Author: Matthew Shadle

The Death Penalty and the Development of Doctrine, Part II

In yesterday’s post I considered two arguments for how the Catholic Church could introduce an absolute prohibition on the death penalty into its teaching while remaining consistent with earlier teaching that the state is authorized to use the death penalty if necessary for the defense of the public: 1) although states have a hypothetical right to carry out the death penalty in defense of the public, the death penalty as it is currently practiced is intrinsically evil; and 2) the death penalty must be linguistically distinguished from the defense of the public by the state. These reflections were occasioned...

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The Death Penalty and the Development of Doctrine, Part I

In an October address to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of Catholic Church, Pope Francis raised the possibility that the Catechism be revised to provide a more absolute prohibition against the death penalty. Francis argues that the death penalty is “deeply injurious of human dignity.” He goes so far as to say that it “is per se contrary to the Gospel, because it entails the willful suppression of a human life that never ceases to be sacred in the eyes of its Creator and of which – ultimately – only God is the true...

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Fraternity and Solidarity in Pope Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate

The documents of Catholic social teaching are a treasure store that reward repeated reading. I recently learned from reading a commentary on Pope Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate by the Italian economist Stefano Zamagni that in the encyclical, Benedict makes it a point to distinguish the terms “fraternity” and “solidarity,” two terms that on the surface seem fairly similar. In Zamagni’s view, this represents a development in Catholic social teaching. Zamagni describes the difference in this way: “solidarity is the principle of social organization that enables unequals to become equals, fraternity is the principle that allows equals to be...

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The Catholic Church and the Struggle for the Rights of Workers and Immigrants

Today is May Day, and across the country people will be taking to the streets to protest against the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Although May Day has traditionally been considered a day of struggle for the rights of workers, in recent years in the United States it has come to be associated with the rights of immigrants, as well. In 2006, for example, over a million people nationwide joined protests against harsh immigration measures then being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives. Although today’s protests are not expected to come close to those numbers, there will be events...

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