Monday, January 8, 2018

Youcat commented through CCC – Question n. 381.

YOUCAT Question n. 381 - Why is the Church opposed to capital punishment?

(Youcat answer) The Church is committed to opposing the death penalty because it is “both cruel and unnecessary” (Pope John Paul II, St. Louis, January 27, 1999).

A deepening through CCC

(CCC 2266) The effort of the state to curb the spread of behaviors 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 (Cf. Lk 23:40-43).      

Reflecting and meditating 

(Youcat comment) Every legitimate State has in principle the right to punish crime appropriately. In Evangelium vitae (1995), the Pope does not say that the use of the death penalty is in every respect an unacceptable and illegitimate punishment. To take the life of a criminal is an extreme measure to which the State should resort only “in cases of absolute necessity”. This necessity arises when the only way to protect human society is by killing the convicted criminal. But such cases, says Pope John Paul II, “are very rare, if not practically non-existent”.

(CCC Comment)

(CCC 2267) Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity with the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent” (John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56).   

(The next question is: Is it permissible to offer assistance in dying?)

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