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.
"In a brief compass I have touched on numerous and complex problems. To indicate what I have tried to establish, I should like to propose, as a final summary, ten theses that encapsulate the Churchs doctrine, as I understand it.
1) The purpose of punishment in secular courts is fourfold: the rehabilitation of the criminal, the protection of society from the criminal, the deterrence of other potential criminals, and retributive justice.
2) Just retribution, which seeks to establish the right order of things, should not be confused with vindictiveness, which is reprehensible.
3) Punishment may and should be administered with respect and love for the person punished.
4) The person who does evil may deserve death. According to the biblical accounts, God sometimes administers the penalty himself and sometimes directs others to do so.
5) Individuals and private groups may not take it upon themselves to inflict death as a penalty.
6) The State has the right, in principle, to inflict capital punishment in cases where there is no doubt about the gravity of the offense and the guilt of the accused.
7) The death penalty should not be imposed if the purposes of punishment can be equally well or better achieved by bloodless means, such as imprisonment.
8) The sentence of death may be improper if it has serious negative effects on society, such as miscarriages of justice, the increase of vindictiveness, or disrespect for the value of innocent human life.
9) Persons who specially represent the Church, such as clergy and religious, in view of their specific vocation, should abstain from pronouncing or executing the sentence of death.
10) Catholics, in seeking to form their judgment as to whether the death penalty is to be supported as a general policy, or in a given situation, should be attentive to the guidance of the pope and the bishops. Current Catholic teaching should be understood, as I have sought to understand it, in continuity with Scripture and tradition.
I can't but wonder why Judge Scalia never commented publicly on the 4000 death penalties sanctioned by his court each day on the most innocent of us all since Roe v Wade 1973.
Autonomy: from Autos meaning self + nomos rule
To be ruled by self is to be not under the rule of God and therefore outside his kingdom. It is in fact the state of sin or separation from God. When one repents, they humble themselves from self-rule and place themselves under the authority or rule of God.
One cannot be fully devoted to God and deny His authority in their professional life - even in the civil magistrate.
In the latest Catechism of the Catholic Church "The Death Penalty " is allowed but as a last resort when the state can't protect the public good from the criminal in any other way.
This anti death penalty only became a cause of the church in the last few years, perhaps 1997 or so.
Next time, resist.
If he had, these threads would have a very different tone and angle, whereas on principle, they shouldn't. I can't but wonder why Judge Scalia never commented publicly on the 4000 death penalties sanctioned by his court each day on the most innocent of us all since Roe v Wade 1973.</>
Wait till you find out the real numbers. 4000 is like two weeks. Find "Priests for Life". All the facts are there.
The number is (202) 863-8500
And that's exactly the same thing Planned Parenthood says about abortion. Hope you like baby-killers, because you're in league with them.
The next time your fundie pals trot out that nonsense about how God's mission for the United States is the preservation of Israel, I hope you're there to set them straight.
In the meantime, what do you plan to do with the millions of fifth-column Vatican agents in this country? We aren't going to leave, and you aren't going to shut us up. What do you propose? A Constitutional amendment restricting Papists to harmless occupations, like picking up garbage or trimming poodles?
If that's how you want it, to each his own.
Frankly, I don't care what you or the judges do, and I think you have me confused with someone else. I'm an autonomist. I was only pointing out the immorality of a judge who would obey the laws of another country over the laws of the one that made him a judge assuming he would be obedient to the laws of his own country.
The RCC's continued and ardent desire to have a female goddess (as the other pagan religions do) is reflected in the international Catholic movement Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, which is seeking to encourage the papal definition of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate.
I can well understand your embarassment at such foolish (and likely soon-to-be-'infallible') 'additions' to the Gospel of the Bible. But it is the natural consequence of allowing men to create their own religion and then call it 'infallible'.
Mary was a good woman who was used by God (as, in other ways, we all can be). She died and, hopefully, went to Heaven. (Since, BTW, God doesn't know anything of a 'purgatory' or 'penances' or 'rosaries' or other (readily purchasable) bargaining chips and devices created by the RCC. God recognizes those who accept His Son and no others.) End of (His)Story.
And it's a safe bet you have never read a single word of the theology behind that, which is profoundly Biblical, authentic, true, Christian, and right. You speak out of ignorance and prejudice and nothing else, except when you speak out of malice.
I have no idea what an "autonomist" is, nor do I care. However, if you think that laws define morality and obedience to laws, even bad laws, is automatically moral, you have problems that I cannot even begin to address.
Anyone whose obedience is not first to the moral law is not worthy to be a judge. I believe we discovered that in 1973.
Here are the relevant excerpts from Evangelium Vitae
55. This should not cause surprise: to kill a human being, in whom the image of God is present, is a particularly serious sin. Only God is the master of life! Yet from the beginning, faced with the many and often tragic cases which occur in the life of individuals and society, Christian reflection has sought a fuller and deeper understanding of what God's commandment prohibits and prescribes.(43) There are in fact situations in which values proposed by God's Law seem to involve a genuine paradox. This happens for example in the case of legitimate defence, in which the right to protect one's own life and the duty not to harm someone else's life are difficult to reconcile in practice. Certainly, the intrinsic value of life and the duty to love oneself no less than others are the basis of a true right to self-defence. The demanding commandment of love of neighbour, set forth in the Old Testament and confirmed by Jesus, itself presupposes love of oneself as the basis of comparison: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself " (Mk 12:31). Consequently, no one can renounce the right to self-defence out of lack of love for life or for self. This can only be done in virtue of a heroic love which deepens and transfigures the love of self into a radical self-offering, according to the spirit of the Gospel Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:38-40). The sublime example of this self-offering is the Lord Jesus himself.
Moreover, "legitimate defence can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another's life, the common good of the family or of the State".(44) Unfortunately it happens that the need to render the aggressor incapable of causing harm sometimes involves taking his life. In this case, the fatal outcome is attributable to the aggressor whose action brought it about, even though he may not be morally responsible because of a lack of the use of reason.(45)
56. This is the context in which to place the problem of the death penalty. On this matter there is a growing tendency, both in the Church and in civil society, to demand that it be applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely. The problem must be viewed in the context of a system of penal justice ever more in line with human dignity and thus, in the end, with God's plan for man and society. The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is "to redress the disorder caused by the offence".(46) Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfils the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people's safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behaviour and be rehabilitated.(47)
It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.
In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: "If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person".(48)
To my knowledge the Catholic church has never had a pope speaking ex cathedra (Out of the chair infallibly)saying the death penalty is immoral. The church has supported the death penalty for many years. To now change the opinion on a basic moral question would make the church a laughing stock.
I have said it before on FR the pope and bishops when expressing their personal feel good opinions should be challenged by rank and file catholics. The clergy are no more catholic than you are. Don't take their liberal bullsh*t.
And while I am at it, why don't you resign Cardinal Law. You are a disgrace as a catholic. - Tom
Your post was making alot of sense until you got to the part about Martin Luther. It's amazing how Protestants will scream that all Catholics do is blindly follow the Pope, and then they call on all Protestants to follow EXACTLY what Martin Luther wanted on every issue that confronts him. Interesting double standard you have. Protestants ran around paranoid that JFK (who was only margincally "Catholic" was somehow "control" by the Pope (LMAO! JFK never meet the Pope and never wanted to!), but when devout baptist Jimmmy Carter ran from President, no Catholic complained that Martin Luther's teachings would "control" him. (which they didn't, even though he CAMPAIGNED like they would)
And it's funny how you would use the death penelty to bring up Martin Luther. It just so happens that the Catholic church RE-AFFIRMED their support for the death penelty when the convined the Council of Trent. Alot of us Catholics would perfer the church return to it's stances of the COUNTER reformation era, rather than those of the Vatican II era. Still, even with a couple "liberal" platforms, the Catholic church today is probably STILL more conservative than half the other Christian churches out there.
It just so happens that in "the bible", Jesus specifically states that PETER and HIS successors will be the spokesman for the church AFTER Christ is gone. (Peter became the first bishop of Rome...guess who holds the title NOW?) That's the section you Protestants like to ignore, while nevertheless complaining that Catholics pay no attention to the bible.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.