2 comments on “Can a Good Catholic Watch Death Wish?

  1. One must bear in mind that the Catholic perspective, at least that articulated by the institutional Church, tends towards being too normative and theoretical. Your point above about “racism” is apropos.

    The question or title of your post is food for thought. While we do not want to glorify violence for violence’s sake, the reality is that we are living in a very violent world. While we do not want to encourage vigilantes and revenge, these can occur because of despair with the criminal justice system.

    Going off on a tangent now . . .

    There are Catholics who disagree with some of the positions taken by the Church in recent decades. For example, Pope John Paul II effectively achieved a de facto change in Church teaching on capital punishment, but he could not achieve a true de jure change to the teaching. Capital punishment for convicted capital murderers is not prohibited by the Catholic Church, despite many bishops condemning it. As well, the Catholic Church champions the cause of the illegal immigrants into the US, but is having a hard time convincing many Catholics that we need to welcome the many violent criminals that are in the ranks of the illegals.

    • I see what you mean by the institutional Church being too normative and theoretical. Catholics have a tendency to look at things in absolute terms, which tends us towards a more philosophical or theological mind and less pragmatic or empirical mind. (This has advantages and disadvantages.) And, in too many cases, one sees certain bishops caving in to radical theology or the mainstream culture. Fortunately, there are enough conservative bishops and theologians who can hammer down the radicals at this point.

      Violence is shocking to someone who tends towards normativity and theory. Society ought to be structured such that violence doesn’t exist, right? But, the fact of the matter is that human beings naturally tend towards evil. People in the past suffered want, and often did violent things to make up for their lack of goods. We suffer from luxury and believe ourselves self-sufficient. The result is atheism, fornication, and perversion, where egregious violence is only carried out in the service of lust (i.e. abortion) or the service of luxury (i.e. euthanasia–after all, pain and suffering can only have meaning in light of the Crucifixion).

      Curiously, among first world countries, the United States is the only one more bothered by sex than by violence. This might have to do with the fact that our more recent history of pioneering and settling unknown territory makes violence less unsettling for us. We even still have areas of constant violence in inner cities and on the border! But, that’s just a theory.

      Yes, the Catholic Church simply can’t make capital punishment a mortal sin. And, so they can’t censure people who say things like capital punishment is more logical and humane than a life sentence. The most they can urge is that advanced societies are not under as much necessity to use capital punishment because we can build state of the art prisons and house miscreants forever. In my opinion, if you believe someone can be reformed after doing a serious crime and he’s penitent, give him 15 to 20 years of hard labor. If you can’t reform him and must keep him out of society forever, why not resort to the rope, electric chair, or lethal injection? Why keep an impenitent and irredeemable prisoner in jail forever?

      With immigration, the Catholic Church’s primary mission is one of charity. So, I understand why they come across as too lax on creating solid borders and enforcing the law. But, the government’s job is acting for the common good with a focus on justice. The mission of the government and mission of the Catholic Church in regards to immigration are generally exclusive.

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