Friday, August 10, 2018

Akin and Co. Redefine Punishment to Fit Catechism Change

It is amazing to see how far a pop apologist will go to defend the in-defensible. As we know Francis just changed the Catechism concerning the use of the death penalty. The new Catechism entry is now saying that Capital Punishment is no longer able to be used because it is an attack against human dignity. The passage reads,

 The death penalty
“2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good. 
Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. 
Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption. 
Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”,[1] and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.
The accompanying letter sent out by Cardinal Ladaria tries to tell us that this change is in perfect alignment with past magisterial statements. Ladaria wrote,

“a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state.” This refers to the fact that in the past the state’s penal sanctions were understood principally as administering justice (including divine justice) to wrongdoers, but today the Church understands them principally as seeking to protect society and (hopefully) rehabilitate the offender."
In light of this Jimmy Akin and others have bought into Ladaria's redefining of punishment saying that it is not primarily used for administering justice, which as we know cannot be changed by its very nature. Even the Catechism says it cannot, and conflicts with Ladaria's explanation. If we read earlier in the Catechism in 2266, which everyone seems to have forgotten, it says clearly that punishment's primary aim is redressing the disorder caused by the offense.

2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people's safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.

As we know the death penalty, otherwise known as Capital Punsishment has always and can only be used to redress the crime caused by the past action of the criminal, which is the administration of justice. It can only be used for that purpose, since the guilty party will not live to see rehabilitation. The Church has sanctioned such a punishment for that purpose and thus it cannot be against the dignity of the human person. Ladaria's use of the phrase "to protect society" like the Catechism's use is ambiguous, since an act of justice can also be seen as protecting society, and not merely a physical protection from a possible aggressor.

The only way Ladaria and the pop-apologists get away with buying into this change is by redefining the primary aim of punishment. Punishment by its very nature must always look to the past first to redress the crime, and then secondarily to the possible rehabilitation of the criminal and protection from possible future aggression by the criminal. It cannot work any other way, otherwise you might as well start punishing people for something they may or may not do in the future, which of course is non-sense. Sorry, thinking Catholics who actually follow the consistent teaching of the Church, grounded in solid scholastic philosophy would never buy into this. This cannot hold water and is a huge theological strikeout.

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