On Capital Punishment, Pope Francis is Using Mainline Protestant Logic

By John Zmirak Published on October 15, 2017

Pope Francis is at it again. He’s talking about change to an ancient Catholic teaching. This time, the issue is capital punishment. The liberal Jesuit magazine America reports:

Pope Francis declared today that the death penalty is “contrary to the Gospel.” He said that “however grave the crime that may be committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it attacks the inviolability and the dignity of the person.”

He did so in a major talk on Oct. 11 to an audience of cardinals, bishops, priests, nuns, catechists, and ambassadors from many countries on the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the catechism, affirming that there has been a development of doctrine in the church and a change in the consciousness of the Christian people on the question of the death penalty. The pope’s comments and the timing of them suggest that a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church may be forthcoming to reflect this new development in the church’s understanding.

“One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out. And [it] is, of itself, contrary to the Gospel, because it is freely decided to suppress a human life that is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator, and of which, in the final analysis, God alone is the true judge and guarantor,” Pope Francis said.

So, in case you’re wondering, that would mean it was wrong to hang the Nazis at Nuremburg (an act which Pope Pius XII strongly supported).

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Going All the Way Back to Moses

Capital punishment is not, like hormonal birth control in 1968, some new invention requiring fresh new thought on the Church’s part — if only to see how an ancient doctrine applies to brand new things.

No, capital punishment is a settled Christian doctrine. It has roots deep in the Old Testament, where God told Moses to impose it for a long list of crimes. It’s solidly grounded in the natural law God wrote in the human heart. No pope, or council, or anything short of the Second Coming of Christ can change this Christian teaching. (See this two-part series I wrote here for The Stream for why.) The pope, unlike Christ, does not have the authority to say things like: “Moses said unto you X, but I tell you Y.” 

Even worse is the logic Francis seems to be using. I’m a lifelong Catholic. I’ve published ten books in defense of the faith. So tears fill my eyes as I write this. But Francis is using the logic of liberal, Mainline Protestantism.

Mainline Protestant Logic

That’s the logic that “updated” the Gospel straight into bland irrelevance. That closes churches like Harvey Weinstein’s career options. If we accept that logic on capital punishment, that sets a precedent. It will eat away at other unpopular teachings — from sexual morality to abortion, from sacraments to the Trinity. Remember the “living Constitution” ideology of activist Supreme Court justices? It led us from discovering a “right of privacy” in Griswold v. Connecticut, to a right to abortion in Roe v. Wade, and a right to same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodge. That can happen in sacred doctrine as well as legal doctrine. Ever heard of the Episcopal Church?

Francis’ statement contradicts countless defenses of capital punishment by Church councils and popes — right up through the 1990s. So Pope Francis said:

 “It’s not sufficient to find a new language to announce the faith of always; it is necessary and urgent that, faced with the new challenges and new horizons that are opening for humanity, the church can express the new things of the Gospel of Christ that, while enclosed in the Word of God, have not yet come to light.”

Speaking of the way the church’s teaching on the death penalty in presented, Francis declared that “this problem cannot be merely reduced to a mere memory of historical teaching without bringing to the fore not only the progress in the teaching by the work of the last pontiffs but also the changed awareness consciousness of the Christian people, that rejects an attitude which consents to a punishment that heavily harms human dignity.”

Pope Francis concluded by saying: “Tradition is a living reality and only a partial vision can think of ‘the deposit of faith’ as something static. The Word of God cannot be conserved in mothballs as if it were an old blanket to be preserved from parasites. No. The Word of God is a dynamic reality, always alive, that progresses and grows because it tends towards a fulfillment that men cannot stop.”

This “law of progress,” he said, “appertains to the peculiar condition of the truth revealed in its being transmitted by the church, and does not at all signify a change of doctrine. One cannot conserve the doctrine without making it progress, nor can one bind it to a rigid and immutable reading without humiliating the Holy Spirit.”

How to Change Anything

The logic here could equally apply to allowing same-sex marriage in Catholic churches. Why not? Or to accepting whatever further demands that big government or our intolerant culture makes of Christians. What if such an attitude had prevailed in the Vatican in the 1930s? The popes might not have rejected Nazi racism. Or Soviet collectivism. Both stances brought on the persecution of Catholics. We paid a price. Those popes could have discerned in the signs of the times, and the sympathies of many Christians, sufficient reason to toss out the clear biblical and Church precedents forbidding such “developments” of doctrine.

What is to stop a future pope — or this one — from asserting the same fake authority for revising Christian marriage? Or abolishing private property? Or demanding open borders? What would stop a future pope from simply reversing everything Francis said?

Accept this logic, and you make the Church a rubber stamp for the world. What if this logic had been in place in the third century? We’d have seen popes burning incense cheerfully in front of “holy” statues of Caesar.

The pope, unlike Christ, does not have the authority to say things like: “Moses said unto you X, but I tell you Y.”

Worse than that, the pope claims here that holding fast to ancient doctrines is some kind of crackpot antiquarianism. Like insisting that all Scotsmen wear kilts in 2017. In fact, there is nothing more liberating than having something solid to which we can cling. A real and coherent worldview with timeless elements. Otherwise we are simply adrift in the stream of current opinion. We update our most cherished values as the newspapers, pundits, and secular professors see fit. Ask a man headed down Niagara Falls if he’d consider a lifeline too “confining.”

The Infallibility of the Herd?

Francis cites as his only authority the “awareness consciousness of the Christian people.” But that’s been wrong many times before. It accepted slavery, when popes condemned it. It accepted casual racism, though the Gospel calls for equality. And what forms that “consciousness” now is not pastors but our pagan society. What is to stop a future pope — or this one — from asserting the same fake authority for revising Christian marriage? Or abolishing private property? Or demanding open borders? What would stop a future pope from simply reversing everything Francis said?

Francis has never invoked, and never seems likely to use, his power to issue infallible declarations. This means that none of his innovative statements are protected from error. Wherever he differs from previous church teaching, this is just one theologian’s opinion. However, too many Catholics will imagine otherwise, and think that one pope can treat the Deposit of Faith like an Etch-A-Sketch. That’s a recipe for disaster.

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  • Linda

    Isn’t Sister Helen Prejean of Dead Man Walking fame a Catholic nun? She doesn’t seem to believe in the death penalty and she’s still a nun. By the way I’m a born-again Christian, pentecostal church member, and support the death penalty in predatory murder cases. I thought the Catholic church didn’t because of the nun…

  • Paul, in Romans 13: “The government does not bear the sword in vain.”

    Pope Francis: “Yes it does.”

    And in typical Francis style, just as he did with RC skeptics of anthropomorphic climate change, no difference of opinion will be tolerated:

    Francis said that “harmonious development of doctrine” requires that new treatments on the death penalty “leave out positions in defense of arguments which now appear decisively contrary to the new understanding of Christian truth…It is necessary to reiterate that, no matter how serious the crime committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attempt against the inviolability and dignity of the person.”

  • Patmos

    At least he didn’t say it breaks the commandment of thou shalt not kill, so credit for that?

    As for his argument, it would mean then that the state would also have to endorse a mechanism for salvation, which I don’t think would fly in many parts of the world. Then there’s the question of, well if the person is really saved and really a new creature in Christ, why have them locked up at all? This would then open the door to criminals professing to be saved just to be set free.

    It’s hard to say just what it is Francis is saying here. Seems like he’s mostly just thinking out loud. If a person can’t be saved in the face of their imminent death, then when? And is Francis trying to save the spirit, or the flesh?

  • Devieg72

    Define mainstream Protestantism. Do you mean the Seven Sisters of Protestantism? Or do you mean the Protestantism that has pretty much overtaken, in numbers the Seven Sisters.? Modern Evsngelicals and Baptists have never been again capital punishment. The Seven Sisters have. Don’t blame Prots for for the mess that you Pope has made.

    • Patmos

      The title is perhaps misleading. In the article he specifies, “the logic of liberal, Mainline Protestantism.”

    • Andrew Mason

      Do modern evangelicals and Baptists count as mainline, or is that more Methodist, Anglican, Uniting etc?

      • Zmirak

        No. I use “Mainline” to indicate the churches that embraced Modernism in a misguided attempt to remain “relevant.”

        • Andrew Mason

          Whoops, think I’m conflating mainline and mainstream – the terminology isn’t used here.

    • AndRebecca

      Mainline Protestants would be those in the National Council of Churches, otherwise known as liberal churches. The conservative churches have been well aware of what has been going on in our country and have fought back. One group, the “American Council of Christian Churches,” has been taking flak since they started. Some old story. Conservatives want to conserve Christian values and liberals want to go with the flow. The flow today has to do with the acceptance of Marxist values.

  • James

    What did Benedict XVI and JPII have to say about Capital Punishment?

    • Patmos

      And what of their predecessor, who said, “My kingdom is not of this earth,” and to the man on the cross next to him, “You will be with me in heaven.”

      • James

        Are you Catholic? If so, are you saying that JPII and BXVI were wrong?

        • Patmos

          I’m saying their stance is irrelevant to the gospel.

        • Zmirak

          I am, and yes they were.

          • James

            So why does your article imply that this is all on Francis?

            If JPII and BXVI were wrong, then you need to be criticizing 3 Popes (or more) not one.

          • Zmirak

            No, because they both presented the stance as their personal preference, that the death penalty, while legitimate, not be used. They also reaffirmed previous doctrine and did NOT introduce the Modernist principle of trendy popular opinion as the test of doctrinal development–which is the real point of the article.

          • James

            Put another way, if your government were known for pushing it’s enemies out of helicopters after a show trial (or no trial at all), you’d be against the death penalty too.

  • James

    The author is using the exact same logic pro-slavery Christians used to defend their peculiar institution. Slavery, too, was specifically allowed in both Mosaic Law and the New Testament.

    • Patmos

      You’re confusing “allowed” with endorsing.

      • James

        Is it acceptable for Christians to own slaves?

        • Patmos

          “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
          And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” -John 8:31-32

          What do you think?

          • James

            I think you are dodging the question.

          • Patmos

            Are you blind or what?

        • Andrew Mason

          By acceptable do you mean technically permitted, or do you mean approved of?

          • James

            In what circumstances is it OK for a Christian to own slaves?

          • Andrew Mason

            Do you recall the ‘book’ of Philemon? Paul returned a runaway slave to his owner. Mull on that for a bit 🙂

          • Zmirak

            In the circumstances of the ancient world, the church tolerated but discouraged it, while working to outlaw the practice. Modern chattel slavery, borrowed from the Arabs and applied to Africans, was condemned immediately and repeatedly by pope after pope. Monarchs Catholic and Protestant ignored him. The “new” slavery was qualitatively different & worse, and made clear that even the ancient practice shouldn’t be tolerated.

          • AndRebecca

            What does slavery have to do with this article?

    • Kevin Carr

      The term in the N.T . was akin to and indentured servant, even so, the N.T. gives guidelines on how they were to be treated. Since no Christians own slaves the point is moot. Ask a Muslim of it okay to own slaves and how they are to be treated. See if slavery is still practice in Muslim countries.

      • James

        Nobody asked about Muslims.

        If slavery is permitted, then why do no Christians own slaves, as you claim?

        • Kevin Carr

          The word is more in line with an indentured servant.

        • Kevin Carr

          Just have to ignore the ones that are actually practicing it.

    • BPS

      Actually, no. St. Paul said to Philemon, and the whole Church, in a gentle but firm way that they could not own slaves, as slaves are our brothers. You cannot own a brother. In other places, St. Paul says “There is no jew or greek, slave or freeman, but all are one in Jesus Christ.” No similar statement exist in the Old Testament, the Quran or any other religious writing of ancient time. Slaves are simply property. St Paul calls them “brothers”.

    • AndRebecca

      One of the Ten Commandments states “Thou shalt not murder,” the direction of the command was toward the one thinking of murdering the innocent, not the one carrying out the punishment of the guilty. Both the mainline Protestants and the Catholics are getting the ideas about new morality from the Unitarians who accepted Marxist thought in the late 1800s. America was founded as a Christian nation and we have had capital punishment since the beginning. Christians protect the innocent and not the guilty and people who don’t believe as Christians want to change that and they are in every church today.

      • tasha63

        Maybe your interpretation is right. But, the sentence is only 4 words and it doesn’t specify. You are right that the majority of Americans had some sort of Christian background, but the founders of our nation were very careful not to mention any particular religion in our founding documents. We are one of only 58 countries to retain the death penalty. There are many countries with Christian majorities that do not have it (e.g. Canada, all of Europe, all of S. America, Australia). We join the ranks of many non-Christian countries in our use of it.

        • AndRebecca

          I disagree that Canada, Europe or South America are Christian nations on the order of what we USED to have in the United States. All of the countries you have mentioned have socialist or communist governments and have been getting rid of Christianity and anything to do with Biblical morals, including Capital Punishment. But, guess what, when the communists take over, there will be murder and other punishments for professing Christians, like in North Korea and Cuba.

          • tasha63

            That is certainly not true of Canada and I have sent a lot of time there. Months and months over the past 50 years.

            -Christianity is the largest religion in Canada, with the Roman Catholics having the most adherents. Christians, representing 67.3% of the population, are followed by people having no religion with 23.9% of the total population. Islam is the second largest religion in Canada, practised by 3.2% of the population.

            -South America: Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion (over 80% in Hispanic countries, some 65%-70% in Brazil). French Guiana also has a large number of Protestants. Guyana and Suriname are exceptions, with three major religions: Christianity in general, Hinduism, and Islam.

            Australia: Christianity is the largest Australian religion according to the national census. In the 2016 Census, 52.1% of Australians were listed as Christian. Australia has no official state religion and the Australian Constitution protects freedom of religion.

            Europe: In 2050, almost two-thirds of all Europeans (65%) are expected to identify as Christian (this does not imply that most will be regular churchgoers). By contrast, roughly three-quarters of Europeans identified as Christian in 2010.

            As of the early 21st century, Christianity has more than 2.4 billion adherents, out of about 7.2 billion people. The faith represents one-third of the world’s population and is the largest religion in the world, with the three largest groups of Christians being the Catholic Church, Protestantism, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The largest Christian denomination is the Catholic Church, with 1.09 billion adherents. The second largest Christian branch is either Protestantism (if it is considered a single group), or the Eastern Orthodox Church (if Protestants are considered to be divided into multiple denominations).
            Christianity is the predominant religion in Europe, Russia, North America, South America, the Philippines, East Timor, Southern Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, and Oceania. There are also large Christian communities in other parts of the world, such as Indonesia, Central Asia, and the Middle East, where Christianity is the second-largest religion after Islam. The United States has the largest Christian population in the world, followed by Brazil and Mexico.

          • AndRebecca

            Oh please…

  • Charles Burge

    Just to clarify, the rationale for capital punishment goes back way before Moses. It goes back to just after Noah and his family exited the ark. In Genesis 9:6, God says ““Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.” In other words, to murder another person is to attack the very image of God, and therefore, an accounting must be made.

    • Zmirak

      Good point, thanks!

    • tasha63

      Let God do the accounting, not man.

      • RodH

        Problem is, He has commanded us to do many things you seem to find distasteful.

        So we should have no police {who wield the sword} nor military for defense, nor protect our families.

        Please wear a name-tag with your Discus handle on it so if we ever see you getting raped or mugged, well know to keep moving and not scandalize you with the application of potentially lethal force in an attempt to rescue you.

        • tasha63

          I think it is hard to equate ancient times to our’s. I doubt they had anything like police back then, just military such as the Romans.

          I’m sorry you think I am perverse in the extreme. I do not see myself that way.

    • tasha63

      Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
      The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
      And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being. 6 “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.

      Love Fulfills the Law
      8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

      16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

      • AndRebecca

        Capital punishment isn’t revenge, it is punishment. Let the punishment fit the crime. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you will want them to get right with God. Getting right with God means not trying to break the Ten Commandments. And there’s a difference between killing and murder. You might look into natural law. There’s plenty about it on the web.

        • tasha63

          And what if you make a mistake?

          That has happened a good number of times. These people were luckily not executed even tho on death row. Take a look via the site below.

          I wonder how many were innocent and executed??

          https(colon)(slash)(slash)deathpenaltyinfo(dot)org(slash)innocence-list-those-freed-death-row

          • AndRebecca

            Mistakes go both ways. Look at the number of people let out of jail who have raped and murdered again. Look at the guilty who have never been caught. Society has to take the death penalty seriously and do the best it can to get it right. Very few criminals today are put to death. A good society is there to protect the innocent. Crime is a social problem and an individual problem. It is up to every individual to keep themselves out of jail and to be a decent law abiding citizen. Not that long ago, we taught Christianity and morals in the schools and we had less crime. The idea was if a student came from a bad home, they could learn decent behavior at school. No more. But, according to Natural Law each individual knows something about right from wrong even if it was never taught to them. We are getting away from individual responsibility and society is suffering. Where’s the pope on this?

          • tasha63

            Rebecca, I am in my mid-60’s and I was never specifically taught Christianity n school. Never. In church, yes, but not in a public school. And I grew up in the rural Midwest where you might think that – if anywhere – it would have been there. I am not talking here about rape or robbery. I brought up pro-life because I don’t think it should have exceptions. If you are going to be against abortion – and I understand it is a very morally fraught issue – then how can we make exceptions for the use of the death penalty? I agree with the pope on this point.

            I think schools do their best to teach respect and tolerance, but it doesn’t have to be from a religious point of view. We can agree on basic human morals such as kindness, respect, etc no matter our religious backgrounds.

          • AndRebecca

            I think I said this before, Capital Punishment is for convicted criminals who have gone over the top on crimes against innocent victims. Not all murderers receive capital punishment or even life in prison. Christians believe in protecting the innocent, not the guilty. As for Christianity being taught in schools, all of the first schools in colonial America, like Harvard were founded by Christians for Christian instruction. At Harvard, their motto used to be Veritas Christi and now it is Veritas, and hardly any Christians teach there, but many socialists and communists do. The first public schools after 1776 used books with Christian stories in them and of course they would tell the students the meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas and would have prayer and so forth. After WWII the federal government went about getting Christianity out of the schools. So we have had cases come up about prayer in school, Christmas pageants, learning Christian songs, and the purposeful replacing of Christian thought with “democratic” thought…If they didn’t have prayer in school in the first place, they certainly wouldn’t have to take it out! I have a copy of a teacher’s manual written in the 1950’s, which was used all over the country, edited by a communist, and one of the authors of an article in the book
            stated one of his ideas to replace Christian thought. I don’t have the book handy or know it’s title off hand, but I can find it, if you really want to know. And one atheist who founded a private for homeless boys in the 1800s had two chapels built in the school grounds as he thought Christianity was important for children no matter what his won beliefs were. They aren’t teaching morals of any kind that I know of in schools today, especially compared to what they used to do.

    • RodH

      Correct. It is not a “timebound” Hebrew ceremonial Law.

  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Right. “Mercy triumphs over judgement”, at least in cases where the concept of mercy is being denied the accused through bias or unsubstantiated accusation. Otherwise, it would seem that the biblical precedent for capital punishment remains constant in the face of unchallenged evidence convicting the accused of crimes worthy of relocating the offender to a place from which there can be no return. Life is relatively speaking like a flame that exists for a while & then poof its gone. In comparison to eternity it’s practically a speck on the cosmic timetable.
    I’m not a big fan of the death penalty the way it is sometimes implemented. Too many variables can be credited to what is sometimes after the fact a big mistake. “We’re sorry ” , give the unjustly executed accused’s mother some money & vow to do better next time. Though that is not the substance of this Popes argument. That said – “let them hang”.
    At least after the gospel has been offered them . Thats perhaps the best mercy any political system can provide in the end …

    • tasha63

      They said that about the Salem Witches too you know and hang they did. I think society has grown since then, at least I hope it has. The only reason I am even here today is that my Salem Witch ancestor was pregnant, so she was not hung because of it.

      • Howard Rosenbaum

        My “Let them hang” remark was meant to be understood in the context of a just sentence appropriately executed & not w/out some irony as I noted I’m not a big fan of the death penalty. That is due to the potential for mistakes that one cannot recover from. Otherwise there is a price that will be paid for crimes deserving of capital punishment from a biblical perspective.
        The Salem Witch hunt certainly would not qualify as an example of an appropriate cause for the death penalty.

        • tasha63

          The Salem Witch Hunt was carried out and condoned by then so-called Christians, the Puritans.

          My point is there are examples in history where we now “know better”. I am not saying people should not be punished for crimes. I am saying that the death penalty is extreme – torture if you will – and man is playing God here.

          • Howard Rosenbaum

            The Salem witch hunt was a religious exercise carried to the extreme by “so called Christians” who clearly had little if any revelation of God’s redemptive grace & mercy. It was more a matter of political expediency & mass hysteria than anything remotely tied to practicing believers at the the time. Kind of reminds me the prevailing atmosphere among many on the left in their frenzy to ” impeach 45″ albeit w/out the hanging – excepting of course those Antifa thugs who likely would if they could …

          • tasha63

            Well, you have a point. To date, there is no direct proof of collusion, just circumstantial by some of his advisers. We will see what happens. But just because I don’t like Trump and his policies, I (and others) should not convict before evidence.

          • AndRebecca

            The sentence was appropriate for the times, just not the place. We expected more out of the Puritans.

          • tasha63

            I am not clear what you mean.

          • AndRebecca

            Many witches were put to death in Europe back then, just not in America.

        • tasha63

          I agree.

      • AndRebecca

        They couldn’t talk you ancestor out of her hysteria it seems.

        • tasha63

          It wasn’t she that was hysterical, but her accusers. She was the daughter of a minister who spoke out against the trials. She was also a woman head of her household, unusual for the time, and it was because of her husband’s illness.

          • AndRebecca

            No, you’ve got it backwards. The witches experienced hysteria and were given the chance to leave the area or quit doing what they were doing or seeing what they were seeing and they couldn’t stop… And no, a woman head of household was not unusual. When the husband died, the woman became the head of household until she remarried… Witchcraft began in Europe and spread to America. The daughters of the Rev. Samuel Parish began to behave oddly after attending in a meeting where incantations had been cast and attempts were made to tell the future. Other possessed “witches” behaved oddly, and the hysteria spread until 20 were put to death. Cotton Mather delivered a sermon arguing against the mass convictions and others began to argue against spectral evidence. Your version of the story is kept alive today by the Unitarians who have “wiccan churches,” and were likely around in New England fomenting the situation back in the day. Unitarianism was outlawed until after the Revolution.

          • tasha63

            My dear, I have done a LOT of reading on the Salem Witch Trials as you might imagine. It was a number of young girls in the community that experienced ‘fits’ and ‘hysteria’ and in turn became the ‘accusers’. They, in turn, accused a number of community members of ‘afflicting’ them with their witchy powers. It was NOT the community members and they were either jailed or put to death. Women heads of household, especially wealthy ones, were quite unusual in the 1600’s. The girls themselves were not the accused, only the afflicted. The ‘possessed’ as you state, were NOT the witches. Cotton Mather was a supporter of the witch trials, unfortunately. One of the few ministers who spoke against the witch trials was Rev. Francis Dane. This, from Wikipedia, is correct: https(colon)(slash)(slash)en(dot)wikipedia(dot)org(slash)wiki(slash)Francis_Dane

            You are trying to change history. And, my original point is, there have been times throughout history that people are unfairly and unjustly accused and killed.

            I might add that there are quite a number of original documents one can read from that period in time. Anything else is a rewrite of history.

          • AndRebecca

            Like I said, you’ve got it backwards. I am getting my information out of history books and reference books, like my encyclopedia. And I have an original reference book, and it states the witched were given ample opportunity to leave the area and to quit getting Christians to believe in the occult, but they would not go. Also, two of the main women involved gave birth to severely deformed babies… and that kind of topped the situation for the Christians. There had been other witches tried and found guilty before this large group came along. And, today we don’t kill astrologers, fortune tellers, Satanists, or people who claim to be witches. You can get books out of any library on witchcraft faster than you can get a book by a Christian writer, a sad situation.

          • tasha63

            I give up!

  • tasha63

    You can’t be “pro-life” in some instances if you want pro-life to mean what it says it does. You can’t be against abortion and for the death penalty.

    You’d only be the ‘sometimes pro-life’ group then.

    • Zmirak

      So to be “pro-choice” you must favor ALL choices, including the choice to work at less than the minimum wage, right? Foolish semantics. Smoke blown by pro-aborts and their useful idiots in churches.

    • Charles Burge

      I’m pretty sure we’ve been over this before, but I’ll give it one more go.

      Romans 13:4 – “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”

      The point of this verse is that God delegates the responsibility of carrying out justice to governments. The very purpose of government is to prevent evil-doers from harming and exploiting innocent people.

      Jesus affirms this in John 19:10-11 – “So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

      In other words, Jesus confirms that Pilate, acting as an agent of the government, does have the authority to crucify him.

      • RodH

        Yes, and the thing that must be wrestled with in that dialogue is crucifixion. It’s one thing to put a man to death say by firing squad. It’s another to crucify him. The latter combines extreme torture with the death penalty itself.

        Christ in no way condemns either aspect of the punishment.

        Something to mull over…

        As much as this pains many “Catholics” today, Jesus wasn’t a pot-smoking, free-loving, sodomy-sympathizing Good Time Rock’n Roller.

        And He still isn’t.

  • RodH

    As a convert from mainline Protestantism, I can hardly tell the difference anymore between the popular teaching and practice of the Catholic Church and mainline Lutheranism.

    At some point we need some prelates who will reassert discipline into the Church and get back the the teachings that have been so marginalized for over 50 years.

  • Trilemma

    Ancient Israel had the death penalty because they didn’t have prisons.
    We have prisons so we don’t need the death penalty.

    • RodH

      Mmmm….

      No.

      1} A few things have happened since then, none of which have abrogated the application of the death penalty for some offenses.
      2} There were many less-than-lethal punishments stated in the Hebrew Law for all sorts of offenses that we would see imprisonment used today.
      3} Imprisonment itself is not a panacea {murderers escape, are released and kill again, etc}.
      4} The Church has always differentiated between offenses worthy of incarceration and those of a capital status.
      5} Modern prisons in states and nations where the death penalty exists see additional murders perpetrated by murderers serving sentences.
      6} Scripture and the church nowhere before the direct heresy of Francis has condemned the just application of the death penalty.

    • Brand New Key

      As always, you are wrong about the Bible.

      Bible Gateway shows 122 references to prison in the Bible.

      You atheists have this delusion that hating a religion makes you an expert in it.

      • Trilemma

        It took over 600 years for the ancient nation of Israel to build a prison. The first person recorded to be thrown into an Israel prison was Ahab. The Old Testament Law used the death penalty and slavery instead of prison. It was impractical for a nomadic people to have prisons so they didn’t build any.

  • AndRebecca

    When did the Inquisition start?

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