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The History of the Catholics' Position on Death Penalty - Research Paper Example

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This article reviews the history of the Catholics’ position on the death penalty.  An Old Testament mentions 36 crimes which were punished by death. The early Christians supported the death penalty, but the New Testament did not. The paper traces drawing on the changes undergone in their approach…
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The History of the Catholics Position on Death Penalty
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Download file to see previous pages In the Christian convention, the Fathers and Doctors belonging to the Church rendered their undisputed support towards capital punishment. Some of the priests like St. Ambrose did forbid capital sentences or execution but St. Augustine explains the first commandment (which does not permit killing) in The City of God saying that when killing is permitted by God or when He gives the power to an individual for a certain period of time, the authority for killing lies in the sword in the hand of the executioner. In such a case the person is not involved directly and hence he does not defy the law of God “Thou shalt not kill”(Dulles, 134).
It is God Himself who is directly involved in the act and the executioners representing state’s authority are not responsible for the killing but the criminals are put to death according to God’s will. During the Middle Ages, the religious courts were advised to abstain from delivering the death penalty while civil courts had the right to impose it in case of the foremost crimes. Pope Innocent III sought the followers of Peter Waldo for a reunion with the church and to acknowledge its proposition – “The secular power can, without mortal sin, exercise the judgment of blood, provided that it punishes with justice, not out of hatred, with prudence, not precipitation” (Dulles, 134). Thus the real meaning of the law of God mentioned before implies that one cannot kill out of his or her personal gains and satisfaction. Even the Roman Catechism, which was issued in 1566, supports the practice of capital punishment. This recommends that God has delivered the decisions of life and death to the civil authorities and this authority should be used through abiding by the fifth commandment. This will therefore not imply the crime of murder. In the modern times the Robert Bellarmine and Alphonsus Liguori, Doctors of the Church opine that criminals should pay the death penalty and this has been supported by respected personalities like Francisco de Vitoria, Thomas More, and Francisco Suarez. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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