Death Penalty: The Consistent Ethic Of Life

Decent Essays
Malloy McGreevy
In Class Essay

¨The taking of even one life is a momentous event.¨ (Bernardin, The Consistent Ethic of Life). The consistent ethic of life is founded on the belief that all life is sacred and worth protecting, while the reasons for capital punishment may seem similar-- retaliation for a life lost-- the death penalty directly goes against everything the consistent ethic of life teaches. As proven through these presentations, capital punishment cases are often inaccurate and biased, while the act of the Death Penalty has proven to be painful with many examples of botched executions. Not only is killing immoral, but how can we go through with these executions when evidence has shown the death penalty can be inefficient and some
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Even during the Early church, when death was much more common, some Catholics fought against the death penalty; one such example the Athenagoras of Athens written in 133 A.D claims “we cannot endure even to see a man put to death, though justly. . . . We, deeming that to see a man put to death is much the same as killing him, have abjured such spectacles. How, then, when we do not even look on, lest we should contract guilt and pollution, can we put a man to death?.” However, many Catholic leaders have supported the death penalty, St. Thomas Aquinas himself stated “The death penalty was not merely permitted by God: for certain crimes it was required by God.” Nevertheless, over the years the Church has become more and more uncompromising in its beliefs against the Death Penalty. Starting with Pope John Paul II a Catholic Pope who served from the late 70’s to early 2000’s creating the Evangelium Vitae which asserts ¨that [the state] ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.¨ In this doctrine, Pope John Paul II clearly and definitively makes the Catholic Church’s negative response…show more content…
. . we have a duty to protect and foster it [human life], from conception to natural death, and in all circumstances. Because we acknowledge that human life is also social, society must protect and foster it.¨ (Bernardin) In this one passage the Consistent Ethic of Life creates an unbreakable argument against the death penalty. It leaves no room for loop holes or circumstance, human life is to be protected until natural death no matter what, no ifs or buts. This belief that the death penalty is wrong does not only go against Catholic teaching but most Christian denominations teachings as well, with Christians making up 70% of all Americans -- Catholics making up 22%-- how are there currently 32 states that continue to practice the death penalty? (Death Penalty in The U.S) If Christian teaching and the Consistent Ethic of Life directly go against the death penalty how do 64% of all states in America actively use the Death Penalty? Cardinal Bernardin spoke in his speech on C.E.L saying ¨A consistent ethic of life must be held by a constituency to be effective. The building of such a constituency is precisely the task before the Church and the nation.¨ Catholics need to rise to this call of constituency and actively speak out against what we hold to be wrong and unjust. Only through a large
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