Saturday, August 26, 2006

When Encyclicals & Personal Opinions Become Church Law
And whacky nuns are all the rage

We have a wonderful little piece of propaganda from Spero News telling us that a senior Polish church leader, Archbishop Jozef Zycinski of Lublin, has declared that it is illegitimate for campaigners for any of his country's governing parties to claim that its attempt to restore the death penalty is ‘Christian’ or based on Catholic doctrine.

You see, some in Poland want to reinstate the death penalty for convicted murderers and pedophiles. Personally, I can't think of any better candidates.

Anyhow, Archbishop Zycinski was quoted as saying "In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae… Pope John Paul II clearly said the penalty for criminals shouldn't extend to taking life. He taught respect for life at all its stages." Ummm... an encyclical is hardly official Church Teaching. And this is the worst example of pope worship I've seen in a long time. I tell you what Archbishop Zycinski, not everything that Pope John Paul said was Ex Cathedra. Stop trying to play it off as if it is.

Spero went on to "report"; The Church has had a long-standing and vehement opposition to the death penalty, one affirmed by new Pope Benedict XVI. So what? Since when did Pope Benedict's personal opinion become binding upon pain of sin? And what's with this "long-standing and vehement opposition" nonsense? The cause celeb status that the anti-DP folks within The Church have enjoyed is only since the 1980's. The traditional teaching (that's 2,000 years to you and me) has always thought otherwise.

So with all that said, if anyone is curious as to what the official teaching of The Church is, here you go;

#2267 of the Catechism: IF non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means. ...” (emphasis mine).

Umm... that's a mighty big "IF". Just what IF non-lethal mean AREN'T sufficient to defend and protect the public?

#2266: Legitimate public authority has the right and the duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense.

Did anyone else notice the word "proportionate"? Lemme see - if I take an innocent person's life... that means that most certainly can have my... well, I'm sure you can see the obvious here. I don't think I have to spell it out.

#2267, the very first paragraph: Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, 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. By the way, that "traditional teaching" has been around for.... what was it I said before?... oh, yeah - 2,000 years!

If you or I or Archbishop Zycinski or anyone else personally agrees or disagrees with the execution of murderers and pedophiles, that's irrelevant... The Church has already stated that a "legitimate public authority" has deemed such just and acceptable.

I wonder why the Archbishop never mentioned any of this?

Oh by the way, Spero "reports" that 'Catholic workers such as US Sister Helen Prejean have been courageous and outspoken in their opposition to the death penalty, and have won praise from many quarters, religious and non-religious.'

Is that the same Poncho Lady wannabe, abortion supporting Sister Helen Prejean that said (cf. Interview by Robert Holton in Our Sunday Visitor for April 14, 1996): “Abortion is much more complex than a mere choice, because the crosshairs of this decision are in the woman’s body, and the woman decides this. I think for us to really answer the abortion question so that women don’t have them, we really have to look seriously at the whole thing of birth control, family planning, and not having unwanted pregnancies.”

If this is an example of Catholic Pro-Life... we got problems. But who am I to point out that encyclicals, personal opinions, and crazy nuns aren't Official Church Teaching? Silly me.

5 Comments:

Blogger St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse said...

Maximum security prisons are a rather recent development in penal technology, and bring the possibility of prisoner escape into a statistical parity with faulty capital convictions. Most people think of death penalty exercises in a vengeful light rather than the "protection of society" platitude that's used to justify the executions.
Just out of curiousity, Cavey, was there anything JPII did or said that doesn't offend you?

9:15 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Maximum security prisons are a rather recent development in penal technology, and bring the possibility of prisoner escape into a statistical parity with faulty capital convictions.

So? That isn't what my post was about. The question is, is the death penalty in keeping with official Catholic teaching? As I've pointed out, the answer is 'yes'.


Most people think of death penalty exercises in a vengeful light rather than the "protection of society" platitude that's used to justify the executions.


"Most" people? According to who? I can't speak for "most" people, but I will say that it's a question of justice, not revenge.


Just out of curiousity, Cavey, was there anything JPII did or said that doesn't offend you?

Where did I post that I was 'offended' by what Pope John Paul II said? What I do find offensive is the fact that many attempt to pass of an encyclical as offcial Church Teaching. Don't you?

But to better answer your question, I cheered quite loudly when Pope John Paul II reinterated the dogmatic pronouncement that women can never and will never be ordained to the priesthood.

I was also particularly pleased to read that "the book is closed, no further discussion is even allowed". Oh... but that was promptly ignored, too. And if memory serves, he did precious little to those who, in essence, told him to go to hell. Right?

9:39 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

I was also particularly pleased to read that "the book is closed, no further discussion is even allowed". Oh... but that was promptly ignored, too. And if memory serves, he did precious little to those who, in essence, told him to go to hell. Right?

You can't do much to those whose basic attitude is non serviam. As it is, the Church has often needed time to sort out her problems...and her problem children. Arianism got stronger after the Council of Nicea. The Counter-Reformation and the Council of Trent was followed by the Thirty Years' War and the religious partition of Germany. The codification of the Mass by the same Council was largely ignored by the French and others. But the Barque of Peter, piloted by Peter's Successor, has never foundered...

10:59 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Here's where I think we're disconnecting, Dave... these IS something we can do about those whose basic attitude is non serviam, and you know exactly what I'm getting at --- excommunication.

The historic examples you gave were true enough, but you failed to mention thatin the face of open rebellion and heresy, Catholicicsm could usually count on a firm, quick (and consistant) response from Rome.

Can the same be said under the pontificate of Pope John Paul II? Sadly, no.

5:49 AM  
Blogger Tom McKenna said...

Bravo, Caveman... you're spot on. These liars who insinuate that the Church has changed her teaching on the death penalty surely know that this is impossible: as a perennial teaching touching on morals, the Church could hardly be the infallible guide of moral truth if, after saying the death penalty is a vindication of the Fifth Commandment for two thousand years, she suddenly says, "whoops, never mind... the DP is only acceptable, well, never, really."

No, JPII and probably BXVI share a common European distaste for the DP, but their prudential views do not constitute an overthrow of millenia of Catholic moral teaching.

3:21 PM  

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