The Catholic Church is “Crunchy”, Too

Julie Machado

Julie Machado

Julie Machado is a 30-year-old wife, mother and Portuguese-American who grew up in California, but moved to Portugal for college and has been there ever since. She has a degree in Theology from the Catholic University of Lisbon and has special interest in Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. She blogs at Marta, Julie e Maria.

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2 thoughts on “The Catholic Church is “Crunchy”, Too”

  1. Hmmmm. Not all Church social teaching is written in stone ( or in clearly infallible form). The recent reversal on the death penalty by these last three Popes is an horrendous Eurocentric mistake that will get many poor people killed by murder in majority poor countries….not in Europe…in majority poor countries. Google “UN data homicide by country.”
    The tale is there. Northern Catholic Latin America from Brazil to Mexico is the most murderous area on earth and has majority poor, no death penalties and murder rates over twenty times that of East Asia which has a billion poor but has death penalties and probably stronger families than Catholic northern Latin America. We are protecting millions of preborn with our abortion teaching but ….going forward, we will get thousands of poor adults unnecessarily murdered yearly where the last three Popes are influential as two were in the Phillipines. Read Romans 13:4…it’s from the Holy Spirit and it affirms the state using the sword against evil doers.
    Right now if you were traveling in China, you are 25 times safer than were you traveling in Brazil the largest Catholic country….death penalty free for decades.

    1. I also have strong feelings about the death penalty, and I have written about it at some length on my own blog. However, I think a few points should be made here.
      1. The difference between Latin America and China goes quite a bit deeper than the presence or absence of a death penalty. You have found a correlation, but you have not proved causation.
      2. Historically, every place that is willing to use the death penalty still has need to use the death penalty. It is never a perfect deterrent, probably for at least two reasons. (a) Many capital crimes are crimes of passion, and the lawbreaker is not calmly reflecting on his odds of escaping punishment when he decides on his actions. (b) “Everyone is special.” Or at least, people have a tendency to think that they are the exceptions to the rules, and they will surely never be caught and convicted.
      3. The strongest argument in favor of the death penalty is not that it provides practical protection, but that it affirms the gravity of the acts we may choose to perform.
      4. The main problem with the treatment of the death penalty by recent Popes and bishops is that it is intellectually sloppy. That’s true even of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who as a rule were much more careful than Francis. It is really not enough to say that we should almost never put a lawbreaker to death; we need to know with some confidence exactly when we should, when we should not, and why. Some future Pope will have to sort this out later.
      5. Death is a terrible thing. It is the punishment for sin, and we were not made for death. Yes, yes, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints,” but still, ” I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.” For these reasons, I think it is fair to say that the Catholic Church is opposed to death as such, and many people, including many high-ranking priests, see opposition to the death penalty as an extension of this. They are probably right when they plead for the lives of the guilty as Abraham supplicated for Sodom, but as with Abraham, they need to be prepared for the answer of “no” without resorting to name-calling.

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