The Catholic View on The Death Penalty (?)

Is someone able and willing to enlighten me on what exactly is the the Catholic Church's stand on the death penalty, specifically with relation to Singapore? What should an ordinary Catholic here understand of the Singaporean laws on the death penalty?

As I currently understand it, we are supposed to be in opposition to the death penalty, chiefly because life is God given and should not be man-taken. Yet, as some Catholic lawyers here have pointed out, the Church is not opposed to the death penalty. This is presumably because some evil men (PC:'persons'; e.g. serial murderers) deserve the death penalty. So, what is the ordinary Catholic to think of it? Would a fair statement be: "let's just leave it to the lawyers and theologians to think about; It's none of our business"?

Sociologically and politically, it seems that the local church is not willing to act on this issue because there are more important social issues to cover (such as poverty and raising funds for a new church). It seems like more good can be achieved by avoiding certain topics that are deemed too 'sensitive' or 'complex'.

Please feel free to add to or correct what I have expressed here, which is a purely personal and unresearched opinion.


Anonymous said...

I am rather sceptical that the reason for not being against the death penalty is that some evil men really do deserve to be executed. Anyway, what I am more curious about is the "some Catholic lawyers here" bit ... who are these and what exactly did they say?

Norman said...

From what little I know, and I stand to be corrected:

The Church is not opposed to the death penalty in the very specific case of it being the only way society can protect itself from the criminal. However, the Church is now saying that the death penalty is not necessary in today's context as there are other means available to do so.

John Goh said...

Catechism of the Catholic Church says :

Capital Punishment

2266 The State's effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. The primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense. When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation. Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender.[67]

2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.
"If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should 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.
"Today, in fact, given the means at the State's disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender 'today ... are very rare, if not practically non-existent.' [68]

Anonymous said...

Yawning Bread has just posted a writeup on Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi: http://www.yawningbread.org/arch_2006/yax-645.htm

Please pray for the soul of Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi, who will soon be killed by us.

ChrisOw said...

Holy See Reaffirms Death Penalty Stance

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2007 (Zenit.org).- In the wake of the execution of former Iraqi dictator Sadaam Hussein, the Vatican reaffirmed its condemnation of the death penalty.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, made that comment Saturday, the day Hussein was executed by hanging at a former military intelligence headquarters in Baghdad's Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah.

"A capital execution is always tragic news," he said, "reasons for sadness, even if it is about a person who has been guilty of grave crimes."

Father Lombardi added: "To kill the guilty one is not the way to rebuild justice and to reconcile society. The risk also exists that, on the contrary, the spirit of vengeance will be fueled and new violence be sown.

"In this dark time of the life of the Iraqi people one cannot but hope that all those responsible will make every effort so that in a dramatic situation channels of reconciliation and peace will finally be opened."