Q&A June AD
Our Lady of the Rosary
Thapovanam, Shelter of Hope, Kerala, India
The Sacred Heart of Jesus
[15th-16th] the Pope also will play a central role in the Vatican’s
annual celebration of the Gospel of Life—[Evangelium vitæ],
the papal teaching published by Pope John Paul II in 1995 (Lifenews.com).
A friend told me that the Catholic Church forbids capital punishment along
with things like murder and abortion. Is this true?
Saint Thomas tells us:
every part is directed to the whole, as imperfect to perfect,
wherefore every part is naturally for the sake of the whole. For
this reason we observe that if the health of the whole body demands
the excision of a member, through its being decayed or infectious to
the other members, it will be both praiseworthy and advantageous to
have it cut away. Now every individual person is compared to the
whole community, as part to whole. Therefore if a man be dangerous
and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is
praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to
safeguard the common good, since "a little leaven corrupteth the
whole lump" (1 Corinthians 5:6).
The death penalty has its origin in the
Book of Genesis, chapter nine:
 For I will require the blood of your lives at the
hand of every beast, and at the hand of man, at the hand of every
man, and of his brother, will I require the life of man.
 Whosoever shall shed man' s blood, his blood shall be shed: for
man was made to the image of God.
The Old Testament lists a considerable
number of capital crimes:
Capital Crimes Under the Mosaic Law
Murder: Genesis ix: 5-6; Exodus xxi: 12-15.
Kidnapping: Exodus xxi 16; Deuteronomy xxiv: 7
Cursing one's parents: Exodus xxi: 17; Leviticus xx: 9;
Negligence controlling a dangerous animal: Exodus xxi: 29.
Sorcery: Exodus xxii: 18; Leviticus xx: 27
Bestiality: Exodus xxii: 19; Leviticus xviii: 23; xx:15-16
Worship of false gods: Exodus xxii: 20
Enticement to false gods: Deuteronomy xiii: 6-16
Affliction of widows or orphans: Exodus xxii: 21-23.
Offering children to Moloch: Leviticus xx: 2.
Adultery: Leviticus xx: 10; Deuteronomy xxii: 22-27.
Incest: Leviticus xviii: 6-18; xx: 11-12, 14
Sodomy: Leviticus xviii: 22; xx: 13
Blasphemy: Leviticus xxiv: 14-16
Mediums, fortunetellers: Leviticus xx: 27.
False prophecy: Deuteronomy xiii: 5-6;
While the biblical
list above is prescriptive, we do have the example of our Lord granting
mercy to the woman caught in adultery.
Under the Christian dispensation it is not necessary for society to exact
the death penalty in all of the cases listed. With contrition there is room
for mercy, particularly with those violations which make no lasting physical
Some of the confusion
about the Church’s approval of the death penalty comes from the general
liberalism associated with Modernist clergy—they seem to oppose anything
that might benefit society.
Some of the confusion
arises from Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium vitæ (EV),
wherein he quotes Genesis 9 twice, both times omitting the parts that refer
to the killing of the man who sheds human blood.
Some of the confusion
arose with the 1994 print edition of the so-called Catechism of the
Catholic Church, (CCC) which, in 2266, acknowledged “in cases of extreme
gravity, the death penalty” and then continued:
2267 If bloodless means are sufficient to defend
human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the
safety of persons’ public authority should limit itself to such
means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of
the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the
The on-line version
of the same Catechism (somewhat different from the print edition, and
perhaps incorporating the thought of Pope John Paul II in Evangelium vitæ)
2267 Assuming that the guilty
party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the
traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the
death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively
defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to
defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority
will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with
the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to
the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities
which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering
one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without
definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself
- the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute
necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."
Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56).
There is, as usual,
no mention of how “the state” is to pay for “the possibilities” that it “has
for effectively preventing crime....” Nor what happens when those
“possibilities” fail and the criminal is freed to commit capital crimes once
again. As usual, the state is thought of as a sort of magical, all-knowing
abstraction, with an infinite money supply. It seems not to be considered
that the state and its bureaucracy consumes the goods of the productive and
devalues the money of everyone—taking a particularly large toll on the poor.
Human life is
precious, and later on (para. 57) in Evangelium vitæ, John Paul does
make the distinction of “innocent human life, and that which is not so
innocent. But at what price must society keep alive those with no respect
for human life. Must the innocent bear the costs of housing, feeding,
clothing, and guarding the guilty? For 20 years? For 50 years? For the
damage done if the guilty one escapes and kills again, or kills in prison?
And how high a standard of living must the innocent provide for the guilty?
If the state has all this money floating around, do not the relatives and
dependents of the murder victim have a superior claim on it? No one even
suggests that the perpetrator be worked hard enough to cover his own
expenses, let alone to make restitution! Most likely, even if it were
possible, that would no doubt be called “cruel and unusual punishment”!
“Punishment has the
primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense,” we are
told by the Pope, quoting the Catechism.
But is this ever true? Even for lesser crimes than murder, the disorder is
not remedied by putting the criminal in jail or in the electric chair. Even
restitution (where it is possible) does not fully redress the disorder
caused. The idea of the criminal accepting punishment as a “joyful penance”
for his sins is naive in the extreme. The primary aim of punishment is to
make criminals afraid to commit crimes. It is said (perhaps in jest) that
Hong Kong had an epidemic of purse snatching—that is, it had a
problem right up until the first public hanging of a purse snatcher.
The secondary aim of
punishment is the taking of criminals out of circulation so that they cannot
commit crimes again, even if they are unafraid of punishment. But again,
one must ask why the law abiding must pay for maintaining the criminals in
So, having said all
of that, “It the death penalty something to be exercised in Christian
society? The quote given above from the CCC starts out “Assuming that
the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully
determined....” The problem is that in America, our corrupt society has
progressively taken away the rights of due process and made it easier for an
innocent person to be railroaded into conviction. In recent years it has
been asserted that the government has the right to indefinitely detain a
person without charges being filed and without right to legal counsel. It
has even been asserted that the government has the right to assassinate such
people. Even when someone is brought to court, prosecutors and judges have
the ability to censor the evidence presented to the jury. As disturbing as
an audit might be, it is naive to think that the IRS is the only agency used
by the regime against its enemies.
Yes, the Church
permits the use of the death penalty. But it must be absolutely sure that
the due process of law be applied in each case, so that the guilty
party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined....”
And, in America, this due process cannot be expected in regimes that
routinely violate the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
One may find the same
corruption, even in State and County courts. The citizen must be informed
and ask questions—particularly when called to serve on a jury. If there is
evidence that due process is not being administered the Christian juror
cannot vote for conviction. Indeed, it is a mystery how any honest person
can vote for conviction of any crime if he knows that due process has not
Thapovanam, Shelter of Hope, Kerala, India
Thapovanam is a
charitable rehabilitation home of the Diocese of Bathery that provides
medical treatment, care and security, without discrimination of caste or
creed, to those women, children and men long-suffering with mental illness
who cannot properly be cared for in their homes. This institution also
gives similar care to mentally ill and poor who live on the streets. The
director and the volunteers fulfill the words of Christ “Just as you did it
to one of the least of these, who are members of my family, you did it to
me.” Bishop Joseph Mar Thomas is the home’s sponsor.
Mar Thomas is the spiritual advisor of the Sovereign Order of St. John of
Jerusalem (O.S.J.), with which our diocese is associated.
The Order of Saint
John is one of the military orders of the Church, dating back to the time of
If you are able to
make a contribution to this work, Father will see to it that it gets to
Bishop Mar Thomas, and that it is recorded with your annual contributions to
the church. Just be sure your contribution is clearly marked on your check
or collection envelope.
Bishop Euler, Archbishop
Humphreys, Bishop Mar Thomas, and Father Brusca
at the Order of Saint John Commandery in Jupiter
From the Sermons of St Bernard, Abbot
3rd sermon, on the Lord’s Passion.
Now that we have once
reached the Heart of Jesus, that Heart of exceeding sweetness, and know how
that “it is good for us to be here,” let us never again suffer ourselves to
be torn away from Him concerning Whom it is written “They that depart from
thee shall be written in the earth.” But what portion is theirs that draw
nigh unto thee, Thou thyself, O Lord, dost tell us, for Thou hast said unto
such “Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” Unto thee
therefore let us draw nigh “we will be glad and rejoice in thee” when “we
remember thine" Heart. “Behold, how good and pleasant it is to dwell in”
this Heart! Yea, let me cast away all things, all my thoughts, and all my
feelings, let me cast them all away, and let me “cast all my care” upon the
Heart of the Lord Jesus “and He shall sustain me.”
Toward this Temple,
toward this Holy of Holies, towards this Ark of the covenant, “will I
worship and praise thy Name,” saying with David,” thy servant hath found in
his heart to pray this prayer unto thee.” And I have found the Heart of
Jesus, the Heart of my King, my Brother, and my tender Friend. And am I not
to worship yea, O Jesus most sweet, now that I have found this Heart, Which
is both thine and mine, I will worship thee, O my God. And, O, do Thou
graciously let my supplication enter into that Sanctuary of mercy Draw me
altogether into that Heart of thine O Jesus, in the Perfection of thy beauty
fairer than the children of men, wash Thou me “thoroughly from mine
iniquity and cleanse me from my sin,” that, being made pure by thee, I may
be able to come unto thee, Who art thyself most Pure, and that I may be
meet” to dwell in thy Heart all the days of my life, to behold” thee, and
to be strong to do thy will.
To this end was thy Side
pierced, that we might find a wide entrance there. To this end was thine
Heart wounded, that we might be able to dwell in It and in thee, “hidden in
the secret of thy presence from the troubling of men.”
. Nevertheless, It
was pierced to this end also, that behind that Bodily Wound which we see, we
may perceive that wound of love which is not bodily. And how could that love
be more strikingly shown than it is by Him Who has given, not only His Body,
but His very Heart, to be pierced for us. The bodily wound shows the
spiritual. Who is there that would not love that wounded Heart? Who would
not return love for love to Him that has loved so well Who would not embrace
Him Who stands so pure? While, therefore, we yet linger here in this body,
let us love and love again Him Who has first loved us. Let us lay hold on
that Wounded One, Wounded for us, Whose Hands and Feet, Whose Side and
Heart, the wicked husbandmen have so pierced. Let us stand waiting till He
be pleased to constrain with the bond, and pierce with the spear, of His
love, these hearts of ours that still are so hard and unrepentant.
The Supreme Pontiff Clement
XIII., to the end that Christ's faithful people might in still more godly
and earnest sort call to mind, and more readily drink in the fruits of, the
wondrous love of Him Who suffered for us, Who laid down His life for the
redemption of man, and who hath instituted the Sacrament of His Own Body and
Blood for a continual showing forth of His death, of which love His Most
Sacred Heart is an embodiment, granted the prayer of certain Churches, which
desired to observe a Festival in honor of the said Most Sacred Heart. This
Feast Pius IX. extended to the whole Church, and at length the Supreme
Pontiff, Leo XIII., in accordance with the wishes of the whole Catholic
world, raised it to the rank of a Double of the First Class.
Homily by St Augustine, Bishop
Tract XII on John.
“But one of the soldiers with a spear opened His side, and immediately there
came out blood and water.” The Evangelist speaks carefully. He says not
that he smote the side, nor yet that he wounded it, nor yet anything else,
but “pierced” it—to fling wide the entrance unto life, from which
place flow the Sacraments of the Church, those Sacraments without which
there is no entrance unto the life which is life indeed. That blood which
was shed there was shed for the remission of sins, that water is the water
that fills the cup of salvation. Therein are we washed and thereof do we
drink. Of this was it a type when it was said unto Noe: “The door of the
ark shalt thou set in the side thereof.. and of every living thing of all
flesh shalt thou bring into the ark... that they may live” –a type of the