Santorum v. Vatican re: Death Penalty

There is an apparent contradiction between Catholic Rick Santorum’s position on the death penalty and the Vatican’s (or Holy See’s).  The following two paragraphs are from the Holy See’s (Vatican’s) statement on the death penalty to the First World Congress on Capital Punishment, Strasbourg, 2001:

 

“The Holy See has consistently sought the abolition of the death penalty and his Holiness Pope John Paul II has personally and indiscriminately appealed on numerous occasions in order that such sentences should be commuted to a lesser punishment, which may offer time and incentive for the reform of the guilty, hope to the innocent and safeguard the well-being of civil society itself and of those individuals who through no choice of theirs have become deeply involved in the fate of those condemned to death”

 

“Where the death penalty is a sign of desperation, civil society is invited to assert its belief in a justice that salvages hope from the ruin of the evils which stalk our world. The universal abolition of the death penalty would be a courageous reaffirmation of the belief that humankind can be successful in dealing with criminality and of our refusal to succumb to despair before such forces, and as such it would regenerate new hope in our very humanity.”

Strasbourg, 21 June 2001.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Feb. 2012:  [highlighting is mine]

A new poll showing that Catholics are backing off support for the death penalty was no surprise to U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, an outspoken conservative Catholic, who says he has been re-examining his own view.

He has not become an abolitionist, and he believes church teaching against the death penalty carries less weight than its longer-standing opposition to abortion. But he questions what he once unquestioningly supported.

“I felt very troubled about cases where someone may have been convicted wrongly. DNA evidence definitely should be used when possible,” he said.

“I agree with the pope that in the civilized world … the application of the death penalty should be limited. I would definitely agree with that. I would certainly suggest there probably should be some further limits on what we use it for.”

Vatican: Not limited, but abolished.

7 Responses to “Santorum v. Vatican re: Death Penalty”

  1. wildbillhaltom Says:

    Hilarious hypocrites burden the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

    Do Newt and Rick and other Cafeteria Catholics imagine that they espouse more papal doctrines than they flout? If they truly believe in God, do they imagine an all-knowing, all-seeing God will overlook their picking and choosing. They play the victims as they victimize. They claim to abhor abortion as they seek to deny women the means to avoid pregnancies, not to mention control over their fertility and a means to plan their families.

    Neither God nor man is mocked — especially by the likes of Rick and Newt, Catholics of and by convenience.

  2. Dan Lord Says:

    Hello. Larry Doyle linked to your article from the combox at Catholic Exchange as evidence that Rick Santorum and the Catholic Church are fundamentally opposed on the issue of the death penalty, so I will post here what I posted there, for the benefit of anyone who cares:

    Your link leads to a shallow article that deals pretty clumsily with the facts. Anybody who knew what JPII really taught knows he wanted to see the death penalty go away, and it is that hope (and only his hope) that is expressed in that document. But JPII agreed that states should retain their right to exercise the death penalty, as in this quote from the Catechism (which he approved and promulgated): “…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.” (#2267).

    • O. Says:

      “..if this is the only *possible* way of *effectively* defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.” Life imprisonment without possibility of parole is possible and effective. The article is hardly shallow. It is detailed and specific.

      • Dan Lord Says:

        It is certainly shallow, in the way that it attempts to demonstrate a contradiction between what Santorum believes and what the Catholic Church teaches based on a superficial reading of Church documents. The author is more concerned with discrediting Santorum than with exploring the moral arguments for or against capital punishment.

      • O. Says:

        Santorum and other politicians who use wedge-issues discredit themselves, and they lean on their religion only when it makes political sense to do so. The Church has explored the moral arguments already: life is sacred. If you don’t have to kill, don’t kill. Even while claiming he was rethinking his position, Santorum cited only those who had been killed mistakenly, as shown by later DNA evidence, so he’s even unclear about whether he’s decided to follow Church-teaching on this issue.

  3. Dan Lord Says:

    This comment is mostly just a series of buzz-words and irrelevant statements. “Santorum and other politicians use wedge-issues discredit themselves”: now we’re talking about all politicians? I was talking about Santorum. And any issue that any politician brings up that has more than one side is now a “wedge issue,” as if Santorum has no genuine conviction about what he believes but is only trying to manipulate voters. Your disregard not only for Santorum but for politicians in general is simply puerile. And more to the point, what, exactly, has Santorum done or said that puts him in a contradictory position to the Catholic Church’s assertion that “life is sacred. If you don’t have to kill, don’t kill”? It’s O.K. with me if you don’t want to vote for Santorum, or if you think he isn’t a good choice for President, but why reduce him to a subhuman cartoon?

    • O. Says:

      He cited the mistaken execution of criminals false convicted (based on later DNA evidence), which suggests a narrower reason for not supporting the death penalty than what the Catholic Church has in mind.


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