From the Examiner article:
According to the Catholic Catechism (2265), “Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another person’s life, the common good of the family or of the state.”
The church understands that the scale for punishment should reflect the gravity of a crime. “Preserving the common good of society requires rendering the aggressor unable to inflict harm.” The traditional teaching of the church “acknowledges… the right and duty of public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty” (CC 2266).
Pope John Paul II chose another sentence from the same article of the Catechism.
In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: 'If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must 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 human person.'
The present pope feels the same way, in spite of his reputation as a conservative theologian.
But, I would imagine many people couldn't care less what the popes or the Catholic Church think. These people, not unlike their Catholic neighbors, are faced with the same difficult questions. Is it possible to remove the vengeance factor from our feelings about capital punishment? Is executing a person ever necessary to set the social order straight?
Even unabashed supporters of the death penalty recognize that revenge is not a good motive for it; they invariably insist they're driven by justice not vengeance. And, although it escapes me, many people seem to put a lot of weight in the eye-for-an-eye theory.
What's your opinion? Do you find it interesting that even the Catholic Catechism can be variously interpreted? In that regard it's a bit like our own Constitution and Bill of Rights, isn't it.
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