Catholic Opposition To Capital Punishment Has Deeper Motivations

Joe Herring Joe Herring is an author/speaker based in Omaha, Nebraska. His work has been featured by Rush Limbaugh & Mark Levin, among numerous other names and publications of conservative note.
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“I’ve got to tell you what I’ve learned. When you start talking about the death penalty, there’s a deep religious underpinning. Who is God for us? It is God who demands an eye-for-an-eye. It is God who is pleased with sacrifice. “And in the Christian tradition, there are those who say God allowed or even willed his own son, Jesus, to be sacrificed and killed on the cross in payment for our sins! And when we kill criminals we have chaplains in death houses! And when we kill criminals for their crimes God accepts their death in payment for their sins so they can go to heaven! What kind of god do we believe in?! “What kind of father would demand the death of a son? Is this a god? Or is it an ogre, a monster, created by our own violent impulses?”

These are the words of a nun who co-founded the group currently blanketing Nebraska with social justice blather in favor of retaining the ban on capital punishment… with the blessing and assistance of the Conference of Bishops.

This group paid for 20 speakers to crisscross the state over ten days advocating the position that one cannot be pro-life unless one is also anti-death penalty.

This organization is also partnered with no less than three umbrella groups that have a common thread over and above agitating to end the death penalty…they are all funded almost entirely by notorious anti-Catholic, the pro-abortion George Soros.

This group is called Catholics Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty (CMN). The co-founder — the same woman who spoke the quote cited above, denying the sacrifice of Christ — is Sr. Helen Prejean, the nun who wrote the book “Dead Man Walking.”

With our legislature having repealed the death penalty against the will of the people, the opposition to the ballot initiative to reinstate it has been characterized by faux-Catholic groups forming alliances with well-meaning Catholics; usurping their credibility to peddle falsehoods and spin in their name.

Nebraska, your state is being taken from you. Perhaps the reason we changed our advertising from “The Good Life,” to “Nebraska Nice,” is reflective of this new reality; we no longer have the “good life,” and have settled for just being “nice people.”

There are many arguments for and against the death penalty, both in secular terms and within religious dogma, however it is instructive to note the genesis of these arguments and the nature of those who make them.

You can make a wise and responsible decision without getting down in the weeds with either side.  Like many touchstone issues, entire industries have grown up around advocating for one side or the other, and unfortunately, truth and reality have not always been the lodestar for many groups involved.

To escape this forest of obfuscation and spin, one need only retreat to a safe distance and assess the question with an open heart guided by an incisive mind, just as Jesus taught us to do.

My parish priest made the argument recently that the death penalty is wrong because it takes away life at the hand of man, rather than by the Hand of God, at natural death.

He tied this belief to abortion, where life again, is taken by man, not by God.

Two problems spring to mind. First, there is a definitive difference between the taking of innocent life (abortion) and taking the life of a guilty prisoner.

Secondly, the logic employed doesn’t hold water with existing Catholic doctrine. By the priest’s logic, taking human life is never permissible by man, and can only be done by God, through natural death.

This upends the concepts of just war and self-defense.  By such logic, Catholics are called to be victims only, never victors.

The Catholic Church made it through 20 centuries of faith and devotion before suddenly turning heel on nearly two thousand years of teaching and tradition supporting the death penalty.  An integral part of the “modernization” of the Church that took place in the latter half of the 20th century, this new teaching on the death penalty still permitted its use, just under stricter circumstances.

It wasn’t until very recently that our “leaders” decided it was incompatible with supporting “life at all stages.”

Like the fragile, teetering logic employed by my parish Priest, this change in teaching doesn’t hold up to even a cursory examination of principle.  “Which is more likely…” one might ask, “has the Church been wrong for nearly two thousand years, or have our current leaders supplanted the urgings of the Holy Spirit with secular political considerations in a feeble attempt to remain relevant?”

Endless appeals over frequently frivolous/inapplicable technicalities (permitted and facilitated by activist judges) launches the litigation cost of carrying out a death sentence through the roof.

Of course, this is by design. The death penalty isn’t “broken,” it is being deliberately rendered unworkable by the very people who ceaselessly hamstring the system by misusing the process; not to achieve a just result, but rather to burden the system beyond capability so they can point to the looming collapse as evidence for the illegitimacy of the penalty itself.

It’s like a child who deliberately breaks every pencil, then blames the concept of homework for the pile of broken wood and lead at his feet.

It is time for Catholics to recognize the designs of the anti-death penalty activists.  This isn’t about preserving life, or ensuring justice.  This is about furthering the model of “reform” within the Church being funded and pushed by those from outside the Church, who see the Church as an obstacle to their visions for society, and from those within the Church who would water down the Gospel in order to fill a few more seats.

Like an enemy offering advice on how to shore up your defenses, these social justice organizations are “reforming” Church doctrine by warping it to the point of incomprehensibility.

Clearly, placing our parish Priests in the position of advocating doctrine that not only conflicts with foundational teachings of the Church, but also engenders head-scratching confusion rather than serene peace, is not the sort of reform one might expect to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

“By their fruits, you will know them.  Can people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles…?”  The fruit of confusion is error.  The fruit of the Spirit is truth.  You must decide for yourself which is being sown here, before you cast your vote.