way … “You are the ones who are happy; you who remain within the Church by your Faith, who hold firmly to the foundations of the Faith which has come down to you from Apostolic Tradition. And if an execrable jealousy has tried to shake it on a number of occasions, it has not succeeded. They are the ones who have broken away from it in the present crisis. No one, ever, will prevail against your Faith, beloved Brothers. And we believe that God will give us our churches back some day. “Thus, the more violently they try to occupy the places of worship, the more they separate themselves from the Church. They claim that they represent the Church; but in reality, they are the ones who are expelling themselves from it and going astray. Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ.”– (Coll. Selecta SS.Eccl.Patrum, Caillau and Guillou Vol. 32, pp. 411-412)
Yeah, well why don't we just call it hate speech, population control, communism, abortion, assisted suicide or euthanasia? Then us greedy pedophile sodomite millionaire perverts living off jesus christ can murder whom we please!ReplyDelete
Or maybe we should just say being for the penalty is okay as long as it's not our focus --
Vatican defends new pro-abortion appointee at pro-life academy: abortion not his ‘focus’
Murder for criminals not allowed by the criminals in the vatican--but "catholics for choice" gets to use "catholic" in their NAME and campaign for 'affordable' abortion: "Today, Catholics for Choice launched Abortion in Good Faith, a multi-year campaign dedicated to amplifying the voices of Catholics across the country who want abortion to be accessible and affordable for everyone--"
Yeah, wonder how long "catholics for the death penalty" would be allowed to run 'controversial' front page ads in nat'l newspapers for commuters to read free before usccb sued for copyright infringement? "The ads are running in papers throughout the country, including The Washington Post, The Chicago Sun Times, The Marion Reader, and the Harrisburg Register and state that “public funding for abortion is a Catholic social justice value.”
W/the entire prolife 'catholic' cottage industry Pavone, Brown, Carney, Lila, Schedilers, + all the lawyers--where is the group "Catholics for the Right to Life"(or even Catholics for Life aka every prot sect) running front page ads in nat'l newspapers to make abortion illegal? Oh, you don't have to make abortion illegal to stop it (ask Con Carney!! Latest gimmick is a 'free' conference to tell you how the vatican is advocating for abortion -- as if it hadn't been doing so since VC2. Sarge? Ted? Mario? Nancy? Barb? Leon? Joe? Anyone who can remain in the VC2 church w/the latest antics of Jerry Brown, Bill de Blasio, and Andrew Cuomo must be pro abortion themselves. The Catholic Church was pro-choice up to Obama/Pope Francis -- it is now PRO-abortion and euthanasia.
Org's policy is set from the top. The leaders represent it. When the Herodians and Priests are in communion, the rank and file only fool themselves (purposely) by sticking their head in the sand, simply because Hitler denies he is killing Jews, the rest of the world declares it has no evidence, and the label on the death camp states "work saves."
But on Wednesday, Mr. Zwilling said that the cardinal, who is the archbishop of New York, “would not, and did not, suggest the governor might not be a Catholic in good standing going forward.”
"Cuomo said this past Friday on “The Capital Pressroom,” an Albany radio talk show... "Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right to life, pro-assault weapons, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York because that’s not who New Yorkers are."
Who's the Catholic Cuomo or the EXTREME "right to life"?
LeonG said.....argue with the thief on his cross......we deserve our punishment but this man (Jesus) has done nothing wrong.ReplyDelete
Cheap popularity and thoughtless humanism Mr humble.
Pope Francis is arguing with God. God Himself decreed that the death penalty would be the punishment for various crimes. His words are there to see in the Old Testament. Furthermore, nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus or any writer say anything against the death penalty; that is, nowhere is it indicated that God has changed His view on the death penalty. Jesus could have spoken against it at any time, but did not. When the woman was taken in adultery, He never said a word against stoning or the death penalty, but spoke only of hypocrisy as He often did. When He was to be crucified, He said nothing against the death penalty. Thus, the death penalty stands. It is a commandment from God. To change the Catechism would be to rebel against God.ReplyDelete
A major purpose of punishment is deterrence. Punishment does not merely remove criminals from society so that they can do no more harm; it discourages others from committing the crime. The death penalty discourages the committing of the crime more than imprisonment would.
Lastly, it is wicked to show more pity for a criminal than for his victim, and Pope Francis is doing this also. Pope Francis is just evil beyond words now.