A recent article in America Magazine gives ten reasons to oppose capital punishment, and I will counter with one:
1. Catholic teaching does not exclude its use, as the Catechism informs us.
“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.”
And in my research, published in my book: Capital Punishment & Catholic Social Teaching: A Tradition of Support, I found strong support for its use, as well as the reality that there is not, as yet, any penal technology, as many mistakenly believe exists, that is “effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”
As I wrote in the book:
“If the system of confinement in the United States can advance to the point where the aggressor is confined so completely that communication is blocked by any means with the outside world, through outside contact by contraband cell phones, through guards, family, priests, or attorneys—all capable of being innocently manipulated or co-opted—and if the possibility of a future legislative change of current lifetime sentences resulting in release, then a truly bloodless means of protecting the innocent from the aggressor might have been reached and abolition can perhaps be then fruitfully discussed.” (pp. 20-21)