Thursday, May 25, 2017

Catholic Herald on capital punishment


The latest issue of the Catholic Herald features an article by Dan Hitchens on Catholicism and the death penalty which discusses By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment, which I co-authored with political scientist Joseph Bessette and which has just been released by Ignatius Press.  The article contains some remarks from a brief interview I did with the Herald

This follows upon another recent Catholic Herald article by Marc Mason on the same subject. 

73 comments:

  1. From Dan Hitchens' article:

    There is another problem, noted in Feser and Bessette’s book: why would one take seriously a Church which for almost two millennia was so gravely mistaken, and so confident in its mistake?

    And it would be interesting to hear Catholic clergy and philosophers who suggest that the death penalty is never morally permissible answer that question.

    I look forward to the book, and the effect it will have on this debate.

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  2. The bishop of Rome has made a large number of statements against capital punishment. Not as a mere matter of practicality of unjust implementation, rather, that capital punishment is, in principle, wrong.

    Citing a passage in Genesis, or what a medieval church figure said or did seems to be entirely subordinate to the findings of the man who claims ultimate authority for biblical interpretation by right of apostolic succession from Peter, who received his authority directly from Jesus.

    The RC pope can change things and then go back to being infallible again, which has a few advantages for humanity, as opposed to practitioners of sola scriptura and its equivalent in Islam who doom us all to their medieval ways.

    The pope can, and does to some extent, change with the times, for example accepting at long last the consensus scientific model of the age of the universe, its physical structure, and the origin of the species.

    The RC pope has also changed away from the brutality of the inquisition and papal wars, and a very good thing for us all that he has. How unfortunate there is no similar figure in Islam.

    So, it seems to me that modern RC advocates of capital punishment are plainly heretics.

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    1. I think, perhaps, you should read Feser's article on papal infallibility.

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    2. accepting at long last the consensus scientific model of the age of the universe
      St. Thomas assumed that the universe was infinite in age because he knew of no proof in philosophy that it had a beginning in time. He believed from his Catholic faith that there had been a beginning in time -- let's call it a "Big Bang," shall we, that began in a burst of "light" as Grosseteste put it -- but had no commitment to a particular age of the universe. That sort of thing started with people like Newton, who thought they could calculate backward from the ages of the patriarchs. But that's science for you.
      its physical structure
      We suppose you mean the mathematical model used to predict sunrises, eclipses, and the like. As Saint Thomas said, "The suppositions that these astronomers have invented need not necessarily be true; for perhaps the phenomena of the stars are explicable on some other plan not yet discovered by men." (De coelo, II, lect. 17) And agains: "The theory of eccentrics and epicycles is considered as established, because thereby the sensible appearances of the heavenly movements can be explained; not, however, as if this proof were sufficient, forasmuch as some other theory might explain them." (Summa theologiae, I, q.32, a.1, ad. 2)
      and the origin of the species.
      Where again, Thomas wrote, "Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning." (-- Summa theologiae,
      I q73 a1 ad3) IOW, by some natural power endowed at the beginning.
      the brutality of the inquisition
      Inquisitio was an ancient Roman procedure contrasted with accusatio, the distinction we make between criminal and civil law. The Rediscovery of Roman Law led, inevitably to the application of Roman techniques, including the use of torture to secure confessions. The Church courts were the last in Europe to succumb and surrounded the practice with a rulebook intended to limit it to as few cases as possible, to prevent imperial courts from seizing jurisdiction over heresy cases. (Remember, heresy was regarded as civil treason.) There are cases of imperial prisoners deliberately committing blasphemy to get themselves transferred to the more lenient Roman prisons.
      and papal wars
      As opposed to French wars to conquer the Papacy? It's not clear what you imagine the Renaissance World capable of achieving.

      You have an exalted notion of what a pope is competent of doing, and for that matter, what constitutes a heresy.

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    3. Stardusty, please stop writing nonsense.

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    4. So, it seems to me that modern RC advocates of capital punishment are plainly heretics.

      The opinions of atheists on matters of heresy are as valuable as a pile of pig feces.

      For the record, Ed, this is an atheist troll who has a long track record elsewhere. Heads up.

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    5. Just to substantiate my previous comment...

      Here's the ultimate result of one of their greatest hits. Basically getting schooled by the regulars of Shadow to Light, and then ultimately shooed off. They have time on their hands and hate in their hearts, so now they're here.

      Act accordingly, veryone.

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    6. I am most amused by this...

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    7. so according to stardusty i'm a person with a medival mindset...ok

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    8. @DDT:

      In Dangerous Idea he paired up with another moron in a thread devoted to the First Way (here), It is by now over 1400 comments and still going (some people are gluttons for punishment -- but I should not be too harsh, as I share that flaw). The amount of arrogant idiocy is hysterical. It goes to the point of implying that he knows the argument better than St. Thomas and all his commentators combined. This is the same troll that piped such amazing gems as: "The term "countably infinite" is oxymoronic and shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the concept of infinity." Or this: "Just because a thing is logically impossible it does not follow that it must me physically impossible.

      Something irrational must be the case because all alternatives are irrational."

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    9. This is too stupid for words lol

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    10. TheOFloinnMay 26, 2017 at 1:50 PM

      "St. Thomas assumed that the universe was infinite in age because he knew of no proof in philosophy that it had a beginning in time. "
      --And Bishop Ussher reached the opposite conclusion based on biblical interpretation, which was in line with early church teaching.

      But, eventually the Vatican hired a modern astronomer and has pretty much caught up.


      "and the origin of the species.
      Where again, Thomas wrote, "Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning." "
      --We are a species. We came from Adam and Eve, donchyaknow? No, there was no notion of the human species arising from fish or anything of the sort.


      "the brutality of the inquisition
      Inquisitio was an ancient Roman procedure contrasted with accusatio, the distinction we make between criminal and civil law. The Rediscovery of Roman Law led, inevitably to the application of Roman techniques,"
      --Inevitable? Gee, that does not speak very well for any sort of divine basis for belief.


      " The Church courts were the last in Europe to succumb and surrounded the practice with a rulebook intended to limit it to as few cases as possible,"
      --Fine, suppose you get subjected to medieval torture while the torturer tells you "it's ok, we are doing this in as few cases as possible, but this is inevitable".

      Christians have some rather mushy rationalizations sometimes.


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    11. "And Bishop Ussher reached the opposite conclusion based on biblical interpretation, which was in line with early church teaching.

      But, eventually the Vatican hired a modern astronomer and has pretty much caught up."

      Is Bishop Ussher synonymous with the Vatican now? I was under the impression the Church, to this day, held both opinions as acceptable for the faithful to maintain.


      "We are a species. We came from Adam and Eve, donchyaknow? No, there was no notion of the human species arising from fish or anything of the sort."

      Ummmm, ok?

      "Inevitable? Gee, that does not speak very well for any sort of divine basis for belief."

      I don't know. It seems to be a great example of the consequences of the fall, and the reality of concupiscence.



      "Fine, suppose you get subjected to medieval torture while the torturer tells you "it's ok, we are doing this in as few cases as possible, but this is inevitable".

      Christians have some rather mushy rationalizations sometimes."

      Given your denial of objective morality and your assertion that morality is reducible to public opinion and personal taste, it seems you're in exactly the same boat as those you critique. It's ALL just mushy rationalizations right?

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    12. In Dangerous Idea he paired up with another moron in a thread devoted to the First Way (here), It is by now over 1400 comments and still going (some people are gluttons for punishment -- but I should not be too harsh, as I share that flaw). The amount of arrogant idiocy is hysterical.

      Yep. Doritodusty basically keeps going and going and going, since they're one of the last hangers-on to New Atheism internet activism, for which there are two main commandments:

      "So long as you keep talking, you haven't lost or been proven wrong about anything."

      and

      "You're a New Atheist. It's not like you have much else in your life to attend to."

      Which is why the ban inevitably follows, since they'll just monopolize any conversation insisting for the umpteenth time that A != A.

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    13. Why are you all replying to this person? When has he shown the slightest hint of intelligence? Please, please don't feed the troll.

      I humbly request Dr Feser start the promised deletions.

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    14. grodriguesMay 27, 2017 at 5:08 AM

      " in a thread devoted to the First Way (here), It is by now over 1400 comments and still going "
      --Yes, and I had hoped to get a little further on the 5 Proofs page here but I can't see any posts after 15 May, with conversations gone missing, so it looks like some technical difficulties on the server side.

      " It goes to the point of implying that he knows the argument better than St. Thomas."
      --No, I did not imply this, I directly claimed this.

      My knowledge of the First Way is far superior to that of Aquinas for the same reason my knowledge of physics is far superior to that of Aristotle, I stand on the shoulders of giants.

      "The term "countably infinite" is oxymoronic and shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the concept of infinity."
      --Yes, and despite the fact that it is a technical term, in the common sense it is so profoundly oxymoronic that muddled concepts of counting to infinity get mixed into popular explanations of this technical term.

      "Just because a thing is logically impossible it does not follow that it must me physically impossible.

      Something irrational must be the case because all alternatives are irrational."
      --Yes, and thank you for quoting those two statements together. No human being has solved the problems of the origin of motion, change, and existence and published such solution into general circulation.

      All attempts to use logic to reason a way to a solution fail, since they all lead to an irrationality of one sort or another. Yet I am absolutely certain I exist in some form, so there certainly must be an existence.

      This is all off topic for this thread, but given that you brought it up and that there are technical difficulties on the more appropriate thread I decided to respond here.

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    15. Worth mentioning that Bishop Ussher was not a Catholic - and therefore not an agent of the Vatican. He was a bishop of the Church of Ireland (basically an Anglican).

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    16. The original Mr. XMay 29, 2017 at 4:27 AM

      Worth mentioning that Bishop Ussher was not a Catholic - and therefore not an agent of the Vatican. He was a bishop of the Church of Ireland (basically an Anglican).

      Not only was he not a Catholic, he devoted considerable energy to advocating for the stricter enforcement of the penal laws in Ireland.

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    17. Michael CMay 28, 2017 at 6:05 PM
      Worth mentioning that Bishop Ussher was not a Catholic
      The original Mr. XMay 29, 2017 at 4:27 AM
      Not only was he not a Catholic,
      --The Earth was dated to be about 6000 years old not only by the traditional Jewish calendar but throughout Christendom. The early church, later Catholics, and Protestants all arrived at nearly the same answer by today's standards. By standards of the day, it was imagined that the date of creation could be calculated to the year, month, day, even hour.

      I only mentioned Ussher as perhaps the most famous example. Just search on "dating creation" and you can get much information on early church calendars and dating calculations.

      Back on May 27, 2017 at 9:30 AM I said "But, eventually the Vatican hired a modern astronomer and has pretty much caught up." which is an advantage of not reading the bible literally, the church slowly catches up because the pope can change calendars, change teachings, and then go back to being infallible again.

      Here is a partial list of people in history of various denominations who have calculated the date of creation. It is the goofy protestant YECs that still cling to these dates, but they used to be accepted throughout Christendom.
      Clement of Alexandria (5592 BC), Theophilus of Antioch (5529 BC), Sextus Julius Africanus (5501 BC), Hippolytus of Rome (5500 BC), Gregory of Tours (5500 BC), Panodorus of Alexandria (5493 BC), Maximus the Confessor (5493 BC), George Syncellus (5492 BC) Sulpicius Severus (5469 BC) and Isidore of Seville (5336 BC).[63][64][65] The Byzantine calendar has traditionally dated the creation of the world to September 1, 5509 BC.
      Marianus Scotus (4192 BC), Henry Fynes Clinton (4138 BC), Maimonides (4058 BC), Henri Spondanus (4051 BC), Benedict Pereira (4021 BC), Louis Cappel (4005 BC), James Ussher (4004 BC), Augustin Calmet (4002 BC), Isaac Newton (4000 BC), Petavius (3984 BC), Theodore Bibliander (3980 BC), Johannes Kepler (April 27, 3977 BC) [based on his book Mysterium Cosmographicum], Heinrich Bünting (3967 BC), Christen Sørensen Longomontanus (3966 BC), Melanchthon (3964 BC), Martin Luther (3961 BC), Cornelius Cornelii a Lapide (3961 BC), John Lightfoot (3960 BC), Joseph Justus Scaliger (3949 BC), Christoph Helvig (3947 BC), Gerardus Mercator (3928 BC), Matthieu Brouard (3927 BC), Benito Arias Montano (3849 BC), Andreas Helwig (3836 BC), David Gans (3761 BC), Gershom ben Judah (3754 BC) and Yom-Tov Lipmann Heller (3616 BC).

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    18. @Stardusty
      Recourse to torture was standard practice in Roman jurisprudence and even then, like today, confessions were still of dubious legal value. I agree that the Church should have been much more firm, however, in arguing against its morality, though banning torture outright is humanly speaking quite difficult because in truth sometimes authorities know that someone knows something that could save countless lives, for instance.

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    19. timocratesJune 1, 2017 at 11:20 AM

      @Stardusty
      " banning torture outright is humanly speaking quite difficult "
      --Does god change his mind?

      The claim to title of Vicarious Christ is unfounded if he must bend his principles to human difficulties.

      Christ told all to love their enemies. He didn't say anything about that being humanly difficult. He just told you his principle, but the supposed Vicarious Christ must have excuses made for him by apologists for failing to do what Christ did, and is thus undeserving of the title Vicarious Christ.

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  3. Stardusty makes very good arguments, it is noticeable how few of the replies address the substance of them

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    1. "Arguments" is a tad generous. What is the argument? It is sometimes good when popes change their opinions from those of their predecessors; therefore modern Catholic advocates of the death penalty are heretics?

      There are several reasons why a person might decline to address such an argument. On the one hand, it is so plainly a bad argument that it would be a waste of time to point that out. On the other hand, it is reasonable to doubt the influence of reason over anyone who would make such an argument.

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    2. GregMay 27, 2017 at 7:42 AM

      "Arguments" is a tad generous."
      --Agreed. My post was largely just a series of commentaries, but there was substance to support the final assertion.

      " What is the argument? It is sometimes good when popes change their opinions from those of their predecessors; therefore modern Catholic advocates of the death penalty are heretics?"
      --Fair enough, the conclusion does not follow from that observation.

      However, the conclusion does follow from the doctrine of the right to biblical interpretation by authority of Jesus through apostolic succession, combined with the anti-death penalty statements of that man who claims such authority.

      I included that reasoning as well, but I plead guilty to also making comments that are not defensibly premises to the conclusion.

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    3. Stardusky, what about the countless past popes and bishops who endorse the state's right to impose the death penalty? Are they heretics also, only perhaps, less "plainly".
      When one pope rejects a teaching held by countless, popes, bishops, Early Church Fathers, and Doctors of the Church, then it is far from logical to level accusations of heresy against his modern opponents.

      I know of a few good books on Sacred Tradition and infallibility if you're interested.

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    4. When one pope rejects a teaching held by countless, popes, bishops, Early Church Fathers, and Doctors of the Church, then it is far from logical to level accusations of heresy against his modern opponents.

      Are you really appealing to logic with DoritoDusty? Again, this is not something that Dusty is good at, or even cares about.

      You're dealing with someone whose entire gimmick is New Atheist advocacy. Period. They'll deny the sky is blue or that they're conscious if either would support theism, or even if it was a claim a theist seemed to enjoy.

      DoritoDusty is not "laboring under misconceptions". They're just angry at theists (usually, deep down inside, because of politics) and are unbalanced enough to argue "A != A" level arguments for literally days on end, multiple hours a day, to cope with their internal demons.

      If you attempt to reason with them, you're doing that pearls before swine thing Christ warned about. Just a warning.

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    5. However, the conclusion does follow from the doctrine of the right to biblical interpretation by authority of Jesus through apostolic succession, combined with the anti-death penalty statements of that man who claims such authority.

      Well, it depends what you mean. The conclusion follows if this premise is interpreted as stating that whatever the successor of Peter says about faith and morals is binding, on pain of heresy, on all Catholics. But then the premise is insane, has never been believed by Catholics, and is contradicted by the history of the early Church in Acts.

      If the premise is just pointing out that the authority of statements by popes, councils, the Fathers, etc. is somehow based on the conference, through apostolic succession, for such people to speak authoritatively on such matters--then sure, the premise is true, but the conclusion doesn't follow.

      And everyone knows this. That is why the post was a stupid one. I suspect you know it too, so I'll take DDT's advice and avoid further throwing of pearls before swine.

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    6. the conference, through apostolic succession, for such people to speak authoritatively on such matters

      Oops: the conference, through apostolic succession, of a right for such people to speak authoritatively on such matters

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    7. daurioMay 27, 2017 at 9:42 AM

      "Stardusky, what about the countless past popes and bishops who endorse the state's right to impose the death penalty? Are they heretics also, "
      --On the doctrines of Papal Supremacy and Papal Infallibility no, because they claimed authority to declare doctrine at that time.

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    8. GregMay 27, 2017 at 11:51 AM

      "Well, it depends what you mean."
      --Indeed.

      "The conclusion follows if this premise is interpreted as stating that whatever the successor of Peter says about faith and morals is binding, on pain of heresy,"
      --On the doctrines of Papal Supremacy and Papal Infallibility the doctrines set by the successor of Peter are supreme and infallible. You might not agree, many Catholics might ignore, but these are Church doctrines.

      " But then the premise is insane, has never been believed by Catholics, "
      --That's up to each individual to believe what they wish, but if that belief is against Church doctrine then it is heresy in at least the common sense of "a belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious doctrine" and might rise to the level of a technical Catholic Church heresy if the individual refuses to be corrected.

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    9. I have a hard time thinking dusty is serious. He actually seems to be lecturing on papal infallibility according to a definition of it that he clearly made up.

      If he is serious, then I fear for his mental stability.

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    10. What mental stability? Just look at his answer upthread and you will see someone so egocentric, the person in question must be insane.

      The dude belongs to a psycologist/psychoanalyst/therapist couch.

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    11. On the doctrines of Papal Supremacy and Papal Infallibility the doctrines set by the successor of Peter are supreme and infallible. You might not agree, many Catholics might ignore, but these are Church doctrines.

      Please stop playing dumb. We aren't talking about solemn defining of doctrine. We're talking about opining.

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    12. GregMay 28, 2017 at 4:53 AM

      SP On the doctrines of Papal Supremacy and Papal Infallibility the doctrines set by the successor of Peter are supreme and infallible. You might not agree, many Catholics might ignore, but these are Church doctrines.

      "Please stop playing dumb."
      --The consensus here seems to be that is simply who and what I am, thus not playing.

      " We aren't talking about solemn defining of doctrine. We're talking about opining."
      --I am talking about the specific things I have said in my words. If others have other things to say in their words, fine. I stand by my meanings of my words.

      I made a post at the top of this thread I thought was rather innocuous. It included a few observations that were perhaps a bit rambling but I thought rather straightforward.

      The central point I was trying to make is the pope sets church doctrine and leads the church with his words. He is said to have the authority of Christ through apostolic succession. Catholics who publicly take a stand opposed to the teachings of the pope (such as regarding the death penalty) do so in opposition to the Vicar of Christ (Vicarius Christi, the vicarious Christ), which in at least the general sense of the word is heresy.

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    13. Guys: Repeat with me:

      Do not feed the trolls. Do not feed...

      Just drop it. Go on and read a good book. Or watch paint dry - it's more useful.

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    14. What would be the Latin for "do not feed the trolls?" "Ne pasce" something, I think. Monstra?

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    15. ‘Ne pasce troglodytam,’ I think, would be adequate.

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  4. isn't an argument when you post a proposition that should logically follow to a conclusion? something that stardusty always fails to do...

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  5. Dear Stardusty Psyche: From a previous response to you: "You have an exalted notion of what a pope is competent of doing, and for that matter, what constitutes a heresy."

    You have not addressed this.

    I have a suggestion for everyone. Here are two questions:

    (1) If a Pope says something, does that make it Catholic doctrine, binding upon every Catholic?

    (2) If a Catholic disagrees with what the Pope said, does that make that Catholic a heretic?

    My suggestion is simple: Until Stardusty Psyche answers these two questions with a yes or no, let's not respond any further. If S.P. says "yes," the response reveals the ignorance on display. If S.P. says "no," then the original comment in the thread was idiotic. If S.P. doesn't answer at all, we can assume that both of these implications are correct.

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    1. (1) If a Pope says something, does that make it Catholic doctrine, binding upon every Catholic?

      I believe Rex Mottram answered that question in the affirmative: "'Yesterday I asked him whether Our Lord had more than one nature. He said: "Just as many as you say, Father." Then again I asked him: "Supposing the Pope looked up and saw a cloud and said 'It’s going to rain', would that be bound to happen?" "Oh, yes, Father." "But supposing it didn’t?" He thought a moment and said, "I suppose it would be sort of raining spiritually, only we were too sinful to see it."'"

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  6. I'd like to ask those here who call themselves Catholics, who are laughing at Stardusty's objections, and who believe that the death penalty is compatible with Church teaching (which it certainly is), are in any way troubled by the fact that the (alleged) Vicar of Christ on Earth apparently does not understand this.

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    1. Yes, I am in some way troubled by the fact that the Vicar of Christ on Earth sometimes speaks as though the death penalty is incompatible with Church teaching.

      I don't see that it should cause me any more trouble than other cases throughout history in which popes have spoken in error.

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    2. OK, Greg, you're right. On occasion some popes have made certain erroneous (non-magisterial) statements on faith and morals. Everybody understands that the charism of papal infallibility does not cover everything a pope says concerning faith and morals. If a pope makes a mistake in a private letter or in a book, or whatever, everybody understands that, being of himself fallible and limited (as are we all), the pope simply was confused in his application of Catholic principles to a certain difficult question.

      However, do you really believe that this is in fact the situation in the case we have before us? The way I see it, there are two possibilities as to the cause of the present papal error, and they are as follows:

      1) Either this question is such a difficult one that the pope finds himself baffled on how to apply Catholic principles in order come to the correct conclusion, and, therefore, needs a couple of layman to write a book explaining it to him.

      2) Or he is not a Catholic at all but rather a dyed-in-the-wool secular humanist, and he does not give three straws what the Catholic Church has taught on the matter, but will instead replace that teaching with a new "catholic" teaching that will affirm tenets of humanism rather than oppose them.

      Now unless you can honestly say to yourself that the first possibility is far more likely than the second, you should be more than a little concerned.

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    3. George R, isn't #1 sufficient cause for concern. I keep going back to the 60s, when Paul VI was a somewhat similar fathead. OK, not quite so bad perhaps, but he certainly did nothing to retard the 5th column in the Church. But he ended up shocking the Catholicism-and-water brigade with Humanae Vitae.

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    4. What do you think of #2? Possible? plausible? probable? undeniable?

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    5. No more than possible. I tend to assume fatheadedness as the default explanation for most everything.

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    6. @ George R.

      I do regard it as more probable that Pope Francis is making an error than that he is a secular humanist.

      That said, as you've set it up, (1) and (2) are a false dilemma. I don't think it's simply a matter of possessing all of the right principles and failing in the difficult calculation which results in the proposition "the death penalty is permissible in principle." I'm not committed to the view that he is simply making an intellectual mistake; he is, perhaps, tempted to take certain positions because he craves the regard of the liberal West, or because he enjoys disparaging certain theologians, or whatever. I don't know whether any of these are true, for I don't have access to Pope Francis's heart, but I don't think he has to be either "baffled" by the technical "difficulty" of a question of casuistry or else literally non-Catholic and illegitimate.

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    7. I'm not sure just how strong the disagreement is. I'm not sure any of Liberius II's comments should be described as involving "intellectual" anything. I read him as just reacting, like a bit of brainless matter rolling to the natural low point.

      But maybe that's just me.

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  7. It seems to me that we should be on the attack (read: on the rampage) against the innovators in this matter. We should be holding their feet to the fire, publicly and pointedly, saying: "what you are claiming requires that Church doctrine taught for 2000 years is in error. Why should we accept any doctrine after that? You are trying to nullify the whole magisterial authority, and we won't have it!"

    Innovative theories of faith and morals are almost always erroneous, but at a minimum they suffer the burden of proof, not only that of showing a sufficiency of support, but also that of being conformable to doctrine. In THIS case, hardly anybody has even waved their hands at a pretense that the new theories are conformable with settled doctrine, they certainly have not met the burden of proof.

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    1. TonyMay 29, 2017 at 9:18 AM
      It seems to me that we should be on the attack (read: on the rampage) against the innovators in this matter.

      --Wasn't Christ a great innovator in his days on Earth? For some 1400 years Jews had followed Mosaic law, but Jesus came with a new covenant, a new message of love.

      Can't the Vicarious Christ do the same?

      Your god seems to want different laws for different people at different times. Isn't the Vicarious Christ the one man on Earth with the inspiration and authority to change church teaching on the behalf of Christ himself?

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  8. When a thread has been open a while, I often start at the bottom for the new comments. Has anyone else noticed that our two current trolls, though professing opposite stances, often sound so much alike? Especially when "expounding" (which here means "imagining and inventing") the beliefs of the Church?

    Odd, that.

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  9. If you are referring to George R, he has long been a commenter here and is nothing at all like the new troll SP. He is a sedevacantist, and aside from that is well-read in Catholicism. Nor does he make fatuous comments like SP that are dripping with hatred of Christianity.

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    1. No, I was thinking of Danny and Psychodust. Their avatars are even a bit similar, at a glance.

      And I give George R an automatic extra credit, as my middle initial is, in fact, R. On most sites I comment as "GeorgeLes" or "GRLeS".

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    2. sedevacantist

      My Roman blood is boiling.

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  10. Anyone else notice that SP completely bypassed the yes/no questions?

    And so my comments on this particular thread are at an end. Go forth in the grace of Christ, my peeps.

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  11. why isn't it on kindle Ed?

    Do you hate money?

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    1. Ed despises money. He hates it. He believes it is the source of all evil on this planet and just wants to pull out his sword and put law and order in effect. "Money," Ed was once heard to say, "is for women and sell outs."

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  12. He believes it is the source of all evil on this planet

    Can I assume you are speaking of Edward "Francis I" Feser?

    :-)

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    1. Cheeky!

      To be fair, Pope Francis's economics are still pretty in line with Catholic social teaching. He does insist on a business owners right to earn and make a profit and that this is necessary for a functioning economic system.

      But he has reminded us of the traditional Christian attitude toward money and its subordination to the order of charity or religious duties/works and morality generally. Profit seeking is not an end in itself but a means on the macroeconomic level toward development and progress. That is the fatal flaw of modern neoliberal economics: profit making is not, in fact, the goal of economics: wealth production is.

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    2. Timo, I agree with all that...up to the point where Francis thinks that inequality of money is the worst of the evils of this world - worse even than teenage joblessness.

      " Pope Francis has called youth unemployment one of the two gravest global issues."

      http://americasfutureworkforce.org/youth-unemployment/

      And that poverty is the heart and core of the Gospel.

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  13. Dan Hitchens: "There is another problem, noted in Feser and Bessette’s book: why would one take seriously a Church which for almost two millennia was so gravely mistaken, and so confident in its mistake?"

    Tony: "We should be holding their feet to the fire, publicly and pointedly, saying: "what you are claiming requires that Church doctrine taught for 2000 years is in error. Why should we accept any doctrine after that? You are trying to nullify the whole magisterial authority, and we won't have it!""

    First of all we should decide whom do we serve. Do we serve the truth and thus God, or do we serve the Catholic Church's pretensions? One cannot serve two masters. If one chooses to serve the truth then the matter of whether the Church may have been wrong for 2000 years is irrelevant. And if in fact the Church has have been wrong about capital punishment for 2000 years it does not of course follow that the whole of magisterial authority is nullified. The authority of the Church rests on its following Christ, no on never being wrong or never being wrong for too long. Not to mention that through much of the 2000 years of its history the church was also yielding political power, a fact that would certainly influence its teaching about morals. As for “being taken seriously” all thinking people will take *more* seriously the Church which leaves open and does not fear the possibility of having been wrong for 2000 years.

    I think the right attitude of the Christian theologian is this: I serve only God, and trust that Christ guides His church to an ever clearer understanding of the truth.

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    1. I agree: go away.

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    2. I also agree: go away.

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    3. It isn't wise to put a dog into a fight you don't understand. And you proved you don't understand this fight when you claimed that the Church's error is irrelevant. How much of the post did you actually read before writing this?
      Whether the Church was wrong about the death penalty is obviously highly relevant, because it means the Church is not infallible like it claims. We already know you don't think she's fallible, but we're talking about Catholicism here, and a central claim is that, within qualifications, the Church is infallible (because of the Holy Spirit’s charism). Being wrong here counts as a modus tollens argument against Catholicism. How is this so hard to get?

      And if in fact the Church has have been wrong about capital punishment for 2000 years it does not of course follow that the whole of magisterial authority is nullified.
      The claim made was that the Church's credibility will be nullified. And that's indisputable, precisely because of the nature of the Church's claims. A single error that the Church propagates as an infallible teaching, and you've proven that the Church is not infallible. Once we explain this mistake by saying that she just sold out to worldly powers, we can apply this to any doctrine we don’t like (then again, Doubting pointed out you already do that, so perhaps you think that’s a plus). The original post explains this better than I could, please read the whole thing, or else read it again.

      As for “being taken seriously” all thinking people will take *more* seriously the Church which leaves open and does not fear the possibility of having been wrong for 2000 years. I think the right attitude of the Christian theologian is this: I serve only God, and trust that Christ guides His church to an ever clearer understanding of the truth.
      Your claim is only true if your definition of “thinking” makes it synonymous with “insane.” A sane person can see the implications of being in error here. In the best case, it means that the Church has failed to follow Christ, preferring instead to blow in the cultural winds, for 2000 years! It means this Church doesn’t have the Spirit of Truth, Whom we are told would lead us into all truth (John 16.13). It gets worse from there.

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  14. Hey Prof. Feser, will By Man His Blood Shall Be Shed be available on Kindle and, if so, when? I've tried to find it on the digital store since its release but failed. Thank you!

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  15. Dear Prof. Feser,

    I reckon that the concept of capital punishment is valid in principle and in practice, but i'd like to know how you would reconcile capital punishment (or reconcile justice for that matter) with mercy which is also at the core of the Christian message, and how would such reconciliation precisely affect the topic of capital punishment or conform to your view on it in practice?

    I myself try to use the salvation story as a framework but i still fail to see how it would apply in practice to the topic at hand; in justice humanity deserve(s/d) damnation, with mercy we are granted a way out (albeit we will still face death which, although being a punishment here, it is still a lesser one compared to damnation or the one originally deserved punishment), which, if rejected, we are going to face damnation after death (the original punishment), if accepted, we are granted salvation (after being punished in a lesser way than what is otherwise originally deserved). In either case, justice/mercy is satisfied by effect of every person being given their due according to their actions/choice with regards to the granted mercy.

    --

    Also, how would you explain God using particular (converted) people, that would otherwise have deserved the death penalty at the hands of the temporal authorities, in spreading His message. example: Saint Paul


    Thank you,

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    1. Anonymous, I can't speak for Prof. Feser, of course, but perhaps I can offer some thoughts that may help.

      It is quite true that we deserve nothing of heaven or any other supernatural good: as sinners, we deserve punishment.

      God, in his mercy, desired to give to us better than what we deserve. In his justice, he refused to sustain a world order in which justice is not served. To satisfy both intentions, then, he willed that the Son take on human nature and in that way make due satisfaction for the sin of all who share that human nature. Thus justice and mercy are both served in Christ's passion and death for our sake.

      Yet God also willed not only that we receive the benefits of that salvation, he also willed that we humans participate in the economy of salvation, not as primary agents, but as willing intelligent secondary actors. Thus, we must cooperate with his saving grace, rather than reject his word and his gift; in addition, in mercy he granted us a role in bringing salvation to others via carrying the good news of salvation and in other acts of mercy in which we cooperate with God's will. Our being able to be a (participatory) cause of good in and for others is itself a mercy, not something we deserve or have any natural claim to.

      In human society, the best balance of justice and mercy is more difficult to discern, because we are neither able to foresee who will respond to mercy well, nor to definitively cause a person to want to reform and turn away from evil. In addition, (unlike God whose power is universal and omnipotent) we are not able to simply will that satisfaction be made for an offence and have it be done. We are limited to natural powers and causality, and so in pursuit of the best balance of justice and mercy which also considers the due good of the criminal and the due good of society, we are limited to the fact that the best good we can achieve will usually entail applying the proportionate punishment for a crime, and only sometimes permit us to apply a lesser punishment for the sake of mercy (and for other goods besides that of justice), knowing that in doing so we are foregoing justice to some extent.

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  16. I reckon that the concept of capital punishment is valid in principle and in practice, but i'd like to know how you would reconcile capital punishment (or reconcile justice for that matter) with mercy which is also at the core of the Christian message, and how would such reconciliation precisely affect the topic of capital punishment or conform to your view on it in practice?
    thank you so much for sharing !


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    ReplyDelete
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  18. I entirely accept that capital punishment is licit.
    My concern is that the state and its agents have too often be proved to be vindictive and be willing to make up evidence where they don't have sufficient available. Too many wrongful convictions for me to feel comfortable trusting the state.

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