Sunday, August 30, 2009

Question from a reader about abortion vs. capital punishment and my answer

A reader from Spain asks the following question:

I have noticed that you are clearly anti-abortion. So do I. I agree with you completely that abortion is an assasination. You devoted your catholic blog to fight against that, and I admire your constance and perseverance in fighting with your opinion against abortion.

You turned your catholic blog also in an anti-Obama political campagne, also because of abortion. But let me tell you, that, after seeing a lot of your posts showing your anti-Obama and other opinions against abortion, that you never, never talked about the other form of assassination which is reigning in USA: the death penalty. Are you against death penalty? Because you never talk about this, only of abortion. And death penalty it's also a terrible and cynical form of assassination, as abortion is.

Why do you think about death penalty in USA? Because in my country -Spain- we do not kill people. We have not death penalty.

I hope you understand that I do not pretend nor want to make any offense about you. It's only my humble opinion and I'm just curious to know what do you think about that.

My Answer: You seem to be sincere in asking your question and I am not offended by it.

First of all, let me respond by saying that there's a big difference between a convicted criminal and a perfectly innocent baby. 

In abortion, the unborn child is not even given his/her fundamental right -- the right to life, while a person who has committed a serious offense has been given that fundamental right that is guaranteed to all of us under the United States Constitution. The criminal has been given the opportunity to be born and as such has enjoyed all of the other rights we are guaranteed in this country -- the right to speak freely, the right to bear arms, to worship the religion of our choice, etc. However, the infant who has been slaughtered before birth has not been given any of these rights because he/ she has not been even given the fundamental right -- the right to be born and experience life. This child is totally innocent and his/her blood is being shed without cause, whereas the convicted criminal who has been  been tried by a jury of his peers has been found guilty of a committing an extremely serious crime. In one case, you are executing a convicted criminal who has committed an extremely atrocious crime; in the other case you are executing a totally innocent human being. While there are times when it is acceptable to kill: in self-defense, in protecting our loved ones, and in times of war, it is never acceptable to intentionally kill an innocent human being.

Let's look at this from a statistical perspective. 

Official statistics on executions in the United States have been recorded only since 1930 by the US Dept of Justice. The figures show there have been 4,381 executions from 1930 until February of this year. There were none in the 1968-1976 period. A historian named Watt Espy, director of the Capital Punishment Research Project in Headland, Alabama, has traced the history of the death penalty. In a work published in 1994, he estimated that 18,645 executions had taken place since the early 1600s in what is now the United States. If you add the 265 that have occurred from 1995 until now, you come up with a figure of 18,910.

Turning to abortion, the website of the Alan Guttmacher Institute (which is strongly pro-abortion) reports that in 1996 alone there were 1.37 million abortions just in the United States. That's 3753 per day, one every 23 seconds. In other words, the total number of deaths by capital punishment, for our entire history, is less than the number of deaths by abortion every five days. 

Let's look at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about this.

While abortion (the destruction of innocent life) is an intrinsic evil, the death penalty (the killing of those who kill innocents to prevent them from killing innocents again) is not an intrinsically evil act. It is permissible if there is no other solution to the problem.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2321: "The prohibition of murder does not abrogate the right to render an unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. Legitimate defense is a grave duty for whoever is responsible for the lives of others or the common good."

The Catechism also states"... the traditional teaching of the Church has acknowledged as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with gravity, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty."(2266)

My personal opinion on this is of little significance -- what is important is what the Church teaches and that, as Catholics, we are obedient to her teachings.

I  focus most of my energy on posts involving abortion because I see that as the biggest threat to our country right now and also because that is my "area of expertise", as I have training and experience working as a sidewalk counselor, a crisis pregnancy counselor, and a prayer warrior for the unborn, their families, and for the conversion of abortionists.

Another huge threat to human life in this country is the "health care reform" bill which the Obama administration has proposed and which is forcing the American people to accept and pay for abortions. It also threatens the lives of the elderly and the handicapped in this country. I have been expending much of my energy on this lately as it is a tremendous threat to human life in this country.

Thank you for your question!  God bless you!


Bill said...

Great article! Wow, 400 years of executions only equal 5 days worth of abortions.

From what I have read in various Christian and Catholic teachings, abortion is Satins greatest achievement, a blood sacrifice, and the greatest abomination against God.

No wonder there are so many warnings about the upcoming chastisements for all our sins.

dudleysharp said...

The Catholic Church: the death penalty & abortion are very different topics, morally & theologically.
Dudley Sharp, contact info below

Catholics in good standing can support the death penalty and even an increase in executions, if their own prudential judgement calls for it.

The Catholic teaching is that abortion is always an intrinsic evil.

1) Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger)

"stated succinctly, emphatically and unambiguously as follows": "Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia." (1)

2) "Catholics in Political Life", Statement of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

It is the teaching of the Catholic Church from the very beginning, founded on her understanding of her Lord’s own witness to the sacredness of human life, that the killing of an unborn child is always intrinsically evil and can never be justified. If those who perform an abortion and those who cooperate willingly in the action are fully aware of the objective evil of what they do, they are guilty of grave sin and thereby separate themselves from God’s grace. This is the constant and received teaching of the Church. It is, as well, the conviction of many other people of good will.

To make such intrinsically evil actions legal is itself wrong. This is the point most recently highlighted in official Catholic teaching. The legal system as such can be said to cooperate in evil when it fails to protect the lives of those who have no protection except the law. In the United States of America, abortion on demand has been made a constitutional right by a decision of the Supreme Court. Failing to protect the lives of innocent and defenseless members of the human race is to sin against justice. Those who formulate law therefore have an obligation in conscience to work toward correcting morally defective laws, lest they be guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good.

3) Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ

"Pope John Paul II spoke for the whole Catholic tradition when he proclaimed, in Evangelium Vitae, that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral (EV 57). But he wisely included in that statement the word innocent. He has never said that every criminal has a right to live nor has he denied that the State has the right in some cases to execute the guilty. " "No passage in the New Testament disapproves of the death penalty." (3)

4) Fr. John De Celles, "What Ardent Practicing Catholics Do" (4)

"Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is … a grave and clear obligation to oppose them … [I]t is therefore never licit to … "take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it." "In other words: it is always a grave or mortal sin for a politician to support abortion."

"Now, some will want to say that these bishops-and I- are crossing the line from Religion into to politics. But it was the Speaker of the House (Nancy Pelosi) who started this. The bishops, and I, are not crossing into politics; she, and other pro-abortion Catholic politicians, regularly cross over into teaching theology and doctrine, And it's our job to try clean up their mess."


Colleen said...

Please check this link about Catholic teaching on death penalty as well as facts about the death penalty:

Among the quotes there is this:
"The death penalty diminishes all of us. Its use ought to be abandoned not only for what it does to those who are executed, but what it does to us as a society. We cannot teach respect for life by taking life." - USCCB, Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty, 2005

How many innocent people have been executed? Are we pro life or not? OHHH, we CHOOSE which life is worth saving. I thought only God decided that. And just how do we judge?

We are in the fight of our lives trying to end abortion and save the unborn. How can we make any headway if even we "pro-lifers" decide that we can choose who lives and who dies? Please go to the link I gave you. It may open some eyes.

And there is this from Pope John Paul II - "A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil ... I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary." (Mass in St Louis, MO, Jan. 278, 1999)

bilbannon said...

Except that God repeatedly gave death penalties in the Book you are supposed to love...start with Genesis 9:5-6 which is for both Gentiles and Jews and is not part of the Jewish laws that are now void....end with Romans 13:3-4 which is in the NT which you are supposed to love and which postdates the words of Christ and was inspired by Him nonetheless.
Your concern about innocent men being executed can be solved by raising the bar on the evidence needed in such cases. Catholic countries without the death penalty are about half the top 12 murder rate countries in the world.
And I have no words for Mexico and its chaos which hasn't had the death penalty for decades except in reverse toward the police.