The National Catholic Register, a normally sensible publication, has linked arms with some not-so-sensible publications (America and National Catholic Reporter) and partook of their kool-aid. They have glommed onto the push to end capital punishment. I've blogged before about the consequences of embracing positions that are not in accordance with Catholic tradition. In one of those posts I put forth my reasons for believing that the push to end capital punishment is a slap in the face to God Himself.
The Register article features one quote of Bishop Thomas Wenski of Miami: "The use of the death penalty devalues human life and diminishes respect for human dignity. We bishops continue to say: We cannot teach killing is wrong by killing."
We'll unpack the last sentence, for therein lies some confusion. The Fifth Commandment prohibits murder, not killing. Owing to poor translations from the Hebrew, we do have some confusion. "Murder" and "killing" are not the same. Murder is defined as "the deliberate taking of innocent human life". While all murder involves killing, the converse does not hold. There is, for example, the killing that must sometimes happen in the course of self-defense; no sane person will call that "murder". Therefore I'd say to Bishop Wenski that it is not "killing" that is wrong per se, but "murder". Moreover, the "killing" done by capital punishment is done after due process of justice whereby the condemned is adjudicated not innocent, but guilty of capital crimes.
Further down into the article, Cardinal O'Malley called capital punishment "institutionalized practice of violence". Here again we have a problem with the defining of terms. Violence is defined by Catholic moral theology as "the unjust use of force". In this case, "force" and "violence" are being confused by the Cardinal. After the due process of justice as mentioned above, the use of deadly force in capital punishment is not "unjust".
A blogging colleague, Veneremurcernui at A Blog for Dallas Are Catholics has his post on this matter. In it he had video of a homily on the topic. I post that below. We pray for the salvation of those condemned. We pray also for the 3500 babies murdered each day via abortion, for whereas the condemned criminals can avail themselves of the sacraments, the innocent babies haven't that advantage.
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