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Catholic View of the Death Penalty - Research Paper Example

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Catholic View of the Death Penalty

In 1992, the church approved the first universal catechism. According to Pope John Paul II, the text was a complete exposition of catholic doctrine. This would enable everyone to understand what the church believes, celebrates, lives and prays (Daly, Doody, and Paffenroth, pp. 50). However, the publication was revised within a short time and particularly the section dealing with the death penalty. The first section of the death penalty was based on the traditional catholic principle, which gave the death penalty a moral definition. It gave the public authority the right and duty to punish offenders with the gravity of the crime which included the death penalty. This was to redress the disorder and damage caused by the crime. However, it proposed bloodless means as a way of defending human lives against aggressors and provide public safety (Hodgkinson and Schabas, pp 97). The public authority was supposed to use bloodless means to conform to human dignity of the offender. This was the earlier catholic teaching permitting capital punishments to defend life and maintain public order. The use of bloodless means was preferred in line with Christian calling to show mercy instead of vengeance. When the catechism publication was revised in 1997, the purpose of capital punishment had been removed. The notion of capital punishment as deterrence to other capital crimes was also reduced. Prior to this release, the pope had issued a letter about human life that addressed several moral issues regarding defending human life. This letter revealed capital offender as human beings who deserved humanity and condemned death penalty. This letter had an impact on Vatican commissioners overseeing the revisions. The catechism was supposed to be a teaching guide that upholds morals to about 1.1 billion Catholics around the world. The argument of the death penalty as a protection of public order was scrubbed and justified with the defense of human life against aggressors. Death penalty could only be used to protect the society from capital criminals (Owens, Carlson, and Elshtain, pp. 60). The document provided a restricted application of the death penalty and the cases requiring execution were very few or nonexistent. This issue was given a broader discussion of legitimate defense and human morality. The public authority had to respect personal and social rights of the criminal. Criminals were also provided with the opportunity to regain their freedom by including remedies for both the offender and the criminals. The church had considered introducing morality on the death penalty before the first catechism publication. Biblical convictions about good and evil, sin and redemption, justice and mercy acted as the basis for shifting the view of the death penalty. According to the bible, life is a precious gift from God and human beings were created in God’s image. Jesus was crucified between two capital criminals as a way of redeeming human beings. Individuals who deny the dignity of fellow humans required dignity as a gift from God rather than something earned through behavior. However, the Law of Moses in the Old Testament prescribes death for about thirty six offenses (Campbell, pp. 15). Early Catholic Christians used this justification to punish capital offenders by convicting them to death. Biblical excerpts such as a limb for limb, tooth for tooth, and eye ...Show more

Summary

Name Institution Tutor Date Catholic View of the Death Penalty Capital punishment is a subject that arouses strong emotions and attracts several divergent views. Some of these views vary at one point or another with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Some catholic leaders claim openly that the state has a right to inflict the death penalty on offenders…
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