capital punishment

The Sexual Revolution Turns Ugly

How many intellectuals have come to the revolutionary party via the path of moral indignation, only to connive ultimately at terror and autocracy? ∼ Raymond Aron The Sexual Revolution is now out of control. Initially promising freedom, like all revolutions, it has entered something like its Reign of Terror phase and is devouring its own children. As with [...]

A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment

Defending himself against the accusation of capital crimes, Socrates famously asserted that the main concern should not be the value of a man’s life, but the value of his life insofar as it is good and just. Socrates crucial point is that justice is more important than life itself, for an unjust life, as he [...]

Double Standards for Two Death-Dealing Drugs

Vecuronium bromide is a drug that relaxes skeletal muscles and can be used in conjunction with surgical anesthesia. That is its usual medical application. Some states also use it in connection with capital punishment: it is one of several drugs used together to execute prisoners. Vecuronium bromide paralyzes the prisoner’s breathing. Potassium chloride is then [...]

The Church Cannot Reverse Past Teaching on Capital Punishment

Pope St. John Paul II was well-known for his vigorous opposition to capital punishment. Yet in 2004, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—the pope’s own chief doctrinal officer, later to become Pope Benedict XVI—stated unambiguously that: [I]f a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment … he would not for that reason [...]

The Plot to Kill Hitler and the Vindication of Pius XII

During the debates leading up to the 1983 pastoral letter of the bishops of the United States on nuclear weapons, “The Challenge of Peace,” the great churchman Archbishop Philip Hannan of New Orleans said that many of the bishops were uninformed. I paraphrase, because the archbishop himself used much more colorful language, honed by years of [...]

On the Catholic Press Statement Against Capital Punishment

Four Catholic publications—two liberal and two conservative—issued a joint statement last week calling for the abolition of the death penalty. Even though the statement generated much unproductive controversy in the Catholic blogosphere, it also presents an opportunity for all sides to unite against a growing threat to innocent human life. Shea and Fisher React to Statement [...]

The Final Hours of Jacques Fesch

On April 6, 1957, finding the defendant guilty of murder, the court passed its sentence, and with that, the fate of Jacques Fesch was sealed: he was to die. The legal process had come to its inevitable conclusion, and, thereafter, preparations began in earnest for an execution. But, as the clock ticked ever onwards to [...]

Interpreting Scripture & the U.S. Constitution

Jesus told his disciples in his famous Sermon on the Mount: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Commonly known as “the golden rule,” this maxim has formed the bedrock of Western ethics for two millennia and is widely considered by philosophers to constitute the essence of the moral law. Yet, [...]

Hanging Concentrates the Mind

Capital punishment does not inspire roaring humor in healthy minds, so wit on the subject tends to be sardonic.  Two of the most famous examples, of course, are: “In this country it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others,”  and "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows [...]

The Last Word: Living By Our Wits

Among several of my friends, Sheldon Vanauken's essay on capital punishment in our September issue ["The Death Penalty: What Should Be the Christian Attitude?"] has stimulated some sharp and passionate comments. This is as it should be. For — let's be blunt — we are talking about deliberately putting human beings to death. Is that [...]

Taking the Constitution Seriously

Unlike the first federal judges, whose formal legal education was likely to have been very limited indeed — John Marshall was largely self-educated in the law and John Jay, the first chief justice, learned his in an office--today's judges come from the schools where they are formally instructed in the various branches of the law, [...]

The Last Word: Cuomo

It all began quietly enough. Bishop Joseph O’Keefe, vicar general of the New York Archdiocese, advised all parishes to avoid inviting guest speakers who might “attack the Church” or who reject the “clear, unambiguous teaching of the Church.” That sounded straightforward enough, and (just in case anyone had any doubts) Bishop O’Keefe had the full [...]

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