Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My problem with the Death Penalty

Contrary to what some esteemed Catholic apologists suggest, I don't want to increase human slaughter.  Nor do I not give a flip what the Faith teaches.  I also can see some very good, Christian reasons for abolishing the Death Penalty.  For that matter, I can see some very practical reasons.  As the Left gains power and influence, it makes it clear that my type is a thing of the past.  And it will use any tool or weapon in its arsenal to see my type eliminated from the public forum, if not altogether.  So taking the Death Penalty away from that arsenal, even if for a time, isn't a bad idea.

Still, there are also good, Christian reasons for it, especially if you tend to hold to pre-modern notions of Christianity.  That's not to say if you oppose it you are automatically some modern compromiser.  There are obviously areas here where good Christians in good faith can agree to disagree.

But my big beef has always been on why the Catholic Church, all of a sudden, within only the last few decades, has chosen now to change its near-2000 year consistent teaching on the subject.  Why now?  What is different now than, say, 70 years ago when Pope Pius XII actually used arguments now mocked and ridiculed by Death Penalty opponents?  What is the big difference?

In the Catechism, the main statement about why now, what is it about now, that allows us to abolish the Death Penalty is that the State now has the ability to prevent crime.  I don't even know what that means.  And when I follow this story, I'm not sure the State is any better at preventing crime than it was a hundred years ago.  That's not getting into areas like prison violence and prisoners harmed or even killed by other prisoners.  That's just keeping dangerous criminals from escaping.

Again, I have no problem listening to the debate.  As a non-Catholic, I opposed the Death Penalty on practical grounds: I could see me being someone falsely accused and wrongfully executed.  Once I became Catholic, I liked the Church's take on the issue: rarely used, but sometimes if the need to protect the innocent is on the line.

But to say we can now abolish it altogether because the State is near a point of effectively preventing crime?  First, shouldn't we wait until it's there if that is the reason?  Second, is it really any closer than it ever has been to preventing crime?  That has been my beef with the Church's call to end the death penalty.  The main reason for justifying the timing of the change in teaching just doesn't seem real.  It doesn't seem to be a fact.  It doesn't align with what is happening in the world.   And if someone says we can eliminate traffic laws because leprechauns now live in traffic lights and can control the cars, you can be the first thing I'll ask is 'are their really such things as leprechauns, and are they in fact living in the traffic lights and able to control cars?'  If the answer is no, then it's back to the drawing board. 

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