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Catholic Word of the Day: CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, 08-21-12 ^ | 08-21-12 | Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary

Posted on 08/21/2012 8:34:37 AM PDT by Salvation

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The death penalty imposed by the state for the punishment of grave crimes. It is certain from Scripture that civil authorities may lawfully put malefactors to death. Capital punishment was enacted for certain grievous crimes in the Old Law, e.g., blasphemy, sorcery, adultery, and murder. Christian dispensation made no essential change in this respect, as St. Paul expressly says: "The state is there to serve God for your benefit. If you break the law, however, you may well have fear: the bearing of the sword has its significance" (Romans 13:4). Among the errors of the Waldenses condemned by the Church in the early thirteenth century was the proposition that denied the lawfulness of capital punishment (Argentré, Collectio de Novis Erroribus,I, 86). St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) defends capital punishment of the grounds of the common good. The state, he reasons is like a body composed of many members, and as a surgeon may cut off one corrupt limb to save the others, so the civil authority may lawfully put a criminal to death and thus provide for the common good.

Theologians further reason that, in receiving its authority from God through the natural law, the state also receives from him the right to use the necessary means for attaining its end. The death penalty is such a means. If even with capital punishment crime abounds, no lesser penalty will suffice.

The practical question remains of how effective a deterrent capital punishment is in some modern states, when rarely used or only after long delays. In principle, however, it is morally licit because in the most serious crimes the claims of retribution and deterrence are so demanding that the corrective value of punishment must, if necessary, be sacrificed.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic
Comments, anyone?
1 posted on 08/21/2012 8:34:45 AM PDT by Salvation
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To: JRandomFreeper; Allegra; BlackVeil; Straight Vermonter; Cronos; SumProVita; AnAmericanMother; ...

Catholic Word of the Day Ping!


Fides Ecclesiastica

Society for the Propagation of the Faith



Doctrinal Dissent




True Cross

Help of the Sick Scapular


Segnatura Apostolica

Capital Punishment






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2 posted on 08/21/2012 8:42:53 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

In the Old West when the judge passed sentence they took the condemned out and strung him up at the gallows the next morning.

3 posted on 08/21/2012 8:49:22 AM PDT by Emperor Palpatine (Tosca, mi fai dimenticare Iddio!!!!!)
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To: Salvation

“The state is there to serve God for your benefit. If you break the law, however, you may well have fear: the bearing of the sword has its significance” (Romans 13:4).

Spirited: Prior to the successful inversion of reality by Communists and their ilk, Romans 13:4 was the Western understanding of the state and of transgressors.

But in our upside-down alternative reality, human beings are not created as God’s spiritual image bearers but are instead mere aspects of the omniscient state, which itself is the sceptor of power in the grasping hands of our self-divinized Ruling Class, or modern Caesars who tolerate neither non-conformist thought nor its’ spoken word-— dissent. As soon as the Ceasars have thoroughly covered every street and building with visual scanners they will be scrutinizing our very faces for evidence of non-conformist thought. For the common good, of course.

4 posted on 08/21/2012 8:57:07 AM PDT by spirited irish
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