The reader is bound to wonder what horrors are to be found advocated between the covers of By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed. Public executions? Drawing and quartering? Death to pickpockets and jaywalkers? But anyone expecting a mashup of Pulp Fiction and Thomist theology would be disappointed, because in fact the conclusions Joe Bessette and I defend are pretty humdrum. We argue that traditional Catholic teaching rules out condemning capital punishment as always and intrinsically wrong. But we acknowledge that Catholics can argue that in practice it is better not to resort to it, and that recent popes and earlier generations of Christians have so argued. We happen to disagree with this judgment, and advocate keeping capital punishment on the books for the most heinous murderers. But we do not advocate execution for lesser offenses, and we explicitly reject severe methods of execution. Our main emphasis is on the point that the rhetoric of abolitionists has in recent years become too extreme – Hart and Griffiths only confirm this with their unhinged remarks – and that the other side of the tradition also deserves attention. Essentially our position on capital punishment is that of Pope Pius XII – that is to say, the one common in mid twentieth-century Catholicism. How all this merits a comparison with Torquemada, I have no idea.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
… Hot Air vs. Capital Punishment: A Reply to Paul Griffiths and David Bentley Hart – Catholic World Report. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)