Catholic teaching on capital punishment
by Kathleen van Schaijik
Noelle Hiester has a knack for nabbing the timely topics. Last year she raised the Extraordinary Ministers issue in the Concourse just a few months before the Vatican came out with the new document on the subject. In March she wrote about how Karla Faye Tucker’s execution had forced her to reevaluate her pro-capital punishment thinking. In the April issue of First Things, Father Neuhaus writes, in response to an inquiry about the Church’s official position on the death penalty: “What we may be witnessing here is what Cardinal Newman called the development of doctrine…A conscientious Catholic who supports the use of the death penalty in anything but the most extraordinary circumstances must give due consideration to the fact that the bishops conference, and most likely his own bishop, strongly disagree. He must give most particular consideration to the fact that the Pope disagrees, and may be declaring as doctrine that ‘extraordinary circumstances’ is defined as circumstances in which there is no other way to protect society. Moreover, such a Catholic must be prepared for the possibility that the Church is moving toward a definitive moral prohibition of capital punishment, in which whole-hearted assent to such teaching is required.”
I don’t know about you all, but from now on, I’m taking Noelle Hiester’s opinions very seriously.