A recent article from Catholic News Agency about the sentence of death given the Boston Bomber again drags out the old chestnut of capital punishment being “a matter of prudence for Catholics.”

I disagree with the use of “prudence” as used in this sentence in the article attributed to Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P., dean at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.: “So the death penalty, when, if, and how it is applied, is a matter of prudence for Catholics, which means that Catholics can in fact disagree with even papal teaching on this” Retrieved May 21, 2015 from http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/boston-bomber-gets-the-death-penalty-how-should-catholics-respond-91800/

My Oxford Dictionary defines prudent as “Characterized by or proceeding from care in following the most politic and profitable course; having or showing sound judgement in practical affairs; circumspect, sensible.”

The doctrine of capital punishment is part of the Covenant with Noah, holding for all time, it is not prudent “following the most politic and profitable course” as liberal Catholics (including recent popes) may wish it to be, it is an indisputable and irrevocable contract between God and humans, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:



You shall not kill.

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, “You shall not kill: and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.

2258 “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.”


The witness of sacred history

2259 In the account of Abel’s murder by his brother Cain, Scripture reveals the presence of anger and envy in man, consequences of original sin, from the beginning of human history. Man has become the enemy of his fellow man. God declares the wickedness of this fratricide: “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.”

2260 The covenant between God and mankind is interwoven with reminders of God’s gift of human life and man’s murderous violence:

For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning. . . . Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.

The Old Testament always considered blood a sacred sign of life. This teaching remains necessary for all time.

Retrieved may 21, 2015 from http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm