Saturday, August 4, 2018



4 August 2018


I can't see much point in making substantive comments on the "changes made to the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on the death penalty" until the new text is published. All I can so far find on the Internet are some vernacular versions. .

This, in itself, I object to. The world has been given the impression that the Catholic Church has changed its teaching when nobody has the wherewithal to judge whether or not this is true. I can only call this sort of behaviour in  matters of faith and morals disgracefully frivolous. Can it be that PF wants to make an immediate impression on world opinion without giving theological professionals the prior opportunity to weaken by their analyses that impact?

More importantly: the English version says that the death penalty is "inadmissible". I have not the faintest idea what this curious term means theologically or canonically. If the actual text, when published, turns out to contain the phrase "intrinsece malum" then, frankly, we do have quite a problem on our hands. But Cardinal Ladaria is no fool. I shall be very surprised if those words are used. I'd put money on this!

Personally, like PF, I view the death penalty with considerable personal abhorrence ... anywhere, for any reason, at any time. I applaud attempts to discourage its use. I am less certain that the pages of a theological compendium such as the CCC are the right place to wage such a (very worthy) political campaign.

Furthermore, this move appears to take no account of  'advances' in Moral theology since and consequent upon Amoris laetitia. That document appeared to leave it to local hierarchies to make decisions for their own countries. But in the case of Deathgate, it appears that PF's wishes are of peremptory universal application. Perhaps the genial Graf von Schoenborn, or the sinister and brooding Fr Rosica, could explain to us, carefully and precisely, what the difference is. At the same time, it would be good to have an answer to the following: Adultery, while (yes?) generally wrong, may apparently, according to Amoris Laetitia, be Fair Enough in some circumstances. But PF's initiative concerning the death penalty apparently admits no exceptions. Why? And if it does tacitly admit exceptions, are we not left in the same poition as we were in with the earlier formula S John Paul had put into the CCC?

Then there is the problem of the Marx which did not bark during the night. Two or three years ago, with regard to Communion for divorcees, Cardinal Marx asserted the autonomy of the 'German Church' with the fearless and ringing words "We are not subsidiaries of Rome". I have not yet seen a similarly brave assertion that, also in this matter of the death penalty, Germany is Not a Subsidiary of Rome.


Victor said...

The Latin text has come out. The word "inadmissible" is "non posse" in Latin, which really means the much stronger "impossible." The pope is changing long held Catholic doctrine.

Fr Hunwicke is right in mentioning that the pope is waging a political campaign through the Catechism. But then, the way this pope thinks is always through politics, as most of Latin America does, and why they have such grave political problems all the time.

What bugs me most about this, though, is his justification for the change. He writes:

"... 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]" The footnote reference is not to Scripture but to the Pope's own previous talk. Where does the Gospel teach that? So "the Church teaches" is a now magisterial statement, a belief to be held de fide. What was once held as true for the Faith no longer is true for (Enlightened) modern man: that is the creed of Modernism. And how far will he go with this? What and see, I guess.

Gene said...

Murderers, rapists, terrorists and other felons have no dignity.

TJM said...


To evil leftists (oxymoren) they do have dignity, but the innocent baby in the womb, do not

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"Murderers, rapists, terrorists and other felons have no dignity."

Yes, they do.

"A Catholic approach begins with the recognition that the dignity of the human person applies to both victim and offender." (Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, USCCB, November 2000)

"The fundamental starting point for all of Catholic social teaching is the defense of human life and dignity: every human person is created in the image and likeness of God and has an inviolable dignity, value, and worth, regardless of race, gender, class, or other human characteristics. Therefore, both the most wounded victim and the most callous criminal retain their humanity. All are created in the image of God and possess a dignity, value, and worth that must be recognized, promoted, safeguarded, and defended. For this reason, any system of penal justice must provide those necessities that enable inmates to live in dignity: food, clothing, shelter, personal safety, timely medical care, education, and meaningful work adequate to the conditions of human dignity."

That is Catholic doctrine.

Anonymous said...

The Book of Revelation, not "Revelations,' is not a book of predictions or forecasts of the future. It is a book of hope written to a Christian community undergoing dire persecution.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Paul, I assure you that God helps the Catholics of Wilmington Island, as well as all here who seek to do His will, every day.

In fact, you'll be pleased to know that that thought was the basis of my homily this weekend. Focusing on Jesus' words, "Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,..." I challenged the people (and myself, as always) to understand the need to take more seriously our lives as faithful Christians. I quoted the opening line of Richard J. Foster"s "Celebration of Discipline - The Path to Spiritual Growth": "Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people."

The "food that endures for eternal life" is not something we buy or accumulate. Rather, what endures are the virtues we exhibit we live. These are attainable by grace, a grace that is most fully available to us in the Eucharist.

The "work" that we do is not some personal, one-time acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior. Rather believing in Jesus is meant to be a way of life, and that way of life can be very demanding. By grace, we can maintain way of life that is exemplary, even in the face of opposition from the Prince of Darkness and his pinions, er, his minions.

I, too, pray that God helps us all.