Catholicism and capital punishment.

Author:Schenk, Don
Position:Correspondence - Letter to the Editor

In your review of E. Christian Brugger's Capital Punishment and Roman Catholic Moral Tradition (December 2003), you state that Professor Brugger "argues against the moral legitimacy of the death penalty, in agreement with statements of John Paul II that have been incorporated into the Catechism of the Catholic Church. His argument is the more credible because he recognizes the gap, if not contradiction, between what appears to be current teaching and centuries of Christian tradition on this question."

Not just Christian tradition, but the Scriptures as well. (See Exodus 21:14, Luke 23:39-43, and Romans 13:4.) Pope John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae that "the commandment 'You shall not kill' has absolute value [only] when it refers to the innocent person." The Catechism states that because "legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others ... the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor." (See [section] 2265-2267.)

What's new is the argument that "as a consequence of the...

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