Friday, September 16, 2011

Death Penalty: JPII and Pius XII

Alan, who visits here quite often dropped a quote off that is translated from the Italian document of Pope Pius XII, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 47 (1955) 81-82, regarding the death penalty. As we know, most the cut and paste "apologists" out there like Mark Shea, who have limited understanding of anything regarding the Catholc faith, love to cut and paste JPII's stance on the death penalty as if its an infallible statement. Well what about Pope Pius XII's statement, which clearly says the opposite of the later JPII? It just goes to show you that you do not have to hold JPII's opinion on the matter, since it is he who has gone against the consistent tradition of the Church, if his documents are to be taken on their own. AS I have said before, JPII's opinion cannot be taken on its own. Can we get two more opposite opinions on the matter if we are to take them each as standing on their own?


It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.

In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: 'If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must 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.'"

(46) Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2266

Pope Pius XII

"We also note that the Church in theory and in practice has kept the two forms of capital punishment (medicinal and vindictive) and that this is more in line with what the sources of revelation and traditional doctrine teach about the coercive power of legitimate human authority. One does not give a sufficient answer to this assertion, noting that the above-mentioned sources contain only thoughts that correspond to historical circumstances and the culture of the time, and that therefore one cannot attribute to them a general and always durable value."

1 comment:

JAK said...

The document presented to the SSPX seemed to contain some language that relativized Vatican II and magisterial statements that followed it. This new attitude may help with the papalotry surrounding John Paul II. At least for thinking Catholics.