No surprise there of course.
This related article by Fr. George Rutler from Crisis Magazine is excellent.
Sæva indignatio. Few writers in the history of English letters could express “savage indignation” at human folly as did Jonathan Swift who wrote those words for his own epitaph. Our times give ample opportunity to empathize with him, and that is never more so than when clerics get together in large numbers.
Bishops have many daunting responsibilities and, if they are reasonable, they are not fleet of foot to beat a path to synods and conferences and plenary sessions and other impositions on their august office. Their patience in such meetings is exemplary, and so lesser souls should be patient with them when they sometimes fail to match up to Athanasius or Borromeo.
At the U.S. bishops’ General Assembly that took place June 11-14 in Baltimore, there were many items to discuss, chief of which was a protocol on how to handle prurient offenders, which passed under the lumbering title “Directives for the Implementation of the Provisions of Vos estis lux mundi Concerning Bishops and their Equivalents.” Vos estis lux mundi is the papal motu proprio issued on May 9, 2019, which prescribed procedures for holding bishops and religious superiors accountable for handling cases of sex abuse. Working within the framework of the Church’s hierarchical constitution, it retains bishops as their own regulators, while acknowledging that their failures in the past have cost the Church billions of dollars in fines and punitive damages.
This brought to mind the poet Juvenal—a match for Jonathan Swift when it comes to savage indignation—when he asked in his Satires: “Who will guard the guards?” Swift and Juvenal together at a conference of bishops would have provided lively commentary, and for that matter so would have Samuel Johnson. Dr. Johnson loathed Swift, probably because they were so alike in their instinct for righteous irritation, expressed in colorful ways in part perhaps because Swift was aggravated by an equilibrium disorder called Meniere’s disease while Johnson almost certainly had Tourette syndrome. Juvenal’s apostrophe, Quis ipsos custodes custodiet?, concerned the problem of randy guards guarding sex offenders. He proposed replacing them with eunuchs, not a practical solution today even with the current trend of “sex reassignment surgery.”
The saeve idignatio emerging from the Baltimore meeting, however, was not the response to the Vos estis document. After all, that issue has been a muddle for a long while. Rather, a more astonishing matter, though little noted by the multitude, was the Assembly’s handling of the controversial issue of capital punishment. Indeed, the bishops were informed that they were not to discuss the doctrine itself, but were only to consider the translation of a papal revision of the Catechism on the matter, specifically paragraph 2267. In 1992, John Paul II had revised this section, problematically inserting a prudential opinion discouraging lethal executions. But he also allowed: “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.” Supposedly, the latest revision exalts mercy at the expense of justice, neglectful of what the newly elected John Paul II said in a general audience in 1978: “There is no love without justice.” Until the present day’s climate of disdain for doctrine, “mercy and truth are met together” (Psalm 85:10), but, in the new dialectic, mercy has devoured truth altogether.
While John Paul’s revision text maintained the authentic teaching and the legitimacy of such punishment, the inclusion of a prudential opinion in a catechetical exposition of established doctrine opened the way for abuse, as this writer among others predicted. Now this has happened in a blatant way, and it is all the more confusing for its inarticulateness. Specifically, the new section calls capital punishment “inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.” Not for the first time in recent years, this woolgathering has opened a real can of worms. “Inadmissible” is not a theological term, and use of it without explanation is contentious. As a legal term, “inadmissible” means that it is not relevant to the case. In other words, capital punishment is to be treated as no longer relevant to justice, thus dismissing the magisterial structures based on natural law and Scripture. The cavalier treatment of natural law and Scriptural evidence makes prospects for maintaining all moral doctrine fragile and all moral praxis subjective.
Aware of the monumental dangers of this, a group of prelates published a “Declaration of the Truths Relating to Some of the Most Common Errors in the Life of the Church of Our Time” which included a relevant point (n. 28):
In accordance with Holy Scripture and the constant tradition of the ordinary and universal Magisterium, the Church did not err in teaching that the civil power may lawfully exercise capital punishment on malefactors where this is truly necessary to preserve the existence or just order of societies (cf. Gen. 9:6; John 19:11; Rom. 13:1-7; Innocent III, Professio fidei Waldensibuspraescripta; Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent, p. III, 5, n. 4; Pius XII, Address to Catholic jurists on December 5, 1954).
There have even been bishops so impatient with the subtleties that make theology logical that they have turned two thousand years of Christianity upside down by announcing that the death penalty is absolutely immoral. This epistemological novocaine contradicts an advisory of Cardinal Ratzinger in 1992: “If a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment … he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion.”
Retrieved June 30, 2019 from https://www.crisismagazine.com/2019/u-s-bishops-approve-the-popes-capital-punishment-ban