death penalty

What Version of Human Dignity Should Catholics Defend?

Dignitatis Humanae, the Vatican II declaration on religious liberty, appeals to what it says is a growing awareness of human dignity. More recent Vatican pronouncements, including the new language in the Catechism on the death penalty, have done the same. In some ways, it’s easy to see why. The Church holds that God created man … Read more

Can the Church Ban Capital Punishment?

Today Crisis is offering a symposium on capital punishment. For Archbishop Charles Chaput’s view, see this essay. For news about recent Vatican statements on the issue, see this article.   This piece on capital punishment is a revision of the original, which first appeared in Latin Mass Magazine (Summer 2001). It is written from a … Read more

Let’s End the Death Penalty, Now

This essay originally appeared on March 11, 2009, as Abp. Chaput’s syndicated column. It is reprinted with permission, as part of Crisis’s symposium on capital punishment. For the view of Christopher Ferrara of The Latin Mass Magazine, see this piece. Recent Vatican statements on the issue are reported here.   Capital punishment, euthanasia, abortion and … Read more

Concentrating the Mind

Catholic opponents of the death penalty sometimes seem to lose sight of the primary purpose of punishment. The Ca­techism of the Catholic Church (final text) says, “Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense.” If I commit a serious offense against society, I bring about a disorder, and the point … Read more

Illinois abolishes the death penalty

After two months of deliberation, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) has signed legislation to abolish the death penalty in that state: Quinn called this the hardest decision he has had to make as governor, but one he felt was required. “If the system can’t be guaranteed 100 percent error-free, then we shouldn’t have the system,” … Read more

Death Penalty: Magisterium vs. Left and Right

When it comes to the death penalty, the Church teaches: 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. If, however, nonlethal … Read more

Catholics and the Politics of the Death Penalty

On January 29, the Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Death Penalty (CMN) was launched. According to its executive director, Karen Clifton, the CMN was created “with the encouragement of the USCCB.” The support of the bishops’ conference is substantial. The Coordinating Committee includes both Kathy Saile, the director of the Office of Domestic Concerns, … Read more

Tweeting about an Execution

I don’t really understand the whole Twitter phenomenon, but I do know that it set off a small firestorm when Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff tweeted several times about the execution of convicted killer Ronnie Lee Gardner. At first he wrote: “A solemn day. Barring a stay by Sup Ct, & with my final nod, … Read more

The Inevitability of Legislating from the Bench

  The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court reminded us once again of the never-ending debate as to whether judges should “legislate from the bench.” Political conservatives, of course, say that they must not. The job of judges, we are told, is to judge … Read more

Interpreting the Constitution and Voting for President

In back-to-back days of June this year, the U.S. Supreme Court came down with opinions in two different cases that illustrate very different judicial philosophies. The cases themselves are unrelated, and they are generally seen as coming down on different sides of the political spectrum, but together they provide a good lesson about constitutional interpretations. … Read more

Abortion Judo: Using the United Nations Against Itself

Can the recent United Nation’s call for a world moratorium on the death penalty be used to end abortion as well? It may not be as unlikely as it sounds. Hot-button pro-life and pro-family issues have the power to define politicians and their campaigns. Yet the campaign debates on pro-life matters have centered largely on … Read more

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