Skip to comments.Scalia Questions Catholic Opposition to Death Penalty
Posted on 02/05/2002 10:58:18 AM PST by meandog
WASHINGTON Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia believes Catholic judges who oppose the death penalty should resign.
Scalia, a devout Roman Catholic, said that after giving it "serious thought," he could not agree with his church's stand on capital punishment.
The justice questioned the church's opposition to the death penalty late last month at a conference on the subject in Chicago. He was asked about it again Monday at Georgetown University, America's oldest Catholic university.
The Vatican under Pope John Paul II has been strongly anti-death penalty, and the pope has personally appealed to leaders to reduce death sentences to life imprisonment. In 1999, he said capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are part of a "culture of death."
Scalia, who has consistently upheld capital cases, told Georgetown students that the church has a much longer history of endorsing capital punishment.
"No authority that I know of denies the 2,000-year-old tradition of the church approving capital punishment," he said. "I don't see why there's been a change."
Scalia, a father of nine, including one priest, attended Georgetown as an undergraduate and later taught there as a visiting professor. He talked about the cultural move away from faith before answering questions from students.
In Chicago on Jan. 25, Scalia said, "In my view, the choice for the judge who believes the death penalty to be immoral is resignation rather than simply ignoring duly enacted constitutional laws and sabotaging the death penalty." His remarks were transcribed by the event sponsor, the Pew Forum.
Scalia, 65, said Monday that "any Catholic jurist (with such concerns) ... would have to resign."
"You couldn't function as a judge," he said.
Some in the crowd applauded when a female student asked Scalia to reconcile his religious beliefs with his capital punishment votes on the court. Freshman Sean Kiernan said later that he was disappointed that Scalia talked about the importance of his religion, then took a stand contradicting the church. "I don't think it's correct," he said.
Others applauded the justice's remarks.
"He's got a lot of courage and conviction," said Stephen Feiler, the student who organized the event to celebrate Jesuit heritage.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Scalia's position is completely in line with Church teaching. Refer to Catechism of the Catholic Church #2267 and Evangelium vitae #56. Scalia's remarks are directed at those Catholic jurists who refuse to follow the law and impose the death penalty, even when it is justified. Thus they legislate from the bench, which is not their role.
Joan of Arc was a good Catholic and she was burned at the stake by a Catholic, bishop led, tribunal.
Joan of Arc's canonization came about 25 years later, necessitated by a need for the king of France to overcome criticism for being king as a result of acts by a convicted heretic and witch.
While there is considerable opposition to the death penalty in certain sectors of the Church, including, apparently, the Pope, it's still legitimate. Much of the opposition, actually, is from left-wing clergy who are covertly in favor of abortion and use the death penalty issue as a way of attempting to delegitimize the anti-abortion movement. It's called the "seamless garment" - meaning that if you're opposed to abortion, you also have to be opposed to the death penalty, ignoring the difference between an innocent unborn child and, say, a cold-blooded mass murderer. And ignoring the fact that abortion IS forbidden by the Church, without any ambiguity.
I was very glad that Scalia said what he did. A judge who doesn't want to impose this penalty should excuse himself from death penalty cases. It's time to discuss this matter openly.
Both the Pope and Scalia have found for themselves a standard of truth that for them is higher than the word of God. This ultimately will doom those under their influence to the rule of human wisdom rather than the wisdom of God. Our puritan founders would not find much in joy in the good judge's response.
The point, as I see it, is that the Bishop of Rome has no business issuing an encyclical on capital punishment at all. He can only issue an opinion which frees his bishops to form their own. I see nothing wrong with John-Paul II stating that this or that person should not be put to death, or that capital punishment goes against his grain; but when he states that it is "ungodly" and judges ought to ignore that option of punishment he is barking up the wrong tree, IMHO! Popes need to remember that they are "picked" only through selection process from non-elected cardinals (often after numerous ballots) and were never duly "elected" by those millions of Roman parishoners that they seem to believe they govern. Papal arrogance has cost the Roman church more than any other issue in ecclesiastical history.
In a Christian worldview the word of God is the ultimate authority in every area of life. It is in MHO heresy to deny the sovereignty of God in any area of life. To withhold Gods Lordship in law (secularism) is rebellion against his authority and to deny Him.
Ok, I can't resist. NO, Justice Scalia may be at the threshold of finding that the Word of God is only occasionally coincident with a human who claims "infallability" apart from the Word of God. In his heart of hearts, Justice Scalia is too intelligent to be a "good" catholic. Who knows, praying to the goddess Mary may be next to go?
God doesn't need a Pope to speak for Him. That's the role of the Holy Spirit and the Bible.
When we start substituting the words of a man, even a GOOD man, for those of God, only trouble can follow.
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