Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Death Penalty and the Bible

The Catholic Church has long taught that the duty of the secular authorities is to protect citizens from harm, even if it means using capital punishment, especially in the case of certain hardened criminals. Here is a Jewish point of view from author Dennis Prager:
In the middle of the night on July 23, 2007, two men entered the Cheshire, Connecticut, home of Dr. William Petit Jr. and his family. They nearly beat Dr. Petit to death with a baseball bat. Then, one of the men raped his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and the other man sexually assaulted her 11-year-old daughter, Michaela -- an assault he photographed with his cellphone. Dr. Petit managed to escape, but Hawke-Petit was strangled to death; Michaela and Hawke-Petit's other daughter, Hayley, were tied to their beds; and the house was doused with gasoline and set on fire. In a 4-3 decision, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that capital punishment violated the Connecticut Constitution, thereby preventing the execution of the murderers and assaulters of Dr. Petit's family. This was Dr. Petit's reaction: "I think when people willfully, wantonly, without any remorse take someone else's life, they forfeit their right to be among us." (Read more.)

The Holy Father wishes to encourage respect for life at all stages. However, Scripture and Tradition still stand. From Life Site:
 “In fact,” said Royal, “it is one expression of respecting a person’s human dignity to hold them responsible when they do a terrible thing.”

Murray said that the question of any punishment had come up, especially as there is at least one much more serious penalty than capital punishment.“Is it an offence against human dignity for God to damn someone to hell?” he asked. “We say no. If someone is deserving of eternal punishment in hell, then that is in accordance with the divine will, and that’s a good thing.”

Raymond Arroyo cited the late Cardinal Avery Dulles, an authority on the licitness of the death penalty, saying that capital punishment can be merciful, as the knowledge of impending death can bring the condemned into a state of redemption. (Read more.)

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