The recent state executions of Troy Davis and Lawrence Russell Brewer have once again raised the moral issue of capital punishment in the consciousness of our nation. And once again, Catholics are weighing in.
According to Tommaso Di Ruzza, the Vatican’s desk officer at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, “it is not a message that is immediately understood — that there is no room for supporting the death penalty in today’s world,” cited in an article by Carol Glatz (Dead wrong: Catholics must no longer support capital punishment Catholic News Service 9/30/11).
- Capital Punishment, Sanctity of Life, and Human Dignity, by Christopher O. Tollefsen. “Intentional killing is always wrong, and support of capital punishment often stems from a misunderstanding of the nature of human dignity.” The Public Discourse 9/16/11.
- In Defense of Capital Punishment, by Edward Feser. Public Discourse 9/29/11. “If one accepts the legitimacy of punishment and the principle of proportionality, then it is impossible to claim that capital punishment is intrinsically wrong.”
- “Goods” Without Normative Order to the Good Life, Happiness, or God: The New Natural Law Theory and the Nostrum of Incommensurability, by Steven Long. Thomistica.net 9/18/11.
- Capital Punishment, Dignity, and Authority: A Response to Ed Feser, by Christopher O. Tollefsen. The Public Discourse 9/30/11. “Nothing that a man does can change his nature as man, and so, considered in himself, it will always remain wrong to kill him. This should be the final judgment of practical reason when brought to bear on the question of capital punishment.”
- Punishment, Proportionality, and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Chris Tollefsen, by Edward Feser. The Public Discourse 10/13/11. “While not explicitly denying the principle of proportionality, Tollefsen implicitly rejects it, leaving his argument not only counterintuitive but incoherent.”
- Punishment: Political, Not Metaphysical by Christopher O. Tollefsen. The Public Discourse 10/14/11. “The presumptive starting point in the natural law and, more specifically, Christian tradition is one of absolute opposition to intentional killing of beings created in the image of God, for which exceptions must be earned; but the traditional justifications for such exceptions fail.”
- Tollefsen channels Rawls, by Edward Feser. 10/18/11.
Back in April, Dr. Feser took issue with (and critically dismantled) the characterization of capital punishment as “state-sanctioned vengeance” by the Catholic Bishops of Arizona, as well as the recent Catholic claim that “defense” alone can justify capital punishment. Taking into account the teachings of recent Popes, he has articulated a summary of the Church’s teaching that takes every aspect of it into account — contending that the failure to present the full body of Catholic teaching on this subject gives the mistaken impression that the “liberal, secularist” position of complete abolishment is correct. Unfortunately, it is precisely such a mistaken position that some Catholics are taking in these times. A reading of his post, “Deadly Unserious” (April 3, 2011) is highly recommended.