Pope Francis Wishes To Change Teaching On Capital Punishment…

Pope Francis Wishes To Change Teaching On Capital Punishment…

Speaking in Rome on October 11th, 2017 (55th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II), at a conference promoting the ‘New Evangelization’, Pope Francis made known his will for the Catechism of the Catholic Church to be revised so as to condemn capital punishment as absolutely immoral in principle. He declared the death penalty to be “in itself contrary to the Gospel” (“in sé stessa contraria al Vangelo”). Source

The Pope’s attack on traditional teaching is not going unchallenged, however;  below, extracts from a very interesting analysis from the Society of St Pius X, District of the U.S.A.  Read entire article here

Capital Punishment and Contemporary Catholicism

On April 20, 2017, Ledell Lee, convicted of the brutal murder of his neighbor, Mrs. Debra Reese, was executed in Arkansas, the state’s first execution since 2005. When asked what his wishes were for his last meal, Lee declined a meal but said he wished to receive Holy Communion before execution. He made no public statement before death, but his request to receive the Sacraments was indicative of a desire to die in a state of grace, at peace with God.

Before Lee’s execution, Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas, Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, and the Catholic Mobilizing Network, which describes its mission as “Ending the death penalty. Promoting restorative justice,” all wrote to the governor of Arkansas asking that Lee’s sentence be commuted to life imprisonment.

Opposition to the Death Penalty

These Catholic bishops and activists are not alone in their opposition to the death penalty. In June of 2016, Pope Francis sent a video message of support to the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty in which he said: 

“Nowadays the death penalty is unacceptable, however grave the crime of the convicted person. It is an offence to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person; it likewise contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and his merciful justice.”

What then does the Church teach about capital punishment? Is it permitted, and under what circumstances?

The Catechism of the Council of Trent tells us:

“Far from being guilty of breaking this commandment [Thou shall not kill], such an execution of justice is precisely an act of obedience to it. For the purpose of the law is to protect and foster human life. This purpose is fulfilled when the legitimate authority of the State is exercised by taking the guilty lives of those who have taken innocent lives”
(Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566, Part III, 5, n. 4.).

This contrasts starkly with Pope Francis’s words, “The commandment “Thou shalt not kill” has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty” (Message to the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty).

St. Thomas Aquinas gives two main reasons for the use of capital punishment. One is the common good:

Now every individual person is related to the entire society as a part to the whole. Therefore if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and healthful that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since ‘a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump’ (1 Cor. 5:6).”
(Summa Theologiae, II, II, q. 64, art. 2)

His other consideration is the good of the criminal.

“They…have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so obstinate that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from malice, it is possible to make a quite probable judgment that they would never come away from evil” 
(Summa contra gentiles, Book III, chapter 146).

The Good of the Criminal
On July 26, 2017, Ronald Phillips, convicted of the particularly horrible murder of a child, was executed in Ohio. The day of his execution, he reportedly spent several hours with a spiritual adviser and took time to read the Bible. Just before death, he made his first public expression of regret since his incarceration, asking forgiveness of his victim’s family. He had previously unsuccessfully sought clemency on grounds of his youth at the time (he was 19) and his difficult childhood.

While some claim that the death penalty puts an end to the possibility of the criminal repenting later on, St. Thomas does not admit this objection.

“The fact that the evil ones, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement.”

Both Phillips’s case and that of Ledell Lee illustrate St. Thomas’s point: imminent death brings home to the criminal the gravity of his crime and leads him to repentance. Samuel Johnson was the author of the oft-quoted aphorism to the effect that nothing concentrates the mind like a sentence of hanging. Of course, in Samuel Johnson’s day, executions were carried out rather more promptly than they are in the United States nowadays: a criminal can languish for decades on death row, and it is said that nearly a quarter of death row inmates die of natural causes while waiting for execution or appealing their sentences.

The Church has been careful to emphasize the need for due process and true justice. Innocent III said:

The secular power can without mortal sin carry out a sentence of death, provided it proceeds in imposing the penalty not from hatred but with judgment, not carelessly but with due solicitude.”

Whether due process is consistently available in the American criminal justice system is a matter of debate. By all accounts it is in desperate need of reform. One high-profile (and well-informed, thanks to his own sojourn in the United States’ jail system) commentator on this issue was newspaper publisher Conrad Black, who has among other issues emphasized the need to address the huge number of inmates in the prison system and the high rate of recidivism, partly due (in his opinion) to a culture in which convicts become dependent on the system. 

The Catholic Understanding of Death

[F]or the believing Christian, death is no big deal. Intentionally killing an innocent person is a big deal: it is a grave sin, which causes one to lose his soul. But losing this life, in exchange for the next?…For the non-believer, on the other hand, to deprive a man of his life is to end his existence. What a horrible act!”

Does the death penalty deprive the criminal of hope? Of hope for the things of this world, certainly. But there are many instances of dying criminals who have discovered grounds for hope: a certain thief once hoped, “Remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom.”

In Conclusion…

From what the Catechism of the Council of Trent tells us, in combination with the teachings of many Popes and sainted theologians, it seems that while the necessity and suitability of capital punishment in a given situation remains a prudential decision for the public authorities, it is clear that traditional Catholic teachings permit the death penalty under certain conditions. One could argue that the rallying of modern Catholicism against capital punishment is at least in part due to the influence of what Scalia calls “the post-Freudian secularist,” inclined to diminish the moral responsibility of the criminal and seemingly blind to the possibility of expiation for sin and life after death.

The fifteenth-century French poet François Villon, a ne’er-do-well who frequently fell afoul of the law, composed his most famous work, The Ballad of the Hanged, in jail the night before he was to be executed. It is an entirely supernatural plea to Christ and Our Lady for mercy on his soul and to his fellowman for pity and prayers. His final stanza is remarkable for its humility and its hope:

Prince Jesus, who has command of all,                                
Do not let Hell gain lordship over us:
With it let us have no dealings.
Men, there is no mockery here;
Pray God that He will absolve us all.

Comments invited…

IS Pope Francis right to seek to “revise” Catholic teaching on the Death Penalty?

Comments (37)

  • Patrick E. Devens

    No. Francis should keep his mouth shut. He seems to place ecumenism with non-Catholics and mercy while forgetting justice among his top priorities. He is not standing firm with true Church teaching.

    October 19, 2017 at 12:53 pm
  • Patrick E. Devens

    Reblogged this on The Catholic Thinker.

    October 19, 2017 at 12:54 pm
    • editor

      Thank you Patrick – since you have a black background, though, maybe you will think of changing the font to white? I know you have linked to source, here, but just a thought – it’s not easy to read the black font on the black background.

      Your blog IS very striking, however, so please don’t take that as a criticism.

      October 19, 2017 at 3:17 pm
      • Patrick E. Devens

        Thanks editor. I’ll look into changing the text color. 😉

        October 21, 2017 at 2:01 am
      • Patrick E. Devens

        Hmmm….I can’t get the reblog to save under a white text color.

        October 21, 2017 at 2:03 am
      • editor


        i knew it would be my fault! It’s always the same…


        October 21, 2017 at 9:23 am
      • Patrick E. Devens

        Hey no worries! The link is still visible so people can view the original.

        October 21, 2017 at 12:24 pm
  • Theresa Rose

    Pope Francis feels himself free to impose his own opinions and overturn the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.


    October 19, 2017 at 5:59 pm
    • editor

      Theresa Rose,

      Thank you for posting that article by Christopher Ferrara – I’ve only skimmed the opening paragraphs but already get a sense of the sheer arrogance of Pope Francis in imposing his view of capital punishment in relation to the Gospel, over the constant teaching of the Church.

      The problem for many, if not most, contemporary Catholics is that we have all been imbued to a greater or lesser extent with the idea that – the unborn child of course excepted – life is the most important “right” of all, for everyone, no matter what. Even convicted murderers, then, have a right to have their life protected at, literally, all costs.

      I have to confess that I do have concerns about wrong convictions and I’m afraid I haven’t got a huge regard for the standards in our courts, my own legal eagle friends being the obvious exceptions of course! It’s just that.. well…


      October 19, 2017 at 7:05 pm
    • Margaret Mary

      Theresa Rose,

      That’s a brilliant article on the Fatima website. I thought I would copy this extract, because it is really at the heart of this issue:

      So what would happen if Francis succeeded in imposing his opinion, via a revision of the Catechism, to declare a “development” of traditional Catholic teaching on the morality of the death penalty according to which the death penalty is now deemed immoral in every case? That attempted “reversal” of the Magisterium would have to be viewed as utterly void and of no effect. The faithful simply could not accept it.

      If it were otherwise, then literally every moral teaching of the Church, including her constant condemnation of contraception, would be subject to reversal in the name of “doctrinal development.” And that would mean — if it were possible — the end of the Church’s absolutely authoritative voice on moral questions. As the philosopher Edward Feser has so acutely observed of this latest explosive development with Francis: “This would completely undermine the authority of the Church, and of Pope Francis himself. For if the Church could be that wrong for that long about something that serious, why trust anything else she says? And if all previous popes have been so badly mistaken, why should we think Pope Francis is right?”

      October 20, 2017 at 4:24 pm
      • crofterlady

        Yes, MM, a brilliant article. The last 2 sentences say it all really.

        How much confusion abounds and all caused by negligent bishops and a near apostate Pope.

        October 20, 2017 at 5:03 pm
    • editor

      Theresa Rose,

      I’ve now read the Christopher Ferrara article on the subject of Pope Francis & Capital Punishment and it is excellent. Concise and clear – first class. Thank you, again, for posting it here.

      October 20, 2017 at 11:47 pm
  • John R

    Father Ray Blake has just had this on his website. He says that the Pope has no power to change Church teaching, The duty of the Pope is to uphold Church teaching and to clarify it. But he cannot change it. That is clear enough for me and it makes sense.

    October 19, 2017 at 8:17 pm
    • editor

      John R,

      If you were impressed by that piece by Fr Ray Blake, I’m surprised.

      Take this whopper – after acknowledging that the Pope’s role is to clarify beliefs held from the beginning, this whopper:

      “The two ‘classical’ acts of such clarification, the Immaculate Conception and Assumption in many ways were completely unnecessary at the time of their promulgation, except to promote Papal power.” WOW!

      Father Ray Blake appears to be unaware of the fact that more than archives are required to deepen knowledge and understanding of revealed truth and Our Lord Himself told His first apostles that, after He had gone, the Paraclete would come to remind them of everything that He had taught; clearly, everything was not going to be made manifest at once.

      Thus, consulting theologians, bishops etc., the popes have – on occasion and when deemed necessary – pronounced as infallible teaching something which the faithful have always believed, so it has nothing to do with papal power. Any Catholic should know that popes cannot teach anything new, but they can and should define teachings which may not be fully understood, and thus help prevent the denial of basic beliefs. A command to believe is found in such dogmatic definitions. This from the website of EWTN (the first source to hand when I checked just now and time is short)…

      At the General Audience of Wednesday, 12 June, the Holy Father continued his catechesis on the Immaculate Conception, this time discussing the dogmatic definition of the doctrine by Pope Pius IX. “We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from every stain of original sin is a doctrine revealed by God and, for this reason, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful” the Pope said in his Bull Ineffabilis.

      Likewise, Pius XII – in his encyclical defining the Dogma of the Assumption writes about the link between the Immaculate Conception and the growing pleadings of the faithful for the Assumption to be defined…:

      ” 8. During the course of time such postulations and petitions did not decrease but rather grew continually in number and in urgency. In this cause there were pious crusades of prayer. Many outstanding theologians eagerly and zealously carried out investigations on this subject either privately or in public ecclesiastical institutions and in other schools where the sacred disciplines are taught. Marian Congresses, both national and international in scope, have been held in many parts of the Catholic world. These studies and investigations have brought out into even clearer light the fact that the dogma of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption into heaven is contained in the deposit of Christian faith entrusted to the Church. They have resulted in many more petitions, begging and urging the Apostolic See that this truth be solemnly defined…

      45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.”

      No, Our Lord didn’t exhort Peter to keep archives; he promised to be with His Church, personally, until the end of time and to send the Paraclete to bring His divine revelation into ‘even clearer light’ (to quote Pius XII above) as a reassurance to us all that He is with the Pope and Church – as long as what is being taught is what Christians have always believed, everywhere, and at all times (to quote St Vincent Lerins.) It’s a promise of divine guidance, nothing to do with papal power.

      I could say I’m disappointed in Fr Ray Blake’s piece but that would be nothing new. Nor would taking time to submit a comment which does not reach his blog, which is why I’m correcting him here, instead.

      He doesn’t go into any arguments about the death penalty, except to say that it has always been permitted and Pope Francis can’t pronounce on it in opposition to the traditional teaching, but why on earth he chose to undermine the papal role to define dogma instead of simply stating his case or linking to one of the very good articles on the topic (see top of this thread for links) is beyond me, being a simple gal, an’ all…

      October 19, 2017 at 10:36 pm
    • Athanasius

      John R,

      Officially, Pope Francis does not have the power to change Church teaching. However, he can have a very negative impact on Church teaching by airing his personal heterodox views as though they were official teaching. Fr. Ray Blake should know that, especially in this time of Modernist Ultramontanism.

      October 20, 2017 at 12:43 pm
      • Margaret Mary


        That is exactly the danger, just as he has done with Amoris Laetitia. We know he can’t change Catholic teaching on marriage but he can do as much damage as possible to it and give the impression that things can and have changed. There are bishops all over the place who are using AL to allow people to receive Communion who are not entitled to do so due to their lifestyle, but it’s happening. He’s a very dangerous man, Pope Francis.

        October 20, 2017 at 4:17 pm
  • Athanasius

    Once again, I think this highlights perfectly how the Modernist hierarchy since Vatican II have lost all sense of the supernatural in our holy religion and have become humanists fighting for a paradise on earth. It’s lost faith, nothing more or less.

    The Sacred Scriptures, Old and New Testament, are filled with examples of God extending the power to civil authorities to execute the most serious criminals, those who offend gravely against the common good of society. The Church has supported this since its foundation 2000 years ago because it has viewed the matter from the point of view of saving souls. Pope Francis and others like him concern themselves less with souls than with social justice, and even that they get wrong. Tragic, tragic, tragic!

    October 19, 2017 at 11:28 pm
    • editor


      Agree wholeheartedly. Still, pity the poor judges and juries dealing with some of these nutters…


      I’m being a bit naughty, just till the serious points start rolling in, then I promise to behave. There are just so many hilarious courtroom cartoons out there, it’s difficult to resist…

      Then there’s the story of the man in Limerick who was found “not guilty” of a serious crime there a while back. The Judge said: “You have been acquitted by a Limerick jury and you leave this court today with no other stain on your character” 😀

      You have to laugh… !

      October 20, 2017 at 12:30 am
  • RCAVictor

    I think this absurdity fits perfectly with the rest of the modernist Conciliar era.

    1.The death penalty is punishment for taking the life of another. But in the modern Church, there is no punishment for anything (except clinging to Tradition, running your air conditioner too long and resisting the open borders insanity). In fact, there is no longer even a hell, thus no eternal punishment either, so let social justice reign, for ever and ever! (Insert Hallelujah Chorus here) (and a cartoon of Luther saying “Sin boldly!”)

    2. Since there is no longer any need for repentance, there is no point in condemning criminals to death under the assumption that they will have an opportunity to repent.

    3. The death penalty is also a deterrent from taking someone’s life, but these days, the rights of the criminal far outweigh the rights of the victim….and apparently, in Pope Francis’ diseased mind, that inversion resonates with him.

    October 20, 2017 at 2:55 am
    • editor

      RCA Victor,

      Well said! Especially the Hallelujah Chorus and the cartoon… 😀

      Seriously, that’s a very good summary of the situation. In the proverbial nutshell!

      October 20, 2017 at 9:48 am
    • chloe

      RCA Victor,

      Your comment is spot on with what’s going on in this Modernist era.

      The enemy surrounds us, and we shall parish unless we fight, if we really fight, we are given assurance of victory.” – St. Francis de Sales

      October 20, 2017 at 8:58 pm
  • gabriel syme

    This seems to be another example of Francis trying to turn the Church into an NGO with purely secular concerns.

    It is quite repugnant however, that he says very little about abortion – indeed attacking pro-lifers as “obsessed” – and yet he is making a big play of the death penalty.

    He loves nothing more than scratching around to find these causes which give him common ground with secular matters. Environmentalism is another good example.

    I wonder what his next big concern will be? Traffic congestion in urban centers? Availability of NHS dentists?

    October 20, 2017 at 12:45 pm
    • RCAVictor

      Gabriel Syme,

      I hope his next big concern is the state of his own soul, because the way things stand right now, he’s headed for a place where there’s eternal global warming.

      October 20, 2017 at 3:11 pm
      • Margaret Mary

        RCA Victor,

        ” he’s headed for a place where there’s eternal global warming.”

        LOL! That is SO on the button!

        October 20, 2017 at 4:12 pm
    • NA

      @gabriel syme – Sorry you missed the news, but Pope Francis is quite pro-life. Just search the net for quotes by him. https://cnsblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/top-13-quotable-quotes-by-pope-francis-on-sanctity-of-life/

      The only reason he mentioned “obsession” is that people have focused too much on the ends of life AS THOUGH NOTHING IN BETWEEN WAS IMPORTANT. Pro-lifers tend to be like this: “Great, you’re born! Hurray! Welcome to life, sucker. You’re on your own.” But life is precious from conception to natural death, and that includes childhood, adolescence, 20s, mid-life, and so forth. And yet, people aren’t respecting that. It’s easy to focus on the controversial part and not about caring for people AFTER they are born, because AFTER they are born, it’s now OUR problem to take care of them, not merely that of their parents.

      In regards to the environment, I happened to have read the Pope’s first encyclical on that. The mainstream media got it horribly wrong. The focus of it wasn’t really about the environment. Instead, it was about exactly what you should expect Francis to talk about: the poor. It was, in an indirect way, a confrontation of the exploitation being done by capitalist companies on the resources of poor nations. If you’ve ever looked into the topic deeply, you realize just how much 1st world countries have been exploiting poor nations and wrecking their environments. Just look at the smog pictures over Beijing just prior to the 2008 Olympics. It was a huge controversy. The Yellow River looks pretty ugly too. Do an internet search for pollution in poor countries. It’s not pretty. Pope Francis doesn’t care half as much about the styrofoam cup you left in the park and forgot to throw away as he does that your nation’s countries are buying chocolate specifically from slave labor (so that it’s cheaper) or buying wood from countries with horrible deforestation practices.

      He’s been a good pope, but please give him the benefit of the doubt and read his ACTUAL words in light of their proper context. Don’t trust mainstream media.

      November 16, 2017 at 3:29 am
      • editor


        Pro-lifers tend to be like this: “Great, you’re born! Hurray! Welcome to life, sucker. You’re on your own.”

        Patent nonsense. As Pope John Paul II said, without the guarantee of safety in the womb, every other right – everything on your list – is meaningless.

        As for your defence of Pope Francis’ environmentalism, I could not disagree more.

        Contrary to your belief that we would EXPECT Pope Francis to talk about the poor – frankly, I would like to see/hear him talking about the Catholic Faith and true morals, just for a wee change.

        Our Lord told us not to worry about tomorrow, what we are to wear, eat etc. Divine Providence will take care of all of these things – when did you ever hear Pope Francis quote that?

        Christ also told us that “the poor you will have with you, always” Goodness, close down the Vatican. What will they do when they get round to reading THAT little nugget?

        Yes, of course, we all have a duty to be charitable in practical ways, and it is thus, often that Divine Providence works, but charity this can never be separated from the Catholic Faith and true morals.

        A “good pope” – you having us on? Francis is the worst pope EVER in the history of the Church. And I know that from reading every one, almost, of his “actual words” – and watching his actions, ecumenical and inter-religion. You name it. I have his number. Believe me.

        November 16, 2017 at 3:25 pm
  • Helen

    Haha RCA victor, that last post is hilarious!

    October 20, 2017 at 5:11 pm
  • RCAVictor

    I wonder how many Popes, according to our Catholic visionaries, are in hell. Dante places the following in Circle 8:

    Nicholas III
    Boniface VIII
    Clement V


    …and that was 700 years ago!

    October 20, 2017 at 10:11 pm
    • Fidelis

      RCA Victor,

      I don’t know anything about those popes but maybe they were good popes and Dante was a liberal. LOL!

      Seriously, do we know what reasons he had for his choices of these popes?

      October 20, 2017 at 10:33 pm
    • editor

      RCA Victor,

      I’m no expert on Dante’s Inferno, but notes from the University of Texas include the following nugget:

      The offenses of circles 8 and 9–the lowest two circles of hell–all fall under the rubric of fraud, a form of malice–as Virgil explains in Inferno 11.22-7–unique to human beings and therefore more displeasing to God than sins of concupiscence and violence. While all versions of fraud involve the malicious use of reason, circles 8 and 9 are distinguished from one another according to the offender’s relationship to his or her victim: those who victimize someone with whom they share a special bond of trust (relatives, political / civic comrades, guests, benefactors) are punished in the lowest circle; if there exists no bond besides the “natural” one common to all humanity, the guilty soul suffers in one of the ten concentric ditches that constitute circle 8. [emphasis added].

      Now, how does that square with Our Lady’s warning that “more souls fall into Hell through sins of the flesh than any other sin”?

      I know the answer, or one answer: we can’t really compare the meanderings of an ancient poet with Our Lady; still, couldn’t resist!


      I’m quite sure you’ll find detailed coverage of the popes on RCA Victor’s (Dante’s!) list if you visit the above link…

      October 20, 2017 at 11:55 pm
      • RCAVictor


        I humbly submit there is no disagreement between Dante and Our Lady. First of all, Our Lady didn’t say which level of hell those souls fall into from the sins of the flesh, nor did she say that the sins of the flesh were the most displeasing to God (at least, I hope she didn’t say that, otherwise please pass the salt and pepper so I can eat my hat…..). Second, Dante didn’t claim that there were more souls in those two levels than anywhere else, or more souls in those two levels than were in hell because of the sins of the flesh.

        I rest my case, Your Honor. No further questions…..

        October 21, 2017 at 3:11 am
      • editor

        RCA Victor,

        Well, if more souls fall into Hell through sins of the flesh, is that because more people commit those sins than fraud? Doesn’t seem that way watching the politicians at work!

        Take your point though – I forgot about the circles… ! Wish I had time to look for a cartoon – bound to be plenty for dishonest politicians!

        October 21, 2017 at 9:34 am
  • NA

    To be perfectly fair, nothing in the Catechism is actually changing. Catechism paragraph 1753 explicitly states: “A good intention does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. THE END DOES NOT JUSTIFY THE MEANS.” (emphasis mine) Then, in the next paragraph, it states, “Circumstances of themselves cannot change the moral quality of acts themselves; they can make neither good nor right an action that is in itself evil.” If the action of destroying human life is evil, then there is nothing that justifies performing it. Period. End of story. This, of course, is not a pleasant conclusion, but it does make sense in the light of God’s plan. To put it succinctly, morality is a form of communication with God. God has already spoken to each of us by putting us in our life, with our situation, with our background, etc and given us the guideline: love. Our response to Him should be: “Yes Lord, no matter what happens – though people beat me, hurt me, reject what I have to say, put a crown of thorns on my head, and force me onto a cross – I will conform my will to YOUR will so that the two of us may be in perfect harmony, and in so being in harmony, be able to be unified, and in so being unified, be able to be glorified. “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.” (Catechism, paragraph 460) The goal is to be like God. True justice requires we all die for the most trivial of sins because – if we are to become God – we must be perfect, since God cannot contain anything contrary to Himself. But if God is so merciful so as to not strike us down for our sins (even the tiny ones), we too must be like Him and forgive not merely generously (“7 times”), but beyond what we would even consider reasonable (“70 times 7”), which is what Jesus meant when he said, “not 7 times, but 70 times 7”. Is it easy? No. But if you want a saint who actually clarified and tried to live the meekness Jesus demanded, try reading St Alphonsus de Ligouri. As for Aquinas’, his (if it is his) first statement fails because doing evil “for the good of community” is the same as “doing evil” so that good may result. His second statement is not a support of capital punishment at all. Instead, it’s a mere philosophical speculation that someone *ahem*, our dear author *ahem* has taken out of context and construed to support the stance on capital punishment. Thank you for quoting it unabridged. Like him, I too agree that perhaps, at the point of death (whenever and HOWever it comes), it can be SPECULATED that someone is PROBABLY (but not definitively) where they will always remain spiritually regardless of whether their life to run on for however many more years.

    Concerning his third statement (“The fact that the evil ones, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit that they may be justly executed”) fails by the same principles as the first. Again, quoting paragraph 1756 of the Catechism: “One may not do evil so that good will result from it.” Applying what I’ve learned elsewhere as fundamental to life: We shouldn’t be asking whether or not the good consequences outweigh the bad. We should be asking whether or not we can live with those consequences. In this case, the judgment shifts from the criminal onto us, the means of discipline. And remember, even after God punished the Israelites for sending another nation to conquer them, He turned right around and punished that nation for conquering the Israelites. Seems unfair? God isn’t fair. Ever. E-V-E-R.

    So do we have to let some murderer kill everyone? No. We can detain people. That’s what jails are for. But if there isn’t that option, what then? There are various options that are morally good, though, as you can imagine, it depends on time, place, circumstances, etc. Fortunately, we don’t have to think much about them living in “first world” countries.

    In short: In the case of capital punishment, it seems rather evident to Pope Francis (and to myself) that, in light of Christ’s teaching, the banning of capital punishment seems to be the inevitable conclusion if we apply and follow God’s laws to their implied end, not merely in culture and situation and “what’s best for right now”.

    The fact that Innocent II said the killing a murderer by the state was not a “mortal” sin doesn’t mean it isn’t a sin period. The “state” isn’t one individual: it’s a collection of people who aren’t necessarily Christian and who have to keep balance and order in society. “Governments have been established by God.” (Rom 13:1) They are the authority, and thus God permits them to do things individuals are not allowed to do (such as taking a person’s property (taxes)).

    Finally, the point I want to make most is that this life is about your response to God. God has set up the world, put you in a place and time, and is asking, “Are you going to be like me?” Does Jesus “will the death of any sinner”? Nope. Do you see Jesus in the camp of judgment? Sure. But he’s also in the camp of mercy. God is weird that way, and He has perfectly good reasons for being that way. Is life uncomfortable under Christ? Yes.

    The life Christ demands is one of letting yourself be trodden upon, letting yourself be the doormat of the world. Guess what happened to Jesus? Yup – He was murdered and in a very gruesome way I might add. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is no greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.” (Jn 15:18-20)

    Authentic Christianity is not a popular religion for a reason. It’s uncomfortable, unreasonable (from a worldly perspective), demanding, prohibitive, and seems to require waiting all the way until AFTER death before you get the best reward. And yet, it’s a story of love, forgiveness, faith, and mercy. God is merciful. Pope Francis understands that I wants to see more mercy. He wants it taken to its utmost extent, and that applies even to people we consider murderers.

    I’ve said enough for now.

    November 16, 2017 at 3:10 am
    • editor


      I simply do not have to respond to everything in your post, but the bottom line is that whether or not we, personally, like the idea of capital punishment, and our culture has seen to it that few of us do, it is NOT un-Christian or displeasing to God, Pope Francis’ personal views notwithstanding.

      November 16, 2017 at 3:32 pm
    • Athanasius


      If you are familiar with the tactics of clerical Modernists then you will be aware that they do not alter Catholic Faith and morals by open rejection of defined dogma and orthodox doctrine. Rather, they undermine the aforementioned either by silence or by long-winded speeches and book-like Encyclicals.

      Modernists are great wordsmiths who try to run rings around the truth with lengthy philosophical/theological ideas (usually borrowed from non-Catholic intellectuals) that are designed to fog the truth and open the way to ambiguous interpretation. It’s what I call the nod and wink rehabilitation of previously condemned heresies.

      Take the infallible dogma ‘extra ecclesiam nulla salus’, for example. Now this dogma was regularly referenced by Popes and Churchmen up to Vatican II. Read the Papal Encyclicals from the 19th through 20th century up to 1960 and you will find the Popes fearless in declaring the Catholic religion the only true means of salvation, inviting all outside the Church to enter lest they perish.

      Then comes Vatican II with its novel doctrines on ecumenical and inter-religious. In truth, they weren’t actually novel at all, they were condemned heresies resurrected and embraced by those of false charity and false mercy.

      The Popes who have gone along with this assault on divine truth have never formally declared the dogma ‘extra ecclesiam…etc.’ to be now null and void. Oh no, they have merely suppressed all mention of the dogma while promoting that which clearly contradicts it. The most scandalous example of this was when Pope John Paul II, by personal initiative, first gathered the world’s false religions together at Assisi where they were treated on equal terms with Catholicism.

      During that hellish event the image of a false deity (Buddha) was placed atop a tabernacle in the presence of the Pope and worshipped by adherents of this pagan religion. At the same event some other pagans were given leave to ritually slaughter chickens on a Catholic altar. So you see how the Modernist poisons true doctrine with false charity and false mercy?

      Another example is Pope Francis’ washing of the feet of Muslim women and other non-Catholics during the Maundy Thursday service of Holy Week. By acting thus, the Pope is telling the world that it is not necessary to be Catholic in order to be saved.

      Francis similarly attacks Catholic morality, not by openly rejecting what the Church teaches with infallibility but by writing Chapter 8 of his Encyclical Amoris Laetitia in such a way that it opens the back door to re-admission to Holy Communion for divorced and remarried people. A number of Bishops Conferences have understood the Pope’s nod and wink tactic and are already permitting the sacrilege, again in the name of false charity and false mercy.

      The upshot of it all is that there’s no point quoting some orthodox statements from the Catechism, statements that the Modernists will readily declare fidelity to while they undermine behind the scenes. They destroy the faith and the morals of the Church by stealth, not by formal declaration.

      Another example of Pope Francis’ method is his undermining of the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. I watched one of his Papal Masses (in the US, I think) and was horrified when, at Holy Communion, the Blessed Sacrament was placed by the priests into the hands of the people at the front of a huge crowd. These people in turn passed the Sacred Host to those behind them, who passed it to those behind them, etc. All these people handling the Blessed Sacrament as though it were a piece of meaningless bread, particles doubtless remaining on many hands and falling in their thousands to the floor to be trodden on.

      Now it is the teaching of the Church (also in the Catechism) that every tiny fragment of the Sacred species is the full body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Francis has never openly denied this, but he has gravely undermined that truth by instigating and overseeing the aforesaid appalling behaviour. You will not tell me that belief in the Real Presence was in any way reinforced by the people at that Mass. Rather, the belief that it’s only a piece of bread will have been strengthened. Again, see how they undermine truth by their heterodox actions? And everyone thinks it perfectly sound because the Pope allows it. God, however, forbids such wanton irreverence. The only people in the Gospels to have laid hands on Our Saviour were those who mocked, scourged and crucified Him!

      One more example before I move on, it is that of Pope Francis meeting with Lutherans to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the heresiarch’s rebellion against the Church founded by Jesus Christ. The pictures of the event show the Pope standing next to an image (statue) of Luther. At the same time the Vatican post office has issued a stamp commemorating Luther’s rebellion. It is the image of Our Lord on the Cross on Calvary with Our Lady and St. John airbrushed out and Luther and his co-heresiarch Melanchthon kneeling either side of the Crucified. Tell me what that horrendous betrayal is, if not an indirect rejection of the dogma extra ecclesiam?

      As for Francis’ environmentalism, we all know that this Pope is a man wholly absorbed with the things of this world. I can state this with certainty, never having heard him speak of the supernatural end of man and the really important truths that concern the soul. almost all of his utterances and writings address earthly matters of social justice and environmentalism. In this regard he is unlike any other Pope in the history of the Papacy.

      And to make matters worse, Pope Francis is utterly at odds with the Church’s teaching on capital punishment. The authority invested by God in monarchs and/or State heads to take away the lives of evil doers has its foundation in Sacred Scripture. The great mistake of many is to imagine that Capital punishment is a necessary evil expedited for the greater good. This is completely wrong.

      Capital punishment is not an evil at all, it is an act of justice permitted by God for the greater good of humanity. The person who commits a very great evil against society forfeits his right to life, yet he is not put to death out of vengeance but for justice’ sake. That’s why the condemned always have an opportunity to make their peace with God before execution, because the life of the soul, even of the criminal, is more important than the life of the body. It is only since Vatican II that voices in the Church have been raised against capital punishment. Prior to this, for 1900 years, the Church has not opposed this method of dispensing justice on those who commit truly wicked crimes.

      Here is an extract from an article in the Catholic Herald that may help to clarify the teaching. You may read the entire article (very worth while) here: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2017/10/15/the-popes-remarks-on-capital-punishment-need-to-be-clarified/

      “To provide context, it is necessary briefly to review the Church’s traditional teaching on capital punishment. Consider first that the Church teaches that Scripture is divinely inspired and cannot teach error on matters of faith and morals. Yet there are a great many passages in Scripture that teach the legitimacy of capital punishment. For example, Genesis 9:6 states: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.” Romans 13:4 teaches that the state “does not bear the sword in vain [but] is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.” Many other passages could be cited. The Fathers of the Church understood such passages to be sanctioning capital punishment, and the Church has for two thousand years consistently followed this interpretation. The Church also teaches (for example, at the First Vatican Council) that Catholics are obliged to interpret Scripture consistent with the way the Fathers understood it, and consistent with the Church’s traditional interpretation. Taken together, these teachings logically entail that the legitimacy of capital punishment is regarded by the Church as a divinely revealed doctrine.

      Every pope who has addressed the subject of capital punishment up to Benedict XVI has reaffirmed this traditional teaching. For example, Pope St Innocent I taught that the state’s right to execute offenders has been “granted through the authority of God,” and that to condemn capital punishment in an absolute way would be to “go against the authority of the Lord.” Pope Innocent III made acceptance of the legitimacy of capital punishment a matter of Catholic orthodoxy when he required the Waldensian heretics to affirm its legitimacy as a condition of their re-entry into the Church. The Roman Catechism issued under Pope St Pius V solemnly taught the legitimacy of capital punishment, as did the catechism issued under Pope St Pius X. Pope Pius XII affirmed the legitimacy of capital punishment on several occasions, and taught that a murderer has, by virtue of his crime, “deprived himself of the right to live.”

      Suffice to say, NA, that Pope Francis is a Pope who sows nothing but confusion in the Church, in matters of faith and morals. Not only does he obscure previously clear teaching, he actually appears to contradict it at times in his personal opinions.

      This is very serious for a Pope. Here are words used in the posthumous condemnation of Pope Honorius I, a Pope who was not nearly as obstructive of true doctrine as Francis, but who nevertheless permitted truth and error to co-exist by silencing those who spoke out against the Monothelite heresy. That Honorius was a champion of orthodoxy in comparison with Francis is seriously worrying both for Francis and the Church.

      Anyway, here are the crucial words of condemantion of Honorius, who was posthumously excommunicated: “We anathematize the inventors of the new error, that is, Theodore, Sergius, …and also Honorius, who did not attempt to sanctify this Apostolic Church with the teaching of Apostolic tradition, but by profane treachery permitted its purity to be polluted.” Pope Leo II, confirming in his own words what the Council of Constantinople (AD 680 – 681) had declared.

      November 17, 2017 at 12:28 am
      • John


        That is really an excellent response. I am planning to send your response to a few friends.

        November 17, 2017 at 11:49 am
  • Athanasius


    Thank you. I sincerely hope the evidence provided opens a few eyes. I think the problem today is that most Catholics do not investigate the historicall teaching of the Church, they just go ahead and believe everything the latest Pope tells them, as if the Pope were a divine person. Such blind obedience gives a wholly new and worrying interpretation to the term “sheep” when describing the faithful under Christ’s Vicar on earth.

    November 17, 2017 at 1:01 pm

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