An Elementary Distinction
In thinking about what it means to be pro–life, Christians must, to begin with, distinguish between protecting innocent life and protecting society against those who destroy life. There is a 2,000 year history of Catholic saints, popes, biblical scholars, theologians and doctors and fathers of the church supporting the death penalty, a record of scholarship which far overwhelms any modern day position to the contrary.
Catholics who support capital punishment need not fear that they are not in accord with the teaching of the Catholic Faith. Opponents attempt to circumvent traditional Church teaching by claiming that the teaching had been lawful in the past but today it is immoral and illicit. They substitute the politics of the moment for the tradition and law of the Church.
To support capital punishment is to be nothing less than authentically Catholic. The magisterium of the Catholic Church has always recognized the morality of capital punishment and its necessity for a just ordering of society. Catholic bishops who preach opposition to the death penalty are not due the allegiance of faithful Catholics.
From where did bishops acquire the competence or authority to make pronouncements demanding change to long established civil laws and penalties? It was not from the constant teaching of the Catholic Church which has always granted this authority to citizens through their elected public officials.
A crippled masculinity has deformed many in the priesthood and a feminist mentality has greatly affected the church. As feminist nuns were shedding their habits and protesting that they were not allowed to be priests, feminized men flooded the priesthood. Feminized judgments are based on emotion and sentiment rather than on fidelity to truth and reason, hence the newfound opposition to the death penalty. It took manliness to build the Church and it takes manliness to sustain and defend it. Manliness is in short supply in today's clergy, especially among the bishops.
The modern opposition to the death penalty has gone hand in hand with the advance of pacifism, secular humanism and the degeneration of faith and morals. It originated in the 60s and 70s with the anti war movement and the sexual revolution. The sense of sin, guilt, and retributive justice has evaporated. In past times the most consistent supporters of capital punishment were the Christian churches while its most consistent opponents were groups hostile to the churches. Grave harm has always come to the Church when contemporary opinions displace traditional teaching.
The "Consistent Ethic of Life" promoted by Catholic bishops has caused great harm in the struggle against abortion.
Including capital punishment with the evils of abortion, and euthanasia has opened a loophole for duplicitous Catholics, especially politicians, allowing them to be inconsistent and unprincipled about valid pro-life issues. This leads many of the faithful to conclude that those issues also can be made situationally acceptable. Faithful Catholics realize that contraception was the precursor to abortion but you hear practically nothing about this connection from the bishops or the pulpit.
Abortion would be a capital offense in a civilized society. In the United States, 50/60 million abortions would not have occurred. A vast evil principle was certainly at work in the 1970s as abortion was legalized and campaigns began to make the executions of murderers illegal.
This website was created in 2007 and updated in 2019. Donald W. New Albany, IN