Hi, guys —
Our parish RCIA class teaches that the death
penalty and abortion are both murder. A lady
in the class believes that a criminal, found
guilty after a trial and appeal can be morally
She understands that the Catholic Church
prohibits the death penalty and this is a problem for
her. Abortion, however, is killing innocent
life and is never permitted.
- Can you explain the morality of the death
- Is it ever justified to protect the innocent?
- Can you reply with information that addresses
you explain the morality of the death penalty and is it ever justified to protect the innocent? }
Hi, Mary —
Thanks for the question.
There has been some distortion in
the teaching taking place in your
parish RCIA .
For practical purposes, one can say
the Church disapproves of capital
punishment, but the Church does not
teach the death penalty is murder,
in fact, Scripture gives government
the right to execute criminals, as
does the Catechism
of the Catholic Church. However,
the purpose of the death penalty
is to prevent the criminal from killing
In most modern societies, like the
United States, the common good and
protection of society can be met
in other ways, without execution.
Being that we were all condemned
to hell if it were not for Jesus,
we have a higher calling to show
mercy over justice so, in our present
we have a moral obligation to do
Therefore, we should seek other means
to protect society.
I hope this helps.
Hi, Mary —
I just wanted to add to what John
has said by quoting the Catechism:
2267 The traditional teaching
of the Church does not exclude,
presupposing full ascertainment
of the identity and responsibility
of the offender, recourse to the
death penalty, when this is the
only practicable way to defend
the lives of human beings effectively
against the aggressor. "If,
instead, bloodless means are sufficient
to defend against the aggressor
and to protect the safety of persons,
public authority should 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.
"Today, in fact, given the
means at the State's disposal
to effectively repress crime by
rendering inoffensive the one
who has committed it, without
depriving him definitively of
the possibility of redeeming himself,
cases of absolute necessity for
suppression of the offender 'today
are very rare, if not practically
John Paul II, Evangelium vitae
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