Fog of confusion has settled over the Catholic Church on a number of fundamental teachings in the last 50 years. This is the certainly the case with capital punishment. Countless Catholics have been led to believe that “the death penalty” is morally equivalent to abortion, and many documents from the episcopal level have appeared urging Catholics to vote against laws supporting it.
The late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago tried to square the circle with his “seamless garment” approach. While Catholic moral teaching does belong to a whole tradition and thus can’t be segmented into separate silos, the net result of the Bernardin proposal has been further confusion.
Did the Catholic Church change her teaching on capital punishment under Pope Saint John Paul II? What about the informal remarks by Pope Francis? What does the Bible say about it? Are there conditions under which a Catholic can still support capital punishment in good conscience?
Enter Dr. Ed Feser, co-author with Joseph Bessette of a substantial guide to these questions and more. It’s titled By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment, and you owe it to yourself to become familiar with what was once unexceptional and ultimately unquestionable.
In this interview, Feser tackles the main objections I threw at him based on the many denunciations of capital punishment I have heard in my life. Finally, a voice of clarity and reason speaking to an issue so prone to emotion and sentimentalism.
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